December 1, 2004

Seasons Greetings to All! Christmas is coming and will be here soon, much too soon for me this year. I usually have all of my shopping done early and this year didn't start until last week. For the first time in my life I went to the stores the day after Thanksgiving at 5:30. Yes, that is AM and anyone who knows me knows I don't do mornings. It was fun however and I came home with some great bargains. I'm about ready to start my Christmas baking, I usually make about 12 kinds of cookies, some of my favorite recipes can be here, and there are hundreds of recipes for Christmas at Razzle Dazzle Recipes. I added many new recipes in the last month, I hope you enjoy them.

Terri wrote another great article for this issue about The Family Table, it is so appropriate for this time of year. I just heard a news story that talked about the benefits of eating together as a family, I found a article with the same facts in case you are interested.

I'd like to thank you all for your friendship and support during this year, and I wish you and all those you love a happy and blessed holiday season.

     Mary Ellen        

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APPETIZER RECIPES and MUNCHIES

FABULOUS CRAB DIP

1 16-oz. sour cream
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 6-oz can crab meat, drained
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 5-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
8 pita bread, cut in eighths

Blend cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl. Add crab, white and green onion, water chestnuts. Blend. Add fresh dill. Refrigerate overnight.

Cut pita bread into pieces. Toast on baking sheet in oven for 7-8 minutes.

Serve toasted pita with dip.

SHRIMP and CHEESE STRUDEL

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
4 ounces cooked tiny shrimp, chopped (or one can shrimp, drained and rinsed)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon cajun spice blend
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400° F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out thawed sheet of puff pastry to an 18 x 10-inch rectangle.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cheese, sour cream, green onion, shrimp and half of the beaten egg (about two tablespoons). Spread the mixture lengthwise down half of the rectangle, leaving a half-inch border on edge. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg.

Carefully fold the dough over the filling and seal the edges using the tines of a fork to crimp the dough shut. Transfer the strudel to an extra large baking sheet.

Brush the strudel with beaten egg to help it become a glossy golden brown during baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Tip: Use a pizza cutter to slice inch wide slices across strudel. Cut those slices in half lengthwise to form small rectangles.

TREE SHAPED CRESCENT VEGGIE APPETIZERS

2 (8-oz.) cans Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups finely chopped assorted vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, carrot, cucumber and/or green onions)

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove dough from cans in rolled sections (2 sections from each can); do not unroll. Cut each section into 8 slices (16 slices from each can).

Place slices, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheets to form trees. To form each tree, start by placing 1 slice for top; arrange 2 slices just below, with sides touching. Continue arranging row of 3 slices, then row of 4 slices, ending with row of 5 slices. Use remaining slice for trunk. Refrigerate one tree.

Bake one tree at 375°F. for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully loosen with pancake turner and slide onto wire rack to cool. Bake and cool second tree.

Place each tree on serving platter. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, dill and garlic powder; blend until smooth. Spread mixture over both trees. Decorate trees with assorted vegetable pieces. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, pull apart slices of tree.

HAM ROLL UPS

1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened)
1 lb. smoked cooked ham sandwich meat
1/8 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 jar dill spear pickles

Mix all ingredients together, except the ham and pickles.

Spread the mixture onto the ham, then lay a pickle across each slice of ham, now roll up the slice of ham.

Place tooth picks about 1 inch apart in the rolled up ham and then cut between the toothpicks, making bite size pieces.

HOLIDAY TREE SHAPED CHEESE BALL

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
Piece of lemon peel, if desired
Assorted crackers, if desired
4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
Red pepper sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper

Stir together cream cheese and Cheddar cheese; divide in half. Stir pesto into 1 half; stir onion, mustard and 2 or 3 drops pepper sauce into other half. Cover each half; refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm enough to shape.

Place cheese mixtures on cookie sheet. Shape each half into cone shape to look like a pine tree.

If desired, wrap each tree, label and freeze up to 1 month. Twelve hours before serving, remove trees from freezer. Thaw in wrapper in refrigerator.

Just before serving, roll trees in parsley, pressing it evenly onto trees. Press pine nuts onto trees in string form for garland. Press bell pepper pieces onto trees for ornaments. Top each tree with star shape cut from lemon peel. Serve with crackers.

