Meal Planning Monday ~ The Best of Christine 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Happy New Year’s Eve!  I hope you have some fun plans to hang out with friends and family to ring in the New Year.  Today is my birthday, so I’m taking a break from blogging.  I thought I would highlight my favorite posts of the year, so be sure to check out any you might have missed.

            Next week, we’ll be back with new Meal Planning Monday posts.  I’m also working on some great guest bloggers you’re sure to love!  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!




Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

I hope you enjoy the blessings of season.

~ Christine

Meal Planning Monday ~ The Best of Leah 2012

Only a week and a day until Christmas!  Like Leah and I, you’re probably busy, busy trying to finish up shopping, wrapping, cooking, and baking so you’ll be ready to enjoy your family when the big day arrives.  So I thought I would give Leah and myself a well deserved break from blogging for a bit so we can enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  This week, we’re highlighting Leah’s best posts of the year, so be sure you check out any you might have missed.

            Next week, there will be NO Meal Planning Monday.  The last Monday of the month, will be “The Best of Christine 2012.”


Meal Planning Monday ~ Baking Holiday Treats


          December 18th is National Bake Cookies Day, but since it falls on a Tuesday this year, I’m doing my baking this Saturday.  For as long as I can remember, my brother and I have always helped my mom bake sugar cookies a week or two before Christmas.  No matter how old I get, it’s still fun to bake, frost, and decorate the cookies.  And most years, my mom still helps me with the triple batch I make.  This year, I’m hoping my niece and nephew will also join in the fun.

            In addition to my usual cookie baking, I also make a rum cake for Christmas Day.  My recipe comes from the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn.  I follow the recipe almost to a tee, with the exception of using Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum instead of Bacardi.  It is super-moist and delicious!  Don’t worry, most of the alcohol cooks out when it’s baking.  However, if you like to lick the bowl and beaters, as I do, you may find that your tongue becomes pleasantly numb from eating the batter.  (See below for the recipe.)

            This year, I am going to whip up these Cinnamon Sugar Almonds in the crock pot.  I was able to get organic almonds at the co-op for $6 a pound, so I got two pounds of them.  Several people in my Facebook recipe group have tried them and said that not only do the almonds taste delicious, but they also make the house smell heavenly while they cook.

            I don’t know if I will have time to bake much else this holiday season, but here are some other great-looking recipes I’m going to try if I have time!  (And who says I can’t make some of these in January or February?)  So, what’s on your baking list this month?


Spiced Rum Cake (Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 package of Golden Butter cake mix (18.25 oz.)
  • 1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 oz.)
  • ½ cup of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
  • ½ cup of canola or coconut oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • 4 large eggs


  • ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

            Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the pan and set aside.  Place the cake mix, pudding mix, rum, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat on low for one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium for two more minutes.  Pour batter into the pan, smoothing it out with a spatula.

            Place the pan on the center rack in the oven and bake for one hour, or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched.  Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.  Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake and invert it onto a serving plate.  Poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick.

            Prepare the glaze by placing the butter in a small pan and melting it on low heat.  Once melted, add the water and sugar and increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly.  Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat slightly.  Continue to stir the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes, until thickened.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the rum.  Stir well and spoon the glaze over the warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and into the center of the cake.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Enjoy!





Meal Planning Monday ~ Christmas Traditions

This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

Christmas is right around the corner!  I’m usually not a big Christmas fan but this year the holiday spirit bug bit me.  Since my kids are getting older, *sniff sniff* I wanted to start some fun traditions with them.  So I bought an elf.  (I told myself I wasn’t going to buy one but I caved into the peer pressure.)  I’m glad I did, because my kids are over the moon about the elf!  He took up residence at our house on December 1st and will stay until December 24th.  So far he’s eaten almost all the Halloween candy (no, I didn’t actually eat it – I threw it away) and he’s knocked off ornaments from our tree trying to climb to the top.  Another tradition we have is to buy Christmas pajamas for the whole family.

If you need something to get your creative juices flowing, here are some great ideas to start a Christmas tradition or two for your family.

Homemade Christmas Ornaments ~ This could be as easy as a pinecone rolled in peanut butter then in birdseed.  Hang the ornaments outside to decorate a pine tree and attract all kinds of pretty birds to your yard.  I found this super-easy recipe on Pinterest for Cinnamon Ornaments.

Snowman Pancakes ~ These are super easy and the kids will love them.

Looking at Christmas lights ~ We like to drive around town, looking at all the different lights while drinking hot chocolate or chocolate milk for the little ones.

Sugar Cookies ~ My kids love baking and decorating rolled sugar cookies.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?