Delicious Dishes- Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Tis’ the season to go home to family members asking what your major is, how long you have until graduation, and the ultimate favorite… are you dating anyone yet? The good news is, these family recipes I’ve gathered will taste so great that your family will be asking for your cooking secrets instead.

Sparkling Holiday Punch – Rebekah Drennon 

  • 32-ounce bottle cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 quart orange juice, chilled
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, chilled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle dry white wine, chilled (optional)
  • 2 bottles champagne, chilled (optional)
  • Orange slices

Combine juices and sugar until dissolved.

Add wine and pour over ice.

Stir in champagne before serving.

Add orange slices for garnish.

Festive Cranberry Salad – Linda Gordon

  • 2 packages lemon-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries, ground
  • 1 orange
  • 2 large apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Mayo or salad dressing

Dissolve gelatin and sugar in boiling water.

Add next 4 ingredients – stir well.

Pour into bundt pan – chill until set.

Un-mold on lettuce leaves.

Fill center with mayo or dressing.

Garnish with orange slices.

Christmas Roast – Bill Gordon

  • 1 shoulder roast
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 5 small red potatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots

Brown roast on all sides.

Combine next 6 ingredients.

Add onions and carrots – simmer 2 hours.

Add potatoes – cook 45 min.

Homemade Sugar Cookies – Misty Jones

  • 2 & 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in dry ingredients.

Roll rounded spoonfulls into balls.

Place on un-greased cookie sheet. Cook 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse – Rachel Drennon

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine morsels and 1 tbsp. sugar in top of double boiler until chocolate melts. Let cool.

Combine egg yolks and vanilla. Stir into chocolate mixture.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy; gradually add 1/4 cup sugar beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir well.

Cover mousse. Chill for one hour.

Christmas Fruit Squares – Linda Gordon

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self rising flour, divided
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 pound chopped red candied cherries
  • 1/2 pound chopped candied pineapple
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Cream butter and gradually add sugar while beating with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Add 3/4 cup flour. Stir well.

Combine remaining ingredients. Dredge into 1/4 cup flour.

Stir fruit mixture into batter. Spoon into greased and floured square pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour 10 min.

Cool on wire rack and chill before cutting.

Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions are about more than just celebrating a season.  They are about celebrating family and keeping the magic of Christmas alive for generations to come.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and though my family gets busier and busier, our traditions bring us together and keep us close.  We always make a big deal out of Christmas.  However, the gifts are not the main focus of the holidays for my family.  Keeping the magic of the season alive is the most important thing.

Today, I am sharing a few of my most precious Christmas traditions. These traditions truly make this the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. During the Great Depression, money was tight.  That didn’t stop my mother’s side of the family from giving the gift of love.  On Christmas Eve, and again on Christmas Day, the family members would hug each other and say, “Christmas Eve Gift” or “Christmas Gift.”  In fact, it became a game to see who would be the first to offer their Christmas Eve or Christmas “gift.”  The tradition has evolved over time, and now we race to be the first one in the family to greet someone with Christmas Eve Gift or Christmas Gift.  We even wake people up at midnight with the greeting, just to win the game.
  2. Christmas isn’t just about gifts in my family.  We celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by helping others.  We all try and help others all year round, but at Christmas, we try and make it extra special.  We want our children to be grateful for what they have and to always have a giving heart.  With that said, every year, we, along with the Texas High School Tigersharks, adopt a family for Christmas.  We all buy gifts for the children and adults alike and provide them with a full Christmas dinner.  If the children we adopt are young enough, my dad even volunteers to play Santa and pays a visit to the children personally.
  3. My family and I get a real Chrismas tree from Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm.  This tradition started about 5 years ago because my husband was frustrated trying to put up our fake tree.  We drove out to the lot, picked a tree, and watched as they cut it down and shook all the lose needles out of the tree.  The kids LOVED it.  We drink cocoa with the family that owns the tree farm and huddle by the wood burning fire inside the barn.  But the most special part of this tradition is finding random golf balls, from the nearby golf course, throughout the farm.  Each year, we bring home a golf ball and write the year on it and hang it from our tree.
  4. This tradition is very messy, and not for the faint of heart.  Every year, we buy each person in our family a package of tinsel.  But before we put it on the tree as decoration, we have our annual icicle fight.  We run around the house, jumping over dogs, furniture, and occasionally each other, throwing tinsel at each other, like snowballs.  It is not uncommon to find tinsel buried in the couch in February.
  5. Christmas Eve night, we make cookies for Santa and reindeer food to scatter outside for Rudolph and the gang.  Here is the recipe I use for reindeer food.

