Getting Closer to the New Year…

With the New Year fast approaching, I thought I’d post more appetizer & dip recipes for you.


4 Ingredient Cheese Ball

24 oz. cream cheese, softened,
(3 pkgs)
1 jar Kraft Roka Blue Cheese
1 jar Kraft Old English cheese
spread (or American cheese spread)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
sliced almonds (or walnuts, pecans,

assorted crackers, for dipping

In large bowl using elec. mixer, beat
all ingredients (except nuts) until
smooth. Place a large piece of
plastic wrap in a small bowl &
scoop cheese mixture into wrap.
Using the plastic wrap, shape
cheese mixture into a ball.
Refrigerate 1/2 hour. Remove
ball from fridge & take off
plastic wrap. Place sliced almonds
on a plate (or pie plate) & roll
cheese ball in nuts to coat. Place
ball on a serving plate & serve
with assorted crackers. Makes
1 ball.

3-Ingredient Nacho Dip

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese,
room temp.
1 (16 oz) jar salsa (your choice)
1 (8 oz) pkg. shredded 4-Cheese
Mexican blend cheese

corn chips – for dipping

Optional toppings for serving:
diced avocado,
sliced olives, cherry tomatoes
cut in half, chopped green onions

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spread cream cheese evenly in
bottom of a medium baking dish*.
Pour salsa over top & spread to
cover the cream cheese. Sprinkle
shredded cheese on top. Bake
15-20 minutes until hot & bubbly.
Garnish with optional toppings
shredded cheese on top. Serve
with corn chips for dipping.
Serves 10

* poster used deep dish pie plate
4-ingredient Chicken Taquitos

10 (6 inch) soft flour tortillas
1 C. cooked, finely diced chicken
1 C. (Sargento) 4-Cheese Mexican
shredded cheese
1/3 C. salsa or taco sauce

Optional garnishes:
salsa, guacamole, sour cream,
sliced black or green olives,
sliced green onion

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
In large bowl stir chicken, cheese &
salsa. Divide chicken mixture evenly
down the side of each tortilla. Roll
up tortilla & place on foil-lined
baking sheet; repeat with rest of
ingredients. Spray tops of taquitos
with nonstick cooking spray (to
help them brown & crisp in oven).
Bake 15-20 minutes until crispy.
Makes 10

Crockpot Chicken Nachos

1 (1 oz) pkt. taco seasoning mix
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
1 (16 oz) jar salsa
8 oz. tortilla chips
2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese

Additional toppings:
sliced black olives, sliced green
onions, guacamole, sliced avocado,
sour cream, salsa, chopped jalapeno

Spray insides of crockpot with
nonstick cooking spray. Place
chicken in bottom of crockpot;
sprinkle with taco seasoning &
pour salsa on top. Cover & cook
on High 2-3 hours (or Low 6-8
hours). When chicken is done,
using 2 forks – shred chicken &
return to crockpot. Keep chicken
warm in crockpot until ready to
serve with nachos. Place tortilla
chips on a large serving platter.
Spoon hot, shredded chicken over
chips & top with shredded cheese.
(Cheese will melt from heat of
chicken – OR you can place the
nachos under the broiler for
a few minutes to get the cheese
crispy & browned on top).
Garnish with additional toppings
of your choice. Serves 8

Southwestern Egg Rolls

1 C. finely diced, cooked chicken
2 tsp. taco seasoning mix
1/4 C. whole kernel corn
1/4 C. black beans, rinsed/drained
4 T. salsa (plus additional, for
4-Cheese Mexican blend shredded
cheese (about 1/3 C.)
8 egg roll wrappers*

garnish: sliced green onion

Dipping: salsa, sour cream,

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
LIne a baking sheet with foil &
spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In large bowl mix chicken, taco
seasoning, corn, beans & salsa.
Spoon about 2 T. mixture on
bottom third of one egg roll
wrapper; top with about 1 tsp.
cheese. Fold sides toward
center & roll tightly. (Keep
the remaining wrappers covered
with a damp paper towel until
ready to use to prevent drying
out.) Place egg roll, seam-side
down on baking sheet – repeat
with remaining wrappers. Spray
tops of egg rolls with nonstick
cooking spray (helps them turn
golden brown & crispy). Bake
10-15 minutes until lightly
browned. Makes 8
Recipe can be doubled.

*You can find egg roll wrappers
in most grocery stores in the
fresh vegetable section.

Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

12 slider buns (or Hawaiian
rolls, sliced)
3/4 to 1 C. pizza or pasta sauce
1 (6 oz) pkg. pepperoni slices
1 (8 oz) pkg. fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Lightly spray 9 X 13″ baking
dish with nonstick cooking
spray. Cut slider/buns in half &
place bottoms in prepared dish.
Spread pizza/pasta sauce on
bun bottoms. Top each with
pepperoni slices using as
many as you like. Slice
mozzarella into 12 slices &
place 1 slice on each bottom;
replace bun tops on sliders.
In small bowl combine Parmesan,
melted butter, garlic powder,
basil & oregano – mix & spread
over tops of rolls. Cover with
foil & bake 25 minutes. Remove
foil & bake 5 more minutes.
Serve immediately.
Makes 12 sliders

Creamy Mushroom Tartlets

1 T. butter or margarine
1 (8 oz) pkg. fresh mushrooms,
finely chopped
1/2 C. (Kraft) Philadelphia Chive &
Onion cream cheese spread
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 (8 oz) tube refrigerated crescent
dinner rolls
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Melt butter in large nonstick
skillet on medium heat. Add
mushrooms; cook 5 minutes
until tender, stirring frequently.
Add cream cheese spread &
Parmesan; cook & stir 1 minutes
until cream cheese melts. Remove
from heat. Unroll dough into 2
long rectangles; firmly press
perforations & seams together
to seal. Cut each rectangle into
12 squares. Place 1 square in
each of 24 mini muffin cups
with corners of squares extending
over rims of cups. Firmly press
dough onto bottom & up side of
each cup. Spoon about 1 1/2 tsp.
mushroom mixture in each cup.
Bake 10-12 minutes until golden
brown. Sprinkle tops with parsley.
Cool in pan 5 minutes before
serving. Makes 12 servings.


I had great plans of going to KMart for
some SALE shopping today but woke
up to more snow on the ground – sigh.
We’ll see about the shopping – hopefully
the roads will clear up a little. My middle
son will be having his 29th birthday
January 4th, so I’d like to see if I can
find a few things for him. THIS son is
one that loves lots of things but also
is happy with things he NEEDS. We
helped him out with a little bill paying
for his Christmas gift (that’s what he
asked for) but also gave him SOCKS,
which he needed. (I love this son for
his honesty – he opened the socks &
said: “I really need underwear…” so
guess what he’s getting for part of
his birthday presents! He also REALLY
needs gloves & a snow brush/scraper.
Both younger sons seem to lose those
items EVERY winter – sigh. (the snow
brush I have in my car is a good 30+
years old and still works just fine! I even
use it to brush stuff off the floor of my
car during the non-winter months – it’s
really held up!

Not much going on around here lately –
I cooked a half ham yesterday, just so
we’d have meat to go with all the leftover
sides that are still in our fridge! (and, it
makes great sandwiches, too!). Looking
at some (new to me) knit patterns to
start another ‘needy’ scarf – I have tons
of yarn so knitting scarves makes sense
in the winter. I LOVE my knitting – I
don’t knit for me – I knit for charity
simply because I can knit all the patterns
me, it’s a win/win situation.

Hope you are staying nice & warm (and
healthy)!  Don’t know about you, but
my scale is registering more pounds
than I’d like right now – almost time
to start working on losing some weight-




The calm after the holiday

Here in Michigan we’re digging out, again, from all the snow we got the last week or so. First we got EIGHT inches in one day, then Christmas Day we got a good 4 inches more. NOW we’re into the ‘deep freeze’ – it’s not snowing but it’s REALLY cold! Today at around 8:30 a.m. it was -4 (and that’s not counting the wind chill factor). It’s kind of one of those “don’t go out unless you HAVE to!” things. The roads are clear – now – so driving is better but you’d better wear LOTS of layers of clothing/coats/jackets/hats/scarves/gloves-mittens, etc. I babysat yesterday from 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. but needed to get gas first; let’s just say I was very glad to have a heavy coat with a hood so that I could pull the hood up over my hat – pumping gas on a very cold, windy day is not recommended; from the weather report, it’s going to be COLD all week. (looking at my cell phone, it just says COLD for each day, so you know it’s not your regular temperatures.)

This is the week I always feel ‘out of sorts’ – it’s not a regular week day, it’s not exactly a holiday; you kind of forget which ‘day’ it is without the ‘usual’ activities (for me it seems strange not having a Knit Night OR my special needs group). Cooking is really not needed as we plow through the leftovers (not complaining, mind you). I plan on finishing the knit  ‘young girls white & pink scarf’ I started last week, another needy donation thing.

One more photo from Christmas; you’ll note the baby has pink ‘goo’ smeared all over him (that’s my Pink Fluff dessert they decided to let him try). This photo was taken just before he had a quick bath & bed, so for him, it was the end of a VERY busy day.

He had on a really cute one-piece outfit that made him look like he was wearing a tuxedo!


With New Year’s Eve festivities approaching, I thought I’d post appetizers & dips for those of you who are having parties


Sausage & Cheese Dip

1 lb. breakfast sausage
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 C. sour cream
1 C. shredded cheese (your choice)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C. sliced green onions
1/4 tsp. curry powder (optional)
1/4 tsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning,
to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried minced onion
2 tsp. dried parsley
Assorted crackers, chips or mixed
raw vegetables for dipping

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Brown sausage in an oven-safe
skillet or casserole dish; drain &
return sausage to skillet. Add cheeses
& cook over Low heat, stirring often,
until cheese has melted. Blend in
remaining ingredients; taste &
adjust to your liking. Bake, uncovered,
30-40 minutes until heated through &
bubbly around edges. Serve warm with
suggested dippers. Serves 4-6


Ham & Cheese Pinwheels

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough*
3/4 lb. ham, sliced very thin
8 oz. Swiss cheese, sliced very thin
8 T. butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. poppy seeds**
1 T. chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with nonstick
cooking spray. Unroll dough into large
rectangle about 13″ X 8″. Layer ham on
top of dough to cover it completely; layer
cheese in same fashion over ham. Starting
at one long end, tightly roll up dough, jelly
roll style, pinching the end to seal. Cut the
loaf crosswise into 12 equal pieces & arrange
on prepared dish. Whisk butter, brown sugar,
mustard & poppy seeds together & pour
evenly over rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes until
golden brown. Sprinkle top with parsley,
if desired. Makes 12 pinwheels.
Rolls can be stored, unbaked, up to 24
hours refrigerated, covered with foil, before

*You can substitute pizza dough with crescent
rolls, using 1 1/2 tubes (8 oz, ea)

**You can substitute sesame seeds for poppy


Chicken Zucchini Poppers

2 C. zucchini, grated (skins on),
about 2 small
1 lb. ground chicken
1/4 yellow onion, finely minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded/finely
minced (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick
cooking spray. Mix zucchini, chicken,
onion, jalapeno, garlic, salt, paprika
& pepper until combined. Scoop
heaping tablespoons of mixture onto
prepared sheet, spacing at least 1 inch
apart. Bake 18-20 minutes until centers
are firm. Remove from oven, move oven
rack to top position; set oven to Broil.
Sprinkle tops of poppers with Parmesan
cheese. Broil poppers until tops are
light brown & crispy. Makes 36
Serve alone or with your favorite dipping

