Friday, December 10, 2010

day 340: ideas for leftover ham

I didn’t get the leftover turkey ideas and recipes posted until Thanksgiving was over, so I am getting a head start on the Christmas leftover ideas! Feel free to add ideas or recipes that you might have for leftover ham!

Tips for Ham Leftovers:

1. Plan for leftovers ahead of time. For example, if you know you will only use half the ham, consider cooking the two halves separately, one with ham glaze and one without for other recipes later.

2. Freeze ham in freezer bags in whole pieces to decide later what you will do with them. Be sure to use freezer bags, not regular storage bags.

3. Quick leftover ham ideas:

a. Ham omelettes

b. Bean soups

c. Chicken cordon bleu

d. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches

e. Cheesy scalloped potatoes w/ ham

f. Fried rice w/ ham

g. Ham and mashed potatoes croquettes

h. Cheese toasties with ham

i. Scrambled eggs w/ ham

Meals and Snacks for Leftover Ham:

1. Breakfast: fry slices with fried eggs; put in scrambled eggs; add to breakfast burrito

2. Lunch: put chunks in vegetable soup; hot ham and cheese sandwiches; ham salad; ham in chef’s salads

3. Dinner: pan fry large, thick pieces for “ham steak”; put in scalloped potatoes; add to home made macaroni and cheese

4. Ham Nearly Gone: Use carcass for base for soup beans; navy beans; split pea soup, etc.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

day 339: a charlie brown christmas

“Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.” Harriet Van Horne in the “New York World Telegram” December 1965

Every year our family enjoys reading about Christmas traditions and songs—how they began, what they mean, etc. One of my favorite readings is the story of how “A Charlie Brown Christmas” came about—and continues to bless people today. Read my “story behind the Charlie Brown Christmas” below aloud to your family—then watch the movie (or at least check out the given links from youtube). Have fun!

On Thursday, December 9, 1965 (forty-five years ago!), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” made its debut on CBS on television screens all over the United States. Surprising the network executives, this darling Christmas story was an immediate hit. It seems that its creator, Charles Schulz, battled with the powers-that-be at the network concerning the show’s religious content (CBS thought it was too religious) and the kids’ voices (citing that they should be professional actors, not children). Additionally, they felt that Vince Guaraldi’s theme music was too modern for kids’ tastes. (The jazz soundtrack has, by the way, become a classic.)

Rumor has it that through the years it has been suggested that Linus’ reading of the Christmas story from Luke be taken out of the movie. However, forty-five years later, this classic still contains that powerful passage from Luke, those sweet child voices, and that catchy music*—and each year the true story of Jesus’ birth and the reason for the season—is proclaimed via the secular media.

Check out the links below to watch excerpts of this classic Christmas story:  and  and

*Note: Parts of the show were removed to make space for more commercials, but the spiritual and sweet parts remain.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

day 338: christmas colored popcorn

Ingredients for each “color” of corn you want to make:

14 x 20 inch oven cooking bag

8 cups popped popcorn

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Spray the inside of a 14 x 20 inch oven cooking bag with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the popped corn in the bag.

3. In a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Microwave until the mixture boils (about two minutes), then stir and microwave for two minutes longer.

4. Stir in the baking soda, salt, and almond extract.

5. Tint the sugar mixture with one color of paste food coloring.

6. Pour the hot syrup over the popcorn in the bag, twist the top shut and shake until well coated.

7. Microwave for three minutes, stirring, and shaking after each minute.

8. Spread the popcorn out over a larg sheet of aluminum foil that you’ve sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

9. Cool to room temperature.

10. Repeat for each color you desire.

Note: See yesterday’s post for information about the “colors of Christmas.” And make some colored popcorn to talk to your kids about the birth of Christ!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

day 337: the colors of christmas

One of the essays we have in one of our upcoming creative writing books is one about the “colors of Christ.” In it, students can write for children (i.e. think the wordless salvation book or color salvation bracelet concept), or they can write a general essay, spending one paragraph per color representing salvation. I have always liked the concept of explaining salvation through color—especially with children and the “wordless salvation book," so I was especially thrilled with how this essay project has come about.

