Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Playlists

Several years ago, when iTunes and Amazon's music libraries started becoming extensive, I began a new holiday tradition - a compilation CD (or playlist).  Every year shortly after Thanksgiving, I listen to Pandora's holiday stations to get song ideas.  Then I purchase enough music to fill a CD, label it, and we enjoy it throughout the season.  I try to find a good mix of classic standards, relaxing instrumentals, and contemporary releases.  The songs are great to listen to in the car or to have on as background music during Christmas baking or present opening.  Now I have seven years worth of CDs and a pretty large library of tunes.  The CDs also make great stocking stuffers for friends and family.  My sister even checks with me each year to find out if I'm still continuing the tradition.  I thought if she and her family enjoy it so much, it might be fun to share my latest playlist with you (and include links so you can purchase the songs, too!).

2012 Christmas Playlist
  1. Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season - Andy Williams
  2. Joy To The World - Third Day
  3. Heaven Everywhere - Francesca Battistelli
  4. Christmas Comin' Round Again - Scotty McCreery
  5. Ding Dong Merrily On High/Chimes Reel (Medley) - Craig Duncan
  6. Let It Snow - Rhonda Vincent
  7. I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas - Shirley Temple
  8. Up On The Housetop - Gene Autry
  9. Angel's Dance - Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
  10. Where Are You Christmas - Faith Hill
  11. God With Us - Jeremy Camp
  12. Gabriel's Message - Sting
  13. Messiah Hallelujah Chorus - Alexander Vilumanis
  14. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day - Frank Sinatra
  15. Mistletoe - Colbie Caillat
  16. Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through The Night) - Joel Rosenberger
  17. I Wish You A Merry Christmas - Bing Crosby
  18. Fum, Fum, Fum - The Von Trapp Children
  19. Go Tell It On The Mountain - Big Daddy Weave
  20. Sing We Now Of Christmas - Pikes Peak Ringers
  21. O, Christmas Tree - Winter Solstice
  22. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Sarah McLachlan
  23. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? - Nancy Wilson
 What fun Christmas traditions do you have that you enjoy every year?  Please comment and share!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Tradition Addition: Salted Caramel Bark

It's that time of year again.  Christmas baking.  The time when I make things I don't dare have around the house the rest of the year.  Peanut butter balls.  Munch-a Bunch-a Mix.  Cut-out cookies.  Raspberry thumbprint cookies.  Yummy stuff.  I always like to try a few new recipes because you just never know what you might be missing.  And did you know that Christmas cookie calories don't count?  Nope!  Not a one!

I was at Sam's Club a few weeks ago when some salted caramel bark caught my eye.  It was in the bakery, where all the stuff I would never consider buying (because I can make it!) is displayed.  It looked fantastic.  And I figured there HAD to be a recipe for salted caramel bark online.  And there was.  Happy me!

Salted Caramel Bark
From ShugarySweets.com
Printer-friendly copy

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (which I forgot to include)
16 oz. Vanilla Almond Bark or white chocolate
3/4 cup milk chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cup pretzels, broken

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add brown sugar and milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract and powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth and set aside.

Melt Almond Bark (or white chocolate) in a double-boiler, being careful not to overheat.  Pour the melted candy on a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread evenly.

If necessary, reheat the caramel sauce to a drizzling consistency and pour over the melted Almond Bark.  Sprinkle with kosher salt (or, if you forget to, omit it).  Top with broken pretzels and press lightly into the bark.  Melt milk chocolate morsels in the microwave, stirring every 15-20 seconds to avoid overheating.  Drizzle over the bark.  Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces and storing in a covered container.

Hubby said he could easily eat a whole container of this bark, which is about half the recipe.  Considering there are over 4000 calories in the entire thing, I would advise against it.  But then again, if I only make it once a year, so it is a possibility.  Needless to say, this salted caramel bark made it to the permanent Christmas rotation.  A new tradition!