Christmas Eve – “The Day” is almost here!

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So – how are you doing with your holiday preparations? Around here it’s been abit busy, but not hectic; I decided that I WOULD NOT make myself so exhausted that I couldn’t enjoy Christmas, so I’m taking it EASY today! Finished up the cookie baking (& 1 pumpkin pie) – grand total? 12 DOZEN choc. chip/ peanutbutter/ oatmeal cranberry-raisin/ and gingersnap cookies – all from ready-made tubes or packages! YAY, me! After much speculation, I decided that I would hold off on baking the big box of already-cut out Gordon Food Service sugar cookies, just because from start to finish (information gathered from many years of doing this same thing) it would be a good 3 hour project and I’m just NOT up to that today. The kids & my husband will ‘live’ without eating those cookies on Christmas morn!

I’m also delagating responsibilites this year! Another “Yay, me!” Asked husband if he would mind vacuuming the living room & diningroom – he said sure,he’d even do the bedrooms! Great!

Left to do: drive youngest to his work 4:30-9 p.m., cards to finish up (either Thank You or Merry Christmas) even though they’ll be ‘fashionably late’, wrap presents then stuff stockings. Not a bad ‘to do ‘ list – it’s definately DO-ABLE for me! (am also supposed to put together the cranberry orange relish but think I’m going to sort of ‘forget’ it – ie: tomorrow: “Where’s the relish?” OH – I forgot to make it!) Sneaky but I just don’t feel like dragging out the food processor, putting it together, grinding the cranberries & orange, cleaning the food processor and jamming it all back in it’s box and stuffing it back in the bedroom. Can you tell – I don’t use it very often and we just don’t have the storage room for it.

Found a pretty easy-sounding pattern for the crocheted ‘popcorn’ Christmas tree garland. Think I’m going to buy some red wooden beads (if I can find some) and string them in between the ‘popcorn’ on the strands; that’s an AFTER Christmas project, for sure. I see that JoAnn Fabrics is having a 25% off all yarns sale going on this week. Not sure, but think I have more than enough white yarn for this project, but we’ll see. Do you have any ‘last minute’ projects you’re hoping to finish before tomorrow? Post a note here and tell me about it!

====================

Cherry-Almond Trifle


2 (3.4 oz, ea) pkgs. Jello cheesecake
instant pudding mix
2 C. cold milk
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed &
divided
1/2 C. sour cream
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/3 C. sliced almonds, toasted

Beat pudding mixes & milk in large
bowl with whisk 2 minutes. Stir in
1 C. Cool Whip & sour cream. Cover

bottom of 2 1/2 qt. bowl with cookies;
top with pudding mixture. Mix cherry
pie filling & extract; spoon over
pudding mixture. Cover with remaining

Cool Whip. Refrigerate 1 hour. Sprinkle
top with nuts just before serving.
Serves 12, 2/3 C. each

(recipe: Kraft foods)
————————————-

Appetizer Wreath


3 (8 oz, ea) tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C. sour cream
2 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. chopped, fresh broccoli florets
1 1/2 C. finely chopped celery
3/4 C. finely chopped sweet red pepper-
NOTE: reserve enough red pepper to create
a bow for the wreath
cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Remove crescent dough from pkg but DO NOT
unroll it. Cut each tube into 10 slices (rather than
8). Arrange in a circle on an ungreased 16 inch
pizza pan. (suggest lining pan with parchment
paper before).

Arrange remaining crescent rolls
n a smaller circle just inside first circle.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool
5 minutes before carefully removing to a serving
platter; cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream,
dill, garlic powder, dry onion, Worcestershire
& salt until smooth. Spread a little under the
wreath to keep it form sliding off the platter.
Spread mixture over wreath; top with broccoli,
celery & sweet red pepper. Create a bow using
the sweet red pepper to garnish wreath. Sprinkle
cherry tomatoes around wreath.
Slice into 28 or more servings.

(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)
———————————

Lemon Snowdrops
(cookies)

8 oz. unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 C. confectioners sugar
2 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice
pinch salt
2 2/3 C. flour
1 C. confectioners sugar (for rolling
cookies in)

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Beat butter & sugar together with
wooden spoon or mixer until creamy.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice & salt;
mix until combined. Add flour; mix
until just blended. Shape dough into
1-inch balls, set them 1 inch apart
on ungreased cookie sheets (
or parchment-lined). Bake until cookies
are light golden and give slightly when
pressed, 18-20 minutes. Let cookies
cool slightly on baking sheet; while
still warm, roll them in confectioners
sugar and transfer to a rack to cool.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)

————————

Easy Apricot Chicken

(crockpot)

12 dried apricots

8 medium chicken thighs

(about 2 1/2 lb.)

salt & pepper

2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced

1 C. chicken broth

Rinse apricots & scatter

them in bottom of crockpot.

