Festivus

What gets you in the holiday spirit? Is it watching that classic Seinfeld episode where we learn that Frank Costanza invented his own holiday entitled Festivus? Is it watching your favorite holiday movie? Is it shopping and wrapping presents?

I have always enjoyed listening to Christmas music while baking. In my college days, it meant staying up into the middle of the night baking Chocolate Crinkles, red and green colored Snickerdoodles, and Chex Mix.

Since I recently asked all my friends what their favorite Christmas songs are, I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

  • A Christmas Festival by The Boston Pops – I’m a sucker for classical music at the holidays. This song also reminds me of playing it when I was in the Wayne High School concert band.
  • Sleigh Ride – This song makes me think of The Northland Symphony Orchestra. I served on the board of directors for several years. Although I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s concert, I’m sure Jim Murray included this piece featuring the percussion auxiliary instruments of sleigh bells and the clapper.
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Al Green and Annie Lennox – Ok, maybe it isn’t a traditional Christmas song but it is in the movie Scrooged. Although I was totally scared by it when I saw it in the movie theatre as a child, it was just one of the many holiday movies I’ve seen with my family. We usually go Thanksgiving weekend or Christmas Day to see a movie together.
  • Carol of the Bells by Mannheim Steamroller – Chip Davis, a fellow University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum, did a great job arranging this piece. It always makes me think of my Grandpa Fletcher. He is a huge fan of this group and a great lover of music.
  • Christmas/Sarahevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – A few years ago, we went to one of their concerts for my mother’s birthday. Not only do they play cool Christmas music but they put on another show entirely of their non-Christmas stuff. I bet they played for three hours. You can catch them in Kansas City on December 22nd. But don’t forget to bring canned goods for Harvesters.
  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey – Sure, lots of artists put out Christmas albums remaking classics but Mariah invented a Christmas modern day classic.
  • Rocking Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee – Doesn’t it make you want to reenact the puppet/record player scene from Home Alone?
  • You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – It’s Dr. Seuss – enough said!
  • Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N’sync – It makes me wish all the boys would be joining JT when I see his tour next July.
  • O Holy Night from Home Alone – E.T., Indian Jones, The Boston Pops – I love John Williams. My sister and I were talking about although he will never be compared to the likings of Bach or Beethoven, his classic movie scores will probably go down in history as our generation’s contribution to musical history.

Like holiday music, no Christmas gathering would be complete without a cheese ball. I made this one for my Volunteer Services Team holiday party. It was a big hit served with Grinch drinks (Sprite and lime sherbet).

Peppermint Oreo Cheese BallPeppermint Cookie Cheese Ball from Pinterest
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese brick
1/2 c. softened butter
3 T. brown sugar
2/3 c. powder sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 a bag mini-chocolate chips
Peppermint chips/peppermint bark/broken candy cane
5 holiday Oreos

Blend together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Then, add dry ingredients (except Oreos and peppermint). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, roll in crushed Oreos and peppermint bark.

Serve with apples, graham crackers, Oreos, and pretzels.

Advertisements

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Everyone has a word they don’t like. One of my exs over used the word “audacity” so I avoid using the word at all cost. Others struggle to pronounce words. My ex who was bilingual in two languages really struggled with the word “Worcestershire Sauce”. It is a kind of hard word to say if you don’t slow down.

The first word that came to mind when I tasted this recipe was moist. It made me think of my friend and former co-worker Kelly. She detested the word “Moist”, perhaps even more that she hate people inappropriately using exclamation marks. (Can you tell we worked together as grant writers?) One time, a co-worker and myself called her office and said “moist” just to freak Kelly out. Of course she knew it was us by the internal caller id. But we were laughing so hard it still puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. It truly is a terrible word. When you thesaurus synonyms for moist, you get: humid, soggy, clammy, saturated, soaking, damp, wet, and tacky. Not exactly the words I was looking for to express my sentiments. Perhaps the best words for me to describe this cake are – soft, sweet, and delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Yellow cake with sour cream chocolate frosting is my favorite birthday cake flavor.

Chocolate Chip CakeChocolate Chip Snack Cake by Betty Crocker website
1/2 box yellow cake mix
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. sour cream
3 T. butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, sour cream, butter, and egg with a mixer. Stir in 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Pour in dish. Bake for 22-28 minutes. Cool completely – one hour. Then, melt 1/2 c. chocolate chips with 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil. Microwave it on high for 45 seconds, plus 15 seconds increments til completely melted. Pour into a Ziploc baggie, cut corner, and drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

Nutritional Information: (Makes nine servings) 270 calories (120 from fat), 14 g. fat (8 g. saturated fat) 35 mg. cholesterol, 210 mg. sodium, 35 g. carbs, 1 g. fiber, 23 g. sugar, and 2 g. protein

Notes:

  • I used half light and half fat free sour cream. Another great substitute is regular or Greek yogurt.
  • I also used sugar free cake mix. I also think you could have used a chocolate cake for an even richer dessert.
  • You could easily skip the extra chocolate chips on top and it would still be good.