Simply Sweet by Chasity Boling

I love many aspects about the holiday season such as seasonal coffee flavors at Starbucks, decorated Christmas trees, twinkling lights on the houses, crazy shoppers bustling, excitement in children’s eyes, church cantatas, beautiful red and white poinsettias, the Coca-Cola polar bear commercials, non-stop sale ads in the Sunday paper, time spent with family and friends and the list continues. Another favorite is the smell of desserts baking in the kitchen. My fondest Christmas memories are baking with my mom and grandmother. I can still smell the amazing goodness of our seasonal desserts, even in the off-season. We spent hours making sure every taste was perfect. These are memories that I will always cherish.

Unfortunately, as the holidays become increasingly hectic, we don’t have multiple hours, let alone entire days, to dedicate to baking.  To keep our tradition alive, we improvised. Instead of spending all day baking, we found quick, easy recipes that are far less time consuming and equally tasty. Keep it simple. You can transform something as simple as brownies into a Christmas treat. Instead of slicing the brownies into squares, slice them into triangular tree shapes. Add green frosting, sprinkles, and a star at the top, and you have a brownie Christmas tree.

Another super easy treat is chocolate dipped pretzels. And yes, it’s just as easy as it sounds. Take a long pretzel, or regular shaped pretzel, and dip it into chocolate. I prefer white chocolate. Before the chocolate cools, add red and green sprinkles to give it a Christmas touch.

In addition, don’t overlook the endless possibilities of cupcakes! They easily convert to snowmen, snowflakes, ornaments, wreaths, and more. I enjoy making Santa hat cupcakes, using red icing for the hat and white icing for the rim and the top. You can incorporate mini marshmallows as well. Another quick way to add festive flair: sprinkle crushed pieces of peppermint on top of iced cupcakes.

When I need a little extra help coming up with seasonal recipe ideas, I consult my friend, Pinterest. For those of you who have been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with Pinterest, it’s a wonderful resource for do-it-yourself ideas and all things crafty. I primarily use it for recipes. You’ll find traditional favorites, such as Oreo bark, chocolate cake, puppy chow, and carrot cake. In addition, you’ll find inventive creations you might not have considered. I discovered pecan pie cookies, Funfetti shortbread bites, eggnog snicker doodles and Nutella hot chocolate. How delicious do those sound?

This holiday season, remember that there are plenty of sweet-treat recipe options, and you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen.  Get your creative juices flowing, and try out some of these easy-peasy treats. Your friends and family will thank you later.

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