Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Edible Christmas Gifts

This Christmas season skip the crowded malls and instead, spend some time in creating personalized edible gifts for your food-loving friends and family members . Whip up something friends and family will really enjoy — a mouth watering food gift. Something that is sure to please friends, family or the office Secret Santa.
Oreo Truffles
* 1 lb Oreo cookies (3 sleeves)
* 8 ounces room temperature cream cheese,
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and using different extracts allows for subtle flavour changes…I’ve used mint extract, upped to 1 tsp (optional)
* 1 lb milk chocolate
* 1/2 lb white chocolate
1. Use a Food Processor and grind cookies to a fine powder.
2. With a Mixer, blend cookie powder, cream cheese and vanilla extract until thoroughly mixed (there should be no white traces of cream cheese).
3. Roll the mixture into small balls and place on wax-lined cookie sheet.
4. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
5. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper.
6. In double-boiler, melt milk chocolate.
7. Dip balls and coat thoroughly.
8. With slotted spoon, lift balls out of chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off.
9. Place on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet.
10. In separate double boiler, melt white chocolate.
11. Using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over balls and the let cool.
12. Store in airtight container, in refrigerator.
13. You can also experiment and roll your truffles into various mixtures – chopped nuts, chocolate sprinkles, vari-coloured candy sprinkles, cocoa powder, chocolate shavings, coloured sugars.
14. This still looks great but a whole lot less work.
Christmas Gingerbread Cookies
* 3 cups all all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon ground ginger
* 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup molasses
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional).
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
3. In a large mixer bowl (Kitchen-Aid’s great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
4. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended.
5. Gradually add the dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
6. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
7. Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using. 7 Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
8. Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface.
9. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin.
10. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
11. Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
12. Cut out cookies with desired cutter (the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.)
13. Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart on the cookie sheet.
14. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies).
15. Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.
16. After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like.
17. You can brush them with a powdered sugar glaze if you are in a hurry, but they look wonderful decorated with Royal icing and they make great gifts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

Plastic Wrap and Fabric Ribbon
Homemade breads make a great gift. It doesn’t matter if it’s loaves you’ve made with your bread machine or ones that you’ve sat home all day to allow for rising. Quick breads such as banana and pumpkin are always a big hit. It you’ve got tons to bake, the mini-loaves are the way to go.
Drinking glass
This is like a double gift. The people receiving get a reusable glass filled with chunks of fudge or any other sweet.
Design your own Christmas Basket
Designed specifically for the person receiving it – use your imagination – some suggestions include:
• Pasta, a bottle of their favorite wine, some candles (for candlelight dinner) a wine pairing book and also a recipe book of different kind of pastas.
• For the sweetest Christmas gift basket ever, put together a basket containing caramel corn, Jordan almonds, gourmet cookies
• Fruit and nut basket
• Chocolate and candy
• Coffee
Giving Food as Gifts
• New heavy decorated boxes with tissue paper lining. Don’t forget you can buy mini paper liners to put your gift in or you can stack your cookies or candies in rows standing them on their sides. One last important thing don’t forget to tie the box closed with a pretty wired-ribbon bow.
• Plates that can be bought from thrift shops, antique shops and dollar stores make a great presentation. Buy your decorated Saran wrap at a dollar store, sit the plate of cookies on a large piece of it and bring up on all sides of the plate and tie with a ribbon with wire in it.
• If you are making dry ingredients as gifts then a bottle or jar is appropriate for a bottle just tie ribbons, raffia or twine around the neck of each bottle. Attach a homemade gift tag or small ornament. For a jar cut a circle of fabric, tissue or wrapping paper 3″ to 4″ larger than the jar lid. Hold the circle in place with a rubber band and then tie a ribbon over the rubber band.
Create your own personal tags
• Personalize your gift tags!
• Start with scrapbook paper, cardboard, cookie cutters, felt, wood or pre-made tags.
• Special gift wrap cutting scissors are available at many department and craft stores.
• Then start adding your own special touches with glitter, ribbon, beads, stickers, puffy paint, or markers.
• Save your holiday cards and turn them into next year’s gift tags – just cut out the design or desired shape, thread and label it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus

