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25 Days of Simple Christmas-Homemade Fudge

Welcome to the 25 Days of Simple Christmas!  Each day I will be posting an idea of keeping the holidays simple- so that we can focus on Christ and the real meaning of Christmas!

While Christmas is such a special day, so much of the joy gets lost in the busyness.  
Each day I will be writing about a simple way to celebrate the season.  To focus on family, joy, and memories, without the elaborate extras that can bring added stress. Simple can be more meaningful if it gives us more time to focus on the huge GIFT we are awaiting-Jesus Christ, our Savior.

One of my favorite simple recipes at Christmas time is homemade fudge. For years I have been making it and giving it away as gifts to friends, neighbors, and family.  Such a simple recipe, but so delicious and everyone loves it.

Simple recipes are really the best at this time of year. It can get so complicated with so much to do. I enjoy making this recipe because although I love being in the kitchen, at this time of year I would rather free up my time to focus on the season.
Simple Homemade Fudge
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups chocolate chips-(can use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips-all with delicious results!)
a pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract.
(Optional toppings- toffee bits, nuts, etc.)
Melt chips with condensed milk over very low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add salt, and vanilla. Stir until belnded.
Spread over waxed paper lined pan (any small-medium sized pan will do) and refrigerate until hardened. Cut into pieces and serve.
We like to give this away in candy boxes-or other simple decorative containers found in the local craft store.
Add a cute gift tag and you are set. A great gift for the librarian, mail carrier, UPS carrier, or neighbors!  Or of course, to enjoy as a family on a cozy night with hot cocoa!

 Please Join These Bloggers in
their 25 Days of Christmas Series:

25 Days of Christmas: Home for the Holidays @ Graceful Abandon 

25 Days of Easy Christmas Crafts for Toddlers & Preschoolers @ Sidetracked Sarah 

25 Days of Christmas Traditions @ Sharing the Journey 

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved



Simple Pantry Items to Keep on Hand

As the bounty of summer dissipates and the eve of autumn awaits, it is more important to have fully stocked pantry.  First, the fresh veggies are out of season, so having a stocked pantry enables us to still feed our families fruits and veggies at each meal.  Second, as it gets colder, I am much less likely to make a run to the store for items.  Having a fully stocked pantry means less trips to the grocery store. (which is also budget friendly as well!)

My items I like to keep stocked up for cold months are typical for use in soups, chili, etc.  These are the types of meals we crave when the wind is howling outside and the snow is falling quickly.

So here is a list you may want to stock up on now before it is too cold, or when you see a good sale at your market!
(Remember-less grocery store trips and healthy meals!)

Beans.  For chili, side dishes, fillings for burritos, enchiladas, etc.

Chicken Stock.  I will use tons of it in winter as I make soups.

Crushed tomatoes.  Stock up when they have a good sale. Crushed tomatoes are great for soups (pasta y fagioli recipe here).  I use them for a vegetarian chili. Also great to make homemade tomato sauce when the urge arises!

Pasta and Brown Rice. A staple in our pantry ALL the time.

Canned veggies. Since the fresh produce dwindles, canned is a better alternative during winter. (frozen is even better) Even the produce in the grocery store that is fresh, is most likely less healthy than canned at this point-unless you live in a mild climate.  If you do not, chances are that produce has traveled a long way and several days to get to you, and therefore has lost many of its nutritional quality.

Boxed almond, soy, rice milk.  How many times do we run out of milk and don’t want to go out in a snowstorm to get some?  Then there’s a screaming toddler, “I want miiiiiilllk!” Here is a great alternative that does not need refrigeration and can be opened up as needed. We especially prefer chocolate flavors of these types of milks!  And they are so healthy!

Canned Pie Filling, Pumpkin, etc.  Winter means lots of pies!  Plus, canned pumpkin can be used for many other things-muffins, breads, etc.

Canned Peaches. When the days of fresh picked peaches are just a memory, satisfy that sweet craving with some canned peaches, topped with homemade whipped cream.  My kids love it.

25 lb.  bag of bread flour.  I make tons of bread, especially in winter.  I also make pizza dough and freeze it to use for all types of things besides pizza! (click here for some ideas)

So are you inspired to stock up?  Be alert for sales, stock up now and you will be assured less trips out during cold months, and still serve healthy dishes to your family!

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved



Simply Cooking…Re-thinking Bruschetta-Super Simple Summer Recipe

What to do with all those garden fresh tomatoes?
This is the time of year we are overflowing with delicious garden tomatoes.

One of my favorite ways to use them up is bruschetta.  Now traditionally, we would serve bruschetta on some nice grilled Italian bread (drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic).  But I have some other delicious ways I love to serve bruschetta.

~Topped over some pasta and topped with lots of parmesan cheese-this is a super yummy pasta dish!

~Bruschetta pizza-Cook the pizza dough about half way. Top with bruschetta and some fresh mozzarella.  Return to oven to crisp up the crust and melt the cheese.  Better yet, cut in small squares as an appetizer!
~Scooped into Pepperidge Farm pastry shells.  Top with parmesan and, again, a delicious appetizer!
~Served over orzo with some feta tossed in.
~Served over grilled chicken and rice.

4-5 tomatoes, diced
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red onion, chopped
fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate to blend flavors well.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy fresh grown tomatoes?

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved



Simple Health-A Lemon a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

I love the way I feel when I eat simpler, more wholesome foods.  Meals from scratch with the least amount of ingredients are always best.

I was making lemonade the other day when it hit me-lemon water.  Just lemons and water.  I remembered reading somewhere all about the health benefits of lemon water.

So I looked it up and wow, amazing!  Lemon water does so much for your health!

Just a few of the many, many things I found:

-Aids digestion
-Good for skin
-Antioxidants help prevent colds, flu, etc
-Good for liver
-soothes heartburn
-Prevents many, many diseases

So now everyday I am making a pitcher of lemon water and we are drinking it all throughout the day.  It doesn’t get much easier than squeezing some lemon juice into water.

Refreshing on a summer day and full of health benefits!

© copyright 2012 – All rights reserved