Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Four Days, Four Recipes

On the fourth day before Christmas Kelly gave to me...one appetizer recipe, one recipe for punch, one to have for breakfast, and one fancy dessert. Yes, I know the twelve days of Christmas song isn't actually a countdown to Christmas. And that I started way before twelve. Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I hope these recipes will be helpful to you this season, whether you're heading to a party or hosting one, or just planning a little something special for your family.

Italian Torta
This appetizer is good, and a little something different than the regular Christmas cheese ball. I'd serve it with a thicker whole grain cracker or one that is flavored with garlic.

1 (1 oz.) packet of ranch dressing mix
2 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 (6 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
1/3 c. roasted red peppers, chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and dressing mix until well blended. In a separate bowl, stir together artichokes, peppers, and parsley. In a 3 c. bowl (or mold) lined with plastic wrap, alternate layers of cream cheese and vegetables, beginning and ending with cream cheese. Chill four hours or overnight. Invert on a plate and remove plastic wrap. Serve with crackers. Serves 10-12.

Hot Apple Cider Punch
I love hot apple cider and this gives you enough to share.

1 gallon apple cider
1 qt ginger ale
3/4 c. red hots (red cinnamon candies)
1 med. orange, sliced
2 large cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves

The recipe calls for making this in a 30 cup percolator. If you've got one, that's great. Pour the cider and ginger ale in the percolator and put the spices in the basket. Perk through a complete cycle and it's done. For the rest of us, I just dump it all together in a big pot on the stove or in my large crock pot and heat. If you want, you can tie the spices together in a cheesecloth before adding them to the pot. Makes 1 1/4 gallon of punch.

Hearty Sausage Mini Quiches
Christmas Day breakfasts are big at my house. This makes nice individual servings. It'd be great with a sweet roll and some fruit.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. milk
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. frozen hash browns
1 lb sausage, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Place foil baking cups in a muffin tin. Fill with sausage mixture. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Yields 12.

Fruit Platter Pie with Orange Sauce
Here's a dessert I've made many times for special occasions. It makes a pretty presentation and isn't as heavy as traditional Christmas desserts. Maybe you should save it for New Year's when everyone has made their resolutions.

1 pie crust
1 pint strawberries, halved
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks
1 1/2 c. green grapes
1 banana, sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
Orange Sauce:
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel

Roll out crust to fit on pizza pan. Prick with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes; cool. Arrange fruit in circles around crust, beginning and ending with the strawberries. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. sugar. For the sauce, combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in liquids. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and boiling. Boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in orange and lemon peel. Cool. Drizzle some of the sauce over the fruit. Cut into wedges. Serve remaining sauce on the side. Serves 12-14.

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