Bacon Deviled Eggs

1 dozen large eggs
4 slices bacon
2 T. mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. dill pickle relish
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
scallions, chopped – garnish

Place eggs in large pot & add
water to cover eggs by at least
an inch. Bring water to full,
rolling boil; set timer for 2 minutes.
After pot has been at a full boil for
2 minutes, remove from heat &
place on cool part of stove – reset
timer for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes
carefully drain hot water & cover eggs
with cold water until they are cool
enough to peel – peel eggs. Rinse
peeled eggs under cold water to remove
any shell. Cook bacon over medium heat
until crispy, turning halfway through.
Drain on paper towels & cool – reserve
drippings for filling. Cut each hard boiled
egg in half lengthwise; remove yolks to
small bowl (reserve whites for filling).
Place cooked yolks in a bowl & mash
well with a fork; add mayonnaise, bacon
drippings, mustard, vinegar & pickle
relish – stir until combined. Season with
salt/pepper & spoon or pipe filling into
reserved egg white halves. Crumble bacon
into large pieces & stick bits of bacon on
top of each egg half; sprinkle with chopped
scallions, if using. Makes 24

Honey Teriyaki Chicken Wings

4-5 lb. chicken wings, rinsed/dried
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 C. soy sauce
1/2 C. orange juice
juice of 1 lemon
1 T. garlic, minced
2 T. fresh grated ginger
1/2 C. honey
3 T. rice vinegar
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 C. water
2 T. cornstarch
sesame seeds – garnish

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Place oven rack in center of oven.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick
cooking spray. (if you are making
5 lb. wings, you will need 2 sheets).
Do not over crowd wings on pan or
they won’t become crispy. You can
place a wire cooling rack on sheet
to enhance crispness. In large bowl
place wings; lightly salt & pepper.
Sprinkle baking powder over wings,
tossing to lightly dust each wing –
place on prepared sheet. Space
wings as far apart as possible; bake
45-55 minutes, turning once or
twice during cooking time. (NOTE:
each time you turn the wings, spoon
off any liquid that accumulates on
bottom of pan – this helps wings
develop a crispier texture.
In medium saucepan add soy sauce,
orange juice, lemon juice, garlic,
ginger, honey vinegar, brown sugar &
red pepper flakes – cook over medium
heat – bring to full rolling boil then
reduce heat to medium-low & simmer
sauce 8-9 minutes to reduce & thicken.
In small bowl stir water & cornstarch.
Remove sauce from heat momentarily-
whisk in cornstarch mixture & stir until
completely combined – return pan to heat.
Turn heat to medium & bring to boil.
Reduce heat to Low & simmer 1 minute.
Remove sauce from heat & cover.
When wings are cooked through & crispy,
transfer to a large bowl & toss desired
amount of sauce with them. You can also
spoon sauce over wings directly in pan
if desired. Reserve extra sauce for dipping.
Transfer coated wings back to baking
sheet & return to oven 8-10 minutes until
glaze becomes dark & sticky. Remove from
oven & spoon a little sauce from pan onto
wings for extra flavor. Sprinkle tops with
sesame seeds & allow wings to cool a
few minutes before serving. Serves 12


Cranberry-Eggnog Muffins

2 C. flour
3/4 C. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg
1 C. eggnog
1/4 C. butter, melted
3/4 C. whole-berry cranberry

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Grease or line with paper
liners 12 muffin cups.
In large bowl whisk first 5
ingredients. In another bowl
whisk egg, eggnog & melted
butter until blended – add to
flour mixture & stir just until
moistened. Spoon 1 T. batter
in bottom of each cup. Drop
1 tsp. cranberry sauce into
center of each & top with
remaining batter & cranberry
sauce. Cut through batter with
a knife to swirl. Bake 15-18
minutes until a toothpick
inserted into center of muffin
comes out clean. Cool 5
minutes on a rack before
removing from pan to cool.
Serve warm. Makes 12 muffins


I’m sure there will be more dips &
appetizer recipes in the next few days
so, hopefully, you’ll find something you

Enjoy these next few days before more
holiday activities (if you’re partying on
New Years). Remember to STAY HEALTHY
(if you can) and take a break/relax a bit
just to re-charge your energy!



and a WONDERFUL TIME was had by all!

The image is a little dark, but we got (almost) the entire family! From left: My husband, next to him our oldest son, in front of him is baby’s Grandma #2, behind her is me, in front of me is oldest grandson’s Grandma & her husband, then oldest grandson (11 1/2), seated is other (baby) grandpa #2 and the baby’s Momma (baby was sleeping). Our middle son & his girlfriend were working, youngest son wasn’t feeling well – but we got ALMOST everyone in the photo!

We had food galore! Oldest son (the chef) also made a boatload of Lobster Mac & cheese (first time I’ve had that) plus lots of other foods too numerous to mention/list. Let’s just say no one went home hungry!


Apple Cobbler Shortbread Squares

1 stick butter
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt

3 large apples, peeled/cored/
thinly sliced
3 T. granulated sugar
2 T. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 C. light brown sugar
3/4 C. flour
6 T. butter, softened

Preheat oven 300 degrees F.
Spray 8 X 8″ baking dish with
nonstick cooking spray. In medium
bowl beat 1 stick butter, 1/4 C. sugar
& vanilla until creamy. Add 1 C. flour,
1/4 tsp. salt – mix well. Press mixture
evenly into baking dish. Bake 15 minutes.

In large bowl combine filling ingredients;
mix until apples are evenly coated.

Mix ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle
half over crust.

Increase oven temperature
to 350 degrees.

Place apple mixture in even layer over
crust; sprinkle with remaining topping.
Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick
inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool 2 hours then refrigerate 2 hours.
Cut into bars – serves 12


Leftovers – Egg Rolls

6 egg roll wrappers*
1 C. leftover cooked turkey,
1 C. leftover mashed potatoes
1 C. leftover cranberries
1 C. leftover stuffing
vegetable oil
1/2 C. leftover gravy (for dipping)

Place an egg roll wrapper on a clean
surface – lay it out so that it forms
a triangle in front of you.  Spread a
thin layer of cranberries on, then
add a few T. mashed potatoes, stuffing
& turkey. Fold up bottom point &
tightly fold in sides. Gently roll, then
seal fold using a few drops of water
on edges; repeat with remaining
In large skillet over medium heat,
heat oil (it should reach 1 inch up
sides of pan) until it starts to bubble.
Add egg rolls & fry until golden,
1 minute per side. Transfer to a
paper towel-lined plate to cool
slightly. Serve with heated gravy.
Makes 6

*can find them in the produce
section of grocery store

(recipe: Facebook)
Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

3 t. olive oil
3/4 C. diced onion
1 1/4 C. diced carrots
3/4 C. sliced celery
3 T. flour
3 C. chicken broth
2 1/2 C. chopped, cooked turkey
1 1/4 C. frozen peas
salt/pepper, to taste

1 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/3 C. milk

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
In large pot over medium heat
heat oil until shimmering. Saute
onion, carrots, celery until
softened. Stir in flour until no
lumps remain. Add about 1/4 C.
broth & stir until a thick sauce
forms. Add remaining broth &
bring to boil. Reduce heat to a
simmer & allow to simmer until
thickened, about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat & stir in turkey/peas;
season with salt/pepper. In separate
small bowl beat egg & milk – pour into
flour & stir to combine. (it should be
a sticky dough). Drop dough, 2-3
T. each, on top of turkey mixture.
Bake 17-19 minutes until topping
is golden brown.

Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

3 large carrots, peeled/sliced
1 (12 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
(about 4 C.)
1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken
thighs or breasts
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/4 C. water
3 1/2 C. (about 7.5 oz) dry herb-seasoned
stuffing mix
1/3 C. butter, melted

Spray insides of crockpot with nonstick
cooking spray. Place carrots & broccoli
on bottom. Season chicken with salt/
pepper & place on top of vegetables.
In medium bowl whisk soups & water –
pour over chicken. Sprinkle dry stuffing
mix on top of chicken & drizzle with
melted butter. Cover & cook on Low
6-8 hours (or High 3-4 hours).
Serves 8


Tropical Fruit Salad

4 kiwis, peeled/sliced
3 navel oranges, peeled/sliced &
cut in half
2 mangos, peeled/cubed
1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized
2 C. seedless red grapes
1/2 C. sour cream
2 T. honey
1 tsp. orange zest

Combine fruits in a large bowl &
spoon onto a serving platter. Mix
remaining ingredients until blended;
drizzle mixture over fruit just before
serving. Serves 10 (1 C. each)


Double-Pork Hash

5 slices bacon, (thick-cut)
1 (8 oz) boneless ham steak,
cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 C. red bell pepper, seeded/
diced (1/2 inch)
1 (20 oz) bag refrigerated hash
brown potatoes
salt/black pepper, to taste

IN large skillet over medium heat
cook bacon, turning once, until
crisp (about 8 minutes). Transfer
to paper towels to cool/crumble.
Pour fat from skillet into a small
bowl (you should have about 5 T. ;
add vegetable oil, if needed to achieve
5 T. Return 3 T. bacon fat to skillet –
over medium heat add ham & cook,
stirring occasionally, until beginning to
brown, about 2 minutes. Add onion &
red pepper, cook, stirring occasionally,
until onion is golden, about 7 minutes.
Add hash brown potatoes; cook until
underside is mostly golden, about 7
minutes. Drizzle remaining 2 T. bacon
fat over hash. Using a metal spatula,
turn hash over in sections. Continue
cooking, stirring occasionally, until
hash is completely golden brown, about
5 minutes. Sprinkle with crumbled
bacon & season with salt/pepper.
Serve hot. Serves 6

(recipe: Smithfield)

Sweet Potato Turkey Patties

1 lb. ground turkey
1 clove garlic
1 T. maple syrup
1/4 C. chopped chives
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
salt/pepper – to taste
2 C. grated sweet potato
2 T. olive oil

In food processor add turkey, garlic,
maple syrup, chives, red pepper flakes,
poultry seasoning, salt/pepper – process
until combined then transfer to large
bowl. Add grated sweet potato to bowl
& fold into turkey mixture until well
combined. In large skillet heat olive
oil over medium-high heat. Once hot,
form mixture into patties & place in
skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. Add
a splash of water to skillet, cover &
cook another 5 minutes to help cook
thoroughly without burning outside of
patties. Remove cover, let liquid cook off;
transfer patties to a paper towel-lined plate
to drain.

