Thursday, December 23, 2010


Holiday Cookie Recipe Repertoire - Day #23

Last weekend I read that Americans love their holiday cookies and they look forward to cookies during the season more than any other treat. So I've put together a repertoire of cookie and cookie bar recipes. Most are old recipes made for us by our moms and grandmothers, cookies that have tasted heavenly to us since childhood.

I've also added a couple of runner-up recipes from the recent Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest. After personally stirring-up a batch of these sweet, tender morsels, they've officially been added to the holiday cookie list at the Briggs house as new traditions. Enjoy!

Cherry Winks
(Pictured Above)
5 cups corn flakes, coarsely crushed
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, finely cut and drained
15 maraschino cherries, drained and cut into quarters

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside.
Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well and then add sifted ingredients, mix until combined and then add nuts, dates and finely cut cherries.
Preheat oven to 375°. Shape 1 tablespoon cookie dough into walnut-size balls; roll in crushed corn flakes. Place on greased baking sheets. Top each cookie with a cherry quarter. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned, and then remove to a cooling rack. Yield: 5 dozen cookies
Grandma Betty's 7-Layer Bars
(Pictured Below)
Preheat oven to 350°.
1 cube unsalted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1-6 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-6 ounce package butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Melt butter in a 9” x 12” baking pan (place butter in the baking pan and then melt it in the oven). Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over melted butter, then add layers of coconut, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. Drizzle layered ingredients with 1 can sweetened condensed milk; top with pecans or walnuts. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack; cut into 2” bars while warm. Yield: 2½ dozen
Russian Tea Cakes
(Pictured Below)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
3/4 cup nuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400°. Mix together butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla. Sift flour and salt together; combine with butter mixture and add nuts. Roll into walnut size balls.
Place on baking sheet; bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not brown. Roll in ½ cup powdered sugar. Cool completely and roll in powdered sugar for a second time. Place in an air-tight container. Yield: 2½ dozen
Chocolate Crinkles (Hubby's Choice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 ounces), melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix together oil, chocolate and sugar. Add in one egg at a time and mixing well with each addition, stir in vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Combine chocolate mixture with dry ingredients. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into powdered sugar; roll around and shape into balls. Place 2" apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Yield: 6 dozen cookies
Red Raspberry Bars
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon cardamom or cinnamon
1½ cups old fashioned oats
1 12 or 18 ounce jar red raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 400°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; set aside. Combine flour, salt, soda, cardamom and oats in a large mixing bowl; add butter mixture and stir well. Press half the crumb mixture into a greased 9” x 13” baking pan; spread with preserves and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes; cool slightly and cut into bars. Yield: 20 bars
A new favorite adapted from the Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest by runner-up Denise von Pressentin. Original recipe will appear in the soon-to-be-published e-cookbook 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz 2010.

Fruit Cake Bars
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon rum or brandy extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
1 cup red candied cherries
1 cup green candied pineapple
1 cup yellow candied pineapple
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Cream butter and sugar; beat until fluffy. Combine creamed mixture and dry ingredients. Fold in fruits and nuts. Spread into a 1-inch deep, 10" x 15" cookie pan with sides. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Place in an air-tight canister. This delicious substitute for fruit cake can be eaten right away, but they improve with age up to about 3 weeks.
Yield: Approximately 30 bars
Another new favorite adapted from the Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest entered by runner-up April Poirier. Recipe will appear in the soon-to-be-published e-cookbook
24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz 2010.

Velvet Chocolate Cookie "Cakes"
1 1-pound 2-ounce package Oreo Cookies (regular, not double stuff)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
24 ounces vanilla almond bark or 2 12-ounce packages white chocolate chips
Green Sprinkles
Red Sprinkles

Break cookies into food processor; process until they become very fine crumbs. Add cream cheese and process until smooth; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet that's been covered with waxed or parchment paper; return to refrigerator.

Melt almond bark or white chocolate according to package directions. Dip/roll each cookie cake in melted bark; place on cookie sheet and immediately top with sprinkles. Allow to set-up in refrigerator for about 1-hour. Place in a sealed container.
Yield: 40 to 50 Cookie "Cakes"

Grandma Betty's 7-Layer Bars
(Recipe Above)

Russian Tea Cakes
(Recipe Above)


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


There isn't a dinner roll on the planet better than Mom's Fabulous Dinner Rolls! These sweet, old-fashioned pull-apart rolls are a challenge if you're not proficient with yeast breads, but once perfected they'll become your signature contribution to every special dinner event.

Mom's Fabulous Dinner Rolls Day #22
½ cup water
½ cup butter or margarine
5 ½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages (fresh) active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted (optional)

Melt butter in a small saucepan; add ½ water and heat together to reach 110-115° (about the temperature for a baby's bottle). Place butter/water mixture in a large mixing bowl; stir in yeast until granules are dissolved. Add ¾ cup flour, sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Mix well and then add remaining flour reserving about ½ cup for kneading the bread. Put the ½ cup flour on a heavy cutting board or counter top; place dough on flour and knead for 4 minutes, which will slowly work more flour into the dough. It's OK if all the flour doesn't work into the flour, it can be discarded. If your dough is sticky, it needs more flour. When it's elastic and no flour is needed to keep it from sticking to your hands, it's good with no more flour. Using less flour will help ensure a lighter end product; too much flour will make the rolls heavy and doughy. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

Lightly punch down dough; divide into 12 balls, place in a 9” x 12” or 11” x 13” baking pan depending on size of rolls desired. As pictured below, divide dough into 24 balls and bake in 2 round 8" or 9" baking pans. Lightly butter a piece of plastic wrap and loosely cover rolls; place in a warm location to rise.

When rolls are level to top of pan, or almost double in bulk, remove plastic wrap and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven; brush with melted butter, if desired. Cool for 5 minutes; turn onto cooling racks. Yield: 12 or 24 of the best dinner rolls you've ever tasted!

Mom's Dinner Rolls
baked in a 9" round pan.
"Please pass the butter, again."

The 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz will end on Friday, December 24, 2010. Immediately following, I will be assembling a PDF e-cookbook with the entire 24 day recipe blitz along with the recipes of the recipe contest winners and runners-up.

You can purchase the 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz 2010 e-cookbook for $3.00. The cookbook will have approximately 35 to 40 pages/recipes in it with their corresponding pictures.

Send your request, your e-mail address, and checks or money orders to:

Cynthia Briggs
P.O. Box 5226
Kingwood, TX 77325-5226

Hard copies are available upon request for $15.00, which includes shipping.

Send inquiries to:

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Pear Shrimp Salad Day #21

Pear Shrimp Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing is an unlikely combination of foods – blue cheese dressing, shrimp and pears that create a surprisingly unforgettable and festive taste sensation. Accompanied with a glass of sparkling white wine, it's a salad you're going to be making over and over again because it's perfect for a variety of occasions.

Pear Shrimp Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
1 head Butter lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1-2 Bartlett or "Red" pears, cored, pared and cut julienne style
1 cup salad shrimp, rinsed and drained
Chunky blue cheese salad dressing (Marie’s, Litehouse or Maytag are good choices)
1/2 cup Hazelnuts, lightly toasted
16-20 grape tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper

Divide lettuce onto four serving plates; layer pears onto lettuce; add ¼ cup shrimp to each salad and drizzle each salad with desired amounts of blue cheese dressing. Divide hazelnuts and grape tomatoes; arrange on salads. End with freshly ground pepper to taste. Yield: 4 servings

Note: Variations to this salad would be to omit the shrimp (as shown in picture), use spinach in place of butter lettuce, replace the hazel nuts with a different nut such as toasted walnuts and/or use apples in place of pears. Remake it anyway you like it - there are no rules.

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Monday, December 20, 2010


Sweet & Sour Pineapple Meatballs Day #20

Meatballs are a hit at every party! Pictured here is Sweet & Sour Pineapple Meatballs served as an appetizer. This recipe can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer, but either way they'll be gobbled down before you know it and your guests will be asking for more.

Sweet & Sour Pineapple Meatballs - Day #20
1 slice bread
½ cup milk
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Ground pepper to taste

Soak bread in milk; add meat, egg, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Mix well; form into walnut-size balls. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and brown meatballs over medium-high heat; turning frequently. Set aside.

Sweet & Sour Sauce
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1-15 ounce can pineapple chunks canned in their own juice, drained, set pineapple aside and reserve juice
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, cold water, bouillon cube, vinegar, soy sauce and pineapple juice in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sauce becomes thick and clear. Add meatballs; gently simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in pineapple and water chestnuts, if desired; garnish with sesame seeds, if desired just before serving. Serve with Jasmine rice for a dinner meal or as pictured for appetizers.
Yield: Approximately 30 meatballs

Note: For Barbequed Meatballs: Replace sweet and sour sauce with your favorite barbeque sauce. Omit water chestnuts and sesame seeds. When serving as an appetizer, meatballs can be served from a crock pot set on low with toothpicks on the side.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010


Beverly's Baked French Toast Day #19

This recipe is a keeper for the crazy week ahead. Kids or hubby can easily assemble it the night before and the next morning a warm, fresh-baked breakfast almost magically appears. You're family is going to love it!

Beverly's Baked French Toast
1 cup brown sugar packed
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 slices white bread or cinnamon bread (as pictured)
6 eggs beaten
1½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture becomes thick.

