Top Three Popular Goods to Bake for The Season

‘Tis the season for epic baking and lots of hearty laughter. Nine-in-ten Americans across the nation celebrate Christmas, according to data from Pew Research Center. That means over 90 percent of America participates in one sole holiday. Christmas has become a holiday that is celebrated whether you have ties to a faith or not. And with the holidays, comes a whole lot of baked goods. This is the time that families and friends gather to share great food and fun times. If you’re trying to think of a halfway decent recipe to try out for your next holiday party, have no fear. This blog is going to help you dive into Christmas sweets. But it’s not just about Christmas–there’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and Las Posadas, to name a few other other holidays. So what are you going to bake this year? With the these special days within grasp, it’s time to break down the best of the best. This is exactly what needs to be brewing in your kitchen. If you aren’t quite sure what should be on the roster as far as baked goods go, then this blog is for you. These are the most popular baked goods to bake for the season, courtesy of Genius Kitchen.

  • Chocolate Holiday Pretzels – Ready in 25 minutes, this recipe yields three plates and serves 30.

Ingredients:

One (17 ⅝ ounce) bag of holiday M&M’s chocolate candy (red and green).

Three (10 ounce) bags of checkerboard or windowpane shaped pretzels.

Three (13 ounce) bags of Hershey’s Hugs chocolates.

Three (13 ounce) bags of Hershey’s chocolate Kisses.

Directions: First, preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Open the pretzel bags and remove unbroken pretzels. Place pretzels on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets in a single layer. Unwrap Hugs and place one on each individual pretzel. Repeat for entire cookie sheet. When doing your Hugs, put them on ONE specific sheet. Don’t mix them up. These candies melt faster than the other. Repeat step using the Kisses. Next, place in a preheated oven. For the Hugs, bake four minutes. For the Kisses, bake five to six minutes. Once you remove the pretzels from the oven, place one M&M on each pretzel/chocolate. Finally, place cookie sheet in freezer for eight minutes minimum, 10 minutes max. This allows the chocolate time to set.
Original Recipe here.

  • Bacardi Rum Cake – Ready in an hour and a half, this recipe serves 10-12 individuals.

Ingredients:

One cup chopped pecans or one cup chopped walnuts
One (520 g) package yellow cake mix (just the mix, don’t add the other ingredients on the box)
One (92 g) package vanilla instant pudding mix
Four eggs
½ cup cold water
½ cup cooking oil
½ cup dark rum or rum
GLAZE
½ cup butter
¼ cup water
One cup sugar
½ cup dark rum or rum

One cup chopped pecans or one cup chopped walnuts
One (520 g) package yellow cake mix (just the mix, don’t add the other ingredients on the box)
One (92 g) package vanilla instant pudding mix
Four eggs
½ cup cold water
½ cup cooking oil
½ cup dark rum or rum
GLAZE
½ cup butter
¼ cup water
One cup sugar
½ cup dark rum or rum

Directions: First, stir together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and rum. Then, pour batter over nuts. Bake at 325 in oven for exactly one hour. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Then, invert onto serving plate and prick top. For the glaze, you want to melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Once glaze is done, brush glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Allow the cake to absorb the glaze. And repeat until the glaze is gone.
Original Recipe here.

  • Christmas Pudding –  Ready in just over six hours, this recipe serves 10-12 individuals.

Ingredients:

One and ½ cups raisins
One cup currants
½ cup chopped mixed peel
One lemon, juice and zest of
One orange, juice and zest of
½ cup brandy
¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar
Two large eggs
One and ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
One cup all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
One teaspoon mixed spice

Directions: Blend dried fruits with the lemon and orange zest and juice in a large bowl. Leave for 10-12 hours to soak. In another large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until smooth. Stir in the eggs until it’s properly mixed together. Add breadcrumbs, flour, baking powder, salt and mixed spice, stirring together until blended. Pour the contents of the dried fruit bowl into the batter and lightly mix to combine. Next, pour into a greased six-cup pudding basin, or a heat proof mixing bowl. Cover with a piece of baking paper and secure around the top with cooking twine. Then it’s got to be lowered into a large pot half-filled with simmering water. Cover the pot and leave on the stove to simmer, steaming the pudding for about five hours. Make sure you keep a watchful eye on the pudding while it’s steaming–putting in more water when needed. Then, leave to cool and store in a really cool part of the house for up to seven days. When ready to eat, steam again for one hour. Make sure the pudding is served warm with whipped cream.
Original Recipe here.

