Posts tagged ‘Holiday’

Holiday 2011: Super Simple Stocking Stuffers

Welcome to the first installment of my Holiday 2011 series.

I know, I’m a master at creating clever names. 😉

During the last 6 months, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. I hope Santa you forgive me. I’ll get more into that in a later post, but for now just know I’m back!!

I love this time of year. Everything about it is magical. To celebrate this special time, I will be writing posts at least once a week about fun, holiday-related topics: recipes, traditions, healthy living – you name it!

In this post, I am sharing with you a cheap, customizable, and easy to make gift. These make great hand-outs at school, goodie bags for holiday parties, and stocking stuffers!

Super Simple Stocking Stuffers

Ingredients:

  • Paper Bags
  • Mini candies – e.g. Hershey Kisses, regular and peppermint
  • Gift tag stickers – optional
  • Markers

Method:

I decided that each of my gift bags would include 9 kisses (1-serving) of each flavor.

Toss the candy inside the paper bag without fully opening the bag and flattening the bottom.

Love the lighting through the paper in the photo below.

Wrap the top of the bag around the package/candies and tape the end.

Next, label it and you’re done! You can either go the easy route and use a store bought gift label, like the one below (from Walgreens).

I wasn’t too happy with the quality of the label, so I came up with a more personalized, cheaper method. Draw your own, like I did below. You can customize this however you like thanks to the blank slate of the brown paper. I love the look of it!

Voilà! It’s that simple. You now have a Super Simple (and yummy!) Stocking Stuffer – or whatever else you want to use it for.

Question #1: What’s your favorite gift-on-the-cheap?

Question #2: Any holiday related posts you’d like me to write? I need inspiration!

December 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Three Times the Fondue

I love Christmas. I love the holiday season. I love everything about it: spending time with family and friends, eating delicious food, following tradition, making new traditions, and giving and receiving gifts.

This year, my family spent Christmas in Tahoe, California with family and friends. There are nine of us, and we are currently renting a cabin. [Most of us (except for my parents, brother and I) are leaving on Monday.]

Christmas Eve day started with some of this…

Skiing at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe

View from the top of the Lake View chair lift = Breath taking!

I love this photo, so I’m showing it to you. 🙂

Speaking of photos and when am I not?, I love my new camera. It is a Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS. So far (I’ve had it for less than a week), it’s an amazing camera for its size and price. It’s great in low light situations and it takes great macro photos, which are both great for taking photos for this blog. I love playing around with it and testing our it’s abilities. 🙂 Anyway…

I’m going to start the food portion of this post by saying the following foods aren’t necessarily “healthy.” They are, however, healthy for the soul and spirit, which some may argue (me included) is just as important.

In Swiss/German tradition*, my family opens our presents on Christmas eve. But first, we have tea/coffee and sweets. (*My parents were born in Germany and grew up in Switzerland. I have a German and an American passport, just btw.)

In addition to drinking coffee and tea, we ate a variety of Swiss and German delights: lebkuchen (iced flat brown, soft gingerbread), dominosteine (cube of layered soft gingerbread, jam, and marzipan enclosed in a chocolate shell), Lindt truffles (milk chocolate and mint chocolate), chocolate Santa Clauses and Snowmen, pfeffernüsse (small, round, hard, iced biscuit with round nuts), marzipan potatoes (small marzipan – which is basically a sugar and almond paste – balls lightly coated in chocolate powder), and a few other traditional Swiss cookies (which hide amongst the other cookies).

My favorites of the above confections are the marzipan potatoes, dominosteinem, and Lindt chocolates.

Marzipanstollen (as seen above) is a rich yeast bread filled with nuts, raisins, and other dried fruit as well as marzipan. I’ve been eating marzipanstollen ever since I can remember. It’s sweet but not over the top. It has a nice bite to it, thanks to the thick bread and fruits and nuts. It freezes very well, so my mom will often buy multiple stollens at the beginning of the holiday season and we will eat them throughout.

Then, after tackling unwrapping these….

…We moved on to dinner, a fondue dinner that is!! We had three types of fondue: meat, cheese (which was my vegetarian alternative, but everyone ate it), and chocolate (dessert).

Sides (above): horseradish, cornichons (small pickles), and onions; and salad

A spread of delicious food!! For those of you unfamiliar with meat and cheese fondue, here is what you need to know.

Our meat fondue consisted of cooking chunks of raw meat (pork and beef) in vegetable broth (although sometimes people cook it in oil) after poking the meat with fondue forks.

My brother was getting creative by making little sandwiches with meat and pickles between two small slices of bread. He even added some cheese fondue to make it a cheese and meat sandwich.

Too cute!!

Now on to something a bit more cheesy…

Although my mom usually cooks cheese fondue (melted variety of swiss cheeses, often with sherry brandy mixed in) from scratch, my mom choose to keep things simple by using Swiss Knight cheese fondue (pre-mixed). I offered to help and made it. It was surprisingly easy to make (put in fondue pot on stove and mix till done) and tasted amazing, very much like our from-scratch variety. I don’t know how to describe cheese fondue other than that it’s delicious. It’s a bit different from regular melted cheese (like on a grilled cheese) in flavor thanks to a mix of swiss cheese and the addition of sherry brandy (don’t worry, it’s burns off during the cooking). It’s very smooth and creamy and compliments the bread (usually french or baguette) nicely.

How-to (cheese) fondue:

Step 1: Dip bread into cheese

Step 2: Admire

Step 3: Eat! [Feel free to skip directly to this step from Step 1 if you can’t contain yourself. After my first bite of deliciousness, I sure couldn’t!]

Dessert = chocolate fondue. Need I say more? The answer is “no.”

How to make chocolate fondue:

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup half and half: The originally recipe called for cream, but apparently I can’t read… It still tastes delicious, and this way it has less fat. Yay!
  • 4 (3.5oz) bars of chocolate: The kind is up to you. I used semi-sweet chocolate, which yielded a not-too-sweet chocolate fondue. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate fondue, I’d recommend milk chocolate.
  • Treats to Dip: See below for suggestions

Step 1: Heat the half and half (in either a fondue pot or heavy saucepan) on stove until it reaches a low boil.

Step 2: Take pot/pan off stove. Add in chocolate (which I suggest you break into small pieces) and let it sit for 3-5 minutes to let the chocolate soften.

Step 3: Whisk or stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated.

Steps 2 to 3:

Step 4: (Transfer contents to fondue pot if you haven’t already.) Place onto fondue fire/fondue pot holder or grate/what it is called. If you plan on eating the chocolate fondue quickly (and I wouldn’t blame you), this step isn’t necessary.

Step 5: Dip in dippers using fondue forks (or forks or your hands) and enjoy!!

For dipping, we had pretzels, marshmallows, apple chunks, dried pineapple, mandarins, bananas, pound cake, dried ginger. I also suggest trying the following: other dried fruits like apricots, cream cheese, graham crackers, other fruit, and rice krispie treats.

The above photo shows a chocolate covered (halved) marshmallow. It tasted very much like s’mores. To make it even more s’mores-like, I would probably smush this between graham crackers (which I didn’t have) next time.

Chocolate covered banana slice: I drool…

After a long meal filled with this delicious food, I slept very well! Not only did I have a wonderful time with friends and family, I was also full but not over the top full, which is just how I like it. 🙂

Question: What traditions do you celebrate around the holidays? What is your favorite food from around this time?

PS. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to have a more in-depth how-to post about any of the 3 fondues (or anything else). 🙂

December 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm 2 comments


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