Pour the mixture in to a 9" x 13" pan. Place 6 slices of bread on top of the syrup mixture. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread.

Beat eggs and milk together, add vanilla and salt; pour over top of bread. Cover tightly and refrigerate over night.

The next day bake uncovered at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cut bread slices diagonally. Serve immediately with powdered sugar, raspberry preserves, maple syrup or fresh blueberries or peaches. Yield: 10-12 servings

This recipe comes from the kitchen of Beverly Weston, Carlsbad, NM.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010


Veggie Bars Day #18

Messy to make, but these babies are worth it! They get rave reviews anytime I've served them; in fact I generally bring copies of the recipe to the event because invariably someone asks for it. Feel free to share.

Veggie Bars
2 packages refrigerator crescent rolls
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1- 2 oz. package ranch dressing mix (dry)
¾ cup broccoli florets, chopped
1-4 oz. can sliced olives
1 cup Roma tomato, finely chopped and well-drained
¾ cup cauliflower florets, chopped
Red and green pepper, chopped
1 large avocado, diced
½ cup Spanish onion, chopped fine (optional)
¾ cup carrots, shredded
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup green onions with tops, sliced fine

Spread refrigerator rolls (crust) onto greased jellyroll pan. Press seams together and press some crust a tiny bit up the sides of pan; bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Cool completely.

Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and dry ranch dressing mix. Frost cooled crust with cream cheese mixture.

Layer choice of chopped vegetables (one veggie at a time) onto cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle on shredded cheddar cheese as your last layer; garnish with green onions. Gently press veggies into cream cheese mixture. Wrap securely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into 2” squares. Yield: 24 to 30 bars

Note: Low-fat products can be used in this recipe with little change in flavor. All the veggies in this recipe are optional, that's part of the reason it's so good. So don't be afraid to get creative with the veggies and cheese, but avoid the more watery veggies such as cucumber, celery, etc. Using what you and your family likes most will always help to ensure the popularity of a new and different appetizer.


Friday, December 17, 2010


Hot Artichoke Dip Day #17

Marrying fresh made Hot Feta Artichoke Dip with Baguette Toasts creates a match made in heaven that keeps disappearing faster than you can make it.

Hot Feta Artichoke Dip Day #17
1 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces Basil Tomato Feta cheese, crumbled
1-14 ounce can plain artichoke hearts; discard tough leaves; rinse, drain and chop
1-4 ounce jar pimento, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine mayonnaise, Feta cheese, artichoke hearts, pimento, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Turn into prepared baking dish; bake 20 minutes. Serve with Baguette Toasts. Makes approximately 4 cups dip.

Baguette Toasts
1 large baguette
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Slice bread into thin rounds (an electric knife works well for this task); set aside. Combine olive oil, basil and oregano in small bowl; brush olive oil mixture onto both sides of each round; toast under oven broiler, turn and toast second side.

Note: These Baguette Toasts will brown very quickly under the broiler, so watch it closely. It's a bit tedious to make baguette toasts at home, but the flavor far surpasses even the best store bought or bakery toasts.

This recipe comes from the kitchens of Barbara Compton, Teresa Kump and friends…these ladies know their artichoke dip!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Sage Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar Apples Day #16

Announcing one winner of the "Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest."

Contest winner Jill Drury from Milwaukee, Wisconsin entered her signature entree that's become a Christmas dinner tradition with her family and friends. This is a delectable blend of sweet and savory, an excellent alternative to turkey or ham.

Sage Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar Apples Day #16
1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
3 to 5 medium apples, firm type such as Fuji, Granny Smith,
Honey Crisp or Braeburn, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped sage
8 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Directions: In shallow dish marinate the pork in olive oil, vinegar and sage for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°. Remove pork from marinade, season with salt and black pepper to taste and place in shallow roasting pan; roast for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature (measured with a meat thermometer) reads 150°.

Let pork rest while sauteing apples. In a shallow bowl, dip apple slices into brown sugar, pressing so sugar will adhere to apple surfaces. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook apple slices for 2-3 minutes on each side until soft and golden. Serve sliced tenderloin with apples. Yield: 4 to 6 servings
I've sent Jill a signed copy of Pork Chops & Applesauce for sharing a treasured recipes.

All contest entrants have been sent a PDF e-copy of my apple cookbook, Bumper Crop: Beginning with Apples as a thank you for being so generous with their "heart & soul" recipes.

