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Friends at Avera and clinic share holiday recipes

December 16, 2008
By Mary Ann Menendez - Staff Writer

Tradition it's the only true theme of Christmas as family and friends gather together in the Christian spirit to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

While customs are unique to each household, food is the focal point.

Just as that holy family of three huddled together in the chilly night of that magnificent birth, so have Christian families for the past 2,000 years in celebration of that very special birthday.

Our friends at Avera Holy Family Health and Estherville Medical Clinic are sharing some of their traditional Christmas recipes. They extend greetings of Christmas wishes to our readers

Christmas Egg Casserole

3 cups herb croutons

2 cups shredded cheddar

1 1/2 pounds pork sausage (Jimmy Dean preferred)

1 teaspoon sage

Brown and drain sausage. Mix together with other ingredients and place in 9-by- 13-inch baking dish. Mix the following ingredients and pour over meat mixture:

2 eggs

2 and 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, mix:

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup evaporated milk

Pour over top and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees

This became a favorite for Christmas morning brunch due to requests from family members each year. It's also convenient because I well, Karen actually can prepare most of it the night before. This recipe makes for a relatively fast and easy brunch on Christmas morning. We usually have some coffee cake and fresh fruit to accompany the casserole. A friend of Karen's shared the recipe years ago and it became a keeper after one try.

From the kitchen of Bill Bumgarner, president of Avera Holy Family Health

Holiday Wreaths

1/3 cup margarine

1 10-ounce package marshmallows (about 40 regular)

1 teaspoon green food coloring

6 cups Kellogg's Corn Flakes

Red cinnamon candies

Pam cooking spray.

In large saucepan, melt margarine over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in food coloring.

Add corn flakes. Stir until well-coated.

Using 1/4 cup dry measure coated with Pam cooking spray, evenly portion warm cereal mixture. Using buttered fingers, quickly shape into individual wreaths. Dot with cinnamon candies. Yields 16 wreaths.

From the kitchen of Donna Probst, wife of Dr. Keith Probst. Every year, my parents gave plates of homemade cookies and candies to all of their friends and neighbors as Christmas gifts. I found this recipe (in a magazine) and decided it was something easy, that as a child, I could make to add to the gift plates. This was how I learned to enjoy the spirit of giving.

Peanut Blossoms

1 3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

60 milk chocolate stars

Sift flour with soda and salt in bowl and set aside. In large bowl, beat margarine (softened), peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture, one half at a time. Beat well after each addition. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put some additional granulated sugar in a bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, using 1 heaping teaspoon for each ball. Roll balls in sugar and place 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and press chocolate star lightly on top of each cookie. Return to oven and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes or until cookie are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on wax paper. Makes about 60 cookies.

I got this recipe from a combination of several different recipes. I believe the main one was from the Methodist cookbook. My family likes this recipe because it gives them the best of both worlds (peanut butter and chocolate).

From the kitchen of Gail Jasper, billing clerk in the business office at Avera Holy Family Health.

Cherry Bing Bars

Chocolate Layer:

One 6 ounce pkg. of milk chocolate chips

One 6 ounce pkg. of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon burnt sugar flavoring

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 cup (10-ounce package) salted peanuts finely chopped.

Melt together butter and chocolate chips in microwave till smooth (DO NOT BOIL). Then add other ingredients. Stir and melt in microwave till smooth. Place half of this mixture in the bottom of a 9-by-13 pan that has been lightly sprayed with Pam. Save other half for top layer. Cool this layer till firm.

Cherry Layer:

2 cups of white granulated sugar

Two-third cups small can of evaporated skim milk

Dash of salt

18 large marshmallows

1/2 cup (1 stick of butter)

You will need a very large microwave bowl. Melt butter in microwave, add rest of ingredients, stirring till smooth. Bring to a boil, but watch closely because of the marshmallows it will want to boil over so you need to stir it down frequently. Boil for a total of eight minutes, mixture will look darker and have a syrupy consistency. Add 6 ounces of cherry chips; one teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavoring, and 1/4 teaspoon of cherry flavoring. Stir until smooth. Pour gently over chocolate base layer. Chill until firm. Reheat leftover 1/2 of chocolate mixture in microwave until spreadable and spread over cherry layer. Chill till all is firm.

