Family Food & Fun

12 Days Of Family Christmas Fun

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On Friday, we kicked off our family festivities for the Christmas season! I love making memories with my husband and children!  This year, I have vowed to keep things simple. This year we are focusing on presence…not presents. 

We always want to keep our focus on the true meaning of the Christmas and why we celebrate…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While our Christmases, in comparison to most others, falls into a modest category, I can still find myself falling into the commercialism trap at times, but this year, I am determined to stay the course. The first Christmas was simple, and ours will be too.

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New toys are great for a few weeks, and then they end up on the bottom of a toybox, but memories can last a lifetime. Make memories with your little ones this year momma. Make the mess. Use the glitter. Stay up past bedtime. Let that laundry go, and soak in every second of this Christmas with your family!

Here are some of the things that we are doing this Christmas season and I’m so excited! Maybe a few of these ideas could jumpstart your family’s Christmas activities this year. I hope you have an amazingly blessed holiday season and make wonderful memories!

Christmas Candy:

Hit Pinterest up and get in the kitchen with your little ones momma! There are so many creative ideas that everyone can find something that they like! Start a new tradition of making it every year. Make old favorites with grandma’s tried and true recipe. Just enjoy the time together! (If you like peanut butter and chocolate, here’s my recipe for Peanut Butter Balls. YUM!)

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Festive Breakfasts:

Put a spin on breakfast with these festive but simple ideas. **Never underestimate what a little sprinkles and food coloring can do!**

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Christmas Music: 

One of the Christmas memories that sticks out the most in my mind is my mom playing a Christmas record on our record player. She cranked it up and we danced all around our living room while belting out “Frosty The Snowman”. I can remember laughing and giggling and how much fun I had that day. Put on some music for your little ones then dance and sing away! 

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Christmas Movies:

Hallmark, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu…there’s so many to choose from! Some of our favorites are: The Nativity Story, White Christmas, Elf, The Grinch, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

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Hot Chocolate:

Put together a hot chocolate bar and let your little ones exercise their culinary creativity. (We like marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and sprinkles.) Click here for my slow cooker hot chocolate recipe.

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Salt Dough Ornaments:

Trim your tree this year with handmade ornaments by your little ones with this simple salt dough ornament recipe. These are so fun to make!

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Christmas Lights:

Whether you hang your own outside or visit a local display, get out and enjoy the beauty of all those twinkling lights! There are usually even drive by displays if the weather is too icky or cold or you have tiny little ones. Check your local paper or events pages for some ideas of places you can visit for some lights.

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Christmas Parades & Parties:

Our small country town holds an annual Christmas parade. If your hometown doesn’t have a Christmas parade, check your neighboring towns and venture out. Set out on a family adventure and see what you can find!

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Christmas Attractions & Activities:

This year we decided to try something new. We heard of a “Christmas Cave” that puts on a beautiful Nativity display in a neighboring state. The trip is just a little over an hour, so we will be making a little day trip out of it. Some of our friends visited this year and said it was awesome, so we are going to visit it as well this year. Are there any local attractions or activities for you and your family to visit this year?

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Christmas Cookies:

Christmas cookies! One of my favorite things to make during Christmas time! We love making sugar cookie batter and cutting them out with cookie cutters. The kids decorate them with sprinkles and watch them rise in the oven. The smell of sugar cookies in the oven always remind me of Christmas time when I was a child. (Click here for my sugar cookie recipe)

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Christmas Crafts:

Paper plates, scissors, glue, glitter, beads, cloth, ribbon…get creative! There are thousands of ideas for all different ages on Pinterest. Pop your masterpieces up on the refrigerator once you’ve completed them for all to view.

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Christmas Books, Stories, & Scripture:

My kids love to be read to and I love to read to them! Cuddle up under some blankets and dive into some good books! Read the Christmas story in the Bible to your children and discuss what happened. Let them ask questions. Ask them to draw pictures of what you read. Let them help pick our books they would like for you to read to them. If you are anything like us, one book can quickly turn into 10!

