super-simple Christmas treats

it’s happening!

Santa’s coming to town!!

Christmas and winter, i love this time of year.

rain is blowing sideways here in the valley, flooding low points of parking lots and sidewalks just enough to go over one’s shoes if one doesn’t watch where one steps. an empty parking space downtown has become a myth, and the office breakroom is brimming with christmas cookies and homemade treats. (so it doesnt help that most of my coworkers are already on vacation! i find it so difficult to turn down peppermint bark.) tonight, my sister flies in from New York, and my baby brother (who turned 19 this week!) arrives from the city he lives in, about an hour’s drive away.

i’m so excited!

this year, things are a little different. yes, we wrestled another 12-foot tree into our loft; i still attended an amazing cookie swap as well as our friend’s sparkly, dress-up cocktail party; but this year we decided in my immediate family not to exchange gifts. i can’t imagine possibly having more than i already do!… i am so blessed and provided for, and i don’t need anything. (but Nathan and i couldnt help but buy a few small treats for everyone anyway!) 

but mostly because last Friday, during my office Christmas party, Nathan left me a voicemail letting me know he had unexpectedly been laid off. and i couldnt call him back, since his phone belonged to the company. we got him a new phone, yes, but things feel very different than a week ago. but we are so thankful for the Lord’s timing and hand in our lives. my new job is stable and wonderful and covers both of us with medical insurance, and for now i have a House Husband who helps with groceries, errand-running, cleaning and……. well, let’s be honest, i still do the cooking (it’s my favorite)! a definite highlight is that Nathan is no longer working on-call this Christmas, or for any Christmas, or holiday or weekend or birthday ever again. i’m thrilled!! i’ve cooked a nice Valentine’s Day dinner for one for the last time; awoken to work calls in the middle of the night for the last time. 

so much to be thankful for!

i want to celebrate every day, and of course that means i want to eat! here are some of our dinnersforwinners favorites that we rounded up to inspire your holiday kitchen…………

if you want a peek into a delicious Hawley tradition, these peppery, spiced gingerbread cookies are as tasty as they are adorable. they are super-simple to make, fun to decorate, and fill the house with a wonderful gingerbread smell!

gingerbread3

still my most popular recipe on this blog to-date, salted butter carmels are a great way to try your hand at candymaking, if you haven’t before. they are so delicious, and so much better than anything you could purchase! wrapped in some parchment or colored cellophane, they are the perfect last-minute gift… just make sure to save some for yourself! i love the creamy caramels and flecks of salt on top.

caramels

if you need a last-minute idea for contributing to a party, this mushroom tart is one of my top favorites! it serves well at room-temperature, so, great for traveling. prep is so easy with frozen puff pastry, and i think the tart is pretty presentation. i love the flakey pastry, melty Gruyere cheese and roasted mushrooms together!

mushroom tart3

i also adore these SPAM latkes — i know, so un-Kosher, but seriously so delicious! crispy potato cakes laced with salty shredded SPAM are amazing alongside a little pickled cabbage. you could swap leftover Christmas ham for the SPAM or even skip the meat and go all veggie. i could eat potato pancakes for every meal!

latkes4

i hope the season is bringing you contentment and family and champagne punch and mistletoe.

and if you’re up for it, consider a little something to raise support for those affected around Sandy Hook Elementary in a run and ride in January! this is something we can do together, no matter how far apart we may be from each other geographically. participants commit to running or cycling 26 miles in the week, in whatever manner they choose, and registration fees benefit the victim’s families and first-responders. i hope you’ll decide to meet the challenge with me! i’m a slow runner, but steady, and with each step i can pray for healing in the Newtown community.

peace on earth. yes? and goodwill toward men.

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8 thoughts on “super-simple Christmas treats

  1. it sounds like you have an optimistic view in light of your husband’s layoff, good for you! as i always say during hard times: out of our greatest rejection comes our greatest direction

    happiest of holiday wishes to you & yours!

  2. Wendi says:

    You are fabulous! I love how food is the perfect descriptor for any life experience! You guys are looking at a wonderful new year with lots of room for God’s blessings…not a bad place to be in!

  3. so I was a little confused, I guess I should be happy your husband got laid off? :-) Enjoy your time together and I hope he’ll find a less demanding job in the future! All your treats look lovely! Happy Holidays!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’m going to find time to make those caramels between now and Christmas, for sure. Thanks for reminding me of them.

    Life has a way of reminding us every now and then that very little is certain, but it sounds like you still know there is a lot of positive to be thankful for. Have a wonderful Christmas, Sophie.

  5. Sandi says:

    I love Christmas too — and love how you celebrate it by being grateful for all that you have. Thanks for these ideas — I’m hosting in a few days and needed some new ones. Enjoy the house husband! When my husband was laid off a few years ago I was so excited to have a full-time house cleaner! Except that he ended up not cleaning…but he was good for groceries. Merry Christmas!

  6. Tori Glass says:

    I’m so glad that you are doing well. And that you FINALLY GOT AN IPHONE. You have no idea how happy this makes me. xo

  7. Annie says:

    All of these look great, especially the caramels. I’ve wanted to make salted caramels for awhile now but I keep putting it off. Too many delicious things to make!

  8. Robin says:

    Wow- holy beautiful caramel picture! Gorgeous!

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