Favorite Christmas Desserts 2014

By Jodee Weiland

Every year I watch anxiously to see which of my Christmas desserts will be the most popular with the readers. Without a doubt, the two most popular cookie recipes from my Christmas desserts are my Italian Biscotti and my Italian Bow Knot Cookies. But there are other favorites desserts as well, so I have put together this list of my Favorite Christmas Desserts 2014. Be sure to check them all out because some are old favorites, but there are new favorites as well!

http://learnfromyesterday.comFavorite Christmas Desserts 2014 are listed here, left to right:

For more wonderful dessert choices, check out my page, Dessert Recipes! Many of the other desserts on this page are favorites as well. The list above of my Favorite Christmas Desserts 2014 contains only those recipes that readers seem to seek out more frequently during the weeks before Christmas, but there are definitely more choices. I hope these dessert recipes help you plan for your holiday, so Happy Holidays and enjoy!

Crocheting Caps for Cancer Patients with Love

By Jodee Weiland

This is a very different post for me, because I have an important story to tell you today! I’m about to tell you how I came to the decision that I needed to do something for cancer victims who are bravely going through chemotherapy today and every day. A few weeks ago, I was thinking about an old friend, someone I loved, who bravely fought her own battle with cancer, but in the end, lost. Actually, I think about her all the time because I miss her so much. So often, I want to pick up the phone to tell her some news or just talk, but of course, I can’t! So, as often is the case, one thought led to another!

http://learnfromyesterday.comAround that same time, I had been thinking about crocheting hats for the needy or some charitable cause as a way of giving back or paying forward. It was then, I remembered a picture taken of my friend, Rory, sitting in a chair with a knitted or crocheted hat on her head after going through chemotherapy. What stood out the most at the time was her beautiful smile, but suddenly for no reason I can explain, I thought to myself, I used to crochet a little, why couldn’t I crochet hats for cancer patients? I immediately started to research how to do this and found out there are all kinds of resources online to help you do this! For me, I now had the information I needed for Crocheting Caps for Cancer Patients with Love!

http://learnfromyesterday.comAs I said, I had crocheted a little years ago, but it had been a while, and I never crocheted in the round, as you would when doing a hat. So I did more research and started looking into simple patterns. I pulled out my crochet needles, and then went to the store and bought whatever I need to make these caps. I was on a mission, and I was determined I would figure out how to do this. All was going well, until I started following the pattern I had. It just wasn’t working right, so I turned to YouTube, where I found a video called “How to Crochet a Beanie Tutorial – Beginner Friendly” from the blog, iheartstitching written by Melanie. Let me just say now, I love this young woman for helping me attain my goal, because with her video, I was finally able to crochet my caps for cancer patients.

http://learnfromyesterday.comYears before losing Rory, I watched my Aunt Rose die from cancer, a disease, when not stopped, ravages the body of its victims until they can no longer fight back. Later, another friend of mine, bravely fought cancer and won, but still does battle today with the aftermath of all the chemotherapy she had to endure to become cancer free. Looking back now, I remember vividly the day Rory called with the news of her cancer. When Rory found out she had cancer, she called me and said, “The bad news is I have cancer, and it’s incurable, but the good news is it’s treatable and can be controlled.” In the time that followed that conversation, my friend fought hard and at one point, was even in remission for a while, but when the cancer came back, it showed no mercy this time.

http://learnfromyesterday.comIt was during Rory’s battle with cancer, the chemotherapy took her hair. I remember her calling me and telling me about it, but she also told me it came back in curly. With every negative in this whole ordeal, Rory somehow always saw a positive and throughout it all, she maintained her dignity and positive attitude! The day before she died, we spoke on the phone. I could hear in her voice how tired she was, and my heart broke for her. The last thing I told her was, “I love you, Rory,” and she answered, “I love you, too, Jodee.” The next day she died. Knowing how she suffered, although she never complained, broke my heart every day, from the time she called to tell me what the doctors had found to the day she died.

