25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 26: The Roundup

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Happy Boxing Day, everyone!  I’ve already hit up the post-holiday clearance at Walmart and Target (I was, in fact, one of the first 10 customers inside of Target this morning at 7 a.m.) and am gearing up for the next round of holiday goodies:  New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  And then I’ll take a very deep breath.  And start planning for Valentine’s Day 2K15.

I have already begun planning the posts for next year’s 25 Days of Holiday Goodies posts and am very excited about some of the upcoming ones that I couldn’t quite squeeze in to this year’s series.  And, in making my list for next year (and checking it twice 😉 ), I realize that I will have to have a third year of it…and a fourth.

Muffin had a very happy Christmas.  We felt especially blessed by the gifts we received and the time spent with my parents during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and even earlier (as I prepped package decorations).  Several of the items that were featured in the 25 Days of Holiday Goodies posts found a place on the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day dinner tables (or both!) or under the tree.  My dad, in particular, really liked his Christmas present:  the full-size loaf of fruitcake.  Neighbors and friends received the mini loaves.

But…here’s the round-up with the links!

Day 1:  Yams Richard

Day 2:  Sparkling Apple Cider

Day 3:  Apple Cider

Day 4:  Red Velvet Sheet Cake with Ermine Frosting

Day 5:  Spanish Rice

Day 6:  Kiddie Champagne (Sparkling White Grape Juice)

Day 7:  BBQ Sausages and Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly (for Crackers)

Day 8:  Frogs

Day 9:  Koek

Day 10:  Boeterkoek

Day 11:  White Bread Stuffing

Day 12:  Cornbread Dressing

Day 13:  Pralines

Day 14:  Chocolate-Dipped Licorice (Muffin’s new favorite; he calls these “lollipops”)

Day 15:  Green Bean Casserole

Day 16:  Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Day 17:  Candy Cane Cookies

Day 18:  Sugar Cookies

Day 19:  Cranberry-Pistachio Bark

Day 20:  Pecan Pie Bars (newly updated with a pic!)

Day 21:  Chile ‘n’ Cheese Spirals

Day 22:  Fruitcake

Day 23:  “Special” Hot Chocolate

Day 24:  Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Day 25:  Mom’s Potato Salad

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series as much as I have.  And…since we are still in the midst of the holiday season (encompassing, in our family, Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, U.S. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, plus several family birthdays)…happy holidays!

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 25: Mom’s Potato Salad

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Merry Christmas!  I have a special Christmas gift for you on the culminating day of the 25 Days of Holiday Goodies.  I made my mom dictate her potato salad recipe!

One of Josh’s favorite dishes that my mom makes is potato salad.  For him, it was love at first bite.  I have never attempted her potato salad.  Just as with my family-famous beans, her potato salad recipe is not written down…until today!  They always have to be served in the “potato bowl,” an avocado oval Corning dish from the 70s.  Yes, for those of you familiar with a certain Corner Gas episode of the same name, the potato bowl is THAT important.

Mom’s Potato Salad

4-5 potatoes

salt

1/2-1 yellow onion, diced

3 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish (she uses Vlassic currently because we buy the gallon jar of it at Sam’s and split it)

1-2 eggs, boiled, peeled, and mashed

1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise (she uses Kraft)

1 tablespoon mustard

pepper to taste

a bit of paprika, sprinkled over the top

Peel and dice the potatoes.  Boil them in salted water until fork tender (just before mashing consistency is how it has always tasted).  Drain the potatoes and put them in the “potato bowl.”  (See above)  Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, making sure to leave the potatoes mostly intact.  Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.  Refrigerate several hours until serving.

Most recently, we had this dish last night at the Christmas Eve present opening at my parents’ house.

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Mom's Potato Salad

Potato salad isn’t exactly Muffin Approved.  I think it has something to do with the onion.  He likes everything else in the mix.

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 24: A New Year’s Feast

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Merry (Happy?) Christmas Eve!  Today’s post is about another Eve–New Year’s Eve.  Josh, Muffin, and I celebrate New Year’s Eve with family, friends, and sometimes neighbors–fiesta-style, complete with fireworks (and, hopefully, this year a pinata).

Josh is responsible for the fireworks and makes it a true extravaganza.  Mortars all the way down to sparklers are on his shopping list.  Sometimes, we have a bit of a misfire and sometimes it’s a bit cold, but it’s always fun and exciting.

Our menu never deviates by guest request.  Early in our marriage, Josh and I tried a fajita recipe that uses both chicken and steak, a Spanish rice recipe, and a pico de gallo recipe–all from the site-formerly-known-as-Recipezaar (Food.com).  Well, I adapted a pico recipe from that site.  Today, I will share with you a recipe for guacamole and pico.  The Spanish rice recipe was shared earlier in this series.