This is still one of our families favored Christmas stories and we couldn’t let Christmas go by with out publishing it.
Many parents face the Christmas moment when children ask if Santa Claus is real, and in 1897, Virginia O’Hanlon’s father instructed her to write a short letter to the editor of New York’s now-defunct newspaper The Sun in which she sought confirmation of Santa Claus’ existence. to the New York Sun, telling her, “If you see it in the Sun, it must be true.”
In response the editor Francis Pharcellus Church wrote an editorial – entitled “Is there a Santa Claus?” which went on to become, and is still, the most reprinted English language editorial in history. In September, 1897, this letter was sent to the New York Sun, and the Sun happily published it, saying they felt “great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun”. It’s sentiment of hope and gratitude are still conveyed with Christmas Cards and good wishes annually.
Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth,
is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon
The Editor Francis Pharcellus Church replied:
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism
of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing
can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia,
whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours,
man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless
world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole
of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity
and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest
beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!
It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike
faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have
no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood
fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might
get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch
Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that
prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.
Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof
that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are
unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.
Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Ideas and Tips to organize your christmas spending

Ideas and tips to organize your Christmas and take the stress and hassle out and bring back the joy!
A 1997 Gallup poll found that 29 percent of Americans found the Christmas holidays more stressful than enjoyable. At the end of January there’s nothing worse that receiving a monster sized credit bill. So here are few ideas to cut the Christmas spending and enjoy the Christmas season.
Remember you come first!!
• Firstly it is important that look after yourself.
• You know the rules for taking care of yourself – get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water as poor nutrition can lead to stress.
• The busier you are, though, the more important it is that you take care of yourself. You won’t be any good to anyone if you get sick.
• Try to be moderate – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful, and drink driving is a real danger and illegal. If you can’t (or don’t want to) step off the social merry-go-round, at least try to eat and drink in moderation.
• Get enough sleep and plan for as many early nights as you can.
• Keep up your regular exercise routine as this can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.
• Set a self-imposed deadline by which you have shopped, decorated and wrapped your gifts. Maybe, you can target December 19 or 20. This way you can have a few days buffer to Christmas Day into the New Year.

Money Matters
The best way to avoid a Christmas credit hangover is to plan ahead so you don’t need to rely on borrowed funds.
• When you do go shopping for gifts, shop early in the Christmas season to avoid the last-minute crowds.
• Also consider shopping online as many retailers offer free shipping during the holidays.
• Setting limits and imposing boundaries is a good thing to do.
• Try talking with extended family members and perhaps picking names out of a hat, rather than buying for the whole lot can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Do you really need a gift from all of your in-laws and do they really need one from you?
• Another idea is just to buy for the children and then set a limit on the cost of gifts.
• Avoid the financial worry of unnecessary expenditures by planning holiday spending the same way you plan the rest of your finances.
• If you don’t have enough cash, by all means slash your budget to match your resources.
• If taking on a debt is unavoidable, then planning how to pay it off should be done ahead.
• Buy a few extras, such as chocolates, just in case you forget somebody or you have unexpected guests bearing gifts
• A great way to save on presents is not to forget Holiday baking and food gifts made by yourself – and a relaxing way to get involved.

One way to relieve yourself of mundane festive duties is to outsource activities and have everyone involved
• If you are cooking lunch at home, delegate tasks. You don’t need to do everything yourself.
• You might consider keeping it simple – for instance, you could always arrange for a ‘buffet’ lunch, where everybody brings a platter.
• Buy as many non-perishable food items as you can in advance – supermarkets on Christmas Eve are generally extremely busy.
• You may need to order particular food items (such as turkeys) from your supermarket by a certain date so you should check to avoid disappointment.
• Consider doing your food shopping online. The store will deliver your groceries to your door. (Keep in mind this option is more expensive than visiting the supermarket yourself.)
• Book well in advance if you plan to have lunch at a restaurant. Some restaurants may be fully booked for months before Christmas, so don’t wait till the last minute..
• Prepare as much food ahead of time. Some can be prepared earlier and frozen up to three or two weeks.
Remember it is the season to be jolly!! Holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, and if what you have is a family that loves to get together, then you are truly blessed!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Trivia

