Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Word Find


W L W U L S M D C R A E Y S T 
L A T L L H Y H O C S J N T R 
K D V W P I R A I O H U C N G 
H Q J N S I G D D E F J H E E 
Z N N S S Y D H S I L W S S C 
Y L E T P C H D T O L S B E E 
O T M S U M N V B S K O C R E 
Y A S T N E M A N R O A H P R 
S P W P I M M F A M I L Y S T 
H E L R E F W T J X O O V A I 
N E F L E P D O T T H S X N R 
N A V A P K U Q B E C G A T E 
Q E E V L E U P N Y Y B M A J 
S U E J H P M R Z Y J F V J V 
F Z T G O N P N M P A P J Y I 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate/Oatmeal Uncooked Cookies

Christmas baking was always a major event in my house.  We would start early in December and fill as many containers in the house as we could find.  My mom, my sister and I would all decide what our “specialties” would be so no one else would make what the others were making.  Cookies, fudge, candy, and breads.  (I think we could have fed the entire country they way we baked.)  And it was always fun to put plates or containers together for friends and neighbors. 

I miss those days, and one of the cookies my mom made became a favorite of mine to make.  I wish I had her exact recipe, but it’s hidden away somewhere and so I had to search the net for one.  This sounds very similar so I’m sharing it. 

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter
(I prefer chunky myself)

Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil for one full minute.
Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter (optional), vanilla and oatmeal.
Drop by spoonful onto wax paper or aluminum foil. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

These aren’t the ooey gooey kind of my childhood school days, but they sure are good.

Though it’s nice to have the house smell of “cookie baking” during this time of year, you can whip this up really fast, and while they are cooling, you can have more things going in the oven. 

It’s been another fun week, but I’m so full just reading about all the fun foods of the season.  Hope you are able to try some of the things we’ve shared, or feel free to share your own in the comments.  And if you make any of ours or buy some holiday favorites, please come back and post how well you enjoyed them!

