Apple Cider Mimosas

A Look Back – Our Favorite Holiday Recipes


Hey Everyone! I’ve been meaning to post a few of our favorite recipes from the holiday season.  I realize that January is almost over already (where does the time go?!) and I’m just now getting these out to you but – better late than never!  Besides, there is always another opportunity to try a new recipe – whether it’s for a party, a special holiday, a date night, or just because you are feeling inspired to cook tonight!  So I hope that you try out one or more of these healthy and delicious recipes and let us know how they turn out!


First up are two brunch recipes.  We had these apple cider mimosas twice over the holidays when family was crammed into our warm kitchen together and we wanted to toast the fact that we were all together in one place.  They are super easy with only a few ingredients and can easily be made alcohol-free for the kiddos in your life. 


Apple Cider Mimosas
  1. 1 tablespoon cane sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (see below to make your own)
  3. 1 champagne bottle, chilled (use sparkling juice or water to make this drink alcohol-free)
  4. 2 cups local apple cider, chilled
  1. Combine sugar and spices in a small, shallow dish and mix together with a fork or whisk. (Make sure the dish is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glasses.) Set aside.
  2. Pour a small amount of water into a second shallow dish and set next to the bowl with the sugar and spice mixture. Wet the rim of each glass by dipping just the rim first into the shallow bowl of water and then into the sugar and spice mixture. Repeat with all of the glasses.
  3. Into each glass, pour the champagne until all the bubbles have settled and the glass is half full. Top off each glass with apple cider. Cheers and enjoy!
Homemade apple pie spice
  1. 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  2. 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
  3. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  6. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. Combine and store in an airtight container with your spices in a cool, dark space.
Life From Scratch


One of my favorite local breakfast spots is Karlton Café in Quakertown, PA.  The menu changes seasonally at this restaurant and their fall menu included a Three-Potato Skillet Hash, which I loved!  After having it for the second time in a row, I came home and searched online for similar recipes to try on my own.  I came across this one from one of my favorite food blogs and couldn’t wait to try it out.  We made this skillet hash for a brunch during our family gift exchange. 


Sweet Potato Skillet Hash
  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  2. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  3. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  4. ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
  5. 2 large red onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
  6. ½ teaspoon sea salt
  7. 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  8. 1 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  9. ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  10. Optional toppings: chopped avocado tossed with lime juice, hot sauce, fried eggs
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander and red pepper and cook until fragrant, only about 1 minute. Add the onions and salt and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they have caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to mix with the onions and spices. Add water or broth and cover skillet with a lid. Let cook undisturbed for 15 minutes to allow sweet potatoes to steam. (You may still want to peek through the lid periodically to make sure that the liquid has not dried up and the bottom is not burning. If so, add more liquid and replace lid for remainder of cooking time.) At the end of 15 minutes, if the potatoes are not cooked through, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes or so, adding more liquid if necessary. If there is still liquid in the pan remaining, simply remove the lid and allow it to cook off.
  3. Just before eating, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 8 servings
  2. (barely adapted from
Life From Scratch


Now on to the side dishes.  Both of these recipes contain kale, which might be my all-time favorite fall veggie.  I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me talk about it by now!  We served this potato dish as a side dish at our family Thanksgiving gathering and everyone agreed that it won the award for tastiest new recipe of the holiday!  The flavors may seem bold and differing greatly from your traditional mashed potato recipe but please give it a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!


Kale and Potato Mash
  1. 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  2. 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  3. 2 red onions, cut in half and then sliced
  4. 6 cups kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  5. ½ cup milk
  6. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  7. salt and pepper, to taste
  8. 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  1. In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, until fork tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the red onion for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the kale and cook while tossing until wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the milk and mustard. Mash the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the kale and onion mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with feta and hazelnuts. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 6 servings
Life From Scratch


We served the following dish alongside the ham at Christmas dinner, as well as riced cauliflower, corn casserole, cranberry-apple chutney, and homemade pumpkin pie.  Yum!


