Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

With this installment of Friday Show & Tell, Writers Li.P.P. is going on indefinite hiatus. Even though we will no longer be blogging together, you can keep up with us on our personal blogs, Lindy Chaffin Start and Pam Asberry.  Thanks to all of you for supporting us by reading and commenting. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It just wouldn't be Christmas without these...

There's nothing healthy about them. But they have been a family favorite as long as I can remember, and I will make them every December until the day I die.


1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 can Eagle brand milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter; combine with graham cracker crumbs and pat down to form crust. Layer chocolate chips, coconut and pecans over crust; pour Eagle brand milk over evenly. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Says Healthy-er Can't Taste Good?

Okay, so I have to admit that when it comes to the holidays the last thing I am worried about is counting calories. I'm more a "moderation" girl than a "no bread and cheese" girl. Thanksgiving is the only day of the year I EVER feel over-full and Christmas means all of those delectable dishes we only taste once in 365 days.

Since 2011 has been such a challenging year and I have committed myself to taking the 2012 bull by the horns and changing my life in a complete one-eighty why should I concern myself with healthful recipes at the holidays? Maybe I want to set a good example. Could it be that I want to impress my friends with flavorful and healthy food? Perhaps my intent to completely change in 2012 needs to get a good start, or I need to send 2011 off on a healthier note. No matter. Here are some of the "better for you" recipes I will be serving this year. Enjoy!

Ricotta Dip for Fruit

1/2 Cup low fat Ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 6-ounce container vanilla low fat yogurt
6 cups cubed cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and strawberries

In a blender or food processor, combine ricotta, cream cheese, orange juice and powdered sugar. Cover and blend or process until smooth. In a medium bowl stir together cheese mixture and yogurt. If desired, cover and chill dip up to 24 hours. Serve with assorted fresh fruit.

Chili-Toasted Pecans with Dried Cherries

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
2 cups pecan halves (8 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3/4 cup dried cherries or a combination of raisins and dried cherries (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine oil and hot pepper sauce. Add pecans; toss to coat evenly. Set aside. In a small bowl combine chili powder, pepper, salt, cumin and oregano. Add to pecans; toss well to coat. Place pecans in a single layer in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake fro 12-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring every five minutes. Stir in dried cherries. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Praline-topped Brie

1 each 13-ounce round Brie or Camembert cheese
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Apple slices and/o toasted French bread slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cheese in a shallow, ovenproof serving dish or pie plate. In a small bowl stir together orange marmalade and brown sugar. Spread on top of cheese. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly. Serve with apple and/or bread slices.

I must thank Better Homes and Gardens for these lovely recipes, but for my own personal tips, well, here you go:

  • Always go for the whole grain. Be it french bread, mustard or cereal - whole grain is better for you.
  • If a recipe calls for crackers or bread, improvise with sliced fruit or vegetables. Serve the brie, as mentioned above, with apple slices. Serve that family-favorite cheese ball with sliced cucumbers, zucchini, celery or carrot slices. 
  • If you're serving a pasta dish, even spaghetti, lighten it up by using julienned squash (zucchini or summer) or take advantage of the fall harvest and use spaghetti squash. 

The best advice I can offer is don't overdo it. Enjoy yourself. Pamper your palette. Don't drink and drive. And if you do eat that one extra cookie, forgive yourself then get up and go for a walk the next day.

Happy Holidays my friends. Feast!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

Lindy Chaffin Start - Decatur, GA

Girls live here!
You reckon? Think pink! I hear it's the new "Red" this Christmas.


Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Grand Cayman Island

To heck with the North Pole. If I were Santa, I would move my workshop to the Caribbean.