    Photo courtesy of http://www.amodernmrs.com/2013/12/magic-reindeer-food-recipe-and-poem.html

    6. During the day on Christmas Eve, my sister and I “plant” individually wrapped peppermints in a soil-filled small pot, with my three-year-old nephew.  When wakes Christmas morning, the peppermints have magically grown into candy canes.

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest

    7.  Lastly, on Christmas Eve night, the kids are allowed to open one gift each.  Each of them gets new pajamas, house shoes, and a coffee mug.  After they open the gifts, I make homemade hot chocolate, while they change into their new pajamas and we all sit down to watch a Christmas movie before bed.

These are just a few things that make Christmas extra special for my family.  I hope the traditions are passed on when my kids have children of their own.  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Christmas lights and delights

People all over the world show their Christmas spirit with festive light displays.  Thomas Edison started the tradition of Christmas light displays in 1880. Edison was so proud of his light bulb invention, he strung them together and hung them proudly from his Menlo Park laboratory compound.

Photos courtesy of edisonawards.com

Christmas in the South may not always be snowy and white, but Southerners are just as proud to celebrate the season with lights and all things magical.  See the list below for information on displays and festivities, in and around the area, to enjoy this holiday season.

Photo of Federal Post Office, Downtown Texarkana. Courtesy of Arkansas.com

Texarkana, Texas – The owners of the home at 4904 Lesley Lane, bring joy to the community with their animated light display.  The display is set to music which can be played from the comfort of your vehicle.

Texarkana, Texas – The residents of the culdesac on Spotswood in Pleasant Grove, located beside Williams Memorial Methodist Church, spell out “We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas,” in lit signs.  In fact, the tradition is so important to the residents, they even leave behind their signs, if they sell their home, so that the tradition may continue.

Texarkana, Texas – First Assembly of God Church, located at 3401 W. 7th Street will host their annual drive-thru, live Nativity Scene.  There will be over 100 people in costume, bringing the story of Jesus’ birth to life!  When you enter the parking lot, you will be able to tune in to a specialized radio broadcast and be greeted with hot chocolate and candy canes.  There will be live animals; sheep, cows, mules, goats, camels, and more.  This event is open to the public and FREE for everyone.  The event will take place on Friday, December 8, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. And again on Saturday, December 9, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  See video link below to see a recap of the 2014 Live Nativity.  Video provided by Matt Cornelius, YouTube.com.

– Ashdown, Arkansas – The K.C.S. Railroad’s Holiday Express will make its stop in Ashdown, on December 6, beginning at 4:00 p.m.  The train will be stopped at Main St. and Hwy 71.  The Holiday Express is a six-car train, carrying Santa and his Elves.  The train has a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, a smiling tank car named Rudy, reindeer and a miniature village, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves’ workshop, a reindeer stable, and a little red caboose.

Photo courtesy of TexarkanaFYI

Shreveport/Bossier Lousiana Boardwalk – A blizzard is forecast to occur every night at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as 12:30 p.m. on weekends.  While at the Boardwalk, please be sure to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop.  In Santa’s Wonderland, kids get free digital pics with Santa and can make the Bass Pro craft of the week for free.  This place is magical for children old and young.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Tyler, Texas – Santa Land is a 24-acre drive-thru Christmas Park with over two million lights, Christmas music, a 250-foot long tunnel of lights with 12-foot Toy Soldiers, themed areas, a gift shop, and snack bar.    Santa Land is located at 11455 I-20 West Tyler, Texas.  Information and pricing listed below.

Photo courtesy of SantaLand Facebook Page

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Marshall, Texas – Enjoy the Wonderland of Lights Festival in downtown Marshall, Texas this season.  The festival includes an outdoor ice skating rink, rides on the Holly Trolly, Wonderland Express and the vintage 1948 Herschel carousel. Visit the brand new Santa’s Village for cookies, train building, and pictures. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride on one of three carriages through Historic Downtown Marshall, then listen to live music at Telegraph Park downtown performed by local musicians, area churches and school choirs. Visit https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wonderlandoflights/items/?full-items=yes for prices on the various attractions.  And don’t forget to pay a visit to Central Perk Coffee House and warm up with a cup of gourmet coffee or hot chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

The Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The Louisiana/Texas Holiday Trail of Lights – The Holiday Trail of Lights includes multiple cities in both Louisiana and Texas.  You can visit one leg of the trail or all of them.  All cities on the trail are connected by I-20 and I-49.  The two legs of the trail, nearest to Texarkana, are Jefferson, Texas and Shreveport/Bossier, Louisiana.  Check out the video below for more details on the Holiday Trail of Lights.