http://learnfromyesterday.comFor many of us, Christmas is that time of year when we remember family members and friends who have passed away. For me, the memories keep them alive in my heart. I cherish the memories of the good times I had with each of my loved ones and try hard to focus on those memories, while holding them close to me in that way. This year those memories became the catalyst for me doing something I hoped would help others and at the same time, honor the memory of someone I loved, my closest friend in the world and my sister in my heart, Rory. Rory was one of the most beautiful and generous people I have ever known, and one year ago last April, she was taken from all of us after fighting a long hard battle against cancer. Crocheting Caps for Cancer Patients with Love is my way of trying to help others who are now fighting this battle and honoring the memory of dear friend, Rory! I feel as though she would want me to do this and is looking down with a smile, so hopefully those who get these hats will find comfort in having them. I wish each and every one of you Happy Holidays and good health, so enjoy!

Holiday Cranberry Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

By Jodee Weiland

During the winter holidays, everyone looks forward to all the special treats usually associated with that time of year. Apple pies with cranberries and cranberry sauce are two that come to mind during the holidays for my family. Cranberries add such a unique flavor to any recipe and are well-loved by many, so why not use some of that homemade cranberry sauce in a frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt tastes good any time of year. I love both homemade cranberry sauce and frozen yogurt. That’s why I decided to find another tasty way to use some of that homemade cranberry sauce I love by making my Holiday Cranberry Vanilla Frozen Yogurt with it!

http://learnfromyesterday.comSome folks can’t even begin to imagine having turkey without cranberry sauce. Later, when making sandwiches with the leftover turkey, cranberry sauce will be added. I used to love doing that when I was a little girl growing up. Now that I have my own recipe for fresh homemade cranberry sauce and know how easy it is to make, I decided that the sweet tart taste in this side for turkey would be awesome in frozen yogurt as well. The pieces of cranberry from the cranberry sauce add a delicious taste and texture to this awesome frozen yogurt.

http://learnfromyesterday.comHoliday Cranberry Vanilla Frozen Yogurt 

  • 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or the appropriate equivalent of non sugar sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup fresh homemade cranberry sauce (made with whole cranberries)
  • Miniature dark chocolate chips and chopped walnuts to sprinkle on top (optional)

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http://learnfromyesterday.comEither make or use leftover fresh homemade cranberry sauce. Then blend together the yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and skim milk in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until the sugar is dissolved, about one to two minutes. Once done, blend the fresh homemade cranberry sauce into the yogurt mixture with the hand mixer on low for about one minute. Following the directions of your yogurt/ice cream maker, turn it on and slowly pour in the blended yogurt and cranberry sauce mixture. Once it is all in the yogurt maker, let the mixture thicken into your creamy yogurt as the machine works its magic, usually about thirty minutes. When ready, scoop the frozen yogurt into serving dishes, putting any leftover frozen yogurt into a freezer storage container and freeze for later.

http://learnfromyesterday.comMy Holiday Cranberry Vanilla Frozen Yogurt is absolutely delicious with its rich sweet tart taste! Serve it with miniature dark chocolate chips and chopped walnuts to sprinkle on top if desired, but it is delicious with or without these toppings. This would also be great served with a slice of my Apple Cranberry Walnut Pie or for those who don’t want walnuts, my Sweet Juicy Homemade Apple Pie. However you decide to serve this delicious frozen yogurt, it is a wonderful dessert option for anyone, and your guests will love it. In fact, they will be asking for more. So if you’re looking for something that says “Happy Holiday” to your guests, this would be a great choice. So enjoy!

