Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Kendra Huckabee)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

I love the holiday season! When September rolls around I am filled with great anticipation for fall weather, college football, and lots of food and family time. My family has never necessarily been traditional; I don’t think we’ve ever celebrated a holiday the same way twice, for that matter.

But I believe my love for this time of year stems from the heart of gratitude instilled in me by my parents from a young age. My parents always looked for ways to teach us the heart behind being thankful at Thanksgiving and remembering Jesus at Christmas time. So much so that we never believed in Santa!

That being said, one of my favorite holiday memories involved the entire family foregoing Christmas presents and simply writing each family member a letter. It gave us all a chance to express our love and gratitude for each person in such a special way. We were able to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to giving and receiving love in a way material possessions can’t convey. Even as a teenager, I knew that while presents were great, taking the time to value my parents and brothers through my thoughts and words was important.

To this day, I still have those letters and treasure being able to look back on those words of love and encouragement. I pray that now, as a parent myself, I can teach my own children the value of gratitude, and provide opportunities during these holiday seasons for them to learn to express that thankfulness to those around them.

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Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

So easy and so delicious! A family favorite that even my two littles will eat!!

Ingredients:
1lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cans (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
1-2 cans chicken broth (depending on the consistency you like)
1 medium diced onion
1 large sliced carrot
3/4 bag frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 can large flaky biscuits (or more if you prefer!)

Directions:
Place thawed chicken in crockpot and top with butter, cream of chicken soup, broth, onion, carrot and salt/pepper.
Cook on high for 4hrs or low for 6-8.
Remove chicken, shred and return to crockpot.
Cut each biscuit into 9 small pieces, place in crockpot along with frozen peas.
Stir and cook on high for about 30 more minutes.
Enjoy!!

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Kendra Huckabee attends the Lubbock campus and serves in the college and youth ministry.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Julie Snellgrove)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Like most children, my favorite childhood memories are those of Christmas.  It seems like the world slows down for a few days and family gathers, and memories are made.  My grandmother made the BEST divinity and fudge.  I don’t know how she did it, but it would melt in your mouth.  Old Grandma, (which became her beloved name after Joshua was born) went to her heavenly home this year, so hopefully my mom will perfect the divinity and fudge this Christmas. J

My prayer for each of us as the holidays approach is that we will love and embrace the season.  That we will enjoy the laughter in our homes, the memories being made, and the incredible Gift of Christ our Lord!

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Old Grandma’s Divinity

2 ½ cups sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 or 2 drops food coloring (optional)
½ cup chopped candied fruit or nuts (grandma always put in walnuts)

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan mix sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat to boiling. Clip candy thermometer to pan. Cook over medium heat, without stirring to 260 degrees, hard-ball stage (10 to 15 minutes). Remove from heat. Remove candy thermometer.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a sturdy, freestanding electric mixer on medium speed till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gradually pour hot mixture in a thin stream over whites, beating on high about 3 minutes; scrape bowl. Add vanilla and, if desired, food coloring. Continue beating on high just till candy starts to lose its gloss. When beaters are lifted, mixture should fall in a ribbon that mounds on itself. This final beating should take 5 to 6 minutes.

Drop a spoonful of candy mixture onto waxed paper. If it stays mounded, the mixture has been beaten sufficiently. Immediately stir in fruit or nuts. Quickly drop remaining mixture from a teaspoon onto waxed paper. If mixture flattens out, beat ½ to 1 minute more; check again. If mixture is too stiff to spoon beat in a few drops hot water till candy is a softer consistency. Store tightly covered. Makes about 40 pieces.

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Julie Snellgrove is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the three campuses of Harvest Christian Fellowship and wife of Brad, who is the Executive Pastor for HCF. Julie is a gifted teacher of God’s Word and she loves that God is using her to minister to the hearts of women.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jodi LaFrance)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Some of my favorite holiday memories are of my family going to my dad’s hometown of Montell, Texas, over Thanksgiving. I remember the smell of the perpetual campfire that burned under the ancient oaks whose limbs stretched long and high overhead. We’d wrap ourselves in blankets as we sat in metal chairs around the fire and stare up into the sky. Those huge ancient live oaks growing around the house my dad grew up in in south Texas always fascinated me. Dad said those oaks were already growing when Santa Ana was a private (That’s Texas-speak for “they’re really old”).

