Christmas Cocktail

cranberry margarita poured

Margaritas are my favorite cocktail, and I will try about any version of the classic concoction. We had a bag of fresh cranberries that had been hanging around the refrigerator since Thanksgiving (did I just admit that outloud?), and I knew we wouldn’t use them for anything else, so I gave this cranberry margarita recipe a spin on Christmas Eve.

cranberry jam

Cranberry Jam Ingredients

  • 3/4 c. fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 T. fresh orange juice

Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and 1/4 c. water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy (30 to 40 minutes). Mix in orange zest. Let cool. The jam can be made a few days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Cranberry Margarita Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t. each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
  • 4 T. cranberry jam (see above)
  • 2 oz. fresh lime juice (and a few wedges)
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila

cranberry margarita rimmed

Directions

  • Mix sugar and spices on a small plate. Rub rims of cocktail glasses with a lime wedge. Dip the glass edge into the sugar mixture. Fill glasses with crushed ice.
  • For 1 cocktail, combine 1/2 oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1 1/2 oz. tequila, and 1 T. cranberry jam in a shaker. Add ice. Cover shaker and shake contents. Strain into prepared cocktail glass.

Notes

  • To make all 4 servings at one time, prepare 4 glasses with the sugared rims. Combine all drink ingredients in a small pitcher, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the mixed ingredients into another container and keep chilled until ready to serve– or strain straight into the cocktail glasses.
  • You can experiment with the spiced sugar. Try Chinese 5-spice powder or pumpkin spice instead of the spices listed above. I did not follow the amounts exactly but gave a few shakes of each into the sugar.

cranberry margarita

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Sun Dried Tomato Dip

sun dried tomato dip

I needed a festive dip to take with me to a friend’s house, so I pulled out the recipe for my old friend, sun dried tomato dip (courtesy of Ina Garten). The dip originally appeared in my Labor Day Potluck Dinner post. After assembling the dip and the veggie tray, I realized how perfect this dip is for the holidays. The dip is a pinky red color, and I used several red and green raw vegetables. The finished product is quite merry and bright.

Need a quick bite for family members who will be milling around your house for Christmas or something tasty for football viewing? Sun dried tomato dip has got your back. Happy holidays and happy dipping readers!

food processing sun dried tomato dip

Ingredients

  • ¼ c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (get plain oil, any seasoning changes the dip flavor)
  • 8-oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ½ c. good mayonnaise
  • 10 dashes Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ¾ t. black pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Directions

  • Puree the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  • Add the scallions and pulse twice. Set aside a pinch of scallions to garnish the top of the dip when serving.
  • Serve at room temperature with sugar snap peas, celery sticks, carrot sticks, pretzel sticks, pita chips, etc.

sun dried tomato dip bite

Notes

  • Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature to get the ingredients to blend together smoothly.
  • Sugar snap peas are my favorite raw vegetable for this dip.
  • Pita chips and Snyder’s pretzel dipping rods are my favorite cracker-y vehicle for getting this dip to your mouth.

sun dried tomato dip 2

Mason Jar Cookie Mixes

M&M Mason Jar Cookie Mix

My fourth grade students sold Mason jar cookie mixes as a class fundraiser. It is a great project for integrating skills from a bunch of different academic areas. It is also a great project for creating a lot of extra work for the teacher. My teammate and I are exhausted and are not feeling nearly as charitable as we were at the beginning of this business project. However, it is a project that works well for groups of children. If you need a service project for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or your classroom, this might be something to consider. Like the soup mixes I am giving as teacher gifts, these are also something you can make at home with your kids to give to teachers, neighbors and friends over the holidays.

mason jar cookie mixes

The students kicked off the project by voting on a variety of recipes (oatmeal was out but after testing cookie samples, they approved the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe). Once we selected two recipes, we priced ingredients and estimated sales. We limited production to ~200 jars, and the students calculated the ingredient amounts for that number of mixes. I recommend limiting sales to a specific number you think is possible for your group, so you do not over commit.

cookie assembly line

The adults have to gather many supplies, and quality control needs to be monitored closely. Most of the stations need funnels, which we made by loosely rolling a piece of copy paper. The baking soda station needs a dedicated adult! With 34 students on 5 assembly lines, we had all of the mixes assembled in about 1 1/2 hours. We spent another half day tying labels and delivering.