NOTE: The links in the post below are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. (sponsored post) 

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Grapefruit Strawberry Mango Smoothie Plus

By Jodee Weiland

I never tire of new smoothie combinations, especially before or after working out! Each smoothie combination is carefully thought out for the maximum boost I may be looking for on any particular day. Because I use mostly fruit and vegetables for my smoothies, each one is sure to be full of needed nutrients of all kinds. My Grapefruit Strawberry Mango Smoothie Plus is full of healthy nutrients and is delicious as well.

http://learnfromyesterday.comThis smoothie uses grapefruit, so if you are on certain medications for cholesterol control, you may want to substitute the grapefruit with orange segments and orange juice instead. The fruits have many of the vitamins and minerals that we all need to keep healthy. I like to use fruits with Vitamin C during the cold and flu season, to give me a little extra something to help fight germs and stay healthy. The plus in this smoothie is a carrot. This adds a vegetable to my smoothie, and it adds to the great flavor as well. All in all, this smoothie gives me the energy boost I need in the afternoon or mid-morning hours.

http://learnfromyesterday.comGrapefruit Strawberry Mango Smoothie Plus

  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut up
  • 1 cup grapefruit segments packed in light syrup
  • 3/4 cups fresh strawberries halved
  • 1 cup frozen fresh mango slices
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon organic honey

http://learnfromyesterday.comBlend all of the above ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. I did not add honey, but for those who prefer a sweeter flavor, add the honey as well. Pour into a glass to serve. This recipe makes one serving.

http://learnfromyesterday.comMy Grapefruit Strawberry Mango Smoothie Plus is both healthy and delicious tasting! This great smoothie is only 181 calories without honey, making it less than 200 calories. Even with honey, it will be only another twenty calories. It has no fat and six grams of fiber plus various nutrients. There are 305 milligrams of vitamin C for those of us looking to avoid colds and the flu this season. I love it because for me, it is a great energy booster before or after a workout without being high in calories. For whatever reason you choose to try this smoothie, I feel certain you will love the flavor, so enjoy!

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Hearty Homemade Lentil Soup

By Jodee Weiland

One of my favorite soups to make on a cold winter day is lentil soup. My recipe for lentil soup is both delicious and healthy because I power up the amount of vegetables I use to make it. I have always liked a lentil soup with substance, but most recipes I find use things like carrots and celery as a slight touch of flavoring for their lentil soup. For me, I have always felt a bit more is needed, so I add more to my Hearty Homemade Lentil Soup!

http://learnfromyesterday.comCarrots and celery are wonderful vegetables that are full of great nutrients. They are both low in calories and add great flavor to any dish. In my lentil soup, I add three times or more the amount of carrots used in most recipes. With celery, I add two times or more the usual amount. As you can see, I favor the carrots, but I love the flavor carrots add to many recipes and especially, to soup. I, also, use organic vegetable broth in my lentil soup because I want it to be a true vegetarian soup. I think these things make my lentil soup tastier and heartier as well.

http://learnfromyesterday.comHearty Homemade Lentil Soup

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large celery stalks chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 3 teaspoons of fresh basil chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups dried lentils, picked over, rinsed, and drained
  • 8 cups organic vegetable broth plus 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth (fat-free chicken broth may be used, if preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh spinach chopped
  • OPTIONAL: Sriracha hot chili sauce ( a drizzle per serving)

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Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and basil. Saute this mixture for five to seven minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes, lentils, 8 cups of vegetable broth, and lemon juice. Stir this all together and bring to a boil. When this comes to a boil, lower the heat to simmer at medium-low to medium heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 40 minutes, while stirring once or twice, if needed.

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After 40 minutes, remove the bay leaf and add the 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth or as much of it as needed, if the soup needs to be thinned out at this point. You will be simmering it again, so you don’t want it too thick at this point. I add the whole can of vegetable broth at this point. Then stir in the chopped spinach. Bring to low boil again, then lower the heat to simmer once again and simmer, while stirring occasionally, for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the soup is at your preferred consistency.

http://learnfromyesterday.comMy Hearty Homemade Lentil Soup is absolutely delicious and so healthy, you will want to make it often for your family. Great for lunch or dinner, serve this hearty soup with a crusty multigrain bread and side salad. I love adding a drizzle of sriracha hot chili sauce to spice it up a bit as well. Also, this soup pairs well with either a Pinot Noir or Chianti. However, you decide to serve this great soup, you will love it, so enjoy!