South Texas hardly ever sees snow, so during the fall and winter holidays my brother, sister, cousins and I would run down the hill behind my grandparents’ house and play by Montell Creek. We were free to roam just about anywhere. Countless hours were spent down there watching the clearest, cleanest water I’d ever seen run over fallen limbs and river rock. We were pirates, cops and robbers, river royalty, and a host of other amazing characters as we delved into the depths of our imaginations.

Our parents had a special yell to call us up to the house again. I remember big breakfasts, simple lunches and big family dinners. Neighbors forever stopped by to drink sweet tea with my grandparents. I don’t think I understood until much, much later how connected they were with their community. They loved their neighbors and their neighbors loved them. Holidays were full of feasting and friends.

My grandfather Papa Tom had cattle so we’d go check on the cows after breakfast. I never could understand how he didn’t get lost driving through the cedar-infested pastures of their part of Uvalde County. One cow path looked the same as the next, but not to Papa Tom. He knew that land like the back of his hand. My grandparents worked hard all their lives and I will be forever grateful for their influence on my life.

My grandfather passed away in 1992 and my grandmother’s health declined greatly over the years afterward. We lost her in 2012. But all throughout those years my aunts Liz, Rebecca and Alice did the lion’s share of meal planning for these big family gatherings. As my sister and I grew up, we were inducted into the rhythms of kitchen life. It was there that we really started to hear the details of what we’d been missing in each other’s lives. It was during one of these times that my aunt Rebecca Jane got me to help her make this crazy recipe for Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup we were all quite unsure of.

Turns out it was a big hit and has since become one of my husband’s favorite fall/winter soups. The recipe credit goes to Cynthia Collins Pedregon and can be found in The Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook. I’d like to share it with you.

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Jalapeño Sweet Potato Soup

3 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 cups chicken broth
¼ cup pickled jalapeños, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons jalapeño juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cilantro leaves
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

  1. In large stock pot, sauté bacon and onion in butter until just tender. Add garlic and cook about two more minutes.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, chicken broth, pickled jalapeños, jalapeño juice and cumin. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. When done, add soda, cilantro and milk. Coarsely mash potatoes with a potato masher.
  4. Stir well and taste for salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring frequently.

Makes 14 cups.

Garnish with sour cream and 3-4 jalapeños, cut in thin lengthwise strips-pepitas are good, too!

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Jodi LaFrance and her family came to Harvest in 2008 and says she’s “dug in like a turnip.” She currently serves as a worship leader and life group leader at the Plainview Campus.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Shelli Jarvis)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

One of my favorite holiday memories actually comes from my first year of marriage.  Lyle and I were living in Budapest, Hungary. As missionaries, we were keenly aware of the generosity of believers stateside who made our life possible, and so it was important to spend that money wisely. We wanted what little Christmas budget we had to give gifts to our families stateside (and the postage to get the gifts there!).  We debated over purchasing a tree, but real trees were relatively cheap, and since we were spending Christmas without family, we splurged for the tree, hauled it up the five flights of stairs (no elevator!) and set it up.

Then came the dilemma: what to put on it?  Some generous Hungarian church members had given us a few Christmas ornaments they’d decorated themselves. I think we had 5 of those. Our tree, though green and fragrant, looked slightly bare with only 5 ornaments. But we got creative.  Some thoughtful American soul had sent us popcorn. Now this wasn’t the Orville Redenbacher pop-in-the-microwave kind, and we didn’t have a microwave anyway. This was your 1960’s Jiffy Pop over-the-stove-flame popcorn, the kind with the metal handle that forms a ring around the pan (Some of you are too young to know what this is but Google it. It’s still available at Walmart, even).