It’s Not Christmas Yet, But It’s Okay to Start Decorating Early

Photo via Instagram / @inspoforchristmas

‘Tis the season for extravagant Christmas decorations. Even though it’s still November, it’s okay to get excited about the next holiday. In fact, there’s many benefits for those that put up their decorations early. The website YourEerie.com conducted a Facebook poll of 1,600 people and found that 49 percent said it’s too early for decorations and 51 percent said that it’s not too early. Sure, Christmas is at the end of next month. But there’s no reason why you can’t flex your Christmas spirit. The sooner you can get up your decorations, the happier you’ll be. Take the chance to knock things out early by getting your decorating done ahead of time. That way, you can really focus on enjoying the holidays. It’s okay to elongate Christmas if you love the holiday. Here are nine reasons why it’s okay to put up your Christmas decorations early, courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens.

  1. Decorating makes you happier – People love the holiday spirit. U.K. news outlet Unilad spoke to a psychoanalyst about the topic and found that people enjoy the nostalgia of Christmas. Decorations are a view into the past for many, drumming up old childhood memories.
  2. Your neighbors will enjoy it – A study found that people who were shown photos of houses decorated believed the residents to be more friendly as those sans decorations. That’s right, your neighbors actually appreciate the decorations. Houses that have decorations on them were seen as more inviting and accessible, the study found, regardless of whether you interact with your neighbors or not. So if the whole block is decorating their homes, get in on the fun. It’s appreciated.
  3. Christmas desserts – No one is going to deny a Christmas cookie. Once your Christmas decorating is out of the way, you can focus on Christmas baking. Desserts are essential to the holiday season, so bust out that cookie jar and get ready to start cooking. Get into the Christmas mood with favorites like red velvet cheesecake bars, red plaid cookies, and star mint meringues.
  4. It’s getting cold (and dark) – Since it gets dark earlier now, it’s a good idea to get your decorating done as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of sunlight to get it done, so take advantage of it. Get through the coldness of winter with some hot chocolate, a warm fire, cozy sweaters, and your Christmas decor.
  5. Show off your DIY skills – The earlier you start, the sooner you can get to working on those DIY decorations. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute to put things together with glue and paint, especially if you’re having company over. Get those ornaments up now and make that wreath. And don’t forget about mailing those Christmas cards out. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

    Photo via Instagram / @homewithhollyj

  6. Enjoy your decorations for longer – If you get your decorations up earlier, that means you can enjoy them for longer. It really makes putting up the decorations worth it. Putting them up is a lot of work and time, so why not get it done as soon as possible? No one wants to put up decorations late and have to put them away a week later. You can really appreciate your efforts when you get it done early.
  7. Indulge in Christmas music – Listening to Christmas music while decorating is a great way to get into the spirit. You’ve been listening to the same music all year. It’s time to really embrace the holidays. Crank up the music, bust out singing to those classic tunes like “Jingle Bells” and get decorating. You can even make Christmas decorations out of lyrics–print out your favorite Christmas lyrics and turn them into little ornaments.
  8. Spend more time with family – The holidays are a blur. First Thanksgiving, then Christmas. On top of that, you’ve got to go shopping. If you get your Christmas decorating done early, then you’ll have more time to spend with family. That way you can focus on Christmas activities.
  9. You’ll have somewhere to take Christmas photos – So you’ve reached the last stretch of 2018 and it’s time to take Christmas photos. But where do you go? If you’ve decorated early, then you know exactly where those pictures can be taken. Using decorations as a backdrop is a quick and inexpensive way to get your Christmas photos done–it also shows your holiday spirit.

Kill two birds with one stone by decorating early. So if you have time to start decorating early this week, get to it. No one’s going to judge you. In fact, you’ll be happier because of it. There’s nothing wrong with getting your Christmas decorating done early. It’s okay to love Christmas!

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