Happy New Year’s Eve/Eve and a Low-Cal Cocktail!

Have y’all been enjoying Jingle Jangle Spurs? 

As most of you know, the fillies take the last two weeks off from the regular blogging schedule so we can enjoy the holidays, too.  But we want to keep the festive spirit alive and let you know we’re still thinking of you.  So every year, we try hard to stir up something fun for everyone.

I’m bringing up the tail end of Jingle Jangle Spurs, and even though Christmas is over, New Year’s is just around the corner.  Have you ever wondered how the custom of ringing in the New Year with champagne or a lively cocktail began?

It’s said that after Julius Caesar fiddled with the pagan calendar and ultimately added January, he ordered Roman consuls to begin their new terms then.  Hence, in addition to looking forward to the end of winter, the people heralded in some new politicians as well, and took up the opportunity to celebrate.

The practice of heralding the new year spread across Europe and eventually America in the 1800s. Settlers stayed awake until midnight firing their guns, setting off fireworks, and tolling church bells. Some even went door to door demanding drinks like spiked punch and lemonade, along with snacks. Can’t you just imagine the festive atmosphere with the air filled with noise and raucous (and maybe a little drunken) fun?

Later in the decade, champagne emerged as the cocktail of choice in society parties and fine restaurants. I suspect most of you reading this can recall lifting a glass of bubbly after 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve?

My husband and I don’t go out to celebrate like we used to, but I’d love to share my favorite Sangria recipe that’s easy to make, festive and LOW CALORIE to boot!

Even better, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve to enjoy it.

 

Tropical Sangria

1 750 ml bottle of white zinfadel wine (use red wine, if you prefer!)

1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau

1 unpeeled orange, thinly sliced

1 unpeeled lime, thinly sliced

8 oz can pineapple chunks or slices, undrained

2 cups lime or lemon-lime seltzer, club soda or carbonated water, chilled

Combine all into large pitcher EXCEPT seltzer. Stir and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Add the chilled seltzer just before serving.

 

Wishing you all a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

 

 

My Favorite Christmas Ornament

Wooden sign and bird in snow

There was a time when I seemed to have more time on my hands and a crafty inclination.

These four Christmas stockings came out of that time.

As you might guess some of the children were considerably OLDER Than the others when their stocking was finally done.

I used to crochet and knit and embroider.

These stockings are crewel work and I always feel like they are artwork. I love them.

And they are carefully packed away every year after Christmas. Finding them and hanging each stocking by the…well, Christmas tree…with care…is my favorite part of Christmas

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year with…shall we say 2020 vision

I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. God bless you all in the New Year.

http://www.maryconnealy.com 

Jingle Jangle Spurs – Cinnamon Rolls

I hope you had an amazing, beautiful, memorable, sweet Christmas! 

Are you out hitting the after-Christmas sales today? Or maybe taking it easy, lingering over a leftover piece of pie and cup of spicy tea? 

I’ve been thinking about these days that fall between Christmas and New Years. They were always such fun during my growing up years (and not just because I didn’t have to go to school!). 
Both of my parents came from good-sized families and we were often the house that hosted one side or the other for Christmas Day.
Often, relatives who didn’t come for that year’s Christmas dinner would trickle in over the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day, bringing fun surprises and joining in our outdoor fun of sledding or ice skating.

In particular, I remember a year when we hosted my mom’s side of the family for Christmas but all of Dad’s family came on New Year’s Day bringing a bounty of delicious treats and filling the house with laughter. My mom made a huge pot of chili and batches of gooey cinnamon rolls that were quickly devoured.
However you spend these last days of 2019, saying goodbye to the year and preparing to welcome in a new one, I hope they bring you great joy and a bounty of hope, grace, and love! 

Cinnamon Rolls

Dough

2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tbsp. salt

Filling

1 cup melted butter

¼ cup cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Icing

4 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

3 tbsp. melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Scald the milk, oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat (bring heat to nearly a boil, but don’t let it boil!). Set aside and cool to lukewarm (think temperature of a baby’s bottle). Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and let rest for one minute.

Add four cups of the flour and stir until just combined. It is going to be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set in a warm place for an hour.

Remove the towel and add baking powder, baking soda, salt and final 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to combine.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, somewhere in the proximity of 10 inches by 30 inches.

Pour melted butter over dough. Use your fingers or a knife to spread evenly. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar. You can also mix cinnamon and sugar into the butter before pouring over dough. Either way works fine.

Beginning at the long end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you. Use both hands and work slowly, keeping the roll nice and tight. Some filling may ooze out and that is OK (and give you something to snitch later.)

When you have the roll finished, pinch the outside edge of the roll to create a seam. You should now have a long log. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. You should get about 25 rolls.

Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and place rolls in the pan. I like to use smaller pans and freeze them. If you want to give cinnamon rolls as a holiday gift, put them in disposable aluminum pans, then they are ready for gift giving!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the pans with a tea towel and set aside for about 20 minutes. Remove towel and bake for about 15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Do not overcook! While the rolls are baking, whip up the icing.

Mix the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Icing should be thick but pourable.

