"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

 

One of the things I love most about living in the South is how we love to reach out to each other during the seasons of life, like the birth of babies, engagements, funerals, and holidays. Southern family and friends are always ready with a cake, a casserole, or a tin of seasonal treats, and we get joy by doing the giving as much as the receiving.

 

It is unnecessary for me to say that the holidays are a busy time for most people; that’s a given. But while many of us are running from event to event to celebrate Christmas, there are many whose lives have thrown them curve balls during this normally festive time. I have several friends who are in hospitals this week, and some who are grieving a recent loss in their family. I know a few folks who have lost their jobs. These are difficult to bear any time, but it always seems worse during the Christmas season, doesn’t it?

 

Make sure to reach out to those who are sick at home or recovering this week, as well as those who are still in the hospital. They’d love to see a friendly face! If someone is grieving, a call may help, or you could drop by to leave some expression of love from your kitchen with them, as well as to lend a listening ear, if needed. After all, the holidays aren’t about checking off lists and maxing out credit cards; they’re about love and sacrifice!

 

Here are a few really delicious treats you can make with just a bit of effort, and that effort will be appreciated, whether by your own family and friends or one of those folks you thought of while reading this who are in need.

 

Christmas candy cookie bars

Ingredients

 

1 yellow cake mix

2 eggs

1 stick of butter, melted and slightly cooled

one bag of holiday color M&Ms minis (about 1 1/2 cups)

 

Method:

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" x13" baking dish with foil, leaving overhang on each short end to aid in easy removal of the bars for cutting when cool.

Spray the foil with cooking spray.

 

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter, and eggs, stirring until smooth. Then, pour in the candies, and stir in to distribute throughout the dough.

 

Next, spread the dough into the pan, and use an offset spatula to smooth it as you go.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Allow bars to cool completely before attempting to cut into squares.

 

This easy chocolate bark is so pretty that it makes a beautiful addition to your dessert table or to place in a tin to share, and the best thing is that it is completely easy to make!

 

Nut-berry chocolate bark

3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (if not available, use semi-sweet)

2 cups good-quality nut and fruit trail mix, preferably one containing dried cranberries and pistachios

 

Method:

 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each. Will likely take at least 3 increments.

When completely melted and smooth, use a spatula to spread the chocolate across the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

Quickly distribute the fruit and nut mix across the surface of the melted chocolate.

Set aside to cool and harden.

When completely hardened, break into individual pieces. Alternatively, you can use a sharp knife if you prefer to cut into equal-sized squares.

 

 

Christmas morning cranberry-orange muffins

1 3/4 cups self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, diced

1 egg

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup fresh cranberries, halved

Powdered sugar for dusting

Method:

Set oven to 375 degrees

Spray muffin Tin with cooking spray

In mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar

Add butter, and use mixer to combine

Next add juice, zest, and spices

Mix until thick batter is formed.

Fold in the cranberries, the use a large scoop or a 1/4 cup measure to scoop into muffin tin.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin come out with few crumbs.

Merry Christmas!

 

Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph." She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.

She is married and has three sons who are her greatest blessings. You can find more of her recipes at WhatSouthernFolksEat.com.You can email her at Steph@whatsouthernfolkseat.com.