December 2005

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I want to wish each and everyone one of you a happy holiday season! Thanks for all of your support and friendships this year. This newsletter is short and sweet, like many of you I've still got lots to do to get ready for Christmas.

For those of you making Food Gifts for Christmas don't forget about our newest site - Food Gifts From the Kitchen  There are recipes for mixes, mixes in a jar, breads, fudge, gourmet popcorn, candy, truffles, cakes, muffins, pancakes and more.

     Mary Ellen        

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CHRISTMAS SIDE DISHES

CAULIFLOWER GRATIN WITH GRUYERE AND HAZELNUTS

1 medium cauliflower (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds)
Salt
1/2 cup creme fraiche (see note)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry, unflavored bread crumbs
3 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see note)
2 tablespoons chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Butter 2-quart oven-to-table baking dish or gratin pan. Set aside.

Cut off and discard base of cauliflower, then cut head into small, individual florets.

Bring large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Add cauliflower florets to pot and cook until tender (but not mushy) when pierced with a sharp knife, about 5 minutes. Drain florets and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Place cauliflower in prepared dish and toss with crème fraiche and half of the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining cheese over cauliflower, then top with bread crumbs and hazelnuts. Bake on center rack of preheated 375-degree oven until cheese has melted and bread crumbs and nuts are golden, 20 to 25 minutes or more. Garnish with chives or parsley. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Notes: Creme fraiche is available in most supermarkets. If you can't find it, this recipe works well; it needs to be made at least 6 hours in advance. Whisk 1 cup whipping cream and 1/3 cup sour cream together in medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. Store up to 1 week, covered, in refrigerator. Makes 1 1/3 cups.

To toast hazelnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, place nuts in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove as much of the skins as possible.

DUCHESS POTATOES

12 (4 pounds) medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2/3 to 1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 eggs, beaten
Butter or margarine, melted

In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 inch water (salted if desired) to boil. Add potatoes; cover and return to boil. Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Shake pan with potatoes over low heat to dry.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with solid vegetable shortening.

Mash potatoes until no lumps remain. Add milk in small amounts, beating after each addition (amount of milk needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on kind of potatoes used). Beat in the 1/2 cup butter, the salt and pepper vigorously until potatoes are light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until blended.

Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into mounds onto cookie sheet. Or place mixture in decorating bag with star tip; form rosettes on cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter.

Bake in preheated oven about 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Do-ahead tip: To make ahead, prepare potato mixture through step of adding eggs. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, continue with the recipe.

GLAZED CARROTS WITH MUSTARD AND HONEY

3 pounds carrots, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey or packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Cut carrots into 3-inch lengths: halve or quarter the thicker ones so that they'll cook evenly.

Steam or boil carrots until they just yield to the tip of a knife, 5 to 12 minutes, depending on their size. Drain in a colander. In a medium skillet, melt butter with honey or brown sugar, then stir in mustard and carrots and season with salt and plenty of pepper. Cook over medium heat several minutes until well coated and bubbling.

Toss with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Per serving, based on 8: 109 calories, 20g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 3g total fat (2g saturated), 8mg cholesterol, 114mg cholesterol, 5g fiber. Calories from fat: 25%.

WILD RICE AND SHRIMP CASSEROLE

2 cups wild rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound slivered almonds
Grated cheddar cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook rice until tender according to package directions.

In a large pan, melt butter. Add mushrooms, celery, bell pepper and onions and saute until tender.

Combine in a 4-quart casserole with rice and all remaining ingredients but cheese. Top with grated cheese and cover.

Bake in preheated oven 1 hour or until heated through. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

HAM, CHEESE AND RICE POTLUCK CASSEROLE

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 cups chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
2 cans (10¾ ounces each) cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion, minced
5 cups cooked rice
4 to 6 cups diced ham
3 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or more to taste
Fresh bread crumbs or crushed potato chips to top casserole

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but bread crumbs. Mix well, then transfer to an extra-large casserole or divide between 13-by-9 and 8-by-8 pans.

Cover with crumbs and bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Makes about 12 servings.

Note: For less crunch celery and onion, sauté first in a little butter or oil.

CRANBERRY PRALINE QUICK BREAD

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Glaze:
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/4 c finely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°. Combine 2 T. flour and cranberries in small bowl; toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine sugar, sour cream, butter, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat just until moistened. Stir in cranberry mixture and ½ c. pecans by hand.

Spoon batter evenly into four greased and floured mini (5½-by-3-inch) loaf pans Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans.

Meanwhile, combine brown sugar and 1/3 c. butter in one-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil (3-4 minutes). Spoon glaze mixture over warm loaves. Immediately sprinkle with ¼ c. pecans.

