Homemade Ham Salad

Ham salad is a great thing to make anytime but at the end of the Holiday season it is really a great place to finish the ham that you have left over!! It seems my men love it and with a special twist or two it is special all over again. Here is what I used today:

1 pound of boneless ham trimmed of fat and cut into 1" cubes
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 stalk celery
2-3 T onion
1/4 C. sweet pickles
3 T. sweet pickle juice
3 hard boiled eggs
3/4 C. mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

I make this using the food processor but please beware and DO NOT OVER PROCESS any of these ingredients. I process each step in the following order and then empty what I have done into a large bowl that I will hand mix everything together at the end.

Using the shredding blade shred the cheese and dump into a large bowl. Next process the ham using the chopping blade and pulsing. Check that you just chop the meat to a "rough chop" state. Do NOT process this to a fine consistency. Dump the ham into the cheese. Combine the onion and celery in uniform sized chunks and pulse to a rough chop. Add to the cheese and meat. Lastly add the sweet pickles to the processor and pulse until it is a bit larger than relish. Add to the other ingredients. Hand chop the hard boiled eggs into the mixture. Add the mayonnaise and pickle juice and stir everything together well. Taste to see if it needs additional moisture. If it does add a bit more pickle juice and mayo. Season to taste and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. 


Homemade Turtle Candy

The men all smile like little angels when they see I have made a tray of homemade candy. Especially pecan and caramel enrobed in semi sweet chocolate. They are really easy to make the way this grandma does it. I use Merken's Caramel that I order from the King Arthur Catalog and pecan halves with melted chocolate chips. 

Just preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Gather together:
1 lb. pecan halves
4 lb. Merken's Caramel* cut into medium dice
1 lb. good semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 bar of paraffin
Arrange 3 or 4 pieces of nutmeats close together to form a cluster and top with a piece of Carmel. I have used Kraft Caramels and they work just fine too. Place in the preheated oven for 8 minutes until the caramel just melts enough to hold together the nut meats. 

Cool completely and remove to wax paper lined surface. Melt chocolate and paraffin together in a glass bowl over simmering water. 

Stir well to melt, then carefully spoon over each candy. Let sit until cold and store in an airtight
container in a cool place.

* I order from King Arthur in a 5 # block.


12 eggs do an Angelfood Cake make!!!

Angel food Cake
Emily and Kate's Fondant Fish Cake!!
This month we celebrated two birthdays this past Saturday night. Early on our granddaughter, Emily had wanted to make a "fish' cake for Joel and I would make an angel-food for her dad, Mike. I was so proud of Emily and her sister Kate for the job they did with fondant. It turned out great.

My cake recipe is adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook. Here is what you will need:

1 C. sifted cake flour
3/4 C. plus 2 T. sugar
12 egg whites (1 1/2 C.)
1 1/2 t. cream of tarter
1/4 t. salt
3/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and move rack to lowest position. Sift together the flour and first amount of sugar and set aside. 

Using a large glass mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tarter, and salt until foamy. Add second amount of sugar, 2 T. at a time, beating on high speed until the batter holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in the flavorings. Sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture, 1/4 C. at a time over meringue, folding in gently just until flour/sugar mixture disappears. Push the batter into an ungreased tube pan, 10x4
inches. Gently cut through the batter to remove air pockets.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched with finger. Invert tube pan on a funnel or bottle. Let it hang upside down until cold. Using a long thin knife run it around the sides of the pan to remove the cake. Dust with powdered sugar of frost. We like to serve this with fresh or frozen berries.


Six Grain and Flax Yeast Bread

Gosh when it is cold and gray and just plain yuck out of doors and there is no sunshine I am compelled to mix up some bread.  I have said it here before but I do love to bake bread.  It isn't that I haven't done other things too but it has basically been more of the same so I didn't post repeats. 

