Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holiday Recipes, Third Edition

This weekend, we had three Christmas parties and my son's birthday (today).  The basic survival plan was to plan, eat light whenever I could, make wise choices and drink lots of water.   I talked about holiday eating in this post, "Planning for the Holidays."  With my back injury, I have not been able to workout, so I have been cooking and baking like crazy.  Tonight I made vegetable soup, pumpkin break and banana bread.

He is such a ham.  Love.
I will be sharing some of my family's favorite recipes here: one appetizer, one casserole (or side dish), one dessert and one miscellaneous "other" type of recipe each week leading up to Christmas
(You can access more recipes here:  My Favorite Recipes and More Recipes:  Part Two)
These recipes are no corners cut, so they are full fat and full sugar.  The best practical suggestion is to pick one or two for the big holidays, and then add lots of protein and fresh vegetables  (with maybe one lighter dessert) to the rest of your menu.  This will provide healthy choices and allow you some real treats.  As I make these this season, I will post the pictures.  For now, you'll have to trust my word that these are my absolute favorites!

Appetizer
Crab Delights
My Nanny in Florida used to make these for us.  They are amazing!
This is another appetizer you can make ahead, freeze and broil when you need them.

Ingredients
1 6 oz. can crab meat, drained
1 5 oz. jar Cheese Whiz (or other cheese spread)
1/4 C (one stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
6 English muffins, split in half

Optional:  
2 Tbsp. sliced green onion
1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions
Heat oven to 400F.
Combine crabmeat, Cheese Whiz, butter, mayonnaise, garlic powder, parsley and lemon juice.  Mix well an spread over English muffins.  Cut the muffins into quarters (or eigths) and arrange on a cookie sheet.  Freeze on cookie sheet and store loose in a plastic bag to be used at a later date.  Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.  You can broil them for the last minute to get them toasty.  If you cut into eights, serve with toothpicks.

Casserole
Chicken Casserole

Ingredients
2 lbs. chicken (I use left over chicken from a roast chicken, but you can use frozen chicken)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can white wine
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 package Pepperidge Farms stuffing
1/2 stick butter
Optional:  1 C. frozen green peas


Directions
1.  Place the chicken on the bottom of a 9x9 or 8x8 pyrex casserole dish
2.  Mix soup, wine and pepper.  Pour over chicken.
3.  If using peas, place over the soup now.
4.  Spread cheddar cheese evenly over soup mixture
5.  Melt butter in microwave, then toss with stuffing.
6.  Place stuffing over the cheese.
7.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  (If using frozen chicken, you will need to cook it longer, probably 45 minutes.)
Next step:  Melt butter toss with stuffing, place over the top.  Then bake until bubbly.
You can double (or triple) this recipe and serve to a larger crowd.  This is a great meal to make ahead and throw in the oven shortly before serving.  A friend of mine serves this as the main dish for her Christmas dinner, along with other side dishes.
A great way to use leftover chicken OR an easy dish to make ahead for a larger crowds.
Serve with veggies and a salad.
 Dessert
Cheesecake
I got this recipe from my Aunt Jackie.  I have made it over and over again throughout the years.  I serve it with strawberries and sometimes with hot fudge.  
I made this yesterday for my son, Mitch's birthday (he turned 21 today).  It was so creamy and delicious!
Preheat oven to 450F

Ingredients:
2 C graham cracker crumbs
(I use about 1 1/2 sleeves of graham crackers and make my own crumbs)
1/2 C melted butter (one stick)
1 C sugar, divided
2 lbs. cream cheese
1 C sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:
1.  Mix crumbs, 2 Tbsp. sugar and butter.  Press mixture onto sides and bottom of 9" spring form pan.  Chill while preparing filling.
I find it much less expensive to make my own graham cracker crumbs.  I've bought the crumbs in the past and they sit in the box until the next time I  make the cheesecake.  By that time, they are stale.  I hate the waste.  My husband loves graham crackers, so it's a win win to make my own and I save money too!.
2.  In mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth.
3.  Beat in eggs, vanilla and cornstarch just until blended.
4.  Stir in sour cream.
5.  Pour into crust.
6.  Bake 10 minutes at 450F.  Reduce temperature to 200F and bake 45 minutes.  Turn off oven:  allow to cool with door opened slightly for 3 hours.  Remove sides from the pan.  Chill.  Top with fruit pie filling before serving.  (Or hot fudge!!!)

Optional:  You could make a chocolate cheese cake by substituting Oreo cookies (without the filling) for the graham crackers and adding a cup of chocolate chips.  I've never made it that way, but I have made other desserts with Oreo cookie crumbs for the crust and I think it might be a nice option.

Other 
Scallopean Pineapple
This is a great bread stuffing casserole to serve with ham.  We often have this with Easter dinner.

Ingredients:
1 quart soft bread cubes (4 - 5 cups)
3 eggs
1 C sugar
1 can crushed pineapple
1/2 C melted butter (1 stick)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:
Beat eggs.  Add everything, except bread cubes and stir together until well combined.  Gently stir in bread cubes until thoroughly moist.
Place in a buttered baking dish.
Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.  (It will take longer if the casserole is chilled.)

This song gives me the chills.  It's another favorite Christmas carol
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
This song sounds like angels singing in heaven.  This particular version is my favorite.



Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What's your favorite appetizer to make (have) for / at parties?
Are you ready for Christmas?  What do you have left to do?


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