Turkey Tetrazzini

half of (16 oz) box spaghetti noodles
3 T. butter, divided
2 C. cooked turkey, chopped
1 C. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom
1 C. milk
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1 C. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 C. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 T. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. dried parsley

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Cook spaghetti noodles accordg.
to pkg directions; drain & place in
a 3 quart casserole dish that has
been sprayed with nonstick
cooking spray (OR you can use a
7 X 11″ pan). Add 1 T. butter to
noodles & toss to melt butter.
Heat a large skillet & melt 2 T.
butter in skillet; once melted,
add mushrooms & onion (salt &
pepper a bit). Saute over medium
high heat until onions are translucent.
Add soup & milk – whisk to combine.
Add poultry seasoning & dry mustard –
stir to combine. Add 1 C. Cheddar
cheese & stir in – once melted, remove
pan from heat. Sprinkle chopped turkey
over noodles in dish. Pour soup mixture
over turkey, sprinkle with 1 C. mozzarella
cheese & 1 T. Parm. cheese on top of
sauce. Sprinkle dried parsley on top &
bake 30 minutes until cheese is melted &
sides are bubbly. Serves 6


Crockpot Double Chocolate Cake

1 (2 layer) chocolate cake mix
1 (3.9 oz) pkg. chocolate instant
pudding mix
1 C. sour cream
1 C. water
2/3 C. oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 pkgs. (4 oz, ea) semi-sweet
chocolate (6 oz) chopped
1 C. Cool Whip, thawed

Mix dry cake mix & pudding mix
in a large bowl using whisk until
blended. Add next 4 ingredients;
mix well & stir in chopped chocolate.
Spray insides of crockpot with
nonstick spray & pour mixture in.
Cover & cook on Low 4-5 hours
(or High 3 – 3 1/2 hours) until top
surface of cake has no wet spots
& cake begins to pull away from
sides of crockpot. Serve warm
with Cool Whip topping. Serves 16

(recipe: Kraft recipes)


Yesterday was a day filled with LOTS of action:
husband & I struggled for HOURS getting the
foods prepared to take to oldest son’s house –
Christmas Eve my (wonderful – NOT!) back went
‘out’ again, so standing was very painful but we
managed to work around it: I sat while cutting
up potatoes (husband peeled – for mashed pots).
We did our best to make oldest son’s sudden change
in ‘eating time’ from 2 p.m. to 1 p.m. but several
small disasters lost us some time, so we didn’t get there
until around 1:30 – oh well . . . Green Bean casserole
decided to overflow all over inside of microwave
(where I’d put it to speed up the cooking time), corn
casserole took longer to cook than usual – stuff like
that. Oh – and then there was the WEATHER! The
temps were hovering at 19 degrees F. and it began
to snow MORE! Driving was very slow and treacherous-
his street was almost impassable, but we made it!
It snowed while we were there, probably another 1-2
inches – it’s supposed to be VERY cold all week (right
now NOAH National weather service is saying it’s
2 degrees F. outside with wind chill making it feel
like -13 degrees F! (the HIGHEST temp this week is
Friday at 16 degrees F. so not to thrilled with that,
but HEY! What can ya do?  I’m babysitting tomorrow,
hopefully only 10:15 – 3:30, but we’ll see. Baby got
TONS of toys so I’m sure he will be very amused while
playing with all of them.

Wanted to share with you my most precious presents;
Oldest son & his girlfriend had these photos blown up
& framed on canvas (each is about 1 1/2 feet square):

Bottom photo was Thanksgiving, 2017 (I didn’t know my son was taking the photo!)

To sum it all up – we had a WONDERFUL Christmas!

Hoping you were able to enjoy your
holiday. It’s not the presents under
the tree that counts – it’s who’s



Christmas Eve, 2017

And so it’s Christmas Eve – this day started out with church & singing in the choir. Our choir director and his lovely wife (who is also our accompanist) are in another state for the holidays SOooooooo we did something we have never done before – we sang to a CD of the music. I must say – it took a bit of work as most are not used to that idea, but after practicing, we actually nailed it in the final performance so I was happy (as, I’m sure, was our assistant director!). During church I got a text from middle son asking if he & his girlfriend could take my husband & I out for lunch (as their Christmas gift to us) – so we went to a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant (girlfriend is Vegan & son is getting there). This was my second try at that type of food and I did my best NOT to let them know I really didn’t like ANYTHING I’d ordered – I DID try, though! Not my idea of a good idea; I had Garlic Almond Ghallaba with chicken: “Assorted sautéed vegetables and your choice of meat blended together with rice, almonds & garlic”; it also came with more roasted (BIG CHUNKS) veggies: green pepper, carrots, zucchini, onion. If nothing else, it was filling (I told my husband he gets ALL of my ‘takeout/leftovers’ – I’m really not interested). BUT…it’s the thought that counts, right? (son & girlfriend were really enjoying their foods).


(A few last minute recipes – just in case you might need them)

Caramelized Onion Dip

2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. olive oil
3 lb. yellow onions, cut in
half lengthwise & crosswise
into 1/4″ slices
2 T. brown sugar
salt/black pepper
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
3 dashes hot sauce (optional)
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 C. (8 oz) sour cream

chopped chives – garnish (optional)

Heat butter & oil in heavy medium
saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onions & sugar – cook, stirring
constantly, until soft & golden, about
15-20 minutes. Season with salt/pepper.
Stir in vinegar & simmer until mixture is
dry. Add hot sauce (if using). Remove from
heat & allow to cool slightly.
Mix cream cheese until smooth in large
bowl. Fold in sour cream & caramelized
onions – season with salt/pepper. Garnish
with chives, if using.
Can be eaten warm or chilled.
Makes 2 Cups

Pretzel-ring Beer Cheese Dip

1 1/2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese,
plus more for sprinkling
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 T. chopped chives (more for
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 C. beer (suggested: Guinness)
ground black pepper
2 T. baking soda
1 can Pillsbury Grands! biscuits
egg wash (1 egg + 1 T. water, mixed)
coarse salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

In large bowl combine cheeses,
cream cheese, mustard, chives,
garlic powder & beer- season with

In small saucepan bring 2 C. water
& baking soda to a boil. Reduce to
a simmer. Cut each biscuit in half &
roll into a ball then cut an X slice
across top of each ball. Drop into
simmering water & cook 1 minute.
Remove using a slotted spoon –
transfer to a cast-iron skillet
forming a ring around skillet. Brush
biscuits with egg wash & sprinkle
tops with coarse salt. Transfer
cheese dip to center of skillet &
smooth top. Sprinkle top of dip
with more Cheddar cheese. Bake
until biscuits are golden & dip
is warmed through, 33-35 minutes.
Garnish with chopped chives & serve.
Serves 6

Cheesy Cauliflower/Bacon Dip

4 C. small cauliflower florets
(about 1/2 large head)
1/2 C. water
4 slices bacon
1/2 C. finely chopped yellow onions
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, cubed
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
3/4 C. mayonnaise
1 (8 oz) pkg. (Kraft) shredded Italian
5-cheese blend, divided
1 T. sliced green onions

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In food processor, process cauliflower
until pea-sized pieces. Place in large
microwaveable bowl & stir in water.
Microwave on High 3 minutes; stir.
(goal is crisp-tender). If necessary,
continue microwaving 2 minutes until
any larger cauliflower pieces are crisp-
tender; drain. Cook bacon in medium
skillet on medium heat until crisp;
remove to paper towel-lined plate.
Discard all but 1 T. drippings. Add
onions to drippings; cook 3-4 minutes
until crisp-tender, stirring frequently.
Add cream cheese & hot sauce; cook &
stir 2-3 minutes until cream cheese is
completely melted & well blended. Stir
in cauliflower, mayo & 1 1/2 C. cheese;
smooth top. Crumble bacon; sprinkle
over dip & top with remaining shredded
cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes until dip
is heated through & top is brown;
sprinkle top with green onions &
serve. Makes 32 (2 T. each) servings.


Crockpot Garlic Mashed Potatoes

5 lb. red potatoes, peeled/cut
into chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1 C. water
8 T. butter, divided
1/3 C. sour cream
1/2 C. milk

Place garlic cloves in a small square of
foil; wrap foil up like a Hershey kiss
candy. Place peeled/chopped potatoes
into crockpot & season well with salt/
pepper. Place foil/garlic packet into
potatoes. Place chicken bouillon granules
into a large 2-Cup measuring cup & stir in
1 C. warm water until dissolved – pour over
potatoes. Cut 4 T. butter into small pieces
& place in random spots over potatoes.
Cover & cook on High 4 hours or Low
7-8 (depending on how fast your crockpot
When potatoes are fork-tender, remove foil
packet; open it – smash garlic with a fork &
add half of it back into crockpot. (If you want
more garlic taste, add more after everything
is mixed together – best to start with a little).
Pour 1/2 C. milk, 4 T. butter & 1/3 C. sour
cream into crockpot & mix, using elec. mixer
until all is smooth. You can add more milk
if they are too thick. Taste & add more salt/
pepper/garlic, if needed. Serves 10-12


Cranberry-Orange Cake

1 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. sour cream
1 C. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
zest of 1 orange – (about 1 T.)
juice of an orange
1/2 C. butter
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 C. fresh cranberries

1 C. powdered sugar
2-3 T. milk/water or orange

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick
cooking spray. Sprinkle 2 T. sugar in
bottom of sprayed pan. Sprinkle
1/4 C. cranberries on top of sugar.
Cream butter & sugar until sugar
turns a lemon color, about 4-5
minutes. Add eggs, one at a time,
mix until incorporated. Add orange
juice & zest, then sour cream. When
fully incorporated, add flour, salt &
baking powder – mix well. Stir in
remaining 1 1/4 C. cranberries; pour
into prepared pan & bake 50-55
minutes until a toothpick inserted
near center comes out clean. Let
stand 5 minutes after removing
from oven. Invert cake onto a wire
rack to cool.
Mix glaze ingredients & spread on
top & sides of cake. Serve.


Chocolate Churro Dip

1 tube refrigerated biscuit dough
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 C. cinnamon sugar
2 C. Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray an oven-safe 10″ skillet
with nonstick cooking spray. Cut
each biscuit in half & roll into
balls. Dunk each ball in melted
butter then roll in cinnamon-sugar.
Place around the perimeter of the
skillet to form a ring. Biscuit
pieces should be touching. Pour/
scoop Nutella into center of skillet
& bake 25 minutes until biscuits
are golden & cooked through. Let
stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serve warm. Serves 6

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

Caramel Sauce:
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. water
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 C. heavy cream
3 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

1 C. flour
1/3 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. granulated sugar
6 T. softened butter
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled/
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. butter
1/4 tsp. salt

Caramel Sauce:
Heat sugar & water in small
saucepan on medium heat to
melt sugar. Continue cooking &
swirling sugar until it turns an
amber color. Whisk in sea salt &
heavy cream (mixture will bubble
up violently, briefly). Continue
whisking until sauce is smooth.
Stir in butter & vanilla.

Combine all crumble ingredients using
an elec. mixer. Mixture will be crumbly
but stay together when squeezed. Place
sliced apples in a bowl with lemon juice.
Cook apples in a large cast iron skillet
over medium-low heat in butter to draw
out moisture. Sprinkle with salt to draw
out all moisture possible. Drain & place
back in skillet. (about 5-7 minutes cooking
time). Pour 3/4 of prepared caramel
sauce into apples & gently stir. Top with
crumble topping & bake 20 minutes.
Serve with remaining caramel sauce.
Serves 6


Weather-wise, our temps. dropped severely –
it’s now 19 degrees and snowing. We’re supposed
to get 1-3 inches; while we were at the restaurant
it was coming down a LOT. Going home was pretty
slippery  – SO glad we only live about 7 minutes
away AND don’t have to go out again today/tonight!

All I have left to ‘do’ is wrap presents and (maybe)
put together the 2 casseroles together & refrigerate
overnight (easy day!).

Stay warm, SAFE and remember to relax a bit in
between ‘adventures’!



Getting Closer . . .