This bread uses a grain mix of organic rolled oats, barley flakes, wheat flakes, rye flakes, rice flakes, and kamut flakes that I ordered from King Arthur as a breakfast cereal.  I use a lot of their flour and order from them a couple of times a year.  I adapted a bread recipe they sent along in my order with the addition of Flax seed that I ground and a few other alterations.  It goes like this:

2 C. King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 C. King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 T. wheat gluten
1 C. Six Grain Flakes
2 T. Flax Seeds, then grind
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
1/2 C. nonfat dry milk granules
1 1/4 C. warm water

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook.  Mix and Knead until the dough is smooth and supple.  Fill a heavy crock or glass bowl with hot tap water.  Empty it and dry it well, butter it generously and place the dough into the center and turning it to coat with butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and shape it into a 9" log.  Place it in a buttered 9" x 5"
loaf pan and cover again with plastic wrap to rise.  It should crown about 1" above the edge of the pan in about an hour.

Towards the end of the rise time preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the bread about 45 minutes until a instant read thermometer reads 190 degrees.  Remove the bread from the oven and then from the pan.  Allow to cool completely on a rack.  Yield :  1 loaf.


Homemade Salami or Beef Stick

Probably 25 years have gone by since my dear neighbor and friend Theresa gave me this recipe and our family has enjoyed it very much. I have also used venison to make this and it has always turned out great. This year I plan to use it at our family Christmas and will make several batches as we are hosting this year and want to have plenty.

You will need:

2 pounds of ground beef
2 T. Morton's " Tenderquick "
1 1/2 t. coarse black pepper
1 1/2 t. liquid smoke
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 T. mustard seed
1C. cold water
Mix altogether in a large bowl until everything is evenly distributed and the water has been absorbed. Divide the mixture in half and form into 2 ropes. Using a large piece of extra wide heavy duty aluminum foil under each half will add to the ease of doing this. Then wrap each rope in the foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare broiler pan by greasing it well or lining it with foil and spraying with nonstick spray. Remove the sausages from their foil wrap and position on the broiling pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Wrap tightly and keep refrigerated. At serving time slice and serve with crackers.


Grandma Eva's Sticky Rolls

Grandma's handwritten recipe.
Sugar and Spice and everything nice!!
This is a really old recipe, probably the oldest one I have. It is handwritten by my Grandmother Anna Eva Burress, probably in the mid 50's. The edges are tattered and torn. She wrote it for my Mother when I was a very little girl, pre second grade!! I remember Grandma making these in her kitchen as I watched mesmerized.
The first part of this is about the amount of yeast to use. She was using Red Star Special Dry or a Cake of Compressed Yeast which I haven't even seen for years. A cake of compressed yeast is equal to a package of dry yeast. I use 2 1/2 t. of instant yeast for a package of dry yeast as I buy instant yeast in a 16 oz. package.
Here is what you will need:

1 pkg. instant yeast
1/4 C. warm water
2 1/4 C. sifted all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/ 2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/3 C. cold butter
1/3 C. scalded milk cooled to lukewarm
1 unbeaten egg
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1/3 C. soft butter
1/2 C. chopped nuts optional
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Sift together the flour, first amount of sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in as thought you are making pie crust or biscuits the cold butter until you have a coarse meal. Stir in the cooled milk, the egg, and the dissolved yeast mixture and combine beating well. Toss onto a well floured surface and knead well.
Roll out to 15 " x 10" . Cream together the packed brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Spread half of the butter mixture over the dough. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Roll up starting with the 15 " side. Cut into 1 " slices. Place cut side down on greased baking sheets or parchment paper. Flatten them a bit and spread with remaining sugar. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until light 45 minutes to an hour. Bake 10-12 minutes in a preheated 425 Degree F. oven.

Yield 16 rolls. Serve warm. Dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.


Hot Wings

Something a little different is always a good thing here. We tend to get tired of the same old thing. Many times I have been really disappointed in prepared hot wings and in the ones I made. Neither have been as I have wanted.

This time I did things differently. I marinaded longer and I cooked them longer and I got a really great end result.

Here is what I used for 2 servings:
20 wing drummets
1/4 C. Asian hot sauce
1 T. hot chili oil
3 T. soy sauce
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 C. canola oil
1 T. wine vinegar

Combine all of these ingredients in a heavy freezer zip lock bag and knead until the ingredients are well combined. Refrigerate for at least 2 days. (MINE WERE DONE FOR 3 DAYS.)

When you are ready to cook these preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with heavy duty foil for ease of clean up and coat it well with cooking spray. Spread the chicken leaving room between each piece and bake for 45 minutes turning every 15 minutes. 

