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Monday, December 12, 2011

Enjoying the Season


I admit it…I’m a person who loves all that is Christmas, even the hustle and bustle to get everything done. This weekend, after the cookie swap (which was extremely fun!) we went to Mass then to some drive-through lights in Pewaukee. They were lovely, of course, and at the end we went inside to see model trains (which the kids loved) and a life-size Nativity that’s a replica of that at the Vatican. What a fun evening! Even though the middle hooligan was crying by the time we got home because he said he was so tired. It was 8:00…not like we’re keeping him out clubbing all night!

Then on Sunday we had breakfast with Santa at the YMCA. What a wonderful Santa experience! Only 25 people at each seating, so there were only 4 or 5 families there for an entire hour. After eating, the kids to chat with Santa to their heart’s content. I have to say, I really don’t like people in costumes. My mom took me to see Santa once in Tulsa when I was 2 or 3, and, after standing in line forever, when our turn came, I refused to do anything other than scream. So it’s totally outside my comfort zone to be in the same room as Santa, even today. My hooligans should be grateful I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone. I did require a large amount of coffee to shore up my courage, though.

I’ve totally digressed from the purpose of my post today…some holiday appetizer recipes. Unfortunately, I have no photos, since I was too busy eating these snacks I served at my cookie swap. They’re simple, tasty, and I really need to make them all year ‘round!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

1 pkg whole dates, pitted
48 almonds (or so)
1 lb center cut bacon, cut into thirds

Ready? Stuff an almond into each date and place on a wire rack inside a jelly roll pan. I line mine with foil so I don’t have to wash it. Wrap a piece of bacon around each and secure with a toothpick. Place back on wire rack and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until bacon is done.

Jezebel Sauce

16 oz apple jelly
16 oz pineapple preserves (sometimes I can only find apricot-pineapple, which is fine)
4 oz horseradish
1 oz dry mustard
2 Tbsp black pepper

Stir together all ingredients and chill until serving. This keeps in the frig for a few weeks.

I serve it over cream cheese with crackers, or make little sandwiches with biscuits or rolls, ham, cream cheese, and Jezebel sauce.

When I was a caterer, soldiers always called this the Sauce That Rocks. Try it. It truly does rock.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Tub of Chive Cream Cheese
8 oz whole mushrooms

Take the stems out of the mushrooms to make a little well. Using a small spoon, fill them with a rounded amount of cream cheese. Place in baking dish and back at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until browned.

When I was in college in Colorado, our favorite pizza place up in the mountains served these as an appetizer…I’ve been addicted ever since!

Roasted Pecans

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 lb pecan halves

Mix all except pecans, then toss with pecans to coat. Spread on jellyroll pan and bake at 300 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes or so.

These taste amazing, and they fill our house with amazing aroma, too. I’m pretty sure these are how my mom talked my dad into adding onto our house when I was little. He couldn’t resist roasted pecans. Of course, those pecans came from our own trees and we all helped harvest them. My dad would shell pound after pound every night while watching sports, and he extolled their virtues as The Perfect Food. Now as I pay almost $10 a pound for them, I wish I were a little closer to Oklahoma and the pecan bottom. (That’s what the grove is called, not what you end up with from eating The Perfect Food!)

Enjoy your season, if that’s what you choose to do! Princess Thundercloud and I are off to pick up our Christmas photos, and then maybe we’ll do a little snow dance to try to get a white Christmas.

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