In addition, all contest entrants will be receiving a PDF e-copy of the 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz (now in progress). It will include all the recipes from the 24 day blitz, along with the contest winners and the runners-up recipes. Distribution will be after Christmas.
* E-copies of Bumper Crop: Beginning with Apples and the soon to be published 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz are available for $3.00 each. Just send your checks and requests to:
Cynthia Briggs, P.O. Box 5226, Kingwood, TX 77325-5226

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Christmas Pudding w' Lemon Sauce #15

Today we're having dessert first with one of the winners to the "Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest." Shelly Bevington-Fisher from eastern Oregon shared her version of an Old English treasure by adding a black pepper and cranberry twist.

Christmas Pudding with Lemon Sauce
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
16 ounces whole berry cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated potatoes
1 cup grated carrots1 cup grated apples
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Lemon Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325° and spray a 1 1/2 quart round glass (bowl) baking dish with cooking spray. In a separate large mixing bowl with electric mixer cream together butter and sugar, mix in molasses and vanilla.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together cranberry sauce and baking soda, mix into butter mixture. Sift in flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and black pepper, mix to combine. Stir in potatoes, carrots, apples and walnuts.

Place batter in greased baking dish; cover with foil and punch holes in top of foil to vent steam. Set baking dish in larger baking pan, and fill baking pan with 1" to 1 1/2" water. Steam pudding for 3 hours, or until set. Remove pudding from lower "water" pan; invert pudding onto serving platter.

Prepare Lemon Sauce in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Combine sugar and flour; whisk in boiling water, lemon juice and zest. Simmer until thickened stirring constantly. Slice pudding into 12 pieces, serve warm or cold with lemon sauce. Yield: 12 servings
I'd like send a big thank you to all the entrants. Deciding the winners was challenging because the recipes were mouthwatering and tempting in every way.

As a thank you for entering the Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest I've sent a PDF e-copy of my apple cookbook, Bumper Crop: Beginning with Apples to all who were generous with their treasury of "heart & soul" recipes.

In addition, all contest entrants will be receiving a PDF e-copy of the 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz (that's now in progress). It will include all the recipes from the 24 day blitz, along with the contest winners and the runners-up recipes. Distribution will be after Christmas.

Thank you to everyone, and best wishes for successful and sumptuous cooking and baking throughout the entire holiday season!

Cynthia Briggs

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Congratulations to Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Favorite Holiday Recipe Contest!

Winner Jill Drury from Wisconsin shares her signature entrée that's become a Christmas dinner tradition with her family and friends:
Sage Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar Apples

Winner Shelly Bevington-Fisher from Oregon puts a twist on an Old English favorite with black pepper and cranberries:
Christmas Pudding with Lemon Sauce

Complete recipes to be posted, Wednesday, December 15, 2010.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Apple Cranberry Tart Day #14

It doesn't get any more festive than Apple Cranberry Tart; in fact it's what I call a centerpiece dessert. It's a gorgeous feast for the eyes and a tantalizing treat for the taste buds!

Apple Cranberry Tart Day #14
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cream cheese spread (1/2 of 8-ounce tub)
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, softened

Place flour, cream cheese spread and butter in food processor. Using the pulse action, process just until dough begins forming a ball. Shape dough into a ball; place on lightly floured surface; roll out to an 11-inch circle. Place on a lightly greased cookie or jelly roll pan and using a fork, puncture holes on crust bottom. Fold the outer edges of dough to create a "rustic" crust (see photo). Set aside while preparing apple cranberry filling.

6 large cooking apples (i.e., Granny Smith, Cameo, McIntosh), peel, core and slice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash nutmeg
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400°. Place apples, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a large saucepan; add 1/2 cup water; cover; bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes; remove from heat. Stir cornstarch into cold water until smooth; add mixture to cooked apple filling; stir well; add dried cranberries.
Pour apple cranberry filling into prepared crust; adjust outer edge by folding it toward the center of tart (the edge of this tart is finished like a single-crust pie except with a wider free-form edge that folds inward).
Dot with 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle crust with additional granulated sugar. Bake 40-50 minutes, watching closely to avoid scorching crust. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Yield: 8 servings

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Monday, December 13, 2010


Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas #13

A friend in Seattle introduced me to Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas back in 1990. I thought he was completely out of his mind because at the time I'd never heard of green chilies. I put the dish together and was very pleased with the results.

When I opened the oven door I was greeted by wonderfully tantalizing smells, I've been making this casserole ever since. It's a great busy day dinner to make during the holiday season, it serves 8 so it satisfies big appetites and it warms the tummy on chilly winter nights.