BACON WRAPPED WATER CHESTNUTS

Drain a can of whole water chestnuts and fill to the top with soy sauce. Let chestnuts soak for at least an hour.

Drain, and then wrap the water chestnuts in raw bacon. Secure bacon with a toothpick.

Place wraps on a baking sheet.

Bake at 375° F. for approximately 45 minutes, or until bacon is done to likeness.

TUNA BREAD DIP

round loaf of Hawaiian bread
1 pkg of dry ranch dressing
3 cans water packed tuna
1 10 oz. bowl of sour cream

Mix together dressing, tuna and sour cream. Scoop center of bread out and then pour in dip. Tear the part of bread you removed into pieces and use it to dip.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PARTY MIX

1/2 (20 oz.) box regular Cheerios
1/2 (12 oz.) box Rice Chex
1/2 (16 oz.) box Wheat Chex
1/2 (9 oz.) bag small unsalted pretzels
1 large bag M&M’s
2-3 pounds white chocolate disks

Mix cereal and pretzels in large bowl.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Stir the chocolate until to coat cereal and pretzel mixture.

Pour M&M’s into the mixture and mix until well blended. Do not over mix.

Line baking sheet or cake pan with wax paper. Spread mixture in pan. Let mixture harden, then break apart.

Note: Do not let any water get into white chocolate.

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CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

CINNAMON STICKS

1 cup (two sticks real butter)
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter. Beat the yellow of the egg with sugar and melted butter. Add flour and cinnamon. Mix well.

Grease baking sheet well. With a well-greased hand, mash out the dough all over the baking sheet. Brush unbeaten egg white all over dough. Spoon off excess egg white.

Bake at 350° F. about one hour. Cut into rectangular sticks.

GIMME A KISS COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
(1) 10-oz. pkg. Hershey's kisses

In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

Refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-1/8-inch balls; roll in extra sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Place a Hershey kiss on each cookie, pressing down lightly. Cool completely.

STUFFED STOCKINGS

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 eggs
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup raspberry jam
Favorite frosting, if desired

Mix sugar, butter, shortening, orange peel and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour. Divide dough into thirds. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 24 hours.

Heat oven to 350ºF. Roll each third of dough into rectangle, 12x9 inches, on lightly floured surface. Cut each rectangle into twelve 3-inch squares. Mix chocolate chips and jam. Spread 1 teaspoon jam mixture down center of each square. Bring 2 opposite sides together over jam mixture; pinch to seal. Seal ends and roll gently into rope shape. Bend into a stocking shape. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Decorate with frosting.

PEANUT BUTTER SURPRISE COOKIES

2 cups of self rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup golden brown sugar
4 tsp of baking cocoa
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
dash of water if needed

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix together. Place on baking sheet in little round dollops.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

CHRISTMAS COOKIE POPS

1 pouch sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
Green food color
12 wooden sticks with rounded ends
1/2 tub ready-to-spread frosting (any white variety)
Assorted decorations, as desired (see ideas below)

Heat oven to 375ºF. Stir cookie mix, melted margarine, flour and egg in medium bowl until soft dough forms. Divide dough in half. Stir green food color, a drop at a time, into part of dough used to make Christmas Trees until desired color is reached.

Roll dough on floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut green dough with 3 1/2- to 5-inch Christmas tree cookie cutter; cut white dough with 3 1/2- to 5-inch snowman cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Carefully insert a wooden stick into bottom of each cookie.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Decorate as directed below.

Christmas Trees: Leave frosting white OR stir a few drops green food color into frosting if desired; spread baked cookies with frosting. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Press tiny candies into frosting for tree decorations. To make star for top of tree, flatten large yellow gumdrop by rolling with rolling pin; cut into star shape with sharp knife. Place on cookie.

Snowmen: Spread baked cookies with frosting. To make hat, flatten large black gumdrop by rolling with rolling pin; cut into hat shape with sharp knife. Place on cookie. To make scarf, cut long strip from any red variety Betty Crocker Fruit by the Foot® chewy fruit snack roll; cut small slits into ends of scarf with scissors to look like fringe. Place around neck of snowman. Use raisins or candy for eyes, nose and buttons. Attach small unwrapped candy cane to snowman.