My Mom copied this recipe down when it was broadcast from KVDB Radio Station in Sioux Center many years ago.

From the kitchen of Rhonda J. Hansen, registered nurse at the Estherville Medical Clinic.

The next three recipes are from the kitchen of Donna Jean Tindall, receptionist at Estherville Medical Clinic

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds potatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon paprika, optional

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 three-ounce pkgs. cream cheese, softened

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

Place potatoes in a saucepan. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Peel potatoes and place in large mixing bowl to mash. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk and three-teaspoons salt. Blend together all ingredients. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased baking dish. Brush top of mixture with melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot.

Spritz Cookies

2 1/4 cups sifted flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Red and green food coloring

Sift flour and baking powder together. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and cream thoroughly. Beat in egg and almond extract. Blend in dry ingredients. Divide dough into three parts. One for red coloring, one for green coloring and one plain. Place all three colors of dough into cookie press and press onto ungreased cookie sheet into a 350-degree preheated oven. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from pan onto rack to cool. Enjoy you can't eat just one!


Cut-Out Cookies

6 cups flour

2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup oleo (Blue Bonnet)

2 cups Crisco

4 eggs

8 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together. Set aside. Cream together butter, oleo, Crisco. Slightly beat eggs, milk, vanilla and add to creamed mixture. Mix together slowly and add dry ingredients. Might use fingers to mix thoroughly. Works better if refrigerated overnight. Roll out and cut with favorite cookie cutters and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets. Makes large batch. Decorate and enjoy!

M&M's Fudge-Filled Bars

2 cups oatmeal

1 and 1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup margarine, softened

2 tablespoons shortening

1 and 1/2 cups M&Ms (12 ounces)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease jelly roll pan (15 and 1/2 by 10-and-1/2-by-1). Mix oats, flour, nuts, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 and 1/2 cups of crumbly mixture. Press remaining crumbly mixture in pan. Bake 10 minutes. Heat shortening in one-quart saucepan over low heat until melted. Stir in 1 cup of the candies. Press candies with back of spoon until candies break in pieces. Cook and stir until chocolate is melted (pieces of candy coating will remain). Remove from heat. Stir in milk. Spread over baked layer to within 1/2 inch of edges. Sprinkle reserved crumbly mixture evenly over the baked layer and add the remaining candies, pressing lightly. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars, about 2 and 1/4s by 1 and 1/2 inch pieces.

From the kitchen of Kathy Jo Howard, lab customer service representative at Avera Holy Family Health.

The next four recipes are from the kitchen of Stacie Inman who chose to share family favorites and a new "healthy" treat that will be added to her Christmas tradition list. She is the discharge planner and utilization review at Avera Holy Family Health.

Our traditional Christmas morning brunch includes:

Southern Eggs (Dolores Inman)

Mix together 6-8 slices cubed bread with the crust removed with 1 pound well cooked and drained ground pork or ham. Place in greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup grated cheese.

Mix 8 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.

Pour over first layer and top with 1/4 cup melted butter (I usually omit this, but the Inman family loves their butter!). Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake in 325 degree oven for one hour.

A couple old traditional recipes from my Mom, Marlys Albers:

Toffee Bars

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients and spread on 10-by-15 pan. Bake at 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and melt five Hershey bars or 1 package chocolate. Spread while still warm. Sprinkle with ground nut meats. Cut into small squares.

Party Mix

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

3 cups Corn Chex cereal

3 cups Rice Chex cereal

3 cups Wheat Chex cereal

1 cup mixed nuts (I substitute Cheerios)

1 cup bite-size pretzels

1 cup garlic-flavored bite-size bagel chips

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Here's a new recipe that will be a "healthy" traditional treat for the Inman family.


Thin Mints

Melt chocolate in the microwave or over hot water.

Add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract.

Dip reduced-fat Ritz crackers in the melted chocolate until covered. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes if desired. Cool on wax paper. Drizzle with colored tinted (green, red, or white) chocolate. Store in airtight container. Almost as good as Girl Scout thin mint cookies and less calories!



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