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I spend a lot of time reflecting this time of year.
When I was a child, Christmas was a very big affair.
With very few exceptions, we spent the holidays with my Grandparents. They lived in a small town where many of my Grandmother’s five siblings also lived. Those who didn’t live nearby typically traveled, like we did.
This meant a near revolving door of visitors and a small house packed with people. At times, I’m sure it felt overwhelming to some of the adults – especially those who married into the family – but as a child it just felt like the way things were supposed to be. The excitement of the season was as much wound up in getting to spend time with cousins, aunts and uncles as it was around gifts.
I loved Christmas morning, but Christmas Eve was also special. The adults exchanged their gifts and the children each got one present. There were also usually new PJs for the kids.
Afterwards, there was dessert and the adults lingered over coffee. (I know now that the coffee was likely necessary to get through the inevitable night of building ahead.)
My children will never know that kind of big Christmas.
The reality is that how we celebrate holidays has changed. With family spread across the country, the biggest Christmas my children have ever known has been when my parents are with us.
In many ways, this makes me sad, yet I love the way our family has allowed family traditions to evolve in a way that works for us. Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned that it is up to me to make things special.
Little things go a long way to do this. New PJs for the kids, great holiday music and ornaments that remind us of our travels.
As it was years ago, being together is what matters.
This year, it is just going to be the five of us for the holidays. We will still have a special Christmas Eve, but the meal won’t be a traditional one that I spend weeks planning and preparing for. The “traditional” trimmings don’t make sense when the kids don’t eat them and truth be told I don’t love them. Instead, we will have something that the whole family loves.
What we will still have a special evening with adult presents exchanged and also one for the kids. There will be new PJs for the kids and of course coffee and dessert. For the holidays, I always love the Starbucks Holiday Blend. Now that they are older, the boys love celebrating with Hot Cocoa. Starbucks Hot Cocoa in Salted Caramel is a favorite!
Hubby and I have been Starbucks drinkers since we began dating. One tradition that is unique to our family is that every year we pick out new coffee mugs around the holidays. Sometimes they are holiday mugs, but not always.
We then drink out of matching mugs all year long. It is fun to look back on our collection – which in ways reminds me of all the ornaments we’ve collected over the years.
So many memories there!
Morning Starbucks time has always been sacred in our house. Even when we worked outside the home, we always took a few moments to connect before the busy day.
Having a smaller celebration also means I’ve changed the way I plan desserts. I love making things ahead that I can freeze in smaller portions so that we have exactly what we need.
These Gluten Free Walnut Pear Coffee Cake Muffins are more cake than muffin. They are just the kind of thing I remember my mother and grandmother serving, only in a smaller form. Sweet enough for dessert and perfect for a holiday brunch, these muffins are something special. I love them because whether you are serving five people or fifty, you can make them ahead and have them ready when you need them.
They are so easy to make! All you do is pulse the crumble topping ingredients in your food processor and mix together the batter ingredients. Layer them as shown and bake. It really doesn’t get any easier!
Of course, Coffee Cake isn’t complete if you don’t serve it with coffee! Right now, you can get a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift when you purchase 3 or more qualifying Starbucks products.
How have your family holiday traditions changed over the years? How is Starbucks part of your holiday traditions?
- 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (with xanthan gum)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup butter
- 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 pear, peeled and diced
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl beat together coconut palm sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and then add sour cream, water, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Stir in pear.
- Let batter rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan.
- While the batter is resting, make the topping by combining the walnuts, cinnamon, and butter in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly.
- Spoon half the batter into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with 1/3 of the walnut mixture. Top with the remaining batter and the remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 28-32 minutes, until brown and a toothpick, comes out clean.