SNOW-CAPPED CHOCOLATE COOKIES

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick unsalted butter, divided and softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate AND 4 T of butter in double boiler. Set aside to cool.

Mix together flour through salt. Set aside. Beat together remaining butter, sugars, salt, egg, and vanilla. Mix in chocolate. Once completely mixed, slowly blend in flour mixture until no traces are visible. Refrigerate dough for 1/2 hour.

Using a tablespoon, roll dough into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Spread each cookie generously with frosting.

FROSTING
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup half & half
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

 Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

FIRST LADY'S ROSETTES
Minnesota First Lady, Mary Pawlenty shared this holiday recipe from her mother. It's a First Family favorite.

1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
Scant cup of milk
5 teaspoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Oil for deep frying
Confectioner's sugar

You will need an electric skillet with plenty of oil. Iron that is used to dip in batter cannot touch bottom of electric pan.

Shift flour with sugar and salt. In a small mixing bowl beat eggs and add milk, oil and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients gradually and blend well. Use an accurate electric skillet. Place rosette iron in oil while it heats to 375 degrees. Allow the access fat to drip off iron (have a roll of paper towels handy). Dip the hot iron into batter almost to the top. BUT (very important) be very careful not to let the batter run over the top of the rosette iron. Hold the iron under the fat until rosette is golden brown (you might have to adjust the temp of the oil if the rosette browns too quickly or too slowly). Slide the rosette off the iron and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with sifted confectioner's sugar after the rosette has cooled for one minute. Move rosette to a fresh paper towel. Store in a tightly covered container. If desired you may sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar before serving.

Office of Governor Tim Pawlenty

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CHRISTMAS BREAD RECIPES

APPLESAUCE FRUITCAKE

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups raisins or currants
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, coarsely chopped
2 cups applesauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Line bottom with wax paper and grease again.

In large bowl, cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and blend well.

Combine 1/2 cup of flour with nuts, raisins, dates and 1/2 cup cherries, stir until coated. Set aside.

Add remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt to egg mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened, then beat 2 minutes on medium speed.

Fold fruit and nut mixture and applesauce into batter. Pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan. Arrange cherry halves and pecans on top.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean.

Cool upright in pan 5 minutes. Turn upright onto wire rack and remove pan and parchment paper. Cool completely.

COFFEE CHEESECAKE

2 packages of refrigerated crescent rolls
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup or more of chopped pecans

Bake in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk together. Spread one package of crescent rolls over the bottom of the baking dish.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the layer of crescent rolls. Now make another layer. Now top the cake with the pecans followed by sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate.

PINA COLADA FRUITCAKE

1 lb. dates, chopped
1 lb. glazed cherries, halved
2 lb. pecans, chopped
1/2 lb. shredded coconut
1 lb. glazed pineapple, cut in pieces
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon rum extract

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease three 9x5 inch loaf pans.

Mix dates, cherries, pecans, coconut and pineapple in a large bowl.

Add milk and rum extract, continuing to mix. Pack very tightly in prepared pans.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven when a fork or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Store in foil in refrigerator.

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CANDY RECIPES

MARTHA WASHINGTON BON BONS

2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 lb. softened butter
8 oz. flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together, You will need to knead this like bread dough. Let the kids help. When all combined roll into balls about one inch in diameter.

Chill approximately one hour. When thoroughly chilled dip in chocolate coating or almond bark.

Dipping Chocolate
Use melted chocolate almond bark or purchased dipping chocolate, or the mixture below

1 cake paraffin wax 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch
12 ounces milk chocolate chips

Melt wax and milk chocolate chips together in double boiler. Dip candy in mixture then cool.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

HOLIDAY CANDY TRAINS

Glue gun and glue sticks
4 sixteen-inch lengths 3/8-inch-wide red or green ribbon
16 packages chewing gum, (5 sticks each)
12 packages (1 1/2 ounces each) raisins
64 rounds peppermint candies
4 rolls ring-shaped hard candies
4 foil-wrapped Kisses milk chocolates
Assorted foil-wrapped candies
12 miniature candy cane sticks

For cars of each train, glue end of 1 ribbon onto wide side of 1 gum package, 1 raisin package, 2 more gum packages and 1 more raisin package, spacing cars about 1/2 inch apart. For wheels, glue 4 peppermint candies onto sides of gum packages and 2 candies onto sides of raisin packages.