Got a few more decorations up yesterday (not many) and still no tree – it will come. Hope you are getting the last minute things done you hoped you would/could. Still struggling with lack of energy and tomorrow I babysit – really hoping it’s ONLY 10:15 a.m. – 3:30! Learned yesterday that youngest son is going to be able to join us for Christmas dinner – YAY! In going over all the various canned/boxed foods I bought for the various dishes for Christmas dinner I discovered I missed a good 5-7 cans green beans for the Green Bean Casserole! Got to thinking about it (after searching all over and in my car) – I remembered getting into a good 15 minute conversation with one of the older men that works at one of the grocery stores I frequent – and, said conversation was just when I was trying to decide how many cans of green beans to buy. Guess the ‘conversation/distraction’ was enough to cause me to totally forget to buy them! UGH! Well, I ‘was’ kind of planning on going out for a short trip to the drug store (I’m searching for something I SHOULD have bought a few weeks ago when I saw them) – wanted to buy one of those really big Hershey’s Kisses for the baby’s Mom (just a little something ‘extra’, but it seems they are sold out in places I go). Have fully decided I’m NOT going to WalMart, KMart or Meijers, even IF they have them – too tired, still, to battle crowds – might just ‘go without.’ These past few days of realizing I’m NOT as healthy as I’d hoped brings back a saying my good friend Mary (Momma) shared with me:

What I have   –          is enough
What I am      –          is enough
What I do       –          is enough
What I’ve achieved – is enough

I’ve notice, through the years, that EVERY Christmas I do the same thing: buy presents that I think are nice/heartfelt/something the person receiving them will enjoy THEN, when it comes REALLY CLOSE to the actual day-I begin to doubt if it’s ENOUGH. That’s NOT a good thing – hence, why Mary’s saying really hits home. I just have to re-read the saying and APPLY IT! (Have you ever had that situation?)


Pie Crust Pinwheel Cinnamon

2 pie crusts (store bought or homemade)
2/3 C. sugar (option: mix half white & half
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 to 2 1/2 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment
paper. In small bowl combine sugar(s)
& cinnamon. Roll pie crusts on on a clean,
lightly floured surface & roll each out into
a large rectangle. Brush melted butter over
dough, then evenly sprinkle cinnamon/sugar
mixture on top. Starting with long end, roll
dough over itself to create a long log. Cut
log into 1-inch rounds then transfer to sheets.
Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are light
golden. Remove from oven & let cool 2 minutes
before transferring to a wire rack to cool
completely. Makes approx. 2 dozen


Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Rolls

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices deli ham
2 chicken breasts, cooked/sliced thinly
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 T. honey
2 T. Dijon mustard

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Spray a pie pan (or 9″ baking pan) with
nonstick cooking spray. Remove rolls
from pkg; lay out in long rectangle –
pinch seams together well. Sprinkle
Italian seasoning on. Layer: Swiss
cheese, then ham then chicken breast.
Roll up like a cinnamon roll & cut into
8-10 rolls/rounds. Place rolls on pie pan
& bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
Mix honey & Dijon & serve in a small
bowl as a dip. Makes 4 servings

Sausage Cream Cheese Crescents

16 oz. bulk sausage, cooked/crumbled
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
1 C. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
In large bowl combine cooked
sausage, cream cheese & Cheddar
cheese. Separate rolls into triangles;
cut each triangle in half, lengthwise.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon meat
mixture onto each roll & roll up.
Place on cookie sheets & bake about
15 minutes until golden brown.

Ham & Swiss Rolls (appetizer)

1/4 C. Dijon mustard
1 onion, minced
1 C. butter, melted
4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
2 T. poppy seeds
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
4 pkgs. small dinner rolls
1 lb. shaved deli ham

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Combine mustard, onion, butter,
cheese, poppy seeds & Worc.
sauce in small bowl. Using a
serrated knife, slice an entire
pkg. of rolls in half horizontally.
Spread bottom half of rolls with
1/4 of mustard mixture, top with
1/4 lb. ham & replace top bun.
Place rolls on a sheet pan lined
with foil – repeat with remaining
rolls & ingredients. Bake 20-30
minutes until thoroughly heated.

Artichoke/Garlic/Herb Cream
Cheese Spread

1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichokes,
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 tsp. dried garlic
1/2 tsp. chopped chives
1/2 tsp. chopped dill weed
1/2 tsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. dried red & green pepper
flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Chop artichokes in blender or food
processor. Combine all ingredients
in medium bowl & chill several hours.
Serve with toasted bread, pita chips
or crackers. Makes 1 1/2 C.


Creamy Broccoli-Bacon Bake

6 C. small broccoli florets
2 carrots, sliced
1 (8 oz) tub (Kraft) Philadelphia
cream cheese spread
2 T. milk
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 green onions, sliced
3/4 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked/chopped

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
In large saucepan filled with
boiling water add broccoli &
carrots – cook 2-3 minutes until
crisp-tender. Drain, reserving
1/4 C. cooking water. Mix next
3 ingredients in a bowl until
blended. Return cooked vegs.
to saucepan; add cream cheese
spread & onion – stir until
veggies are evenly coated with
sauce, adding reserved cooking
water, if necessary, for desired
consistency. Spray a 2-qt.
casserole dish with nonstick
cooking spray & spoon mixture
into dish. Top with shredded
cheese & bacon – cover with foil.
Bake 25 minutes until heated
through – uncover for last 5
minutes of cooking time.
Serves 8 (1/2 C. each)


Crockpot Taco Casserole

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
2 T. taco seasoning
1 (13.75 oz) can cream of chicken
1 (10.5 oz) can Ro*Tel tomatoes
(diced tomatoes w/green chilies)
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained/
1 C. frozen corn
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese (poster
uses sharp Cheddar & mozzarella,

Tortilla chips
sour cream
sliced avocado

Spray insides of crockpot with
nonstick cooking spray. In a
large skillet brown meat; drain
& add taco seasoning. Add
soup, Ro*Tel, beans & corn –
stir well & pour into crockpot.
Sprinkle top with cheese. Cover
& cook on Low 2-3 hours.
Serve with desired toppings.
Serves 4-6

NOTE: This recipe can also be
made in the oven:
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish
with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix ingredients together (after
cooking meat) & pour into
prepared dish. Bake 30 minutes.


Chicken Gnocchi Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled/grated
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled/chopped
2-3 T. olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken plus 1 C.
reserved broth from bottom of container
7 C. water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (16 oz) pkg. Potato Gnocchi
(Gnocchi are Italian dumplings &
can usually be found in grocery stores
by the dried pastas – might also be
found in the frozen sections)
4 C. Half & Half
1 1/2/ C. spinach, chopped
1 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 T. sugar
1/4 C. cold water
5 T. cornstarch
2 T. butter

Heat a large soup pot over medium-
high heat & heat oil. When oil is hot,
add chopped veggies – cook over
medium-high heat, stirring occasionally
5-8 minutes until onions are translucent.
Remove skin from chicken & meat from
bones – chop meat. Pour broth from
chicken container & 7 C. hot water into
pot; add chicken bouillon cubes & stir;
add chopped chicken & bring to boil.
Pour gnocchi into boiling pot & return
to boil. Cook 3-4 minutes – gnocchi will
be cooked through when they float to
top of broth. Add spinach, Half & Half,
thyme, nutmeg, sugar & 2 T. butter to
pot, stir & bring to boil.
In small bowl combine 1/4 C. cold water
& 5 T. cornstarch – mix well & pour into
pot. Bring soup to boil while stirring – it
will thicken as it reaches a boil. Season
with salt/pepper & serve. Serves 12


Strawberry/Banana Cheesecake

1 (8 oz)  pkg. cream cheese, softened
16 oz. vanilla yogurt
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 (3.5 oz) pkg. cheesecake-flavored
instant pudding or pie filling mix
1/2 bag miniature marshmallows
3 pints strawberries, cleaned/sliced
4 bananas, sliced
1 container raspberries (optional)

In large bowl mix cream cheese, yogurt,
pudding mix & Cool Whip until creamy.
Stir in marshmallows/fold in fruit.
Garnish top of bowl with additional
fruit, if desired. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Fudge Pie

2/3 C. evaporated milk
1/2 of a 12 oz. pkg. semisweet
chocolate morsels
2 T. butter
1 C. sugar
2 T. flour
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped pecans

1 (unbaked) pie crust

fresh whipped cream, for
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Place first 3 ingredients in a
microwave-safe bowl & heat
on High 1 to 1 1/2 minutes
until melted & smooth, whisking
at 30 second intervals. Whisk
sugar & flour into chocolate
mixture; add eggs, 1 at a time,
whisking just until blended after
each addition. Whisk in vanilla &
salt; stir in pecans. Pour mixture
into pie shell & bake 35-40 minutes
until set. Cool 10 minutes before
Serve with fresh whipped cream.



Have a great day – and TRY to stay healthy!



Everything Old is New Again!

Today started out with me attempting to bring down more Christmas decorations; spotted some boxes I hadn’t gone through and Lo & Behold! There was a tiny tree decorated with  miniature ornaments I’d made a good 15 years ago that I’d totally forgotten! Also ‘found’ the rest of the clear plastic window ‘stickers’ (snowflakes, Christmas themes, etc.) – I’d already put up enough of those, but nice to know where the old ones are – now! I’m doing my best to ‘keep on – keeping on’ while still struggling with the ends of this cold thing – I find I’m pretty exhausted most days so today I just told myself: “Self: enough is enough! Do just these things and NO MORE! GO REST!” Yesterday was crazy – up really early to drive to the other church (1/2 hr) to pick up the special needs group newsletters, drive back to son’s house to babysit 10:15 to 3:30, go home & rest a few, then Knit Night 6:30 – 9 p.m. (then home to collapse!). Today was getting up early to fold, address, stuff all the newsletters, stop at Walgreen’s to get stamps (NO WAY I was standing in line at the Post Office THIS close to Christmas!). Turns out they had exactly TWO books of stamps at Walgreen’s – SCORE! just what I needed. Got to the drive through/outdoors mailboxes at the Post Office and BOTH of them were overflowing with mail – no way I’m putting our newsletters in there only to have them fall out, so I went inside & put them in the ‘inside’ mail slot (having worked at that location back in 1969, I KNOW that that particular slot gets picked up BEFORE the outside boxes do) – mailing complete. The presents are all purchased,  most of the stocking stuffers are there, most of the house decorating is done. That leaves (TOMORROW – I’m putting it off for today – resting) baking 4 loaves of breads & delivering them to the neighbors and (MAYBE) putting up a tree. Husband & I both agreed – this year it’s just going to be the small fiber-optic tree in the dining room – that’s ENOUGH for us! Getting old is no fun, but getting sick at the busiest time of the year really sucks…enough of my complaining…(sorry)


Crispy Ginger Cookies

2 1/3 C. flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
scant 1/4 tsp. salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 C. granulated sugar, divided
1/2 C. packed light brown sugar
1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter,
softened but still cool
1 large egg
1/3 C. molasses

In medium bowl whisk flour, ginger,
allspice, cinnamon, cloves baking soda,
salt & pepper. Using elec. mixer, beat
1/2 C. gran. sugar, brown sugar & butter
until light & fluffy, 3-5 minutes, scraping
sides of bowl as necessary. Add egg &
beat about 20 seconds; scrape down bowl
sides. Add molasses – mix well & scrape
sides again. Add dry ingredients then mix
on Low speed just until incorporated. Do
not over mix. (Dough will be very soft;
refrigerate at least 1 hour – or until firm
enough to roll out).

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Place oven rack in middle of oven;
line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place remaining 1/2 C. gran. sugar in a shallow
bowl. Form dough into 1-inch balls & roll in
sugar to coat – place on prepared sheet about
2 inches apart (they will spread). Flatten tops
slightly with your fingers. Bake 10-14 minutes
until set & golden on outside & slightly soft on
the inside. (as they bake they will puff up, then
flatten). Do not remove from oven until they are
flat). Let cookies cool in sheet a few minutes then
transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate
dough between batches, as needed, to maintain
a soft (but not wet) consistency. Cookies will keep
several days in airtight container. Makes 36 cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

4 oz. semisweet chocolate*, chopped
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
8 oz. (Nabisco) chocolate wafers – about
32 cookies from a 9-oz. pkg), finely ground
using a food processor to make 2 C. crumbs

Peanut Butter Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 C. smooth peanut butter
1 C. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. cold heavy cream

4 oz. semisweet chocolate*, chopped
1/2 C. heavy cream
1/4 C. salted, roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.

