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McClellan: Festive meals for Christmas

By Barbara McClellan
Dec. 20, 2017 at 4 a.m.


This is my last chance to say Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas before Christmas, so I hope this season of light and joy brings happiness to you and yours.

For the past two weeks I have been sharing holiday party ideas with you. Today we are going to talk about foods for parties or meals.

The first recipe was supposed to be given to you for your Thanksgiving dinner. My friend Mary Lynne Dawes brought it to our Thanksgiving dinner at St. Michael & All Angels' Church. I went around the room asking who brought the recipe. When Carolyn Deakins, who works so hard in meal co-ordination, preparation, etc. at church, told me that it was Mary Lynne who brought it, I ran (well, sort of) to ask for the recipe. She told me that it came from a family cookbook, and it was submitted by her son-in-law. She said she would bring the recipe to church as soon as possible.

She did and handed it to me. I put in in my purse, and from there it disappeared into the unknown. I was embarrassed to tell her and tried to figure a way to get the recipe without telling her; well, I had to confess. I tried a recipe (making it up as I went along), and I am here to tell you that I did not come close. This is the real one.

Benjamin Richard's Creamed Spinach

Grease or spray an 8-by-8 inch glass dish. Doubled, use a 9-by-13 inch dish.

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach

  • 6 ounces cream cheese

  • 1/2 stick butter

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs or

  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain well. Melt butter and soften cream cheese, and mix with spinach. Add seasonings. Place in dish. Top with either bread crumbs or cheese. Sprinkle with dried parsley and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Makes about 4-6 servings.

Red Cranberry Salad

  • 2 small packages cranberry (if you can find it), or cherry gelatin

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, not drained

  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • 1 1/2 cups (or more) chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add remaining ingredients, except celery and pecans; cool slightly before adding celery and pecans. Pour into a 2-quart mold or 8 individual molds, or a 2-quart dish. Chill until firm. May place a tablespoon or more of a mixture of mayonnaise and lemon juice on each serving.

This recipe came from a cookbook from a cookbook from St. Simons Island, Georgia, compiled by Christ Church Frederica there. Someone brought it to me several years ago. I almost always write in the front of my cookbooks where I got them, from whom and the date. Somehow this book never got its "inscription." If you gave it to me, thank you very much, and let me know, please.

Spiced Hot Cranberry Juice

  • 1 quart water

  • 6-8 cloves

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 tea bag

  • 1 quart cranberry cocktail

Simmer water and spices until water is amber colored and kitchen is fragrant. Add tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Then add cranberry cocktail. Heat to serve.

Bundt Pan Bread

  • 3 cans regular size biscuits

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Melt butter and pour half in bottom of Bundt pan. Put 1 teaspoon seeds in bottom of pan. Stand biscuits on edges in pan and pour remaining butter over. Sprinkle remaining seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes,

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal's Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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