Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An idea to consider for Christmas breakfast

Photo from Taste of Home
As I mentioned yesterday, most of the ladies brought food to the Christmas brunch this past Saturday.  I decided early on to take a cranberry coffeecake, but had been uncertain what to bring for an egg dish -- we were keeping it to easy-to-eat foods that might require only the use of fingers or a fork.

One day while walking with my friend, we were talking about Christmas breakfast,  and she mentioned a recipe she had tried and liked, made in a 13x9 pan.  When she brought me a copy of the recipe the next day, she had also clipped to it this recipe: Amazing Muffin Cups.

Instantly I knew what I would bring to the brunch.  These are so good!  There's a hash brown crust and then an egg filling made with sausage, cheese and chopped red pepper.  I left out the chives because I didn't have any, but it certainly would help to add a Christmasy touch.   Using some red and some green pepper would achieve the same effect.

The recipe calls for link sausages, cut up, but I made my own bulk sausage using ground turkey and then cooked it prior to using in the egg filling.

I doubled the batch to make 24 muffin cups for the brunch, though in retrospect 12 would have been plenty.  There was SO much food there.  So many choices!

This is a delicious recipe that I'm likely to make again and again.  If you're looking for something a little different for Christmas breakfast, may I suggest Amazing Muffin Cups?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ladies' Christmas brunch at church

This past Saturday we enjoyed a ladies' Christmas brunch at church.  We invited ladies from another area church as well as friends, coworkers, etc. and we had about 25 who gathered at 10 a.m. for brunch.  Everybody brought something so we had a lovely variety of brunch foods -- along with a nice fruit punch, lots of coffee, and the options of tea or hot chocolate as well.
The pretty plaid "tablecloth" is actually wrapping paper!
Even a chocolate fountain with lots and lots of fruit!
My friend Ruth had offered to head up this entire event, which was just wonderful.  In a small church, with no pastor at the moment (and hence, no pastor's wife to take the lead in things like this), it often falls to the same people to take on ladies' events.  So when Ruth volunteered to orchestrate the brunch, it was a great relief.  She did invitations, planned a devotional, provided music, decorated, and much more.
A few ladies during the song time.  Ruth is in the red.
When I asked on Wednesday night how she would like the chairs and tables arranged in the fellowship hall, she simply replied that she planned to spend most of Thursday (her day off!) at the church and would take care of it herself.   What a servant's heart she has!  She did say, though, that she was not planning on bringing any of the food, just the drinks.  And there was certainly more than enough food!  People shared so generously with what they brought.

Above you see one more of Ruth's contributions to this special event -- a faux fireplace that she designed, constructed and decorated.  It really came out so nicely -- the photo does not do it justice -- and added a cozy Christmas ambiance to our fellowship hall.  Her hubby actually sneaked over to the church on Friday and added the birch logs for an added touch of realism.

Ruth's devotional centered around Psalm 90:12 -- "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." -- and the necessity of using our time for the glory of God every day, but paying special attention to this during the busy Christmas season when so many events vie for our attention.  It was a wonderful reminder and a lovely event.  Thank you, Ruth!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A fun idea for rustic Christmas decorating ... or gifting!

Image by Twigg Studios
This project reminds me of a lovely gift we received one year from our future son-in-law when he was in college.  He made a very pretty gift out of a decorative glass bottle filled with greenery and berries, water and, I think, some oil.  A floating wick was then placed on top and the wick could be lit to serve as a sort of candle or oil lamp.  Some people made these without oil or a wick and simply placed a round floating candle on top.

When I saw this Rustic Holiday Mason Jar Diffuser by Mary Beth at The How-To Home, I immediately thought of that long-ago gift -- they have been married for 18 years now!  I went looking to see if I could find a photo with the lamp in it.  (No digital camera in those days!)  In the only photo I could find, the lamp was on a table with other decorative items and it was just too dark to show up well.  Eventually the greenery molded (though that took a long time) and had to be discarded.

I'm sure that you can get an idea of how it looked when you see Mary Beth's photo, below:
Photo by Mary Beth at The How-To Home (formerly Cupcakes and Crinoline)
Her diffuser is an even more practical idea in that it requires no water, is not flammable, and the greenery will not mold.  Who knew diffuser lids were available for Mason jars?  Certainly not me!

Have fun with this idea!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Homemade jellied cranberry sauce

Photo from Chowhound.com
Have you ever made your own cranberry sauce?  I've made whole berry sauce and all sorts of cranberry relishes, but up until this past Thanksgiving I had never tried making the jellied type of cranberry sauce.

It all started when my daughter mentioned she was having trouble finding the organic canned cranberry sauce she usually buys.  Everything else, even good brands, contains high fructose corn syrup, and her kids like jellied cranberry sauce so much, she wants it to be somewhat healthier.   I said I would try making some to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at their home.  There was a recipe on the cranberry bag.

Well, that recipe didn't work out so well.  I prepared and refrigerated it on Wednesday night, but by Thursday morning it had still not set.  I would have caved and simply brought a can of regular jellied sauce from my pantry, but I only had whole berry.  Not wishing to disappoint anyone, my sweet husband pleaded with me to let him try making some, as we had plenty of cranberries.  So I looked online and found this recipe: Jellied Cranberry Sauce via Chowhound.  The recipe said it would need to chill for at least 2 hours, but we had started our Thanksgiving morning early and had plenty of time for that to happen.

