Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

German Lebkuchen

This is a fairly new recipe for my family. Even though I am German on my other grandma’s side, I just started making this a few years ago. These German Lebkuchen have become one of my family’s favorites. They’re so amazingly spicy and delicious! The recipe comes from the old series of cookbooks that my mom has had for years called, Better Homes and Gardens Creative Cooking Library, and the book is “Birthdays and Family Celebrations”. As you can see by the notes I put on the recipe, we liked it!

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This is one of those recipes you can do early in the season because the cookies are tastier the longer they sit!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

German Lebkuchen

Beat:

1 egg

Add:

3/4 cup brown sugar

Beat until fluffy.

Stir in:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup molasses

Sift together:

3 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoons allspice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Stir in:

1/2 cup mixed candied fruits and peels, diced (some of my family aren’t fond of the peels, so I just used red and green cherries this time)

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds

Chill several hours or overnight.

Roll 1/4″ thick on floured surface.

Cut into 3 1/2″ x 2″ rectangles.

Bake on greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Cool slightly before removing from pan.

While warm, spread with lemon glaze.

Cool before storing.

Lemon Glaze:

Combine:

1 slightly beaten egg white

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Dash of salt

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This isn’t a very difficult recipe, it’s just hard to mix up because it’s such a stiff dough.

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Mix the sticky mixture into the dry mixture – it’s easier to mix and not so sticky. If you try to do it the other way around, the sticky part really sticks to the bowl and it’s VERY hard to mix. I figured out to put the sticky into the dry and it made all the difference – it’s so much easier to do it that way.

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I mixed the fruit and nuts into it at the same time as you mix the sticky and dry ingredients together. The dough is so stiff, it really gets hard to stir.

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I bring the dough together and then wrap it in plastic wrap to chill.

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I found it easiest to roll out the dough, cut it into rectangles with a pizza cutter, and then lift the cookies off of my counter with a spatula to get them onto the baking sheet.

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Put the glaze on when the cookies are still warm.

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I put the cookies onto the cooling rack and then spooned on the lemon glaze.

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There it is – the german part of our Christmas celebration!

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These cookies are so spicy and delicious with the lemon glaze on them, that I feel they are almost the quintessential Christmas cookie. Start early so they have time for the flavors to meld. They make the house smell so good – you’ll know it’s time for Christmas. Make these German Lebkuchen and get ready for the holiday!

 

 

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Cherry Walnut Bars

Today’s recipe for Cherry Walnut Bars is one that Grandma started making in the 1960’s, and someone in our family has been making them ever since. My mom started making them, they became a favorite of the family, and now my sister makes them every year – they’re one of her favorites. I love them, too, but I just got away from making them. I’m glad I found this recipe again! The recipe originally comes from an old cookbook of Grandma’s called the Farm Journal’s Christmas Book, copyright 1966. She used that book a lot because there are a lot of recipes in there that have her notes on them. I love that and I’m so glad we have those notes in her handwriting!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cherry Walnut Bars

Mix together until crumbly:

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup butter, softened

Press into 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.

Blend:

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Stir into egg-sugar mixture:

1 (2 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped, reserving liquid

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Place on top of baked crust.

Return to oven and bake 25 minutes.

Cool.

Combine:

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Enough cherry liquid to make frosting spreadable.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut, if you wish.

These bars have a very tender crust, a candy-like topping, and a very cherry tasting frosting.

With a sprinkling of coconut on top, they look like they’ve just been touched with a light dusting of snow! These bars are almost more like a candy instead of a cookie or bar, so I’d cut them into a smaller size. I know you’re going to love these Cherry Walnut Bars as much as me – and my sister!

 

 

 

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Soldier’s Fudge

The recipe for today is called Soldier’s Fudge, and comes from a cookbook called “Betty Crocker’s Cooking American Style – A Sampler of Heritage Recipes”. My sister gave it to me for Christmas in 1978 and the price on the front cover is $2.95!!!!! Ha! She was a big spender back then! I love that cookbook and I’ve made many of the recipes in there over the years. This is the easiest fudge recipe on the planet, and I would assume, since it’s called Soldier’s Fudge, that it also travels well or ships well.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Soldier’s Fudge

Butter baking pan 8″ x 8″ x 2″.

Heat together in 2 quart saucepan over low heat:

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate (optional – I didn’t use it in this batch)

Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (optional – I didn’t put nuts in this batch since we have people in our family who don’t appreciate them)

Spread mixture evenly in pan.

