Archive for November, 2010

November 23rd, 2010

Bread Pudding With Praline Sauce

Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce from Operation Letters to SantaThis delicious and easy bread pudding recipe is perfect for the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays as it brings everyone into the kitchen, warm with the smell of cinnamon and vanilla fresh from the oven. This is a very large recipe and will feed quite a crowd!


Ingredients for Bread Pudding

  • 8 loaves stale French bread, broken into large chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 cups milk
  • 6 ounces butter
  • 7 ounces crushed pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using the 1/2 tablespoon butter, lightly grease a 13×9 pan
  • In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and cinnamon.
  • In a medium pot on medium heat, combine the milk, remaining butter, pineapple and vanilla. Once butter has melted, remove pot from heat.
  • Whisk the milk mixture and the egg mixture together, adding a big of the milk mixture at a time so as to not scramble the eggs.
  • Pour the mixture over the bread and let soak for 30 minutes.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Ingredients for Praline Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 quart heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1/2 box brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped


  • Combine butter and sugar into a medium pot and cook on low heat until the sugar is melted.
  • Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
  • Whisk in the rum and add pecans. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  • Pour over warm bread pudding.

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November 21st, 2010

Homemade Thanksgiving Dog Treats

Tasty Turkey Treats

Doggie Thanksgiving TreatsMake the Thanksgiving holiday special for your fur-family with these tasty turkey treats. These healthy snacks will put the woof in their holiday feast.



  • 2 pounds ground tureky
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 8 ounces peas
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and combine well by hand.
  3. On baking sheet, form mixture into the shame of a large dog bone.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes
  5. Let cool and serve to your four-legged best friends!


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November 20th, 2010

Gobble, Gobble Cookies

Gooble Gobble CookiesThis Thanksgiving, keep your little turkeys busy creating easy-to-make cookies that you can enjoy after the big feast is done. This family kitchen activity is fun, easy and delicious.


  • 1 roll (16.5 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 1 container (16 ounces) white frosting
  • 1 container orange sprinkles
  • 1 bag of Candy Corn
  • 1 tube black decorating gel


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cute cookie dough with a turkey-shaped holiday cookie cutter
  3. Bake cookies as directed on the packaging and let cool completely, about 20 minutes
  4. Cover the cookies in the white frosting and shake orange sprinkles on the frosting
  5. Place candy corn around the edges of the tail to create the feathers
  6. Squeeze black gel for the eye
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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November 18th, 2010

A Day of Thanksgiving Video

About this day of Thanksgiving…

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be the next-to-last Thursday of November rather than the last. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought this would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would aid bringing the country out of the Depression. At the time, it was considered inappropriate to advertise goods for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

However, Roosevelt’s declaration was not mandatory; twenty-three states went along with this recommendation, and 22 did not. Other states, like Texas, could not decide and took both weeks as government holidays. Roosevelt persisted in 1940 to celebrate his “Franksgiving,” as it was termed. The U.S. Congress in 1941 split the difference and established that the Thanksgiving would occur annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes the next to last. On November 26 that year President Roosevelt signed this bill into U.S. law.

Since 1947, or possibly earlier, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys. The live turkey is pardoned and lives out the rest of its days on a peaceful farm. While it is commonly held that this tradition began with Harry Truman in 1947, the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence for this. Still others claim that that the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son’s pet turkey. Both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches.

In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning. Since 2003 the public has been invited to vote for the two turkeys’ names and the event has been updated in recent years to include a bird-naming contest, with votes cast on the White House Web site.

Since 1970, a group of Native Americans and others have held a controversial National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving Fun

Be sure to visit Operation Letters to Santa’s Thanksgiving section where you will find all kinds of wonderful things to keep you busy and entertained during the month of November. Be sure to visit our Halloween desktop wallpaper section where you can download vintage FREE Autumn and Thanksgiving desktop wallpapers for your computer every day!

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November 17th, 2010

Free Thanksgiving Desktop Wallpapers

These beautiful and FREE desktop wallpapers are our gift to you.  Here is how you do it:

Choose your favorite wallpaper: Right click on the thumbnail image of the wallpaper you want to use and “Save Picture As”. Then simply locate the image in your picture folder and set it as your background.  

To save all of the wallpapers: Just click on the “Download All” button, save the zip file to your machine and change your Autumn and Thanksgiving wallpaper every day if you like.

For more Autumn and Christmas desktop wallpapers please visit Operation Letters To Santa today.


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November 16th, 2010

Deep South Sweet Potato Pie

Table of contents for Holiday Pie and Cake Recipes

  1. Deep South Sweet Potato Pie
  2. Southern Pecan Pie
  3. Orange and Pecan Cake
  4. 5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Coffee Cup

In most households, food is always at the heart of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. During the winter holidays sweet deserts figure prominently in our meals and gatherings. These recipes are created from fresh local ingredients typically found in the Deep South – sweet potatoes, pecans, oranges and Satsuma’s which are plentiful now.

This Sweet Potato Pie recipe is a wonderful Southern desert which can be doctored up with cinnamon and other spices to closely resemble Pumpkin Pie. However this pie is flavored only with cane syrup and vanilla which preserves the taste of the sweet potato.