Pat chicken dry; season with

salt & pepper. Melt butter in

oil in large skillet over

medium-high heat. Cook thighs

until golden brown, 3-5 minutes

per side. (brown in batches to

avoid crowding skillet). Arrange

over apricots. Pour off all but

1 T. from skillet. Add onion &

cook until just soft, 2-4 minutes.

Add broth to skillet, turn heat

to high & bring to boil,loosening

browned bits. Pour contents of

skillet into crockpot; cover &

cook on Low 4 hours.

Carefully transfer thighs to a

serving dish; cover with foil to

keep warm. Pour remaining contents

into a saucepan. Boil, stirring

often, until reduced & thickened,

about 10 minutes. Pour over chicken.

Makes 4 servings.

(recipe: RDJ 09/27/12)

——————————-

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

1/2 C. flour

1/2 C. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1/2 C. packed brown sugar

1/2 C. canned pumpkin

2 T. vegetable oil

2 t. butter, melted

1 T. grated orange rind

3/4 C. raisins

1/2 C. grated carrot

1/3 C. dried cranberries

2 T. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Combine flours & next 4 ingredients (flour-

salt). Place egg & white in large bowl; beat

with elec. mixer on medium speed 30 seconds.

Add brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, butter & orange

rind; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture

to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist.

Stir in raisins, carrot & cranberries; spoon

batter into 8 inch square pan coated with nonstick

cooking spray. Sprinkle top with walnuts. Bake

25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center

comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire

rack; remove from pan. Cool completely before cutting.

Makes 9 servings.

(recipe: DDJ-10/09/12)

—————————-

Crab & Broccoli Chowder

 

1 1/2 C. small broccoli florets (about

1 small head)

1 C. chopped onion

2 C. cubed, peeled red potato

1/2 C. dry white wine

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. pepper

dash hot sauce

3 (10.5 oz) cans chicken broth

5 T. flour

2 1/2 C. milk

1/2 C. (2 oz) shredded extra-sharp

Cheddar cheese

3/4 lb. lump crab meat, drained & shell

pieces removed

2 T. lemon juice

Steam broccoli, covered, 2 minutes or until

tender. Coat a Dutch oven with nonstick

spray; place over medium heat until hot.

Add onion; saute 4 minutes. Add potato &

next 8 ingredients (potato-broth); bring to

a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered 30

minutes or until tender. Place 3 C. potato

mixture in blender; process until smooth.

Add puree back to potato mixture in pan;

stir well. Place flour in bowl, gradually

add milk; stir with a whisk until blended;

add to potato mixture. Cook over medium

heat until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring

constantly. Stir in cheese. Add broccoli,

crabmeat, & lemon juice; cook until thoroughly

heated. Makes 7 servings.

(recipe: RDJ – 10/09/12)

——————————

Almond Eggnog Pound Cake


6 T. butter or margarine, divided
2/3 C. sliced almonds
1 (18.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
1 1/2 C. commercial eggnog
2 eggs
1 tsp. rum extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Grease a 10 inch tube pan with
2 T. butter. Press almonds onto
bottom and sides of pan; set
aside. In large mixing bowl, beat
using electric mixer:
cake mix, eggnog, eggs, rum
extract, nutmeg & melted butter
on low speed for 2 minutes or until
smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until
a wooden toothpick inserted
into center, comes out clean.
Cool 15 minutes

————————————–

Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars


Snickerdoodle Layer:
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. butter, room temp.
2 eggs, room temp.
1 T. vanilla

Pumpkin Pie layer:
1 C. flour
1 C. white sugar
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*(see below)
2 eggs, room temp.
1 1/2 C. canned pumpkin

Topping:
2 T. white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Drizzle:
1 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease a 9 X 13 pan; lay a piece of
parchment paper across pan so that it extends
the pan slightly. The parchment paper is an
optional step, but it will make it easier to get
the bars out later.

Snickerdoodle Layer:
Sift flour, baking powder & salt; set aside. In
large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg &

vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until
well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
Mixture will be thick & cookie-like batter.

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
In elec. mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter
& sugar. Add rest of ingredients; mix until well
combined. This layer will be less thick & more pourable.