Along that same line, Lisa Welchel, in her book “The ADVENTure of Christmas,” describes the colors of Christmas—and incorporating the colors of Christmas in your advent celebration with your children. The information below was gleaned from that book. (I recommended this book last week when we first pulled it out for our yearly Christmas read-aloud—see link there for more information.)

Some of the colors that are generally ascribed special meanings for Christmas include, but are not limited to the following:

Green—suggests “life” and is reflected in the ever green tree

Red—reminds us of the blood of Jesus shed for us and is reflected in berries and other “red” d├ęcor

White—represents the purity of the spotless Lamb and is reflected in snow of the season

Gold—denotes the royalty of Christ (or the wise men’s gifts) and is reflected in ornaments, tinsel, and more

Silver—reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice was paid for in full and is reflected in icicles, stars, and more

Yellow—reminds us that Christ came to bring light and is reflected in candle flames, stars, and more

Of course, there are more colors that can be included in an explanation of the “colorful” Christmas traditions and the birth of Christ—the wise men’s “purple” clothing and the fact that purple represents kingship; blackness of the December night—and the fact that we are in darkness before the star shone to lead us to Christ, and much more.

Tomorrow—colored popcorn recipe to add an object lesson to your colorful Christmas teaching!

Monday, December 6, 2010

day 336: christmas book suggestions

I have been posting links for our favorite Christmas books (and will continue to do so throughout the next three weeks) just as “links” on FaceBook. This post will contain the few I have shared so far—and I will add to this particular post as I put up links—and include it with all of them later in the month.

Here are the few I have introduced so far. Try to get some at your library soon—or order them at the links below.

1. Just started a new Christmas book that I highly recommend for those with older kids who want "devotional" type of Christmas reading that is on the more serious side: Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel. We have a lot of his other books; some of his dvd's; and some audios--but this one is just the perfect size for Christmas reading and toting around.

2. One of our top three "Christmas compilation" books. Heart-warming, amazing Christmas stories for family read alouds. I can't recommend this one highly enough for ALL Christian families who love to read and share stories together. (Note: Older editions have different covers. Libraries also carry this one.)

3. One of my favorite easy-to-read-aloud Christmas books--filled with lots of activities, recipes, etc. about each tradition/entry. I like it more for the one-page-per tradition in easy kid language. I have a lot of books about Christmas traditions and symbols, but this is the best one I've found for younger kids.

4. One of my favorite Christmas collections is any of the Joe Wheeler Christmas story books. There are so many of them, so there are many out there for sale used too. Check out the extensive list of collections at his site below. These are heart-warming short stories for Christmas read alouds, gift books, and more! (This is the same author I wrote about earlier with the many wonderful “Great Stories Remembered” books.)

5. I do various Christmas "devotonal" types of books with the family each year. I love different writers' inspirational thoughts on Christmas. This year I am doing Max Lucado's "One Incredible Moment: Celebrating the Majesty of the Manger" with the two little guys in the mornings. Very cool book!

6. Instead of our regular history unit studies during December, we have always done various Christmas tradition books. The one below is one that we have used often (and are using this year). It is so interesting to learn about the history of customs, songs, and traditions. This is a good book for Christian families with o...lder children (say, ten or eleven and up).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

day 336: media choices—focus on the family radio program

Many children’s wish lists will contain media this Christmas. We are a media-saturated society, so it only follows that our kids will be asking for video games, movies, and music. Which things off that wish list would be good for your son or daughter? How much is too much? These are some of the questions (along with discussions of current movies) that the December first Focus on the Family podcast addressed—with the Plugged In review staff.

You can access it and listen below.

day 335: free online advent calendar

Sheri Graham, of Graham Family Ministries, knows where all the goodies are! She just sent through another great link—this time a free online advent calendar. With the internet and all of the *freebies* available therein, we have no excuse for not doing great things with our kids all year round!

Click on the link below to get your free online advent calendar!