Here are some Christmas Trivia for you -
• “White Christmas” (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, was the first movie to be made in Vista Vision, a deep-focus process.
• The first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree in the United States was Franklin Pierce.
• Rudolph” was actually created by Montgomery Ward in the late 1930’s for a holiday promotion and as the saying goes “The rest is history”.
• If you received all of the gifts in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” you would receive 364 gifts.
• In 1843, “A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens in just six weeks.
Christmas became a national holiday in America on June, 26, 1870.
• In America, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest shopping weeks of the year. Many retailers make up to 70% of their annual revenue in the month preceding Christmas.
• The world’s biggest Christmas tree (76 m high) was put up in America in 1950.
• The world’s highest artificial Christmas tree measured 52 m (170.6 ft) and was covered in green PVC artificial foliage. The ‘Peace Tree’ was designed by Grupo Sonae DistribuiĆ§Ć£o Brasil and displayed in Moinhos de Vento Park, Porto Alegre, Brazil from 1 December 2001 until 6 January 2002
• The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas
• Silent Night was written in 1818, by an Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. He was told the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken and would not be prepared in time for Christmas Eve.
• The first American Christmas carol was written in 1649 by a minister named John de Brebeur and is called “Jesus is Born”.
• There are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year.
• There are close to 350 million Real Christmas Trees currently growing on Christmas Tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers.
• Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource.
• It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
• Before settling on the name of Tiny Tim for his character in “A Christmas Carol,” three other alliterative names were considered by Charles Dickens. They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.
• George Washington spent Christmas night 1776 crossing the Delaware River in dreadful conditions. Christmas 1777 fared little better – at Valley Forge, Washington and his men had a miserable Christmas dinner of Fowl cooked in a broth of Turnips, cabbage and potatoes.
• Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company.

Ideas for surviving the christmas season

Well it’s nearly that time of year again so I have put together some ideas for surviving the Christmas Season and family get togethers. Holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, and if what you have is a family that loves to get together, then you are truly blessed!!
Ideas for surviving the Christmas period:
• Get a good night’s sleep before your family event. Even little disagreements can get blown out of proportion when you’re tired and stressed out.
• Stay in a hotel when visiting relatives over the holiday. You can always use the excuse that you have to get back to the hotel to unpack your things. It’s a legitimate reason anyone can understand and provides you with an easy escape hatch when you’re bored or need to avoid turmoil.
• Try your best to remain neutral when disagreements come up.
• Watch out for over use of alcohol. Nothing can bring out the worst in folks than drinking too much alcohol, especially if you’re doing it because you’re on edge about being with your relatives.
• A cheerful, positive attitude can be contagious, even in the midst of hostility.
• Most importantly let your family members know that you love them with words and actions. Be sure to offer random hugs and compliments.
• Go out of your way to spend time with (especially if you don’t see them that often).
• Put on a happy face – Christmas is a time for peace and love so focus on the positive aspects of the holiday time.
• If there is someone you absolutely can’t get along with someone, try to avoid being alone in the same room with them.
• If all else fails – even if nothing else works, just remember …it will all be over in a few days!
• However if the holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, and if what you have is a family that loves to get together, then you are truly blessed!!!!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Celtic Thunder Christmas

The newly recorded Celtic Thunder Christmas record features 14 all time Christmas favorites done Celtic Thunder style and includes "Winter Wonderland" "Let It Snow" " Silent Night" "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and more. Celtic Thunder has been the number one music show on PBS for six consecutive periods. This December in addition to It's Entertainment PBS will air and pledge a brand new Celtic Thunder Show that will include songs from the new Christmas release. Look for the Celtic Thunder - It's Entertainment Christmas version to air over 500 times during the 2010 holiday season.
Price: $16.98

Click here to buy from Amazon