Pour over snickerdoodle layer, smoothing
out the top. Combine white sugar & cinnamon in
a little bowl, evenly sprinkle this mixture over top
of batter. Bake 33-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into
center comes out clean. Let bars cool completely,
about an hour. (they will deflate a little bit & remain
a bit pie-like on top layer. bars closer to edges will be
a bit more firm.)
After bars are completely cooled, place chopped
white chocolate into a bowl or zip-lock bag; melt
on low power in microwave. When completely melted,
add pumpkin pie spice; mix or knead if using a zip lock
bag. Use a spoon or cut a small corner off bag &
drizzle melted chocolate over top of bars; let bars
cool & harden. Use the parchment paper to lift bars
out of the pan. Place on a cutting board; cut into bars.
Store in a covered container.

*Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice:
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice

Mix together.

(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)
—————————————–

German Sweet ‘n Sour Green Beans


1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 2 in. pieces
or 26 oz. frozen beans
6 slices bacon, diced*
1 medium onion, sliced
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 C. water
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar

Place green beans in saucepan; cover with water &
bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender,
about 10 minutes; drain & set aside. Cook diced bacon
in skillet over medium heat, until crisp. Drain bacon on
paper towel, reserve 2 T. drippings. Add sliced onions to
pan; cook until transparent & tender. Combine cornstarch,

salt, mustard & water in a small bowl; stir until smooth.
Pour into onions; bring to a boil. Cook & stir about 2
minutes or until thickened. Stir in sugar & vinegar. Add
green beans & heat through. Sprinkle top with bacon
and SERVE IMMEDIATELY while still warm. Serves 4-6.

*Posters says she usually doubles bacon amount
NOTE: If using frozen green beans, omit covering with
water; cook accordg. to pkg. directions, in microwave.

(recipe: Rose Mary-justapinch.com)
——————————-

Hershey Bar Tarts


1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed & divided
6 (one 4-oz pkgs) single-serving graham cracker
crumb crusts
1 (5.0 oz) Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, broken into
pieces

Place candy bar pieces in medium microwave-safe
bowl. Microwave on Medium (50%) 30 seconds;
stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds
at a time, stirring after each heating, just until
chocolate is melted & smooth when stirred. Cool
slightly. Fold 2 C. Cool Whip into melted chocolate;
divide evenly into crumb crusts. Cover; refrigerate
several hours or until firm. Top with remaining
Cool Whip. Garnish as desired. Makes 6 tarts.

(recipe: Hershey website)
——————————————–

Dijon Ham


1 (5-7 lb) boneless ham
1/2 C. Dijon mustard
4 T. whole cloves
2/3 C. orange marmalade
1/2 C. maple syrup
1/4 C. apple cider vinegar
2 C. red wine
2/3 C. club or lemon-lime soda

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Place ham in a shallow baking dish.
Spread with mustard & stud with
whole cloves. Spoon marmalade over
top. Mix together syrup, vinegar, wine &
soda; drizzle over ham. Bake 2 hours,
basting every 15 minutes or until a
thermometer inserted into ham reads
140 degrees F. Let stand 15 minutes
before slicing.

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)
————————————————

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese
Frosting


1 1/4 C. flour
1 T. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 C. sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 C. molasses
3 T. water
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Line 9 X 13  baking pan with foil. Spray
foil with nonstick spray. Mix flour,
ginger, cinnamon, baking soda & salt;
set aside. Beat butter & 3/4 C. sugar in large
bowl with elec. mixer until light & fluffy.
Beat in egg until well blended. Gradually
beat in flour mixture until well mixed. Stir
in molasses & water just until blended.
Spread evenly in prepared pan.

Icing:

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with
elec. mixer until smooth. Beat in remaining
1/2 C. sugar & vanilla until smooth. Reserve
1/2 C. of icing; refrigerate remaining icing.
Spoon dollops (about 1 tsp. each) of reserved
icing over batter in pan. With knife or spatula,
swirl icing through batter to marbelize. Bake
30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in
center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes
then life out of pan using foil. Cool completely
on wire rack. Invert & peel off foil. Spread
refrigerated icing over bars; cut into bars.
Store in refrigerator.

(recipe: Sandy-Marys Recipe Exchange)
————————————–

Italian Peas & Tomatoes

– 3 T. margarine, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 C. frozen green peas, thawed

2 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 C. loosely packed fresh basil
leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

Melt 2 T. margarine in 1/2 inch nonstick
skillet over medium-high heat; cook onion,
stirring occasionally, until tender, about
10 minutes. Stir in peas, tomatoes, garlic
and pepper; cook, stirring frequently,
until tomatoes & peas are tender, about

3 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 T. margarine
& basil. Serves 4.

(recipe: Unilever)
===========================

Well, that’s about all the recipes I can pack into one post without totally putting you to sleep.  Hoping you are happy with your preparations – remember to REST when you can, so that YOU can enjoy the holidays.

Hugs;

Pammie

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