mason jar cookie mix labels

If you can buy the ingredients in bulk, it costs between $4 and $5 to make one jar of cookie mix, and we sold our mixes for $8.50. The biggest cost is the chocolate chips and M&Ms. One warning– during the holidays, Mason jars are hard to find. We needed 17 dozen 1-quart jars. If you are buying jars in the Charleston area, stores are sold out (so I have heard). If we decide to repeat this project next year, we will be purchasing our jars in August! Click here for the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe, and click here for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe.

200 mason jar cookie mixes

Field Trip Chaperone Guidelines

Charlestowne Landing

I contributed an article to a website that helps teachers and schools locate and organize field trips! The article gives tips to parents about how to be a helpful chaperone.

Click to read the “Calling All Parent Chaperones” post.

Here I am on our field trip related to our studies of Colonial America.

Here I am on our field trip related to our studies of Colonial America.

 

Mason Jar Holiday Gift

mason jar soup labels

Each year I like to have a gift idea I can produce in bulk to give to the “extra” teachers at school, support staff, neighbors, hosts at any Christmas parties we might attend, the mailman, etc…

Sewing Sister assembled cookie mixes in Mason jars a few years ago for teacher gifts, and I wanted to do something similar. My 4th grade students are running a Mason jar holiday cookie mix business to raise money for Water Missions International, so I did not want to double up on the cookies. Instead, I mass produced soup mixes. I think these will work well since every parent (adult?) I know loves to have an easy low prep weeknight meal on hand.

Apparently, I was not the only one with the Mason jar idea. Mason jar supplies were wiped out when I shopped this weekend. So, make sure you can purchase the jars before starting this project. Once you have sourced your supplies, gather your cheap labor (in my case, Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss) and begin.

mason jar soup ingredients

  • Click here for the Farmhouse Soup Mix in a Jar ingredient list.
  • Pour ingredients in various mixing bowls and set up an assembly line in the correct order.

mason jar soup assembly line

  • Roll a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper loosely and make a funnel with a wide opening but not too wide, so it will fit in the top of the jars. Tape the handmade funnel, so the shape will hold.

mason jar soup funnels

  • Give each assistant a 1/2 measuring cup and have them go down the line in order adding 1/2 cup of each ingredient. After each ingredient, lightly tap the jar on a flat surface to level the ingredient before adding the next item.
  • When it is time to add the macaroni noodles, add 1/2 cup then add up to 1/2 c. more until the noodles are about one inch under the neck of the jar. You need space to add the zip-type baggie of herbs before sealing with the lid.
  • We did all of the above steps first and left the jars open, then assembled the seasonings.

mason jar soup herbs

  • I delved into my massive collection of zip bags that I get from the bead department at Michael’s Crafts. I used 3″ x 5″ baggies and did most of the seasoning assembly since the herbs sort of static to the sides of the bag, and it was messier than the jar assembly. I know we have a few vegetarian teachers, so I separated the beef bouillon from the other herbs and had two zip bags in a few of the jars.

mason jar soup herbs bagged

  • Add a seasoning packet to the top of the jar and seal.

mason jar soup filled

  • I printed labels on white and green cardstock. One side had the preparation instructions, and the other side had a holiday greeting. I am not a fan of play-on-word cutesy notes for teacher gifts, but I am a fan of “professional” looking labels in coordinating colors. If you are up for this extra time suck detail, you really need to invest in a paper cutter. We hole punched the corners of the tags and attached with curly ribbon. Alternately, you could print the directions on adhesive labels and stick them to the sides of the jars.

mason jar soup labelsWe also made chicken noodle soup mix in 1 pint jars. The smaller sized jars were much easier to find. We followed roughly the same procedure. Any teachers with young children are getting the chicken noodle soup mix. Click here for the Chicken Noodle Soup Mix in a Jar ingredient list and directions.

mason jar chicken noodleIs anyone else working on a gift in bulk to have on hand this holiday? There were many tasty looking mixes when I Googled “mason jar recipes” so you could take this idea and run with it.