Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Christmas menu!

I'm hosting Christmas dinner this year for my family and my parents, about 10 people. Not a huge gathering but I'm sure we'll have plenty!

Here's the plan for the menu:


Smoked Salmon Dip with crackers (given to me by a friend, I've not made this yet)
  • 8 oz. soft cream cheese with chives
  • smoked salmon (we purchased a 4 oz. pkg)
  • Old Bay seasoning to taste
Mix, adding enough salmon and seasoning to taste. Serve with crackers.

Party Cheese Ball with crackers
  • 2 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. finely diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped pimento
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together. Form into a ball or press into a small serving dish. The ball can be rolled in finely chopped nuts or parsley if desired.

Ranch Dip with raw veggies
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp. dry ranch dressing mix (I posted a recipe for a homemade version of this much earlier in the blog)
  • Raw veggies: baby carrots, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, broccoli flowerets, cauliflowerets, green pepper strips, etc.
Mix sour cream and enough dry ranch dressing mix to taste. Serve with veggies

Main Meal:

Ham with Orange Honey Glaze
  1. Trim skin and excess fat from ham, leaving about 1/4 inch covering of fat over ham. Insert cloves into fat side of ham; place in roasting pan, fat side up.
  2. Combine orange juice, wine and orange rind; set 1/2 cup aside and pour remaining mixture over ham. Set roasting pan on top of stove and bring liquid to boil, then place in 325°F oven for 1 1/2 hours, basting occasionally.
  3. Combine reserved liquid, honey, ginger and mustard; stir until smooth. Pour over ham and bake for 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Makes about 12 servings.

Cheesy Potatoes
  • 2 lb. bag frozen Southern style hash brown potatoes
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pt. sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped onion, sauteed in 1/2 c. margarine
  • 1 c. crushed potato chips, optional
Combine hash browns, 2/3 c. cheese, sour cream, soup and onion. Mix well. Spread in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Combine remaining cheese with crushed potato chips and sprinkle over the potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Green Bean Casserole - from the French's French Fried Onions can
  • 4 cups (32 oz.) regular cut green beans, cooked
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 2.8 oz. can french fried onions, divided
In 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish mix soup, milk, pepper and 2/3 c. (1/2 can) french fried onions. Stir in beans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Top with rest of french fried onions and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Carrot Pineapple Salad
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 2 pkg. orange flavored gelatin
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 c. shredded carrots
Pour boiling water on gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in cold water, salt and pineapple. Refrigerate until slightly thickened. Stir in carrots. Pour into a 6 cup mold or individual molds. Refrigerate until firm; unmold.

My grandmother would make this and leave it in the bowl, but top it with Miracle Whip dressing thinned with milk and sweetened a bit with sugar.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Pie (from All You magazine, November 20, 2009 edition)
  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg plus yolk from one large egg, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp. sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. whole berry cranberry sauce, pureed and strained (about 5 Tbsp. after straining)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and yolk and beat until incorporated. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl and stir until combined. Scrape half of filling into prepared crust. Dollop half of cranberry puree on top of filling. Top with remaining filling and then remaining puree. Use a knife to swirl puree through filling, creating a marbled design, taking care not to drab crumbs from the crust into filling. Place pie on baking sheet and bake until set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in center, about 35 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely, then loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

  1. Beat cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk and the sugar in a large bowl with wire whisk until well blended.
  2. Gently stir in 1 cup of the cool whip.
  3. Spread onto bottom of crust.
  4. Pour milk into large bowl.
  5. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended.
  6. Mixture will be thick.
  7. Spread over cream cheese layer in crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
  8. Top with the rest of the cool whip before serving.

.....and a cherry pie, made simply with canned cherry pie filling and pie crust. Yes! I'm cheating!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookies for Christmas!!!!

I'll be busy from now until Christmas making cookies and breads, muffins and rolls. I'm going to share my Christmas cookie baking list and recipes!

Christmas Sugar Cookies




In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Stir together dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture until completely blended. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with various shaped cookie cutters dipped in flour. Transfer cookies to ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Mix together sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until desired degree of spreading consistency; add milk if you want thinner frosting. Add food coloring to obtain desired color. Spread frosting over cookies and decorate with sprinkles.

