Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Traditions

What are your Holiday Traditions?  Below is a post I did for a friends blog.  You can find her hilarious blog about life, motherhood and baking here

Christmas is a great time to talk about family traditions, it's that time of year when families look forward to doing that thing they do every year… as our family has grown and expanded traditions have come and gone… One of our all time favorites is getting together with our good family friends for an evening of eating, exchanging gifts and watching "A Christmas Story".   There are 7 boys between our two families so "A Christmas Story" just seemed to be the right movie to watch!  {and yes, our holiday decorating does now include a "leg lamp"}  After about five years of "you'll shoot your eye out!" we realized we all were basically sleeping  through the movie and it was time to move on… We still always get together, but we have switched traditions to playing games or just visiting.  All our boys are grown now and our families have expanded from 7 boys to…. 7 boys, various spouses and a total between our two families of 11 grandchildren including our one on the way!  

It is those little things that make Christmas special for our families.  My kids look forward to wearing their red union suits on Christmas morning…. when the older two got married, then their wives had to have them too… when our grand baby came along that first Christmas she had one too!  They have to have peppermint reception sticks in their hot chocolate, and of course we have a certain list of cookies that I have to make…. repeatedly…. or it doesn't seem like Christmas!

Now our grand baby is 3 and I am starting to create some "gramma's house" traditions for her and whoever else might be coming along…. Here are a few…
I stole this one from my friends mom (who is the most fun gramma I know) a bowl of giant white pom pom "snow" balls out on the coffee table, so that the little people can have their own snow ball fight and not hurt anything, or each other….

Last year I started making a ginger bread house with my grand daughter (actually we made a train, as she was really into trains last year)  this year we will do a house.  It's really just an excuse to sugar her up and send her home LOL,  I had no expectations whatsoever about how it turned out, I just let her enjoy the journey and the candy….

This year I am making her an advent calendar to count down to Christmas.  I wanted it to be more than just, open a door and have some candy, and I wanted to help her focus on the true meaning of Christmas, so I found a play nativity set,  then I put candy in some of the drawers, an ornament for her little personal christmas tree in some and in the rest I put clues as to where to find the pieces of the nativity.  That way we can talk about the Christmas story and she can play with her nativity set and decorate her tree…. I am pretty excited about starting this tradition with her…. Like our other traditions, I am sure it will evolve over time, but that is the great part about families and traditions, they change over time, but they are always there for us…. home truly is where the heart is.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Elegant and Easy Baked Pears with Maple Syrup

Elegant and Easy Baked Pears

This is one of the easiest and prettiest recipes I make.  They are also so warm and yummy on a cold winter night.  Since it is down in the 20's here and actually 7 degrees while I write this, I thought some baked pears were in order.  Pears are drenched in maple syrup, {you can use pancake syrup, but real maple syrup is just the best} baked and then covered with whip cream for a delightfully warm and yummy and I like to think somewhat healthy dessert.

Pears - one for each person
Maple Syrup - Real syrup is the best but any will work. 2-3 Tbs per pear
Whipped Cream - 1/4 to 1/2 cup for each pear 

Wash each pear and slice a little off the bottom so they sit flat.  You can peel a little stripe down each side, or around the pear just for effect.  Place all pears in a glass baking dish.  Drizzle with maple syrup.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes depending on the ripeness of your pears.  The pear pictured was at that perfect ripe eating stage and it took about 30 minutes to be fully baked.  Important- baste the pears every 10 minutes or so with the maple syrup from the bottom of the dish.  The syrup will caramelize as the pear bakes.  When the pears are done, carefully place each pear on a plate or shallow bowl and drizzle with the hot maple syrup from the baking pan.  Top with a big dollop of whipped cream and devour immediately!