I will begin with the pico because I add a few spoonfuls of the pico to the guacamole.

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Pico de Gallo

Adapted from Food.com

8 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

12 stems’ worth of cilantro leaves, minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients.  Chill several hours until ready to serve to allow for flavors to blend.

Pico de Gallo

(Click on the above recipe page image to access the printable.)

Now, for the guacamole, I would complete the final prep pretty much tableside at serving time.  I would, however, prepare the pico several hours before the guacamole so that the favors have melded and some juice has released (as you are going to be adding pico chunks and juice to the guacamole).

This batch of guacamole (pictured below) was prepared in the following manner:

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Guacamole

3 ripe Haas avocados (one can be slightly less ripe than the others)

2-3 tablespoons pre-prepared pico de gallo

1 tablespoon pico de gallo liquid

additional lime juice for flavoring, if desired

1-2 tablespoons sour cream, optional

salt and pepper to taste

Begin by dicing one avocado (after dividing the avocado in half and removing the seed, of course).  (I recommend using a spoon to remove the flesh from the skin.)  Place the diced avocado in a medium-sized bowl.  Mash the remaining two (the two ripest avocados of the three) avocados to a paste consistency.  Add to the diced avocado.  Add in pico de gallo and liquid.  Stir ingredients together.  Add sour cream, if desired.  Taste.  Add additional lime juice, salt, and pepper, if needed.  Serve immediately to enjoy before oxidation.

Guacamole

As for the fajitas?  That recipe will have to wait until New Year’s Day!  🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 23: “Special” Hot Chocolate

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Recently, when we were driving around looking at lights (trying to get one napless Muffin to fall asleep), Josh stopped at a local convenience store and purchased Muffin a cup of hot chocolate.  Muffin fell asleep on the way home but woke up after we got back home wanting to know where his hot chocolate was.  Josh had to tell a very disappointed Muffin that he had finished off the hot chocolate because he figured that Muffin was not going to wake up until morning.

What happened next was best glossed over.  I decided to try out an experimental hot chocolate on Muffin.  It turned out to be a rich, vaguely salted caramel, treat.  If you have ever visited my Pinterest boards, you know that I am obsessed with all things salted caramel.

Originally, I had planned today’s hot chocolate post to be a red velvet hot chocolate found in this month’s Celebrate Cooking along with the spiced nuts recipe.  I was on the fence with the recipe anyway because it used the red velvet idea and it came from the same magazine.  Yes, I intend to make it, but I figured once was enough for both categories in this blog series.

Muffin guzzled this down (or slurped it down using his straw).

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“Special” Hot Chocolate

1 cup (8 ounces) evaporated milk

2 cups milk

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 tablespoon baking cocoa (also called unsweetened cocoa powder)

1 cup mini marshmallows (soft), plus more for serving

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until marshmallows and chocolate chips melt (and until hot).  Pour in mugs and add extra marshmallows to float on top.  (Muffin prefers his over ice with six marshmallows in a covered cup with a straw.)

And now for the printable:

Special Hot Chocolate

 

Muffin Approved

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 22: Fruitcake

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My dad likes fruitcake.  When Josh, Muffin, and I recently went to Dallas to celebrate our honeymoon, I mentioned that we would probably be stopping by the Collin Street Bakery (of fruitcake fame) on the way there for a cookie.  My dad asked me to see how much the fruitcakes were.

I decided right then and there that I would buy him one for Christmas.  And then we arrived at the bakery…and I saw the price.  Um…to say I had sticker shock was an understatement.  Twenty-eight dollars for a small cookie-tin-sized cake!  I decided right then and there, even though I had never made a fruitcake before, that I would MAKE him a fruitcake for Christmas.

Of course…the Collin Street Bakery fruitcake recipe is not online.  So I researched and hunted.  I looked at the list of ingredients for the CSB fruitcake.  And the description of the cake.  And I combined things until I came up with this rendition.  Successfully!

When I sat down and figured out the cost of the ingredients, I realized something very very important.  To make the batch of batter, if I didn’t have the pecans for free, I probably would have come out better buying the cake from Collin Street Bakery!  Yah…I know!

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But it was worth it…in addition to the six mini loaves above, the recipe made a regular-sized loaf and 6 cupcake/muffins.  Which I figure is more cake than you get at CSB for 28 dollars.