Chocolate Cherry Thumbprint Cookies



Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and the granulated sugar until well blended. Add cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add egg and beat until mixed well. Add half of the flour and mix just until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining flour until well blended (do not use mixer at this point or you will toughen the dough). Cover and chill at least 1 hour or until easy to handle. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the chopped cherries; set aside. Form chilled cookie dough into 48 balls (1 inch in diameter each). Place about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets, then gently press each ball with your thumb to make a dent. Fill each dent with 1 tsp of the filling, then top each with a cherry half, cut side down. Bake in a preheated 375 F for 10-12 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool 1 minute on pans, then remove to racks to cool completely. These must be stored in the refigerator, but you may bring them to room temperature to serve; these freeze well.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies



Preheat oven to 375*. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream butter with sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Gradually add flour mixture and blend well. Gather dough into a ball and cover with foil or wrap. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, until firm. Using half of dough at a time, roll out a 1/4 inch thick on sugar sprinkled counter or pastry cloth. Cut out cookies and then lift with spatula onto sheets, leaving about 1 1/2" between cookies. Sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles, if desired. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until cookies are firm and edges are just starting to brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. Frost or decorate as desired.

Chocolate Crinkles

  • 1 18 oz. box devil's food cake mix
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Chill 1 hour. Roll into balls and then roll in powdered sugar. Bake 8 - 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

NOTE: I've substituted lemon cake mix for the devil's food for lemon crinkles and they turned out GREAT! Feel free to substitute other flavors!

Snowball Cookies

1 c. butter or margarine

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. finely chopped nuts

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly. Stir flour and salt together; blend in. Mix in nuts. Chill dough for about 1 hour. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet, cookies do not spread. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not brown. While still warm, roll in more powdered sugar. Cool, then roll in powdered sugar again.

BonBon Cookies

1/2 c. butter or margarine

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

food coloring, if desired

1 1/2 c. flour

1/8 tsp. salt

fillings: maraschino cherries, pitted dates, nuts, chocolate pieces

Icing:1 c. powdered sugar, 2 1/2 tsp. cream or milk, 1 tsp vanilla and red, green or yellow food coloring if desired.

Toppings: chopped nuts, coconut, shaved chocolate, colored sugar or sprinkles

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and food coloring if desired. Blend flour and salt in thoroughly by hand. If dough is too dry, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. cream.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. For each cookie, wrap 1 level Tablespoonful of dough around one of a filling piece. Bake 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet 12 to 15 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool; dip tops of cookies in Icing. Add one of the suggested toppings if desired.

Gingerbread Biscotti



In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; In another bowl, combine the egg and egg whites, brown sugar, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Stir the egg mixture into dry ingredients just until moistened; fold in pecans and currants; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a ball; on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray, roll each ball into a 14-inch x 1 1/2-inch rectangle;Bake at 325 for 24 to 28 minutes or until frim to touch; remove from the oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes, transfer to cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2-inch slices; place cut side down on baking sheets coated with nonstick cooking spray; bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned turning once, remove to wire racks to cool, store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
  • 1 3/4 c. sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. margarine or butter
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice)
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Hershey's chocolate kisses, unwrapped
Sift together flour, soda and salt. Cream margarine or butter, peanut butter and sugars. Add milk, vanilla and egg and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Shape by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll ball in additional granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place a Kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down so that cookie cracks a bit around the edge. Return to oven and bake 2 - 4 minutes longer. Remove to rack to cool.

Empire Biscuits
  • 1/2 c. butter at room temp
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Strawberry jam or seedless raspberry jam
In medium mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add egg; mix well. Sift together frour, cream of tartar and bakind soda. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out with 2 inch round or fluted cookie cutter. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies do not brown. When cool, spread a cookie bottom with jam and top with another cookie, bottoms together. Repeat with all cookies.

  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Spread icing on each cookie. Top with 1/2 candied cherry or small cinnamon red hot candy. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Scotch Shortbread
  • 1 lb. butter or margarine (best with butter)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 4 c. flour
  • pinch of salt
Cream butter, add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Mix flour and salt and add gradually and mix well. Press into 2 ungreased 8 x 8 square pan or 1 9 x 13 ungreased pan. Prick with fork and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 - 35 minutes until light brown. Cut into small squares while warm.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For those with a sweet tooth....

....more candy recipes! I usually only make these at Christmas but they can be enjoyed all year long.

Peanut Brittle (my grandmother's recipe)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. light corn syrup
  • 1 lb. peanuts (Spanish, party, dry roasted)
  • 1 tsp. soda
Put sugar, syrup and peanuts in pan and bring to a boil. Cook until just slightly browned (or to 300 degrees on a candy thermometer), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add soda. Mixture will foam up. Pour into greased cookie pan immediately and let cool.