When the rolls come out of the oven, pour on the icing. Make sure you cover every last bit of roll. This step is vitally important for the overall happiness of your taste buds.

Put one on a plate, take a deep breath inhaling that decadent cinnamon aroma, and enjoy!


Today is the release day for the third book in my Gifts of Christmas series. If you’re looking for something new to read, I hope you’ll take a look at this sweet historical romance that can stand alone.

Gift of Faith

When their faith is tested

Will Christmas bring a miracle?

Handsome and engaging, Marc Rawlings could have his choice of girls, but he only has eyes for gentle Amy Madsen. Ready to begin a future with her, he instead asks her to wait for him while he heads off to war. Bound by his duty to his country, Marc leaves his heart with her, counting on the day they’ll be reunited.

Amy Madsen spends her days working in her family’s bakery and her nights gazing up at the sky, hoping her fiancé knows she’s thinking of him. When tragic news arrives, Amy refuses to believe it, clinging to her promises to Marc and her faith that he’ll return to her.

It will take a miracle and a unique gift of faith to bring a happy holiday during a wartime Christmas in 1942.

Gift of Faith is the third book in the Gifts of Christmas series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome historical romances, featuring precious gifts given straight from the heart.

~*~

Happy Holidays!

Jingle Jangle Spurs — Flavors of the Season

We thought it’d be fun to share some of our favorite holiday recipes.

Here is my Granny’s Fresh Apple Cake recipe. It’s exactly as she wrote it and the way I’ve baked it ever since I can remember. It’s a great holiday cake.

Granny’s Fresh Apple Cake

2 eggs, beaten 1 tsp. soda
1 ½ c. sugar 1 tsp. vanilla
¾ c. oil 2 cups chopped apples (approx. 3 apples)
1 ½ c. flour 1 cup chopped pecans
½ tsp. salt

Flour pans. Turn on oven to 325 degrees.

Cream eggs, sugar and oil. Add flour, salt, soda, vanilla and pecans. Mix well, but do not mash apples. Bake 45 to 60 minutes. Use Caramel Icing.

Caramel Icing

1 c. brown sugar 1 stick butter                     ½ c. milk

Cook all ingredients for minutes after bringing to a boil. Add:
1 ¾ c. powdered sugar Vanilla                     Beat till smooth and put all over cake.

Enjoy!

Phyliss

 * * * * *

I hope everyone is planning a wonderful Christmas and you have the gifts all wrapped and ribbons tied. Being with family and eating wonderous treats makes everything so much better. In my family, we have a tradition of making Sausage Cheese Balls — the easy way — and serving them up hot on Christmas morning. 

Ingredients:

3 cups of dry Bisquick

1 pound of grated cheese

1 pound of sausage (any degree of spiciness)

This recipe calls for no liquid. 

Knead everything all together (This will take some time but keep mixing until it’s all integrated into a ball.) Your hand will get very tired.

Roll out the size balls you like and put them on a cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. But check on them so you won’t overcook. Eat and Enjoy!

Do you hear those Jingle, Jangle Spurs? It’s the cowboys filing in to eat their share. Better hurry!

See you all in 2020!

Much Love,

Linda Broday

 

Jingle Jangle Shortbread

I enjoy baking, but I rarely make the time for it. Except at Christmas. I still don’t do a lot of baking, but I always make at least a few yummy goodies to have on hand. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without cookies.

Growing up, we would go to my grandparents house for Christmas every year. I have so many wonderful memories of playing games with my cousins, singing carols, playing Skipbo (once I was old enough to join the adult card table – BIG moment in my life – ha!), and finding the delicious treats Grandmother had strategically placed around the house. My favorite was the shortbread hidden under a covered pink glass dish in the living room. It was such a simple cookie. Dry yet sweet. No special flavoring. A simple sheet cut into rectangle fingers. I loved it!

Strangely enough, I never tried baking it myself until about 5 years ago. Now it is a Christmas staple. The perfect cookie to have with hot tea while curling up with a fun Christmas read.

Shortbread Christmas Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat over to 350. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine butter and sugar. Add vanilla. In a medium bow, sift together flour and salt. Add to butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Form dough in your hands and mold into 2 flat disks. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Karen’s tip: Instead of rolling dough out on a floured surface to cut into shapes, since this dough is already dry, it is much better (and easier) to roll the dough onto a piece of wax paper. Lay a piece the plastic wrap you covered the dough in earlier over the top and roll dough between the plastic wrap and wax paper. No additional flour is needed. I do dip my cookie cutters in flour, however, before cutting the dough to prevent sticking.

This year I decided to cut my cookies into cute mini Christmas shapes. These are my guilt-free cookie bites. And they are just adorable!

I sent a batch to my publishing house as a thank you to my publishing team, and I saved a selection in my secret kitchen stash.

If you make these mini cookies, reduce baking time to 15 minutes.

 

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! May you have lots of yummy goodies to enjoy along with great Christmas stories to read.

Click Cover to Order My 2-in-1 Christmas Novella Collection

From Our Home to Yours, A Very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Howdy & a Very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

It’s a busy time of year, isn’t it?  What with one thing and another it has been really tough to get a picture of all of us together, but we have some good attempts, and so I thought I’d share some of our holiday spirit with you.

