Home sweet home
Before popping gingerbread cookies into the oven, use a straw to poke a hole near the top. Bake them for longer than usual to make sure they are hard in texture. After they are cooled and decorated, hang them on your Christmas tree with pretty ribbon. They will fill the air with a wonderful aroma.
When using candles during holiday entertaining, remember to use unscented ones so they don't compete with the natural scents of cooking and decorating.
A few of my favorite things
Make the gifts under your tree look as decorative as the tree itself. Wrap packages in brown craft paper and tie pretty fabric ribbon on. Or use raffia to tie on name tags and embellish with pinecones, twigs or branches - straight out of your backyard.
The thought counts
Make a gift more special by getting involved. Take a friend out for a nice meal, get a manicure and pedicure with your daughter or take Dad to the hot springs after a long day of skiing.
Cutting your own tree
All you need is a $10 permit from the Forest Service Office at 925 Weiss Drive in Steamboat Springs (call 879-1870). Trees can be cut in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Snowshoes and a handsaw are a must. The tree you cut down must be at least 100 feet from any road or trail and at least 200 feet from any developed area. Be warned - it's tough to find a tree in the national forest that can match what's being sold on the lots in town, but knowing that you cut it yourself can make up for this.
Great light display, no hassle
Christmas Decor, a franchise run locally by Colorado Mountainscapes, will do your home light display for you. The company has a variety of plans for a variety of budgets. So before you drag out the boxes of lights, call them at 879-7236.
Dinner with all your friends
If you want to enjoy a holiday meal without cooking or if you're looking for a great volunteer opportunity, community dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas can be the perfect outlets.
The United Way sponsors the community Thanksgiving Dinner from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The agency accepts donations of turkeys, mashed potatoes and other holiday fare. Volunteers are needed to help set up, prepare food, serve food and do clean up. About 450 people attended the 2005 dinner. For information, call the United Way at 879-5605.
The Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors sponsors a community Christmas Dinner on the afternoon of Dec. 25 at the Community Center. The dinner is open to anyone, and about 400 people usually attend. Volunteers are always needed, as are side dishes. For more information, call the Board of Realtors at 879-4663.
Pumpkin pie ice cream
This is a fun alternative to the pumpkin pie we've grown up with - and one the kids will love:
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash of cloves
- 1/3 cup pecan pieces, if desired
- Graham cracker crust - save time and get a store-bought crust
Allow the ice cream to soften slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, salt, ginger and cloves. Cook over med. to high heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly mixed and very hot, being careful not to scorch. Remove from heat and cool completely.
When the pumpkin mixture is cool, beat it into the softened ice cream. Fold in nuts and spread the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Garnish the top with additional nuts, if desired. Freeze until firm.
Note: You may substitute reduced-fat or nonfat frozen yogurt for the ice cream.