In medium glass bowl combine chocolate &
butter – microwave on High in 20-second
intervals until just melted. Stir well then stir
in cookie crumbs. Press mixture evenly over
bottom & up rim of a 10-inch tart pan with
removable bottom
. Make sure to not make
the crust too thick in any one spot, especially
around the rim. Keep it thin throughout or it
will come out too hard. Bake crust 10 minutes
then cool on a rack.

Peanut Butter Filling:
In large bowl using elec. mixer, beat cream
cheese with peanut butter, sugar & vanilla until
blended. In another large bowl, using elec.
mixer, whip chilled cream until firm. Fold
one-third whipped cream into peanut butter
mixture to loosen it, then fold in remaining
whipped cream. Spoon filling into cooled crust,
smoothing the surface. Refrigerate, uncovered,
1 hour.

In medium glass bowl combine chocolate with
heavy cream – microwave on High in 20-second
intervals until chocolate is just melted & cream is
hot. Stir until blended, then cool to barely warm,
stirring occasionally. Spread over chilled peanut
butter filling & sprinkle chopped peanuts around
edges of pie. Chill, uncovered, 3 more hours.

To Serve:
Carefully remove rim from pan by gently pressing
upwards on bottom while holding the rim in place.
(If using a springform pan, run a thin knife around
crust to loosen it, the remove springform ring). Use
a sharp knife to cut the pie into wedges. Run the
knife under hot water & dry it between each cut.
Serve chilled or slightly cooler than room temp.

* Poster uses the best quality, such as Ghirardelli

NOTE: Pie can be made a day ahead then covered &
refrigerated until ready to serve.


Cream Cheese Sausage Balls

1 lb. hot sausage, uncooked (or
any sausage you prefer)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 C. Bisquick (baking mix)
4 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
In large bowl mix all ingredients
until well combined; roll into 1-inch
balls. Place on baking sheets
& bake 20-25 minutes until brown.
Makes about 24 balls.

NOTE: can be made ahead & frozen.
If baking frozen, add a few minutes
to the total cooking time.


Bacon/Ranch/Walnut Cheeseball

2 (8 oz, ea) pkgs. cream cheese,
room temp (leave on counter at
least 1 hour before mixing)
1/8 C. plus 1/8 C. walnuts, chopped
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
1/4 C. fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (2.8 oz) pkg. pre-made real bacon bits

Using elec. mixer in large bowl cream
cream cheese until creamy. Add dry
ranch mix & parsley, blend. Add 1/8 C.
walnuts – blend in; blend in chopped
chives. Add Chedd. cheese & stir, while
scraping sides of bowl, creating a ball.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on counter
& sprinkle remaining 1/8 C. nuts on sheet.
Sprinkle entire pkg. of bacon bits on sheet.
Roll cheese ball in bacon bits/nuts until it’s
completely covered. Wrap ball in plastic
wrap & shape into a round ball; place in
fridge 2 hours. Remove from fridge when
ready to eat – allow 1 hour to soften.
Serve with crackers, crostini, French bread
chunks, pretzels, etc. for dipping.

Creamy Jalapeno Dip

1 C. mayonnaise
1/3 C. buttermilk
1/3 C. sour cream
1 (4 oz) can chopped jalapenos
(cut this in half if you don’t like spicy)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Place all ingredients in a blender or
food processor – process until smooth.
Refrigerate any leftovers.


Southern Smothered Pork Chops

4 center-cut pork chops
1/4 C. flour
3/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 C. chicken or beef broth
1 medium onion, chopped

Suggested ‘sides’:
cooked mashed potatoes (for 4)
cooked rice or noodles (for 4)

Pour flour, poultry seasoning &
salt in zip-lock bag – shake to mix.
Add chops & shake until lightly
coated. Heat heavy skillet large
enough to hold all chops over
medium-high heat. Add oil &
heat until it shimmers. Place
chops in pan & saute 2-3 minutes
per side until golden brown. Remove
chops from pan & add 2 T. flour
mixture from bag to skillet; stir a
few seconds to cook flour. Add
about 1 C. broth & cook, stirring,
to lift any browned bits from pan.
Add remaining broth & turn off
heat. (Reserve remaining flour
mixture for later).
Place onion in bottom of crockpot &
lay chops on top. Pour liquids from
pan over chops. Cover & cook on
High 2 hours. Remove about 1 C.
of liquids from crockpot into a
small bowl; stir in remaining flour
mixture from bag & mix until
completely smooth. Return this
mixture to crockpot, stirring to mix.
Cover & cook 30-45 minutes more.
Serves 4

(suggested sides: mashed potatoes or
cooked noodles or rice)


Loaded Scalloped Potatoes

5 lb. baking potatoes, sliced
1/4 C. olive oil
1/2 T. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 C. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 C. Ranch salad dressing (liquid)
1/4 C. salsa – your choice of heat
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 T. fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Place potatoes in a 12″ cast
iron skillet OR 9 X 13″ baking dish
& coat in olive oil, salt/pepper –
fold in shredded cheese. Bake
60 minutes until browned on top
& tender.
Mix Ranch dressing & salsa in
small bowl until combined. Once
potatoes are done cooking, evenly
drizzle salsa/ranch on top &
sprinkle top with chopped bacon &
parsley. Serve hot. Serves 15


Crockpot Candybar Dip

1 (12 oz) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
25 caramels, unwrapped
1/2 C. heavy cream
6 fun-size Milky Way candy bars

Spray a small crockpot with nonstick
spray. Place all ingredients in pot, cover
& cook on Low 1 1/2 – 2 hours until
melted & smooth. Serve warm.
Makes 3 cups

Suggested Dippers:
chocolate or vanilla cookies
pretzel sticks
brownie bites
pound cake cubes
graham crackers


 Tiramisu Cheesecake Dessert

1 (12 oz) pkg. vanilla wafers
5 tsp. instant coffee granules, divided
3 T. hot water, divided
4 (8 oz, ea) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 C. sugar
1 C. (8 oz) sour cream
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 C. Cool Whip, thawed
1 T. baking cocoa

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Layer half of wafers in greased 9 X 13″
baking dish. In small bowl dissolve 2 tsp.
coffee in 2 T. hot water; brush 1 T. mixture
over wafers. In large bowl beat cream
cheese & sugar until smooth; beat in
sour cream. Add eggs, beating at Low
speed just until blended. Remove half
of filling to another bowl. Dissolve
remaining coffee granules in remaining
hot water & stir into one portion filling –
spread over wafers. Layer remaining wafers
over top, brush with remaining dissolved
coffee granules & spread with remaining
filling. Bake 40-45 minutes until center is
almost set. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.
Loosen sides from dish with a knife. Cool
1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight,
covering when completely cooled.
To serve, spread with Cool Whip & dust
with baking cocoa. Makes 12 servings.


Crockpot Brown Sugar Carrots
(also OVEN & stovetop methods)

5 lb. bag carrots, peeled/cut into
3/4″ coins
1/4 C. unsalted butter
1/2 C. brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Place all ingredients in crockpot &
mix together. Cover & cook on Low
4 hours. Garnish with additional
brown sugar when serving, if
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Spray a large foil-lined pan with
nonstick spray. Mix all ingredients
& pour into pan. Bake 25-30
Boil carrots 5-7 minutes. Place
all ingredients in large pan &
cook carrots until glazed &

Crockpot Cranberry Pork Loin

1 (3-4 lb) pork loin
1 (14 oz) can whole cranberry sauce
1 (1 oz) pkg. onion soup mix

In small bowl mix cranberry sauce &
soup mix, stir until combined. Place
pork loin in crockpot & pour cranberry
mixture on top. Cover & cook on Low
7 hours without opening lid during
cooking time.
Slice & serve with sauce.
Serves 8



Hoping that you are all in good health and
fairly ‘ready’ for the holidays. Sharing my oldest
son’s little family (he also has an 11 yr old son
who’s not in this photo)


Stay healthy!



Happy Saturday!

It’s a typical Michigan Winter day – temps around 29 degrees F., no ‘extra’ snow (yet) – it did give us about 1 1/2 inches more yesterday which made driving home a bit touchy. Yesterday! I babysat from 10 a.m. – 3:30! YAY! All went very well, had a great time wrestling with (as my husband calls him) “Da Baby” – he’s a little over 9 months old now, 5 teeth (with another one coming soon); he can walk pretty well now – loves making ovals & circles – he can even walk backwards – surprising!


This is the photo I had to work from – the request was to “TRY” to (somehow) copy it, if I could. My dear, sweet special needs guy, Kevin, has slept with this since he was a baby (and still does) – he’s almost ‘loved it to death’. His Mom asked if I could see what I could do. Originally it was Mint green & white (now it’s sage & cream). With some struggles finding that funny sort of ‘hole/stitch’ at the right top of the photo, I plowed on. Since I really had no idea just ‘where’ the hole pattern went in the entire blanket, I just sort of ‘winged it’ – his Mom said: “Do what you can”. Remembering that I’m a KNITTER who’s a beginner Crocheter, here is the finished crocheted blanket/lovey:

It’s 28 inches wide by 40 inches long (if you flip the photo, the bottom is a reverse of what you’re seeing in the photo). There are mistakes and it’s not perfect, but I think, for what it’s going to be used for, it should work. (He wads up his old blanket & tucks it under his head/face when he sleeps.)


 Crockpot Turtles Candy

4 C. pecans, chopped
2 lb. almond bark
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. chocolate baking bar
2 (12 oz, ea). pkgs. Rolo candies,
candy sprinkles – optional

Place pecans, almond bark. choc.
chips & choc. baking bar in crockpot
set on Low. Cover & heat 1 1/2 – 2 hours
until melted. Uncover & stir until evenly
combined. Line 2 baking sheets with
parchment paper (or silicone mats). Lay
Rolos candies on paper, 2 inches apart.
Using a small cookie scoop**, scoop choc.
mixture, a little at a time, on each Rolo –
repeat until all Rolos are covered. Top
each candy with sprinkles, if desired.
Allow candy to cool until hardened.
Makes about 96

*If you want more caramel in each
bite, you can substitute caramels
in place of Rolos.

**If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you
can use a heaping Tablespoon/measuring


Cheesy Spinach Bundles

1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped
spinach, thawed, well-drained
1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. (Kraft) Philadelphia Chive &
Onion cream cheese spread
1 egg, separated
1 (8 oz) tube refrigerated crescent
dinner rolls

Preheat oven 375 degrees F>
Mix first 4 ingredients & egg yolk
in large bowl until blended. Open
rolls & separate into 8 triangles.
Cut each triangle diagonally in
half. Spoon 1 T. spinach mixture
in center of each triangle. Bring
corners of dough to center over
filling, overlapping ends. Pinch
ends together to seal & place on
baking sheets. Beat egg white
lightly & brush on tops of bundles.
Bake 12-15 minutes until golden
brown. Serves 8


Broccoli Casserole Dip

4 slices bacon
1 head broccoli cut into
small florets (about 3 C.)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 C. mayonnaise
1/3 C. sour cream
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
kosher salt
ground black pepper
1/2 C. crumbled Ritz crackers
1/4 C. butter, melted

crackers, for serving

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large nonstick skillet cook
bacon over medium heat until
crisp – remove bacon from
skillet & transfer to paper towel-
lined plate. Reserve 2 T. bacon
fat in skillet. Add broccoli florets
& cook until crisp-tender, about
4 minutes. Chop bacon &
broccoli into very small pieces. In
large bowl combine cream cheese,
mayonnaise, sour cream & garlic
powder – mix until smooth. Fold
in cheese, cooked broccoli & bacon.
Season with salt/pepper & transfer
to small baking dish. In small bowl
combine crumbled crackers with
melted butter – toss until combined.
Scatter mixture on top of dip in dish.
Bake 15 minutes until cheese is melted
& cracker topping is golden & crispy.
Serve warm with crackers for dipping.
Serves 6


Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

2 cloves garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas,** drained/rinsed
SEE next ingredient
**1/2 C. liquid from chickpea can (at
4 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 T. tahini
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. olive oil
1 medium sweet potato, roasted
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (if
you don’t like spicy, cut amount
to 1/2 tsp.)

