It’s Almost Holiday Time. Are You Ready!?

You know how I always think about food?  This time of year, my obsession is worse.  (This is something you didn’t think was possible.)

It’s like the falling leaves trigger a simultaneous cinnamon and turkey craving, which of course leads me to order 50 pounds of oats and 12 bags of chocolate chips. If this doesn’t make sense to you, I’m not sure I can find words to explain.  I just love food.  Holidays mean I have an excuse to do extra baking, which makes me very, very happy.  It also makes me stock up on potatoes.  Don’t try to understand me.  Just nod and smile.

Pumpkin_Pecan_Pie_Squares

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares Recipe, part of this balanced holiday season

When I close my eyes at night, all I see is apples.  This is because everywhere I turn in my kitchen, apples are taunting me with their, “I know you’ve already made applesauce and apple pie filling with 314 pounds of us this year, but when are you going to get around to turning me into a pie?”  I’ve got two pumpkins and four butternut squash on my countertop right now, waiting to become pies, soup, and muffins.  (You know you can switch pureed butternut squash out with pureed pumpkin and no one knows the difference, right? True fact.)

In my spare time, which of course is never, but if I happen to walk past my pantry to get the broom, I open the door to stare for a half-second at the beautiful contents within.  Cocoa powder, next to a tall jar of sucanat, next to a container of sea salt, next to a jar of baking powder?  Just think of the culinary possibilities.

You know me.  I love the heat and sunshine in the summertime more than any other season.  But if it’s going to turn chilly (and then frigid, thank you Nebraska), I figure I may as well start looking forward to the holiday pie, right?  I can’t help it anyway, because here I am, gazing with longing at the vanilla and sweet potatoes.  Summer with its salads and grilled veggies and cook-outs are awesome, but God is good to make fall and winter food just as exciting.  Cheeseburger Soup is rocking my world right now, and I think it goes without saying that the smell of Pumpkin Bread is the definition of comfort.

What does all this mean?  (Besides the fact that I love food.)  All of this means that there are only 27 days until Thanksgiving and 53 days until Christmas.  Bring on the holiday parties, delicious recipes, and joy with friends and family!  Specifically, bring on the Honey Pecan Pie.  Thank you very much.

To keep joy in your holidays, we are excited to offer our Heavenly Homemakers Guide to Holiday Hospitality eBook and our Heavenly Homemakers Guide to Holiday Hospitality for Kids eBook for just $1 each, now through Sunday, November 2.  These books are full of organizational guides, recipes, menu plans, and more – to help you enjoy your holiday season and encourage you as you love others during this time.  The organizational tips in this book begin on November 1.  That’s why we’re offering a sale this weekend.  You need these books starting…NOW! :)

Holiday Hospitality Package

Leave a comment sharing what you love about this time of year!  (Me? I love the food.  My goodness, I believe I mentioned that already.)  Grab these now while they are just a buck each!

Heavenly Homemakers Guide to Holiday Hospitality

$6.95 
$1.00

Add to Cart

Heavenly Homemakers Guide to Holiday Hospitality for Kids
$6.95
$1.00

Add to Cart

 

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White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

I got the wonderful idea for this recipe when I was at a friend’s house recently for a baby shower.  It’s so simple, yet turns popcorn into an extra special treat.

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

16 cups popped popcorn (about 1 cup kernels)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
sea salt
1 cup white chocolate (this works great)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Stir melted coconut oil into the popped popcorn and sprinkle with salt according to your taste.  Pour prepared popcorn onto two cookie sheets or two 9×13 inch pans.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt white chocolate and butter together until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract.

Drizzle melted chocolate over the popcorn and stir immediately to coat.  Allow chocolate to harden on the popcorn for 30 minutes to an hour.  Or just start eating it right away because it’s too hard to wait.

White Chocolate Popcorn

You might think I’m on a bit of a peppermint kick since I’m posting this recipe right after the Peppermint Cream Cocoa recipe.  What can I say?  I think of peppermint when I think of Christmas.

