The Little Things Newsletter #396 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

Welcome to the weekend, my friends! I hope your week (and your weather) have been fantastic and that you’re enjoying the holidays however you choose to celebrate them. We enjoyed a dusting of snow this week and I was in heaven for the brief day that it lasted on the trees. 

I can dream of a white Christmas, but this year, it’s only a dream. We’re supposed to hit 60 degrees on Monday (just a few degrees lower than the forecast for Phoenix) – what kind of nonsense is that? At least I can look forward to an afternoon walk in the warmer weather.

What we’re EATING: It’s been a seriously delicious week over here without a single new blog post to show for it. (And I’m not at all sad about that right now.)

Sean made the Ground Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry the other night and I may be guilty of having hidden the last serving for my lunch – zero guilt here, that’s how we roll. I tossed the leftover beef and broccoli with some leftover Noodles with Cabbage and the combination was so flipping good it gave me an idea for another new recipe.

I made a batch of Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies and then proceeded to eat an absurd number of them with my morning and midday and late afternoon coffee. I’m pretty sure that when a cookie encourages me to drink more and more coffee, it might not be a good thing, but the cookies are just so perfectly chewy with a buttery cinnamon sugar flavor, sigh. I love them.

We’ve been on a roll with Breakfast Sandwiches lately, although they often get made closer to lunchtime. I’ve also been informed that “Dad’s sandwiches are better than yours, Mom” <gasp> with the added non-apologetic comment, “Sorry, but it’s true.” So, it looks like I may need to investigate exactly what makes his better. (Odds are good that it’s a whole lot of meat, as my carnivore crew can’t get enough bacon and sausage in their breakfasts.)

I made a version of this Cashew Chicken Salad, but wound up swapping so many ingredients both because they sounded good and because I didn’t have everything on hand, it became a whole new recipe. Not sad about that though, as I made notes so that I can make it again. The whole family was eating the chicken salad on crackers, right out of the mixing bowl.

My youngest son helped, actually did most of the work, to make his favorite dinner last night and it was perfection. Buttered Steak Bites (with mushrooms) and a big pot of Truffle Mac and Cheese, along with a Sweet Kale Salad (though I did happily cheat that one and just grabbed the bag of salad at Costco this week). 

I also made another batch of these Loaded Mint Cookies. They’re a dream come true for anyone who loves mint + chocolate as much as I do. Paired with a cup of Peppermint Hot Cocoa, I’m in peppermint heaven.

What I’m CRAVING: Speaking of peppermint, it’s time to churn a batch of Peppermint Ice Cream. I already stocked up on candy canes again, so I can keep making it all year. 

And I’ll be making a batch of my friend Katrina’s perfect-every-time sugar cookies this weekend too. If you haven’t tried them yet, they’re a holiday must-make. Amazing flavor, perfectly crisp cut-out edges, zero chill time required for the dough, what more could I ask? I’ve been making her recipe and only her recipe for over ten years now.

My FAVORITE THING this week is this butter dish. I may be a wee bit obsessed with this thing. I’ve had a Butterbell for years, but the truth is that for our family, it just doesn’t hold enough butter to make it a practical choice. I finally went looking for a solution that meets my fussy requirements: easy to keep clean, looks nice on the counter, holds at least two sticks of butter, and has a lid.

This is everything I needed and more. It’s the most practical butter dish I’ve ever seen and it works perfectly. No weird grooves or edges to collect butter, it stays clean, and it easily holds extra butter too.

What I’m WATCHING: all the Christmas movies! White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie of all time and my youngest son still watches it with me each year. And The Polar Express has been our Christmas Eve morning tradition every year since my boys were toddlers.

Die Hard 1 & 2, Lethal Weapon, and The Ref are also on the list for this weekend. (Side note, I love having older kids who can watch these with us at last! It’s so much fun. My youngest is impatiently awaiting several more birthdays before he’ll be joining us for these.)

What I’m READING: Dirty Thirty by Janet Evanovich. Finally! A twist in one of the Stephanie Plum books. I’ve ranted about the lack of character development after reading the last few books in this series, and truthfully, this one wasn’t on my list to read. The books are still fun reads, but this is book 30 in the series and I am beyond ready for Stephanie to move forward. 

A reader emailed me a few weeks ago though, (Hi, Glynda!) and suggested I give this one a try. It has a surprise ending that made me grin and now I’m looking forward to reading the next book. Here’s hoping that the series continues to move forward now.

What I’m LISTENING to: Forever Christmas by David Lanz and Kristin Amarie. This is a new one for me and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The music is beautiful in every way. David is a pianist/composer and Kristin is a vocalist with a breathtaking voice. 

I had a difficult time choosing a favorite song on this album. O Holy Night and Silent Night are long-time favorites and these renditions are flawless, but Forever Christmas is excellent as well. In other words, you should probably give it a listen and see if you can choose a favorite.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 ESV

Wishing you the very merriest of Christmases!

Mary

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