Sidelines Guidelines: Make the holidays extra sweet with these recipes


Photo courtesy of Flickr

Story by Wendy Anderson / Contributing Writer

From the stress-filled shopping to the annual tree decorating, the holidays bring many things with them. And one thing we can’t overlook is the never-ending holiday parties that we’re often obligated to show up to with a tasty treat. While nobody wants to be the lame one that shows up with a bowl of jello, no one  wants to spend hours on something that’s likely to be devoured in five minutes, either.

Here’s a little holiday treat guide full of sweets that require little effort and the opportunity to stun your fellow partygoers.

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate is the perfect way to warm the hearts of those around you this holiday season. (Flickr)

Whether you’re headed to a holiday party or you are just looking for a warm treat on a chilly night, hot chocolate is a winter staple for any occasion. Plus, there are many ways to spice it up. The basic recipe is pretty simple, though, and this one from unskinnyboppy.com is easy to follow.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Throw all dry ingredients into a saucepan and add the water. Mix that and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling for one minute. Next, add whatever kind of milk your heart desires and stir. Then, heat until it reaches your preferred temperature. Take it off the heat, add the vanilla, stir and serve.

Snowman chocolate bark

Chocolate bark is a crowd-favorite, and this recipe is sure to impress. (The Decorated Cookie)

Chocolate bark a festive holiday favorite and it’s probably one of the easiest holiday treats to make. What’s easier than melting chocolate and freezing it? Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun to make because you get to smash it at the end, which is a great way to relieve those holiday stresses!

Everyone loves chocolate — and if they don’t, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life — and this recipe from thedecoratedcookie.com puts a cute spin on the traditional recipe by adding little snowmen made out of chocolate and pretzels.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
  • White candy melts
  • Small pretzel sticks
  • White non pareil sprinkles
  • Black and orange candy color OR black and orange food writers

Instructions:

Get a baking pan and line it with wax paper. Pour the chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl and gradually heat them until they melt, and stir smoothly. Next, pour that chocolate lava onto the pan and spread it evenly. Once that’s done, place the white candy melts onto the chocolate to assemble the snowmens’ bodies. Use the pretzel sticks to create little salty arms for the snowmen. Then, sprinkle the white sprinkles over the chocolate. Feel free to get liberal with this step and make it a chocolate winter wonderland: Paint a little face onto the miniature frosties, and then place your creation into the freezer to harden. Finally, when it’s done, take it out and break it up into little delicious pieces.

Snowman Oreo truffles

Showcase your sense of craftiness with these unique Oreo truffles. (Flickr)

Another snowman treat for this holiday season are these snowman truffles from the-girl-who-ate-everything.com. They sound really fancy but are super easy to make. Guaranteed: Your friends and family will be impressed with your Betty Crocker-like baking skills.

Ingredients:

  • A pack of Oreos
  • A package of cream cheese
  • White candy melts
  • Black and orange food writers

Instructions:

Start by crushing Oreos. Mix those Oreos into the cream cheese and form them into little balls. Pop those little sweet nuggets into the freezer and let them harden. Then, melt the white chocolate in a bowl and stir until it’s smooth. Easy enough. 

Holiday sangria

Think outside of the box and serve a holiday sangria. (Flickr)

If baking isn’t really your speed, have no fear because a festive drink is also a great addition to any party. You won’t even have to touch the stove for this recipe. It’s also one of the cheapest ways to contribute to a holiday party, and you already know it’s going be the best thing at that party.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1/2 bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 2 clementines
  • 1 Green Granny Smith apple
  • 1-2 cups cranberries

Instructions:

All you need to do is pour the liquids into a pitcher, cut up the apples and clementines and toss all the fruit into the pitcher. The red and green will work to give the sangria a little holiday pizzazz. Give the mix a few stirs and voila: You have an instant crowd-pleaser.

Ninjabread men

Are you looking to have fun with your holiday cookies? Consider these ninjabread men. (Flickr)

You read that correctly. This recipe from flippindelicious.com is a fun spin on a holiday classic, because who wants to have basic, boring gingerbread men? This recipe may be a little more intense than the rest, but come on. It’s ninja gingerbread men! One thing’s for sure, these little guys won’t be stealthy about the powerful punch of flavor they pack, and they’re even vegan-friendly.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup shortening (I used butter flavored vegetable shortening, but use whatever is your favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 17.5 ounces (approx 3 cups) gluten free flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 -2 tablespoons water (I used 1½ tablespoons)

Instructions:

First, mix together the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl. Set aside and let sit for about five minutes. Then, cream together the brown sugar and shortening. Add the flax mixture and molasses and mix until smooth and then add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Next, split the dough in half and form each half into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for a few hours.

When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough about ¼ inch thick and cut out with either special ninjabread cookie cutters or regular gingerbread people cookie cutters. If you use regular gingerbread men cookie cutters, you’ll need to stretch the figures into some fun ninja shapes. Finally, place the cut outs on the baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for eight-10 minutes.

For the icing, mix the powdered sugar and water together about a teaspoon at a time until you get a very thick but smooth icing. Then, scoop into a decorating bag or sandwich bag with a tiny bit snipped off of the corner. Finally, the stealthy ninjabread men are ready to be decorated.

Just like that, you’re well on your way to serving the holiday treats everyone hungers for in the month of December. Just remember, superior amounts of energy don’t have to be spared to produce some of the best desserts. Just follow this guide, and have a happy holiday season.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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