For engine, glue roll of ring-shaped candies onto first ribbon-topped gum package. Glue 2 foil-wrapped candies onto top of engine.

Glue additional candies, candy canes and raisin packages to train cars as shown in photo or as desired. Repeat to make remaining 3 trains.

CANDY CANES

A candy thermometer
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon red food coloring

Mix the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Place a candy thermometer in the mixture, and cook without stirring until the thermometer reaches 265° F.

Turn off the heat and add the peppermint extract.

Divide the mixture in half by carefully pouring part of it into another pan. Add the red food coloring to one of the pans.

While waiting for the candy to cool, grease three cookie sheets (two as working space, and the third to provide a non-stick surface for the canes to cool).

Butter your hands, and use a buttered spatula to cut off a portion of one of the clear taffy. Have a helper do the same with the red taffy.

Pull and fold the pieces repeatedly on your cookie sheet until they appear glossy, then roll them into an 8-inch long coil. Give the head of the cane a twist before setting it aside to cool on the third greased cookie sheet.

Makes: 6 medium sized canes

CREME DE CACAO BALLS

2-1/2 cups crushed chocolate sandwich cookies
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup creme de cacao
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
Additional powdered sugar

Combine crushed cookies, walnuts, and 1 cup sugar. Add creme de cacao and syrup; mix well. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in additional powdered sugar. Place in an airtight container; chill overnight.

Yield: 3 dozen

Source: Southern Living Christmas Cookies

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DESSERTS

CANNOLI

1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Mascarpone cheese
12 oz. bag of miniature chocolate chips
6 purchased cannoli shells
Powdered sugar

Puree ricotta in food processor. Blend in mascarpone.

Transfer mixture to pastry bag without tip. Pipe into shells. Sprinkle ends of cheese filling with chocolate chips.

Serve chilled. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Sift powdered sugar over cannoli.

CHOCOLATE GRAND MARNIER FONDUE

1/2 lb. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

In a large double boiler, boil 2 cups of water over high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer water.

Place chocolate, cream and butter in the upper part of the double boiler.

Stir the chocolate mixture until smooth. Whisk the confectioners' sugar into the mixture, then add the Grand Marnier.

Keep the water in the double boiler at a simmer and dip fresh fruit into the chocolate mixture.

CANDY CANE CAKE

1 package SuperMoist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon red food color
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
White Icing (See Below)
Crushed candy canes or crushed hard peppermint candies

Heat oven to 350ºF. Generously grease and flour 12-cup bundt cake pan. Beat cake mix, water, oil and egg whites in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Pour about 2 cups batter into pan. Pour about 3/4 cup batter into small bowl; stir in food color and peppermint extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn pan upside down onto wire rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour. Spread with White Icing. Sprinkle top with crushed candy.

White Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, if desired

Mix all ingredients. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and spreadable.

CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE

1 package cake mix (any flavor)
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tubs Whipped fluffy white ready-to-spread frosting
Green colored sugar
3 candy canes, broken to remove curved ends
Assorted small gumdrops, if desired

Make cake as directed for 13x9x2-inch rectangular pan, using water, oil and eggs. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Freeze cake uncovered 1 hour for easier frosting. From the middle of one short side, make a diagonal cut to each corner on opposite side, making 3 triangular pieces. Make tree shape by arranging 2 outer pieces with straight 13-inch sides together on aluminum foil-covered tray or cutting board; frost top. Place remaining center piece on top.

Frost sides and top of cake. Press candy cane pieces in end of tree to make trunk. Sprinkle with colored sugar to look like boughs. Arrange gumdrops on cake to look like lights or ornaments. Store loosely covered.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BARS

1 10 ounce jar maraschino cherries without stems
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 6 ounce pkg (1 cup) semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Drain Cherries, reserving 1/3 cup juice. Place cherries in food processor bowl and chop till coarsely chopped. 

