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Good to Eat and Easy to Fix

 
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Well, the holidays are upon us. Everyone's calendars are full of parties, get togethers, and covered dish gatherings. The schedule for family visits is lengthy and covers most of the time between Christmas Eve and Christmas Night. With so many places to go and people to see, it's often not practical to prepare a full meal for your guests. That's where a smattering of hearty appetizers and sweet treats will help tide them over to their next stop.

We've cooked up a table full of ideas that you may want to try at your next gathering at the office or around the tree.

Easy and Tasty Beverage:

Spiced Apple Cider

1 gallon apple juice, cranapple juice, or cider
1 package Raven's Nest Mulling Spices 

Mix juice and Raven's Nest Mulling Spices thoroughly and serve either hot or cold. 

Here are your starters:

Cheesy Herbed Artichoke Dip

4 teaspoons Big Daddy’s Superb Herb Seasoning
1-2 tablespoons Big Daddy’s Marinade (to taste)
12 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
8 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
8 ounces sour cream
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, finely chopped
1 cup milk

Mix all ingredients together in crock pot or over medium heat on the stove top. Heat through until warm and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, vegetables or wheat crackers.

Raspberry-Jalapeno-Jelly.jpgCream Cheese and Jelly

1 8 ounce block cream cheese
1 10 ounce jar Spicy Garlic Pepper Jelly or 10-ounce jar Jalapeno Hot Raspberry Jam

Place the softened cream cheese on a serving platter and pour the jelly or jam over it. Serve with crackers. Serving suggestion: Prepare individual crackers with a layer of cream cheese spread topped with a dollop of the pepper jelly. The color is very festive and the taste is sweet with a little kick at the end.

Sweet Treats:

Sweet Potato Cake
 1 pound Old Mill of Guilford Sweet Potato Muffin Mix (1/2 bag) 
2 eggs
2 ounces butter, margarine, or oil (4 tablespoons) – You can use 4 ounces for extra richness
½-2/3 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat eggs, add butter, margarine, or oil, and mix well. Then add the nuts and boiling water. Stir until well blended. Fill greased 9-inch x 12-inch pan 2/3 full and bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

When cooled, ice with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) and garnish with some extra nuts.

Cream Cheese Frosting (from The Food Network)

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

So hearty, it could be a meal:

Grits Casserole

Grits:
2 cups Old Mill of Guilford Yellow Grits 
4 cups water
1 can chicken broth
1 cup milk (or half & half)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
½ stick butter

Mix grits, water, broth, milk, salt, pepper, and butter together in large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn to low heat and whisk often so the grits don’t get lumpy. Cook until thick (20-30 minutes).

Casserole:
4 cups cooked grits
2 eggs
1 10 ¾ ounce can cream of mushroom soup
8 ounces of your favorite grated cheese
¾ cup half and half (may use heavy cream or milk)
½ cup sour cream (optional – for extra creaminess)
1 ½ teaspoons Big Daddy’s Superb Herb Seasoning
2 tablespoons Big Daddy’s Marinade
1 pound cooked sausage (or bacon, crispy and crumbled)

Mix grits, eggs, soup, cheese, half and half, sour cream, herb seasoning, marinade, and sausage together well and pour into 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until brown around the edges and bubbly in the center. 

This recipe is very versatile. Add shrimp, crab meat, hash browns, additional eggs, garlic, Tabasco Sauce®, whatever you like! You can also bake it in a 12-inch or 13-inch cast iron skillet or in smaller skillets for individual portions. The casserole freezes well and can be made 1-2 days in advance and heated later. 

Creative and beautiful:

Savannah-Bee-honey-comb.jpgHoney, Apple, and Cheese Platter

1 Savannah Bee Raw Honeycomb
2-3 Granny Smith Apples, cored and thinly sliced
Slices of your favorite cheeses

Place the honeycomb in the middle of your platter and surround it with a festive arrangement. Include a knife to cut and serve the honeycomb. You can also add your other favorite fruits like strawberries and blueberries.

If you are trying to trim a few calories to be a bit more health conscious, you can substitute apple sauce (1/3 cup), a pureed banana (1/4 cup), or plain yogurt (1/4 cup) for each egg or 1 cup apple sauce for 1 cup of oil.

No matter how you spend your holidays, we hope they are filled with friends, family, and fun.

Click here to download a pdf of these recipes.