Tag: Christmas

Cranberry Jello Salad

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I love old recipes. They are not only a window to the past, but a way to stay connected to the people you love. And for me? It’s the most important way of communicating. It’s my love language. My maternal Grandmother used to make a recipe similar to this one at Thanksgiving each year. She’s still with us, but it’s getting harder and harder to cook each year. I think she’d be happy that this recipe is being preserved, even if I’ve tweaked it a bit! 🙂

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First of all, can we talk about how it’s called a “salad”? That cracks me up! I think they were called such because a lot of gelatins from years past had savory foods stuck in them. But this one? This one is glorious. It’s sweet. But, not overly so. It’s ruby red color shines like a gem, like shiny red balls on the tree, like Rudolph’s nose in the night. It’s covered in a delicious creamy topping, like a snowy cap. I meannnnn. It’s so good. It’s got cranberries, raspberry, pineapple, nuts, cream cheese.

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It’s a breeze to make. There’s more downtime than active time. This pairs well with both a holiday turkey and ham, and you can take my actual word with that! This also makes a fine dessert. And breakfast. Or snack.

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Blessings!

Kristin

Print Recipe
Cranberry Jello Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. In a medium glass bowl, mix the Jello and 1 cup boiling water together. Stir for about 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold cranberry juice, pineapple and cranberry sauce. Add the pecans. Mix well and pour into the pan. (I actually added the pecans next, and only to half the pan, because my boys do not like nuts) Cover with plastic. Refrigerate until firm. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. When the Jello mixture is firm, spread the cream cheese mix on top. Sprinkle a few pecans on top.
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Christmas Wreath Themed School Lunches

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For tomorrow’s lunches for my boys, I went with a Christmas wreath theme. In many churches, the Christmas wreath, circling five candles, is used as a way to celebrate the Advent season, which counts down the four Sundays in December leading up to Christmas (which is the symbolized by the fifth candle). This season is so important to many families as we gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and to rejoice in His glory! I know my boys might just see a wreath (with red hots!)…at least I HOPE they can see that it’s a wreath HA!…but, it was fun for me to connect it to the precious and everlasting love of Jesus.

Back to those red hots…

I used food safe spray and markers to add color, and red hots as holly berries on the wreath. There’s PB&J inside. HA! I also packed Triscuits, yogurt raisins, mandarin orange (Bigs), red grapes, and a slice of spice cake with some fun sprinkles for dessert.

In His love,

Kristin

O Christmas Tree! School Lunches

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O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches

If you celebrate, has your tree been up for a while, or do you wait? Do you have multi-colored lights, or all white? Do you have a real tree, or fake? Classic ornaments or hodgepodge? Me: been up for a while, I switch back and forth between the multi-colored and the while, all the while wishing the tree designers gave me the option for having both on at the same time, fake tree, and hodgepodge. And between you and me, I love seeing everyone’s trees through their front windows, in a non-creepy way, of course. I just LOVE that everyone has their own tree style. If you feel so inclined (and I hope you do!!), tell me about your tree in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!

For my boys’ lunches tomorrow, I made a Christmas tree shaped sandwich. I went hog wild with my colors (food safe spray and markers). I used a flower shaped sprinkle for the star. I also packed veggie crackers, a cheese stick, mandarin orange (Bigs), yogurt raisins (Smalls), red grapes, Kinder chocolate, and some red, green, and white chocolate covered sunflower seeds (Bigs) for dessert.

Happy Christmas!

Kristin

Christmas Wreath Cookies

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Okay, Friends! If you don’t have any cookies baked yet, you’re either not going to or you don’t have any quick, easy ideas. I can’t help you with the former, but here is a great recipe for the latter. My boys and I whipped these up today (for Santa and Mrs. Claus).

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They are rich with butter, crumbly in the best kind of way, and packed with vanilla and almond flavors.  I can almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients already (don’t quote me on that).