Add garlic to food processor & process
until chopped. Add chickpeas, lemon
juice, tahini, salt, olive, roasted sweet
potato & spices – process 1-2 minutes
(mixture will be pretty thick & not
completely smooth). Slowly add in
reserved liquid & process until hummus
reaches your desired consistency.
(Poster noted she used 1/2 C.)


Bacon-Cheddar Cornbread Loaf

1/2 C. melted butter
1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 C. milk
1 C. flour
1 1/2 C. cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 slices bacon, chopped in small
1 C. fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
1 C. Cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
2 T. fresh rosemary, sage or chives

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 5″ loaf pan with nonstick
cooking spray. Fry bacon until crisp;
transfer to paper towels. Whisk
melted butter, sugar, milk & eggs in
a bowl. In another bowl whisk flour,
cornmeal, baking powder & salt.
Gently stir dry flour mixture into wet
ingredients until combined & moistened,
but not over mixed. Fold in cheese, bacon
crumbles, herbs & corn using a spatula,
until incorporated. Pour into prepared
loaf pan & bake 30 minutes, topping
with extra cheese after 20 minutes of
baking time. Bread is cooked when middle
is set & edges are golden brown.
Serves 6-8

(recipe: 12

Crockpot Philly Cheese Steak

2 lb. chip steak (or) 2 lb. cube steaksk
cut into strips
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 to 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 lb. pepperoni, thinly sliced
8 oz. Provolone cheese, thinly

In medium skillet saute mushrooms
in oil until softened & light brown,
about 5 minutes – add to crockpot
along with rest of ingredients EXCEPT
Provolone. Cover & cook on Low
6 hours. Stir well & divide among
6 bowls. Cover each bowl with
Provolone & add some cooking juices
to each bowl to melt the cheese.
Serves 6

(recipe: Mike Suddaby-Facebook)

Ranch Potatoes

8-10 medium potatoes, peeled/
cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 can cream of mushroom soup,
1 1/4 C. milk
1 envelope dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 1/2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese,
6 slices bacon, cooked/crumbled

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with
nonstick cooking spray.
Place potato cubes in saucepan, cover
with water & bring to boil – cook about
10-12 minutes until potatoes are almost
tender; drain then place in prepared pan.
In a bowl mix soup, milk, dry dressing mix,
1 C. cheese, salt/pepper to taste & pour
over potatoes. Sprinkle crumbled bacon &
remaining cheese on top. Bake, uncovered,
25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

(recipe: Mike Suddaby-Facebook)
Pecan Chicken Salad

4 C. cooked/chopped chicken
breast (OR) two 15 oz. cans
1 1/2 C. sliced seedless grapes
(red or white)
1/2 C. chopped celery

1 T. sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
3/4 C. chopped pecans
1 C. mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together;
place in a serving bowl.


Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
halves (about 2 lb)
1/4 C. butter
2 C. chicken broth
1 C. sour cream
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. flour
salt/pepper, to taste

Cooked egg noodles for 4

In large skillet melt butter over
medium heat. Add chicken &
cook until very lightly browned
on both sides but not cooked
through. Add broth & reduce
heat to Low about 10 minutes
until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken & place on a
plate. Add sour cream, garlic
powder, salt/pepper to skillet;
continue cooking on Low while
stirring until sour cream is
melted & fully incorporated.
Remove about 1/2 C. of liquid
from skillet & stir flour into
liquid until smooth then pour
back into skillet. Using a wire
whisk, whisk until gravy is
thickened & smooth again. Add
chicken back to skillet & turn to coat.
Serve chicken & sauce immediately
over cooked egg noodles.
Serves 4


Oreo Cookie Balls-3 Ingredients!

1 (14 to 19 oz) pkg. Oreo cookies
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. white almond bark (OR) 24 oz.
white chocolate chips*

*Almond bark contains no nuts – it is
a candy coating that may be found
near the chocolate chips in stores.

Crush Oreos very fine-either by using a
food processor or placing in a ziplock
bag & crushing them with a mallet or
rolling pin.
In a large bowl, using elec. mixer mix
cream cheese & crushed cookies – mix
until well blended. Scoop out & form
into 1-inch balls – place on waxed paper
until ready to dip.

Melt almond bark (or white choc. chips):
1 of 2 methods: Place in microwave-safe
bowl & microwave in 30 second intervals,
stirring after each, until melted & smooth
(OR) Melt in a saucepan until fully melted
& smooth.
Dip each cookie ball in melted mixture then
place on waxed paper to cool completely.
Store in airtight container in fridge.
Makes 60-70 balls.



I’m slowly but surely feeling better – still
stuffed up but functioning OK. Tonight (6 p.m.)
is our final choir rehearsal for tomorrow’s
Christmas program – I’m going to TRY to
sing tonight – we’ll see what happens!

It’s now NINE days until Christmas; oldest
son let me know last night that we’re doing
Christmas dinner at 2 p.m. (at his house). I
have no idea what meat he’s doing but I’m
doing the ‘same old’ sides: garlic mashed
potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole,
(black olives – oldest’s favorite), probably a
repeat of the wild rice casserole (middle son’s
girlfriend – and now middle son are VEGAN –
they both said they loved the casserole so
here goes one more time!) and 2 desserts.
It’s a tradition in my family to bake a “Happy
Birthday, Jesus” chocolate cake so perhaps
that might be one of the 2 desserts – we’ll
see. Here’s a photo of one from a few years

Hope you are all able to remain in good
health while finishing up these days before
the holiday. While choosing the recipes to
post today I noticed I still have a LOT of
appetizer & cookie/candy recipes to post
so those will be coming in the next few

Stay warm & take a few minutes to rest/
relax while going through your very busy



Finally – feeling more like the old ‘me’!

I can actually say that I’m finally feeling MUCH better! First thing today I baked a 9 X 13″ apple crisp – had a bunch of apples that were ‘on the edge’, so got that out of the way. A bit later I was getting the ‘itch’ to do some Christmas decorating so now we have a lighted wreath on the outside window, lighted roping on the fire place & secretary, some window decals in the bathroom, kitchen windows & back door. There’s still lots to bring down (no tree yet)  but at least I got a START! (also –  sent text I’m feeling better so now I’m babysitting tomorrow 10:15 a.m. – ?…hoping it’s only 3/3:30 p.m.)

(In my haste to share the recipes I totally forgot photos of my house today:)

The backyard picnic table – Yes, we got about 8 inches yesterday!

My car WAS totally clean before all the snow started!


Lot’s more desserts/candy recipes for ya:


Peppermint Swirl Fudge

1 tsp. butter
1 (10 to 12 oz) pkg. white baking
1 (16 oz) tub vanilla frosting
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
8 drops red food coloring
2 T. crushed peppermint candies

Line a 9″ square baking pan with foil
(extending foil out past rim of pan) &
lightly grease with butter. In small
saucepan, melt chips, stirring until
smooth. Remove from heat, stir in
frosting & extract then spread into
prepared pan. Randomly place drops
of food coloring over fudge – cut
through fudge with a knife to swirl
color. Sprinkle top with candies &
refrigerate 1 hour until set.
Using foil – lift fudge from pan.
Gently peel off foil & cut into 1 inch
squares. Store in airtight container.
Makes about 1 1/2 lb.

Pistachio Cranberry Bark

2 C. (12 oz) semisweet chocolate
1 C. chopped pistachios, toasted/
3/4 C. dried cranberries, divided
5 oz. white candy coating, melted

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
In microwave-safe bowl, microwave
choc. chips until melted; stir until
smooth. Stir in 3/4 C. pistachios &
half of cranberries – spread onto
prepared sheet & drizzle with melted
candy coating. Cut through layers with
a knife to swirl. Sprinkle top with
remaining pistachios & cranberries;
refrigerate until firm. Cut or break
into pieces & store in airtight container
in fridge. Makes about 1 lb.


Easy White Chocolate-covered Pretzels

100 miniature pretzels (or 50 pretzel rods)
16 oz. candy coating or melting chocolate
wafers (such as Ghiradelli or CandiQuik
sprinkles, candies, crushed candy canes,
etc. for topping

Cover a large baking sheet with parch-
ment paper. Set out your toppings that
you plan to use to decorate the pretzels.
Melt chocolate/candy coating accordg. to
pkg. directions. Use a large fork or pronged
dipping tool to dip bottom of each pretzel
into melted chocolate – gently tap until
excess chocolate has dripped off. Scrape
the bottom of the fork/tool against the
bowl before gently placing coated pretzel
on baking sheet. Sprinkle on desired
toppings while chocolate is still wet –
let set until hardened. Store in air tight
container up to 1 week. Makes 15

Rolo Candy Buttons

24 miniature or square pretzels
24 Rolo candies, unwrapped*
24 M & M’s

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line a large baking sheet with
parchment paper. Lay half of
pretzels on sheet & top each
with a Rolo candy – bake 2-4
minutes until Rolos have softened.
Remove from oven & gently press
1 M & M on top of each Rolo. Chill
10 minutes until chocolate has set.
Store leftovers in an airtight
container. Makes 24 candies.
Recipe can easily be doubled or

*Rolo candy: Usually sold in a roll
in the candy aisle:
a small individual
round caramel covered in chocolate.

Chocolate Mint Cream Cheese

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
several drops green gel food coloring
1 C. heavy whipping cream
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese & 1 C.
powdered sugar in large bowl – use
stand or hand mixer to combine. Add
extract & coloring – mix until combined.
Gradually add rest of powd’d sugar –
mix until combined, scraping down
sides of bowl as needed. Use your
hands to combine ingredients if your
mixer is not up to the task. Line a large
baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop
out a teaspoon of dough & form into a ball
using the palm of your hands – place on
prepared sheet; repeat with rest of dough.
Using the end of a wooden spoon or a
small measuring spoon, create an indentation
in each ball – NOTE: dust the measuring spoon
with powdered sugar if it sticks.
Chill mints until firm, about 1 hour.