This pie is easy to make and isn’t very time intensive.  I have included a recipe for pie crust but if you are pressed for time, or just don’t trust your pie-crust-making chops, you can always substitute a store-bought pie shell.

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

2 cups baked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes

3 eggs, separated (Note:  you can simplify this recipe by not separating the eggs, but it is not recommended. The pie will be much lighter and fluffier if the egg whites are whipped and folded into the filling.)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Steen’s cane syrup

2 pinches salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 unbaked pie crust

Whipped cream (The real stuff — not frozen dairy topping)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place an inverted, heavy-duty baking sheet on a shelf in the lower third of the oven. This will ensure that your pie produces an evenly brown crust.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat mashed sweet potatoes and egg yolks. Cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Add cane syrup, salt and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into sweet potato mixture.
  6. Turn mixture into unbaked pie shell and smooth out the surface with a rubber spatula.
  7. Place pie on inverted baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake until pie is set in the middle, about 30 minutes.
  9. Cool and serve with fresh whipping cream. You can also garnish by adding a few pecans on top of the whipping cream. Delicious!

 Pie Crust

This pie crust recipe is made light and flaky by the addition of White Lily flour, which is made from soft winter wheat. The rising agents in the flour also help produce a brown bottom crust which is quite difficult to do. As the crust rises, it pushes up against the pie filling, which presses it back against the pan and promotes browning.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup White Lily self-rising flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound very cold butter (not margarine)

3 tablespoons ice-cold water


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flours and salt. Pulse 3 times to mix.
  2. Cut butter into 8 tablespoon size pieces, then quarter each piece.
  3. Add to bowl of food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
  4. Add water and pulse just to combine.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.
  6. Place ball between 2 sheets of wax paper and press into a disc about 5 inches in diameter.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. Roll out dough, positon in pie plate, trim and crimp edges as desired.

Yield: Makes one pie crust

Whipped Cream

1/2 pint very heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar. You can also use granulated sugar if necessary.

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Combine whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until cream forms soft peaks.
  2. Refrigerate in tightly covered bowl.

Yield: Makes about 2 cups. 

Operation Letters To Santa

Please visit Operation Letters To Santa for almost 1000 pages of Winter Holiday and Christmas family traditions, recipes, games, crafts, Christmas sheet music, Christmas carols, tales and so much more!

For beautifully nostalgic and vintage FREE desktop wallpapers for the autumn holidays please click here.

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November 14th, 2010

Television Ads Overly Influence Christmas Shopping Lists

The True Meaning of Christmas Anyone you ask would agree that Christmas has grown more commercial by the year. You can’t walk into most retail stores after September without seeing Halloween items stacked side-by-side with Christmas decorations and toys. For businesses, it is the biggest money spending time of the fourth quarter. To make sure that people buy, buy, buy, companies advertise on television. Advertising is well and good, but is it changing the way our children view Christmas?

In the early days of the Christmas celebration, gifts were given but mostly to children. The tradition of hanging stockings comes from the Dutch tradition of putting their shoes near the hearth where Father Christmas would fill them with nuts and sweet treats. In poor times, children were anxious to check their shoes on Christmas morning.

Through the years, gifts grew to include the exchange of food gifts and toys. But, these were not the robots with flashing eyes or the cars that jump over hungry sharks and fire-breathing dragons to reach the other side of the track. They were wooden toys created by fathers who were good with their hands and for whom the making of the gift was a labor of love and pride. The wooden toys were sturdy and withstood all the abuse that children could dish out during a wild time at play. They also stood the test of time and oftentimes were handed down through the generations.

As the world moved into the age of radio, On Christmas, families gathered around the radio for Christmas tales and carols that commemorated the season. There were a few advertisements on the radio but it was early days for that kind of thing.  With the advent of television, there was more cause for advertising to pay for air time.

Over the years advertising has grown. It sees the most growth around the holidays. Everything from the latest toys to travel destinations to games fills the airways from October to late December. Advertisements feature children with the latest toys, video games that do all sorts of tricks, and anything else manufacturers want parents to buy for Christmas.

How are our children being affected by the onslaught of advertising? Well, you already know that! On the day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday”, parents and grandparents line up outside of department and toy stores at 4 a.m. (or even earlier) to await the store opening to get the hottest deals on the season’s biggest toys. They fight and claw their way to the toy section pushing giant metal monsters on wheels. Physical fighting among adults for toys has even been captured on the evening news.

Why are parents acting like children? Because their children have seen the television commercials and want that toy or electronic wonder gadget, that’s why. What’s a parent to do?

It’s time to rewind. Go back to the true meaning of Christmas and start again. The theme of the season is giving unto others and not hoarding for ourselves. It is great to receive Christmas gifts but if your child is crying for every toy that has been touted as “must have” there could be a problem forming.

Let’s face it. Economic times are tough right now. This is a good opportunity to sit down with your children and discuss what Christmas is really all about. Love and giving are first and gifts are secondary. In these very difficult economic times, remembering the true meaning of Christmas will serve our families and our wallets well.

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