The Life’s Choices team loves the Christmas season! From joyful jingles to seasonal Berks County, Pennsylvania activities, it’s lots of fun. One of our favorite parts of the holidays are all the tasty treats!
Here are a few of our favorite Christmas recipes for you to try with your loved ones — enjoy!
From Katie Bailey, Director of Client Services in Kutztown, Pennsylvania:
“This recipe has been a family favorite for generations. They are butter, delicate and melt in your mouth. These cookies are usually the first to be eaten up!”
1 cup Butter (softened)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp water
2 cups flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
Extra sugar for coating
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla and water. Add the flour and pecans and stir until dough forms (this will be slightly sticky). Roll small amount in hands to make 1 1/2 inch rounded logs.
Slightly flatten the tops. Bake 25 min until slightly golden on edges. Put some sugar in a shallow bowl. Remove from oven and roll them in sugar. Cool on rack and enjoy.
ROASTED SWEET POTATO SALAD
From Heidi Young, Education Director:
“This has been made as a side at our Christmas Eve gathering!”
prep time: 15 MINUTES
cook time: 45 MINUTES
total time: 1 HOUR
About 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 jumbo), washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (use the white and green)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 cup corn (I use frozen that I allowed to thaw)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced (about half of 1 bunch)
Honey Dijon Dressing
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice (lime juice may be substituted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray and add the sweet potatoes in an even, flat layer. Evenly drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork-tender and done. Halfway through baking flip potatoes to ensure even cooking. Baking time will vary based on size of potatoes, oven and climate variances, and I recommend starting to check at 30 minutes for doneness. While potatoes bake, prep and chop the remaining ingredients.
To a large bowl, add the black beans, green onions, red pepper, corn, cilantro; set aside.
To a large measuring cup or medium bowl, add the honey, dijon mustard, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, optional cayenne pepper, and whisk to combine; set aside.
After potatoes are cooked, add them to the bowl with the beans and vegetables, add the sauce, and toss to combine. Taste, check for seasoning balance (add more salt, pepper, touch of honey, lemon juice, etc.), make any necessary tweaks, and serve. Potato salad can be served warm, at room temp, or chilled and will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
From Joy Stutzman, Executive Director:
“Our family enjoys a nice cup of hot wassail at Christmas!”
From Kolleen Long, Director of Client Services in Hamburg, Pennsylvania:
“We were happily surprised to learn a few years back how easy it is to make cranberry sauce, and it’s so delicious! You can easily adapt the recipe – use all water instead of OJ, for example, or substitute lemon zest for orange zest. Stir in a dash or two of cinnamon when you start cooking, or a few handfuls of walnuts! Best to make a day ahead so it can set up properly, but we’ve been known to eat it while still warm. Can’t time everything in life, so you might as well enjoy it.”
12 oz bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup OJ
Zest from one orange
Rinse cranberries and check/discard any bad ones. Meanwhile, dissolve sugar in orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes – stay close and stir often during this time. Stir in orange zest. Remove from heat and let cool, then place in container and store in fridge until ready to eat. Sauce will thicken as it stands.
From Greta Bailey, THRIVE Student Intern:
“I love molasses cookies around the holidays. They’re perfect for dipping into a glass of milk and they have just the right level of ‘spiciness.'”
Ingredients (to make about 30 cookies):
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup white sugar (for rolling)
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool and enjoy!
ITALIAN RICOTTA COOKIES
From Charlene Lang, THRIVE Educator: