BLOGMAS 2018 – LAST MINUTE GIFTS – DAY 16

I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as the general rule.  So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:

  • Coffee gift cards
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade jam
  • And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies

Here are a couple of recipes I make most years that are great to have around and NEVER EVER go to waste whether they are given as gifts or eaten in house LOL.

CARAMEL BUTTERSCOTCH FUDGE
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
1 can Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 can Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Crushed Honey Roasted Peanuts

  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with peanut pieces using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

DUCHESS POTATO CASSEROLE

Duchess potatoes in the traditional sense can be a lot of work to make them look right so this casserole is a real time saving alternative that looks just as pretty!
DUCHESS POTATO CASSEROLE
3 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2/3 cup half and half
1 LARGE egg separated plus 2 egg yolks
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons FRESH ground sea salt
Pinch of FRESH ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Grease a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Place potatoes in a large saucepan covered 1 inch by cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain potatoes.
  • Whisk together the half and half, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

 

  • Rice the potatoes into the sauce pan.
  • Stir in 8 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  • Stir in half and half mixture.
  • Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  • Combine the egg white with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter and pinch of salt.
  • Pour over potato mixture, spread smooth. At this point you can draw a pattern or just leave plain.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Rotate baking dish half way through.
  • Cool 10 minutes before serving.

BLOGMAS 2018 – STOCKING STUFFERS – DAY 15

Stuffing stockings is one of my favorite things to do.  I’m always on the look out for special little items that I tuck away all year long waiting for just this day.  Since the kids are grown hubby gets my FULL attention and he hates it (sort of) because he says he isn’t as good at reciprocating the stocking processs.  But he tries hard and is getting better at it every year.
This was a couple of years ago (I never give away this year’s items in case he reads this posts 😀 ) but gives you the idea:
  • 2 new Wii U games (Amazon had an awesome Black Friday sale I could do from home in my PJ’s)
  • fun snacks – M&Ms, cashews, pistachios and DILL peanuts.
  • some camo carbiners
  • some camo notepads
  • an Army magnet
  • new winter gloves
  • Mason jar shot glasses so he’ll quit using my REAL mason jars
  • a couple of additional watchband choices to accessorize one of his gifts from mom
  • .50 caliber pocket knife
  • lottery tickets
This year I already stuffed his stocking, but guarantee it will be full of ALL sorts of fun stuff again including some of his new favorite flavors of Dr. McGullicuddys!

BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 14 – FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES

I’ve been looking forward to this day!  I have SOOOOO many many recipes, but these are the closest to my heart.  Grab a cup of homemade hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows and join me while we chat.

There are 3 SPECIFIC recipes that come READILY to mind. I’m adding a couple new recipes for neighbor plates this year that I suspect WILL become family favorites if they turn out the way I hope.

The first is my OATNUT SOURDOUGH HERB DRESSING, a recreation of my dad’s cornbread dressing.  Several years ago my brother asked me to try and reproduce the recipe as a scratch recipe and VOILE’, I did it!  This wasn’t easy since daddy started with a box of Mrs. Cubbinson’s cornbread dressing cubes and then started winging it from there.  I NEEDED to recreate it, BUT completely from scratch.


OATNUT SOURDOUGH HERB DRESSING
10 slices Brownberry or Oroweat OATNUT bread, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 loaf sourdough French bread, cut into bite size chunks
1 large sweet onion, chopped fine
1 small bunch celery (leaves and all), chopped fine
1/2 bag baby carrots, chopped fine
1 box mushrooms, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups hot water
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Chicken base
2 tablespoons Buttery Herb & Garlic Mix (I believe McCormick makes it)
4 teaspoons minced garlic, Jar

  • Cut bread into bite sized chunks and spread out in a thin layer over cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 200 degrees for 3-4 hours until pieces are actually hard.
  • Chop all the vegetables.
  • In a large cast iron pan melt 1/4 cup of the butter.
  • Add the onions and saute until translucent. The add the celery and carrots and continue sauteing until crisp tender. Add the garlic last as it will burn first.
  • Whisk together the water, better than bouillon chicken base and all of the seasonings.
  • Add the melted butter.
  • In a large pan toss the bread slices together.
  • Add the sauteed vegetables and toss again.
  • Add the liquid mixture and toss again until well absorbed.
  • Fold entire mixture into at least a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Bake uncovered 1 hour.
  • At this point I use a small portion for our dinner that night and freeze the rest.
  • When it’s time to cook it again, I defrost it, put it back in the same baking dish and bake it again, but this time covered with foil until the last 15 minutes so it doesn’t dry out. We like it crisp on top so I remove the foil the last 15 minutes.
The second is crazy aunt Lousie’s Corn Flake Wreaths.
My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year special for me.  My cousins and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them, the wreaths that is.  She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect! 
Aunt Louise was just plain crazy it seemed to me.  I can’t pinpoint any one thing that made me think that, but as the years wore she continually proved it.  Let’s just say if the made a movie of her life, Shirley MacLaine would play her part.  Aunt Louise reminds me of Shirley’s character Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

HOLIDAY WREATHS
(these are better when they are made a few days ahead)
30 large marshmallows (or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2 cups cornflakes
Red Hots

  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler. Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

The third is a fairly recent one for my Marinated Prime Rib.