So we strung that popcorn, and Lyle, his creative juices REALLY flowing, took the metal ring/handle and fashioned it into a star. We covered it in aluminum foil and voila! We had a beautiful topper for our tree. We were pretty proud of our work, but the best part came on Christmas morning.  We had each budgeted $5 to spend on the other, which was a lot of money for us back in 1992 (Now, if you know the story The Gift of the Magi, ours may sound vaguely familiar, but there were no pocketwatch chains or hair combs involved)! He got me a beautiful pair of blue enameled earrings, and I found him a novel in English (a rare treasure in those days).

We have spent 24 Christmases together since then, all with a larger budget. We’ve accumulated many ornaments and decorations and had beautiful trees, presents piled high underneath many years. But when I think of a Christmas where we truly experienced “peace on earth,” I think of that year when Jesus had blessed us through the sacrifices of others first so we, too, could give.

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Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 10 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers and/or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine and pour into pan. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture, followed by graham crackers and/or nuts. Pour melted butter evenly on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned. Serve warm.

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Shelli Jarvis is wife to Life Group Pastor Lyle and a willing volunteer at the HCF Amarillo Campus.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jill Moudy)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

One of my favorite holiday memories is of our family loading up with my aunt, uncle, cousins and sometimes even grandparents every November to trek into the forest to cut down our Christmas tree. We lived in Grants, New Mexico, and the beautiful Cibola National Forest was practically in our backyard.

Usually there was snow on the ground, and we’d take a metal thermos of hot chocolate with styrofoam cups and bundle in our winter clothes to find that perfect Christmas tree. Although the tree looked glorious in the mountains, usually when we got it home, it was actually much bigger than we thought–one side was flat, and the limbs and needles were so fresh and soft that the ornaments would slide right off. But it was beautiful, it was ours, and we had picked it out together.

Now that I’m a “grown-up,” I realize it would have been much easier to go buy a pre-lit artificial tree with a snap-in stand, bendable branches–without the never-ending-dead-pine-needle-clean-up.  Instead, my parents valued doing something together in nature, as a family, and it stands out in this little girl’s mind 30+ years later. Although there are no mountains in our backyard in Plainview, our family still enjoys buying a live tree to keep the tradition alive! 😉

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Christmas Morning Casserole

1- 24 oz package frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed

Press thawed hashbrowns into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour 1/3 cup melted butter over potatoes. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until brown.

When cool, add to dish:
4 oz shredded  Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz shredded hot pepper jack cheese
One cup cubed ham
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms – optional
(I usually make the recipe to this point and put in the refrigerator overnight, then add the egg topping on Christmas morning and bake to save time)

Blend in blender:
3/4 cups half and half
3 eggs (you can add more eggs)
3/4 t. Seasoning salt

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Goes great with a cinnamon roll and coffee on Christmas morning!

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Jill Moudy is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the Plainview Campus and wife of Gabe, who is the Executive Administrative Pastor for HCF.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Brooke Kellum)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

The holiday season.  It’s a season full of activities, family, friends and memories.  And, of course, yummy food. 🙂 While I have many wonderful memories from growing up, one Christmas stands out above the others.  When I was in college, my family decided to go on a ski trip together instead of doing gifts.  Now, it should be said that I LOVE to ski.  I’m there early, and time it appropriately so that I can catch the last lift up to the longest run in order to maximize my time.  On top of that, lunch is normally a protein bar, because I don’t even have time to waste eating.

My family made many memories on the ski slopes that year, but some of the even more precious memories that we made were off the ski slopes.  We didn’t know anyone in the area, so we were just with each other for days on end.  We played Rock Band, watched movies and plenty of football, cooked all of our meals together, and even went sledding together on a small hill outside of the home we were staying in. Then, on the way home, there was a massive snow storm that had all kinds of roads closed, so we had to backtrack, and traveling home took an extra day.