Serve with blue cheese dressing, carrot and celery sticks, and lots of napkins.


How to chop onions with no tears!!

Today I read a really cute and entertaining blog on the perils of chopping an onion complete with illustrated running black mascara. It occurred to me that in the busy Holiday season a lot of onions are being chopped and it might be helpful to someone if I share the best method I have ever found.
It really does work quite well and I do not know where I learned it. I quite possibly have forgotten more than I know so I had better share quick before this is gone too!!!! HA HA!!
Start by removing only the tip portion of the onion and peeling back the top layers of the paper to the root. DO NOT CUT THE ROOT. Just pull back to it. Then after you completely have encircled the onion grasp all the petals and pull them down off the bottom of the root base.
Next halve the onion with one cut through the center of the root. Set a half on its side and slice to, but NOT through, the root portion.
Slice the onion trimming around the root but never cutting it further. The main thing here is don't cut yourself!!
Don't cut through the root section. Trim all around the root section but stay out of the 1/2 to 3/4" portion directly above the actual root.
First cut vertically, then slice, then lay the last portion over and finish slicing and trimming.

This little section contains most of the oils that are released if you cut into it and make you tear up and cry.
You can trim around the edges and not waste any onion just avoid the thickened portion directly above the root base. Happy chopping!! I hope this is helpful.


Spiced Pecans

My brother Gary's former mother-in-law had a lot of tasty treats and this was a real winner as far as we were all concerned!! It is by far the best nut recipe I have ever tasted. is easy!! That is a winning combination.

Preheat the oven to 265 degrees F. and generously butter a large pan with a lip around it. I use a half sheet pan. Then you'll need in a large bowl:

1 large egg white beaten until frothy with a whisk or fork with 2 T. rum or 1 T. water. (I use rum.

Toss into the frothy mixture 2 C. whole pecans and stir well to coat.  Using another bowl,

Sift together:
1 C. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon

Add the sugar mixture to the nut and egg/rum mixture and stir well until all the nuts are coated and scrape it all including any excess sugar onto the prepared sheet and spread it evenly. Bake this for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes


Gingerbread Kids

This is the best gingerbread cookie dough I have ever tried and believe me I have done this many many times. This is an adaptation of the Martha Stewart recipe for gingerbread kids found on her site.
The dough is super easy to work with and rolls easily and transfers easily.......Which....if you have ever done cut out cookies you can't get up is a big, big deal. I can't stress enough how impressed I was with the ease of handling with these cookies. Also I put a piece of dough the size of the end of my thumb through my garlic press to make hair for my kids and it did just great too. 

I didn't want to get into messing with the pastry bag and real fussy decorations for these. I am sending just a very few to Indy for the twins to put on their tree and simplicity is the key here.

Here is what you need:
1 C. butter at room temperature
1 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 C. unsulfured molasses
2 1/4 t. cinnamon
2 t. ginger
1 t. allspice
1 t. soda
1/4 t. salt
4 C. flour + more for dusting
items for decorations

Using a large bowl beat the butter and sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Beat in molasses, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, soda, and salt. At low speed, add flour a cup at a time until it is all incorporated.

Divide the dough into fourths and shape each into a disk wrapping it well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface roll disks to 1/8" thick. Flour cookie cutters and cut cookies. Place on parchment covered baking sheets about 1" apart. With remaining dough you may roll and cut additional cookies and discs and so forth to use as decorations for cloths or jewelry. Dress the cookies and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the pan and bake for 6 more minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling and decorating with chips or candies or icing.


Banana Cake with Cinnamon and Chocolate Chips

Another blog I like to read is David Lebovitz and he posted this and another recipe I am going to try. He in addition said he often adds a shot of espresso to this batter which I didn't do. He is always interesting an I have liked the things I tried. This was my breakfast with 2 cups of hot black coffee this morning. I did not frost it. My intention was to try it as a plainer fare given the chocolate chips. I do like this. It is not as sweet as the banana breads I usually make but it is quite full of flavor. My adaptation is for a larger pan so this is actually about 1 1/2 times his version. I used a 10 1/2" x 3" square glass casserole dish, buttered and then covered the bottom with parchment paper and buttered it again.