Here’s what I did:

Fruitcake (Hopefully a Close Approximation of Collin Street Bakery’s Deluxe Fruitcake)

4 cups pecans, chopped coarsely (a few extra left whole)

1 pound candied cherries, 4 reserved and halved, the remainder chopped

1 pound candied pineapple, chopped

1 small navel orange, zested (grated with a microplane)

1/4 cup dried papaya, diced

3/4 cup golden raisins

3 tablespoons honey, divided

Warm water

5 teaspoons rum extract, divided

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 pound butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 ounces vanilla extract

2 ounces lemon extract

Juice of one small navel orange

 

Steep papaya and golden raisins in 1 tablespoon, 2 teaspoons rum flavoring, and warm water to cover overnight.  The next day, combine zest, fruits (including drained papaya and raisins), and nuts.  Dredge with 1/4 cup flour .  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Sift together remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and baking powder.  Fold dry ingredients into butter-egg mixture.  Stir in extracts and flavoring.  Blend in fruit and nuts.

Prepare pans by greasing, lining with parchment, and greasing again.  Pour batter into pans.  Place saved fruit and nuts on top.

Place in a cold oven set to 250 degrees.  Bake in a loaf pan four 2 hours, mini loves for 1 hour, muffin/cupcakes for just under an hour, and in mini muffin tins for 30 minutes (If using muffin tins, line with a cupcake/muffin/bonbon liner).

When done, remove from oven.  Cool in pans on rack.  When cool, mix 2 tablespoons honey with 2 teaspoons rum extract.  Add the juice of one orange and enough water until a sufficient amount for brushing.  Brush the tops of the cakes.  Rebrush again before packaging or serving.

I should add that this recipe, oddly enough, is Muffin Approved.  Seriously…Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

Fruitcake

 

I still can’t believe I successfully made fruitcake…without a set recipe.  Happy is me.  By the way, this is probably a eat fresh, refrigerate, or freeze fruitcake…not the use it as a doorstop for ten years before taking a bite fruitcake.  Just sayin’.

Well…only a few more 25 Days of Christmas Goodies posts until next year!  I’m actually already planning next year’s…. 🙂

If I haven’t said it, have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 21: Chile ‘N’ Cheese Spirals

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Today’s dish is a great holiday appetizer–whether around the traditional holiday season, Cinco de Mayo, birthdays, anniversaries–you name it.

This is a recipe my sister requests.  I first found it in a recipe book put out by either Old El Paso or Ortega.

It’s a very pretty appetizer.  Sure, there are pinwheel and spiral appetizer recipes in many books and online, but I like this one the best for the pulverized black olives.

(Was I seriously the only one who used to put whole pitted black olives on my fingertips and eat them from there?  Muffin eats them too quickly to enjoy them that way.  Olives of all kinds are Muffin Approved.)  The spirals, however, were not Muffin Approved.

The key to making this recipe work is to have all the chunks chopped VERY finely–and to have the cream cheese softened at room temperature.

Chile ‘N’ Cheese Spirals

(From an Old El Paso Mexican Cookbook)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles

3 sliced green onions

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 can (2.25 ounces) chopped ripe olives

4 (8 inch) flour tortillas

Salsa, for dipping

Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl.  Spread 1/2 cup of mixture on each tortilla; roll up.  Wrap each roll in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour.  Remove plastic wrap; slice each into 6 slices.  Serve with salsa for dipping.

25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 20: Pecan Pie Bars

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There are several things I have been afraid to cook in my lifetime.  (And some I still am)  Angel food cake.  (Petrified of getting any egg yolk or fat in the mix and deflating it)  Macarons.  (I even have the almond meal now, but I cannot bring myself to make them.  Maybe after the Christmas rush.)  Roasts. (other than in the slow cooker)  Crepes.  Rice and pasta.  And…pecan pie.  Luckily, I discovered this recipe from the site-formerly-known-as-Recipezaar (presently Food.com) before I discovered Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pecan pie.  I am now no longer afraid of pecan pie, but I love these little bars.

It’s the crust.  The brown sugary goodness mixed with shortbread.  And they look so pretty cut into diamonds or triangles.  And they are such a good use of free pecans!  🙂

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This is the treat tray for Christmas Eve this year (added on Christmas Eve).  The pecan pie bars are on the far left.

Here’s the receipt:

Pecan Pie Bars
Source:  Food.com (Kittencalskitchen)

Crust:

3/4 cups butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 350 degrees, rack on the second-lowest position.  Grease a 9×13 pan.  Process in a food processor until the mixture begins to resemble small clumps.  Sprinkle and then lightly pat with a spatula the mixture into the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden.

Filling:

2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Note: prepare the filling while the crust bakes.  In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir in the brown sugar, honey, and whipping cream.  Simmer mixture 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Pour mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly in the pan.  Continue baking the pan 20-22 minutes.  Cool completely in pan, then refrigerate.  Cut while cold.

And the printie:

Pecan Pie Bars