Busy Day Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
2 cups chicken breast, cooked, boned and finely diced
2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies or 2/3 cup fresh roasted green chilies, if available
2 bunches green onions with tops, washed and finely chopped
2 10 3/4 ounce cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated or Mexican cheese mix
12 corn tortillas, lightly fried until soft or 12 small flour tortillas, no frying necessary
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Avocado slices (optional)

Mix chicken, onions and chilies together in a medium size mixing bowl. Roll approximately 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla; lay stuffed tortillas in an 8” x 13” prepared baking dish with tortilla edge on bottom of pan. Whisk together chicken broth and mushroom soup; pour over enchiladas. Use remaining chicken mixture, onions and grated cheese to top enchiladas. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with avocado slices and rice. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Yield: 8 servings

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Sunday, December 12, 2010


Ranch, Salmon & Beef Cheese Ball Day #12

My daughter would never forgive me if I didn't include her most-loved cheese ball recipes in my 24 Day Favorite Holiday Recipe Blitz. So here you go, enjoy.

Hidden Valley Ranch Cheese Ball
1 – 8 ounce package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, dry
¼ cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Fresh parsley, cilantro or candied cherries (optional)

Combine dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, butter and cream cheese together until well blended. Form into a ball or loaf/roll, and roll in nuts. Wrap securely in plastic wrap. Garnish with parsley, cilantro or candied cherries, if desired. Chill 4 to 6 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any cheese ball that's leftover.
Yield: Approximately 1 1/4 cups cheese ball mixture, and serves 10 with a variety of snack crackers.

Betty B’s Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
6 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon dried minced onions
½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Fresh parsley and lemon slices (optional)

Mix cream cheese, salmon, lemon juice and onions together until well blended. Form into a ball or loaf/roll, and roll in nuts. Wrap securely in plastic wrap. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices, if desired. Chill 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any cheese ball that's leftover.
Yield: Approximately 1 2/3 cups cheese ball mixture and serves 14 serve with variety with a variety of snack crackers or raw vegetables.

Special Blend Cheese Ball
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 - 2.5 ounce packages chipped beef (i.e., Buddig or Hormels Dried), chopped fine
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped fine
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Mix cream cheese, chipped beef, green onions, mayonnaise and garlic powder together until well blended. Form into one large cheese ball (or two small) or a large loaf/roll, and roll in chopped pecans. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any cheese ball that's leftover.
Yield: Approximately 2 cups cheese ball mixture, serves 24 with a variety of snack crackers, celery sticks or zucchini discs.

Cook's Note: Any cheese ball can easily be used for a dip. Simply mix everything together according to the instructions. Place mixture in an appropriate dipping dish; sprinkle nuts over the top, if desired. These dips (above) should sit for at least 1 hour so the flavors can meld, but they don't have to be refrigerated before serving. Just place them on the buffet table and you're ready to go.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


Crunchy Swiss Cheese and Ham Bites Day #11

I found this recipe for Crunchy Swiss Cheese and Ham Bites in one of my mom’s old appetizer cookbooks. Mom often made these scrumptious starter when she was expecting a large crowd as the recipe makes a whopping platter of crunchy appetizers. Cheese, mashed potatoes and ham wrapped up in a crispy outer coating, it just doesn't get any better than this!

Crunchy Swiss Cheese and Ham Bites
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
or prepare instant mashed potatoes to equal 2 cups
1 egg, well-beaten
2 cups smoked deli ham, cooked and finely chopped
3/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 1/2 cups corn flakes, finely crushed

Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to package directions; set aside to cool. Combine potatoes, egg, ham, cheese, pepper, mayonnaise and onion; cover and chill.

Shape potato ham mixture into 1-inch balls; roll in crushed corn flakes. Preheat oven to 350°. Place on greased cookie sheet; bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot from oven with Dijon mustard for dipping, if desired.
Yield: approximately 72 bites or 8 dozen

Cook's Note: Prepare potato ham mixture and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw mixture and prepare according to recipe directions. If you’re not expecting a huge crowd, consider making half a recipe, or make a full recipe and then freeze half the potato ham filling for the next get-together. Crunchy Swiss Cheese and Ham Bites do not hold-over or freeze well as leftovers because they lose their appealing crunchiness.

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Friday, December 10, 2010


3-Cheese Mac & Cheese Day #10

During the holidays when we're eating so many sweet, rich and exotic foods, it's sometimes grounding to sit down to a comforting meal and nothing says "kick back and take it easy" like macaroni & cheese. 3-Cheese Mac & Cheese is a smooth and creamy blend of cheese and pasta with a just-right buttery crunch topping; add some diced ham to create a main dish that's sure to bring calm and contentment to a hectic season.

3-Cheese Mac & Cheese
1 8-ounce package elbow macaroni
1 8-ounce package 2 % shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup small curd low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Ground pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse with hot water. Preheat oven to 350°.