Paying a visit to any of the Christmas displays listed above is sure to brighten your Christmas.  Be sure to check Facebook Events for more on local holiday events.  Have a safe and Merry Christmas from the staff at Eagle Eye Media.

Mistletoe Fair 2017

This weekend, the Junior League of Texarkana kicks off the holiday season with the 32nd Annual Mistletoe Fair at the Four States Fairgrounds.

Junior League member Courtney Boeckmann says “Mistletoe Fair is a great way to kick off the holiday season.  From holiday shopping for friends and family, to seeing the magic of the season with the arrival of Santa Claus, to watching a showcase of local animal shelter pets in need of a home called Strut the Mutt, there is something fun for everyone at Mistletoe Fair!”

Day passes can be purchased for $7.00 at the door. For events like “Breakfast with Santa,” “Story Time with Santa,” and “Santa’s Workshop” it is a good idea to purchase in advance because they sell out fast. Tickets can be purchased at the website listed below.

https://www.jltexarkana.org/?nd=ticket_list&fundraiser_id=20

General Admission Hours:

Friday, November 17th Noon-8:00 PM

Saturday, November 18th 9:00 AM-7:00 PM

Sunday, November 19th Noon-5:00 PM

Strut the Mutt:

Sunday, November 19th from 2:30-3:30pm

Random Acts of Kindness

The holiday season is upon us.  Rather than adding to your wish list, or stressing over the trappings of the season; find your joy by doing random acts of kindness.

Random acts of kindness are selfless acts of kindness directed at complete strangers, with the sole intent of spreading love and kindness.  There is no better way to celebrate the joy of the holidays.

Below is a list of easy and fulfilling random acts of kindness.  Give them a try and see how they improve your holiday season.  You might just want to make them a part of your everyday life.

  1. Buy a stranger’s coffee.
  2. Leave some change in a vending machine, so that someone can get a free drink.
  3. Take some homemade treats to nurses, firefighters, teachers, or cops in your community to thank them for all they do.
  4. Leave a big tip for a waiter or waitress in need.
  5. Make treats and put them in the mailbox for the mailman.  Be sure to leave them a note, so they know the treats are for them.
  6. Take pet food, old blankets, and pet toys to your local shelter.
  7. Take flowers to a local hospital and have a nurse give them to a patient who needs to be cheered up.
  8. Donate food, books, toiletries, and warm clothing to the local homeless shelter.
  9. Do chores for a friend or family member.
  10. Adopt a deployed soldier and send him/her some much needed holiday cheer.  Here is the website:  http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/
  11. Give someone your place in line.
  12. Visit a nursing home.  Just talk to the residents, play board games with them, or get some friends together to sing Christmas carols and hand out Holiday cards.
  13. Give a hot drink to a Salvation Army bell ringer.
  14. Give a gift card to a stranger at the grocery store.  Any amount shows you care.
  15. Take classroom supplies to a teacher or two.  If you have Dr. Morton, then you know he always needs dry erase markers.
  16. Adopt an Angel from an Angel Tree.  Most of the time, these children aren’t asking for a lot.  I personally have adopted several angels over the years, and each time it cost me around $50.

Above all, this Holiday season and all year round, show kindness, compassion, and love for your fellow man.  Restore your faith in humanity by blessing strangers with random acts of kindness.

Holiday Movies

Whether it’s at home with family, or snuggled up with hot chocolate and a blanket in your dorm room, there is something special about watching movies that celebrate the holidays. Students around campus were asked to submit their favorite holiday movie they watch every year. From classics to current, these suggestions will leave you without question on what you need to watch this season.

Hocus Pocus- Katie McCorkle

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Home Alone – Brooke Rayburn

Elf – Landon Porter

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Rebekah Drennon

The Polar Express – Sharda James

Christmas in Connecticut – Victoria Marshal

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – Misty Jones

White Christmas – Rebekah Drennon

Die Hard – Austin Powers

Original Ghost Busters / New Years – Misty Jones