I’ll be offline for most of this week, but I wanted to leave you with some fun (and yummy) gifts. If you’re celebrating this week, I hope your plans all unfold smoothly, your travels all go safely, your family members all behave perfectly, and all your dreams for the New Year come true.
Those of you reading this post on my blog might have noticed that I added a new sidebar to my website this past weekend, called “Latest News.” I’ll probably have that up only when I have news. And right now, I do have news. *smile*
I got an early Christmas present this past weekend with the announcement that my story Treasured Claim won First Place and the Grand Prize (overall highest score across all category winners) (under its former title of The Treasure of a Dragon’s Heart) in the Hot Prospects Contest sponsored by the Valley of the Sun RWA chapter. Yay!
I had time to work on that tweak to my blog sidebar because I actually finished everything on my to-do list two days ago (yes, even those pesky Christmas cards I’d worried about). Christmas cookie baking is my biggest time-sucking tradition, but I love it too much to complain about that item on my list.
Every year, I bake hundreds of cookies to share with my neighbors, friends, and family, and this year I topped my previous high with about 650-700 cookies (the math got too confusing to keep count when my family was snagging some as soon as I pulled them out of the oven). *smile* Below, I’ll share a recipe for one of my family’s favorites: Fudge Oatmeal Bars.
I’ve talked before about the importance of rituals and traditions in our holiday celebrations and how we can incorporate those ideas into our writing. My latest work in progress includes both a Thanksgiving and a Christmas scene. Details in scenes like these help make the characters seem more realistic because we can relate to holiday rituals.
This year, my family also started a new tradition, thanks to Janice Hardy‘s suggestion on Twitter. We watched The Nightmare Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. Here’s an animated version of Tim Burton’s original poem that gave him the idea for the movie (and it’s narrated by Christopher Lee!):
And my last little gift for you is the recipe for one of my family’s Christmas cookie favorites. Enjoy!
Fudge Oatmeal Bars
Servings : 30-60 (depending on size of squares)
Preparation Time : 0:30
1 1/2 Cups Oatmeal, Instant
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar — packed
1/2 Cup Butter — softened
1 Large Egg
1 1/4 Cups Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
Beat sugar, butter, and egg in large mixer bowl until creamy. Stir in oat mixture, beat just until combined. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9 inch baking pan using wet fingers.
Melt milk and chips in small, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until chips are melted. Spread over crust.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Top will be puffed up and dry.
Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.
I typically make two batches of this recipe, one to give away and one to keep. *shares platefuls of virtual Christmas cookies with everyone* I also made two batches of chocolate fudge (one with nuts and one without), Cinnamon Bars, Russian Tea cookies, Chocolate Mint cookies, and one of our new favorites, Nutella Blossom cookies (next time, I’ll definitely make a double batch of these cookies!).
Do you enjoy rituals and traditions for the holidays? What traditions do you include in your celebrations? Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share? Do you want me to share any of my other recipes from this year?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not,
I wish you all the best during this season.
Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah—heck, Happy Everything!