Stir together cooked macaroni, shredded Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Fold into 9" x 13" buttered glass baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and melted butter; sprinkle crumbs over macaroni mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Yield: 6 servings

Cook's Note: To make this a main dish, just add 1 1/2 cups diced ham when macaroni is mixed with cheese. Baking time remains 35 to 40 minutes.
Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas. ~Johnny Carson

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Thursday, December 9, 2010


Brandied Sweet Potatoes Day #9

Betty's Brandied Sweet Potatoes Day #9
1 cup pecans or walnuts, broken
1 cup coconut, flaked (optional)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries or currents
2/3 cup brandy
4 cups yams or sweet potatoes, cooked and sliced or
2 large cans yams, drained and sliced
2 cup miniature marshmallows
1-6 ounce jar maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pecans, coconut, brown sugar, dried cranberries and brandy into a large-size bowl; mix well. Cover and chill overnight.

The next day slice sweet potatoes into bowl with brandy mixture; gently stir. Place 1/2 the sweet potato mixture into a buttered 11" X 13" X 2" baking dish baking dish; add a layer of marshmallows and then place remaining sweet potatoes over marshmallows. Drain cherries, reserving ¼ cup juice. Arrange cherries over top of sweet potatoes; sprinkle with reserved cherry juice. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Yield: 12 servings

Kid Friendly Whipped Yams
1 large can yams
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Mash yams with some liquid from the can. Begin whipping the potatoes with an electric hand mixer; mix in the melted butter and then the cream and salt. Fold in marshmallows by hand. Mix in nuts by hand or put sprinkle on the top, if desired. Bake in 8" x 8" buttered baking dish for 20 minutes. Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Cranberry Orange Muffins #8

Let me see, should I make Cranberry Muffins or Blueberry Bread, blueberry muffins or cranberry bread? I can't decide…so I'll make the bread for Christmas Eve and the muffins for Christmas morning. Mm, warm muffins bursting with juicy berries and drizzled with orange honey topping. These babies need to be eaten with a fork, which isn't such a bad thing!

Cranberry Orange Muffins Day #8
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped or 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, whole
2 cups all- purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons salad oil
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine cranberries and sugar and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients together; add cranberry mixture and stir until berries are coated.

In a separate bowl mix egg, orange juice, salad oil and orange zest together; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Batter can be spooned into greased muffin cups (with cupcake papers, if desired), or into a 9 1/2" X 5" X 3' loaf pan.

Bake muffins for 25 to 35 minutes at 375° and bread at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes. Prepare topping while muffins are baking (see below).Test for correct doneness using a toothpick. Remove from the oven and poke 3 holes in top of each muffin or about 8 holes into top of bread. Remove to cooling racks while still warm. Place waxed paper under cooling racks; gently pour topping over muffins arranging orange peel evenly across tops.

Topping: Combine 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 teaspoon grated orange peel, and 2 tablespoons warmed honey; set aside.

Both muffins and bread freeze well. Yield: 12 muffins or about 12 slices from a loaf pan.

Recipe is the combined creativity of April Poirier, Auburn, WA and Cynthia Briggs, Houston, TX.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010


3-Minute Chocolate Mug Brownie #7

The 3-Minute Chocolate Mug Brownie makes a great giveaway for the holiday season. But should you need a little "gift" for yourself, you can have this delicious delight ready for your own indulgence within 3-minutes. Made up with a bow these are really cute, inexpensive stocking stuffers that are guaranteed to satisfy the most earth-shaking chocolate attack. Mm, molten!

3-Minute Chocolate Mug Brownie
1 Large Microwave Safe Coffee Mug, greased
4 tablespoons flour (plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons mini-chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Combine first 3 dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl; mix well. Stir in the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil; mix well. Add chocolate chips and vanilla; mix again.

Put mixture into greased mug. Cook on High (1000 watts) setting for 3 minutes. The brownie will rise over the top of the mug, that's OK as it will drop back down. Allow to cool a bit, tip out onto a plate. Yield: 1 serving, but easily serves two. The brownie is very rich, similar to a molten chocolate cake. Top with ice cream or whipped topping, if desired.

To make as gifts: Put the dry ingredients into a small clear treat bag and secure with a twisty. Place in a large, microwave proof mug. Print out the gift tag with instructions (see below), punch a hole in the corner of tag and attach with a decorative ribbon and a miniature candy cane, if desired. Write receivers name on back of tag. Chocolate has its own special way of saying I'm thinking of you.

♥ 3-Minute Brownie ♥
Place dry ingredients in a bowl. Add 1 egg, 3 tablespoons
milk, 3 tablespoons oil and a splash of vanilla extract; mix
well. Grease mug; pour batter into mug. Place mug in
microwave and cook on high (1000 watts) for 3-minutes.
The brownie will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be
alarmed. Allow to cool a little; tip out onto a plate and
cut into 2 servings. Serve with whipped cream.