Makes 4 mini loaves.

(Note: One greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan can be used instead of the four mini-loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.)

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CHRISTMAS DESSERTS

PUFF PASTRY CHRISTMAS TREES

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (2
sheets)
1/3 cup vanilla pudding or lemon curd
1/3 cup honey, warmed
Green decorating sugar
8 raspberries or maraschino cherry
halves

Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Cut 4 stars of each size, using 3 star cookie cutters in graduated sizes (2-inch, 2½-inch, and 3-inch cookie cutters or Cardboard patterns). Repeat with remaining pastry sheet.

Place stars on baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.

To assemble trees, top large star pastry with 1 teaspoon pudding. Top with medium star pastry, turning star so points do not line up. Top with 1 teaspoon pudding and place small star pastry on top, turning so points do not line up. Repeat with remaining star pastries, making 8 trees. Drizzle trees with honey. Sprinkle with green sugar and top each with a raspberry or cherry half.

Yield: 8 pastries

WARM GINGERBREAD PUDDING

Butter for greasing
1 1/4 cups crushed gingersnaps, about 20 cookies
1 cup ladyfinger crumbs, about 14 three-inch ladyfingers
6 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup candied lemon and/or orange peel plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a teakettle of water to a boil. Generously coat a pudding mold or 2-quart souffle dish with butter and coat with 1/4 cup of the crushed gingersnaps. Set the mold on a kitchen towel in a deep baking pan.

Mix together the remaining 1 cup of crushed gingersnaps and the ladyfinger crumbs. Set aside. Separate the eggs. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest and spices on medium speed until light in texture and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition and mixing until very smooth. Add half of the crumb mixture to the butter mixture and blend on low speed until evenly mixed.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and add the granulated sugar gradually. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until medium peaks form.

Fold the remaining crumb mixture into the egg whites. Fold the egg white mixture into the butter mixture. Finally, fold in the currants and candied citrus peel. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish. Cover the mold with its lid or with aluminum foil or parchment paper tied into place with kitchen string.

Place the pudding mold or souffle dish in a deep baking pan on a pulled-out rack in the oven. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Carefully slide in the rack and bake the pudding, checking for doneness after 1 hour. The pudding is done when it is puffy and the sides have begun to pull away from the dish (a skewer inserted near the center of the pudding should have only a few moist crumbs clinging to it when done).

Serve warm, garnished with candied citrus peel and whipped cream or vanilla sauce if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per 4.5-ounce serving: 450 cal., 6 g pro., 72 g carbo., 16 g fat, 330 mg sodium, 60 mg chol., 2 g fiber.

BOURBON PECAN CAKE

1 1/3 cups whole candied cherries
1 1/3 cups golden raisins
1 1/3 cups bourbon
1 1/3 cups (2 2/3 sticks) butter or margarine
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
3 1/3 cups sifted flour (divided)
2 2/3 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Glaze (optional ) (see recipe)

In large bowl, combine cherries, raisins and bourbon. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Drain fruits, reserving bourbon. Set both aside.

Place butter in large bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugars gradually, beating on medium speed until well blended. Add egg yolks and beat until well blended.

In separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup of the flour with the pecans. Sift remaining 3 cups flour with baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix well.

To the mixture add reserved bourbon and remaining 1 cup flour mixture, mixing alternately, ending with flour and beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold gently into batter. Add reserved fruits and the floured pecans and blend well.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease 10-inch tube pan. Line with wax paper, then grease and flour the paper.

Pour batter into pan to within 1 inch of the top. Bake in preheated oven 3½ to 4 hours or until cake tests done in center. Remove from oven and cool in pan on rack 2 to 3 hours.

Remove cake from pan and remove paper. Wrap in cheesecloth saturated with bourbon; then wrap in foil or plastic wrap and store in tightly covered container in refrigerator several weeks. If using glaze, spread over cake just before serving and let glaze run down sides of cake. Makes 1 cake.

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons hot milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In bowl, combine all ingredients and beat until smooth.

HOLIDAY YULE LOG

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (divided)
4 tablespoons brandy, or to taste
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil's food cake mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
4 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (divided)
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Additional powdered sugar for dusting
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup whole milk

Place a clean large mixing bowl and electric mixer beaters in the freezer for a few minutes while you assemble ingredients.

To make brandied whipped cream: Pour cream into chilled bowl and beat with electric mixer on high speed until cream has thickened, 2 minutes. Stop machine and add the 1/3 to ½ cup powdered sugar and half of the brandy. Beat mixture on high 30 seconds more, then add remaining brandy to taste, if desired. Beat until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes more. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place whipped cream filling in refrigerator to chill.

