Thursday, December 15, 2011

HEARTH AND HOME - December 15, 2011




Greetings, Dear Friends! And MERRY CHRISTMAS!

How wonderful it is to be with you again! I pray that this holiday season finds you and yours healthy, happy, and rich in the blessings that money cannot buy...especially the love of family and friends, and a close, personal
relationship with the REAL reason for the season...Jesus Christ.

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

HOUSEHOLD TIPS

* Save used coffee grounds, tea leaves, and crushed egg shells and feed them to your poinsettias and other houseplants. They love the nutrients!

* Make holiday pancakes by lightly greasing heavy metal cookie cutters in the shape of Christmas trees, etc. and placing them on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Pour pancake batter (approximately 2 tablespoons) into each cutter. Using tongs remove cutters after 1 minute; cook pancakes two more minutes, then turn over and cook until done. Serve as usual. The children will love them!

* Decide what table linens you will be using for Christmas now and Scotchguard them. It's a great fabric protector and spills will be easier to remove.

*Keep candles in the freezer until ready for use. That way they don't have a tendency to drip or spark when lit.

*When candles do drip on your pretty tablecloths, fear not. Lay paper towels on the ironing board over and under the drips and iron the wax spots with a medium-to-hot iron. Keep moving the paper towels around until the wax is absorbed into them. Presto! The wax is gone and the cloth is saved.

* Save odd containers throughout the year to be used again at Christmastime. For instance:

* Save empty nut cans and attach Christmas wrapping paper to the outside. They're perfect for Christmas goodie gift giving! (Try filling with CHRISTMAS  PECANS recipe below!)

* Try stacking cookies in empty Pringles cans covered in red and white striped paper, then wrap the whole thing in cellophane with ribbons tied at both ends so that the package resembles a piece of wrapped peppermint.

WAYS TO MAKE YOUR DAYS MERRY AND BRIGHT

* Suspend Christmas balls on ribbon of different lengths and colors from you wall moldings.

* Paint a large straw basket red and use it to hold a grouping of plants.

* Cover a container with heavy gold foil, then fill it with gold-sprayed leaves, tinsel, and pinecones.

* For an instant centerpiece, fill a silver or glass platter with a cheery assortment of Christmas balls and strings of miniature lights.

* Tie some bright red ribbon around the necks of vases and lampshades.

* Decorate a window ledge with holly and ribbon, then stand gingerbread men (real or made from wood) or other tree decorations along the ledge.

* Set out potpourri in decorative dishes.

* Light some scented candles.

* Place bars of strong-scented soap in closets and in drawers.

* Hang clove-studded oranges in closets to banish mustiness.

* Fill outdoor window boxes with spray-painted pine cones and tie an oilcloth "ribbon" around them.

* Wind greens around the posts on your front porch and tie with a red oilcloth bow.

* For outdoor beauty string cranberry and popcorn garlands on the trees outside your house.

* Drape garlands around your mantel, windowsill, banister, or from a chandelier.

* To attach evergreen roping to a staircase or banister, use ribbon or fabric lengths to tie the roping to your rails.

* Hang holiday stockings all around the house-along the mantel, up the staircase, on a towel bar, even on the bathroom shower rod.

THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE

The legend is that the candy cane was invented by a Christian in England in the seventeenth century. At that time, the government would not let people celebrate Christmas. So, a candy maker made candy shaped like a shepherd's crook to be a secret symbol of Jesus. The white stripe represented the purity of Jesus and the
red stripe represented His blood that He shed for each of us. The candy was a double gift: a sweet treat and a symbol of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS TIPS AND IDEAS

* Instead of cutting little bits of wrapping paper off a large roll, try wrapping small gifts in pretty Christmas paper napkins.

* Reuse old Christmas cards by splitting them and using the fronts for Christmas 'postcards' next year!

* Create a Christmassy atmosphere throughout your home by setting out pine, evergreen, or cinnamon-scented potpourri in decorative containers in every room.

* Try tucking favorite Christmas cards into picture frames and mirrors throughout the house.

* Sew small brass jingle bells along the hem of a tablecloth.

GIFTS IN A JAR

BIG BATCH HOT CHOCOLATE MIX

16 cups powdered dry milk
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
5 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bags. For a smoother looking cocoa mix put the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process for a few seconds. (Do just a little at a time.) To use, measure 1/3 cup of cocoa mix into a cup, add hot water, and stir.

