Winter Weight Woes…and a couple of recipes

Every Christmas I buy a box of chocolate covered cherries because my dad loved them.  And one night in December, as I sat here, munching one the one earmarked for that day, and eying the low fat Pringles sitting on my desk, I pondered the whole winter weight gain thing many of us struggle with.

Be nice if we could all ‘suck it in’ that well, wouldn’t it?

And I realized that one, those of us living in colder climates are less active than we are during the miserable…I mean warmer summer months.  But we also have to contend with four major, and four lesser holidays between the end of November and mid-April.  Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, New Years Eve/Day, Easter, and Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Days.

What do all of these holidays have in common?  Food and drink.

Yup.  Each and every one of these celebrations center around foods and beverages we consider special.  Pies, stuffing, cookies, candies, fudge, egg nog and, for those who like it, green beer and corned beef and cabbage.

While looking for an interesting video about a holiday food or drink, an option came up for how to make an Irish car bomb.  I thought this one was the better choice…

Christmas Eve my sister made what has become her traditional chicken and dumplings, while my mother contributed her traditional pecan pie and I brought my traditional cake (recipe to follow), along with a big plate of cheese and almost two full boxes of crackers (I kept out one sleeve each just because there was more cheese in my refrigerator crying out for them).

New Years Eve followed one week later with the kids favorite, ‘bean dip,’ which is actually based around ground beef, but that’s what we’ve called it for years (recipe also to follow).  I usually break out the bread machine, every year, to make pizza dough for homemade pizza and bread sticks.  Having parents who owned a pizza parlor has really helped me to turn out some really good pies. However, I didn’t feel like doing that.  Instead, I went to a Trivial Pursuit party – with a wider variety of snacks.

My point is, we all have our own traditions…and each one of them involve more calories, and less opportunity to burn them off, than normal.  Is it any wonder we have trouble not gaining a few pounds every winter?

Did that stop me from making all of this stuff, and more, over the holidays?  Nope.  That’s why it’s called tradition.  I do it ever year.  If I didn’t, there would probably be a picket line in front of my house.

So here’s the calorie laden recipe for what I call ‘The Cherry-Whipped Cream-Cake-With-Vanilla-Pudding.’  And it’s not exactly a recipe.  You follow the direction on the boxes, then put it together in this order…

1 Pillsbury white cake mix (it’s the best kind)

1 large box Jello vanilla pudding (the cooked variety)
1-2 pints whipping cream, sweetened to taste, beaten until thick (it’s better with more, and I don’t know why everything is coming out in italics but it suddenly turned on and I can’t it to turn it off)
1 can cherry pie filling
Bake cake according to package directions, in 2 round cake pans.  Let cool and carefully cut each cake in half so you have four layers.  Spread 1/3 of the cooked, cooled pudding on each of the first three layers.  Finally, put top layer on, frost whole cake with whipping cream and pour pie filling over the top.
Refrigerate until ready to serve…then put leftovers back in the fridge. 
Let me tell you, this cake is delicious!  And it’s even better the next day after all of the flavors have more time to blend.  I will only make it once a year because it’s one of those things that’s too good to have more often.
Now for the Bean Dip
Brown 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck.  Drain.  Add a 16 oz jar of your favorite salsa (we use hot), 1 large can (maybe 28 oz) fat free refried beans and about 3 cups shredded cheddar.  Mix well.  Spread in baking pan.  Top with however much shredded cheddar you want.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted, maybe 20 minutes.  I never look because my son keeps checking.  He likes it better than anyone else does so he’s my timer.  Serve with tortilla chips.  Also makes a nice taco on corn tortillas.
***Please note that neither recipe will help to avoid winter weight gain…
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