Country Cook News – December 19, 2014

Hi Everyone!

DECEMBER CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH

Are sugarplums a real sweet treat or just a term we hear in movies and songs during the holidays? Send your answer to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net

Congratulations to Andrea Conrad of Humble, Texas, who correctly answered November’s question: Did the pilgrims brine their turkeys? The answer is no. Rather than turkey, it’s believed that fish, venison and lobster were fare at the first Thanksgiving meal. Andrea chose Sweet Apple Temptations as her winning book.

Answer the CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH and win a signed copy of any one of my books. Here’s a link to my Books page to choose the books you can win (scroll down to see the complete selection).

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30 CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

We all need a go-to cookie list this time of year, so Santa and Just2Sisters have compiled a cookie list that’s sure to keep you on top of the cooking baking season.

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH

Cardamom Bread is something I enjoy making during the holidays. I generally skip the years when we’re not doing too much entertaining because it needs to be eaten the same day it’s baked, or at the very least, the next day.

Sweet memories of the late Helen Robertson come flooding back to me whenever I bake Cardamom Bread. She introduced me to the exotic, aromatic cardamom spice along with teaching me the secret to making light dough. It’s a delicate, indulgent tradition that everyone loves to see during the holidays.

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WHAT’LL BE ON CB’s CHRISTMAS DINNER TABLE?

This year we’ve been invited to our friends’ home for Christmas dinner, and the hosts have decided to have an appetizer dinner. We’ll all bring various starters to sample while mingling, and then our host will serve their made-from-scratch French Onion soup with gruyere cheese and crisp baguette as the entree.

One appetizer I’ll be making for dinner is Crunchy Swiss Cheese and Ham Bites. With ham, mashed potatoes and Swiss cheese all rolled into one, this starter could easily serve as the main course, but maybe that’s just me. Served hot, these Bites are especially filling and a hit at every get together. They’re delicious just plain but my husband likes them dipped into Spicy Southwest Mustard; if I dip them, my favorite is Dijon.

Another appetizer we’re taking is super simple to make. It has an Asian flair with layers of cream cheese, wasabi paste and sesame seeds “floated” on a plate of soy sauce. My aunt calls it Joan’s Favorite Appetizer, a unique recipe she shared with me just last month. Be warned: It’s addictive, you won’t be able to stop eating it!

Truffle Brie served on club crackers is beyond delicious. So simple, yet delightful; my taste buds thought they’d died and gone to Heaven with just one bite. The brie has it’s familiar creamy texture infused with delicate specks of truffle. Other than creamy with an ever-so-slight nutty flavor, it’s hard to describe its taste. I purchased it at Sam’s Club but I’m sure it’s available elsewhere.

I can hardly wait to see what the others will be bringing, but for sure, our Christmas dinner will be a dining adventure we’ll all remember for a long time to come.

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13 NO-BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

No-bake cookies are a true blessing; they bring calm to the December storm.

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BLOG OF THE MONTH

Food Blogger Aimee Shugarman is the December Blog of the Month. Aimee, the queen of Shugarysweets, has run away with Blog of the Month more than once. Her Shugarysweets blog is extraordinarily luscious, especially this time of year.

How about White Chocolate Peppermint Scones for breakfast or brunch one morning during the season, they’re sure to be a hit. “If you’re looking for something different to serve during the holiday,” here’s Aimee’s rendition of a Holiday Cheesecake Trifle with pretzels, kiwis, strawberries and pecans layered with a cheesecake mixture…my word, it looks scrumptious! Her cookie line-up makes my mouth water with Pecan Egg Nog Cookies, Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies and Cranberry Orange Cookie Bars.

Check out Shugarysweets blog if you’re looking for sweets or baked items with a sinfully delicious twist. Shugarysweets is on Twitter at @shugarysweets where Aimee tweets her sweets year round.

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EASY PEPPERMINT TRUFFLES

These Easy Peppermint Truffles look melt-in-your-mouth yummy! Haven’t made them yet, but will make sure they show up on our dessert table…the perfect mint candy to settle tummies after a large meal.

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CB’S HOLIDAY FAVORITES

I’ve gathered-up some of my favorite holiday appetizers and sweet treats from Christmases past. Just click on whatever sounds interesting and, poof, you’re on your way to something your family and guests will love.

APPETIZERS

Tangy Taco Roll-ups  Fresh Cranberry Apple Salsa  Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Meatballs  Veggie Bars  Ranch, Salmon and Beef Cheese Balls

SWEET TREATS

Melt-in-your-mouth Divinity  Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Bark  Chocolate Cookie Bites

Classic Rum Balls  Creamy French Fudge  Simply Decadent Truffles

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CB’S KITCHEN TIP

Roll out cookie dough between sheets of wax paper. This avoids adding too much flour to the dough, and the dough won’t stick to the rolling pin.

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LEGENDS BEHIND CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Legends, folklores and myths surround our Christmas traditions. Essortment: Your Source for Knowledge details the probability of how many legends, myths, even music, came to be a treasured part of our Christmas traditions. I think you’ll find this an enjoyable read.

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HOLIDAY SIDE DISHES GALORE

Need a quick side dish? Just click Daisy, Randalls, Kraft Christmas or Kraft Hanukkah for holiday sides for every occasion.

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ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – December 19, 2014

This was such a great question from December 2013 that I wanted to repeat in this December 2014 issue.

Christine asked: Are sugarplums a real sweet treat or just a term we hear in movies and songs during the holidays?

My answer: A sugarplum is indeed a real sweet treat dating back to the 1600s. It’s a piece of candy that is made of dried fruits and shaped in a small round or oval shape. “Plum” in the confections’ name means any dried fruit whether it’s plums, figs, apricots, dates, cherries, etc. Traditional sugarplums may not contain any of the above-mentioned dried fruits. Some recipes for making sugarplums consist of finely chopped almonds that are stuck together with honey and spices such as anise, fennel, caraway and/or cardamom. This mixture is rolled into balls and coated with sugar or shredded coconut.

Making sugarplums was a tedious process until the 1860s when manufactures started using steam heat and other mechanisms to streamline the process, at which time, sugarplums became available for mass consumption. Today, some candy manufacturers have taken “sugar plum” literally, creating plum-flavored, plum-shaped candies and marketing them as “sugar plum candy.”

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DECEMBER QUOTE

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Wishing you a magical holiday!
CB

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