Favorite Holiday Dishes and Treats

sausage ballsI know you can find favorite holiday dishes listed by state. I’m sure you can find many other favorite lists grouped in many other ways. Today, you get to enjoy a few of my holiday favorites categorized by the order in which they pop into my head.

Peppermint Ice Cream

Many holiday favorites come from family traditions. This one does not. The first time I tasted peppermint ice cream was at a Baskin-Robbins®. I don’t remember the city or the year. I just remember the creaminess of the milk balanced the mintiness of the peppermint in a scrumptiously delicious way. Later I discovered Chik-fil-A® peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes. Those were even richer and more decadent than ice cream.

One year, my son Ben & I bought a half gallon of peppermint ice cream on the way to my hometown for Christmas. We didn’t have a cooler with us. I have no idea what we thought we were going to do with all of that ice cream for three hours in the car, but standing at the counter a single serving each just didn’t seem like enough. We ate all we could stand, then threw away a large amount of melted pink mess.

If you’re like me, you have to review each new holiday offering to make sure it’s compatible with your eating regimen. Be prepared. This reading assignment may startle you. In addition to excessive calorie counts, you’ll find artificial flavors, corn syrup, and gum stabilizers. As long as it’s gluten-free, I don’t mind choosing this kind of treat once a year but it’s not something I want on a regular basis.


I know there are two camps on eggnog. I happen to like it. You don’t even need to spike it with anything as long as there’s nutmeg sprinkled on top. One draw is that we had it at my grandmother’s house on Christmas. The other is similar to that of peppermint ice cream – it’s soooooo rich and sweet.


My family’s traditional Christmas meal was breakfast. My mother served it mid-morning after we opened presents. It was the one time each year she was sure to make a homemade meal. I loved the crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, and even the biscuits although they were an acquired taste. They were consistently so brown and hard my sister called them moonrocks.

Sausage Balls

I never think to make sausage balls until the holidays roll around. That means cooking one recipe is never enough. I always double up. If I have any left I can freeze them. Of course, I never have any left. If we don’t eat them all while the family is together, someone packs up a bunch to go. The few that remain are my breakfast for a day or two. They really are a good grab & eat breakfast.

Party Mix

Much like sausage balls, my family starts eating party mix around Christmas and puts it away just after the Super Bowl. My great aunt Ruth brought party mix to my grandmother’s house every Christmas. I loved the crunch of Brazil nuts and the toasted buttery flavor of the cereal. I would try to eat it slowly so it would last longer. While I was successful at eating small portions, I ate them so often it still didn’t last long.

Harry & David® Pears

My box of Harry & David pears just arrived. A friend gives me one every year as a Christmas/birthday present. I excitedly await the ripening of the first pear. These Royal Riviera Pears are never ordinary. They’re extraordinary!

Hot Chocolate

It seems that Christmas parades these days are during the day. When I was growing up, our parade was at night and it was C-O-L-D. Riding on a float or standing and watching left us chilled and ready for a cup of hot cocoa. We could hardly wait long enough for it to cool before we started gulping.

Chocolate Orange Balls

I like the flavor of orange and chocolate together, but my favorite thing about chocolate orange balls is the instructions – Whack and Unwrap! It’s a pleasure to consume food you don’t have to treat gingerly and anything that helps work out the added frustrations of the holidays is a good thing. Perhaps that’s why Santa always left my dad nuts to crack.

Chocolate Covered Bing Cherries

I love bing cherries! We used to eat them fresh from the tree. I’m not sure it gets any better than that, but since I no longer have access to a tree, I’ll settle for the chocolate covered version.

There were a few more items that crossed my mind, but ultimately didn’t make this list – pumpkin bread, glazed ham, beef & noodles (this makes my all time favorite list, but we had it on multiple occasions throughout the year), and green rice. Fruit cake crossed my mind, but try as I might, I don’t like it.

Your family may have a more traditional holiday dinner that produces favorites like prime rib, green bean casserole, mincemeat pie, latkes, or Christmas pudding. Whatever they are, I wish you the opportunity to enjoy them with those you love this holiday season!








Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Making Holiday Memories – Take a Limo to See the Lights!

Making holiday memories – take a limo to see the lights! This year I’m focussed on making memories during the holidays rather than making gifts or involved menus. My easy take on Thanksgiving turned out to be delicious in its original form as well as the one-pot version that followed.

Now I’m looking toward Christmas and New Year’s with the same goal in mind. I think I’ll resurrect one of my favorite holiday activities – taking a limo to see the lights. It’s easy, festive, and relatively inexpensive if everyone chips in. In my city you can spend 4 hours riding around in style with a fully stocked bar for around $50 – $60 per person including a decent tip for the driver. While that’s not dirt cheap, I can save that much by eating lunch at home for a week or two so the price doesn’t feel out of reach.
Hats in LimoLimo

We always come to the limo prepared with snacks, music, and hats! Why hats? I have no idea. Just seems more fun somehow. Once in the limo, we pop in our favorite holiday CD and put on a hat and we’re ready to ride. The driver often helps us decide the route. You can encourage the use of, or temporarily confiscate, the ubiquitous smart phone cameras depending on how raucous a crowd you invite and what sort of reputation you desire on social media.

I think I’ll include Kahlua and Peppermint Schnapps in my bar request so we can enjoy Kahlua Mint Hot Chocolate along with our snacks. If you’d like to do this too, just bring a thermos or two of hot chocolate along. After you pour a cup, swirl in an oz of Kahlua and an oz of Peppermint Schnapps to warm your tummy.

I’m going to keep the snacks easy to make and easy to serve. Gluten-free sausage balls and ChexTM Mix will fit the bill. I can carry both of them in zip top plastic bags that can be passed around the car. When I was a kid, we called ChexTM Mix “party” mix and you had to make it in the oven. The prepackaged kind didn’t yet exist. I still prefer the kind made in the oven and I don’t think bagel chips belong in the recipe. I use Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Kix, gluten-free mixed nuts, gluten-free pretzels, butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder and follow the recipe from one of the cereal boxes. I prefer to use a few more Corn and Rice Chex than I do Kix rather than the standard 3 cups of each. You can leave out the Kix entirely if you don’t want the sweetness.
Sausage Balls

If I want easy to become even easier, I can skip making the snacks entirely by grabbing some white chocolate peppermint drizzled popcorn, gluten-free ginger snaps, M&M Holiday Candies, and a bag of gluten-free pretzels from the grocery store. Even better, I don’t have to make a decision right now. I can wait and see how the next couple of weeks turn out. If I determine that making the snacks will interfere with time I can spend with James, I’ll opt for plan B.

Now that I have a loose plan in place, I feel calm and ready to enjoy the lights.
Christmas Lights

Have a fun holiday memory making activity? Share it here and we’ll give it a try!