 

To the left here is a picture of the annual tree hunting and cutting.  I’m not in the picture.  Instead, I’m taking it.  My two daughters, my husband and my grandchildren are in the picture.  As a note, I can’t be around when they actually cut down the tree.  Oddly, I am certain that I can hear the pain and the “shouts” of the tree.  So usually the grandchildren and I go and get hot chocolate and let the others get the tree.  You know, my husband and I now only have a potted Christmas tree — for the same reason.  So, tell me, are you sensitive to the emotions of the tree, also?

Next, I thought I’d share some holiday treasures this year.  The first is of my grandson and my daughter in the background for the traditional choral concert. 

 

My grandson is in the front, sandwiched between two girls, and my daughter is in the back, dark hair and glasses (which she only needs to wear to read).  To the left now is a closer look at my grandson in the choir.

Such a beautiful concert.  But, I gotta tell you, eventually we had to step into the back because where we were originally seated, someone was wearing so much perfume, it was all we could smell.  This kind of perfume can really have an adverse effect on me.  Are any of you like that also?  I have to get out of the way of that kind of perfume, or a bad headache is usually in store for me.

This next picture is of my granddaughter in the Nutcracker. She is the one in the red “clown” suit and farthest on the left.  She had five different parts in the Nutcracker this year.  One of them entailed a series of cartwheels to the splits over and over, probably 5-6 times.  Wow!  I was impressed.  So, tell me, do you go to the Nutcracker each year?  I must admit that I added this event treasure to our annual Christmas festivities when my own children were young.  The music, the dancing and the thrill of seeing this live almost always started our holiday season.

This next picture is of me with my step granddaughter.  As a note, when she was younger and found out that I write books, she wanted me to gift a book to her teacher, who loves to read.  I did do this, and even met her teacher.  The long and short of this is that her teacher then started to write her own stories.  Gotta tell you, this was so heartwarming to me.  I love this picture because to me, I can see the love that we share for one another.

 

Here is a picture of me with one of my daughters at the Nutcracker.  Note my grandson in the foreground.

And, to the left here we have a picture of mom and son (my daughter and grandson) — also taken at the Nutcracker.

But let’s not end without a little carolling.  Here to the right is a picture of both my granddaughter and grandson carolling at a local senior’s home.  My granddaughter is closest to us behind the white pole.  She has beautiful, long hair, and is in front of the lady with short hair and songbook.

DSCN1721 — I’ve never done this before, but maybe, just maybe, you can see a video of the carolling.  If it doesn’t pull up, let me at least introduce the song they are singing, which is HOT CHOCOLATE from the movie, THE POLAR EXPRESS.

Well, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May your holiday be bright and filled with love and all good things.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Everybody Loves a Western!

 

Welcome to Day Three of Jingle, Jangle, Spurs! Before I wrote my first western romance, I wrote science fiction/fantasy time travel and still do under another pen name. What most folks don’t know, however, is that I also wrote a teleplay. And guess what, it was a western!

I had my first western book idea years back and started the book for fun, when lo and behold, I got approached by a very small production company that had joined with a western re-enactment group. These guys wanted a fun story they could shoot a tech reel for, (tech reels are to see what it might look like and how something flows on film) before they got serious about trying their hand at turning it into a major project. So I went to work and the tech reel was shot between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What an education that was! Not to mention a lot of fun. It was shot in Northern California and we all had a blast. I’ve never had a holiday season quite like it. It was definitely a combination of Jingles, Jangles, and Spurs. Lots of spurs, as the re-enactors acting as the bulk of the characters, were in full costume. The pictures are some I took while on the set. Yes, I got to be there!

These guys took their westerns seriously and I found out how much when they took me along to some western events in Los Angeles a few times. Some were friends with old-time actor favorites such as cast members from Little House on the Prairie, Gun Smoke (I got to meet Amanda Blake who played Miss Kitty) and Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman. One gentleman knew a few stuntmen (Steve McQueen’s for one) and I got to meet and hang out with Jack Elam and also James Best (Dukes of Hazard). Those were such fun times but also a lot of work. They didn’t pursue the project due to various circumstances, so I still have my rights to that story. One of these days I’ll get around to finishing the book for fun. But I wouldn’t trade those weeks for anything. I met a lot of great folks back then and had the best holiday season ever. And, got to hang out with folks who were western enthusiasts through and through, both professional actors and re-enactors alike.

 I have to say, my biggest thrill was meeting the wonderful Jack Elam, who shook my hand and thanked me for being a writer. “Without you, we’re nothing,” he said. “it’s an honor to meet you!” As a kid, I grew up watching this actor in Disney movies and various westerns. And yes, he DID look like that! And he also had a wonderful smile. I have pictures I took of him but I’m at my son’s for Christmas and don’t have access to them here. I had to post one of good ol’ Jack though, for those that don’t recognize the name but definitely will the face.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and get to read a lot of Christmas stories that take place in the old west! Speaking of which, what old-time actors from your favorite western shows or movies would you like to meet and spend time with around the holidays?