Refrigerate until firm.

Cut into 1 inch squares.

This is seriously the EASIEST recipe for fudge. Just put it all in the pan, melt the chocolate, add the vanilla (and nuts, if you want), and stir until smooth.

I noticed that while the fudge felt firm, it was still a bit soft underneath. Make sure to give it plenty of time in the refrigerator to chill and firm up.

You can also add sprinkles and/or decorations after spreading the fudge in the pan. They really make it so festive and pretty. With so many things to get done this time of year, you really should try this incredibly easy to make, creamy, delicious Soldier’s Fudge – you’ll love it!

 

 

 

 

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Frosted Ginger Creams

The recipe for today is Frosted Ginger Creams and comes from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. It’s sounds like it’s supposed to be a bar, but this batch got higher, like cake. Regardless, the smell of these bars/cake baking will get you in the Christmas spirit – the scent of the spices and molasses – heaven!

If you’ve noticed the lack of posts again, I had another bout of pancreatitis and hospital stay the week  before Thanksgiving. Yes – I was actually on a feeding tube for Thanksgiving. My family stepped up and took on the meal duties while I seriously tried very hard not to curl up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere. That was a rough one.  Hopefully I’m finally on the road to recovery. This is taking waaaaay too long in my opinion, but Ebenezer (that’s what we’ve named my carmudgeon-ly pancreas – he does get better in the end) is really trying very hard to get better and stop giving me pain.

Anyhoo – back to posting. I realized that I haven’t shared an old photo in a while, so here’s one from my first Christmas. This was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm where we were living at the time because my dad was stationed in Turkey in the Army.

I love how they thought I wouldn’t leave the tree alone, so it was put up on a table. Obviously they forgot to put the presents up and out-of-the-way!

This is another of my new favorites! You can see the “Good” connotation again here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Frosted Ginger Creams

Cream together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

Add:

2 eggs

Beat.

Add:

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup molasses

Mix well.

Mix together:

1 cup hot coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

Add coffee/soda to first mixture alternately with:

2 cups flour

Stir in:

1 cup chopped raisins or dates

Pour into 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The batter is pretty straightforward for this one, as is the frosting.

Make sure that if you’re going to make them pretty with sprinkles, you need to put them on right away or the frosting will be too dry and they won’t stick.

Perfect with a cup of coffee!!

So festive, so pretty, so fragrant, so good!! This was another great recipe from one of those old church cookbooks! They just don’t get any better. Try these Frosted Ginger Creams, let the spices and molasses waft through your house during the baking process, and get in the Christmas spirit!

 

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Merry Christmas, 2016!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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I think I was 2 years old in this photo, and I can tell by looking at the ornaments on the tree behind me, that I still have some of them on my tree right now!

I wish you the happiest of holidays with your friends and family – and furry friends!

 

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Christmas Cookies

Christmas can be traumatic for kids, as you can see by the photo I’m sharing today. This is when I was 3 years old, and Santa made an appearance at the house. I always felt that way about Santa – scared to death!

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I’m not sure why, but that’s just how I always felt. That is sheer terror on my face! My mom doesn’t seem to be terrified. In fact, she seems to be enjoying MY terror! Ha! The really funny this was that Santa was actually my Grandpa in a Santa costume. If I had only known!

I found this recipe in Grandma’s file – it’s another clipping, maybe not from a newspaper, but from some publication. She’s written some notes on it, so I thought we’d give it a try. The actual name of these cookies is cut off, but she gives instructions for what she did to make them Christmas cookies, so that’s what we’re going to call them – Christmas Cookies. This recipe is another one that can be made a couple of months ahead and kept in the freezer for whenever you need them. I could see making a batch of these in about October and having them all ready in the freezer. As long as you’re mixing up cookie dough, you might as well mix up a batch of these for next month. They aren’t just for Christmastime, but for anytime you need a quick treat. Note the “Real Good” connotation on this one!

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From the phrase at the top of the recipe, it sounds like these maybe delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Christmas Cookies

Cream together:

1 cup shortening (I used butter)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Add:

2 cups oatmeal

With your hands, mix in:

1 cup coconut

1 cup walnuts, chopped

(For Christmas cookies add – 1 cup red and/or green maraschino cherries, chopped)

Chill slightly (I chilled the dough about 10 minutes) and roll into 2 logs about 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap tightly and freeze.

To bake:

Slice in 1/4 inch slices and bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

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I split the dough in half to make the two logs.

