Cranberry-Banana Gingerbread (with Blind Spot Nutbutters)

Cranberry-Banana Gingerbread (with Blind Spot Nutbutters)

December is national fruitcake month.

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Depending completely on your personal opinion, my childhood was either blessed or deprived.  Why? Because, to my knowledge, I never tasted fruitcake.

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This fact doesn’t disappoint me.  Cursory research says that fruitcake was originally created to last for a full 365 days.  A baked good that lasts more than a month is a little freaky.  What do they put in that stuff?

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So here is my version of a fruitcake with bananas, cranberries, oatmeal, and (of course) nut butter.  I figure that any loaf with fruit in it can be called “fruitcake,” right?

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Unlike real fruitcake, this bread will only last for about a week in the fridge (if you manage not to eat the whole loaf at once).

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Makes 1 loaf, about 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1.2 oz (about 3.5 tablespoons) Gingerbread Cookie Blended Nut Butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Direction

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 8X4 inch bread pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a blender, combine bananas, egg, oatmeal, nut butter, and baking soda.  Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in spices.
  • Fold in chopped cranberries.
  • Pour into greased baking pan. Top with sliced bananas, if desired.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Slice and top with anything you would like! Butter, jam, more nutbutter, etc.
  • Eat and enjoy!
It’s Not That Far: Christmas Afternoon at Sleeping Giant

It’s Not That Far: Christmas Afternoon at Sleeping Giant

Carols were sung, presents were opened, and Christmas lunch had been enjoyed.  With a quick glance at the clock, we knew that we had enough time to hike at Sleeping Giant State Park.  According to Brother, the trail was about the length of the trail at Pilot Mountain, so we grabbed some water bottles and hopped in the car.

As we were approaching exit 59 on Wilbur Cross Parkway, we noticed that traffic was moving slowly up ahead, but we continued towards the tunnel.

Then we stopped.  Traffic was literally parked on the parkway for over an hour.  Some people started heading the wrong way down the entrance ramp; others started making u-turns in the grass.  One man even managed to cut off three people in stand-still traffic, and a lady got out of her car to yell at him.

Yet, we also saw much Christmas cheer.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard with my family.  Other families even began distributing Christmas cookies!

Much later than expected, we arrived at Sleeping Giant and raced against the clock to hike to the top.  Although Brother compared the trail to Pilot Mountain, which is described as a “moderate relatively flat 0.8 mile loop,” the trail we walked was closer to that of Hanging Rock (a 1.3-mile one-way trail).  It almost felt like we ran to the top, took some pictures, and speed-walked to the bottom.

…and any time Mom asked how far we were from the top, Brother’s reply was, “It’s not that far.”

Shortbread Cookie Waffles (Blind Spot Monthly Series)

Shortbread Cookie Waffles (Blind Spot Monthly Series)

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My family does not have many traditions, but when it comes to Christmas, we always conduct our morning the same way.

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We sleep in.  That’s right.  We don’t rush to the tree at three o’clock in the morning to open presents.

When we finally pull ourselves from our warm beds, we cook a delicious breakfast of bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit, and homemade waffles.

We eat together, do the dishes, and (finally) open presents one at a time.

I associate Christmas with homemade waffles, but a lot of people consider December the month of cookies.

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Friends exchange cookies as presents.  Because of family traditions, children decorate sugar cookies to look like Christmas trees and snowmen.  Families bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve.

In celebration of Christmas, I combined these two Christmas treats and created…

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 tbs honey
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 tbs coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tbs Blind Spot Shortbread Cookie blended nut butter

Directions

  • Whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) together in a small bowl
  • In a food processor, combine wet ingredients (banana, honey, milk, oil, and nut butter).
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients
  • Preheat waffle iron and coat with nonstick spay. Pour batter into prepared iron and cook 1.5 – 2 minutes.
  • Top with the Oatmeal Artist’s Chocolate Sauce and sprinkles.
  • Eat and enjoy (or leave out for Santa)

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What is Christmas?

What is Christmas?

It seems that in December, we click the “fast forward” button on our already busy lives.  In addition to scheduling parties, concerts, and family gatherings, we join thousands of shoppers at the mall so that we can find the perfect gift for everyone on our list.  We also manage to find the time to decorate our houses with trees, tinsel, garland, lights, ornaments, and figurines.

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Why do we smash more activity into our busyness?  Because it is Christmastime!

But what exactly is Christmas?

When I asked Google about Christmas, I found some poetic results:

  • wrapping, and sticking, and envelope licking
  • tree decorating and staying up lating
  • shopping and bopping and parties non-stopping
  • stocking filling and lots of good willing

While those answers might sound pleasant, I think there has to be more to the most expensive holiday in the USA than “Monopoly cheating and quality streeting.”

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I originally drafted a post about the etymology of the word Christmas (Christ + mass) and how that is associated to what Christmas is, but I realized that Linus from Charlie Brown explained it better than I ever could.

 

Christmas is not a season of bustling bodies and predictable presents.

Christmas is not a month of extravagant parties and family feasts.

Christmas is not long days of travel and competitive board games.