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Monday, December 6, 2010


Spinach Prosciutto Flank Steak

Your guests will think you worked in the kitchen all day when you serve this impressive stuffed flank steak. Compliment it with garlic mashed potatoes and slices of beefsteak tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and fresh basil. It's a beautiful presentation that's easier to make than you might think.

Spinach Prosciutto Stuffed Flank Steak
1½ pounds flank steak
Salt and pepper
12 ounces fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
or 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, finely crushed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
Cooking twine

Preheat oven to 375°. Trim excess fat and membrane from steak; cover steak with plastic wrap and tenderize with a kitchen meat hammer, then remove plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat frying pan until almost smoking, and cook fresh spinach 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted (omit this step if using frozen spinach). Place steamed or thawed frozen spinach in colander and squeeze out excess water. Combine spinach, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, crushed rosemary, garlic and oil in a food processor; pulse for 30 seconds to make a smooth paste.

Layer prosciutto over steak; spread spinach mixture on top. Starting at the narrow end, roll steak into a log, securing the roll with twine. Place steak in baking dish, brush with additional olive oil; roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 140° to 160°. Remove steak from oven. Rest for 10 minutes; remove twine, slice into approximately 1/8" to 1/4" slices (an electric knife works best) and serve.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Cook's Notes:
1) Thin slices of regular dry-cured ham or strips of pre-cooked bacon can be used in place of prosiutto.
2) If the steak is cooked more than to rare or medium-rare, it will be tough. It is key that the steak is thinly sliced, similar to a London Broil so it will be tender.
3) Stuff the steak the day before to save yourself valuable time in the kitchen on the evening it's served.
4) Stuffing meat is really quite simple, it just looks difficult. For success, follow instructions and plan ahead.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010


Cardamom Bread Recipe/Day #5

Helen's Christmas
Cardamom Bread

When we begin settling-in for winter and preparing for the busy holiday season, I think back fondly of my late mother-in-law, Helen Robertson.

Helen introduced me to the cardamom spice and to making cardamom bread when I was in my early twenties. She is greatly missed, but every year at this time her spirit meets me in the kitchen to bake this aromatic bread with its sweet, flowery flavor.

I’d like to share my step-by-step instructions on how to make cardamom bread, which would basically apply to making any type of yeast bread. For me, making bread becomes easier when I liken the process to being pregnant or to caring for a baby – it requires time and patience with a few rules to follow.

The first rule-of-thumb is DON'T PANIC - it's just yeast! Next, remember to under-do rather than over-do when making yeast breads. Use flour on the shy side. Liquid ingredients need to be at 110° or less when added to the yeast. Finally, remember that you can’t hurry a good thing. It takes time and patience in making bread just as it does when caring for babies. Relax and ring in the season with the joyous accomplishment of making cardamom bread from scratch.

Helen’s Christmas Cardamom Bread
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2/3 cup milk
1 package dry yeast (.25 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, well-beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted, brush on bread before baking
2 tablespoons butter, melted, brush on bread after baking

1) Sift the flour, salt and ground cardamom together; set aside.

2) Heat the milk to 110° to 115° or slightly below (use a candy thermometer to check the temperature), if it gets too hot let it cool until the temperature drops. If you don't have a candy thermometer, the milk would be heated to baby bottle or food temperature.

3) Pour milk into a large mixing bowl if you intend to knead the dough by hand or into a heavy-duty electric mixer bowl with dough hoops (a small electric hand mixer will not do the job of kneading bread).
4) Sprinkle the yeast over the milk; stir with a whisk until yeast softens (about 5 minutes). Stir in sugar, egg and flour using a heavy wooden spoon or heavy duty mixer with dough hoops.

5) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand for 8 minutes or knead dough for 4 minutes using a heavy-duty electric mixer (it is okay to knead dough without additional flour if the dough isn't sticking to your hands or the board additional flour isn't needed). Butter or grease a large bowl and place dough in the bowl with the smooth side up. Cover dough loosely with a piece of plastic, and if desired place a warm kitchen towel over the plastic wrap.

6) Allow dough to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

7) Once dough has risen for the first time, turn it out onto a lightly floured board; punch down dough and cut it into 3 equal parts. Using your hands and a rolling pin, form each section of dough into 24-inch long “ropes.” Pinch ropes together at one end and gently braid them without stretching or pulling. Form braid into a circle to create a wreath shape; pinch ends together and tuck uneven pieces to the underside. If desired, the braid can be left in a loaf shape or bunched into a knot; tuck ends under to conceal pinched areas.

8) Place wreath on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Brush with melted butter and cover with a clean dry dishtowel.

9) Allow braided dough to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Don’t let it rise too high or it’ll be too airy and/or dry.

