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Holiday "Go-To" Recipes

Looking for some new treats to add to your holiday celebrations? This mom has a few ideas.

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the culinary delights of the season. No matter what you celebrate, food often takes center stage and brings people together.  

Right now I have a box of  chocolate-covered pretzels, two containers of chocolate chip cookies and two containers of sugar cookies on my counter. Bags of Hershey's Kisses, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and a bunch of nuts are lined up on my counter waiting to be made into something delicious.

I’ve got chicken cordon bleu appetizers and bull wings (steak marinated in wing sauce) from Omaha Steaks in my freezer for Christmas Eve, and my husband is making sure he has all the ingredients for his annual Christmas morning crock of hot buttered rum.

I thought it would be fun to share some recipes here on Patch. Whether you’re hosting a Christmas morning brunch, a night of Hanukkah, a Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes, or a fancy New Year’s Eve party, it’s always fun to serve unique appetizers, desserts and beverages. Read on for some ideas.

Holiday Beverages – Ho, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum 

A few weeks back, I  and promised to share my husband’s recipe for Hot Buttered Rum. It’s not really his recipe; the drink was served at a friend’s house and we liked it so much that my husband searched online for a recipe. He is dedicated to his special holiday drink and used to get up in the middle of the night just to start the crock pot. Now, he has it set on a timer.

It’s the perfect concoction to help Santa’s helpers get through the early morning rush of unwrapping. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out:

2 cups brown sugar, ½ cup butter, 1 pinch salt, 4 cinnamon sticks, 6 whole cloves, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 2 quarts of hot water, 2 cups of rum. Combine all ingredients. Cook on high for 2 hours and then low for 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

On another note, I just picked up a bottle of Santa’s Little Helper at Canals. It’s a cute little wine bottle with a pretty Santa label, perfect for gift-giving. On the back, there is a recipe for Santa Gria. I can’t wait to try it out on Christmas night.

*Please be safe and do not drink and drive during the holidays.

Party Starters

Cinnaminson Patch editor  makes what she calls a “mean” Buffalo Chicken Dip. This dish is perfect for holiday gatherings and New Year's Eve cocktail parties. Here's her recipe.

1 package of cream cheese softened, 1 bottle of spicy ranch salad dressing, 1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 rotisserie chicken and 1 cup of Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce.

Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of a baking dish and pour about a quarter bottle of the spicy ranch dressing over the cream cheese and follow with a half cup of Frank's Wing Sauce. Cut the rotisserie chicken in half and shred about a quarter of it and layer in dish, followed by  a half cup of shredded mozzarella. Start all over again with 1 quarter bottle of spicy ranch, a half cup of Frank's, another quarter of the chicken and the shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 for a half hour. Serve in a warming serving dish.

Christina likes Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits with her dip. If you have several parties or events to attend, pick up another block of cream cheese and make another dish with the remaining ingredients.

*Christina likes to use a rotisserie chicken because it’s already cooked and way better than canned. She also likes spicy ranch instead of blue cheese and Frank’s Wing Sauce instead of “hot” sauce. Her sister likes a sweeter dip and uses vidalia onion dressing.

Christina’s recipe reminds me of my easiest “go-to” recipe, Chili Cheese Dip. Everyone raves about this and I laugh because it is the easiest recipe ever. Here goes:

1 package of cream cheese softened, 1 bag of shredded cheddar or Mexican cheeses, 1 can of Hormel Chili however you like it. Spread cream cheese in a pie plate, sprinkle a little of the shredded cheese on top, just a little. Pour the can of Hormel Chili on the cream cheese, add the remaining shredded cheese on top and then bake or microwave. Serve with Tostito’s Scoops or whatever type of tortilla chip you like. I think the specific cooking times are on the can of chili. I usually just keep an eye on it and take it out when it’s bubbling. You can definitely find the recipe online searching for Hormel Chili Cheese Dip or Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipes.

Sweet Treats

Lauren Burgoon, associate regional editor of Patch, had a few sweet treats to share with me. Here they are:

Her Cookie Pie calls for: 1 1/2 cups butter, softened; 1/2 cup white sugar; 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup flour; 6 oz. chocolate chips; and 1 frozen pie shell, deep dish preferred. Preheat the oven to 325. Beat the butter until fluffy, add both sugars and beat until well mixed. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in the flour , then the chocolate chips and pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake 50-60 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Lauren also had a “cracker candy thing” to share and mentioned that it's probably all over the Internet. A friend of hers has been making this treat since they were kids. They are always the best kind of treats because there are memories that go along with them.

For Lauren’s Cracker Candy, you will need: Saltines; 1 stick of butter; 1 cup brown sugar, packed; 1 bag of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips; and sprinkles, red hots, chopped nuts, or crushed up candy canes.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a jelly roll pan lightly with cooking spray. Arrange crackers in a single layer, covering entire pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. (Lauren says to be careful,  the butter and sugar can splash.) Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute, then remove from burner. Pour the mixture over the crackers and use a rubber spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until bubbling. Remove pan from oven and push any crackers that have moved back into place with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the crackers and use the back of the spoon to distribute evenly over the crackers. Immediately, before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle crushed nuts or candies on top. Refrigerate until completely hardened. Break apart the pieces with the side of a spatula or by hand.

Bark is another easy treat I like to make, similar to the Cracker Candy. Melt chocolate of your choice (white, dark or milk) until creamy, add pretzels, nuts or candy pieces; spread on waxed paper on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Harden in refrigerator and break into pieces. I like to have my girls make this to give as gifts wrapped up in pretty holiday cellophane.

Kim M., a Cinnaminson mom shared her Popcorn Ball recipe with me, which comes in handy for last-minute gifts. Popcorn must be air popped. Do not use microwave popcorn. Mix honey and popcorn and shape into balls. Add whatever you like to the mixture including chocolate chips, M&Ms, candy canes brown sugar or whatever is on hand. Wrap the little morsels up in holiday bags to share with friends and family. This would be a unique and easy treat to send in for school parties.

Brunch Favorites

I love to make Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. I kind of do my own thing with this. Here it is. I butter a Bundt pan and then place dough balls, Rich's Dough Balls found in the freezer section, in the pan along with three quarter cup of melted butter and three quarter cup of brown sugar, as well as the powder mix from one large box of Butterscotch Jello (vanilla can be used also.) 

If you like nuts, place them in the pan before the dough balls. Cover the pan with waxed paper and place in a cool oven overnight. In the morning, you will find that the dough has risen. Remove waxed paper and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or so, keep checking to make sure it’s not too brown. It should look like Cinnamon Buns. When it is cooked to your liking, remove from oven, flip the Bundt Pan over , shake a little and place bread on large serving plate. Pull apart and enjoy.

I also make a quick breakfast casserole for Christmas morning. I assemble everyrhing the night before and it goes in the oven for about 45 minutes the next morning. Break apart 9 slices of day old bread and place in the bottom of a baking dish. Mix 9-12 eggs with milk, salt and pepper as you would for scrambled eggs. Pour over the bread. Add cooked and sliced sausage links, crumbled sausage or crispy bacon. Then sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top. I often mix the breakfast meat and cheese in with the scrambled eggs and then add more shredded cheese on top. Whatever is easiest works. Store in refrigerator overnight and then bake on 375 in the morning for around 45 minutes. Use a throw away baking dish to make clean up nice and easy.

So, that's all I have to share for now. Do you have any quick and easy “go-to” holiday recipes? I love to try new dishes. Share with us in the comments.

Wishing you all a safe, festive, happy and delicious holiday. Enjoy family, friends and some scrumptious holiday food. We’ll talk about exercise and diet AFTER the New Year.

About this column: Janet, a Cinnaminson resident who's married with twin girls, is all around town and writing about it.

Janet Murray December 22, 2011 at 07:06 PM
for the cracker candy, I line the jellyroll pan with tin foil, that way you can lift the candy out of the pan and it makes for easier clean-up.

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