Cherry Nut Mold

When I saw cans of sweet dark pitted cherries in the grocery, I had to make this oldie but goodie again.  You can use coke if desired, but it’s perfectly good with water for the cold liquid.  
Some folks call this a salad, we call it dessert!  Top it with some whipped cream for dessert or some mayonnaise or Miracle Whip if you want to pretend it’s a salad.  Any way you serve it, it’s still as good as ever.

Cherry Nut Mold
  1             can  black sweet cherries -- pitted
  1             bottle  Coca Cola -- (6 oz.) or cold water
  1             pkg.  cherry Jello
     1/2      cup  chopped pecans -- 2 ounces
Drain cherries; heat juice, measuring 1 cup, adding water if needed. Dissolve Jello in cherry juice, let cool completely. Add Coke or 3/4 cup water. Let set until slightly congealed, about 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator. Add cherries and nuts.
Pour into 3 cup salad mold or 5 x 7” glass dish; chill until firm.

Serves 6

Freezer Cheese Sauce Mix

After lunch, my husband cleaned out the pan that I prepared this cheese sauce in…he liked it that much!  This recipe from “Make a Mix" is really not a mix, but a very tasty cheese sauce that can be frozen to be thawed and heated to use anytime.   I reheated this frozen sauce in the microwave - 2 minutes and then several additional minutes stirring each time until hot.  It came out beautifully and didn't "break" or curdle.  It's not "gloppy" as Myrna would say, but a very nice consistency.  The book recommends reheating in a saucepan as well.  I have made it several times, and have some in the freezer right now.
I was interested because, while we like cheese sauce on poached eggs on English muffins, or on vegetables like broccoli or on "loaded" baked potatoes, I don’t always want to prepare it in addition to the rest of the meal.  This recipe can be made anytime and stashed in the freezer until you’re ready to make it.    Are we thinking “company” meals made a lot easier?
Freezer Cheese Sauce Mix
     ¾       cup  Flour, All-purpose
  1 ½       teaspoons  Salt
     ¼       teaspoon  Nutmeg -- ground
     ¾       cup  Butter
  4           cups  Milk
  2           cups  Condensed Chicken Broth
  1           cup  Half and Half
  4           large  Egg Yolks -- beaten
  12         ounces  Cheddar Cheese -- shredded
In small bowl, combine flour, salt and nutmeg; set aside.  In a heavy large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Gradually stir in flour mixture, milk and chicken broth until smooth.  Cook and stir until smooth and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, stir half and half into egg yolks.  Blend in about half of the hot sauce.  Stir egg mixture into remaining sauce.  Cook and stir over medium heat about 2 minutes; do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.  Cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate sauce until cooled.  Pour about 1 1/3 cups sauce into each of 6 freezer containers with tight fitting lids.  Leave 1 inch space at top of each container.  Attach lids.  Label with date and contents. 
Store in freezer.  Use within 6 months.  Makes 6 containers that serve 6 as sauces for side dishes or poached eggs..or freeze in 1 cup portions for 4 servings.  For 2, freeze in 1/2 cup portions.
Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.
Yield:  "2 quarts"

Cookbook reviews...Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

Christmas cookbooks and Southern Living seem synonymous.  This version, from 2008, is chock full of beautifully photographed recipes.  Of course, they describe it as the Ultimate Holiday Entertaining Guide, “Ultimate” being an over-worked word in Southern Living’s vocabulary, but this book almost lives up to it.   I liked their menu format…they describe the occasion and give both a menu, a menu preparation plan, and then the recipes.  They also have a chapter on fast ideas, food gift ideas, and entertaining ideas, like sophisticated decorating ideas that use what you have, place settings, hostess ideas, and my favorite, party tips to save the day.  We liked this book so much, we both have copies.
Of course, Myrna had to make the beautiful cover recipe for you, and we tried an assortment of soups, salads, sides, buffet dishes, other desserts, and brunch choices.