You will need:
2 1/4 C. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. soda
3/4 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 C. + 2 T. sugar
2 large or 3 medium eggs
3 T. melted butter
1 1/2 C. mashed banana
3/4 C. sour cream
3/4 t. vanilla
2/3 C. chocolate chips

Butter your baking dish and cover the bottom with parchment and butter it also. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Using a large bowl mix butter, eggs, banana, sour cream, vanilla, and a shot of espresso if using. Add the dry ingredients and stir until JUST COMBINED. Do NOT over stir. Stir in the chocolate chips just until they are incorporated then scrape into the prepared pan. Bake about 40 minutes.

The center should spring back lightly when touched and be just done. Cool on rack.

Yeast Rolls For Dinner Tonight!!!

To get back in the swing of things after the Holiday and a quick trip to Indianapolis I thought I would try these Honey Yeast Rolls that I saw at," Annie's Eats," one of my favorite sites. She said these were her all time favorite and they are good. The brushing with melted butter and honey as a glaze is yummy!! We did like them and it is a "do again " as one of my daughter-in-laws likes to say.

You will need:
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
1 C. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1/4 C. honey
3 T. canola oil
1 1/4 t. salt
1 egg lightly beaten
4 C. bread flour
Vegetable cooking spray
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. honey

Using the large bowl of a stand mixer and the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and water. Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well. Add 3 C. of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Change over to the dough hook and at low speed add the last cup of flour. Knead at low speed for about 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. 

I fill a heavy thick glass or crockery bowl with hot water and let it set a few minutes. Then I empty the water and dry the bowl well. Next I butter it and turn the dough onto it coating the dough well with butter. I cover it with plastic wrap and a clean towel to insulate it and hold the warmth for a good rise. It should sit for about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 30 seconds. Cover again with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Punch the dough down and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball and space evenly apart on a round lightly buttered 10" baking dish. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the melted butter and honey and brush the rolls well using the entire mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through. Cool slightly before serving.


Hot Brown on a paper plate! After the Holiday supper!!

One of the best things about the Holiday's is the leftovers.  Thanksgiving is the only time of the year we have both ham and turkey at the same time so once a year we celebrate after with my version of the "Hot Brown",  a warm sandwich made famous at the Brown Derby restaurant in Louisville, Ky.

It is a great little supper on a paper plate in front of the TV set watching the "pumpkin chucking" finals which is exactly what we did.  All you need for each sandwich is:

2 slices of bread toasted
thinly carved ham warmed
thinly carved turkey warmed
2 slices of crispy cooked bacon
thinly sliced tomato

Cheese Sauce:
2 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 C. milk
1 1/2 C. shredded Cheddar Cheese (or combination of cheese preferred)

Melt butter in bottom of saucepan and add flour.  Stir to cook the flour a bit and add milk stirring til thickened.   Add the cheese and seasonings.  Hold at lowest temperature and assemble the Hot Brown.

Lay the toast open faced across plate of your choice and top with layers of ham and turkey.  Add slices of tomato and top with  hot cheese sauce covering well.  Top the cheese with slices of crisp bacon and serve at once.


Our Thanksgiving Menu

Starters:  We have a tall narrow buffet on a long wall in our living room.  This year I plan to clear this and use it for beginning appetizers and hot Spiced Cider which I plan to keep warm on a large tray in a crock pot with cups saucers and a ladle.  Along side this will be assorted crackers and the blue cheese ball, and  small tray of assorted raw vegetables, pickles, olives, and dip.  A dish of peanuts and a dish with a few buckeyes will round it off.

The main meal:  I usually serve two meats at Thanksgiving, both ham and a turkey breast.  This is followed with mashed potatoes and turkey gravy,  dressing,  homemade noodles,  sweet potatoes with marshmallows,  wild rice and sausage casserole,  green bean casserole,  cranberries,  hot rolls and butter.

Dessert:  Pumpkin Delight,  Butter Cake with chocolate frosting with sweetened Fruit Salad of mixed berries.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Crab Ball

This crab ball is really festive in a dark green dish with lemon wedges!!

This is a really pretty crab and cheese ball at the Holidays because it is covered with a red seafood sauce and when you put it in a green dish it is really festive. The origin of this is unclear to me. I have always made it and no body in my family ever did before me and it has never been written down that I know of except by me for someone who liked it. It must have been told to me long ago or something I had tasted and made my version of in my youth.
Anyway it is easy and good and usually goes quickly although it keeps well and can look good the second day by just adding additional sauce where the original tasters dug into it!!