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I used parchment to wrap the logs, labeled them, and into the freezer they go! I love these recipes that you can make ahead and have ready whenever you need them.

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The recipe suggests using an electric knife to slice the frozen dough, but I used my serrated bread knife and it worked just fine.

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The logs sliced right through, even though they were frozen solid.

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Put the frozen slices right onto a baking sheet and bake. Easy peasy.

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The cookies come out crispy and delicious.

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There’s nothing better than cookies and milk. Nothing.

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Grandma’s note says that these cookies are “Real Good” – she was right! The cookies are delicious and festive – just what you need in a Christmas cookie. I’m keeping one of the logs for sometime in January when we’re ready for sweets again. Make a batch to use when last-minute guests come, or just in case you run out of cookies over the holidays. We can’t have that. 10-12 minutes and you’re golden – and the cookies will be, too!

 

 

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Ritz Cracker Cookies

The recipe for today is one that my mom probably got from a co-worker years ago. She worked at a bank in town, and is still friends with some of those co-workers today. I used to love going to the bank when it was time to pick her up from work. To pass the time until it was time to go home, she would usually have me help with some mundane chore like stamping her tickets with her initial stamp. Or maybe I would go check out the lunch room downstairs and watch TV until it was time to go. At Christmastime, the bank would play Christmas music and have a HUGE flocked tree in the middle of their lobby. That was not something we usually had in our home (we maybe had a flocked tree once), but it was so big and so gorgeous at the bank – I was amazed by it. I have to say, these Ritz Cracker Cookies are one of my favorites. She used to also make them with Wheat Thins crackers stacked 3 high, almost like a petite-four. They are incredibly easy to make, they’re fun and festive, and they’re absolutely delicious. And addictive, did I mention addictive? Yes, they’re very addictive.

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Yes, these are taaasty. And addictive. Did I mention addictive? I think I did.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ritz Cracker Cookies

Melt together:

1 package of chocolate almond bark

1 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4-1/2 cup paraffin wax, chipped finely

Spread creamy peanut butter between 2 Ritz Crackers and dip in chocolate mixture.

Put on waxed paper.

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I found it easiest to make the cracker sandwiches first, before melting the chocolate.

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Next, melt the chocolate almond bark, chocolate chips, and wax.

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The chocolate is shiny and ready to go.

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Put your dipped treats on waxed paper – if you put the whole works on a baking sheet, it’s easier to move them around if you need to.

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I put Christmas sprinkles on top – because it’s Christmas. You can decorate according to whatever holiday or occasion you want.

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Aren’t they beautiful?!!

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Man, I love these. Did I mention that they’re addictive?

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Try these tasty treats as part of your cookie tray – they’re a quick and easy addition to it. Just make sure to make plenty of them – they’re very addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy Fudge

The recipe for today came from my other grandma. She loved Christmas, too, and made a lot of goodies every year. She had a sister-in-law who made a lot of candy, and that’s probably where she got a lot of these Christmas candy recipes. I used to sit for hours in front of Grandma and Gramp’s big silver Christmas tree watching the color wheel change colors over and over and over again. They had blue decorations on it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would lay right down under the bottom branches and watch the glittering branches change from red to blue to green to yellow. I loved that tree. Gramp had a sweet tooth like no other, and at Christmastime he would come home with many different kinds of Christmas candy. That may be why Grandma made so many different kinds of candy at that time of year. I know that she got this recipe for Fantasy Fudge from a family member sometime in the 1970’s, and that’s how long I’ve been making it, too. This does make a big batch, which is good, cuz it doesn’t last long. Just sayin’.

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Oh man, does this bring back memories of Christmas back in the day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Fudge

Combine in heavy pan:

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz. can)

3/4 cup butter

Bring to a full boil.

Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in:

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

Stir until melted.

Add:

7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme

1 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t add nuts because not all in my family like them)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until well blended.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cool at room temperature.

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Again – pretty simple ingredients that add up to a delicious treat!

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Get the syrup boiling away.

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Add the chocolate chips.

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Mix in the vanilla and the marshmallow crème.

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Pour it into a baking pan.

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That’s it! A huge batch of fudge that will last you into the new year. Maybe.

