The Christmas season is that time of the year when we make special seasonal recipes for loved ones to enjoy. Often there are longstanding memories behind them, but sometimes the recipe has come to a family fairly recently, and modern traditions are being made. A short while ago, several of the writers of Center Grove Community Newsletter (CGCN) got together and shared their special holiday dishes with each other. Generously, they agreed to provide the following delicious recipes to the wonderful readers of CGCN.
Our first recipe is from Kris Parker’s family. They enjoys this recipe for “Pretzel Bark” not only at Christmas time but all year long. This makes a great hostess gift; it looks beautiful stacked in a Mason jar and tied with a festive ribbon.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
2 sticks of butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1 regular bag of pretzels
12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large bar pan with parchment paper and cover it with pretzels. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar. Stir occasionally over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes until it turns caramel-brown. Pour over pretzels and use spatula to spread it out if needed. Bake the sheet for five minutes. Remove sheet from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over mixture. Return pan to the oven for about 45 seconds. Remove from oven and use a spatula to evenly spread chocolate over the top. Then sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
Whimsical and fun for children to assemble, Editor Katelyn Bausman has been making these “Haystack” cookies since she was in second grade. Her class made them as part of care packages sent to troops during Operation Desert Storm. Easy but a real crowd pleaser, guests can opt for just one or several of these bite-sized treats.
Peanut Butter Butterscotch Haystacks
1 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. salted peanuts
2 c. Chow Mein noodles
Place butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on 50% power for 3 minutes until mixable. Blend well and stir in peanuts and noodles. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool until set.
Joyce Long, a longtime Center Grove resident and feature writer for CGCN, Joyce’s family has enjoyed these “Sticky Buns” every Christmas morning since 1988. Since the family attends 11 pm Christmas Eve services, this recipe works well. She assembles it before church and then refrigerates it upon returning home. On Christmas morning, it bakes while presents are being opened, and it’s ready by the time the last gift is unwrapped.
Caramel Bundt Rolls
24 frozen yeast rolls
2 (3 oz.) packages of dry butter pecan or butterscotch pudding mix (not instant)
1 c. margarine or butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
½ c. chopped pecans
Butter or oil Bundt pan. Layer the 24 frozen rolls in pan. Sprinkle dry pudding over rolls. Melt margarine or butter in a pan with brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Pour over pudding and rolls. Set out on counter to thaw or in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Invert caramel rolls onto plate while they’re still hot.
Other Treats from our Writers
Writer Alaina Sullivan is famous for her pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Although this recipe does not use eggs, the pumpkin puree makes these moist. Her in-laws always request them and they freeze well for a taste of the holidays later in the year.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup softened butter
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375. Mix sugar, butter, pumpkin and vanilla together in large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and cinnamon together. Stir in the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes.
The women on Barbara Augsdorfer’s mother’s side of the family make this dish which is perfect to go with either turkey or ham. It’s light, tangy sweetness goes well with the saltiness of a main dish. It can be made the night before and stored (covered) in the refrigerator and baked right before serving
Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes
1 large can sweet potatoes, drained or 4-6 fresh sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 (6 oz.) can of frozen concentrate orange juice or 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup brown sugar (to taste) or “Brown Splenda Blend”
2-3 teaspoons of cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place sweet potatoes in a greased casserole dish and set aside. In a small-to-medium saucepan, combine orange juice and brown sugar on medium heat. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Continue stirring so mixture doesn’t scorch. Add cornstarch, a teaspoon at a time. Continue stirring until cornstarch dissolves completely and glaze starts to thicken. Pour glaze over sweet potatoes and bake at 350 degrees until heated through and glaze is starting to bubble (20-30 minutes). Serve at once.
When Frieda Dowler, a Southerner, married her Yankee husband 33 years ago, she found that their holiday customs were quite different. She preferred cornbread dressing rather than oyster dressing. So Frieda came up with her own version to start their own new traditions.