I stick the crab ball in the freezer to firm it up while I do the sauce.
Crab ball ingredients:
2, 8 oz. pkg. Philly Cream Cheese
1 can of crab drained and picked through to remove any cartilage
dash of hot sauce
1 t. lemon jest
juice of 1/2 lemon

Lay out 2 sections, each about 15 "long of plastic wrap side by side overlapping about 2 inches forming a seal. You will place the crab ball in the center once you have it formed. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and using your clean hands mix well and form into a ball. Place the cheese ball in the center of the plastic wrap and bring the sides up around it to wrap it well. Refrigerate until serving time.

1 1/2 C. ketchup
1/4 C. prepared horseradish ( more or less to taste)
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash of hot sauce

Mix together the sauce. At serving time center the ball on a serving dish large enough or a shallow bowl with enough of a lip that the sauce can flow over it but not over run the dish. Garnish with a few lemon wedges if desired and serve with Triscut, Wheat Thins, and Sociable crackers or others of your liking.


Pumpkin Delight

I had not made this before but my best friend Diane says it is wonderful and has become a family tradition at their house.  She makes it the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving as it is a good do ahead recipe and actually is better if made a few days ahead and allowed to meld a bit.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

The Crust:

24 Graham crackers crushed = 2 C. crumbs
1/3 C. sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
Mix above ingredients together and press into a 9 x 13" pan

First filling:

2 eggs
3/4 C. sugar
1, softened 8 oz. package Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Combine above ingredients and pour over the crust bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Second layer:
Using a saucepan combine:

2 C. pumpkin
3 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. milk
1/2 t. salt
1 T. cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
Heat stirring over medium high heat until the mixture thickens and remove from the heat.  Meanwhile  dissolve 1 large or 2 small envelopes of plain unflavored gelatin in 1/2 C. of cold water.  When it has thickened stir it into the pumpkin and set it aside to cool.

When cool proceed by beating the 3 egg whites with 1/4 C. sugar until firm.

Fold the egg whites into the cooled pumpkin and spread over the cream cheese filling.  Refrigerate until firm.

Frost with whipped topping, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  In effect we have a 4 ribbon desert layered with complimentary flavors.  I am looking fore=ward to cutting these into squares Thursday and placing them in low stemmed desert dishes I use on special occasions.

Wild Rice and Sausage

This recipe was adapted from Southern Living 1986 Annual Recipes cookbook and that is probably how long we have been making it.  Some years we don't make a turkey but rather have ham for Thanksgiving and this dish captures the flavors and aroma of traditional dressing or stuffing.  Our oldest son Chris has made it and taken it to pitch in dinners with a lot of success.  It makes a good amount, keeps well, and doubles nicely.  I have also frozen it and reintroduced it at a later time and it was all good!!  I am myself looking forward to having it this Thanksgiving!!

You will need:
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 C. diced celery
1 lg. onion diced
1 green pepper seeded and diced (I omit this)
1 clove minced garlic
3 C. chicken broth
1 undiluted can of cream of mushroom soup
1 undiluted can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. can of drained sliced water chestnuts
8 oz. drained sliced mushrooms
6 oz. pkg. dry long grain and wild rice mix
Pinch of dry whole thyme
1 t. dried parsley flakes
black pepper
dash of dried red pepper flakes
2 oz. sliced almonds
fresh parsley for garnish, optional
large 3 quart buttered casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a large skillet combine over medium heat the sausage, celery, onion, optional green pepper, and garlic;  cook until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender.  Stir to crumble the meat and drain well when done.  Stir together the remaining ingredients except the almonds and parsley for garnish.  Mix well.  Spoon into prepared dish and sprinkle with almonds.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Yield 12 servings.
NOTE:  This makes a really large casserole and I don't want to have so many leftovers so I put this into 2 buttered casseroles and I am freezing one to bake another time and I am refrigerating the other and will add the almonds and bake it on Thursday.   I will probably bake it an hour and see if that is enough with the reduced volume.


