I’m logging all of the books I read this year in an attempt to focus on reading more and celebrating each little victory as I hit “the end.” I love a combination of fiction, nonfiction, and all around feel good books. I also love to read a variety of children’s and preteen books as well to help spread a love of literacy among children. So don’t be surprised if you see a few of those in this list as well. 😍 Feel free to share some recommendations in the comments.. I’ll post as I go.. so scroll down and check out what I’ve read so far in 2020:
1 cup Shortening (Half Butter) 1 cup Powdered Sugar 1 Egg 1 tsp. Vanilla 2 1/2 cups Flour 1 tsp. Salt 1/2 tsp. Red Food Coloring
Heat oven to 375. Mix shortening, sugar, egg and flavoring. Mix flour, salt and stir in. Divide dough in half. Blend food coloring into one half. Roll 1 tsp. of each color dough into strips 4 inches long on a lightly floured board. Place strips side by side and twist. Put on ungreased baking sheet. Curve tops. Bake 9 minutes.
It’s that time of year where some parents find themselves in the heartbreaking position of telling their kids there’s no such thing as Santa. Whether it’s a jerky fifth-grader on the bus ruining the fun or a child old enough to put it all together on their own, it’s sad and the end of an era. There’s also the worry that you’ll do it “wrong” and traumatise your child by telling them the truth.
Enter a mom who shared a wonderful idea for breaking the news that you’ll want to save for when the time comes at your house.
Christy Hutchison posted on Facebook about the method she came across online to tell kids there’s no Santa (gulp.)
And it’s pretty much perfect.
In their family, they have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.
When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
Hutchison suggests taking them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. Get a booth, order drinks, and the following pronouncement needs to be made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE. Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”
The trick here is to make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.
Then have the child choose someone they know… a neighbour, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it… and never reveal to the target where it came from.
Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.
“My oldest chose the “witch lady” on the corner. She really was horrible… had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She’d yell at them to play quieter, etc–a real pill.”
“He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it “merry Christmas from Santa.” After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper–wearing the slippers.”
“He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn’t be a Santa.“
“Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend’s daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok.”
“The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son’s face.”
When it came time for her second son to join the ranks, her oldest came along and helped with the induction speech.
Hutchison says that both her sons are excellent gifters to this day, and never felt that they had been lied to… because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.
Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce
FOR THE CRUST:
2 cups Gingersnap Crumbs
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 pinch Fine Sea Salt
FOR THE FILLING:
24 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, At Room Temperature
1-1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
4 Eggs At Room Temperature
2 teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
12 ounces, fluid Greek Yogurt (2%% Or Full Fat), At Room Temperature
FOR THE RASPBERRY SUACE:
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
12 oz frozen raspberries thawed
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wrap 3 layers of foil around the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the crust ingredients together until combined. Press into the bottom of the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until no lumps remain. Add in the sugar and salt; continue mixing on low until the ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Continue scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Keeping the mixer on low speed, add in the lemon juice, vanilla, and Greek yogurt. (Stir the yogurt first if it has separated while coming to room temperature.) Mix just until combined.
Pour the filling into the pan and place it into a large roasting pan. Place the pan into the oven and quickly pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes up about 1 inch up the foil-wrapped springform pan.
Bake for 55–70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set on the sides and just jiggles a bit in the center when the pan is shaken. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place back in the warm oven. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a thin knife along the edge of the pan. Let the cheesecake continue to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to chill completely.
For Raspberry Sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, and sugar.
Add raspberries and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Sauce can be served warm or chilled.
Slice the cheesecake, add raspberries, sauce, and rosemary sprigs for garnish. Enjoy!
Original cheesecake recipe available here and original raspberry sauce recipe available here.
Heat oven to 300°F. Spray bottom and sides of 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, toss filling ingredients. Spread mixture in baking dish.
In same large bowl, stir cookie mix and melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
Easy Breakfast Pizza Ingredients: 1 (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust dough (I used Pillsbury) – or you could use homemade pizza dough 3 eggs 1/4 cup milk 1 cup cooked ham, diced 1 cup cooked sausage crumbles 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 1 /2 cup green pepper, diced 1/2 cup red pepper, diced 1/2 cup onion, diced salt and pepper to taste garlic salt to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a 15x10x1″ baking sheet (cookie sheet), roll out your pizza dough. With your fingertips, make small indentations in the dough (this helps the eggs settle and cook more evenly). In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the milk, then using a pastry brush, brush the egg over the crust. Top with ham, sausage, cheese, and vegetables. I usually sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper and then some garlic salt to add a little more flavor (but you can use whatever toppings and seasonings you like!). Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes (mine cooked in about 13 minutes – just make sure that the egg is completely cooked and that your dough is done). Remove from oven, slice, and serve.
*Courtesy of Magnolia Blog. Original recipe available here.
Makes 6-8 servings
+ Three 32-ounce cans chicken broth or 12 cups Homemade Chicken Broth (page 216 of Magnolia Table) + 1 vine-ripened tomato, cut into ½-inch dice + One 15.25-ounce can corn kernels, drained + ¼ cup finely chopped red onion + 1 ½ jalapeño (ribbed and seeded if desired), minced + ½ teaspoon kosher salt + ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + One 5.4-ounce pouch Mexican rice mix, or a similar mix + 4 cups shredded meat from 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken or Perfect Roast Chicken (page 203 of Magnolia Table) + 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
+ ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro + 1 or 2 Hass avocado(s), pitted, peeled, and cut into ½-inch dice + One 13-ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed + 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
1. In a large soup pot, combine the broth, tomato, corn, onion, jalapeño, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and then add the shredded chicken. Simmer until heated through.
2. Stir the rice mix into the soup. Add the cumin (if using) and simmer for 15 minutes to cook the rice and let the flavors meld.
3. Place the cilantro, avocado, crushed tortilla chips, and mozzarella in separate serving dishes. Ladle the soup into bowls and pass the garnishes at the table.
4. Store leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.