Add a little fun to your holidays with these sweet treats. Pretzel M&M Hugs are as tasty as they are addictive. If you are not comfortable baking goodies in the kitchen, this is a good starter recipe and lots of fun to include eager young helpers. The finished product is attractive enough to box up for gifts, if you can hold onto them for that long.
Pretzel M&M Hugs
70 square waffle pretzels
70 Hershey Hugs
70 chocolate M&M’s
These are approximate numbers. Make as many as you wish. You are only limited by the number of items in a bag. Of course, all of the Hugs have to be unwrapped and that is where your helpers come in. Line up the pretzels on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper and place one unwrapped Hug on top of each. Heat them in a preheated oven at 200 degrees. They will start to look shiny. Remove from the oven and carefully press an M&M down into each center smashing the Hug into the pretzel. Voila, now all you have to do is let them cool, which you can speed up by placing the sheets in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. Once they have cooled, store them in airtight containers. I would like to say that the hardest part of making these is to refrain from eating them all. Actually, I have found the hardest part to be moving the cookie sheets full of them in and out of the oven without sending them flying in all directions. Slow down, take your time, don’t burn your fingers and enjoy. There are lots of variations of this candy on the internet, using different combinations of ingredients for different holidays. Explore, experiment and have fun.
Hosting a holiday party? Don’t stress; serve easy appetizers like these pizza party ryes. These are a great treat for New Year’s Eve. Maybe I only think that because they have become a tradition in my life. As a kid, I thought I was eating hors d’oeuvres like the grownups. They are simple, tasty, versatile, and can be made ahead and frozen until you need them. Below is my recipe, but please experiment with your favorite toppings and make your own tradition.
Pizza Party Ryes
1 pound of sausage
1 pound of Velveeta cheese (cut into cubes)
2 tbs ketchup
1 tsp of ground oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf of party rye bread (this is that bread that comes in tiny squares sometimes called cocktail rye)
Brown the sausage in a skillet and drain the grease. Add the cheese to the skillet and then the rest of the ingredients. Heat until you have one beautiful gloppy mess. Scoop a couple of spoonfuls of sausage and cheese mixture onto each piece of bread. (Here is where you can freeze them for later if you wish.) Set them on a sheet and place in the freezer until they harden (for about an hour). Then you can stack them up in a freezer bag and save them for later. When you are ready to cook, line them up on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil for easy cleanup and bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, people will begin turning their attention Christmas decorating and holiday parties shortly thereafter. The holidays not only bring new safety hazards into the house, but the excitement of them distracts even the most wary. Below are a few hints to help keep you safe for the season.
- Trees – Live trees require lots of watering and even then they will dry out. Place them well away from any heat sources. Don’t burn discarded trees in the fireplace as it can lead to creosote build-up in the chimney. Instead consider taking it to a recycling center or compost it for the garden.
- Fireplaces – Of course by this time of the year you have had your chimney swept and inspected. Don’t be tempted to reduce the landfill by burning wrapping paper or other paper products in it. Besides the flash fire they produce being dangerous, they could have coatings that produce unsafe fumes when burned. Check for opportunities to recycle paper and plastic products to ease your guilt.
- Smoke Alarms – Check all smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning. Replace batteries at least twice a year even if they are still working. Install a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
- Candles – Keep candles away from all combustibles and extinguish when leaving the room. Place them so they are away from areas where they can be knocked over. The coffee table is just the right height for Fido’s tail to do damage. Don’t forget to stow away the matches or lighters that could be temptations for inquisitive children.
- Lights – Check all strands for any damage and for the UL approved label. Turn them off when going to bed or leaving the house. Don’t run any wires under carpets and don’t overload the circuits.
- Decorations – Check decorations for small pieces that could be a choking hazard for children or pets.
- Guests – Don’t assume that your guests know what you know. Remind them not to place their gloves on the space heater for drying or throw anything in the fire in the fireplace. Ask them to help keep the kids safely out of the kitchen while food is being prepared. If you have overnight guests, review your household escape plan with them in case of emergency.
As the weather begins to get colder, it’s time to get your car ready for winter. By preparing now, you can keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely and hopefully avoid a roadside breakdown in the cold. Here are some tips to get you started:
Fluids – Have all fluids checked and replaced if necessary. Don’t forget the oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield fluid and gasoline. Yes, gasoline. Keep your tank full to prevent moisture from freezing in the lines. Also, when unexpected weather hits and you are delayed in traffic, you won’t have to worry about running on empty.
Wiper Blades – Weather ages blades quickly and they tear easily in freezing temperatures, so start out the season with new ones.
Battery – Cold weather reduces the cranking amperage of the battery. Have it tested, serviced and replaced if more than 4 years old.
Tires – Of course cold sloppy freezing weather brings traction problems so check those tire treads and replace tires if necessary. The cold can also reduce the pressure so check often for proper inflation and don’t forget the spare.
Floor Mats – Tracking snow and salt into your car’s interior can ruin carpeting so make sure you have some good all-weather mats in place.
Emergency Kit – Items you may want to include are flares, boots, gloves, shovel, blanket, ice scraper, flashlight, rock salt or kitty litter for traction. Also have emergency numbers and insurance information handy and maybe some spare change, just in case
One of the best ways to keep your eyes on the little ones on Halloween may be to keep them home. Of course that may involve throwing them their own party which can still involve safety issues for you and your guests. Here are a few tips to keep everyone safe on Halloween night:
- Costumes – Even if you are not hiking the neighborhood, you still want to keep the costumes safe. Shorter is better so that there is no tripping. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup to enable children to see their best. Check the labels for fire retardant clothing.
- Food – Be aware any food allergies that your guests may have. Common allergies include dairy, shell fish and peanuts. Stay away from small hard candies that may present a choking hazard. If using dry ice, prevent children from handling it as it can cause burns.
- Childproof – Move any breakable items beyond reach or to another room. Don’t let a broken keepsake spoil your night. Candles may add to the atmosphere of spookiness, but don’t be tempted to use them. There are plenty of flickering lights available that are battery operated and eliminate the hazards of a flame.
- Pets – A houseful of exuberant party goers in strange costumes could freak out your pets. Also, your guests may share too many things with your pets that shouldn’t be eaten by animals. Arrange for your pets to stay in another part of the house or away from home.
- Guests – Know your guests. With the excitement and hubbub of escorting costumed guests in and out of your house, unescorted trick-or-treaters could accidently crash your party. That would be a scare for both you and the unknowing ghosts and goblins.
- Plan – Plan ahead to include lots of fun activities to keep your guests busy. The good memories that they have will last a lifetime.