During a holiday season that may not quite feel the same for many families, you can add a magic touch to at-home festivities with activities and treats that get everyone involved. Creating decorative holiday sweets allows little ones and grown-ups alike to take part in the fun, and the end result is delicious desserts for all to enjoy.
Start with a main ingredient like whole-grain, freshly popped popcorn. At 30 calories a cup, it’s naturally low in fat, non-GMO and gluten-free for a nutritious alternative to traditional holiday indulgences. It’s a clever way to create artsy representations of the season at hand that celebrate festive flavors like peppermint, coconut, chocolate and other sweet eats.
For example, Coconut Popcorn Snowballs add fun and flavor to wintertime with a coat of sweetened coconut “snow” and candy cane handle while easy-to-construct Holiday Popcorn Snowmen are sure to be a hit with your children. Add to the holiday spirit throughout your home with wintery Jingle Balls that call for colored sugars to create a magical sparkling effect then take the creativity to the next level by encouraging kids to make their own red-nosed, sleigh-pulling team of Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer.
Discover more decorative dessert recipes at popcorn.org.
Butternut squash makes a great, hearty soup
By DONNA ERICKSON
Here’s a rich-tasting, family-friendly recipe of hearty butternut squash soup that you simply won’t want to pass up. No need to precook the fresh squash. Simply toss it in your soup pot to cook with the other ingredients for less than an hour, and then whirl everything together in your blender in minutes. Enjoy the added bonus of a wonderful aroma filling your home, welcoming everyone for nourishment and relaxing conversation around your dinner table.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, minced
2 stalks of celery diced
4-5 teaspoons (or less) curry powder, according to taste
3 cups peeled (a vegetable peeler works well), seeded and cut-up butternut squash
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Apple slices (see below), fresh chives or parsley for garnish (optional)
1. Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add onion, celery and salt to taste, stirring 3 minutes. Add curry powder and continue stirring until onion and celery are soft, about 5 more minutes.
2. Add squash, apples and stock; bring to a boil. Lower heat to low, cover pot and simmer until squash and apples are very soft, about 35 minutes.
3. Cool soup slightly (important!) and puree by whirling in batches in a blender. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream, season with salt and pepper, and then simmer briefly to heat through. Serve garnished with an apple slice design, parsley or chives.
APPLE SLICE DESIGNS
Slice an apple in half through the middle crosswise. Cut several thin, round slices from each of the halves. Set them on a cutting board, and let your child press tiny cookie cutters through the middle core section of each slice — leaving a cute shape in the middle. Discard the cut-out pieces containing seeds and the core. Nibble on the rest!
TIP: To encourage healthy apple snacking, keep an assortment of small cookie cutters on hand and use them for making “apple-slice designs.” Use tiny pumpkins in fall, Christmas-tree and star-shaped cookie cutters in December, a snowman in January, a heart in February and a bunny for spring.