Place chocolate chips in heat-proof bowl or
large measuring cup. In saucepan bring
heavy cream to just a simmer then pour
over chocolate chips – stir once or twice &
let stand 1 minutes. Continue stirring until
chocolate is fully melted & incorporated.
Transfer mixture to a ziplock bag & let set
30 minutes until it has thickened up (think
yogurt consistency). You can speed up the
process by refrigerating BUT keep an eye
on it or it will get very firm. Cut the
bottom corner of bag & pipe into center
of each mint. Chill about an hour until
chocolate has set up. Store in fridge.
Makes 6 dozen

M & M Marshmallow Dream Bars

1 (12 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (11 oz) pkg. butterscotch chips
1 C. creamy peanut butter
1 (10.5 oz) bag mini marshmallows
1 C. M & M’s

LIne a 9 X 13″ baking sheet with nonstick
foil. Combine first 3 ingredients in large
microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High
in 30-second intervals, stirring in between,
until chips are fully melted & mixture is
smooth. Stir in marshmallows until fully
coated & pour mixture into prepared sheet.
Sprinkle top with M & M’s & press them
down slightly. Refrigerate about 2 hours
until set. Cut into bars. Store leftovers in
airtight container. Makes 36 bars

Maple Nut Fudge

3/4 C. butter
3 C. granulated sugar
2/3 C. evaporated milk
12 oz. white chocolate chips,
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
2 1/2 tsp. maple extract
2 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spread walnuts in an even layer on
a baking sheet; bake 5 minutes then
stir – bake an additional 5 minutes &
let cool. Spray  9 X 13″ baking dish
with nonstick cooking spray then
line with parchment paper. Combine
butter, sugar & evap. milk in heavy-
bottomed saucepan; bring to boil
over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Once at full boil, continue boiling
5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove from heat & stir in white
choc. chips (poster uses a whisk
to get out all the lumps). Stir in
marshmallow creme & maple extract;
stir in walnuts & pour into prepared
dish. Let cool completely then cut
into squares. Top with additional
toasted walnuts, if desired.

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

2 C. sugar
3/4 C. sour cream (not light)
1/2 C. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. white chocolate chips
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla (use clear vanilla extract
if you want whiter fudge)
1 (5 oz) bag dried cranberries (Craisins).

Line 9 X 13″ baking dish with foil & lightly
spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine
sugar, sour cream, butter & salt in a heavy
2 qt. saucepan. Bring to boil over medium
heat, stirring frequently. Continue cooking/
stirring occasionally, to soft ball stage (238
degrees F.). Remove from heat & stir in
choc. chips until fully melted (a few minutes).
Stir in marshmallow creme & vanilla until
smooth & blended. Stir in dried cranberries
until evenly coated – pour into prepared
dish & cool to room temperature. Chill
several hours before cutting into squares.
Store in airtight container.


Soft Eggnog Cookies w/Eggnog

2 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. eggnog

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter,
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. powdered sugar
3-4 T. eggnog
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line rimmed baking sheets with
parchment paper or spray lightly
with nonstick cooking spray. In
medium bowl whisk flour, baking
powder, salt, nutmeg & cinnamon.
In another bowl beat butter until
creamy then mix in both sugars.
Add egg yolks, vanilla & eggnog –
mix until creamy. Gradually add
flour mixture & mix until fully
combined. Roll batter into 1-2 inch
balls & place on baking sheet –
flatten slightly. Bake 12-13 minutes
until lightly browned. Let cool 5
minutes on sheets then transfer to
wire rack to cool completely before

In large bowl beat butter until creamy
then add vanilla. Gradually add powdered
sugar & mix until combined. Add eggnog &
mix 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Frost on cooled
cookies. If desired, sprinkle tops with nutmeg
or cinnamon.



I still have LOTS more – will try to post more
often so you can have a CHOICE of ideas for
your holiday gatherings.



Cookies & Candy!

Well, we survived the big snow storm yesterday by staying inside, nice & warm. Our snow plow guy, for some reason, never came so our driveway is still pretty impassable. We have a short driveway with a ‘slight’ slope – just enough to make attempting to drive UP it with lots of snow/ice an almost impossible task (not counting we live on a MAIN highway – 45 mph. in front of our driveway) so starting around 4:30 p.m. there is traffic backed up in front of the driveway. I talked with our plow man yesterday around 8 a.m. and he voiced his concerns about having enough room to get a ‘running start’ up the drive with all the traffic – said he’d probably come twice during the day…oh, well…not sure what happened. Since neither my husband nor I have anywhere to go today, that’s OK but I’m hoping he makes it today. Oldest son texted me last night asking if the plow guy came because (if he didn’t) son was going to come over after work and shovel us out. I gently declined the offer because when this text happened it was already 7:30 p.m. and son was STILL at work – he starts work at 4:30 A.M.! As sweet an offer as that was, I didn’t think he needed to do all that – we’re good. (I’m also kind of guessing that might have been a ‘veiled’ question as to when I might babysit again, but we’ll leave that be for now (it’s been a week, today, since I’ve babysat).

LOTS of cookie & candy recipes – will attempt to cram in as many as I can today:


 Peanut Butter Snowballs

1 C. powdered sugar plus 2 T.
3 T. butter, softened
1/2 C. creamy peanut butter
12 oz. white chocolate candy coating
sprinkles, for decorating

Line a cookie sheet with parchment
or waxed paper. In large bowl combine
1 C. powdred sugar, butter & peanut
butter, stir until completely mixed &
smooth. Sprinkle remaining powdered
sugar on a clean work surface & form
dough into a log-shape, 12 inches long.
Cut into inch pieces & roll each in your
hands to make smooth balls – place on
prepared sheet & chill 30 minutes.

In medium microwaveable bowl melt
candy coating in 30-second intervals,
stirring until completely smooth. Dip
balls in candy coating then return to
sheet – add sprinkles, if desired while
coating is still wet. Refrigerate until
ready to serve. Makes 24

Grandma’s Millionaire Fudge

3 (12 oz, ea) bags semi-sweet chocolate
2 (7 oz, ea) jars marshmallow creme
4 1/2 C. sugar
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 to 1 1/2 C. chopped pecans (optional)

Place a long row of waxed (or parchment)
paper on counter. In large bowl, using elec.
mixer add semi-sweet choc. chips & marsh-
mallow creme.
In a heavy, large saucepan add sugar & milk;
bring to boil – boil 6 minutes, stirring
constantly. Remove from heat & pour over
chips/marshmallow mixture, beating
on medium speed until mixture is creamy &
smooth – be sure to not over beat. Add nuts
& fold in. The mixture will set as it cools.
Using a small ice cream scoop or two table
spoons, scoop fudge & lay  in small mounds
on prepared paper. Cool completely before
moving to a container.

NOTE: The fudge can be poured out in a buttered
sheet pan if you are not able to scoop all the
fudge before it hardens.

Old Fashioned Divinity (candy)

3 C. sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. maraschino cherries – drained/
patted dry
white sprinkles (optional)

Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment
paper. In 2 qt. heavy pot combine sugar,
corn syrup, water & salt – cook over Low
heat, stirring, until sugar fully dissolves.
Increase heat to High & cook until it
reaches 260 degrees F (Hard ball stage)
DO NOT STIR. While sugar mixture is
cooking place egg whites in a very clean &
dry bowl of stand mixer. When sugar
mixture reaches about 230 degrees F.
start to beat egg whites until stiff peaks
form. VERY CAREFULLY pour hot sugar
mixture in a steady stream over egg
whites while mixer is running at HIGH
speed. Add vanilla & continue to beat
5-10 minutes until mixture is stiff
enough to shape & is no longer shiny.
Stir in cherries, if desired.
Using a small ice cream scoop or a
tablespoon, drop mounds onto parch-
ment paper – top with sprinkles, if
using. Let rest at room temperature
until set. Makes 36

Amish Molasses Cookies

3/4 C. shortening
1 C. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 C. molasses
2 1/2 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

granulated sugar – for

In large bowl cream shortening &
brown sugar. Stir in egg & molasses,
mix well; fold in dry ingredients &
stir to combine. Cover & chill until
firm, 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Place some granulated sugar in a
pie plate. Roll dougn into small
balls then roll in gran. sugar to
coat – place on prepared sheet.
Bake 9-10 minutes. Leave on
sheet 1 minute until set.


Peanut Butter Brownie Cups

3/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
1 T. water
3/4 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. peanut butter chips plus
about 1/3 C. more – garnish
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
plus about 1/3 C. more – garnish
3/4 C. creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick
cooking spray – or use paper liners.
In large microwave-safe bowl combine
sugar, butter & water; microwave on
High 1 minute until butter melts. Stir
in 3/4 C. semi-sweet choc. chips until
melted. Stir in egg & vanilla. Add flour
& baking soda, stir until blended – allow
to cool to room temp. Stir in 1/2 C. each
peanut butter/choc. chips. Spoon batter
by heaping tablespoonfuls into cups.
Bake 13-15 minutes until top is set & a
toothpick inserted into center comes out
slightly wet. Place pan on wire rack. Centers
of brownies will fall upon cooling – if not;
tap centers with back of a teaspoon to make
a hole. Place peanut butter in small micro-
wave safe bowl. Microwave on High 45
seconds, then stir. While brownies are still
hot, spoon about a tablespoon of peanut
butter into center of each brownie. Top
with semi-sweet & peanut butter chips.
Cool completely in pan. Makes 12 cups.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

1/3 C. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 C. gran. sugar
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
zest from 1 lemon
3 1/2 C. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
small pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. white sparkling sugar (or
you can use granulated)

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment
paper. Using elec. mixer, cream butter
& sugar until light & fluffy, about 2
minutes on High. Add eggs & mix to
combine. Add lemon juice, extract &
zest – mix again. In separate bowl combine
flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg &
salt – whisk until well combined. Add
flour mixture to butter mixture & mix until
combined. Place white sparkling sugar in
a flat plate or pie tin.
Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough
& form in a ball in your hands – roll each ball
in sparkling sugar, coating well then place on
cookie sheets, 2 inches apart (about 12-15
per pan). Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven
but leave cookies on sheets – carefully press
down on each cookie using a flat-bottomed
glass so that cookies flatten a bit & outer
edges crackle a bit. Bake 2 additional minutes.
Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.
Makes approx. 40 cookies

3-Ingredient Coconut Macaroons

1 (14 oz) pkg. sweetened coconut
flakes (or 5 1/3 C.)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed

Toppers (optional):
whole almonds, maraschino
cherries (cut in half), chocolate

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large bowl combine coconut, vanilla &
cond. milk. Line a baking sheet with
parchment paper. Using either an ice
cream scoop or your hands, make into
balls & flatten on sheet.* Bake 10-12
minutes until edges are browned.
Remove from baking sheet IMMEDIATELY
& allow to cool. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

*Poster forms dough by squeezing it in
her hands then flattens (using her finger)
on the sheet.

Pepper ‘n Spice Dark Chocolate
  (overnight recipe)

1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 C. flour
2/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
pinch ground mace
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. pink peppercorns
12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted
butter, softened
3/4 C. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla

granulated sugar – garnish
spice grinder or clean elec. coffee
mortar & pestle
2 (11 X 17″) baking sheets
Using elec. spice grinder, grind black
peppercorns & cinnamon stick to
medium-fine powder. Sift ground
spices, flour, cocoa powder, baking
powder, allspice, salt, ginger, mace &
cayenne onto a piece of parchment
or waxed paper.
Using a mortar & pestle, (or flat side
of a knife, crush pink peppercorns;
place in bowl of elec. mixer & add
butter & brown sugar. Beat until
creamy & smooth, scraping down
sides of bowl – beat in egg & vanilla.
Add spice/flour mixture to butter
mixture & mix on Low speed until
just combined. Transfer dough to a
piece of plastic wrap & roll into a
1 1/2 inch diameter log. Wrap well &
refrigerate overnight.
Position oven racks in top & bottom
thirds of oven
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
or nonstick liners.
Using a thin-blade knife, slice cookies
into 1 1/4 inch coins & place on sheets
1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle each cookie
with pinch of gran. sugar. Bake, about
8 minutes, turning sheets from back to
front & switching between top rack &
bottom rack halfway through baking
time until cookies are just firm to touch.
Allow to cool on sheets 5 minutes to
firm up, then use a spatula to transfer
to wire racks to cool completely. Store in
airtight container up to 1 week.

