Dec 012005

Kitchen Fun with Carol

carol2007Hello cooks! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We sure did! My daughter came home from college for the weekend. We spent time with extended family. It is so nice just to sit back, relax and catch up on things that are happening in each others lives. It’s great to have the support of your family. I’m very thankful to have them in my life.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks the beginning of the mad rush towards Christmas. This means lots of time spent baking cookies, planning family gatherings, caroling with our church small group and making Christmas gifts. One of our favorite family activities is decorating the tree. It is so fun to bring out the old ornaments that were made by the kids when they were little. It always brings back so many memories. Some of my favorite ornaments are cinnamon ornaments. They still smell good after all these years. The is a fun project to do with the kids. You can add them to wrapped packages as a decoration. Click here for instructions on how to make them.

One of our family traditions is baking and decorating sugar cookies. We did this together over Thanksgiving as a family activity. The adults and older kids made the cookie dough and baked the cookies. Then the younger kids decorated them. We made a big batch of icing, put it in separate disposable cups and made each cup a different color. We had lots of sprinkles, edible glitter, and colored sugars to sprinkle on top of the icing. The kids thought it was great! Want to try this activity? Click here for a link to a great sugar cookie and icing recipe you can try.


I love collecting those little recipes that are printed in magazine advertisements or in with the grocery coupons. One of my husband’s favorite recipes to make for Christmas gifts is called Chocolate Pizza. This recipe is from Nestle. It’s one that I clipped out of a magazine years ago. The crust is made from chocolate, rice crispies, and peanuts. The top is decorated with red maraschino cherries to look like pepperoni, coconut, and the top is drizzled with melted white almond bark to look like melted cheese. This recipe freezes very well. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature before serving it. Click here to see this fun recipe.

Aren’t gifts from the kitchen the best! They are great to give as teacher gifts. Many different types of baked goods will work for gift jars. Our favorite are muffins, cookies and brownies. Making kitchen gifts is a great way to spend time with your children and they get to practice their measuring skills. As Tammy mentioned in her November 2005 newsletter, there are several wonderful gift recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet web site. 

This issue of Chewin’ the News brings you two new dessert recipes to make this holiday season. I hope you enjoy them. Read more about them in the Bonus Recipes section.

Bonus Recipes

ChocolateFudgeCake003Chocolate Fudge Cake

This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes that I have ever tasted. It is dense and fudgy and so moist. The secret is the buttermilk. I used low fat buttermilk in the recipe. It works just as well as regular buttermilk. There are several ways to freeze this cake. You can freeze it unfrosted in layers. I put the layers in gallon freezer bags. You can also freeze it as a 9×13 fully frosted cake. Either way it comes out great. When I make this cake, I top it with the Fudge Sauce recipe below and then top it with whipped cream. Try it this way or frost it with your favorite frosting.

Fudge Sauce

This is a wonderful fudge sauce that I use as a frosting for Chocolate Fudge Cake. It is also great on ice cream. Store any extras in the fridge. One batch is enough to cover one double round layer cake or one 9×13 pan. In either case there will be a little left over to spoon on your ice cream.

PecanPieBarsPecan Pie Bars

This is one of my daughter’s all time favorite recipes. I made this for Thanksgiving instead of making a regular pecan pie. It’s nice because you can get a taste of pecan pie without all the guilt.

Recipe of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Rhea from Bakersfield, CA, with her recipe for Pasta Fagioli Soup Mix. This recipe has so much flavor! The herb mix used to season the soup is absolutely wonderful. I like using a soup base instead of chicken bouillon granules. To mix everything thoroughly, I processed the herb mixture in my mini chopper. If you cannot find dried green pepper flakes in your area, you can substitute 3 T. chopped fresh green pepper for 1 T. of dried but you will have to add it when the tomatoes and tomato sauce are added to the soup.

Let’s hear from Rhea:

PastaFagioli_0001My name is Rhea and I live in Bakersfield, Ca. I’m married and have two children and three grandchildren. I am looking toward retirement in the next two or three years and hope to have more time to experiment with cooking. I have been freezer cooking since I was a junior in high school but found your site only about 3 years ago. The soup is excellent on one of our cold foggy nights and makes a very easy, very fast Christmas gift.

Click here to view/print the December Recipe of the Month.

Congratulations Rhea! Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe.

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Becky from Carlock, IL. Read how 30 Day Gourmet has helped her get through a family tragedy and has helped her become a better cook.

Becky says:

I was first introduced to 30 Day Gourmet by a friend at work. We were both busy teachers who at the end of the day, were exhausted and didn’t want to think about meals. So one Saturday we cooked 6 recipes total. We ended up with so much at the end of the day – it was wonderful and my husband was excited about having actual meals! About a month later tragedy struck my family. My brother, sister and my sister’s husband were all killed in a plane crash. My sister and her husband left behind 3 young children and my husband and I became their legal guardians. Oh…and did I mention that I was 6 1/2 months pregnant at the time? Needless to say the meals that my friend and I had put up were a lifesaver. I had never been famous for cooking ability in my family so the kids were pleasantly surprised at their Aunt Becky’s meals! Now, a year and half later, I have a husband and 4 children, with another due in less than 2 months. I have introduced a couple of my close friends to 30 Day Gourmet and so now we try to get together at least every couple of months. And as far as my cooking ability? Let’s just say I feel pretty good about providing healthy meals for my family without the craziness that could have been if it wasn’t for 30 Day Gourmet helping me find my way. Thank you.

We are so glad that 30 Day Gourmet was there to help you through this difficult time. Our hearts go out to you and your family this holiday season. And congratulations on the new baby who, according to an update from Becky, should be born any time now!

So, how do you make 30 Day Gourmet work for you?  How do you use it to help you deal with a challenge in your life?  How do you use it to help others?  Do you have a funny cooking story to share?  Click here to email me.

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope you enjoy the holiday dessert recipes! I love dessert. Anything chocolate will do in a pinch for me – brownies, cookies, cake, fudge, or ice cream. My son is the same way. All you have to do is put something chocolate in the oven and he will come running! I swear he can smell chocolate from a mile away.

Calling all cooks…I’m looking for your favorite comfort food recipes so post them on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email.  I look forward to hearing what you have to share.

Click here to send me an email with any questions, ideas, suggestions or problems. I enjoy hearing from you!

Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone and have a great month!


Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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