Saturday, October 26, 2019

#Halloween at Christmas Spirit - Baked #Pumpkin Donuts #nationalpumpkinday

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

*You will need a donut pan for this (I need to get me one).

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • cinnamon glaze (recipe below)
Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 6-count donut pans with non-stick cooking spray (or alternatively spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray). Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a stand mixer or medium sized bowl and hand mixer cream together the brown sugar, pumpkin, eggs, milk, butter and vanilla extract on medium speed until the butter is well incorporated.

2. With your mixer on medium low speed, slowly add the dry sifted ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until just barely combined. Do not over-mix.

3. Scoop pumpkin batter into a large ziploc bag, pushing batter down towards one end of the bag. Snip the end of the bag with scissors and fill each donut mold with the batter. Be sure to wipe any excess batter that may have gotten around the edge of the mold or on the center "hole".

4. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes or until the exterior springs back when touched. Allow to cool completely and before dipping in cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze

1. In a shallow bowl mix all ingredients with a spoon or spatula until smooth and creamy. You may need to add additional milk or sugar to get the right consistency. Dip donuts into glaze to coat. Donuts are best eaten the day they are glazed.

Recipe and images from Handle the Heat.

Always in spirit...

Friday, October 25, 2019

#RudolphDay - New #Holiday Music with Ken from the Sounds of #Christmas

Thanks so much for once again inviting me back to your blog, Michelle!

I am very excited about the upcoming season for the Sounds of Christmas (which starts on November 1, which is next Friday)!

We’re actually already on, playing Halloween music through the end of this month. For the last twelve Christmas seasons, I’ve played a huge variety of Christmas music, and I’ve worked hard to play thousands of songs, without repeating the same song and the same artist. This way, you won’t hear “Sleigh Ride” twice an hour, and you won’t hear Johnny Mathis over and over.

I have just always felt that there’s so much good Christmas music out there, and more and more coming every year, there’s no reason to play Bing’s “White Christmas” every other hour.

I’m doing the same kind of thing with Halloween music, spreading out different versions of “I Put A Spell On You” and others, as well as separating out the songs by the same artists. You won’t hear “Ghostbusters” over and over (and I have multiple versions of that in rotation, from all three of the different movies).

By the way, if there’s a spooky song you’d like to hear, you can certainly let me know and I’ll do my best to play it for you!

So what’s new in Christmas music this season?

Once again, there is a lot of terrific new music this year, much of which is already out! I’m sure I won’t be able to get to it all of it in this blog, and there are always surprise releases that show up as the season gets going!

First, there are previous releases that are being re-released with extra songs.

Most notable of these is Mariah Carey’s first Christmas album, which was simply called “Merry Christmas” (and the new one will be called “Merry Christmas Deluxe Anniversary Edition” or some variation on that). Brace yourselves. That original Christmas release came out 25 years ago! It’s due November 1, and includes the original recordings, along with remixes, live versions and some of her recent Christmas singles. While not technically a re-release, Pentatonix has a “Best of Pentatonix Christmas” set due today. It includes songs from their previous holiday releases, along with four new songs (one of which pairs them with Whitney Houston)! This isn’t really a re-release, either, but it’s closer to that than it is to an all-new recording. “Bing At Christmas” will feature some of Bing Crosby’s most well-known Christmas recordings, featuring new arrangements with the London Symphony Orchestra. It will also feature tracks that include “guest appearances” by Pentatonix, the Puppini Sisters and the Tenors. Another of the tracks will be a reworking of Bing’s duet with David Bowie. And if you didn’t pick up John Legend’s wonderful “Legendary Christmas” last year, you can grab it next month with four additional songs!

Meanwhile, stuff that’s “all-new” has been trickling out for the last couple of months!

Actress and vocalist Brynn Stanley released her first holiday set, “Classic Christmas” in September, led by the single “Santa Bring My Baby (Back To Me)”. I know it’s October, and Christmas singles aren’t really a thing, yet, but this is one I think you’ll be hearing a lot of. Another one from September comes from a different actress and vocalist, RenĂ©e Zellweger. She and Rufus Wainwright duet on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” from the soundtrack to the Judy Garland biopic, “Judy”.

Also in September, saxophonist Dave Koz released his fifth Christmas collection, “Gifts Of The Season”. This one, as have many of his previous releases, features a bunch of guests, including Jonathan Butler and Melissa Manchester. For October, we’ve already had new stuff from Jonathan Butler, Los Lobos, Gerald Albright, Chicago, Ne-Yo, Black Hawk, Keb’ Mo’, Idina Menzel, Dionne Warwick and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford.

And today is a big release day! We’re getting new Christmas music from 92 Keys, Jim Brickman, Celtic Woman, Elizabeth Chan, Orla Fallon, Ana Gasteyer, Danny Gokey, Lea Michele and the Oak Ridge Boys!