Almond Butter Crunch (like English toffee)
  • 1 c. butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1 12 oz. bag semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • slivered almonds (optional)
Melt butter in large pan, add sugar, syrup and water. Boil and stir occasionally until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Quickly stir in coarsely chopped almonds. Spread in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cool a bit, then evenly sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and cover for 5 minutes; remove cover and spread melted chocolate. Top with sliced almonds if desired. Cool completely. Break into bite size pieces

Caramel Candy (mom's recipe)
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
Mix all ingredients together in a deep pan. Put on stove over medium heat and stir constantly until temperature reaches 250 - 260 on a candy thermometer. Pour onto a greased cookie pan; let cool and break into pieces.

Glass Candy (I like to use this to fill in the windows of my gingerbread houses; it's also good to eat)
  • 3 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. desired flavoring extract (if you use flavoring oils, use sparingly. A little oil goes a long way)
  • Desired food coloring
  • powdered sugar
Combine sugar, syrup and water in heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Add flavoring and food coloring. Pour onto a large sheet of aluminum foil that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Let cool and harden. Break into pieces.

Church Windows (hubby's favorite)
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 12 oz. bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. butterscotch chips
  • 1 pkg. colored mini marshmallows
  • coconut
Melt butter and chips together. Let stand until cooled but not set. Add marshmallows and stir carefully. Form 3 rolls of candy and roll in coconut if desired. Slice 1/2 inch slices to serve.

Easy Fudge
  • 3/4 c. margarine
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. evaporated milk
  • 1 pkg. chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, vanilla, whatever flavor chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
Cook margarine, sugar and evaporated milk slowly over medium heat until sugar dissolves and temperature reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer. Stir in rest of ingredients until melted. Pour into grease 12 x 10 or 9 x 9 pan. You may add crushed candy canes or chopped cherries or chopped nuts or coconut if desired.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making candies for Christmas!

We will be making chocolates this weekend to add to our Christmas baskets: chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter cups, coconut creams, molded chocolate Christmas cards and a free-standing chocolate sleigh. I use candy molds to make them but you CAN make them without molds.

Chocolate Covered Cherries
  • 2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • maraschino cherry juice
  • maraschino cherries
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate almond bark, melted with 2 Tbsp shortening for every 12 oz. chocolate.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter milk and extract; mix well. Knead into a large ball.

If NOT using molds: Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten into a 2 inch circle. Wrap around cherries and lightly roll in hands. Cover loosely and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Using a fork (or stem if you used cherries with stems), dip cherries into chocolate; set on waxed paper to harden.

If you ARE using molds: Add enough cherry juice to the ball to make the filling more fluid. You want it the consistency of thick ketchup. Paint the inside of the mold with melted chocolate and let harden for a few minutes in the freezer. Drop in a scant 1/2 tsp of filling, then add a cherry. Press the cherry down with the tip of your finger so that the filling comes up around the sides of the cherry. Top with more melted chocolate. Put in the freezer and let harden until no print can be seen when you press lightly with a fingertip on the chocolate. Tap gently on a hard surface (table or countertop) to get the candies out of the mold.

Peanut Butter Cups (or balls)

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 c. softened margarine or butter
  • Melted chocolate

Combine all ingredients and mix well, using your hands, until completely blended together.

If NOT using molds: form 1 inch balls and dip into the melted chocolate using a fork or toothpick. Let cool & harden on waxed paper.

If you ARE using molds: paint the inside of the cup mold with melted chocolate and put in the freezer for a few minutes until hardened. Make a 1/2 to 3/4 inch ball of peanut butter mix and press into the cup until the top of the ball is lower than the top of the cup. Fill with melted chocolate and put in freezer to harden. Tap lightly on a hard surface to remove from the mold.

Coconut Creams
  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar (3 3/4 to 4 cups)
  • 12 oz. bag of flaked or shredded coconut
  • melted chocolate

Melt butter or margarine. Add milk, powdered sugar and coconut. Mix well, using your hands if necessary.

If NOT using molds: form into desired shape (ball, oblong, square) and dip in chocolate or else pour a bit of melted chocolate over the coconut mix until covered. Let harden.

If you ARE using molds: paint the inside of the mold and harden in freezer. Press enough coconut mixture into the mold to fill it but not quite to the top. Add melted chocolate to fill the mold. Let harden in freezer and remove by tapping lightly on a hard surface.