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Volunteer or Help Others In Need:

One of the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive is your love and your time. Do something kind for someone. It doesn’t always have to involve money, as some of the most important things in life have no monetary value, but they mean everything. Share a meal, donate to your local mission or shelter, offer your time or services to those in need. Pray for others. Share the good news of Jesus with others and most importantly, love others.

God bless you and your families this Christmas season! 

 

Family Food & Fun

Homemade Sugar Cookies

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My mom used this recipe every year with my brother and I to make Christmas cookies. I am blessed to be able to make these same cookies with my children today!

  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

I like using my stand mixer, but a hand mixer also works well.

Cream your butter and sugar until they are smooth. Beat in your eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cover your dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll your dough out with a rolling pin onto a floured surface. Using your choice of cookie cutters, cut into shapes and put the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. (Make sure that your dough is not too thick as your cookies will rise substantially)

Let your little ones decorate with sprinkles if you choose. This is always the fun part!

Bake your cookies for 6-8 minutes in a preheated oven. Let them cool completely before removing them from your baking sheet.

You can also use royal icing to decorate the cookies for a more sophisticated look.

 

Family Food & Fun

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

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There’s nothing like sitting under a comfy blanket sipping on some yummy hot chocolate. My kids LOVE hot chocolate (the more marshmallow the better). Here is a super simple recipe that you can throw in your crockpot.

Dump in:

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of milk chocolate chips

Give your ingredients a quick stir, turn your crockpot to low, and let it warm for about 2 hours stirring it occasionally.

Add your choice of toppings…marshmallow, sprinkles, peppermint sticks… and enjoy!

Family Food & Fun

Peanut Butter Balls

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These peanut butter balls are a holiday favorite in our family. They are so creamy and easy to make! Savor them at home or stash some in a beautiful tin for a gift of sweet treats.

  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place these ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute.

  • Stir in 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar to achieve a stiff consistency (Add up to an additional 1/2 cup if the consistency is too soft)

Roll the dough into 1 inch round balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place these in a freezer for about 30 to an hour.

Melt your chocolate (I usually use candy melts but have also used almond bark) TBSP of shortening or oil to your chocolate to thin the consistency.

Dip your peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate and place them back on the parchment paper to set.

You can store these in plastic Tupperware or even freeze them to pull out at a later time.

For an added decorative touch, add festive sprinkles to your peanut butter balls while the chocolate is still soft.

 

Family Food & Fun

Taco Tuesday Leftover Solution

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My crew loves tacos, so we usually have them once a week. I started making up large batches of taco meat in my slow cooker or Instapot and putting the leftovers in the freezer for a quick warm-up meal. This time however, I wanted to try something a little different.

I wanted to veer away from burritos or quesadillas again, and thought I would try to put a spin on a Shepard’s Pie. This was super simple, quick, and it turned out really good, so I thought I would share. 🍽 🌮

 

Put your remaining taco meat along with your choice of vegetables (canned or frozen for convenience) into a pan. (I ended up using corn, carrots, green beans, and peas in mine) Cook until warm throughout. Make a batch of mashed potatoes (Instant Potatoes work well too) Spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into a baking dish. Cover entirely with a layer of mashed potatoes. Then, cover the mashed potatoes with a layer of shredded cheese. (I like to use a Fiesta Taco blend with mine) Bake in a 350 degree oven for around 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Family Food & Fun

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

 

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FALL…it’s my favorite time of the year! I love EVERYTHING about it…cool crisp nights and crunchy leaves, long sleeve shirts and sweaters, crackling fires with the smell of apples and cinnamon lingering in the air, and anything and everything pumpkin spice related!

Several years ago, my sweet sister friend and I got together with our kids and did a little unit study on pumpkins. As part of our homeschooling unit, she thought it would be fun to bake some pumpkin bread with the kids. She came across a recipe at www.pickyourown.org that we thought we would give a shot. We made our pumpkin puree and tweaked the recipe slightly for our own tastes, and it turned out AMAZING!

I made a batch this past weekend with my kids and it was gone by that evening. We had a blast. 💖 Get in the kitchen with your little ones mama and make some memories (and messes 😉 ) I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did.