Combine sugar, butter, unsweetened chocolate, and vanilla in a med. bowl. Add eggs; beat for 1 minute at med speed. Stir together flour, baking powder, and dash of salt. Add to chocolate mixture alternately with milk. Mixing well after each addition. Spread Batter in a greased and floured 15x10x1" baking pan. Sprinkle with chopped cherries.

Combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk in small heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in reserved cherry juice. Use a spoon to drizzle evenly over batter. Bake in a 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Spray a thin knife with nonstick spray coating; wipe off excess. Use knife to cut chocolate mixture into squares.

Makes 48 squares

CREAM PUFF CHRISTMAS TREE

1-1/4 cups water
2/3 cup butter
1-1/4 cups flour
5 eggs
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tsp. rum flavoring
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
3/4 cup toasted, diced almonds
1/4 to 1/3 cup cream
green food coloring
powdered sugar
small birthday candles (optional)

Puffs: Heat water and butter to a rolling boil in saucepan. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs thoroughly, one at a time. Beat until smooth. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed, golden brown and dry. Allow to cool thoroughly. Makes about 55 puffs.

To Make Filling: Whip 2-1/2 cups heavy cream until it begins to thicken; add 1/3 cup powdered sugar gradually. When stiff, fold in the rum flavoring. Make a small slit in each of the puffs with a knife, then puncture with a pastry tube tip. With a pastry tube, fill the puffs with the whipped cream. Refrigerate filled puffs until ready to assemble tree.

To Build Tree: Cut a 9-inch circle of aluminum foil; place on a plate. Mix 3 cups powdered sugar and the diced almonds; add 1/4 to 1/3 cup cream gradually until frosting is medium consistency. Tint light green with food coloring. Dip bottom of each puff in frosting; place 11 puffs around outside edge of the foil circle, 6 in the next row inside and 1 in the center.

Dip bottom of puffs in frosting and place a second row of puffs on top of the first, between the 2 outside rows. Fill the center for support and build up the cone with each layer of puffs started closer to the center. Place one puff on the very top. Drizzle some of the frosting on the outside of the tree. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar. Refrigerate if not served immediately.

Small candles may be put right into the puffs and lit for special effect. To serve, use 2 forks to separate puffs and place 3 or 4 on a plate.

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THE FAMILY TABLE by Terri Cheney

When my two oldest were small we lived in a bleak old home with a dreary dining room. For many years we didn't have a table in that room. So we ate, as many families do, sitting in our living room with a tv program running. As time went on, I became increasingly unhappy with our family mealtime. We seldom spoke during meals, our manners were atrocious and there was no such thing as family time.

Reclaiming our dining room and putting it to use was vital to bringing my family back together. First I addressed the bleak room itself. I found cozying it up wasn't nearly as expensive as I'd anticipated. Crisp new flat sheets in a pretty color were chose to hang at the lone window in the room. Another, larger sheet was used as a table cloth.

A pretty quilt, pulled from our linen closet, was hung on one wall to cover some slight damage, and a set of lovely landscapes I picked up at a thrift shop were hung on another. I re-purposed an old dresser and placed it on one wall as a buffet, fittedwith a bookcase top from an old desk. The two pieces were painted a lovely color, then I filled the shelves with interesting old china, reproduction food tins and glassware.

Chairs were found inexpensively and with a little wood glue and paint were good as new. Suddenly that horrible old dining room was a charming place and it was done on a small budget.

To address lighting we opted for natural sunlight during the day, and candles in the evening. My children were completely charmed at eating by candlelight and often begged to light candles at the table for our daytime meals.

Then I set the table. I purchased inexpensive but pretty sets of dishes and glassware. I made a real effort to make our table look nice for meals. I found that using objects from around the house (both inside and out) we always had a pretty seasonal centerpiece. Dollar store placemats and dishcloth napkins were placed at each place. The 'good' china came out on Sundays and for birthday dinners and other celebrations. I wanted my family to feel they were special at our family table.