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

May the spirit of giving
Go on through the year,
Bringing love, laughter,
Hope, and good cheer.
Gifts wrapped with charity,
Joy, peace, and grace,
Ribboned with happiness,
A tender embrace.

-Norma Woodbridge

STORING ORNAMENTS

* Wrap strings of tree lights around cardboard paper towel tubes. Taping down the ends prevents unraveling.

* Use the divided boxes from wine and soda to store your other ornaments.

* Store tiny ornaments in egg cartons to prevent loss or breakage.

* When packing your decorations away in boxes, store your heavier ornaments on the bottom, and the lighter ones on top, with layers of paper towels or newspapers in between.

A POEM

Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the town
Not a sign of Baby Jesus
was anywhere to be found.

The people were all busy
with Christmas time chores
Like decorating, and baking,
and shopping in stores.

No one sang "Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed".
Instead, they sang of Santa
dressed-up in bright red.

Mama watched Martha Stewart,
Papa drank beer from a tap.
As hour upon hour
the presents they'd wrap

When what from the T.V.
suddenly caught their ears ?
'Cept an ad.. which told
of a big sale at Sears.

So away to the mall
they all flew like a flash...
Buying things on credit...
and others with cash!

And, as they made their way home
From their trip to the mall,
Did they think about Jesus?
Oh, no... not at all.

Their lives were so busy
with Christmas time things
No time to remember
Christ Jesus, the King.

There were presents to wrap
and cookies to bake.
How could they stop to remember
who died for their sake?

To pray to the Savior...
they had no time to stop.
Because they needed more time
to "Shop til they drop!"

On Wal-mart! On K-mart!
On Target! On Penney's!
On Hallmark! On Zales!
A quick lunch at Denny's

From the big stores downtown
to the stores at the mall
They would dash away, dash away,
and visit them all!

And up on the roof,
there arose such a clatter
As grandpa hung lights
up on his brand new step ladder.

He hung lights that would flash.
He hung lights that would twirl.
Yet, he never prayed to Jesus...
Light of the World.

Christ's eyes... how they twinkle!
Christ's Spirit... how merry!
Christ's love... how enormous!
All our burdens... He'll carry!

So instead of being busy,
overworked, and uptight
Let's put Christ back in
Christmas and enjoy
some good nights!

Merry Christmas!

”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”  (John 3:16).

RECIPES

CHICKEN ANGELO PARMESANO

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced, divided
4 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons margarine
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup chicken broth
dried parsley flakes
Hot cooked noodles or rice, optional

Place half of the mushrooms in a 13x9-inch baking pan. Dip chicken in beaten eggs; roll in crumbs. In a skillet, melt margarine over medium heat. Brown chicken on both sides; place on top of mushrooms. Arrange remaining mushrooms over the chicken; sprinkle cheese, dividing equally, over chicken breasts. Add broth to pan. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve over hot noodles or rice, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

BAKED CUSTARD FRENCH TOAST

6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup light cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 loaf sweet french bread
sliced 5/8 inch thick

1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tblsp. corn syrup

Butter 9" x 13" baking dish. Cover bottom with bread. Fill gaps between slices with pieces of bread. Combine eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour entire mixture over bread; cover and refrigerate over night. Next morning
.  

Preheat oven to 350*. In small bowl combine butter, sugar and corn syrup; spread evenly over the whole surface; sprinkle walnuts over all. Bake 30 to 40 minutes till puffed and golden. Serves 6.


CROCKPOT BREAKFAST
 
1 pkg. frozen hash browns (NOT the formed patties)
1 lb cooked crumbled bacon
1 package sausage
1 med onion
1 green pepper
12-18 eggs
1 1/2-2 cups Cheddar, shredded
salt, pepper & oregano

1) First cook the bacon until crisp and crumble.
2) Chop onion and pepper into small pieces.
3) Crumble sausage.
4) Put a layer of the frozen hash brown on the bottom of the crockpot. Next a layer of bacon and sausage mixed together, a layer of onion and green pepper, and a layer of cheese. Repeat this layering process for 1-2 more layers.

In bowl whisk 12-18 eggs (depending on size of crockpot) a little salt, a little pepper, and a little oregano and pour into crockpot. Cook on low 10-12 hours. (I usually make it before bed at night and let it cook while we are sleeping.) Whatever is left over the next day I save in the refrigerator and everyone helps themselves the rest of the week. It microwaves great to heat up. I did this Christmas Eve and it was a BIG hit Christmas morning and great because I didn't have to spend time cooking breakfast, it was all ready.

