I love the holidays. I’ve already shared with you how much I love Thanksgiving. But I would say I get equally as giddy for Christmas time. I adore the family time. For as long as I can remember, we have had the same Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve we attend the candle light service at church. It’s one of my favorite traditions to see the entire church lit up by candles. I secretly still get scared that the person sitting in front of me will end up with their hair on fire or I will drop hot wax on myself and be jumping around like an idiot in front of the entire church. That fear started around age 5, still going at age 25…but I like to think it’s a legitimate fear? Anyways, after church we head to my Nana’s house. We have our classic Christmas dinner. Most people would think a fancy dinner with maybe tenderloin or a roasted turkey. We do it a little differently. My nana makes the most delicious ham and rolls that you will ever have. I actually have never even asked her for the recipe but whatever she does is absolutely amazing. It seems like a simple Hawaiian roll with honey baked ham on it but then she adds her special mustard sauce on them and I’m pretty sure a massive amount of butter. Simple and perfect. Christmas Eve would certainly not be right without ham and rolls.
On to Christmas morning. So, on Christmas morning we go to my dads side of the family. My grandmother makes breakfast for anywhere from 20-35 people. When I say she makes breakfast, she makes breakfast. I’m talking southern style biscuits and gravy, piles and piles of bacon, hash brown casserole and fried eggs. The kind of carbs and sodium you can actually feel clogging your arteries but you simply can’t stop yourself. You would think that would be more than enough work for a grandmother on Christmas morning, but then she even takes it to the next level. She knows each grandchild’s (there’s a ton of us) favorite food and she makes that for us as well. So with your biscuit you can have shrimp cocktail, enchiladas, steak and fruit salad. You can only imagine how we all roll out of her house on Christmas Day.
But before all of this begins, I love the tradition of holiday baking. I like to bake a ton of goodies and package them beautifully to give them as gifts. I mean who doesn’t love to get fresh baked goods for Christmas? If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you. You might as well stop reading now. But for all of you normal people out there, I want to share some of my favorite recipes to give as gifts. Whether you’re taking a basket full for your coworkers, or simply just passing them out as individual gifts, these are super easy recipes and never fail. On a side note, do yourself a favor and go to the Dollar Tree for all of your packaging. I stock up every year and they have the cutest things. They almost always have large cookie boxes, treat bags, super cute tins and even cupcake boxes. I get a bunch of these and then gift bags to put it all in. If you were to get all of this at Target you would spend a small fortune.
These are so incredibly simple but have unbelievable, gooey, delicious flavor. Try to keep yourself from eating the whole pan.
- 1 12 oz package of Nilla wafers
- 1 10 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
- 1 12 oz jar of caramel sauce
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
Place nilla wafer in a large plastic bag and crush into small pieces with a rolling pin. Stir together crumbs and melted butter and press into a 13×9 baking dish. Top with chocolate chips and pecans and pour jar of caramel evenly over the top. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. When they come out of the oven spread top into an even layer with a knife or rubber spatula. Let cool completely and then cut into squares. I like to wrap them individually and tie with colored curling ribbon to give them as gifts.
Nutella Sea Salt Fudge
Nutella. Sea salt. Fudge. Need I say more?
- 11 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Sea salt
Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Combine all ingredients except sea salt together in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Stirring consistently until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Cut when cold.
Cranberry Orange Bread
As much as I don’t understand it, there are people out there that don’t love chocolate. So I do like to have a couple “non-chocolate” items in the basket if I’m giving a gift. This cranberry orange bread is super festive and equally as delicious.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of one orange
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. In another smaller bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Whisk sugar into the flour mixture. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Stir just until combined, do not over mix. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 70-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If it starts to brown too much during baking you can cover it loosely with foil.
While the bread is cooling, whisk together all ingredients for the glaze. Drizzle over the bread. Once the bread has cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
I found this recipe on Pinterest, by a blog called laurenslatest.com. These have quickly become a hit for my family and I’m required to bring them to almost every gathering. They are soft, chewy and have the best “Christmasy” flavor. This recipes only makes about a dozen and I can guarantee you that you will want to at least double the recipe.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 sugar, for rolling
Preheat your oven to 350. Cream butter and both sugars together with a hand held mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in egg, vanilla and molasses. Whip for 1-2 minutes or until it turns a light brown color. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.
Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll in the sugar. Place on a cookie sheet, continue with the rest of the dough. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The outside of the cookie will look done but don’t be worried if the middle looks very gooey. As these sit out they cook more. They are perfect warm or room temp.
If you are making all of these for a gift basket, I love to add some candy canes or peppermints to the basket. I also will melt some chocolate and dip pretzel rods in it. Cover those with sprinkles and they are adorable. Add lots of red and green ribbon and you’ll have a gorgeous gift basket!