Christmas Sleigh Ride is Here!

Welcome one, and welcome all! Sorry we’re late for all you east coast Christmas Riders! I’m still on my first cup of coffee out here on the west coast…wait! What’s that I hear?

The jingle jangle of bells? The thunder of hoofbeats? The shoosh of the sleigh, flying across the snow? It’s here! Christmas time! and Christmas weather to boot, which is a feat here in sunny Southern California. So read on, gather a recipe to fold into your holiday treats, and my first gift to you all is a chance to pick up my short romance, an inspirational Free Read – Tessa Takes a Chance, available from The Wild Rose Press.
No matter the time of year, Southern California is usually the land of sunshine and flowers, of beach walks and barbecues all year long. However, the cold, thick clouds have moved in. The day is gray, wet, and calls for a hot mug of cocoa and a crackling fire in the fireplace. It’s the kind of day that reminds me of my mom, of being cared for so completely, of decking the halls and singing our favorite carols, and listening to my father’s deep, gravelly voice as he reads us the Christmas story, and reminds us of the reason for the season. So curl up and let’s talk about our favorite holiday traditions.

I’m the mother of two little girls, ages 4 and 3, and the most amazing thing has happened this season! My oldest asked when they were getting their advent calendars. She’s been singing Rudolf and Frosty. We settled in to watch the first Christmas movie of the season at our house, The Polar Express.

Then, of course, we roll up our sleeves for some good old fashioned holiday baking! a feat, with such little ones. The house is filled with aromas of melting chocolate, baking cookies, the kids are covered in flour, powdered sugar, and sticky whatnots that I do my best to ignore. That’s when I think about what I remember about growing up under my mom’s roof. I don’t remember a sparkling kitchen. I remember my mother, who accidentally quadrupled a batch of spritz cookies, and her bribing us to frost about 400 tiny christmas tree cookies. We frosted that year until we didn’t even want to sneak a taste!

And, for our Sleigh Ride Song of the Day – I must recall the sturdy, towering, warm embrace of my father telling us the Christmas story, on a cold night in Bethlehem. I often wondered what Mary must have thought, following her husband in such wretched conditions. Such faith is wonderous to me.

Finally – for the bakers & candy makers out there… At our house we’ve already made the gingerbread house, the sugar cookies, and the first batch of holiday fudge. Unfortunately, making horrible fudge is one of the traditions around here, too. You’d have to know my sister to understand. She’s the candy maker of the family, I’m the baker. BUT, this year, with the help of Epicurious.com, I’ve finally mastered the art of fudge making. So, my final gift to you is the best butterscotch fudge I’ve ever tasted.
So, add your favorite recipe here! and guess the song, collect all of them for your chance to win!
~Ashley

Tessa Takes a Chance, Free Read! now available
at The Wild Rose Press

Coming Soon:
By Another Name, April, 2009

All or Nothing, Spring, 2009
And so, here is your Christmas Song Clue: (CONTEST RULES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST!)
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”
Send your guess to the song! then hop along to http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/ for your ride tomorrow!

ABOUT THE CONTEST: Spread more Christmas cheer, everyone hosting the CHRISTMAS RIDE came together and we’re giving one lucky person a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate!
To enter, simply:
  1. review each day’s blog post
  2. identify the carol
  3. make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post on Christmas Eve.
Send it to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!
Start at P.L. Parker’s Blog to begin the Blog Ride that connects all the blogs and all the carols. Visit each blog to hunt for the clue to the carol of the day!
Hop along to http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/ for your ride tomorrow! Ho Ho Ho and off we go!

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About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an inspirational romantic suspense author. Owner of local Temecula lifestyle and events online magazine, she lives in Southern California wine country with her husband, two daughters, a couple of crazy dogs, and assorted amphibians. Ashley can be found blogging here, at www.recessionhome.com, and at www.TemeculaGrapevine.com. Stop by and say hello!

21 responses to “Christmas Sleigh Ride is Here!”

  1. Stephanie says :

    Something fun to make and pretty to boot!

    Cornflake Wreath Cookies
    1/2 cup butter
    3 cups miniature marshmallows
    1/2 tsp almond extract
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp green food color
    4 cups corn flakes
    red hot candies
    silver dragées

    Melt butter, add marshmallows, stirring until all marshmallows are
    melted. Add extracts and food coloring; stir until it is a uniform
    green color. When mixture is smooth, add corn flakes; mix well but
    gently so as not to crush the cornflakes. Form into wreath shapes on
    sheets of waxed paper, decorate with red cinnamon candies and silver
    dragées. Let cool.

    Also the Christmas Carol for today is ‘Mary Did You Know’

  2. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Yay, Stephanie! I’m so making these with my girls this weekend. Don’t forget to jot down each song, and submit for your chance to win!

    ~Ashley

  3. Skhye says :

    Great post! My head hurts too much to bake today. But I have a killer easy fudge recipe that shouldn’t be called cooking. It’s on my blog. I’ll have to find it and return… You can cook it with the kiddos!

  4. Judy says :

    The carol is Mary Did You Know?

    I am going to do my baking this evening. This year I am just making some cookies, and rice krispie treats. My daughter and daughter-in-law are going to make the fudge and pies!!

  5. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Judy! great job! don’t forget to go through all the blogs, make your song list, and check it twice!

    Cooking with my girls is one of the joys of my life. I love that they want to help. Something I have to continually remind myself while we’re actually cooking!

    It’s such a joke with my sister and her kids as to what a nightmare fudge making is for me.
    My husband actually does the whole eye-rolling, yummy-noise-making, toe-curling bliss-thing when he eats my sister’s fudge.
    Call it sibling rivalry. Call it whatever you like. But, mastering the fine art of fudge making has been the bane of my existence until I stumbled across this delightful, easy recipe!