Needless to say all this time in the car afforded us more time to make even more memories—although at the time, we didn’t feel like they were happy memories. This also happened to be the last Christmas we had together before fiancés and husbands were added to the family.  It was the last Christmas that was just myself, my parents and my sisters.  I will remember this Christmas trip forever, and I will always treasure the bonds that we built as adults and friends on this trip.  The memories will last much longer than any gift that could have been given that year. Now that I have children of my own, I try to remember that during the holiday season.

We do gifts for our small children, but we also have traditions, and we try to give them experiences, so that long after the toy breaks, or the book is torn up, or the movie is no longer interesting, they have the memories of growing up and enjoying Christmas with their siblings.  I want my kids to have something to hold on to, something to remember when the holiday seasons aren’t easy, or when they are grown with families of their own.

One thing that we like to do together is to make gifts for our friends at Christmas time.  This also happens to be one of my favorite recipes—because it is so easy and absolutely delicious.  Make memories with your family this Christmas. You won’t regret it.

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Crockpot Christmas Candy

1 lb. dry roasted salted peanuts
1 lb. dry roasted unsalted peanuts
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz. German’s sweet chocolate
2.5 lbs. white chocolate almond bark

*I like to add one bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips, but this is completely optional*

Layer all ingredients in the crock pot with the peanuts on the bottom.  Cook on low for 1 hour and then stir.  Continue cooking until completely melted.  When the mixture is completely melted, stir and then spoon onto a cookie sheet (covered in parchment paper), or into mini muffin cups.  You can leave them out to harden at room temperature, or freeze them.  Either way is delicious!

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Brooke Kellum is the Director of Special Events (Kid City Summer Camp, Catalyst Camp, Men’s Retreat, Women’s Conference, etc.) for Central Ministries.  She also volunteers in Kid City and with the Catalyst youth ministry in Plainview.

My Favorite Christmas Memory (and Chicken Pot Pie)

christmas-1Christmas memories can be some of the best memories. This is the time of year to make those memories great. My favorite Christmas memory was the first year we celebrated Christmas with our children, Shelby and Paxton, in 2011. The entire Christmas season was special. As I look back at pictures from that year I think about all the fun activities we did as a family.  I remember it like it was yesterday; I can hear the Christmas music playing in the background as we decorated the Christmas tree the week of Thanksgiving. Shelby and Paxton adding to the tree their ornaments they chose that year. Shelby attaching the pink princess crown to the first branch she sees at eye level. Paxton on his tiptoes fastening his army tank to the highest branch he can grasp.

Later that season we are baking and decorating cookies with frosting and candy. Their faces light up as they realize they get to eat the sugary treats with their favorite winter drink. We snap pictures of our children in front of the Christmas tree and in front of the fireplace; all we see are grins from ear to ear. We are making memories that will forever stay with them.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and it is Christmas day!!!! We all anxiously awaited Christmas day and it was finally here. On Christmas morning, Shelby and Paxton wake up early. My husband and I head to living room first, camera in hand. Our children sprint into the living room, their facial expressions at that moment—priceless. I am overjoyed watching them and their little hearts full of anticipation. As I sit and watch the paper flying from presents being opened; I realize how good God is and how He has continually blessed us.

This Christmas season take time to make some unforgettable memories with your family.

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Deep-Dish Chicken Pot Pie—Kraft Recipe
One of my favorite recipes for this time of year is chicken pot pie. It is perfect for dinner during this cool fall weather.

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces.
¼ cup Kraft Lite Zesty Italian Dressing
4oz. Philadelphia Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans), thawed, drained (I used can vegetables)
1 ready to use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of 14.1 oz. pkg)

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook Chicken in dressing in large skillet on medium heat 2 minutes. Add Neufchatel (cream cheese); cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until melted. Stir in flour until blended. Add broth and vegetables, stir. Simmer 5 minutes.

Pour into 10 inch deep dish pie plate, cover with pie crust. Seal and flute edge. Cut slits in to permit steam to escape.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!!!

This post was written by Rachel Ramirez. To read more about her, click here