It’s Christmas season! Hooray for Christmas music, Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, Christmas guests, and Christmas plans! :)
We keep the season pretty simple around here, so I don’t have to do tons of planning. Here are two of my favorite Christmas planning printables that I used last year and am using again this year. Click on the thumbnail of each to go to the original site and print your own.
Card and Address Planner
I do also have an address book, but I took the time to put all the addresses in this one list last year. It saves so much time to be able to just go right down the list instead of flipping through (and holding open) the address book one at a time. We’ll probably be doing an email version of our card this year, but I’ll still be able to use the list of names to make sure I didn’t forget anyone.
I actually printed out another gift list this year, but I like this one (that I used last year) a little better. I love all the columns for different ideas (especially the “where to purchase” line) and the colors make me happy when I see it :) I Heart Organizing always has fabulous printables!
If you’re in need of baking planners, budget trackers, craft schedulers, or other printables, be sure to check out Printables Your Way (then click on “Holiday Printables”). If you buy the whole package, it’s $7 and you get monthly email updates with new additions. I have used tons of these printables and I love their simplicity and functionality.
I hope your holiday season is off to a great start and that you’re able to keep busy enough to have fun and calm enough to stay sane! :)
(P.S. That is my affiliate link to the printables above. :) )
In my opinion, this is the best creamy green bean casserole ever. Ever.
Instead of cream-of-whatever soup, you make a little sauce from butter and flour mixed with sour cream. Add some onion, black pepper, and the green beans, top with mozzarella cheese and buttered cornflakes, and voila! You’re ready to pop it in the oven.
The sour cream gives a nice tang to the beans and you get to avoid whatever’s in those cream-of soups without even making your own (which, let’s admit, can be a pain).
I really like the buttered cornflake topping, but you could always use French fried onions if that’s more your style.
This is total comfort food–with a little less guilt than some versions :)
Thanksgiving Favorites: Green Bean Casserole
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 heaping tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely minced onion (or several shakes if you're using dried minced onion)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 14-oz cans French-style green beans, very well drained
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup crushed cornflakes
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and onion. It will be thick. Turn off heat.
- Add sour cream, whisking until well-blended.
- Fold in green beans (press and stir them several times in the strainer to make sure all the water is out).
- Pour into greased 2 quart casserole dish.
- Sprinkle with cheese.
- Melt remaining butter and stir into crushed cornflakes. Sprinkle over cheese.
- Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes, or until slightly browned and smelling delicious.
Whew! I’m sorry I bailed on the end of the 31 Days series. I actually took a nearly complete computer break for over a week. I can interact with screens a little more now without getting too out of sorts, so I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things slowly! We shall see… :) Thanks to all of you for your patience :)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I love taking time to celebrate it before getting knee-deep into Christmas doings! Here’s one of our family’s favorite roll recipes. If you’re familiar with bread recipes, you know that all you need for bread is water, flour, yeast, and salt. When you start adding in sugar, fats, and other liquids, you get richer, softer, better-keeping breads. This bread has all of the above–sugar, milk, butter, and eggs. Yum. :)
Golden Knots are decadent rolls. They’re definitely not your everyday, I-need-bread-for-supper type of rolls, but they are worth the extra ingredients and steps to make them for special occasions. One recipe makes a lot, so freeze the extras (baked or unbaked) or halve the recipe.
By the way, we won’t be having these this year because Camon still needs to eat dairy-free. I may modify it and use [most of] the sugar and eggs but swap out the butter for oil and just use water instead of milk. The rolls pictured are actually this easy bread dough (without the herbs) shaped into the same fun knot shape described below.
- 2 packages yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 8 1/2 - 9 cups flour
- melted butter for topping rolls
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in 1/2 cup water.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter and remaining water to 110-115; add to yeast mixture.
- Add eggs, salt, 5 cups flour, and the remaining sugar; beat until smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down.
- Divide into thirds; roll each portion into a 14-inch log. Divide each log into 14 pieces. Roll pieces into 9-inch ropes and tie into knots (more like "twist and tuck" than actual tying :) ).
