21 December 2008

Christmas Happenings

I was able to help in Katie's kindergarten class Friday. It was a partial day, and they had lots of fun activities to do. They had a rotation of 4 activities. They cut out antler hats and had red put on their noses, so they could look like Rudolph. I got to help them with their snack, frosting sugar cookies and applying sprinkles, and lots of other things. I read stories to them as they ate. One of the stories was quite memorable. It was about a little pine tree who wanted to be a Christmas tree, but he was crooked so nobody chose him as their Christmas tree. Instead, a family chose him to plant in their backyard where their little boy would play around him, but he still wanted to be a Christmas tree. He was sad that the family chose a different tree to put in their house and decorate for Christmas. The story ended with nature adorning the little tree as a Christmas tree. As I read, I wanted to say that it was dumb that he wanted to be a Christmas tree. If he had been chosen, he would have been dead! It would have been much more fitting for him to have seen the chosen Christmas tree being dragged from the home after Christmas with the needles gone. Bare. Brown. And dead. Then realize how blessed he was for having a family who loved him and cared for him, and chose him to live in their yard to bless their lives a lot longer than the few days around Christmas.

So maybe that isn't such a cheery Christmasy thought, but I just watched the recorded episode of Dr. Who from last night, which was a pretty nightmarey Christmas Day.

Anywho, yesterday was our ward's Christmas Dinner where Santa Clause came, and my children got to sit on Santa's lap.

10 December 2008

Cooking Club

I joined with a few other ladies in our ward to spend a day together about every other week to cook. I hosted this week, meaning we used my kitchen. It was a pumpkin theme (because I have a shelf of winter squashes I wanted to use in the girls' closet). We made cranberry pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and no bake cream cheese pumpkin pie. All the recipes tasted really good. I was particularly surprised about the pumpkin soup, because my imagination did not prepare me for what I tasted. It was really, really good.

I don't have anybody else's email addresses but I do have a couple blog addresses, so I'm posting the recipes here where they can copy them off freely.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
this is my original recipe

1 Cup whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup white flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg
1/2 cup honey
1 cup Chopped cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9 x 2.75-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in the pumpkin. Separately mix orange juice, egg, and honey. Mix both combinations of ingredients together until there are no dry spots left. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (keep in mind the cranberries add moisture, so the toothpick may never really come out totally "clean"). Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Suggestions for substitutes:
Flour: Of course you can use all white flour, or use up to 3/4 cup other kinds of flours.
Pumpkin: Any winter squash will do.
Orange juice: Any other juice or even water. Whatever you use will subtly change the flavor.
Honey: You can use any sweetener in place of the honey- maple syrup, agave syrup, sugar, or brown sugar. For a darker flavor, you could even use molasses.

Pumpkin Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
2 cans chicken broth (about 14 oz)
1 small can pumpkin (we used 2 cups puree)
4oz evaporated milk

Cook onion in butter until clear. Add flour. Cook one minute. Add broth and pumpkin. Simmer 30 minutes. Add milk and serve warm.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie
originally from kraftffoods.com

1 graham cracker crumb crust or baked pie crust
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. cold milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups thawed whipped topping
1 cup cold milk
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
2 pkg. (4-serving size each)vanilla instant pudding mix (can use sugar-free)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Beat cream cheese, 1 Tbsp. milk and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping. Spread onto bottom of crust.

Pour 1 cup milk into medium bowl. Add pumpkin, pudding mix and spices. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. (Mixture will be thick.) Spread over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Garnish with additional whipped topping, if desired. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.