Ranch Potatoes

Chunky Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cider Dressing

Coconut Glazed Baby Bundt Cakes

Shrimp and Grits

Beef Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce

Holiday Broccoli Salad

Green Rice Timbales (gluten free too)

Crispy Parmesan Crackers

Grandma's Orange Crispies

Family Favorites...Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy

Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy from the Land O Lakes cookbook is a good recipe and easy to make. I did add a splash of Dry Sherry to the gravy. We decided the next time, to use pork steak, just because we like it better. I would add slightly more cooking time to the meat when it is covered if using pork steak instead of chops. Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes or white rice. There is no flour in the gravy as the half and half will thicken nicely on its own.
Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy
Serve tender pork chops over rice, then top with lots of traditional pan gravy
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces
2 cups (2 medium) sliced 1/8” thick onions
4  3/4” thick center cut pork chops
3 Tbsp all purpose flour or GF flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups half and half
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
Dry Sherry optional
Cooked Rice
In 10” skillet cook bacon and onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally until browned (8 to 10) minutes. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes and than remove to a plate to add later. Add pork chops to pan; arranging bacon and onions on top of pork chops. Cover; continue cooking for 10 minutes or until browned. Turn pork chops. Reduce heat cover again and cook until pork chops are tender. Place pork chops on platter; keep warm while preparing gravy. In same skillet with drippings, brown bits, bacon and onions add the remaining ingredients except half and half, sauted mushrooms and rice. Cook until smooth and bubbly ( about one minute). Stir in half and half and mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mixture is thickened (about 8 minutes). Serve gravy over rice and pork chops.

Pumpkin Custards with Cardamom Topping

 This is a good recipe for pie crust challenged cooks, all kidding aside, it is very good and a different use of pumpkin instead of pie. The spice Cardamom is often used in Indian cooking and in breads and rolls. In Minnesota it is used in sweet rolls and breads by the large Scandinavian population. In the topping for these pumpkin custards it lends a different flavor to the topping. We ate them without whipped cream or ice cream but thought a soft whipped cream would have been good served on the side. Easy to make they do take a little time to bake and cool, but well worth the wait.
Pumpkin Custards with Cardamom Topping
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon table salt
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons cold butter
¼ cup pecans toasted and chopped
 Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix sugar and spices, add the pumpkin, heavy cream and lightly beaten eggs. Mix well and divide between 8 six ounce custard cups. Place cups in a roasting or cake pan lined with a light kitchen towel (keeps them from sliding around). Pour hot (not boiling) water around cups to a depth of halfway up cups. Bake in 350°F oven for 25 minutes.
 While they are baking, mix topping ingredients cutting in butter till it resembles small crumbs. Stir in toasted pecans and sprinkle over partly baked custards. Return to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until cold table knife inserted off center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack for 1 hour and than cover loosely and cool in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Maybe stored covered loosely up to 24 hours. Makes 8 custards

From the Garden...Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Here’s a delicious soup for those blustery winter days.  This is a good way to use your garden goodies – I use home canned beef broth and spaghetti sauce (a pint of each) and some peppers from our garden I diced and froze last fall.               
Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
  8           ounces  Ground Beef
  1           cup  Green Pepper -- diced
     ½       cup  Onion -- finely chopped
  2           cups  Beef Broth
  2           cups  Spaghetti Sauce
  1           teaspoon  Minced Garlic
  1           cup  Cooked Rice -- (about 1/3 cup dry rice)

Cook rice following package directions (or use leftover rice).  Set aside.
Cook beef, drain.  Add pepper, onion, garlic and broth, simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in spaghetti sauce, rice and cooked beef.  Cover and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
4 servings
Per Serving: 420 Calories; 21g Fat (45.2% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 48mg Cholesterol; 1298mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 4 1/2 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat.


 My husband loves divinity – we have made it occasionally over the years, but when Myrna and I were young, we often made candy for the holidays from our Mom’s “Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book 1946" that I still have.  I like a heavy-bottomed 3 quart straight-sided pan for cooking the syrup.
I don’t have any “in-process” photos – making divinity is not the time for picture-taking – it takes all my concentration to try to get it right!  However, I love the advantage of making it in my Kitchenaid – not by hand with a slotted spoon or a hand rotary egg beater as this recipe originally recommended.
This is a simple recipe – I hadn’t ever tried it spread in a pan and I think that I will try that next time, as it would take less time to get it ready.

  2           Cups  Sugar
     2/3    Cup  White Corn Syrup
     1/2    Cup  Water
  2           Large  Egg Whites -- stiffly beaten
  1           Teaspoon  Vanilla Extract
  1           Cup  Pecans -- or walnuts, broken

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Cook to a light crack stage (270°).
Slowly pour over stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly.
Add vanilla extract.  Beat until mixture holds its shape.  Add nut meats.
Drop from a teaspoon onto a greased pan or waxed paper.  If desired, spread in greased pan; cool and cut in squares.
Yield:  "3 Dozen"

Per Serving: 64 Calories; 2g Fat (27.3% calories from fat); trace Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.