Cozy Up with Peppermint Hot Chocolate

It has been so cold outside lately, so my kids have been requesting hot chocolate. Since I had some peppermint sticks on hand, I crushed them up and made this really simple Peppermint Hot Chocolate mixture. They were ecstatic, and this has been a weekly beverage. I used skim milk in my recipe because that is what we drink at my house to reduce the calories and fat a bit. Enjoy this cozy beverage just in time for the holidays.

Easy Homemade Food Gift: Holiday Cracker Jacks

I love working on homemade holiday food gift recipes this time of year, and my 3 kids love helping me create them too. This creative idea for Homemade Cracker Jacks is a simple recipe that adults and the kids can enjoy. Just pick up a small one dollar item to put in the box as a toy. I will be making this recipe this Tuesday on NBC “Daytime Alabama” as well as two others, and this recipe will also be featured in the December issue of Birmingham Magazine.

Candy Cane Gingersnaps & Cookie Cookbook Giveaway-“Cookielicous”

When I saw this cookie recipe for Candy Cane Gingersnaps, I was wowed. This recipe, as well 149 other creative cookie recipes can be found in the recently released book, “Cookielicious” by Janet Keeler, Food Editor of the St. Petersburg Times. This awesome cookie cookbook is a compilation of reader’s favorites and staff original cookie recipes. What a great holiday gift idea! Chapters include “Anytime Cookies”, “Sharing Cookies”, “Chocolate Cookies”, “Kids Cookies” and “Holiday Cookies” with recipes such as Lemon Raspberry Thumbprints, White Christmas Shortbread, Chocolate Walnut Puffs and more. If you would like the chance to enter to win this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me your favorite holiday cookie recipe. The winner will be drawn this Friday, December 3rd.

My Favorite Winter Salad: Radicchio Salad

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I want something light, healthy and flavorful. Radicchio Salad, with Walnuts and Pomegranates, is a wonderful combination of radicchio, romaine, arugula, apples, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and cranberries. Feel free to use whatever greens you have on hand, and be sure to mix them for color, flavor and texture. If you haven’t tried radicchio before, you should. It’s a red-leafed salad green that is slightly bitter. It can also be grilled or sauteed, but I love it in this salad. Add cooked turkey, chicken, pork or shrimp for a main dish salad.

Putting the “Giving” Back Into Thanksgiving

I am so excited about Thanksgiving this year, and all of the love, joy and peace the holiday brings. I feel so fortunate this year to have the incredible opportunity to work with Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms. They recently asked me to write this first newsletter for November, and it really took some inner thought. Putting this together has really put Thanksgiving in perspective for me. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration here for your holiday, as well.

Thanksgiving is a time for you and your family to share and enjoy wonderful memories. It’s also a time to think about others as well. Why not spend this year giving back to your community, yourself and your loved ones? For the past six years, I have hosted Thanksgiving at my house with my two sisters, one brother and their families as well as my parents and relatives. Honestly, it was a little scary and intimidating the first time, but when the entire family arrived, everything just flowed. Sometimes, I do get stressed out, but this year I am going to channel all of my energy on “giving back” to my community, my family and to myself.

I know we have all heard it before, but Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. Despite how tough life can get, there are many people who are facing tougher times. Why not make a point to make someone else feel good by reaching out to them? Believe it or not, this will make you feel incredible and energize you as well. For the past few years, I have tried to make a point to do something charitable with my three kids to teach them the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I know many families who do this, and these types of activities have become a way to build family memories and traditions. Here are some examples and ideas that my family, friends and relatives do on Thanksgiving. These are not only meaningful, but they are also fun and enjoyable for the kids.

WAYS TO GIVE BACK

Here are some activities that are good ways to help others, and they also help you think about the meaning of the holidays. Maybe this will spark some ideas of your own. We would love to hear back about what your friends and family likes to do.

  1. Thanksgiving walk/run/race for Charity – Many cities have these and incorporate a 1-mile fun run for the kids. Our run is called the “Turkey Trot”, and it benefits cancer.

  2. Feeding the Homeless – One of my friends does this every year with her kids. Her dad took her when she was young, and this tradition has continued. Some friends also go to major baseball stadiums to feed the homeless people nearby.

  3. Help Feed America – One thing for certain every year in our house for Thanksgiving is a turkey. But this year, I learned that we can actually help a good cause by buying Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey brand. Their company has partnered with Feeding America to help feed one million people and our purchase supports their company’s contribution of $250,000. You can learn more about how to personally take action here.

  4. Visiting Children’s Hospital – My sister visits the intensive care units and brings food to nurses every year (since she had a premature child of her own). Her kids go along with her and decorate cookies with the older children who are hospitalized on Thanksgiving.

  5. Holiday Gift-Wrapping – Every year, my kids and I go to the mall and volunteer to gift-wrap presents for a charity. The kids really enjoy this, (especially my daughter, who loves to make the bows), and they love seeing the gifts people buy.

  6. Bringing Police/Firemen Thanksgiving Meals – Some friends visit police and fire stations and bring them food. These men help us year-round, and this is a great way to show our appreciation.

  7. Visiting Retirement Homes – This is a great way to visit people who are lonely. I know some local teens that visit, sings songs and play card games at a local home. Many of these people no longer have families, and these activities really make Thanksgiving special for them.

  8. Humane Society/Animal Shelter Work – Some animal lover friends volunteer at animal shelters on Thanksgiving and make special donations to these shelters.

  9. Go Green on Thanksgiving – Be extra aware about recycling this year by using traditional silverware and dishware rather than paper goods, etc.

  10. Leftover Donations – Make turkey sandwiches with your leftovers and bring to homeless shelters or facilities taking food donations.

See my debut newsletters at http://www.honeysucklewhite.com/alisonlewis/ and http://www.shadybrookfarms.com/alisonlewis/