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Have a great week-end; we'll be back on Monday with our favorite holiday party recipes!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wrap Yourself This Christmas!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “the greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”

Yes, I love to craft and create. It has always been my gift to close family and friends to make their gifts at Christmas. The year Red was born I made Christmas ornaments. Small glass balls adorned with a snowman that was built from her tiny footprint. Cute, huh? The next year I made clocks out of wooden plaques with our family’s memories from that year captured in photographs on the face. Pretty cool. The next year it was a wreath made of jingle boughs decorated with small photo frames that captured our memories from the year. Fun. This year I am recycling. I can’t tell you because you just might be getting one, but know it will be recycled and handmade and Red and I hope you like it.

I agree with Pam that more often than not our friends and loved ones wish to have something special under the tree to open. I, in fact, am guilty of this very infraction. So much so that I gave my mother $100 and asked her to take my little girl shopping for the gifts on my wish list. Sad. True. Okay, so that has more to do with creating tradition and teaching a little red-headed princess how to think about someone other than herself at Christmastime, but equally as selfish is my wish for a small gift or two to open on Christmas morning. In all honesty I don’t need anything, but I wish beyond wishes for that small acknowledgement that I exist. Which brings me to the greatest gift of all – friendship.

Aside from the crafty-handmade gifts and the little tokens wrapped underneath my tree I want to give myself and my friends the greatest gift – each other. I plan to open my home to family and friends for one night steeped in frivolous fun – a re-gifters gift exchange, a covered dish, some hot cider, a carol or two, maybe even a viewing of Rudolf or the first Miracle on 34th Street. No matter what we do, just being together is what counts.

This year would have been impossible to bear without the love and support of our friends so now is the time for me to pay it back, or pay it forward, depending on your perspective. Won’t you join me?

What will you do this season to make it bright on a budget? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas on a Peppermint Striped Shoestring

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~Oren Arnold

I like the way you think, Oren. But you know what? My friends and family are going to be looking for something wrapped up under the Christmas tree.

And I am on a budget. I mean, seriously. Those days of reckless spending and paying off the Christmas bills around the fourth of July are over. If there isn't cash to pay for it, I'm not buying it. And there is powerful little cash left over after expenses. So what is a gal who loves absolutely everything about Christmas supposed to do?

I recommend handmade gifts. Whether you cook or bake, sew or craft, work with wood or provide useful services, you can come up with something to satisfy just about everyone on your list. If you're feeling short on inspiration, click HERE for some great ideas. I'm gonna try my hand at those chocolate spoons this week!

And if you're short on time, I would like to suggest that you visit and support small local craftsmen. To get started, I invite you to browse my selection of handmade jewelry at The Wishing Box (click HERE). And if you need a few stocking stuffers, please consider buying a handful of beaded bracelets to support Asberry School of Music's efforts to help Beading To Beat Autism raise $300 million to build an autism research and treatment center in Louisville, Kentucky.


Bracelets come packaged in a ziplock baggie containing a color insert describing the project.

The suggested donation is only $3 per bracelet. 6", 6 1/2" 7", and 8" lengths available; we will do our best to honor your color preferences or, better yet, let us choose for you! These make great party favors, stocking stuffers, and holiday gifts for teens and teachers. Checks should be made payable to Beading To Beat Autism; all proceeds will go directly to the organization. Please leave a comment if you would like to place an order and I will get back to you with the details. Thank you in advance for your support!

What are your favorite low cost Christmas gift ideas?

Author: Pam Asberry

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Florida, here I come!

All my bags are packed; I'm ready to go. As soon as the school bell rings this afternoon, I will pick up my 15 year old son and we will make a beeline for Tampa, Florida where we have a reservation for one night in a hotel. Then tomorrow we will take a shuttle to the cruise port where we will board the Carnival Inspiration for a five-day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, returning Thanksgiving Day. It won't be a traditional holiday, to be sure, but I am looking forward to a break in my routine, fun in the sun, gourmet meals every night, and doing the electric slide while the steel drum band plays. 

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Lindy Chaffin Start * Decatur, GA


You don't think about how fragile life is until you pass by something this deadly. Can you imagine walking your dog and having this impale you instead of the ground? I guess that's why they call them widow-makers.