Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Countdown is Accelerating!

Okay, so you know what they say about the best laid plans. So much for my 30-Day Countdown to Christmas - I missed two days completely! I guess it's now down to a 24-Day Countdown.

Thanksgiving Day and the Friday and Saturday afterward seemed to fly by. I barely got my thoughts together, let alone find time to write them down. We don't do the big dinner at our house. We are always invited elsewhere and only need to bring one or two dishes. This does make life easy but I often do wish we had the gang here. I've only had a crowd for Thanksgiving Day once in my own home and I loved it. I also really like the leftovers which there are none of when you eat elsewhere. To make up for it, we always do a whole Thanksgiving style meal for ourselves somewhere around the actual holiday. This year, we did it a few weeks early and did have a guest couple to share it with. As we were leaving for two weeks, we ended up freezing the last of the leftovers and had our own mini-Thanksgiving meal with those last Monday. We've already purchased another turkey for the freezer and will do our own Christmas feast soon, too.

We did enjoy our holiday meal with The Big Guy's brother and his family at their house and were glad to spend time with a niece and nephew we haven't caught up with much this year. They're at that age where they really don't "waste" a lot of time with us old folks. We had a second holiday celebration with my cousins and other family members on Friday when we attended a "Pie Party." A change from the usual full holiday meal, this year everyone was to bring a pie and some sort of finger food or appetizer. This one was fun with a wide array of desserts and a slew of creative nibbles. I intended to take a Peanut Butter Pie made from a recipe my sister has had for years and I've made a few times along the way. However, I started playing on the web looking for even more creative variations and found a better recipe.

I made a few adaptations and received rave reviews for this one. It's a keeper!

Peanut Butter Pie:

2 - 9"cookie crumb crusts (I used chocolate cookie crusts. Original recipe called for graham cracker crusts and another suggestion was to use crushed Nutter Butter cookies. All are wonderful ideas and should work just as well.)
8 oz. cream cheese (lite will work)
1 1/2 C confectioner's sugar
1 cup of milk
1 cup peanut butter
16 oz. Cool Whip (low fat or sugar free will work - although, in the case of the latter, why bother?)
10 oz. chopped peanut butter cups - divided in half

In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and sugar together. Beat in the peanut butter and milk. Fold in the Cool Whip. Stir in half of the chopped peanut butter cups. Fill both crusts with this mixture. Sprinkle the remaining pieces of peanut butter cups over the top of the pies. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. Original recipe called for freezing the pie which creates a more ice cream like consistency. Try one each way!!!


As for today's craft/gift idea, try a slight variation on gift baskets. I suggest aprons with pockets for a favorite cook. Spend a few minutes decorating the apron with paints, appliques or even just laundry markers. If the apron is for Grandma, try tracing each child's handprint and labeling each with their name and age. Decorations can be as simple as printing food words all over like: saute, bake, broil, fry, etc. Stuff the pockets with all the ingredients needed for a special meal - for example : pizza crust mix, a jar of tomato sauce, seasonings, a pizza cutter etc. Just before presenting the gift, add a package of shredded cheese and a pack of pepperoni. For a young cook without all the normal kitchen accessories, run through the dollar store and fill the apron with things like wooden spoons, spatulas, etc. Add some recipe cards with some simple, tried and true recipes. If the recipient isn't the apron type, try putting all the cooking accessories in an appropriate pan or even one of the reusable "green" shopping bags available in most markets.

Word to live by:

I watched Disney's Ratatouille for the first time yesterday and loved it! If you're into food or are a Food Network junkie, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of it, too. When the movie was over and they featured a few words from Walt Disney himself (Yes, I realize he died many years before this movie was ever imagined.), a phrase he used stuck with me and became my words of wisdom for the day -- "Always Move Forward!" Sounds like a great mantra!

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