Sunday, December 18, 2011

Intentional Family Traditions - Birthday Cake & Tasty Treats

Well, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away. I always kinda dread this week – only because I know the end of the season is approaching and I don’t want it to end!!

One of the special things about the holidays is the recipes we pull out only once a year. I have to say, most of our family traditions growing up revolved around food! I want to share with you a new traditional recipe that we started just last year.

Once we had children and were hanging out with other families, we kept hearing of families that make a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. Can I be honest? It sounded really corny to me. I mean, who blows out the candles? Then, last year, in my girls preschool, their Christmas party was a birthday party for Jesus. I thought that was really cool for a school party! (private Christian school of course!!) And I decided that I too would make a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas and it would be the final way to focus our hearts on the true meaning of this season as the evening comes to a close. I found the perfect recipe and couldn’t wait to make the cake. The cake came out beautifully (sadly I don’t have a photo, but I’ll get one this year!!) and as the meal ended and dessert approached, I started getting nervous. Perhaps it was because our Christmas dinner was shared by all of our extended family and neighbors. Would they think this was corny to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus with a birthday cake? Would they sing along? Would they laugh as the candles just burned since the birthday boy wasn’t there to blow them out? Ah, I was a nervous wreck. But I was committed. The cake was made; the children had been told that it was a birthday cake for Jesus; I had no choice. I disappeared into the kitchen to light the candles and decided to just go for it! The lights went out and I started to sing. Everyone, especially the children, sang along. At the end of the song, without hesitation, all the children blew out the candles and cheered. As I walked back into the kitchen to cut the cake, I had a bit of a Peter moment. Embarrassed of Jesus’ birthday? Slightly hesitant to publically celebrate this significant birthday in the same way I celebrate my own children’s birthdays? In a way, was I struggling with denying him in the same way Peter did? I was humbled. I’m so grateful that I have children that are unashamed. They don’t hold back. They don’t hesitate. Because of them, I made a birthday cake for Jesus and you know what? I will do it every year because it is the most important birthday we’ll ever celebrate and He’s worthy of a grand celebration!

Grandmother Paula’s Red Velvet Cake aka Jesus' Birthday Cake!
• 2 cups sugar
• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 ounces red food coloring
• 2 1/2 cups cake flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon vinegar

• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
• 1 stick butter, softened
• 1 cup melted marshmallows
• 1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting

Blend cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add marshmallows and sugar and blend. Fold in coconut and nuts. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake. (I did not fold in the coconut and nuts. I sprinkled the coconut on at the end and omitted the nuts.)

Bacon Wrapped Chestnuts
Whole Water Chestnuts
Worchestershire Sauce
Brown Sugar

Another family favorite! Wrap each chestnut with bacon. Do not overlap the bacon, just wrap until it is covered. Place in a glass baking dish with the ends of the bacon on the bottom. Bake at 375 until bacon starts to brown (about 15-18 minutes). In a small dish, combine about ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. mustard, 1 tsp. worchestershire sauce, ¼ cup ketchup. When bacon is brown, pour some sauce on each chestnut and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Take out of oven and pierce each chestnut with a toothpick and place on a serving tray. Warn your guests to let them cool slightly before popping one in their mouth!

Sweet & Hot Salami
This is so easy and delicious! Truly a must try!
Buy a stick of salami or summer sausage. Cut into thin slices, but not all the way through so that the stick of meat stays together. Combine equal parts Trader Joe’s Sweet & Hot Mustard and apricot preserves and heat on the stove while stirring. Line a loaf pan with foil and place the salami in the pan. Pour the warm mustard over the meat, making sure it is in between the slices. Bake at 350 for about ½ hour. Serve with crackers and additional sauce on the side.

The Newquist Family Ginger Cookies
I married into this recipe, and I’m so glad I did!! These cookies are divine!

¼ c. Crisco shortening
½ c. sugar
1 egg
½ c. green label molasses
Mix the first 4 ingredients and beat well

Add the following ingredients in order and beat well:
2 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ c. hot water – add this slowly until the right consistency comes about – similar to chocolate chip cookie dough.

Mixture will be smoothe – drop by teaspoon on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 400 degrees. (I’ve found that 6-6 ½ minutes is perfect – it depends on your oven)

While still warm, frost with the following:
1 c. powdered sugar
½ to 2 Tbs. cream or milk
½ tsp. vanilla
(I have to admit, a can of white frosting it just as good and much easier!! Not vanilla frosting, but “white” frosting!)
What fabulous holiday recipes do you make?

Check out Ashley's post that she linked up to share some of her favorite traditions!
Our Family


  1. This is awesome, Raeanne. We are doing a birthday cake for Jesus too, and coincidentally, we are doing red velvet cake! It's so festive. But, also, I love the symbolism - it's white and pure on the outside, blood red on the inside.

  2. I am definitely going to be trying those ginger cookies... yum! And, I have to admit I completely relate to your hesitation to completely claim the birthday party for Jesus, though I love the idea. How wonderful that your kids will grow old knowing no differently. It will be so natural for them to pass the tradition on to their own families. Merry Christmas!!



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