MARINATED and SEASONED PRIME RIB
5 pound boneless beef rib roast
3/4 cup Mad Housewife Merlot wine
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Avocado oil
*2 tablespoons  Savory Spice Shop Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend
*2 tablespoons  Penzey’s English Prime Rib Rub 
*1 teaspoon  Penzey’s OR Savory Spice Shop’s Horseradish powder

  • Whisk together the wine, water and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Place roast in a large plastic bag that has been placed in a shallow baking dish.
  • Pour marinade over roast and seal bag.
  • Marinate 6-8 hours, turning bag occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Place sliced onions in bottom of roaster.
  • Drain roast and discard marinade.
  • Rub roast generously with the avocado oil. Let roast sit on drainboard a moment to allow excess oil to drain off.  At this point wash your hands to remove the excess oil also so the rub will go on better.
  • Stir together the Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend, English Prime Rib Rub and the horseradish powder until well mixed.
  • Sprinkle rub mixture over roast until well coated all the way around.
  • Place roast, fat side up on onion slices.
  • Insert oven thermometer.
  • Roast until desired doneness (we like medium rare which was 135 degrees and about 2 1/4 hours), but no more!
  • Transfer roast to cutting board and immediately tent with foil for 20 minutes before carving. This is the resting phase and mandatory to the perfect prime rib. During this phase your roast will raise another 10 degrees.

*If you want a thicker rub add more spices making sure to keep these proportions.

DO NOT SKIP THE RESTING PHASE!!
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This is for one of my go to neighbor plate recipes:

CARAMEL BUTTERSCOTCH FUDGE
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits
1 can Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans
  • Line a 9×9 pan with heavy duty foil leaving enough foil overhanging the edges to use as handle to lift the foil out of the pan after the fudge has set.
  • Using a double boiler over medium heat melt the chips, caramel bits and condensed milk together until smooth.
  • Immediately pour into the foil lined pan.
  • Top with pecans using a piece of wax paper to press the pecans slightly into the fudge.

 

This is Cinnamon Roll day too – YUMMY!  One of my favorite days of the year.  The recipe originally came from one of my favorite aunts who taught me a lot about art, cooking and just plain being creative.  I have made a few minor updates to suit our tastes, but this recipe was ALL her and a secret that my cousin and I kept until the day she died.

ROLLS OF SHARON aka CINNAMON RAISIN BUNS
ROLLS
2 packages Fleischman’s Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup WARM water
1 cup scalded milk (2 minutes in the microwave)
1/2 cup Crisco stick
5 cups flour, divided
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon salt

  • In a small bowl combine the warm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and both packages of yeast until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the scalded milk, Crisco stick, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Blend well.
  • Add yeast mixture and blend well.
  • Add the well beaten eggs and half the flour. Mix until well blended.
  • Add the remaining flour (a little more if too sticky) and mix well until dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is elastic.
  • With vegetable oil, wipe the inside of another bowl.
  • Place dough in bowl and turn once.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rest in a warm place until double in size.
  • Punch down and divide into 2 balls.
  • Put one on the pastry board and one back in the bowl.
  • Let rest 10 minutes.
  • While resting prepare the filling ingredients.
  • Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness in a rectangle about 18×24 inches.
  • Spread half the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar.
  • Spread half the raisins over that.
  • Roll tightly jelly roll style and cut into 18 rolls.
  • Place rolls in greased pans 1/4 to 1/2 inches apart.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rise again until double in size.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • While baking prepare the icing.
  • When rolls come out the oven, put globs of icing on each one. Return to the oven for a minute or two to melt icing all over the rolls.

FILLING
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
1 cup golden raisins

  • Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon until well blended.

ICING
1 stick butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered vanilla
4-6 tablespoons milk

  • Mix all together until smooth.

When re-heating rolls, put a pad of butter on top of roll before microwaving.
These freeze really well.