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Wreath Cookies

1 C butter, softened

1/2 C sugar

2 1/4 C APF

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1/4 t almond extract

1/4 t vanilla bean paste (or extract)

5-7 drops of green food coloring

sprinkles

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, egg, almond extract, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and food coloring. Roll the dough into little balls and form a hole in the center (I used an icing tip). Put on the sprinkles.  and place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or just before the cookies turn brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

My boys also made these little masterpieces:

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I let them go nuts with M&Ms, sprinkles, marshmallows, and icing. I think Santa will both enjoy them and go into a cookie coma!

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Memories were made and that’s all that matters. <3

The Merriest of Christmases to you and your families! May you feel God’s love and know the real reason behind this special season.

God bless!

Kristin

Ornament Themed Kindergarten School Lunch

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I only have one more special school lunch to make for this year, after today. I don’t even know where the time has gone!

**Red Dye #40 alert…below**

For tomorrow’s lunch, I made an ornament shaped sunbutter and apple butter sandwich. I used lots of colors to make it festive. I also packed pita chips, red grapes, colby jack cheese, a mandarin orange, and two little peppermint meringues that I made yesterday.

Kristin

Gingerbread Boy Kindergarten & 3’s School Lunches

Gingerbread is my absolute FAVORITE. I could eat it errday. Forrealz.

In honor of that, here’s my boys’ lunches for tomorrow:

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I made gingerbread boy shaped apple butter sandwiches. I added details with Food Writers and chocolate covered sunflower seeds (which I also threw in the lunchbox, as well). I also packed snap pea crisps, red grapes, carrots (Smalls), corn (Bigs), yogurt with gingerbread boy sprinkles, and Trader Joe’s gingerbread boy cookies.

Gingerbread 4 life.

Kristin

Star of Bethlehem Kindergarten School Lunch

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In his Kindergarten class, my son is studying Jesus’ special birth and all the events that led up to it. This season is so very important to our Christian faith and he’s so excited to be immersed in such a beautiful story each day in class. For tomorrow’s lunch, I made a ham and cheese Star of Bethlehem (lolz). That star (the real one, not the hammy version) is so symbolic of the birth of the baby who would go on to save us all, for all time, no matter the cost. The star shone so bright in the night sky, leading the Wise Men and others to the humble stable where our Savior was born.

I made a star shaped ham and cheese sandwich and I sprayed it gold with a bit of food safe spray. I also packed dried cranberries, pita chips, a mandarin orange, red grapes, a shortbread cookie, and a few red/green/white chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

May the light of the Lord shine brightly during this special season for all of you,

Kristin

Happy December! (And a Snowflaked Themed Lunch)

Happy Happy December! Is it cold where you are? Are you wearing boots and scarves? Making snowmen? Dancing in the falling snow?

Welp. I’m in shorts. With my A/C on. Dreaming about a cold winter. It’s a pipe dream, really, for us Florida folks.

So, I’m pretending it’s cold. My house is DECKED out in Christmas, I drink hot chocolate, I wear Christmas themed t-shirts. I’m trying, people.

I wanted to make a special December 1st lunch for my big boy for today, but I had a horrible migraine. So, I am made some today for both my boys for tomorrow.

A chilly, wintry themed one.

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 I made snowflake shaped jam sandwiches and added details with my Food Writers. I also packed goldfish crackers, colby jack cheese, dried cranberries, a mandarin orange (Bigs), a Go-Gurt (Bigs), grapes (Smalls), and a snowball donut (that was leftover from the special breakfast our elf Duncan [Donuts] brought the boys this morning).

“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.”

-William Hamilton Gibson

Blessings!

Kristin

Cookies for Santa (and Mrs. Claus!)

Christmas is almost here! Do you know what you’ll be putting out for Santa to enjoy? I’ve got two very easy recipe for you, should you need them (and don’t we all need extra cookies recipes in our repertoire?).

