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A Real Tree, Easy Mongolian Beef, Nana's Lubkuchen & Frozen Hot Chocolate

The smell of pine needles, spruce and the smell of a Christmas tree - those to me, are the scents of the holidays.

Blake Lively

This weekend we did something I have always wanted to do. We drove up the mountain and found a perfect tree and brought home a Christmas tree that makes the whole house smell like my childhood. Growing up we always had a real tree but we got it from a lot. The smell was EVERYTHING to me and I was devastated when Mom bought a fake tree but I understood. I remember the mess it made and the hassle it was to get the damn thing up and the needles that we needed to vacuum every day! I sol remember having some pretty oddly shaped trees. Nothing like the perfect fake tree we have now 😆.

This year to try to make it feel like Christmas despite not being able to see family or friends, or Christmas concerts, pancake breakfasts, carolling  tree light ups, markets or Christmas parties we decided to find our own perfect tree! We drove all the way up Carmi and went for a hike in the snow. We tobogganed, made a Reel and finally found our tree! Ninja chopped it down and we carried it to the truck. It was fun! We got it up and now the house smells wonderful! I can't wait to decorate it!

On Saturday we spent the day crafting! We made all the ornaments for our second tree! We made snowmen, chalk ornaments  Christmas trees, twigs stars, and painted the salt dough "cookies" SBean and I made last week! It was a really fun day and those ornaments will be special to our family forever 💗.


Check out How Was Your Week, Honey? Episode #202, Oh My Guttenheimer HEREThis week, more Holiday prep. Topics: Casablanca, friends, the Christmas calendar, Raclette, real trees, Christmas lights, homemade decorations, COVID for kids & carols.

I have 3 great recipes for you today! This is a super easy and tasty take on one of my favourite dishes, Mongolian beef. It uses ground beef instead of sliced beef and it is tossed with vegetables and served with rice.

I am also sharing one of my Nana's recipes, Lubkuchen. I didn't know what it was but I had a memory of getting a giant box of presents sent to us from my Nana and Poppy every Christmas. In the box was always a big tin (or 2) of homemade baking! On top were these dark brown ginger snaps type bars that I loved! I went through a book Nana had of  handwritten recipes and cut out recipes and found something that I thought had the ingredients that might have made her yummy bars. While I was making them the recipe called for flour but when I looked at the ingredients, flour wasn't listed! I looked on Google and found that most lubkuchen recipes called for 3 cups of flour and molasses (also not in my Nana's recipe). SBean and I decided to follow Nana's recipe and although they taste AMAZING they don't look like what I remembered and they weren't;t as chewy. With this being said, I would make these again in a heartbeat. They are delicious!

My last recipe is another exciting drink that we made for movie night, Frozen Hot Chocolate! The Girls LOVED this! It is kinda a hot chocolate smoothie! I topped it with a brownie from a local restaurant, Flambe but I used a mini cookie cutter and cut them into a snowman and a Christmas tree!

Mongolian Beef and Veggies
Adapted from  I Wash You Dry

1 lb. ground beef
2 teaspoon ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup snap peas
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
tablespoons cornstarch

Brown the ground beef along with the ginger and garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat, until beef is crumbled and cooked through. Drain any fat and return pan to stove top.

Add mushrooms, peas, peppers and carrots, cook for a few minutes until veggies begin to soften.

Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar and hoisin sauce in a small dish and pour into ground beef mixture. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes to blend flavours.

In a small dish combine the water along and the cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the ground beef and stir until sauce thickens.

Season with pepper. Serve over rice.

Adapted from My Nana

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
4 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup candied fruit
3/4 cup slivered almonds
*3 cups flour** Not called for in my Nana's original ingredients but... IS called for in her instructions!

**In the future I will cut the honey down to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup molasses.

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon hot water

In saucepan heat honey, sugar, and butter until sugar dissolves (do not boil).

Let cool, then stir in egg, orange rind, nutmeg, ginger, all spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Stir in flour in 3 additions (1 cup at a time).

Stir in fruit and nuts.

Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 1/2 x 1" bars. Put on lightly greases sheet and bake for 15 minutes (I baked for 18 minutes).

Make glaze. Mix icing sugar and hot water together. Slowly add enough water to make glaze the consistency you want.

Let cool and then glaze.

Frozen Hot Chocolate
Adapted from 4 Sons 'R' Us

1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice cubes
whipped cream
chocolate sprinkles (I used a brownie)

Add chocolate to  a microwave safe bowl and melt in microwave for 10-20 second intervals until melted.

Add in hot cocoa mix and sugar to melted chocolate. Mix until blended.

Add in milk, stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In blender (I used a smoothie blender), place cooled chocolate mixture and ice cubes and b
lend until smooth.

Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

What a week! HBear was sick this week. I called the Assessment line and they told me she had to self isolate until she took a test and it came back negative. Even though I knew that we practiced social distancing and mask wearing at all times, I was scared. I hated seeing her sick and having to stand in the hall and not be able to comfort her. It was horrible. Just awful. She took the test like a champ! I was so proud of her but I couldn't even give her a hug. We got the results just over 24 hours later and they were negative! She was so excited to get out of her bedroom and I was so excited to hug her 💗. By Sunday she was feeling much more herself.

Also this week the Girls started the 12 Days of Christmas! J and her Mom picked out cute little gifts for them and every morning the get to check the mailbox for their surprise! We had some yummy dinners and continued with my Christmas Festivities challenge! We read Holiday books, donated toys to the toy drive, ate candycanes, made our holiday lists, cut down a tree, made a snowman craft, and listened to Christmas music.

On Friday we had family movie night and we ordered a delicious roast beef dinner from Flambe Catering. We ate dinner and watched Jingle Jangle and then had some popcorn and frozen hot chocolate. On Saturday we had our craft day while I slowed baked ribs for dinner and after podcasting I did some wrapping. Sunday was the day we cut down our perfect Christmas tree and Ninja finished our pretty twinkling lights. It's almost Christmas and I am SO here for it!







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