Friday, December 11, 2015

More Recipes

Eating right during December is a real challenge.  I talked about this last month in this post, "Planning for the Holidays."  This coming weekend, we have three Christmas parties and my son's 21st birthday.  (I can't believe he's turning 21!)  The basic survival plan is to plan, make wise choices and drink lots of water.

Mitch brought us and our bikes down to send us off for the Ride to Remember in September.
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.)  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
Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip
This is my own recipe, put together with ideas from various other recipes.
Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, crackers or pita...or whatever you want.  It's delicious!
Ingredients
1 can artichokes in water, drained & chopped
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all excess water
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 C. Parmesan cheese
1 C. shredded Swiss cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
Drain all they water from the artichokes and spinach.  (Not pictured:  garlic powder, green onion or lemon juice.)
Optional:  
2 Tbsp. sliced green onion
1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions
Heat oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, mix well.  Spread in 1-quart casserole dish (or a 9" pie plate).  Bake for 18-24 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Serve warm with fresh vegetable dippers, crackers or sliced pita.  Store in refrigerator.
Mix ingredients, place in your dish and put in the oven.
Casserole
This used to be a standard part of our holiday dinners, but my husband hates casseroles, so we serve fresh steamed green beans just for him now.
Green Bean Casserole*
I totally forgot to take a picture of this after I made it.  So this was taken when people "dug in".
Note: I substituted peas for the beans.
Ingredients
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 C. milk
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
4 C cooked **green beans (or 2 cans cut green beans, drained)
1 1/3 C crispy fried onions (French's is best)

Optional:  1 C. diced red bell peppers

*Consider this:  Substitute 4 C. frozen peas instead of green beans to make the same recipe with green peas instead!  It's pretty amazing!

Directions
1.  Mix soup, milk & pepper into a 1  1/2 quart baking dish.  Stir in beans and 2/3 C crispy onions.
2.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until hot.  Stir.
3.  Top with remaining 2/3 C onions.  Bake 5 minutes until onions are golden.

**If using fresh or frozen green beans, use 1 pound.

Dessert
Pistachio Supreme Cake
You need one large tube pan.  I recommend an Angel Food Cake pan, as a smaller bundt cake pan is too small.   This is a holiday favorite! 
When I was a kid, my mom would decorate the cake to look like a Christmas wreath.  She would take some small red candies (usually red hots) and place them around the cake in clusters of three and sprinkle the top of the cake with green sugar and put a red ribbon on the cake.  It was always so festive.  I would have done that for you, but we don't have any red candies or green sugar in the house!  I think you get the idea though.  This cake is amazingly delicious!
Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
3 boxes instant pistachio pudding
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 C milk
1/2 C water
5 eggs
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 8-oz container Cool Whip

Directions:
1.  Mix cake mix, 2 package pudding, milk, oil and water until blended.
2.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each,
3.  Pour into greased & floured tube pan (I use cooking spray and then lightly flour it).  Bake at 350F for one hour or until done.
4.  Cool cake thoroughly before frosting.
Make sure to mix the eggs in one at a time!
Frosting
1.  Beat heavy cream until peaks form.
2.  Add 1 package pudding, mix well.
3.  Add Cool Whip, mix well.  Spread over cake.  There is so much frosting, that I usually cut the cake in half horizontally and put frosting in the middle.
Tip:  It takes a long time to beat the cream into a whipped cream consistency.  Put your bowl and beaters in the freezer first.  It helps to expedite the process.  I think it took me about 5 minutes to get the cream to this point.

Other 
Baked French Toast
This is great to make ahead, put in your oven before you go to bed on Christmas Eve, setting the timer on your oven for it to be ready when you everyone gets up.  Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.  Delicious Christmas morning breakfast.  

Double recipe to make a 9x13" pan.

Ingredients:
1/4 lb. melted butter (1 stick)
3/4 C. brown sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk
12 slices bread (I recommend using thick cut French Toast bread, or a nice cinnamon swirl bread)
cinnamon
ground nutmeg

Directions:
Pour melted butter in bottom of pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over.  Combine milk and eggs.  Place stacks of three slices of bread in pan.  Pour eggs and milk mixture over bread.  Sprinkle cinnamon and grated nutmeg on top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 325F for 25 minutes and 4 minutes at 350F, or until browned.  Turn over to serve.  (See note above about doubling recipe.)

Another of my favorite Christmas Carols...
Silent Night / Noche de Paz, sung by Gloria Estefan
I love to hear Silent Night sung in different languages.  It's magical.  I especially like the German version of the song, but I could not find a decent rendition on YouTube to share.



Questions for you: (Answer in the comment section below.)
What's your favorite side dish to serve with holiday meals?
What's your favorite Christmas movie?  

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