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Favorite Christmas Books

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For years, I’ve given my kids Christmas books on Christmas eve with their Christmas pajamas. This was a way to build our library of our favorite Christmas books – although it took a several years to collect them all. (After Christmas is a great time to pick them up on sale and save them for the next year, or years! 😉 Some were purchased because of our traditions growing up. Others had beautiful illustrations. A friend from college, Brandon Dorman, is an illustrator and several in our collection are his works of art. Some books are based on Jesus Christ and tell of his birth and others are fun playful stories for young children. One book, Twas the Night Before Christmas, is reserved for Christmas eve and has the most creative pop up pages I’ve seen. I have many favorites for different reasons.

favorite christmas books

The books sit on a shelf in the living room and I find them left on the couches most every day after the kids have read through them. Some nights we read together as a family and some nights the kids read them to each other. But usually by the time Christmas rolls around we’ve gone through most of them. Here’s what’s sitting on our shelf now:

Snowmen at Christmas
Christmas Oranges
The Mansion
The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes
A Christmas Dress for Ellen
Christmas Bell for Anya
Christmas Day in the Morning
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
Forgotten Carols
The Christmas Train
The Tale of Three Trees
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Polar Express
The Christmas Candle
The Gift of the Magi
Drummer Boy
C is for Christmas
The First Christmas
The Visit
Great Joy
The Christmas Sweater
Snow Angels
Christmas Carol
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Twelve Days of Christmas
Twas the Night Before Christmas
Christmas Sweater – novel
Secret Santa
Christmas Jars
Christmas Parade
Beyond Bethlehem
A Christmas Story

Favorite Christmas Books

One of my thin places is sitting in our living room after the kids go to bed with all the lights off but the tree, blanket across my lap, reading from one of these books. And after Christmas, they go back in the box and don’t make an appearance for 11 months, so every Christmas the story feels new again.

I love learning of other people’s collections as well – I’m always willing to add to the library!

Spicy Enchilada Dip

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We’ve reworked one of our family’s favorite meals and we’ve made it even better; we’ve turned spicy chicken avocado enchiladas into spicy enchilada dip – it’s easier and creamier and it’s good to the very last spoonful.

Spicy Enchilada Dip

Spicy Enchilada Dip

Spicy Enchilada Dip

Start with prepping some of the ingredients.
Grate some Monterrey jack cheese
Tear 10-12 tortillas
Dice three avocados
Dice a small onion
Shred 3-4 chicken breasts (I cook mine in the instant pot with some green salsa)

After ingredients are prepped, make the spicy sauce.
2 tablespoon butter
2 Serrano pepper, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cup medium salsa verde
1 cup fat free sour cream

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute serrano pepper and garlic, for 1 minute. Stir in flour, constantly stirring, and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, whisk in the sour cream, salsa verde and cilantro. Remove from heat.

Dump all the ingredients (cheese, tortillas, avocados, onion and chicken) including the sauce in a large bowl and stir well. You can adjust amounts of ingredients to your liking. If it looks too soupy, add more tortillas. Pour into an oven safe dish and top with additional cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Spicy Enchilada Dip

Spicy Enchilada Dip

Spicy Enchilada Dip

It’s a crowd pleaser. It’s everything enchiladas have to offer without the time rolling and stuffing enchiladas. It will be the hit of your next party!

The Book With No Pictures

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If you’re looking for a fun gift for a kid or adult – we’ve found the perfect book!

Last year at Christmas time, there was a knock on the door. When the kids opened the door they found a stocking filled with candy and book sitting on the door mat. The book was put under the Christmas tree and somewhat forgotten until after Christmas when we were taking everything down. It was a book. It appeared to be a children’s book, and yet there wasn’t a single picture in the whole book. In fact it’s title is the The Book With No Pictures, written by BJ Novak (who happens to be the “intern” from the old tv show “The Office”).

The book with no pictures

I thumbed through it before putting it on the bookshelf and quickly realized I needed to read the whole thing. I was sitting on the couch by myself chuckling. When Steve got home, I told him he needed to read it to the kids. They were dying laughing – there’s no plot – but its written creatively.

When my brother came to visit, we had him read the book to the kids. And it was just as funny.

When my dad came – he read it.

When my mom visited, the kids pulled it off the shelf for her to read.

The book with no pictures

You can see a pattern – my kids think it is pretty funny for every guest in our house to read them this book. And everyone reads so differently that it never gets old.

I’m pretty sure we have 6 recordings of different people reading this book to our kids and every time it gets the best reaction, both from the kids and the person reading the book for the first time.

I’m not sure who left The Book With No Pictures on our doorstep last year, but I thank them. It gets a laugh every single time.

Easy Baked French Fries

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I’m an Idaho girl and if I’m tooting my own horn, I know my potatoes and I love them. Potato soup, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes and a family favorite…easy baked french fries.

I’ve been making french fries for years. I bought this handy french fry cutter which conveniently serves as our apple slicer as well. But cutting fries is not always an easy task. Sometimes I find I’m banging the potato against the counter trying to get it to go through the slicer straight. The potato would rotate and then I found myself trying to cut the potato sideways. And after years of experience, I finally learned a little trick. It’s not revolutionary, but it works. Before cutting the potato, cut off one end. With the flat end of the potato against the counter, it will be much easier to slice without the potato moving and rotating all over the place. Does this eliminate the need to potentially hit it against the counter? No. But it gives you a nice even surface to hit against!

Easy Baked French Fries

Once they’re cut – soak them in a bowl of water for a while. This will help crisp them up and remove some starch. Then drain the water, toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and some seasoning salt. Lay them as a single layer on a greased pan, making sure they don’t overlap. Cook them for 30 minutes at 400 and then increase the temp to 425 – 450 (depending on how crisp you like them) for additional 15 minutes to crisp them up. After they baked, I add a little more salt, pepper and seasoning salt to taste.

Easy Baked French Fries

With our love for fries I’m convinced I need a new french fry cutter. Like this commercial grade cutter.  Or I’ve even thought about buying a french fry disc for my Kitchen aid. Anyone have a french fry cutter they love?

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