November has plenty more in store, including new Christmas albums from Sara Groves, the MonaLisa Twins, Johnny Reid, Wade Bowen, Lincoln Brewster, Jim Brickman (again), Wynton Marsalis, the Sidewalk Prophets, Keith Harkin, Judy Collins, Rick Wakeman and Robbie Williams.

The biggest surprise this year, at least to me, is that some of the biggest names that have teased new Christmas music have suddenly gone quiet with no indication of that new Christmas music actually showing up. This includes rumored Christmas albums from the Backstreet Boys, Cher, Dolly Parton, DMX and Smashing Pumpkins. I am sure I’ve missed some, and I apologize if I skipped one of your favorites. Hundreds of new releases come across my desk (and into my email) every year, and I try to get to as many as I can. Unfortunately, every year, I come across truly wonderful songs that I don’t actually discover until January.

The Sounds of Christmas shifts to Christmas music on November 1. I know not everyone is ready for it that early, but we’re here for those who are. And we’re very excited to have Brynn Stanley on board as a new sponsor this season, alongside our returning friends – Kenny Davies, Engelbert Humperdinck and Rick Lang!

Hope you’re able to spend at least some of your holiday season with us!

And may you always believe in Santa Claus!


A big thank you to Ken for once again spreading the Christmas music cheer with us at Christmas Spirit. Be sure to tune in to Sounds of Christmas on November 1st, and all season long. I have a link to the Sounds of Christmas in the right sidebar so you can listen while you're online. Look for the Sounds of Christmas Christmas tree, click the image and you'll be taken to the site where you can listen. Also, Sounds of Christmas has an app on Google Play so you can listen on the go...and it's free! You can find it in the Play Store here.

Man, do I love that Robbie Williams cover! 

Always in spirit...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

#Halloween at Christmas Spirit - How to Carve the Best Pumpkin/Pumpkin Seed Necklace

Here are an expert’s secrets for carving a better-than-average jack-o-lantern:

  • Pick an oddly shaped pumpkin. Everyone, it seems, looks for the most perfectly formed pumpkin for their jack-o’-lantern. The better choice is actually one that is slightly misshapen—a little long, a little wide, a little bumpy. The peculiarities will give your pumpkin character.
  • Figure out the face. Before making any cuts, outline your ideas for a face on the pumpkin with a water-based marker. Draw a line establishing the middle of the face and draw the features on both sides to match—or not. Then trace these lines with a permanent marker. 
  • Hollow with care. How will you display your jack-o’-lantern? If you’re going to light the pumpkin, hollow it from the top; this will allow the escape of heat from a lamp or smoke from a flame (if you are using a candle). If the jack-o’-lantern will not be lit, you can hollow it out from a hole in the back so that the look of the face is not affected. 
  • Amplify your ideas. Exaggerate the facial features and carve the entire pumpkin, not just one side.

DIY: Pumpkin Seed Necklace 
Making a necklace from the seeds you dig out of your pumpkin is as easy as 1, 2, 3 . . . 4, 5! 1. 
  1. Separate the seeds from the pulp and rinse them well in warm water. 
  2. Spread the seeds out on paper towels to dry completely. 
  3. When the seeds are dry, color them with felt-tip markers, leaving some uncolored if you wish.
  4. Make holes near the center of each seed, using a big needle or an awl and a block of wood.
  5. String the seeds with a large-eye needle and fine elastic, using 125 to 130 seeds for a necklace and far fewer for a matching bracelet. (Measure around your neck or wrist before cutting the elastic, allowing a little extra to tie the finishing knot.)

Tips and ideas from Old Farmer's Almanac.

Always in spirit...

Friday, October 11, 2019

#Halloween at Christmas Spirit - Cornflake Pumpkins

Cornflake Pumpkins

  • 30 large marshmallows
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp orange food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3½ cups cornflakes
  • 1 bag wilton green candy melts
  1. Place the marshmallows and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute.
  2. Stir the puffed up marshmallows and butter together until it's one big gooey mess.
  3. Add the vanilla and orange food coloring and mix well.
  4. Then, add the cornflakes.
  5. Mix until all the cornflakes are coated well.
  6. Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto a greased piece of waxed paper.
  7. Place ½ cup of the wilton candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and melt as per directions on the package.
  8. Scoop the melted candy into a ziploc bag.
  9. Cut off the tip of one corner of the ziploc bag and decorate your pumpkins with stems and leaves!
  • If you don't have orange food coloring (which I don't), mix red and yellow until you get the desired orange color
  • Instead of using the melted candy for the stems and leaves, I'm going to use the Betty Crocker decorator icing you can buy in the cake and cookie decorating section of the baking aisle at the grocery store.

Recipe and images credit

Always in spirit...