Lightly butter bottom of a 16½-by-11½-by-1-inch jellyroll pan and cover with enough parchment paper to cover bottom and still have a couple of inches overlapping each end. Lightly butter parchment, but do not butter sides of pan. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make chocolate roulade: Place cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa and the coffee powder in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping side down again if needed. Batter should look thick and combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place pan on center rack of preheated oven.

Bake cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack while you dust a clean kitchen towel or long sheet of parchment paper with powdered sugar. Immediately invert pan onto towel or parchment paper and carefully peel off the used parchment that clings to bottom of cake. While cake is still hot, use towel or parchment to help carefully roll cake into a jelly roll, or roulade. Begin with the long side next to you and roll away from you. Place roulade, seam side down, wrapped in the kitchen towel or parchment paper, on the counter to cool for 30 minutes. Don't worry if the roulade splits while you are rolling it because you will cover up any blemishes with filling and frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare chocolate pan frosting: Place butter in medium saucepan and melt over low heat, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa powder and the milk. Let mixture come just to a boil, stirring, and then remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining 4 cups powdered sugar until frosting is thickened and smooth.

When frosting is made, brandied whipped cream filling has chilled and cake is cool, you are ready to assemble the log. Reserve 1 cup filling, covered, in the refrigerator. Carefully unroll cake just enough so that you can spread the inside surface generously with the chilled filling. Gently roll cake back into its log shape, carefully pulling kitchen towel out from under it. Place log, seam side down, in front of you. Carefully cut off a 1-inch-thick slice from one end. Cut this slice into two halves.

Carefully place log, seam side down, on a serving platter. Sandwich the two cut halves together and place them, cut side down, about a third of the way down the log so that they resemble a knot on a branch. Attach them to the log with a dab of frosting.

Working quickly, spread frosting over entire surface of log with clean strokes, covering the ends. Make strokes irregular so that frosting resembles the bark of a tree. Or drag a fork down through the frosting so that the tines of the fork make lines in the batter, also resembling bark. Place platter in the refrigerator to chill until the frosting has set, 1 hour. Then lightly cover the log with waxed paper and chill until serving time. Slice into serving pieces and serve, passing the reserved brandied whipped cream filling to spoon on top. Store roulade, covered in waxed paper, in refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes 16 servings.

Christmas Desserts
Christmas Cookies at That's My Home
Christmas Cookies at Razzle Dazzle Recipes

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CHRISTMAS CANDIES

TURTLES

1/2 pound caramel (about 30 small store-bought caramels)
2 tablespoons whipping cream
120 large pecan halves (about 3/4 pound)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (divided)

Butter large cookie sheet and line with wax paper. Set aside.

Place caramels and cream in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until caramel is melted. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Place 5 pecan halves on cookie sheet in a grouping to resemble a turtle's legs and head. Repeat with remaining pecans until you have 24 groupings.

Using back of spoon, spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of caramel over center of each grouping of nuts. The caramel will become the turtle's shell, so be sure you leave the ends of the nuts (the head and feet) exposed. Let the caramel firm up while melting the chocolate.

Melt 4 ounces of the semisweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over hot water. If you don't have a double boiler, simply place the chocolate in a bowl that fits snugly over a pot of hot water.

When chocolate has melted completely, remove top part of double boiler or the bowl from the hot water. Add remaining 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate and stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth.

Insert candy thermometer or chocolate thermometer into melted chocolate. Its temperature should be 88 to 90 degrees. If chocolate is too cold, place it back over hot water until temperature is reached.

Using back of spoon, spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chocolate over the caramel to cover it completely. Remember to leave tips of nuts exposed. If desired, use a toothpick to draw lines in the chocolate to represent a turtle's shell. When completely set (about 4 hours at room temperature), peel turtles off wax paper and store them in layers, separated by wax paper, in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Makes 24 turtles.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHIP FUDGE

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 cup peanut butter chips

Line 8-inch square pan with foil.

Combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt in heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.

Remove from heat. Add peanut butter chips; stir quickly just to distribute chips throughout mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan; peel off foil. Cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Makes 3 dozen pieces or about 2 pounds.

Note: For best results, do not double this recipe.

PEPPERMINT BARK

1 pound milk chocolate wafers, or coarsely chopped block of milk chocolate confectionary coating
1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil, or to taste
1 pound white chocolate wafers, or coarsely chopped block of white chocolate or confectionary coating
8 (6- to 7-inch-long) red and white peppermint candy canes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces or smaller

Butter large cookie sheet and line with parchment or waxed paper.