INGREDIENTS

2 CUPS OF FRESH COOKED PUMPKIN OR A 16 OZ. CAN OF CANNED PUMPKIN

3 1/2 CUPS OF ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR

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2 TSP BAKING SODA

3 CUPS OF SUGAR

4 EGGS BEATEN

1 CUP VEGETABLE OIL

1 AND 1/2 TSP SALT

2 TSP CINNAMON

2 TSP NUTMEG

1/2 TEASPOON ALLSPICE

1 CUP CHOPPED PECANS (OPTIONAL)

WATER: 1/2 CUP IF USING FRESH COOKED PUMPKIN OR 2/3 CUP IF USING CANNED PUMPKIN


 

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350 DEGREES F.

COMBINE AND MIX TOGETHER THE FLOUR, BAKING SODA, SALT, CINNAMON, ALLSPICE, NUTMEG, AND SUGAR.

ADD IN THE EGGS, WATER, OIL, AND PUMPKIN PUREE AND STIR UNTIL ALL INGREDIENTS ARE COMBINED WELL.

POUR BATTER INTO 2 LIGHTLY GREASED 9X5 LOAF PANS.

BAKE FOR AROUND 50 MINUTES AND CHECK FOR DONENESS WITH A TOOTHPICK IN THE MIDDLE. BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 10-15 MINUTES IF NEEDED.

REMOVE THE LOAF PANS FROM THE OVEN AND ALLOW TO COOL FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES.

TURN PUMPKIN BREAD OUT ONTO COOLING RACKS AND LET THEM FINISH COOLING BEFORE SLICING. (IF YOU CAN WAIT THAT LONG).

THIS BREAD FREEZES WONDERFULLY, SO IF YOU MAKE UP MORE THAN YOU CAN USE AT ONE TIME, JUST POP IT IN THE FREEZER AND PULL IT OUT FOR ANOTHER DAY.

 

 

 

Family Food & Fun

Homemade Oatmeal Crème Pies

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My husband had a bit of a sweet tooth last night, so I made a batch of these oatmeal crème pies up. This was my first time using this recipe, and I was really impressed with how well they turned out… and how easy they were to make! (They tasted pretty amazing too)

Cream together:

  •      1 cup of brown sugar
  •      1/2 cup of melted butter
  •      1 large egg
  •      1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Add in:

  •      1 cup of all purpose flour (up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour may be needed      depending on the consistency of your cookie batter)
  •      1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  •      1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  •      1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  •      1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  •      1/4 teaspoon of salt

 

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.

Add in 1 cup of rolled oats and incorporate them throughout your cookie batter.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a spoon, form and shape cookie dough balls and place on a non-stick pan, being sure to leave plenty of room for the cookies to expand.

Lightly round the cookies with your fingers after placing them on your pan.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. In the meantime, you can begin to mix up your crème filling.

For the crème filling you will need:

  • 1 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 jar of marshmallow fluff

Mix these until well blended and a creamy texture is achieved.

After your cookies have cooled completely, you can begin assembling your oatmeal crème pies. Take two equally sized cookies and spoon on some crème in between them. For a neater appearance, you can pipe the crème in in between instead.

You can eat them immediately, put them in a Ziploc bag to take along in your lunchbox or a picnic outing, or you can place them in an air tight container to save them for another day.

I hope that you guys like these as much as we did! Be sure to check back often for new recipes and updates. Be blessed friends! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Family Food & Fun

Banana Nut Bread

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Whenever I buy bananas, my kids either inhale them instantly, or they don’t touch them at all and they turn brown and get mushy. If you have some leftover bananas that are a little past their prime, this is a great recipe to use them in!

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

2 Eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Stick Butter

1 Cup Sugar

3 Bananas

1/2 Cup Pecans

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl and set aside .Brush pan with butter. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream your butter and sugar together. Gradually pour egg and vanilla mixture into the butter and sugar while mixing.

Add in your bananas with a spatula and then mix in the flour mixture. Fold in the pecans.

Pour the batter into a greased baking pan and bake for 55 minutes. Let the bread cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan. Wrap your loaf in plastic wrap. Your bread will become very moist and it tastes even better the next day!