    Keep your recipes coming! We’re baking this weekend! :)

  6. Judith Leger says :

    Oh, I love jiggle bells! Going to have to try your recipes. Cooking, sorry, I gave that up last lent and (snorts) haven’t picked it up since. Thanks for sharing your festivities with us, Ashley1

  7. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Judith! Giving up cooking for Lent! Good for you! Though I love to cook, I never think about what I want until a quarter to four in the afternoon… and then, too late! Dino Chicken & Fries, anyone?

    They just put a Fresh and Easy grocery around the corner, and it's my new favorite store. (Think Trader Joes meets your favorite Grocery Chain). All items are ready to pop in the oven with minimal effort and maximum results! And perfect for a mom/wife like me who doesn't plan ahead as well as I should.

  8. Skhye says :

    http://blog.skhyemoncrief.com/2008/11/29/skhyes-secret-rum-fudge.aspx

    Just cut the orange zest and rum extract for the basic recipe. Although, I substituted rum extract for vanilla. Just add vanilla extract instead. ;) Ho Ho Ho!

  9. auntdbear says :

    The song is Mary did you know, and the best ones I have heard are by either Reba McEntire or Aaron Neville.

  10. Helen Hardt says :

    Hi Ashley, the carol is Mary Did You Know?

    Helen

  11. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Remember, add the carol to your growing list so you can e-mail your final list, per the instructions.

    I am partial to the version by Kathy Mattea…

    Happy Holidays!

  12. Kim S. says :

    Great post! And Thank You for the recipe and free read!!

    This carol is Mary Did You Know. And here is my Hubs favorite cookie recipe;

    Candy Cane Cookies

    Ingredients
    1 cup butter, softened
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1 egg
    2 teaspoons almond extract
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
    24 pieces round peppermint candy
    1/4 cup sugar
    Melted chocolate, for drizzling, optional

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    In a mixer bowl or by hand, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until
    light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg, almond extract,
    vanilla, and salt. Blend flour into mixture in several additions, beat
    until just combined.

    Remove half the dough from the bowl. Blend red food coloring into the
    half remaining in the bowl until the coloring is even. Cover dough a
    kitchen towel to keep it from drying out as you work. Use a floured
    teaspoon to measure 1 teaspoon each of white and red dough for each
    cookie. Roll into 4-inch ropes on a lightly floured surface. Place a red
    and white rope side-by-side, press together lightly and twist to form a
    spiral. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Curve top down to form handle
    of a candy cane. Bake until set, about 9 minutes. While the cookies are
    baking, put peppermint candies in a resealable plastic bag and crush
    into small pieces with a rolling pin. Mix the candy with the sugar.
    Place cooling rack over shallow pan. Immediately remove cookies from
    cookie sheet and gently place onto cooling rack. Sprinkle with
    candy/sugar mixture.

    Optional: Cool cookies, drizzle with melted chocolate, and add more
    candy mixture on top of chocolate.

    Happy Holidays!!

  13. jer says :

    The song is “Mary Did You Know?”

    Cookies
    1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    Filling
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
    4 teaspoons milk
    1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    1 drop red food color

    DIRECTIONS
    1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in flour and almond extract until well blended.
    2. Shape dough into 180 (1/2-inch) balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Press bottom of glass dipped into granulated sugar on each ball until 1/4 inch thick; prick top of each with a fork.
    3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes until set but not brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until smooth and creamy. Spread about 1 teaspoon filling on bottoms of half of the cookies. Top each with another cookie, bottom side down; press gently. Store in refrigerator.
    High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): No change.

  14. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Yum, you all! These sound absolutely fantastic. Interesting, both of your recipes call for almond extract – as that is my “secret cookie ingredient.” I guess it’s not that big a secret after all! :)

  15. Skhye says :

    Okay, Ashley. I promise, if you turn your heat to the lowest setting with the sweetened condensed milk and choc. chips in the pot–they will melt without breaking!!! Just stir stir. It only takes a few minutes. You can’t go wrong. Just TRUST ME. :)

  16. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Skhye – though it makes my palms sweat and my cheeks tingle with worry, I swear I will do my best to make your fudge and not rush it. I have a gas stove, and the lowest setting is barely enough to heat the bottom of a pan, therefore – I always turn it up too high and rush the melting process. I know it. It’s a curse. But I will try it your way…sipping a nice glass of Cabernet while I await the melting of the chocolate. *gulp* Wish me luck!

  17. Debby says :

    Great Carol – Mary Did You Know?
    I ame njoying visiting and reading all the posts.

  18. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Debby – thanks for dropping in! glad to have you. Remember to add this to your Christmas Ride list and e-mail your results to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!

    Happy Holidays!

    ~Ashley

  19. Carla says :

    I Love this song. It is one of my favorites of all time. We have a gal in our church that sings it every year that just gives you chills.

    Mary did you Know

  20. lindseye says :

    Have not made fudge in years but made the Cornflake wreaths on Tuesday. They were fun and turned out nicely. Do not forget to coat your fingers with butter before shaping the mixture because the marshmallows make it sticky. Also a silacone spatula is helpful to get all the mix out of the pot.

  21. Ashley Ludwig says :

    We’re so making the cornflake wreaths. I’m so excited to try them. The girls will love the whole hands-on part of it, and heaven knows the shapes we’ll get in the end!

    I have a set of silicone spatulas that I got to go with my KitchenAid mixer – and wow. What a treat they are. Different sizes and shapes, they’re a great gift, FYI, in case you’re looking for one.

    Remember – take the leap on to Anna K’s blog for the sleigh ride of the day!

    http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

    Ho Ho Ho and off we go!

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