Hello again :) It's been awhile (the last post here was made last January!).
As most of you can see, Christmas season is upon us!
The stores are bearing the decorations we cherish so much,
wreaths are being hung in the mall, Santa's throne is quickly being assembled.
Because of all that, what better time to revive this community than now?
Under the cut, I have a Christmas survey all of you are free to take
(I did NOT make it, I'm also not sure who did),
a couple of pretty pictures of December Homes,
and a few recipes you're free to use for Thanksgiving or Christmas!
Egg nog or hot chocolate?- Hot chocolate for sure. I drink it constantly! Everyone makes fun of me because I treat it like coffee :p
Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?- No, the elves wrap them ;)
Multiple boxes? Fake boxes? Wrapping?- It depends on the gift. I usually just wrap it up though
Colored lights on tree/house or white?- Colored lights on the tree and white outside
Do you hang mistletoe?- Last year I hung something that resembled a mistletoe, but I don't know if it really was one :/ haha
When do you put your decorations up?- Right after Thanksgiving
What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?- Since I don't eat meat, I usually pile up my Grandma's Spaghetti. It's a little family recipe that my Grandma's mother used to make. I won't give the WHOLE thing away but I can tell you it has SOMETHING to do with tomato sauce and ketchup- that's all I'll tell you though! :p
Favorite holiday memory as a child?- Sleigh riding on this huge hill in Manhasset (it no longer exists anymore after they expanded a school onto it), waiting in school for the bell to ring so I can make my Christmas list and watch Christmas specials at home, playing in the snow with my cousin and coming inside to hot cocoa and cookies, my mother running to get me a warm pair of pajamas and toasty socks, the feeling of my wind burned cheeks and how it tickled when they warmed up :)
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?- It was strange. One day, I was just sitting at the dinner table with my mother and the question spontaneously popped into my head, "Is Santa real?" My mom sighed and told me the truth. I cried and cried, and my aunt consoled me by telling me how she remembered when she was told he wasn't real, but she never believed it, because "Santa lives forever in spirit and in our hearts." It sounds like a movie, but that's how it happened, and I couldn't have been comforted better.
How do you decorate your Christmas tree?- Colored lights, ornaments collected over many many years, most before I was even born, candy canes. We also hang vintage Christmas cards and old pictures my brothers and I drew as children.
Can you ice skate?- The first time I went on the ice, I was a natural. I haven't skated much after that but I loved it when I did. I hope I can go skating this December :)
Do you remember your favorite gift?- My old American Girl dolls and accessories I used to get when I was little, and my Nikon D50 I got last year
What is your favorite holiday dessert?- Christmas cookies and my Black and White Angel Food Cake I made last year for the first time, and will be making a tradition for many Christmases to come!
What is your favorite holiday tradition?-- Spending time at home with my family, curling up on the couch with my cat with a cup of cocoa in my hand, watching Christmas movies.
What tops your tree?- A star
Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?- Both equally. I like seeing the look on other's faces when they open up my gifts, and I also love the look on mine! :p
What is your favorite Christmas song?- "Silent Night"
Candy canes?- Love them :) Especially in cocoa
Favorite Christmas movie?- "It's A Wonderful Life" Nothing can beat that.
What do you leave for Santa?- Milk and cookies, and carrots for the reindeers :)
It's Christmas Time
It's Christmas Time.
Inside our house the scent of cedar
and the glow of fragrant candlelight
bring to mind past Christmases,
our family and friends.
This is a time for love, remembering,
enjoying all the blessings in our life.
You are a blessing to us,
at Christmas time and always.
By Laurel Johnson
Turkey Gravy Recipe
2 pounds turkey wings
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved
4 carrots, chopped
1 head garlic, smashed
1/2 bunch fresh sage
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
8 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Put the turkey wings* into a small roasting pan and roast them until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, herbs, and peppercorns and cook for 5 minutes. Add the turkey wings. Pour some water into the roasting pan and scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom; add this to the pot. Cover everything in the pot with cold
water by 1-inch and bring to the boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain out the solids and discard. Wipe out the pot and put it over medium heat. Melt the butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the flour. Cook this roux, stirring frequently, until it is golden brown. Slowly whisk in the strained stock being careful to work out any lumps. Cook until the gravy has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
*Cook's note: Also add the backbone and neck from the turkey you are grilling.
Candy Cane Sugar Twist Cookies Recipe
1 C. butter, softened
1 C. confectioner's sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. peppermint extract
2 1/2 C. sifted flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
2 T. of red food coloring (for Candy Cane Sugar cookies only)
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Set aside. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar together. Stir into the butter mixture. Divide the dough in half and add the red food coloring to half the dough. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
Take one teaspoon of each color of dough and roll out into 4 inch long strips. Lay the strips side by side and twist together to make a red and white striped rope. Place the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Turn the end into a curve to make the canes handle. Repeat this procedure to make 12 canes.
Place one inch apart on baking sheet. Bake at 375° F. for 10 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
3 cups flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter, margarine or oil
2 teaspoons rum or rum extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking power, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil and rum. Pour liquid ingredients over dry, stir just until mixed. Spoon batter evenly into 12 greased, 2 1/2 inch muffin cups.
In a small container, combine sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over tops of muffins. Bake in a 400F oven for 20 minutes or until golden.
Apple Cranberry Bread Recipe
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4-ounce packet Red Star Active Dry Yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup (1 medium) apple, peeled, chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Blend 1 1/4 cups flour and next 6 ingredients; set aside. Heat milk, water and butter until warm (120° F); pour into large bowl. Add flour-oat mixture.
Beat on low 30 seconds; add egg. Beat on medium 3 minutes, scraping occasionally. Stir in remaining 2 cups flour, apple, cranberries and pecans.
Knead on floured surface 5 to 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in oiled bowl; turn to grease. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, 1 hour.
Punch down dough on lightly floured surface. Shape into loaf; place in greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, 1 hour.
Bake in preheated 350° F. oven 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.
Please, feel free to post anytime! Any decorating tips, photographs, questions, post it! ;)