10) Preheat oven to t 425° then bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with remaining melted butter and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup blanched almonds, slivered
Candied red cherries, optional
Candied green pineapple, optional

Combine sugar, milk, vanilla and almonds in a medium bowl. Drizzle frosting over warm bread. Decorate with red cherries and green pineapple. Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This recipe was originally brought to the United States from Germany by the Boysen Family in the mid-40s.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


Pineapple Cheese Salad & Cranberry Waldorf #4

Both fruit salads in today's fare are old-time favorites made with a twist, yet they stay within the much needed boundaries of comfort and familiarity. Creamy Pineapple Cheese Salad has contrasting flavors of sweet pineapple, sharp cheddar cheese and creamy whipped cream - a sweet, tangy, creamy blend of delicious. Cranberry "Waldorf" Apple Salad dresses up yesterday's Waldorf salad with the addition of poppy seeds and dried cranberries.

Creamy Pineapple Cheese Salad
2 packages (3 ounce) lemon flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2-8 ounce cans crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Combine gelatin and water; stir until sugar is completely dissolved; chill until slightly thickened. Adding one ingredient at a time; gently fold in cheese, pineapple, and whipped cream. Pour into a 2 quart mold, or serving bowl; chill. Un-mold onto bed of greens; garnish with well-drained pineapple rings and maraschino cherries, if desired.
Yield: 10 servings

Cranberry “Waldorf” Apple Salad
2-3 Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
2-3 Red Delicious apples, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup salad dressing, slightly thinned with milk, 1-2 cups non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream

Toss together first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with thinned salad dressing, non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream; gently stir to coat apples. Place in a large serving bowl (green or ruby red glass is pretty); garnish with additional walnuts and dried cranberries. Cover and refrigerate before serving.
Yield: 6-8 servings

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Friday, December 3, 2010


24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz #3

Sweet and savory Spicy Orange Glazed Pecans will add a different kind of crunch to your holiday fare. Tiny decorative boxes or jars filled with these delightful morsels make great stocking stuffers, and they're a nice twist served as a not-too-filling appetizer.

Spicy Orange Glazed Pecans
4 cups raw pecan halves
3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 large egg white
Zest of two oranges
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec (optional)

Preheat oven to 225°. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Combine pecans, orange juice and egg white; toss until nuts are well coated. Add orange zest, sugar, salt, chili powder, cayenne and Grand Marnier (optional); toss until well mixed.

Spread pecans on baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes; stirring every 10 minutes, or until pecans begin to appear dry and stop sticking together. Cool completely before removing from pan; break apart and store in airtight container. Yield: 4 cups

Cook's Note: Glazed nuts can also be made in a cast iron frying pan (as shown). This method works very well and takes less time. The key is to keep the heat as low as possible (some burners are just too hot even on lowest setting) and stir constantly as they can burn or scorch in a blink.


Holiday Recipe Contest

"Favorite Holiday Recipe
Contest" begins NOW. It couldn't be more simple to win one of the cookbooks (pictured).

Submit your absolute favorite holiday recipes, and you could be the winner of Pork Chops & Applesauce or Sweet Apple Temptations. The two winning recipes will be included in a PDF ebook titled 24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


24 Day Holiday Recipe Blitz #2

Chef Tim Wilkins of Rebecca's Restaurant at The Lodge in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, shared his recipe for Roasted Corn & Chipotle Pepper Chowder when I interviewed him for my cookbook, Pork Chops & Applesauce. Since then this unique roasted corn and smoky chipotle chowder has become a classic holiday meal for us. I think you'll agree this recipe is a keeper! Try it and let me know what you think…

Chef Tim’s Roasted Corn &
Chipotle Pepper Chowder
1 quart chicken broth
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine
3/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup roasted corn, grill fresh corn-on-the cob, or roast under a broiler 1 1/4 cups frozen corn, thawed and well drained
1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers canned in adobe sauce, finely minced
3/4 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
2 cups cream
Bacon crumbles and/or parsley garnish, if desired

Simmer garlic, onion, corn, chipotle peppers, and celery in broth for about 10 minutes, or until celery and onions begin to soften. Add potatoes and allow to heat through. Remove from the burner and stir in cream; heat again but do not boil. Garnish with bacon crumbles and chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve piping hot with crusty French bread. Yield: 6 servings

WARNING LABEL: Chef Tim’s Roasted Corn & Chipotle Pepper Chowder is delicious and hearty, but be warned that Chipotle peppers are very, very hot! Add peppers sparsely beginning with just 1 level teaspoon of minced Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce and then add more (1 teaspoon at a time) to taste.

For more information about The Lodge and Rebecca’s Restaurant at Cloudcroft, New Mexico, visit them at, “It’s charmed.”

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