- Place rolls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.
- Yield: 3.5 dozen
What’s your family’s favorite holiday bread recipe?
Don’t use too much cayenne at one time or you’ll regret it! But nothing can replace the subtle boost that a pinch of cayenne lends to sauces, meats, marinades, and rubs. I keep cayenne pepper on hand all the time.
The fresher you can find cayenne pepper, the better. I usually buy the McCormick Gourmet version or the brand that Earth Fare carries. When you first open the container, the aroma is so powerful it makes me sneeze!
It lessens in sneeze-inducing-ability fairly quickly, so I can imagine that after awhile the flavor would significantly reduce in impact as well.
You can also find chipotle chili pepper (which has a smoky flavor but is also spicy–it’s not just smoked chili powder!), red pepper (possibly milder, depending on who makes it), and red pepper flakes.
Mexican, South American, Indian, Chinese, and Thai cuisines commonly use cayenne pepper as part of the spicy components of their food. It’s from the same types of peppers as paprika, but is consistently spicier than many of the paprikas.
Use cayenne pepper whenever you want a little bit of spicy in taco meat, burritos, stir fries, veggie dishes, or anything else that sounds good to you.
I also put a pinch into the gravy when I make creamed beef or creamed chicken. It adds a little flavor boost without making it spicy.
Soups (especially the kind where you’re throwing in frozen chicken, leftover beans and rice, and some random veggies) also do really well with a pinch of pepper. Again, it helps brighten the flavor without overpowering it or raising the temperature.
Capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat in these peppers, has also been found to give some joint relief to arthritis sufferers. Who knows what other herbs and spices could bring natural, inexpensive relief to common remedies?! :)
Just like the paprika peppers, you’d be able to grow cayenne peppers anyplace that gets hot enough with enough moisture. You can find growing instructions from anywhere that will sell you the plants.
You’d have to dry and grind your own, if you grew them, but it might be worth it if you’re a spicy food geek!
The more pungent and spicy and strong a spice is, the more you’ll notice its flavor diminish over time. Only buy what you can use within 6 months or a year at a time, and store it covered and away from light and heat.
There’s more to paprika than a deviled egg garnish! :) Paprika is made from dried, ground red peppers (Capsicum annuum). There are sweet, bitter, pungent, and hot varieties of the red pepper, and these are blended together to produce all the varieties of paprika you might have heard of: sweet, Hungarian, and smoked are some of the most common.
Within Hungarian paprika, there are various levels of hotness and bitterness and they all have different Hungarian names (check out this Kitchn article if you want to see the exact words the Hungarians use).
You can buy sweet paprika at nearly any grocery store.
Smoked and Hungarian paprika can also be found at most larger grocery stores, or you can order specific varieties online.
Once you branch out from the light dusting on top of deviled eggs, you’ll notice that paprika actually does have flavor (if you get a good brand!) and adds a unique touch to the dishes you use it in.
Sweet paprika is good for adding to mayonnaise (along with garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper) to make a savory spread for sandwiches. It could add color and flavor to plenty of other homemade dips as well.
Smoked paprika is delicious in this lentil soup from Cook’s Illustrated (hmm…you might have to be a member to get the recipe). It also calls for chorizo (which is often spiced with paprika), so between the spicy smoked paprika and the spicy chorizo, you really get a nice kick from that bowl of lentils!
I have never tried Hungarian paprika, but I’m sure it’s delicious in soups, spice rubs, meat dishes, and more! If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments :)
Be careful when adding paprika to a cooked dish, as it can burn easily. And if you’re going to add it at the end of cooking, mix it with a bit of hot oil first–the oil will help the flavor bloom and become tastier.
I’m sure you could grow your own paprika peppers if your climate is conducive to growing bell peppers. You may decide it’s not worth the work of drying and grinding it yourself, though! :)
You’d need to make sure you were buying the proper variety and then follow the instructions for planting and watering.
Store paprika away from light and heat to help retain color and flavor.