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  
Spend time enjoying the holiday with friends and family.  
And thanks for all your support this past year.   
See ya in 2012!
~~~ Duuude ~~~ 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Candy!

Yum! I get to cover the "good" stuff! Of course, there's so much out there I could show you, but I'll limit to a few.

Click on photos to be taken to links!

Have you heard about the Peppermint Pig tradition? 

I'm not sure I could eat this, it's just so pretty! Old fashion ribbon candy:

There's always the good old standby, candy canes:

Have you tried Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark? I have, it's awesome!

When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to work in a factory called Shelly Bros. one summer vacation. They made the most amazing rock candy pieces. Both free standing and lollipops! The factory was bought out by Brach and is no longer in business but it brings back fond memories. I have never found rock candy made like they made it, in such wonderful shapes but you can still find a few others.

Another thing from my past is Slap Jack candy!! I can still get it today but I do have to travel for it since I moved north and it doesn't seem to make it up over the mountain! LOL! Here is the story regarding Slap Jack:

A newer one that I love are Christmas Dots! These aren't easy to find and are well worth the search! I find them at Walmart if you get there early enough!

What would Christmas be without Pez? Oh yes, I must mention Pez. You have Santa and snowmen:
Elves and reindeer:

And of course, Mrs. Claus:

Do you have a favorite holiday candy? Let us know what it is in the comment section!

We have one more post (dude's Friday post) for this year! I can't believe how fast this year has gone. After that, the crew of ACollectiveJournal will be taking the week off to spend time with our friends and family over the holidays. We'll see you next year!

Wishes to all our followers and readers for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's never too late to make the donuts

This is my grandmother's recipe for donuts. It is an easy one and you can get fancy and ice them up if you like. I just mix a little cinnamon and sugar and roll the donuts in it. These are easy to make on Christmas morning as they don't take a lot of time.


2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs soft butter
add 2 eggs and beat well

sift 3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg (I just use a little cinnamon in place of the nutmeg and sometimes add a little vanilla flavoring) 

Sift alternatly into creamed mixture with a scant cup of milk.
Mix well.
add more flour if needed. 
Roll out and cut out.

In an iron skillet (any pan will do, I use a big sauce pan)
melt about 1 1/4 lb lard...(I use veg or canolla oil)
When fat/oil is hot enough, donuts holes will rise at once and begin to brown.

Put donuts in one at a time and let each rise and start to brown before adding the another. You can have six or seven going at a time.

Remove from oil and place on cooling rack.
Once they have cooled a little I roll them in the sugar mixture.

You can also glaze them or eat them plain 

Hope you enjoy and have a Very Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

G-Free Holiday Cooking, Yes You Can!

G-Free Yule Tide Log

For families who have a family member or friend with Celiac Disease and requires a gluten free diet, holiday cooking can be a challenge.  However, cheer up, it can be done.   There are several websites and stores who's purpose in life is to help you.  Here is my favorite website for recipes and ideas:

I've learned to fix a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a wonderful ham dinner that the entire family enjoyed.  There are some items like stuffing and meatballs that I make a special batch just for my g-free granddaughter, and some foods that are g-free for the entire family.  It just depends on what I'm fixing.

Baked goods are the most difficult of course, so here is a basic flour substitute recipe:

Mary’s All-Purpose Flour Blend

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups white rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour

1. Mix ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.

Each cup contains 564 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 127 g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein
G-Free Pumpkin Pie

G-Free Blueberry Muffins

And here's a great recipe you can try for Christmas!
Crisp and Custardy

Dairy-Free Crusty Herb Popovers

This recipe is a great substitution for bread at any meal and is easy and rewarding to make. Adding fresh herbs compliments your menu. For best results, do not replace the eggs in this recipe.

4 eggs
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice
⅓ cup tapioca starch/flour
⅔ cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, rosemary or sage, chopped finely
-Dash salt

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a 12-cup muffin tin in the oven to preheat. (A warm muffin tin helps the batter rise. Keep the tin in the oven until you’re ready to pour in the batter.)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until blended. Add tapioca starch/flour, white rice flour, herbs and salt. Whisk until combined and smooth.

3. Carefully remove the hot baking tin from the oven. Lightly grease it with cooking spray.

4. Pour in the batter, filling each muffin cup three-quarters full. (Fill any empty muffin cups with water to ensure even baking.)

5. Place popovers in preheated oven and bake 25 minutes or until popovers are puffed high and turn a rich, golden brown. (For puffiest popovers, do not open the oven door before 25 minutes.) Serve immediately.

Each popover contains 78 calories, 2g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 73mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 3g protein.

Recipes for all of the above and much more can be found on the website linked in this post.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  God bless each and everyone.
Pepper and Family

Monday, December 19, 2011

What to Bake??? What to Bake???

Here is a recipe that our family looks forward to each is usually gone in a flash!
I like it because it is healthy....after all it has a vegetable in it!

Zucchini Bread

3 Eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Crisco Oil
2&1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups peeled and grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (Optional)

Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and oil while stirring.
Sift dry ingredients and combine with the egg and sugar mixture.
Add zucchini and nuts, blending well.

Pour into 2 loaf pans that have been greased and floured....
Bake large loaf at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.
I also bake this in small loaf pans (about 5 of them) instead of large pans...baking takes approx. 35 minutes  in the small loaf pans.

To alter this recipe for my diabetic husband (too much sugar)  I substitute 1/2 cup of Splenda Sugar Blend for 1 cup of the sugar...this means you will have 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of Splenda sugar....
This cuts the sugar content enough to allow him to have a small slice of this bread!

           Wishing everyone a Blessed 
               and Merry Christmas 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Decor - Outside and Through the Window

Wow, what a fun week it’s been.  Last week, we decorated the tree and this week, we have been decorating the house.  And today to finish things off, I get to decorate the outside.  There are so many things you can do outside to spread some cheer during the Christmas season, whether it’s in the yard, on the house or through the window.  Whether old, new, store bought or handmade.  So without any more chatter from me, let’s get to it.  Just remember, click on the name under the photos and go to their shops.

Just for fun, I’ve included some photos of actual home displays.  Some people go all out with neighborhood competitions and others simply enjoy sharing.  Interesting what you can find when you’re “searching”.   

Somewhere in Brentwood, CA
Pleasant Valley, CA
Petaluma, CA
Napa, CA
(I don’t think I want their electric bills – lol)

Hope you have enjoyed this week of decorating for the holidays.  If it’s too late this year, maybe it has given you ideas for next year.

Until next week (and another fun topic I hear) enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decorating with nature

I was assigned nature for this week's post. Um, my first thought was outhouses but I don't think that is what was meant. I'm supposed to be decorating with nature, so here it goes!

(Please click on photos to be taken to the shops! Each photo is a different store!)

One of the most beautiful things to me is what nature can do to flowers! Always boggles my mind.

From Teleflora comes this beautiful Christmas cactus:

One of my all time favorites, holly! Check out this web site I found that has some great items made from holly, Mill Creek Holly Farm:

There's nothing like fresh evergreens, can't you just smell them now?
I love live evergreen ropes for railings!

Along those same lines is a twig swag from Jeffrey Alans:

And here is a wonderful holiday swag for your mailbox!

I've always enjoyed paperwhites at Christmas! I force bulbs starting on Thanksgiving Day and have them for Christmas!

Here is an arrangement using Paperwhites from Martha Stewart:

Stop by Barbotts to see all the amazing poinsettias! I have a hard time picking out a favorite but I do like the painted ones I've seen around!

Can't leave out Amaryllis! This is a favorite gift from my Mom each year but then never look like this one! 

 This one comes from Jackson & Perkins:

From Black Forrest Decor, check out these birch candles!

Take a look at the snow currant collection from Pottery Barn!

Let's not forget our fine, feathered friends:

Enjoy your holiday season!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

what the flock?

I was going to start with Nativities, but thought I would have a little fun and start with some flocked Christmas animals. This first one was picked with a certain someone in mind...(they know who they are)
 Here are some traditional Christmas animals
This one has a mix, some reindeer and then a lion and a couple of moose (pl ?)


How cute is this little lamb?
Now I am moving onto some Nativities. My mom always put out her hand-carved Anri Nativity. She started with just a few of the major pieces and each year my father would add to her collection. All of them were carved beautifully, but the animals always kept my attention. Here are a couple of animals that once again caught my eye. 
I don't know what it is about this donkey, but I just love it.

This camel seems to have some attitude (which I also love)
 I found this neat Creche Manger

 and here is one all ready to be set up
if you already have a creche or just want the figures, this is for you

 This little one is perfect if you don't have much room or would like to hang it on your tree.

 If you are more into a modern version, check out this handmade set

 or this one of a more simple but elegant design

 Whatever your taste, you can find just about anything that will meet your needs. 

So now we have wreaths done and table settings, nativities and some flocked animals thrown in for good measure......I wonder what will come next...? I guess if you really want to know you will have to check in tomorrow and Friday to find out. (I am sure it will be interesting) 

hmmm, maybe next week we will post some of our favorite Christmas recipes....maybe not

have a good one.