1 lb. milk bulk sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large sweet apple, diced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 package dry stuffing mix – whole wheat/white herb seasoned
8 slices white bread, torn in pieces
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup cream sherry
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Brown sausage in skillet. Add onions and celery. Cook until almost translucent. Add apples and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add sherry to deglaze pan. Add seasonings. Set aside. In another bowl beat eggs and chicken broth together. Add half to the dry stuffing mix in a separate bowl. Add bread pieces, sausage mixture and remaining chicken broth. Gently stir together, being careful to blend thoroughly but not mash the bread. Put into a 9″ X 9″ or 7″ X 13″ dish. Pour melted butter over top. Bake covered at 350 for 40 minutes. Take cover off and bake another 15 minutes until browned and crispy around edges.
Nancy Craig, writer of the “The Gardening Nana” column, grew up in a family whose Christmas tradition was making large amounts of cut-out iced cookies which were given away as gifts. Her mother and five sisters made everything from scratch and while someone baked, the rest decorated. She still carries on the tradition with her daughter today, although not on such a large scale.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg, beaten
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Colored sugar crystals, edible glitter, sprinkles, small round candies, and/or gumdrops (optional)
In a 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Stir in butter until melted. With a fork, stir in egg, then flour. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until thoroughly mixed. Divide dough in half. Wrap one of the halves in plastic wrap and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With floured rolling pin, roll remaining half of dough slightly thinner than ¼ inch. With floured cookie cutters, cut dough into cookies. Place cookies, ½ inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until edges brown. Allow cookies to cool before icing and decorating. Repeat with reserved half of dough.
Beat two 16 oz. packages of confectioner’s sugar, 2/3 cup warm water and 1/3 cup meringue powder until stiff. Icing on cookies will be dry and set after about one hour.
Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
Combine all ingredients, mix well. Divide dough in half. Color one half red. Roll 1 a spoonful of dough of each color into 2 strips about 3-4 inches long. Place side by side, press together and twist like rope. Place carefully on cookie sheet and shape like cane. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 9 minutes in 350 degree oven. This makes about three dozen cookies.
Light, unique, and in the shape of adorable little bow ties, Fattigmann cookies were passed down to financial writer, Kate Rhoten through her grandmother on her dad’s side. Fried and then sprinkled with powdered sugar, they are irresistible when warm. Fattigmann cookies were a special treat that Kate’s family had only at Christmas time and they never lasted beyond a day or so.
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (light, not dark)
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat the egg yolks until thick & lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Gently stir in butter. Fold in cream and cardamom. Sift together flour & salt. Gradually fold flour/salt mixture into yolk mixture, just enough to make soft dough. Cover bowl and chill well (at least a couple of hours). Once chilled, divide dough in half on lightly floured surface. Roll each half to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut in 3 inch by ¾ inch strips. With knife, make a split lengthwise in center of each strip and pull one end through slit. Fry a few at a time in deep hot oil at 375 degrees for about 1 1/2 minutes until a light golden brown. Drain cookies on paper towels. While still warm, dust with powdered sugar. This makes about five dozen.
Although writer Erin Smith is not the cook in her household (her husband is), she has two scrumptious recipes to share. The buttery Southern style pound cake is from a college friend’s grandmother in Tennessee. The decadent “Sweet Potato Soufflé” is rich and totally indulgent – just right for a special family meal. Erin notes that canned sweet potatoes could be used to save time, along with using the food processor to make a paste of the crunchy topping ingredients which could then be used for the final step of the recipe.
Extraordinary Pound Cake
3 cup sugar
1/2 vegetable oil
1 stick butter softened
½ teaspoon baking powder mixed with 1 tablespoon of boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat Oven to 350. Combine the sugar, oil, and butter. Beat the eggs in, one at a time. Stir in the baking powder mixture, vanilla, flour, and buttermilk. Pour into a greased Bundt pan and cook for 60 to 75 minutes. Cool and serve sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar or topped with a bourbon cranberry, raspberry, or orange glaze.
Sweet Potato Soufflé
6-8 sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 to 2/3 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts
2/3 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup coconut, optional
Mix first 8 ingredients and place in greased baking dish. Combine topping ingredients in deep narrow bowl and use pastry blender or fork to chop fine. Sprinkle over Soufflé. Bake 25 minutes at 350. If you want marshmallows on top, put them on after 25 minutes and cook just long enough to brown them.