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“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Galatians 1:3-5 NIV

Happy December!

This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cool weather, the anticipation if snow, the lights, the pine tree and baking smells, the music! I always start wanting Christmas music around mid-November, but (to keep it special) I make myself wait to play any until the day after Thanksgiving. Now the Christmas music plays from any speaker near me, Christmas gift projects are piling up at my various workstations, and I have an ambitious baking list to which I keep adding new recipes! It’s Christmastime, huzzah!!!

This year, I am reading a book called “25 Days, 26 Ways to Make This Your Best Christmas Ever.” I already Love this season, but this book has added to my enjoyment and given me new ways to celebrate! So, throughout this month I plan to share some of the many ideas piling up around my house!

The point of the “25 days, 26 ways” book is to bring back the JOY of the Christmas season to those who have lost it, and to enhance it for others. In each chapter, the author, Ace Collins, takes a different tradition or aspect of the holiday season and shares some of its history, and ways to be more focused, intentional, and worshipful with that topic.

One great suggestion is to start on December 1st reading one chapter of Luke each day. Luke has 24 chapters, which makes it the perfect Christmas season study! This study of our Savior’s life, teachings, death and resurrection is a good reminder of what we should be focusing on, both at this season and all year round: How can we show God’s grace to those around us? How can we spread peace?

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…”

Simple Christmas Cheeseball

This cheeseball itself may not spread peace, but it could be called a peaceful spread! It is very easy to put together (which will help you be a peaceful party host), and is Dairy Free, which will definitely help your dairy-allergic guests feel more peaceful at your Christmas party!

Start with my “Basic Cheese” recipe, which you can find in my post entitled “A Promise Fulfilled” (and reposted below).

The Basic Cheese
1 cup raw cashews
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup of water, divided
lemon or lime juice
garlic powder
onion powder
salt
½ red bell pepper (this is for taste and color, but is optional)

Grind the cashews in your blender or food processor. While they disintegrate, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup of cold water. After it gels, pour in ½ cup of hot water and stir until the gelatin melts. Add this melted mixture to the nuts and blend to mix. Add the juice of ½ a lemon or lime. Next, add ½ of a red bell pepper, chopped into chunks. Blend until smooth, then add the other spices to taste. When the seasoning is perfect, pour into a shallow container and place in the refrigerator solidify.

Once it is solid, you can make the cheeseball!

You will need:
2 cans of salmon or tuna in water
About 1 tsp liquid smoke
Nuts of your choice (I usually use pistachios or smoked almonds), smashed (not into powder, but small chunks) (optional)
Dried chives or parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper, optional

In a medium bowl or plate, combine the nuts and chives or parsley (if using) and set aside.

Put the solidified cheese (it will be soft, but not runny. Kind of like velveeta, or jello) in a larger bowl and mash it up a bit with a fork or potato masher. Drain the salmon or tuna and add to the cheese. Add the liquid smoke (to taste. This stuff is strong, so if you haven’t used it before, go lightly. I usually use about two capfuls.)

Keep mashing and mixing it all up. (Hands work well for this job, although it gets kind of messy!).

At first it will seem like you are not making any progress, but do not despair! Keep going! Your persistence will be rewarded! Eventually all the ingredients will combine into a lovely paste. Taste it to check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Use your hands (or spoons or spatulas) to form the mixture into one large ball, or two smaller ones (or a bunch of bite sized balls!).

Roll the balls in the nuts, place on a dish and refrigerate until serving. You can serve this right away, but it is better if it has a little time in the fridge to firm up.

If you are a nut-free person, just leave off the nuts. Or, roll in sunflower seeds, or crushed crackers or chips.

EnJOY!

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