Quinoa and Kale-Stuffed Acorn Squash
  1. 4 acorn squash, cut in half crosswise and seeds discarded or saved for later
  2. ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste
  3. 1 cup quinoa
  4. 2 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  7. 1 cup pecans (toasted, if desired), chopped
  8. 1 cup dried cranberries
  9. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place squash halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of oil and sprinkle cinnamon, salt and pepper over each one. Rub in the oil and spices. Turn squash cut side down and bake for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender but not cooked so long that they start to lose their shape.
  3. Meanwhile, place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let stand for another 5-10 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.
  4. While quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and kale, tossing often, until garlic is aromatic and kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  5. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and toss with kale mixture, pecans, cranberries, and lemon juice.
  6. Spoon quinoa mixture into each squash half and serve. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 8 servings
Life From Scratch



gingerbread cookies

Holiday Preparations and Countdowns

Today is the first day of December and we are all starting to think about the upcoming holidays and everything that means for us.  While that might include things like shopping for gifts, visiting Santa, caroling, planning a holiday party, baking cookies, getting our homes ready for visitors, and cooking meals for large family gatherings, it can also be a time for quiet and connection, giving and gratitude. 


Several years ago, I read something in a parenting book about how we want our children to remember the holidays when they were growing up.  Do we want them to remember special traditions like cutting down a tree together or baking cookies?  And do we want them to remember a feeling of togetherness and spending quality time with family?  I know I do.  Or do we want them to only have memories of parents that were so strung out and tired that they snapped about every little thing and were too busy rushing around to enjoy the time off together?  Of course not.  But in the midst of trying to make everything “just right” for the holidays, sometimes I can turn into a stressed-out, always-running-late, never-enough-time-in-the-day holiday monster.  If you’ve ever read the children’s storybook, Mooseltoe, you’ll have a visual of what I sometimes feel and probably look like during the holidays! 


One way that our family is trying to keep the holiday spirit in perspective is to create an advent chain and remember something that we are grateful for on each of the days as we count down to December 25. 


Advent Chain


We started this tradition when the kids were smaller and the chain was a way to give them a visual of how much time was left until Christmas Day arrived and also a daily action for them to take part in.  We’ve used chains over the years to count down everything from birthdays to vacations to when Daddy is coming home from a trip.  It’s a great way for kids to see the progression of time and know that something they are looking forward to is getting closer and closer every day. 


For our advent chain, we added a new element a few years ago when we were intentionally trying to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our family. 


Now every year when we sit down with the kids to cut out and glue the red and green colored strips together, we first lay out all 25 of the strips and deal them out to each member of the family.  Since there are five of us, we each get 5 of the strips.  Each of us thinks of five things that we are grateful for that year and writes one thing on each of our five strips.  Then we proceed with gluing the strips into circles and linking them together in a long chain.


Advent Chain


Then on every day in December, we take turns cutting off one link of the chain and reading what is written on the inside of the strip.  The kids love looking forward to their turn to cut off a strip and also hearing their words of gratitude read aloud to the family.


I don’t know if my kids will remember this particular family tradition when they grow up.  But I hope that these daily reminders throughout the month of December are enough to keep me on track to being present with my family and thankful for all of the many wonderful gifts in my life.


What are your favorite holiday traditions?  Have you started any new ones with your kids? 


One of our friends has a family tradition where they read a different Christmas book on every day in December.  Others use an advent calendar where the kids can open a door or an envelope each day in December to find a surprise within.  If that sounds like fun to you, I read about some great ideas for advent calendars here.


Here are some of the things we wrote down this year:


advent chain - Ben


advent chain - Jake

teacher . family . living in the woods

advent chain - me

freedom and safety . hugs, kisses, and snuggles . wool socks and flannel sheets


What gifts are you thankful for this holiday season?