Holiday Recap-Recipes, Pictures and More

It took me getting sick and camping out on the couch to find time to write this. Two kiddos, work, hobbies there’s just not enough time in the day is there.

This year we hosted a dessert party, did a day trip to Houston and back on Christmas Eve, and managed 4 Christmas celebrations in 42 hours. Talk about controlled chaos. The new van came in super handy, the kids were fabulous and I enjoyed every minute. of course I kept thinking to myself on the road…if I had an IPad I’d be writing right now hehehe! Thanks to all the family and friends who showered me with gift cards I think there’s an IPad in my near future.

The natives are restless so I’ll keep this short and sweet!

My favorite holiday recipe…hands down it was the Crockpot Chocolate Pudding Cake I made for our dessert party. It was quick to prep, cooked while we were out and about and combined with the timer on our coffee pot, allowed me to arrive home minutes before our guests and have everything ready to roll!

Crock-pot Chocolate Pudding Cake (dairy free, gluten free, corn free, soy free options)

  • 1 pkg (3.9oz) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix (or check out http://www.allrecipes.com for an allergy free recipe sub)
  • 3 cups milk (regular, almond, coconut)
  • 1 pkg (2 layer size) chocolate fudge cake mix (I use Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix)
  • 2 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chopped (sprinkle Enjoy Life chocolate chips for dairy/soy free)
  • 2 cups thawed cool whip or whip cream (Soy whipped cream if soy tolerant, or omit, I didn’t mind the omission :))

To Make It:

  • Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray, or lightly coat with shortening. (Some Pam sprays have soy so check labels). Beat pudding mix and milk in your crock-pot with a wire whisk for 2 minutes. The recipe calls for a 3 1/2 quart but I have the larger oval and it worked fine.
  • In another bowl prepare the cake batter according to the boxes instructions. Slowly pour it over the pudding mixture. DO NOT STIR. Cover the crock-pot with the lid.
  • Cook on low 2 1/2 – 3 hours (or on high 1 1/2 – 2 hours) until toothpick inserted comes out of cake clean. Top with chopped chocolate or chips. Turn off the cooker and let stand covered 30 minutes to allow the pudding to thicken. Serve with cool whip and dusted with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.

My Must Have Kitchen Gadget for the holidays: Hands down it was my new Beka sauce pan. I whipped up quick quesidillas, chocolate sauces, you name it in there and was able to wash and reuse in minutes. The non-stick coating is amazing and a few more of these will be on my Christmas list for next year. And even better…this company has an environmental record that puts most other companies to shame. I just love them! Check them out here.

My ‘Couldn’t get dinner on the table without it’ recipe sites: I have two favorites without question are Dinner Tool and All Recipes. Dinner Tool lets me meal plan, add my own recipes, create shopping lists and have a quick printout of my weeks plan. Allrecipes.com lets me search by ingredients so I can plug in something I’m trying to get out of the pantry or fridge and up pops a slew of choices. LOVE IT!

My favorite photo sharing site: With all the IPads, E-readers, and smartphones out there we’ve become a society of digital sharing. In most cases I’m right on that bandwagon but some vestiges of society are being lost in the cyber rush. I firmly believe it teaches real values for kids to recognize the generosity of Christmas and respond with a heartfelt thank you note. However I’ve found that over the last few years it is tough to interest my oldest in writing them. This year I stepped up my game and we used Smilebox to create digital thank you cards we could send to family. Normally this would have gone against my edict that thank you notes are personal and it’s hard to get that touch with a digital card, but Smilebox allows you to add video clips to your card. So we sat down and recorded a bunch of 10-30 second clips on our Flip with my son thanking friends and family for their gifts. Each person got an individual thank you card with a video clip of Alex thanking them. Better than forcing him to sit at the table and write his name on cards he couldn’t read, this worked great. He could relate to this and I loved the message he got from working with me to put it together.

Last but not least to catch me up over the last few weeks…Livi turned 6 months. It’s been an amazing time with her and we are truly blessed to have such an angel living with us.

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