Charlie Brown Snoopy and Peanuts Gang Nativity by MagnetsbyAbby:
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Christmas is a moment that changed all other moments.  Christmas is the birth of Jesus.

Christmas Checklist in Review

Christmas Checklist in Review

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On the first day of December, I made a list of ten things that I wanted to do before Christmas Day.  Here’s how I did:

Ten Things I Plan To Do Before Christmas Day

1. Read Luke 2. – DONE

Re-reading Luke 2 inspired a Top Ten Tuesday post.

2. Wrap presents. – DONE

3. Make Christmas cookies. – DONE
Check out these yummy gingerbread men trees I made!

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4. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas. – DONE
So… it is virtually impossible to find a full-length version of a Charlie Brown Christmas online.  Thankfully, ABC had it available in their app.  I downloaded the app, watched the movie, and deleted the app.

5. Cut snowflakes. – DONE
I snipped these lovely flakes while watching a Charlie Brown Christmas.

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6. Attend a Christmas concert or play. – DONE
I attended my school’s annual concert known as Candlelight Carols.  I have been 4-5 times now, and I think this year was the best yet.

7. Eat something gingerbread-flavored. – DONE
Here are the tasty gingerbread men ducks that I made.

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8. Give (or at least prepare to give) a homemade present. – DONE
My brother is receiving a handmade gift from me this year, but since he hasn’t opened it yet, I can’t tell you anything about it 🙂

I also gave gingerbread men trees, angels, and stars to my bosses at work.

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(I really need to buy a gingerbread man cookie cutter.  This is the closest thing we have.)

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9. Decorate the Christmas tree. – DONE

10. Listen to all of my favorite Christmas CDs. – DONE

As promised, I started with Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer.  From there, I listened to Christmas CDs by Matthew West, Point of Grace, Steven Curtis Chapman, and many others!

 

Did you finish everything that you set out to do before Christmas?

Top Ten Tuesday: The First Christmas

Top Ten Tuesday: The First Christmas

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The Christmas story found in Luke 2 is a passage I have known since I was little.   Even as a toddler, I memorized short portions of the chapter for Christmas performances at church.

While reading Luke 2 earlier this Christmas season, I realized that I had a few misconceptions about the first Christmas.  Much of what I believed about Jesus’ birth was based on oral tradition, plays, and movies–all of which are man’s interpretation.

Below are ten facts about Christ’s birth that might surprise you.

1. Mary and Joseph were probably not the only couple in need of housing in Bethlehem.  I don’t know why I always pictured Mary and Joseph as the struggling young couple that arrived late to the party.  Because of their tardiness, they narrowly missed the opportunity to sleep in the last vacant bed.  In reality, there were probably hundreds of nomads sleeping in the streets during the census.

2. Jesus was not necessarily born on the first night that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.  Once again, this view of mine was unwarranted.  Luke 2:6 says, “While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.”  This could have happened at any point during their stay.

3. Jesus may not have been born at night.  The only mention of nighttime in the passage is that the angel spoke to the shepherds as they were “keeping watch over their flocks by night” (Luke 2:8).

4. Mary may not have given birth to Jesus in a stable.  In his account of Jesus’ birth, Luke does not mention a stable.  He simply says that Mary placed Jesus in a feeding trough because there was no other cradle.  The birth very well could have occurred elsewhere.

5. We don’t know how many wise men there were.  There could have been two.  There could have been two hundred.  All we know is that they brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

6. The wise men were not at Jesus’ birth.  They left Asia when Jesus was born, but they did not see Jesus himself for quite some time (probably a couple of years).

7. The Holy Spirit was present in the lives of humans before the day of Pentecost.  Somewhere along the line, I began believing that the Holy Spirit was somewhat inactive until Acts 2.  I assumed He was present but not part of human activity.  However Luke 2:26 says that Simeon had the Holy Spirit “upon him.”

8. Even in the first century AD, people lived to be over 100.  If Anna was thirteen years old when she got married, then she was at 114 years old when Jesus was born.

9. Jesus was probably not born December 25.  The Bible does not mention an exact date.  In fact, Jewish shepherding culture points to Jesus being born in early fall.

10. Jesus was not born in the year 1 A.D.  When Dionysius Exiguus divided history into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (in the year of our Lord), he likely miscalculated by a few years. 

 

Questions of the day:

What new facts have you learned recently?

Why do you celebrate Christmas?

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Checklist

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Checklist

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It’s December!  And you know what that means – Christmas is coming!

We have twenty-five days before we open presents; fill those days with holiday cheer and merry events!

Ten Things I Plan To Do Before Christmas Day

  1. Read Luke 2.
  2. Wrap presents.
  3. Make Christmas cookies.
  4. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas.
  5. Cut snowflakes.
  6. Attend a Christmas concert or play.
  7. Eat something gingerbread-flavored.
  8. Give (or at least prepare to give) a homemade present.
  9. Decorate the Christmas tree.
  10. Listen to all of my favorite Christmas CDs (I will be starting with Relient K’s Let it Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer).

What do you want to accomplish in the next twenty-five days?