Melt milk chocolate wafers in microwave at full power (100%), stirring every 20 seconds and watching carefully. Or, melt in top of double boiler set over hot water. Stir in peppermint oil when melted.

Pour mixture onto cookie sheet and place in refrigerator until firm, about 20 minute.

Remove from refrigerator and return to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Melt white chocolate. Pour mixture over top of room temperature layer of milk chocolate. Evenly sprinkle peppermint on top, pressing in slightly. Makes about 2 pounds.

MACADAMIA MILK CHOCOLATE TOFFEE

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up and brought to room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) macadamia nuts, rinsed of salt, patted dry, and coarsely chopped (divided)
6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

Lightly butter 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by-1-inch jellyroll pan.

In large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, cook sugar and butter, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

Attach a candy thermometer to pan and continue to cook and stir until thermometer reaches 310 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in ½ cup of the nuts. Pour mixture into prepared pan, letting it spread naturally. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Sprinkle chocolate in single layer over surface of hot toffee. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 5 minutes. Using metal spatula, spread chocolate evenly over surface of toffee. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup nuts. Using a large, sharp knife, score toffee into 2-inch pieces. As toffee cools, retrace score lines occasionally with knife to reach bottom of pan so toffee will break apart easily.

When toffee has cooled and chocolate is firm, use a metal spatula to remove toffee from pan. Following score lines, break into pieces and serve. Toffee can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 35 pieces.

Christmas Candy Recipes at That's My Home
Christmas Candy Recipes at Razzle Dazzle Recipes
Fudge Recipes

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QUICK APPETIZER RECIPES

CAMEMBERT ROASTED IN A BOX

1 Camembert in a wooden box with a wooden lid (8 ounces or 250 grams) (see note)
2 medium tart apples
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup walnuts, roasted and chopped (see note)
20 dried apricots

Line baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove Camembert from box; remove and discard paper enclosing cheese and any labels on the cheese. Return cheese to box and cover with lid. Place on baking sheet.

Bake cheese in the box on center rack of preheated oven until top is very soft and gives no resistance when touched with your fingers, 15 to 18 minutes. Watch carefully, and after 14 to 15 minutes check cheese by removing lid and pressing on top of cheese with your fingers. (Some of cheese may start to ooze out of box onto baking sheet toward end of baking. Don't worry about this; the apple and apricot garnish will conceal any leaks.)

While cheese is baking, core and halve, but do not peel, the apples. Cut each half into 1/4-inch or thicker slices. Toss slices with lemon juice in medium non-reactive bowl.

When done, use metal spatula to slide cheese in its box onto serving plate. Remove lid. With sharp knife, make several cuts in top crust of cheese and stir in walnuts. Surround cheese with apple slices and apricots. To eat, spread warm cheese and nuts on fruit. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: Cheese and specialty food stores and some supermarkets sell Camembert cheese packaged in a wooden box.

To toast walnuts, arrange a shelf at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.

SWIG RESTAURANT SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/2 tablespoon whole fennel seed
1/4 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Cook spinach in boiling salted water about 1 minute. Strain in colander, then set aside and let cool.

Put artichokes in strainer and let drain while breaking into small pieces with the back of a fork.

In large bowl, combine all other ingredients; set aside.

Place spinach on cutting board and chop well, removing any excess liquid. Add spinach and artichokes to remaining ingredients in bowl. Mix well, using hands to ensure all the cheeses are well blended.

To serve: Put in saucepan and set over how heat. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until mixture is creamy and heated through. If heat is too high, mixture will scorch.

Mixture also can be heated in the microwave at half power 2 to 3 minutes, stirring at least once.

Serve with toasted French baguette or crackers. Makes about 10 appetizer servings.

FLUFF CREAM CHEESE DIP

1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons orange juice (freshly squeezed or prepared)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Fresh fruit of your choice

In a medium bowl, combine marshmallow creme, cream cheese, orange juice and orange zest. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Mixture will be fairly thick. Serve dabs of the sauce over fresh fruit of your choice, or use as a dip. Makes about 2 cups.

WARMED CRANBERRY BRIE
Makes 8 servings. Serve with assorted crackers and apple and pear slices.

16-oz. round brie cheese
16 oz. canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. spiced rum or 2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup toasted pecans

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Trim rind from top of brie, leaving 1/3-inch border on top. Place brie on baking sheet. Stir together cranberry sauce and brown sugar, spiced rum (or orange juice) and nutmeg. Spread mixture evenly over top of brie. Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans. Bake brie 5 minutes.

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