NOTE: refrigerating dough overnight
helps keep dough’s crumbly texture
after baking.

Chocolate-covered Caramels

1 C. butter
2 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch sea salt
1 c. chocolate candy melts
(optional: additional melted white
chocolate for decorating/drizzling)

Line a 9 X 9″ pan with foil & spray
lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place
butter in large microwave-safe bowl;
cover with a paper towel & microwave
on half power until completely melted.
Add brown sugar, corn syrup & sweetnd
cond. milk – stir to combine. Microwave
on High 4 minutes. Remove, stir & heat
4 minutes (you should be up to 12 minutes
total heating time). Microwave for 2 more
minutes & stir; stir in vanilla & sea salt then
pour into prepared pan. Allow to cool
completely at room temp (OR) for a quick
trick, place pan in fridge to speed up cooling
process – about 3 hours cooling – until firm.

Lift foil from pan & lay on flat surface. Using
a sharp knife, cut into squares. In medium
microwave-safe bowl melt candy melts on
half power 2 minutes & stir until smooth.
Return to microwave at half power in
20-second increments if needed until
completely smooth when stirred.

Lay out several sheets of waxed or parchment
paper on counter.

Place a square of caramel on a fork then dip
in melted chocolate – use fork to turn it over
a few times to make sure it’s completely
coated then use fork to life (do not stab)
the caramel from the chocolate. Tap fork on
side of bowl a few times to shake off any
excess chocolate, then transfer to paper
to cool completely – repeat with remaining
caramels. (To speed up cooling you can
line a dinner plate with foil & place dipped
caramels on foil then place in freezer 2-3
Optional: Use melted white chocolate to
decorate/drizzle on cooled caramels. Store
at room temp. in airtight container up to
5 days. Makes 36


There will be more cookie/candy recipes
coming, I’m sure. I wrote out a list of
what things needed doing ‘soon’: bake
4 loaves of breads (neighbors & a church
friend), at least 1 batch cookies (for our
mail lady)and figure out just what
desserts I’ll be making for Christmas
dinner. I see SO MANY recipes each day,
it’s hard to choose!

No, I still haven’t done any more decorating;
I did put up a few small things: Christmas
red candles & holders on the china cabinet
and a few more snowmen in the dining
room but as to dragging down all the boxes,
tree & wreath – not quite yet. I’m getting a
little stronger/better each day – it will get
done – eventually. I’m done with the gift
buying so only need to buy a few stocking
stuffers for the sons and a few candy
goodies to add to a few presents (no,
they are not wrapped yet) but that, too,
will come – in time.

Stay SAFE, warm and remember to take
little time to rest/relax – it can be a very
stressful time of year. Remember to take
out a little time to remember the
reason for the season.



A Little Bit of This ‘n That –

So – I survived Black Friday – did you? I was very happy to spend the day at my computer searching the sales ON LINE! Managed to just about finish my Christmas gift shopping – YAY! Only one item ‘might’ get here after Christmas (a gift for the baby – small toy) so I’m not too disappointed. This year, once again, is ‘practical gifts’; years ago when the guys were younger there was time to buy some ‘fun’ gifts like t-shirts with goofy sayings, or pajama bottoms that looked like blue jeans but now that they are all in their 20’s (& one in his 30’s) it’s time to resort to “What do they NEED gifts. With that comes the ‘went a little over what I wanted in the budget’ but that’s OK – at least I know that each one is getting something that they need AND that they probably can’t afford right now. I remember those days back when I was young & single – very little money and trying to stretch it as far as I could, sometimes ignoring some things that probably needed fixing, etc. The LORD has blessed us abundantly and we’re just grateful we can help out while we can – ever been in that situation?

Along with all the on-line shopping I ran into some things for sale that I thought were just totally ridiculous, like candy canes in flavors I NEVER would have imagined, like: Bacon, Coffee, Rotisserie chicken! Really??? Oh, and then there’s a Dog Breed DNA testing kit, a Helicopter Tour over Maui, Hawaii and a Private Aviation membership – if you have the extra $$$, I guess . . . in case you might need some gift ‘ideas’ . . . sigh.

There are quite a few ‘after Thanksgiving’ recipes out there – I just haven’t taken the time to type them up yet, so I’m just going to post recipes I already have ready for you:


Caramel Pumpkin Pie Dip

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 T. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
5 graham crackers, crushed/
3 T. caramel sauce, divided

whipped cream
crushed pecans

apple slices, for dipping

In a bowl mix cream cheese with
powdered sugar & vanilla until
well combined. Stir in pumpkin &
pumpkin pie spice – mix well.  Pour
a thin layer of crushed graham
cracker crumbs in bottom of serving
dish; top with a layer of pumpkin
mixture – spread evenly. Top with
1 T. caramel sauce, spread evenly
over pumpkin – repeat layering
once more. Top with whipped
cream, remaining graham crackers,
caramel sauce & pecans. Serve with
apple slices for dipping. Refrigerate
any leftovers. Serves 10

(recipe: mymagazine)
Chili-Cornbread Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained/
1 (8.5 oz) box corn muffin mix (Jiffy)
2 C. Mexican-cheese blend, shredded/
1/3 C. milk
1 onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds/ribs removed,
finely chopped
1 egg
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt/ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large skillet over medium-high heat
brown beef, onion & jalapeno until
beef is no longer pink & veggies are
softened; drain fat. Season with salt/
pepper; stir in cumin, chili powder,
garlic powder, tomatoes, enchi. sauce &
kidney beans; cook 7-10 minutes until
mixture has reduced slightly. Transfer
to a baking dish & sprinkle 1 1/2 C.
cheese on top. In large bowl, prepare
corn muffin mix accordg. to pkg. directions;
stirring in egg & 1/3 C. milk until smooth.
Stir in remaining cheese & pour mixture
evenly over top of casserole ingredients.
Bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick
inserted into center of cornbread comes
out mostly clean. Remove from oven &
serve hot. Serves 8


Country Chicken ‘n Rice

1 (3 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken, cut
into 8 pieces
6 C. water
2 (15 oz,ea) cans tomato sauce
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 T. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 C. long or whole-grain rice,

In large pot bring all ingredients
(except rice) to a boil over medium-
high heat. Cover & allow to boil 35
minutes. Add rice & cook 25-30
minutes longer until rice is tender,
no pink remains in chicken & chicken
juices run clear.
Serves 6


(This one could use cooked turkey instead)

Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

1 (1 lb) box jumbo pasta shells
2 C. cooked/shredded chicken
1 C. ricotta cheese
3/4 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. fresh chopped parsley (more
for garnish, if desired)
kosher salt/black pepper, to taste
4 T. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 C. milk

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Cook pasta shells accordg. to pkg.
directions for al dente; drain &
return to pot. In large bowl combine
chicken, ricotta, 1/2 C. mozzarella,
1/2 C. Parmesan & parsley; season
with salt/pepper & mix well.
Alfredo Sauce:
In a skillet over medium heat
melt butter; add garlic & cook
2 minutes then add cream
cheese & whisk until completely
combined. Stir in milk, rest of
cheeses & bring to a simmer.
Season with salt/pepper & let
thicken over low heat 3-5
Spray a casserole dish with
nonstick cooking spray &
spread a layer of sauce in bottom.
Stuff cooked shells with chicken
mixture & place in baking dish.
Spoon more sauce over all
shells & bake 15 minutes until
warmed thoroughly & bubbly.
Garnish with parsley. Serves 4


Crockpot Saucy Swiss Steak

1/4 C. zesty Italian salad dressing
1 boneless beef chuck steak (1 lb),
cut into 4 pieces
1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes,
1/2 C. beef broth
1 green pepper, chopped

2 C. cooked, hot mashed potatoes
1/2 C. shredded Swiss cheese

Heat salad dressing in large skillet on
medium-high heat. Coat meat with
flour; gently shake off excess flour.
Cook meat in skillet 2-3 minutes on
each side until evenly browned on
both sides; remove from heat. Combine
tomato paste, tomatoes & broth in
crockpot; add meat & peppers. Cover
& cook on Low 8-10 hours, or High
3-4 hours. Serve meat over cooked
mashed potatoes & top with cheese.
Serves 4


Crockpot Vegetable/Lentil Soup

1 (16 oz) bag brown lentils
8 C. vegetable stock
1 (15.5 oz) can fire-roasted
diced tomatoes
2 medium white potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 C. fresh kale, chopped

Add all ingredients to crockpot
(except Kale) & stir. Cover & cook
on Low 6-7 hours. Add kale to
crockpot & cook another 15 minutes
until desired tenderness. Serves 6


Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

1/2 C. dried cranberries (Craisins)
3/4 C. sugar, divided
2 1/2 C. flour (spooned & leveled,
not scooped)
1 C. butter, cold/cubed
1 tsp. almond extract
zest of 1 orange
1-2 T. fresh orange juice (optional)

additional sugar to coat cookies before
baking, if desired

LIne a baking sheet with parchment
paper. Combine cranberries & 1/4 C.
sugar in food processor or blender –
process just until cranberries are broken
down into smaller pieces. Combine
flour & remaining sugar in large bowl.
Using a pastry cutter (or 2 knives) cut
in butter (you want very fine crumbs).
Stir in almond, cranberries & sugar
mixture, orange zest & orange juice
(if using). Using your hands, knead
dough until it comes together & forms
a ball. Shape dough into a log about
2 inches in diameter; wrap in plastic
wrap & refrigerate 2 hours or up to
72 hours.

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Cut slices of cookie dough about 1/4″
thick. (Sugar coating – if using: Place
about 1/2 C. sugar in a bowl & coat
cookie slices in sugar) Place cookies on
baking sheet – bake 12-15 minutes just
until cookies are set. DO NOT OVER
BAKE. (poster pulls hers at 12 minutes).
Let cookies cool several minutes on
sheet before removing to a cooling
rack. Let cool completely. Store in
air tight container for 3 days or freeze
up to 3 months. Makes 2 1/2 dozen


This year I did something different: I
had a 14 lb. frozen turkey in the freezer
& decided to try something the ‘other
grandma’ does each holiday: cook an
entire holiday meal the day before so
that she & her husband have their own
holiday foods AFTER the holiday. Each
holiday she doesn’t take any leftovers
home – she already has an entire meal
AT HER HOUSE. At first I thought that
was pretty strange, but then I got to
thinking about it: each holiday I haul
home the leftover ‘sides’, but there’s
usually not a lot of leftover turkey/ham
so I don’t take that. THIS YEAR we have
leftover mashed potatoes, green bean
casserole, wild rice pilaf, rolls, cranberry
relish & dessert AND a 14# cooked
turkey! That worked out well because
both younger sons stopped over yesterday,
saying: “Hey, Mom – got any leftovers?”
Too funny – now that they’re both living
on their own, I guess leftovers sound
pretty good! After ‘our’ turkey had
cooked/cooled I totally stripped the
carcass so now we have meat for
sandwiches, etc. – have to say the
‘other gdma’ had a good idea! Not
sure if I’ll do that for Christmas, but
we’ll see. I’ve learned, many years
ago – if you want a turkey ON SALE
buy it during Thanksgiving sales
because they go back up in price
right after the holiday; I was able
to get a 14.5 lb. turkey at 49 cents
a pound this past week, so I’m

Enough about all that – hope you
had a GREAT holiday!