If peppermint isn’t your thing, you can definitely skip the peppermint extract in this recipe and just enjoy yourself some White Chocolate Popcorn.

What do you think?  With peppermint or without?

Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop, good on anything of our eBooks or eCourses!

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The Recipes of Brunches Past

Since we’ve held a Heavenly Homemakers Christmas Brunch for four years now, I thought it would be fun to re-post some of the recipes shared during brunches in the past.  The yummy goodness never ends!

Orange Cranberry Scones

Orange Cranberry Scones

Homemade Healthier Eggnog

Homemade Healthier Eggnog

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men

Sweet Pepper Fritata

Sweet Pepper Fritata

Christmas Spice Cookies

Christmas Spice Cookies

Quick Eggnog Muffins

eggnog_muffins_2

Vanilla Muffins with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Vanilla Muffins with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Balls

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Balls

Christmas Brunch Punch

Christmas Brunch Punch {with 100 juice!}
I’m super curious to know how many years you’ve been around to join us for these brunches?  Is this your first one?  Have you been around for several years?  I sure do love getting to know all of you!

Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop, good on anything of our eBooks or eCourses!

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Peppermint Cream Cocoa {or Coffee}

It was a fun experiment – creating a whipped cream topping for yummy hot drinks.  But I had to wonder, would simply adding a little sweetener and peppermint extract to whipped cream really make cocoa or coffee that much more special?

Ohhhhhhh yes, yes, yes, and yes again.  I quickly put this together one afternoon, plopped a generous serving onto a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and immediately decided that I needed to sit down, close my eyes, and relish the moment.  It was hot beverage deliciousness in a mug.  The rest of the family enjoyed this special whipped cream on their hot cocoa, and we all declared it to be ah-mazing.

Peppermint Cream Cocoa

Matt was finishing some work at the computer at the time, and therefore hadn’t joined us at the table yet to enjoy this treat.  I took him a mug and declared with excitement, “Seriously, who needs Starbucks??”  As he was a bit distracted with the work he was doing, he looked up, confused as he saw that I was cheerfully sipping coffee and that I had a dob of whipped cream on my upper lip.  “What?  You need Starbucks?  Why?”

No, no.  I really, really don’t.  I had everything I could want in a special hot drink, all without the high fructose corn syrup or big price tag.  And now, I am sharing this recipe idea with you.  Enjoy, savor, stay healthy, and save yourself some cash.

Peppermint Cream Cocoa (or Coffee)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3-4 drops liquid stevia (or another sweetener of your choice like maple syrup)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Whip cream for several minutes to form stiff peaks.  Drizzle in stevia and peppermint extract.  Whip quickly to mix into the cream.  Serve on hot cocoa or coffee.

Here is my easy and delicious Hot Cocoa Recipe.  Or even easier – here is my Hot Chocolate Mix recipe.  Obviously, I don’t have a recipe for coffee, but here’s a way to get a 12 ounce bag of my favorite organic coffee for free!

Which do you like better – coffee or hot cocoa?

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Bacon Cheese Muffins

You want to know the best way I’ve found to get all of my men-folk out of bed in the mornings?  Make bacon.  Hoooah!  <—that was me grunting out a manly sound, did you hear it?  That’s the sound that typically follows the word bacon in our house.  “Mmm, bacon. Hoooah!”

I believe bacon is the language of love when it comes to most males, and I happen to like bacon too, if I do say so myself.

I usually stick with turkey bacon, but it really is hard to beat the taste of the pork bacon I can get from our local farmer.  It’s a wonderful, occasional treat at our house - and yes, it does drive the boys out of bed in the morning.

These Bacon Cheese Muffins are easy and delicious – perfect for a holiday brunch.  (You may remember seeing this recipe in our free Healthy Breakfast Made Simple eBook.)

bacon cheese muffins

Bacon Cheese Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Using kitchen shears, cut bacon into bite sized pieces.  Brown bacon pieces in a skillet until thoroughly cooked.  In a mixing bowl combine flour, sucanat, baking powder, and sea salt.  Add egg, milk, and butter.  Fold in cooked bacon and shredded cheese.  Scoop batter into 12 paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Are you bacon lovers at your house?  Hoooah!

Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop, good on anything of our eBooks or eCourses!

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Join Us!! It’s the Fourth Annual Heavenly Homemakers Christmas Brunch!

It’s time once again to share our virtual Christmas brunch!  There will be lots of yummy food (recipes), gifts, and encouragement as we enjoy the week before Christmas together.  I always look forward to spending this time with you each year.  Whether you live right next door to me or live all the way across the globe – I love that the internet has brought us together and that we can share in a special Christmas celebration!

Beyond all of the recipe posts I’ll be sharing, as an appreciation gift for coming to our Brunch, we’ll be having a drawing on the 26th for five $10 Heavenly Homemakers Gift Certificates!  Each time you see the above Christmas Brunch Invitation on a post between now and December 24, leave a comment for a chance to win one of the certificates.  I’ll draw five random winners and post them on the 26th.  There will be several posts with the invitation attached, so you’ll have several chances to win!  (This post counts, so let the comments begin!)

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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix Without Dry Milk or Creamer {With Free Printable Gift Tags and a Dairy Free Option}

Hot Chocolate Mix

I can’t tell you (because I can’t remember) how many requests I’ve received through the years for a healthier hot chocolate mix.  Non-dairy creamer and powdered milk are two ingredients in every homemade hot chocolate mix recipe I’ve ever found - and those are two ingredients I try to avoid if possible.  I’ve had to keep telling people through the years that, sorry, I have no idea how to make a hot chocolate mix without those ingredients.  I worried, fretted, and lost sleep over the fact that I was failing to provide a healthy hot chocolate mix recipe.  (Not really, but shucks if I didn’t want one for myself too.)

Then I realized that I was making this way too hard.  After all, what we’re all going for in this real food realm is simple, back to basics, whole food ingredients - right?  Then why not mix together the basic, real food ingredients needed to make homemade hot cocoa – and keep the mixture on hand as a quick mix to stir into hot milk?  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – we now have a real food, real good, real easy Hot Chocolate Mix!  And it’s here just in time for Christmas!

You’ll probably look at the simple recipe below and ask, “Really Laura? It took you six years to come up with this?”  And I would have to shrug and say, “Uh-huh.”

Homemade Healthier Hot Chocolate Mix

3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sucanat or brown sugar

Place ingredients in a pint-sized jar and shake well.  When you are ready for a cup of hot chocolate, here is what you’ll do:

In a small saucepan, whisk 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Hot Chocolate Mix with 1 cup of milk.  Heat and stir on medium heat until warm and ready to serve.

This recipe makes about 12-15 one-cup servings, depending on how “heaping” your Tablespoons are when you stir it into the milk.

Want to make this dairy free?  Simply add the mixture to a cup of coconut milk.  It’s super delicious!

Malachi had a buddy over the day I was playing with this recipe idea.  They were sweet enough to be my taste testers, and they both gave it a thumb’s up.  Or at least I believe they would have if they weren’t so busy saying “yum” and guzzling it down.

hot chocolate mix 1

Want to package this Hot Chocolate Mix up for a gift?  Simply place a gallon-sized twist tie bag (like this one) down into a mug.  Funnel the mix into the bag and tie it up with a bow.  Attach a gift tag to the handle of the mug, describing how to make the mix into Hot Chocolate.  You’ll find free printable gift tags below!

hot chocolate mix 2

Download and print Hot Chocolate Mix Tags Here

Hot Chocolate Mix Tags sm
Now you tell me – is this exciting or what?  How fun to have a real food Hot Chocolate Mix to have on hand and to give as gifts!  Sometime within in the next six years, I hope to provide you with another recipe idea as simple as this one.

——————————————————

Hey!  Remember the great Vitacost deal I shared a few days ago?  This one is just as great if not better!  But it’s today only – December 18 – so act quickly!