Family Food & Fun

Feed Your Family For An Entire Month Within Hours

FREEZERCOOKING

Life is busy mommas! All of our beautiful momma chaos … the crying babies, dirty diapers, housework, errands, school lessons and homework, cooking, sporting events, church functions…throw some college classes, part time work, and sleep deprivation into the mix, and you can very easily find yourself in a state of overwhelming exhaustion before you even know it. During this busy season of my life, I have to strive for simplicity, and one of the ways that I have found to help make my days just a littler easier has been freezer cooking! Not only has freezer cooking helped to save me time and energy, but it has also helped me to save money.  $$$ Cha-Ching $$$  With a little planning, preparing, and some freezer bags, you can prepare healthy home cooked meals for your family simply by emptying a bag into your crockpot or popping a pan into your oven. VOILA…dinner! I like the sound of that my friends.

Now, before you hit the hills running, hear me out. I know that the thought of cooking for an ENTIRE MONTH at one time can seem like a daunting task, but if I can do it, then so can you! Now, let me preface this by saying that what works for me might not work for you, and that’s okay! Adaptation…use what works for YOU! Below are a few tips that could help you get started with freezer cooking for your family too.

1) INVENTORY & ORGANIZATION : Before you do anything else, go through your cabinets, pantry, freezers, and fridge and inventory what you already have. Jot down everything that you have and all of the quantities.

 2) USE WHAT YOU HAVE FIRST: Always try to use what you already have on hand before buying more. This cuts down on waste and your pantry and fridge always stay neat and tidy in the process. Double win

3) BRAINSTORM SOME IDEAS: Write down some meal ideas that you frequently have with your family and any other recipes or meals that you want to try. Include any meals that you can put together from what you already have in your pantry and fridge from Step #2. Plan for meals that will fit your budget. If you need to only do a week or two at a time that’s fine! Remember, do what works best for you!

4) COMPILE YOUR LIST AND BREAK IT DOWN BY WEEK: For example, in our family, we have ” Family Fun Fridays”. The kids usually want to have pizza on those nights, so I menu plan for homemade pizzas on Fridays. Take into account days that you will have outings, errands, and appointments and plan accordingly for your cooking time that day. ( I’m going to be gone all day so I just need to dump dinner in the crockpot before going out the door days versus I have time to do a little prep work and put the casserole in the oven to bake for an hour days) Also include special events that are happening that week (birthday parties, etc.), and if you have plans on going out for dinner or having other people over for dinner.  Here’s a Meal Planning Sheet I made that you can use if you would like to. (Just right click and save the picture to your computer so you can print it out)

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5) HAVE A SAFETY NET : Don’t set yourself up for failure! Mommin’ ain’t easy my friends and some days are just going to be “one of those days”. Life is going to happen, and there are going to be days that don’t go how you originally intended that they would. Give yourself some “safety net” meals that you keep on hand as staples in your home. (hot dogs, spaghetti, mac and cheese, etc.)

6) MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR MEALS : Write down all of the things you need for each meal. For example, on Taco nights, I need our assortment of fresh vegetables, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips, taco shells, ground beef, seasonings, etc…

7) MAKE YOUR SHOPPING LIST : Compile all of the items you need for your meals along with the quantities that are needed. Don’t forget to include your “safety net” meals, special occasions, and household staples. (sugar, flour, salt, milk, eggs, etc.) Don’t forget some good quality freezer bags, disposable aluminum pans if needed, aluminum foil, and some saran wrap.

8) *OPTIONAL*  SHOP SALES I used to shop sales and coupon more than I do now. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to devote to doing this again, but right now… it is what it is and I’m okay with that.

9) COOK, COOK, AND THEN COOK SOME MORE : Set aside several hours based upon your menu choices and get to cooking momma! Include your little ones in the process as it is a  wonderful learning experience for them, and not to mention, they make great little helpers!

10) WRAP, INSULATE, AND LABEL YOU MEALS Make sure to wrap your freezer meals thoroughly to prevent freezer burn and to seal your freezer bags well making sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Label your meals with a description and cooking directions just to make life that much easier.

And that’s it! I hope that these tips help to give you some ideas that might work for you and your family. God Bless my friends and happy freezer cooking!