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The first cookie could not be any easier! I’m sure you’ve tried these at least once in your life. They are no-bake chocolate, oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies. The best of everything!

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 C sugar

4 T cocoa (using dark cocoa really changes the flavor and makes them so decadent!)

1/2 C butter (1 stick)

1/2 C milk (I used coconut milk)

1 C peanut butter

1 T vanilla

3 C oatmeal

Bring sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, vanilla, and oatmeal. Drop spoonfuls onto a prepared sheet pan (waxed paper or Silpat). Let them cool and harden (you can do this in the refrigerator).

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They are as equally good freshly plopped onto the pan…

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…as they are from the refrigerator or freezer.

The second cookie is not as easy, because it is a baked cookie, but is equally delicious and completely customizable.

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They are a basic brown sugar cookie with chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles. All in Christmas colors! I think Santa will be back for seconds (if you ask me, and I would know, wink wink).

Santa’s Chocolate Chip, M&M’s, and Sprinkle Cookies

Recipe adapted from: “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie”, www.dinnersdishesanddesserts.com

3/4 C softened butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C sugar

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 T vanilla bean paste

2 C flour

2 t cornstarch

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 C chocolate chips

3/4 C M&M’s (I picked out the red and green ones)

1/4 C sprinkles (I used Christmas colors)

Cream butter and both sugars together, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and vanilla bean paste. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, M&M’s, and sprinkles.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. I covered it, and left it in the fridge overnight. I had to let it thaw a bit before baking. Chilling the dough makes for a thicker cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop out dough. I rolled mine into balls. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the sheet pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

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These were just a really fun take on the classic chocolate chip cookie, which goes over well with almost everyone I know. And to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know you if a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t go over well with you. #nooffense #moreforme

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My boys loved helping with these, especially knowing that “Santa” would be enjoying them (and indeed SHE will). They dumped in all the chocolate and sprinkles.

Enjoy! Only a few days left to get your baking on!

Kristin (aka Mrs. Claus, aka Cookie Queen)

Christmas Sugar Cookies (and decorating with my boys!)

I made sugar cookies with my boys yesterday. They’re finally at the age where they can do it “properly” and enjoy it. Did I say “they”? I meant that my four and a half year old can do that. My two year old ate every sprinkle that crossed his path. And that was a lot of sprinkles. Enough to dye his mouth green for the duration of the day.

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I only needed about 30 cookies for my church group ladies and this recipe made more than that. I gave each boy their own little sheet of dough, pan, and apron, and set up the cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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Bigs sort of had an accident with the green sugar. Instead of opening the sprinkle cap, he unscrewed and dumped. Oops.

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I think he’d call this a “happy” accident. It all worked out. They had so much fun and their little cookies were so cute.

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They enjoyed eating them with big glasses of (coconut) milk.

While their cookies were baking, I got to work on mine.

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I wanted to do simple cookies this year. I used a star, Christmas tree, and sleigh cutters, and made thumbprints.

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I decorated them using my gold and silver sugars…

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…green sugars, and Christmas colored nonpareils.

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I have no idea what this thumbprint cookie is all about. I just went with it. If you squint, it could be a wreath-like thing.

Whatever, it’s a cookie.

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I love the way they came out! And, as equally important, they were delicious! I think my church gals will really enjoy them.

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These cookies are sturdy, but not overly-crunchy, and filled with vanilla and almond flavors. I added vanilla bean paste to amp up the vanilla flavor. I love seeing black speckles of vanilla beans in desserts.

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To me, they taste of Christmas!

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies

Adapted from: Perfect Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs, lovegrowswild.com

  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ t vanilla extract
  • 1 T vanilla bean paste
  • ½ t almond extract
  • 3 C of flour
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • colored sugars and nonpareils
  • cookie icing, if desired
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
  3. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a baking sheet. I prepared my baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars and nonpareils and bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 40-50 cookies, depending on your cutter size.

Enjoy!

Kristin