Saturday, December 14, 2013

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit - Holiday Treats, Presents Under the Tree and Keurig Coffee

Christmas is here and even though December 1st rolls out and everyone has their lights up, trees out and festivities going on, it takes me a few weeks to really get into the Christmas spirit. Usually it takes a combination of setting up the house, baking off the holiday treats and using the right Keurig cups -- yes, you heard me right.

This year I did all of my holiday baking extra early. Normally I wait until the week before Christmas, so we can enjoy the treats during Christmas, but this year my goal is to do absolutely NOTHING the week of Christmas. Well, perhaps I'll open a few presents, add on a few pounds, and go to family events, but my services are done for the year as of December 20th.

For holiday baking this year I tried to keep it "simple" and by simple I mean it got extravagant. Why I do that to myself every year beats me. Next year, I swear, I'm only making popcorn. Any way, I decided to make:

  • My decorated sugar cookies. At the man's request I made literally 80+ of these.
  • Chocolate sugar cookies
  • Red velvet crinkles
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Fudge -- both candy cane and good ole chocolate 
  • Chocolate-dipped shortbreads, decorated with crushed candy cane, MnM's and whatever else I could find
  • Caramel/Chocolate popcorn (recipe below)
  • Hot chocolate popcorn (recipe below)
My caramel corn gets better every time I make it and it's addicting. I probably gained five pounds the last few days just eating the "leftovers" -- I say it that way because I purposely made too much just so I could eat it.

My Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Recipe
1 c. Kernels popped
1 c. Unsalted butter
2 c. Light, packed brown sugar
1 t. Salt
1/2 c. Honey
1 t. Baking soda

*Holiday chocolate candies of your choice

Heat the butter, brown sugar, honey and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Don't stir, don't touch just let it boil! Remove from the heat and add your baking soda. Then slowly pour over your popped popcorn and stir it really well (good luck not making a mess here). Place it in a preheated 200 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake. Stir every 15 - 20 minutes to get the gooey stuff from the bottom onto the top. Bake until the caramel gets hard (its different every time. Usually takes anywhere from 1 hour t 2 hours).

Remove from the oven and pour in your chocolate candies. Stir. Its important you do it right at this point while the caramel is slightly tacky -- so the candies stick a little. Then pour out onto wax paper to cool. If it lasts long enough, store in an airtight container -- usually 1/3 of mine is gone before it ever reaches a container.

Delicious Hot Chocolate Popcorn Recipe

1 c. Kernels popped
2 Pkgs instant hot cocoa with mini marshmallows
1/2 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Holiday sprinkles

Pop your popcorn using whatever method you like (I have a popper, because I'm too lazy to watch it on the stove), immediately add the hot chocolate mix and toss to coat. Do this while the popcorn is fresh and hot so the cocoa sticks! Melt the chocolate and drizzle over your popcorn -- add sprinkles to finish. Once the chocolate hardens bag up and enjoy. It's delicious...and addicting.

Let's talk coffee...
When Christmas time rolls around, I look forward to the Christmas coffee creamers and Keurig k-cups. Is it just me or did there used to be a gingerbread flavor from Coffeemate? This year I can't find any.

Luckily Coffeemate's Natural Bliss line has a cinnamon cream. I paired that with Starbuck's holiday blend and ahhhhhh Christmas. I love these Natural Bliss ones, because they don't have that nasty artificial taste like the non-dairy creamers. Of course, they cost a fortune.

It might sound silly -- drinking coffee and baking -- how I get into the holiday spirit, it seems to work every year.

So, how do you get into the spirit?

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