With a minimum purchase of just $10 Vitacost Brand items, you’ll receive free shipping!  AND, if you are a brand new customer and sign up through this referral link, you’ll receive a bonus $10 of credit when you place your first $30 Vitacost order.

So, simply add $30 of Vitacost brand items to your cart (I recommend Vitacost Brand Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Vitacost Brew Colombian 100% Arabica Certified Organic Ground Coffee, then throw in this bag of Organic Shredded Coconut.  Use your referral $10 credit to take this order down to just $21.67 with free shipping!  It’s like buying coconut oil (for a great price!) and getting coffee and coconut for free!  Click through this link to receive your $10 referral code to apply toward your first order.

vitacost 1    vitacost 3

Some of the links in this post are my affiliate links.

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Free Printables: Christmas Gift Tags

I know many people don’t share this excitement with me, but I love wrapping presents!  I lay all the gifts out, admire them, get excited about watching the recipient open them, then get to wrapping.  I enjoy choosing the wrapping paper and gift tag that I think best matches the person I’m gifting.  I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to wrapping, so the process goes fairly quickly for me.  That may be part of why I don’t mind the job. :)

Just for fun, I created two pages of printable gift tags to cut out and attach to gifts.  Feel free to download, print, and use them as you wrap gifts this year!

Christmas Gift Tags HHM

 

Download Printable Christmas Gift Tags Set 1 Here

 

Christmas Gift Tags 2 HHM

Download Printable Christmas Gift Tags Set 2 Here

Your turn to share:  Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

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Save Money By Giving Gifts in a Jar

Remember all the fun ideas shared last year when we featured 12 fun Gifts in a Jar?  Here are all the links for you again!

1.  Applesauce Bread
2.  Cranberry Biscuit Mix
3.  Steak Rub
4.  Homemade Bubble Bath
5.  Caramel Sauce with Apple Basket
6.  Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix
7.  Apple Crisp
8.  Peppernuts
9.  Santa’s Snot
10.  Cranberry Pecan Granola
11.  Whole Wheat Pancake Mix
12.  Fruit and Nuts Trail Mix

My personal favorite, for the jokester in your life:

Santa’s Snot

For more ideas, don’t forget to download our FREE Gifts in a Jar eBook!

Be sure to Download Your Free Gifts In A Jar Tags too!

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Delicious Candy You Can Make Yourself (with healthier ingredients)

As you all know, I don’t mind the occasional healthy food compromise, especially on special occasions.  Christmas qualifies as one of the most special occasions of all, doncha think?  But when I turn over a package and see that the yummy contents therein contain hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup – I just can’t do it.  (I know, I know.  It’s best not to even read the label.  Wait.  What?)

What I love is trying to re-create some our favorite treats so that we can have our Christmas candy and eat it too.  These treats are best shared and in moderation though, because they are full of sugar!  (I know, I know.  It’s best not to even think about how much sugar is in them.  Wait.  What?)

Here are some goodies I make every once in a while for a very special treat:

Homemade Peppermint Patties

These call for none other than mashed potatoes.  Weird, but true.  And they also have tons of powdered sugar in them.  Better than high fructose corn syrup, but wowza.  You’ll be amazed at how much these taste like the “real thing.”

Peppermint Patties 2

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

This is my husband’s favorite.  It’s super fun to make these for him every once in a while.  We think they taste better than the packaged variety.  It’s amazing how good peanut butter tastes when it’s only made with peanuts.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Caramel Cups

These are ooey-gooey messy.  But having a drop of caramel resting on one’s chin never hurt anyone.

Chocolate Caramel Cups

Peanut Butter Truffles and Chocolate Caramel Truffles

Making these truffles is easier than you would think.  And the result?  Amazing.

Delicious Homemade Truffles

Peanut Butter Honey Fudge

This is the easiest fudge you’ll ever make.  It contains only three ingredients – peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips.  So good!

Peanut Butter Honey Fudge

What’s your favorite Christmas candy?  Ever tried making your own?

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