Re-creating our dining room brought a new importance to our family meals and the table became a favorite gathering place simply because the room looked so nice. We discovered that friends preferred to sit there with coffee and chat than to sit in our living room. The children came in after school and began homework there, near enough to ask questions as I prepared the evening meal.

We paid bills at that table rather than at the desk in the living room. It was at the table we chose to hold family conferences and my husband and I determined the larger issues of our lives. It was there we prayed each day. And it was where I began to write.

I didn't put a great deal of money into our dining room, but I certainly reaped far more than I'd anticipated with my humble efforts. Drawing our family back together was priceless.

(C)2005 PennyAnnPoundwise is solely created, owned and written by Terri Cheney. No portion of the newsletter may be reproduced without permission of the author.

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RESTAURANT RECIPES

"PATISSERIE MARGO" RUGELACH

Filling
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup golden raisins (or craisins)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot preserves (stir, don¹t strain)

Glaze
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough - use a food processor or mixer- cream together well:
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. butter (one stick)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour - add all at once and pulse until well-incorporated.

Divide into 4 pieces. Pat each into a flat disc, wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate

After about a half hour (when dough is chilled, roll out the dough onto a floured surface to about 1/8" thick. Cut each into 8 pie wedges. Put approx 1 tablespoon of filling onto each wide-end of triangle - roll up to the point. Brush with glaze - sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in 350° F. oven for 16 minutes until lightly browned. Serve and enjoy.

DRAGON MASTER'S GOLDEN NOODLES

1 oz. Peanut Oil
1 teaspoon Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon Ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1 ea. Pasta Vegetable Packet
2 oz. (or five pieces) Broccoli Florets
1 teaspoon Salt and pepper mix
6 oz. Coconut Curry Sauce
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
5 oz. Lime citrus chicken, grilled, julienne (strips)
1 cup Linguini, cooked and kept warm
2 tablespoon Scallions, bias cut
1 tablespoon Shredded parmesan
1 tablespoon Chopped parsley

Heat oil in sauté pan over high heat. Add the ginger garlic and the vegetable packet, season with salt and pepper mix.

Sauté for 2 minutes. Add coconut curry cream, heavy cream and broccoli, bring to a boil and reduce for one minute.

Add chicken strips and cook additional one minute.

Pile warm pasta onto the serving plate or large shallow bowl

Place all remaining ingredients on top so they are visible.

Make sure the broccoli florets are arranged around the outside of the plate - evenly distributed and the red peppers are on top for color.

Garnish with scallions over pasta, parmesan and parsley around the edge of the plate and serve.

1 serving

Chef Charlie Torgerson, Kokomo’s

FISHMAN'S SWEET and SOUR BRISKET

Brisket:
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3 tablespoons Cake meal seasoned with Salt and Black Pepper
3 1/2 Lbs. Beef Brisket
2 Each Onions

1 Qt. Water
1 Each Bay Leaf
4 Each Carrots, coin Cut
3 Each Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lb. Dried Fruit (Apricots, Raisins, Cherries, Dates)
1/8 teaspoon Ginger
1/3 cup White Vinegar
1/4 cup Tomato Paste
6 Cloves Garlic, sliced
As needed Kosher Salt & Black Pepper

Brisket:
Dredge beef brisket with the seasoned cake meal, shake off the excess. Heat Oil in heavy roasting pan over medium heat, add brisket to brown on all sides. Remove Brisket then add onions and cook onions until browned.

Add water to roasting pan and loosen caramelized goodies stuck to the pan. Stir in Tomato Paste, Garlic, Vinegar, Dried Fruit, Ginger and Bay Leaf.
Add Browned Beef Brisket to pan and place vegetable around it. Season everything with kosher salt and Black Pepper. Cover tightly and bake at 325° F., until fork tender. Approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Remove Brisket from roasting pan and slice diagonally against the grain of the meat. Place on serving platter and surround with vegetables. Skim fat from pan juice, then ladle some over the meat. Serve the remaining on the side.

Note: If not needed for Passover you may use All propose Flour instead of Cake Meal.

Serves 6.

Chef Ron Procenko, Fishman’s Kosher Market & Deli

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