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Monday, November 16, 2009

M2M: Simplifying Your Holidays: Recipe Swap


Thanksgiving is almost here!  Can't you just smell the turkey and the homemade rolls baking in the oven?  Oh, and don't forget that pumpkin pie, although I do not care for pumpkin pie.  (Gasp!)  I know!  I do love Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and Pumpkin Roll, though.  Before we get to the recipe swap, I just want to cover a little bit on prepping for the big day. 

You may be having company for Thanksgiving, whether overnight guests or just family coming in for the day.  It's time to figure out sleeping arrangements for overnight guests or even places for your guests to sit, if they are only going to be there for the day.  Trust me, it's no fun to have no room at your table because you didn't prepare.  Maybe you know someone who has longer tables and a few chairs that you can borrow for the occasion.  Now is the time to start asking.  Don't put it off, because then you'll just get yourself overwhelmed, rushed, and harried, which will do neither you nor your family any good.  With all of the likely sales that will be going on in the grocery stores in the next two weeks, it's time to make up your menu; if you're travelling somewhere, it's time to start that packing list; especially make sure that your car is prepped and ready, meaning any maintenance is done, such as oil changes, tire checks, etc. With this time of year, you just never know about the weather either, so make sure you have your emergency kit inside, as well as blankets and water.  Maybe you are just going a few miles down the road.  Then it's time to make up your list of what dishes you are taking.  That way, you can hit the sales and get the items you need without having to run out at the last minute.  Most likely, you'll be doing most of your cooking the day before Thanksgiving....start preparing now, so that your Thanksgiving Eve can go smoothly, and you can have more time to spend with your family.  

Now on to the fun stuff.  Decorating for Thanksgiving can be a lot of fun.  Maybe you're tired of the fall leaves and pumpkins; maybe you'd rather get your Christmas stuff out and have your tree up by the time family arrives.  I'm actually thinking about putting my tree up this weekend.:)  If you like traditional Thanksgiving decor, though, your house can be made beautiful.  Simply put a fall tablecloth on your table.  Fabric stores carry a wide array of holiday fabrics; maybe you could make a set of holiday napkins.  Better yet, visit Goodwill or a local thrift store or even the clearance section of TJ Maxx.  You are likely to find everything you need to make your house look festive.  Sometimes just having real fruit to decorate with can make for beautiful decor, as in Martha Stewart's Pear Place Card.  Here are some great websites to get ideas for Thanksgiving decor and crafts that even your little ones can help with: 
Disney Family Fun- Thanksgiving Decorations
Martha Stewart Holidays- Thanksgiving
Celebrations Thanksgiving 
Better Homes and Gardens- Thanksgiving Decorating: Indoors
HGTV Thanksgiving
Just remember that your house doesn't have to be perfect!  Just get in the holiday spirit, enjoy being with your family, and everything will feel beautiful, no matter what.  This is true!:)

Now for the recipe swap.  I am so excited about this, as it means we'll get to share all sorts of recipes with each other.  Who doesn't love that?  What are your favorite holiday recipes?  What dishes can your family not live without at Thanksgiving or Christmas?  Here are just a few of my family's favorites:

Crisp White Sugar Cookies- This recipe has been in my family for a while; my mom and I used to make these every year when I was younger.  I still make them today.  Enjoy!
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter or shortening
1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift, then measure the flour. Sift again with the baking soda, salt and sugar.  Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until it is as fine as corn meal.  Combine milk, slightly beaten eggs, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, beating until smooth.  Cover dough closely with wax paper, and chill in refrigerator overnight or several hours.
 
Turn dough on a lightly floured board, and roll thin.  Cut with a floured cookie cutter.  Garnish.  Keep dough cold as it becomes sticky and hard to handle when warm.  Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  They will crisp as they cool.  Makes 4 dozen large cookies.

I also make a powdered sugar icing for these out of a couple tablespoons of margarine, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and almond flavoring.  Then, I add food coloring for whatever colors we want for our Christmas cookies.

Another sugar cookie recipe that we love is on Taste of Home- Sugar Cookie Cutouts.

Last year, instead of my usual Pumpkin Roll, I made these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Martha Stewart, and they were a huge hit!

We used to also make buckeye balls, but I found this recipe for Buckeye Bars from Kraft last year, which makes the whole process just a bit easier and less time-consuming.:)

If you're looking for a great holiday breakfast, this was also a huge hit with our extended family.  It's the Breakfast Bake over at Kraft.  I do have one hint for this, though; I use the Buttery Crescent Rolls for the bottom instead of the regular, and they make a world of difference in taste.

A great appetizer that the whole family loves is Kraft's Creamy Crab and Red Pepper Spread, served with Ritz-type crackers.  You might want to double this recipe, since it seems to disappear pretty quickly.

There are oh so many more recipes I could share with you, but now it's your turn.  Cooking around the holidays can be so much fun, especially if you have new recipes to try....so let's get
swapping.  Simply post your favorite holiday recipe/s on your blog, and come back to sign Mr. Linky below.  Be sure to link back to MamaBuzz in your posts.  Happy cooking, everyone!:)

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