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Now there is much debate over Gran’s cranberry salad recipe, but one thing was for sure, she’d have to make a double batch, one for my mom and aunt and another for everyone else.  Now while I usually helped prepare the above recipe, I hated it!! One year she even decided the grapes needed to be peeled – need I say more?I much prefer the recipe below.  Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I have been known to eat a whole batch by myself.  In my defense it was while I wasn’t feeling good and had a sore throat.

HOLIDAY SALAD
1 package (3 ounces) cherry Jell-o
1 package (3 ounces) black cherry Jell-o
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups seedless green grapes, quartered
chopped pecans (optional)

  • Dissolve the jell-o in the boiling water in a large bowl.
  • Fold in the pineapple and cranberry sauce.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Fold in grapes and pecans if desired.
  • Refrigerate until firm.

Now on to the REALLY yummy stuff!

CHUNKY MONKEYS
3 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1 cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Line a 13×9 cake pan with heavy duty foil, leaving plenty on the edges to use as handles later.  This will make clean-up so much easier.
  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the pretzels, sugar and melted butter until well blended.
  • Press the pretzel mixture evenly into the bottom of the cake pan.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
11 ounce package caramel baking bits (or 14 ounce vanilla caramels, unwrapped)
2 cups honey roasted peanuts

  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over a medium heat.
  • Whisk in the whipping cream and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  • Stir in caramel bits, stirring constantly until bits are melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Add in peanuts to coat well.
  • Immediately pour over pretzel layer, spreading evenly.

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup Heath milk chocolate toffee bits

  • Scatter each of these over the caramel layer.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbling.
  • Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Lift foil edges to remove bars from pan.
  • Cut into bars.
  • Layer between wax paper in an airtight container.  I store them in the fridge, but the can also be frozen for 3 months.

BUTTERFINGER COOKIES
Ritz crackers
creamy peanut butter
almond bark
sprinkles

  • Spread peanut butter on ritz crackers and top with another cracker.
  • Melt almond bark in the microwave.
  • Dip each cookie in the almond bark and set onto wax paper to harden.
  • If you’re using sprinkles do so before the almond bark hardens.

CHICKEN CONTINENTAL – YET ANOTHER VERSION

This is yet another version of my grams old recipe.

CHICKEN CONTINENTAL
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1/3 cup seasoned flour
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups minute rice (white or brown)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
4 large mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

  • Pre-heat oven to 375°.
  • In a large skillet, heat butter until sizzling over medium-high heat.
  • Dredge chicken pieces in seasoned flour.
  • Quick sear chicken pieces for 1-2 minutes on each side, set aside.
  • Add onions to butter in skillet and saute’ until beginning to soften.
  • Add mushrooms and saute’ a minute or so more.
  • Whisk together the soup and broth. Add to skillet and stir well.
  • Stir in rice.
  • Season to taste.
  • Add the majority of the rice mixture to a greased shallow baking dish.
  • Layer chicken on top in a single layer.
  • Top with remaining rice mixture.
  • Cover and bake 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.

NOTES:  Sometime I add chopped carrots, garlic and bacon pieces.  If I add the bacon I cook it first and trade out some of the bacon grease for the butter to add in the flavor.

BLOGMAS 2018 – DAY 12 – WINTER TAG QUESTIONS

Top 2 Winter Beauty Essentials?

  • A NICE HOT SHOWER to relax and clean out the pores.
  • A super moisturizer to keep away dry skin!

Top 2 Winter Fashion Essentials?

  • I wait ALL year for it to be cold enough to bring out the boots! I
  • Scarves and gloves.  I have color combos to match anything.

Favorite Winter Accessory?

  • HATS & SCARVES of course!!!!

Favorite Winter Nail Polish?

  • Red for Christmas, but normally a pinky mauve. I just have too much red in my complexion.

Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider?

  • Homemade hot cocoa and MUST have marshmallows!

Favorite Winter Candle?

  • Apple and Cinnamon

Does it snow where you live?

Have you ever made a snowman?

  • Absolutely! And a snow woman and snow kids!

What is Your Favorite Holiday Movie?

  • IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE tops the list! Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street and they never get old either.  

✨What’s your favorite holiday drink? 

  • Coffee
  • Hot Cocoa
  • Hot toddies

Candy cane or Gingerbread men?

  • I like the chalk style peppermint, but I’m not real keen on actual candy canes and I like soft gingerbread men.

What’s your favorite holiday/Christmas song?

  • That’s a tough call – depends on my mood… White Christmas, Silent Night and I’ll Be Home for Christmas

What is most important to you about the holidays? 

  • That it is genuine and homemade for the most part.  It is not a commercial holiday for me.  I believe in trying to remember the real reason for the season and keep the Christmas spirit in my heart and life ALL year long.