I don't particularly love snow or cold weather, but it is sheer excitement for me each year when the Christmas season is here.
It has been tradition for as long as I can remember that my sisters and good friend Chuck get together at my sister Judy's house for our annual Christmas gathering. This year, Judy made a big kettle of the best chicken noodle and dumpling soup that she served with fresh Whole Wheat Golden Raisin Bread.
It is a recipe that Judy got years ago from her mother-in-law, who would make it every year to enjoy at Christmas. The old recipe had a comment on it that this was Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite brown bread recipe.
Whole Wheat Golden Raisin Bread
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons Crisco, 2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup golden raisins
Pour one package of yeast in a bowl and add 1/4 cup warm water. Sprinkle some sugar on it as this helps the yeast to grow. Set aside and let rise. Then add melted Crisco/butter mixture, brown sugar, salt, molasses and raisins, but be sure melted Crisco/butter mixture isn't too hot to kill the yeast. Mix well. Stir in 3 cups whole wheat flour (Judy's mother-in-law used old fashioned stone ground flour). Beat to a smooth batter and then add 7 to 7 1/2 cups white flour. Mix well and put in a large, greased bowl and cover to let rise until double. Punch down and shape into loaves and put in greased loaf pans and cover to let rise again. Bake when above pans at 350 degrees. The tops of the bread should be golden brown and the bottoms light brown. When you take them out of the oven, brush with butter and let cool on their sides. Put in zip lock bags.
17 cups popped corn
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
16 ounces marshmallows
Miniature M&M candies
Mixed nuts or peanuts
Melt the butter and oil in the microwave; add the marshmallows and melt; stir. In a very large bowl, have the popcorn popped, add the marshmallow mixture, stir in about 3/4 cup or more of mixed nuts and about 1/2 bag of the miniature M&Ms. Have your pans, like a bundt pan or jello molds, buttered and pour mixture in and pack down. One recipe will make about two popcorn cakes. You can make balls if you wish or put in a cake pan and slice.
Beef Tortilla Pizza
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
4 large (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat oven to 400F. Brown ground beef and onion in skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Pour off drippings. Stir oregano and salt into beef. Lightly brush tortillas with oil. Bake tortillas on two large baking sheets in 400F oven for three minutes. Spoon beef mixture evenly over top of each tortilla; top with an equal amount of tomato. Sprinkle with basil and cheeses. Return to oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes or until tortillas are lightly browned.
GARY'S TIP: To clean a burnt kettle, add water and teaspoon of cream of tartar. Heat and let sit. Kettle will come clean like new.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The end to a perfect day is when you have made others around you happy.
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