ORANGE CHANTILLY CREAM

12 medium navel oranges
4 ½ cups whipping cream
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons orange extract
1/3 cup orange juice
Cut a thin slice off the top of each orange. With a grapefruit spoon, scoop out pulp. Invert oranges onto paper towels to drain. Remove and discard membranes from orange pulp; set pulp aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and extract; beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in orange juice. Fold in reserved orange pulp.  Spoon into orange shells. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Yield: 12 servings.

RAISIN-SPICE COFFEE CAKE

   Streusel (below)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare Streusel. Beat remaining ingredients, except for raisins, in large mixer bowl on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup raisins into batter. Spread half of the batter in greased oblong pan, 13x9x2 inches, or square pan, 9x9x2 inches; sprinkle with half of the Streusel. Top with remaining batter; sprinkle with remaining Streusel. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. 9 to 12 servings.
Streusel:
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons firm margarine or butter

Mix all ingredients until crumbly.

PISTASCIO CHEESECAKE


BOTTOM LAYER:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 T. powdered sugar

Mix with hands until crumbly.  Press into 13x9" pan and bake at 350°
for about 10 min.  Cool.

SECOND LAYER: 

2 c. cool whip
8 oz. pkg cream cheese
2/3 c. powdered sugar

Whip with electric mixer and spread over cooled bottom layer.

TOP LAYER:

2 3-oz pkgs pistachio instant pudding

Mix both packages of pudding with only 2-1/2 c milk.  Let sit until  thick and spread on top and then add more Cool whip.  Cover with  toasted slivered almonds.  Refrigerate.

EGGNOG MUFFINS

3 cups flour 

½ cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 ¾ cups eggnog
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, eggnog and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in raisins and pecans. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 16 muffins.


WINTER WASSAIL

Makes 13 cups.

2 teaspoons whole allspice
2 teaspoons whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks
2 quarts apple cider
2 cups sugar
2 cups orange juice
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
1 cup water

TIE first 3 ingredients together in a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter.
BRING cider and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add spice bag; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Remove spice bag; discard.
STIR in orange juice and remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes or until heated. Serve hot.


CHRISTMAS PECANS

5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 cups pecan halves

STIR together 4 tablespoons sugar, melted butter, pumpkin pie spice, and orange rind. Add pecan halves; toss to coat.
PLACE on lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once.

CHOCOLATE MELTING SPOONS
Yummy treats to stir into coffee or hot chocolate
You'll need:
  • Dark, milk and/or white chocolate chips
  • Higher quality plastic spoons
  • Sprinkles or jimmies
  • Clear or colored cellophane
  • Ribbons
Directions:
1.      Adult: Melt chocolate carefully.
2. Dip colored plastic spoons in melted dark, milk or white chocolate.
3. Top with multicolored or glittery sprinkles. Allow to harden.
4. Wrap in clear or colored cellophane and tie with ribbon.
5. For a special addition to this yummy gift, glue a photo of your child onto a square of construction paper & make a gift tag.

 
CHICKEN BREAST STROGANOFF

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sour cream

Defrost chicken breasts. In a large skillet, melt butter and brown breast filets on both sides; remove chicken and arrange in a single layer in a large baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. To butter in skillet add mushrooms and seasonings; cook until mushrooms are tender. Stir in chicken broth. In a small bowl combine flour and sour cream. Stir sour cream mixture into skillet contents and heat through. Pour mixture over chicken breasts, cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes until chicken is done and tender. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

SPICED WALNUT SCONES

3/4 c. milk
2 T. lemon juice
3 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 T. grated orange peel
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. cold butter
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

  Glaze:

1 c. powdered sugar
3 to 4 tsp. milk
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 tsp. almond extract

In a bowl, combine milk and lemon juice; let stand for 2 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange peel, baking soda, baking powder, and spices; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and milk mixture; stir just until moistened.

Turn onto floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion into a 7-inch circle; cut each into six wedges. Separate and place 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Combine glaze ingredients until smooth; drizzle over warm scones. Yield: 1 dozen.

(NOTE: These scones are really good after they have cooled. They're even better after they've been frozen, thawed, and brought to room temperature. They're a great make-ahead-and-freeze-until-needed recipe!)


Well, Dear Friends, that's it for this time. I pray that you all have the merriest of Christmas's, and the brightest of New Year's. May the LORD bless each and every one of you and yours as you celebrate the season of Love's Greatest Gift...Jesus! God bless all here!

Until Next Time...
 
~Rebecca

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