Spiced Hot Cider

There has been a jug of cider in my extra refrigerator just waiting to "get spiced"!!  This is my sister Linda's recipe and I remember vividly the aroma the first time I waked into her house and she had this prepared.  It was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l.  And, it tasted as good as it smelled.  I have made it many times since and we have always enjoyed it.

 You will need:
1 gallon apple cider
1 C. brown sugar
4, 2" cinnamon sticks
2 t. allspice
2 t. whole cloves
1-2  fresh oranges sliced

Combine the first five ingredients in your crock pot or in a large kettle on the stove and set to simmer.
Float the orange slices on top.  Serve hot in mugs.  You may want to garnish with additional cinnamon sticks or cinnamon stick candy.

Hot Buttered Rum

Our oldest son Chris arrived for Christmas a few years back with this goodie made up and a bottle of good rum.  I was a happy cook that year let me tell you!!!  I just love this when it gets cold outside.  In fact I am cold right now.  It must be time!!  I do not know where he got this recipe for sure.  I think it may have been from Emorel LeGassi on The Food Channel, but again I don't know why I think that as I don't recall if he ever said.  We will give him credit just in case.

Anyway here is what you need:

1 stick soft butter
2 C. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
bottle of Dark Rum
Boiling water

Cream together in a bowl the first 6 ingredients until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to use in an airtight container.  To mix using small  mugs spoon 2 T. butter mixture into each mug.  Pour about 3 oz. (6 Tablespoons) of dark rum into each mug.  This should fill the mug about 1/2 way.  Fill the remaining half with freshly boiling water.  Stir well ans serve with a cinnamon stick.  If you are using larger mugs than the example cites adjust the amounts.
NOTE: 1 oz. = 2 T.

Blue Cheese and Pecan Appetizer Ball

This is another recipe from my best friend Diane.  Her parent's have always done a lot of entertaining and this is a cheese ball from their collection of favorites.  It makes 3 good sized or 2 giant cheese balls.  They are also great as gifts and they keep well in the refrigerator.  I think everyone I have ever served or given the cheese ball as a gift to have wanted the recipe.  I am making them up now to have on hand through the Holidays.  It does not call for a lot of blue cheese but it is very flavorful so there is just enough.  I like Maytag blue cheese if you can find it or you can order it on line.  Also the onion and the celery needs to be diced as fine as you can make it by hand and not in a chopper or processor.  It seems to bruise and become too liquid unless you do it by hand.

4 oz. Blue Cheese
4.  8 oz. bars cream cheese
1/2 medium onion chopped very fine
3 stalks celery chopped very fine
2 C. chopped pecans

Combine the first four ingredients well,  I use my clean hands.  Form them as you like in balls or rolls and roll in or top with pecans.  Wrap well in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until you serve.

As you can see I have made 3 generous cheese balls and 2 are tucked away in the bottom of the refrigerator to be forgotten until I have guests or want to give them as a gift.  The other sits ready to taste and enjoy in a few days.  This is really better the longer it sits as the blue in the blue cheese is like starter and tends to grow a bit and flavor the entire treat although it is not at all overpowering.



Just dipped!!
Buckeyes around here are a type of candy made at the Holidays.  Years ago I made these when my own children were home.  This year I plan to have them at Thanksgiving and see if anyone remembers them.
I am planning to make an easier on the cook Thanksgiving this year focusing on do ahead dishes and letting go of some of the old classics.  This way I can see more of my family and a bit less of the kitchen.
These (Buckeyes and Pumpkin Delight) are great to do ahead and the recipes come from Diane my oldest, dearest, best friend in the whole world.

1 sleeve of graham crackers finely crushed,  about 2 C.
1 lb. box of powdered sugar,  about 4 C.
Necked Buckeyes Chilling!!
2 C. crunchy peanut butter,  18 oz. jar
2 sticks of soft butter
1 T. vanilla
1/2 bar paraffin
1 lb. chocolate chips

In line for Tasting!!
Mix altogether crushed graham crackers, sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer.  Using your clean hands roll into balls and refrigerate to firm them up. 

Meanwhile over very low heat melt the paraffin and chocolate chips together.  Using a toothpick or skewer affix the candy and dip into the chocolate swirling to cover and leaving about a a fingernail sized portion not dipped,  thus the name, buckeye!!!