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This is another ridiculously quick and easy recipe that makes a lot – perfect for gift giving or as part of your cookie tray. If you want this to last until into the new year, I guess I would hide some. That’s what I have to do in my family, or there just won’t be any left. If you don’t hide it, it’s just too handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

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Day 12 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Rosettes

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Today is the 12th and last day of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all of the Scandinavian treats, crafts, and fun things I’ve posted here for you! There are so many more to share – I may have to do it again next year! I’ve saved the trickiest thing for last. Today we’re tackling Rosettes. These are a fried treat that are kind of a cross between a donut and a cookie, and while they aren’t necessarily hard to do – they can be a bit tricky. When I pulled out the recipe, I had clipped an extra piece of paper to it with some “helpful hints” on it. There will be more on the “hints” as we go along. Ok – deep breath – here we go . . .

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rosettes

Beat:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 drop almond flavoring

Add:

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

Mix until smooth.

I let the batter sit about an hour before starting to fry.

Fry in hot oil (about 375 degrees) on rosette iron.

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This is another recipe with incredibly simple ingredients.

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Once you have the batter mixed smooth, let it sit about an hour. I have read that “hint” somewhere since the last time I made these, and as far as I’m concerned, the more “hints” you have to help you out with these, the better.

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Dip the iron in the hot oil first for a few seconds, then dip it into the batter – being careful NOT to dip it more than 3/4 of the way up the iron or it won’t come off. I had some trouble getting the batter to stick at first, so I held it in the batter for about 5 seconds and that worked great. One of the “helpful hints” that was on the sheet clipped to the recipe, to not hold the iron in the batter very long. This is what’s so funny about making rosettes – sometimes one thing will work and the next time you make them, it may not. It’s total trial and error from time to time. I just might not make them often enough. This was a treat that my dad made with my sister when we were growing up. It ended up being their “thing” because they had the system DOWN.

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Hold the iron with the batter on it in the hot oil until the bubbles slow down a bit – about 30-40 seconds, and if you don’t keep it under the oil, it will fall off of the iron. We had a little trouble with that a couple of times (my daughter helped me and made some of her first krumkaka – it took her awhile to get the hang of it).

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I usually have a knife handy and use the point to help get the krumkaka off of the iron and onto a paper towel to drain and cool.

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My family likes them to be dipped in sugar. Grandma did this right before serving, but we decided to try it right away AND before serving if they need more.

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It made a nice tray full. I never had such good luck making them – especially the star ones – it must have been help from the ancestors!

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Rosettes are the quintessential Scandinavian thing, as far as my family is concerned, and it was the perfect way to end the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas! I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have during the last 12 days! Thank you so much for reading and following along on this journey!

God Jul!

 

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Day 11 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Ice Lantern

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We are at Day 11 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas, and today we’re making Ice Lanterns. You can do these several different ways, but I made this one by freezing it in an old tin mold. You can also freeze water in a balloon (don’t forget to tie the balloon shut so you don’t lose the water out of it) and freeze it halfway so there is a hole left in the middle – that’s where you put the candle. Be careful – if you let it freeze too much, you won’t have the hole to put the candle in. Not that I have any experience with that or anything. Freezing it in the mold is really fun and pretty foolproof, so let’s get started!

Here is the lantern as I made it:

Ice Lantern

Find a mold that you want to make into a lantern – I have used a bundt pan and a tube pan in the past. You can also use containers of two difference sizes, using the smaller one to make the center hole where you’d put the candle.,,,

Decide what festive decorations or ornaments you want in it – you can leave it just plain clear water if you want to, but I tend to want to make it more festive looking with bits of evergreen and fresh cranberries. You could add any decoration that won’t be destroyed by the freezing process.

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I start by putting the greens and berries in the bottom of the mold.

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Then I put just enough water to cover the greens and berries and set it out on our deck (if it’s cold enough) or into the freezer to freeze. If you fill it with water, the goodies will float to the top, therefore being on the BOTTOM of the mold instead of the TOP of it where they show up better and are pretty when you add the candle’s glow. Once that part is frozen, fill the mold with water as full as you want it and freeze until it’s firm.

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I put the frozen lantern out on our deck. It seemed like it might not show up very well, so I initially put it on a white plate, but I liked it better without the plate.

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They glow so nicely when you add the candle. I have lined our front steps and driveway with these over the years. It’s so much fun to do when you have guests coming over for the evening.

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You can see the evergreen branches and fresh cranberries showing through the ice. The glow of the candle shining through these ice lanterns is so special and welcoming. It isn’t just a Christmas thing – these would be great to do for any gathering all throughout the winter. This reminds me so much of our trip to Sweden and Norway where there were candles everywhere. I think it’s a very Scandinavian thing to do!

 

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