Oh, what a treat!

I’m so delighted to have Virginia Campbell here today!  She’s an absolutely lovely person and has a particular talent I envy. Of the culinary variety. You see, I’m not very good in the kitchen.  Passable at best.  When I saw Virginia’s recipes posted elsewhere, I was inspired and asked her if she’d be my guest here at A WRITER’S SALON. She has graciously agreed to share some of her wonderful recipes with us–and family holiday traditions, too!  Welcome, Virginia!

It’s time for good cheer—almost a new year! Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, not enough sugar and too much spice—let the fun in! Food should be a pleasure to prepare and to serve. Getting together with family and friends is for enjoyment and making happy memories. Food is a very large part of daily family life, and it is even more important during the festiveness of the holidays. The good eats and sweet treats you offer during the holidays can be simple and sensational, allowing you more time to participate in the celebration. I hope you enjoy my recipes for some delicious nibbles and bites!

I’d love to hear your favorite holiday traditions and funny stories! I absolutely adore Christmas music, even if some of it does make me cry! My mom and I both loved all-out, over-the-top, sing-your-heart-out Christmas music. We had a tradition of loading up our dogs in the car one night each holiday season to go see the Christmas lights throughout the area. Mom and I would sing holiday songs at the top of our voices, and the dogs were a captive audience. We always ended the evening with a trip to the ice cream store! Mom got eggnog ice cream; I got peppermint candy cane ice cream, and the dogs got vanilla! By the way, occasionally our singing did set the dogs off, and then there was howling and singing.

Candy Bar Brownies

1 box fudge brownie mix (for 13in x 9in baking pan)
1 box of thin mints or thin chocolate bars (like Andes candies), or larger flat candy bars (like Hershey’s) broken into pieces, or miniature chocolate bars (like Hershey’s miniatures)
if desired for topping, ready-made frosting and sprinkles or crushed hard candies

Prepare brownie mix per box directions. Pour half of batter into greased and floured baking pan. Place candy pieces evenly across batter. Top with remaining batter and bake per box directions. Allow to cool before cutting into squares. If desired, top with frosting and sprinkles or crushed hard candies or peppermints. So easy, so good and so pretty!

Spicy Cheddar Cheese Balls

3/4 cup flour
1 and 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Combine all ingredients together and mix well. Roll into balls one inch in diameter and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

Creamy Dessert Dip

1 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese
1 jar (7 oz) Marshmallow Crème
1 tsp orange marmalade or strawberry jam

Mix all ingredients until well-blended. Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps and assorted cut-up fresh fruit.

Pizza Pasta Salad 

I box tri-color spiral pasta
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper (or red or yellow), chopped
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1 small pkg. sliced pepperoni, slices halved
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large bottle favorite Italian dressing
Cook pasta in cups boiling water to al dente. Don’t overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to remaining ingredients in an extra large bowl, then toss with enough dressing to coat well. After salad has thoroughly chilled in refrigerator, may have to moisten with additional dressing. If desired, top with additional shredded mozzarella cheese before serving.
Brown Sugar Blondies
4 eggs
1 (1 lb) Box Brown Sugar
2 Cups Biscuit Mix
2 Cups Chopped Pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Mix above ingredients and pour into greased 13×9 pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Insert knife. If it comes out gooey, bake for another 10 minutes and check again. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Savory Onion Casserole

2 large white onions
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese
10 or more slices French bread (buttered)
2 T. butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Butter a 9 x 13 inch casserole pan. Chop onions. Slice mushrooms. Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter and pour into casserole. Top evenly with shredded cheese. Butter French bread on both sides. Place bread on shredded cheese. Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, salt and pepper; pour over bread. Make this a day ahead; refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serves 10-12 people.

Olde World Christmas Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg
4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda

Blend shortening, sugar, and molasses. Add beaten egg. Sift dry ingredients and combine. Mix well, roll out, and cut in shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. If desired, when cookies are completely cool, can decorate with frosting, sprinkles, colored sugar and chopped nuts.
Holiday White Wine Punch

2 bottles of white wine (Riesling, Albarino, Chablis, Gewurztraminer, Rioja, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)
1 (64 oz) bottle of white cranberry juice or white grape juice
1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 small pkg frozen raspberries, unthawed
2 limes, washed and sliced into thin round slices

Allowing time for mixture to become well-chilled, combine wine and juice in a large punch bowl. Refrigerate. Just before serving, add chilled ginger ale to punch. Add frozen raspberries and gently stir to begin separating raspberries. Float lime slices on top.

Question:  As Virginia mentioned in her post, “I’d love to hear your favorite holiday traditions and funny stories!”

One lucky commenter will win a Cinderella Slipper Ornament (last chance to win one of these this year!)—signed by me….and well, since it is the holiday season, I have a small little gift to add to that as well.  *smiles*