 I was surprised how quickly the recipe came together.  Before I knew it, the sauce was cooked and strained and ready to add the unflavored gelatin.  (We opted not to use the cinnamon stick and orange zest, although I'm sure those would have been yummy additions, because we wanted it to taste more like the canned jellied sauce.)

It came out delicious and the kids raved over it: "Good job, Grampa!"

My daughter asked for the recipe and said she would never have to buy the canned sauce again.

I'm sharing this recipe now so you will have plenty of time to buy cranberries and unflavored gelatin, which not everyone has in their pantry, if you would like to try this.  I do definitely recommend purchasing Ocean Spray cranberries. 

Hope your family enjoys this delicious homemade sauce if you try it!

Friday, December 14, 2018

A fun craft project -- glittery little trees!

Photo by Diana at Adirondack Girl at Heart
Here's a project I've been wanting to try for quite some time now: Glittery little trees made from toilet paper tubes!  This is another design by the ever-creative Diana at Adirondack Girl at Heart.

Back when I first saw this idea (2015) I started saving toilet paper tubes to use for these little trees.  (Don't worry; I haven't been saving them ever since!)  I think I saved about a dozen.  I split them up the side, which is what needs to happen to turn them into cones, and stashed them in a ziptop bag with my crafting supplies.  I think I have everything else on hand that I might need to make some of these adorable trees. 

Can't you just picture these displayed with bottle brush trees and glittery little houses like those above to make an enchanted village?

With my handmade gifts completed, I may find time to tackle some simple Christmas crafts like this one.  We will see!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Inspiring handmade gift idea for friends

Delightful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
 Here's an idea from Karen Ehman that I came across quite awhile ago and saved to use here in my Christmas kitchen: Give her God’s Word in your handwriting.  Karen shares how a dear friend gave her these tags, simply cut from manila file folders and backed with scrapbooking paper.  Karen chose to keep the tags in a jar by her sink and chooses one per week to meditate on as she washes dishes. 

I have given handwritten scripture cards to friends before, and this simple gift never fails to be a huge blessing to people.  But Karen's friend Kelly took the idea a step farther in creating these lovely tags.

Following the post, Kelly left her instructions for making these tags in a comment.  It took me a long time to work my way through the comments to find the instructions, so I have taken the liberty of copying and pasting Kelly's instructions here:

"Here are the supplies and instructions. There really is no one way to do this but this is what I had on hand.

manila file folders

scrapbooking paper ( about 3-4 coordinated designs with print on front and back)

white cotton yarn (mine was purchased on a cone and I use it for several things around the home)

White reinforcement hole labels

glue stick (one for crafts,  not kids’ glue)

hole puncher

The size of my tag is 3 3/4″ by 1 3/4″. Cut out a rectangle this size from the manila folders. At about the 3″ mark cut away up to the middle of the top of the rectangle on both sides to make the point. (See photo below.)  Now use this as a pattern to cut as many rectangles as verse cards you will need. I made about thirty for a set. Next, cut out 3 1/4″ by 2 1/4″ rectangles from the scrapbooking papers. Glue these papers onto the tags. This should leave a small border around the tag. (See photo) Use a hole puncher to punch a hole in the arrow portion of the tag. Reinforce with a hole label. Then, cut a piece of yarn 12″. Fold in half. Tie a knot at the bottom, then loop in through the hole. The knot should be the part that is hanging.
Now the fun part. Choose scripture verses to write on the tags. I choose verses from Psalms, but you could choose verses with a theme (love, blessings, comfort, contentment, joy). Choose verses that will encourage the person you are giving them to for whatever circumstances they are in . You could give them in a jar or basket, or just wrap them up and let them choose from a container they have that works for them. You could also make a tag with the verse from Ps. 119:105 and attach it to the gift. They could then attach it to their jar or basket.
I hope these directions are clear enough. You can make whatever size of tag you would like to use. And remember, they don’t have to be perfect. But they will know it was given from the heart."
Photo from Karen Ehman
Isn't this a fabulous idea?  I hope that some of my readers will give this project a try.  I know that I intend to!  (Incidentally, the 25 Days of God-Given Gifts series by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings would be a fun alternative to making one's own Scripture cards for this project.  Just punch a hole in each one and add a string!  But if you have the time, writing out God's Word in your very own handwriting certainly makes your gift even more precious.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A fabulous scone recipe to try

Photo from Buns in My Oven
I recently came across this recipe for Maple Glazed Cinnamon Scones from Buns in My Oven.  They look scrumptious, don't they?

When I spotted this recipe, I immediately saved it to use during December in my Christmas Kitchen posts.  Scones make a wonderful kitchen gift.  You can tuck them into a basket with packets of tea or hot cocoa mix, or with a bag of coffee.  These scones in particular, with their festive flavors of maple and cinnamon and their lovely thick glaze, would make a perfect gift.

These would also be absolutely perfect for Christmas breakfast, or for any potluck brunch event you might be invited to.  I'll let you decide.  But I encourage you to give this recipe a try.  I'm going to!