It’s Groundhog Day, Again …

The comma placement in this phrase is so. very. important. People really underestimate the importance of the comma.  (Eats Shoots and Leaves – anyone??)

D&D_GroundhogDay.gifI just cannot help myself, I love this movie. I saw it in the movie theater in 1993 when it was released and I was rather on the very pregnant side. I have never been a fan of going to the movie theatre. Too many people (ugh, people) and noise, and icky butter popcorn smell. Nope, not my thing.

I was a little shocked to find out that this is the 25th anniversary of the movie, but … duh, the Boy will be 25 this year too. Lord help me.

I do watch this movie every year, just like I watch the Grinch every Christmas. It is a tradition and while we really don’t have any six extra weeks of winter, um, every, it is still fun to get a sense of what the poor yankees have to deal with.

I will say – we are so very not equipped to deal with any real winter weather in any way. We had to close down streets, I-10, and especially bridges just a couple of weeks ago for ice – again. First time since 2014. So much for global warming. None of this makes sense to me.

That said, Phil has no bearing on our winter at all, but the movie is just so fun and I just can’t help myself. In an odd way, all the strangeness of the movie works and the funny little aside is that the Boy’s middle name is based on one of the actors. Not spelled the same way, but the inspiration was there because he was funny. Nope not Bill Murray. Or Andie McDowell either.

Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating:
1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

Haystacks

I have no idea why my mother made these for Christmas. None whatsoever. Another thing that will never be explained, but somehow this came back into my memory this fall and I thought I would at least make it once as an adult and decide if it was as good as I remember. And to also see what the Boy would think of it. I am sure the MotH will not touch it with a ten foot pole. No surprise there really. **

This isn’t so much a recipe but a method really, but so many recipes included chocolate in the Haystacks and I can damn sure tell you that was not in my mom’s recipe. Peanut butter was not involved either. Can we say, ugh? Sometimes simple, really, is best.

D&D_2559This recipe uses nuts and I can see how some salted dry roasted or honey roasted peanuts would be good, but I think I am going to go with some chopped up pretzel bits. It is all about the salt, especially when you are dealing with something as cloying sweet as butterscotch morsels.

24 ounces butterscotch chips
5 ounces chow mein noodles – what to do w/the rest of them??
1½ cup chopped nuts (dry roasted peanuts, almonds, or cashews are a few good choices)
1 1/2 cups chopped pretzel pieces –  dipping sticks – what else can I do with them??

Melt butterscotch morsels gently in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let bowl touch water or get water in chips – not good juju.

Combine noodles and nuts in a large bowl. Pour melted butterscotch over noodle/pretzel mixture and combine until everything is coated.

Drop heaping tablespoons onto parchment or wax paper and let cool. Serve or store in airtight containers.

Source She Wears Many Hats

** Strange thing, both the MotH and the Boy said I have done this before, and I honestly think they are both imagining things. Much as I *love* butterscotch, I really think I would remember it. That said, I know I have never done this with pretzel pieces.

And now I have more pretzels to play with – more chocolate dipping might be involved. But no chocolate in haystacks – um, ever.

Banana Nut Bread

I just cannot stand bananas. It is the texture I think, but, let’s just say, ugh. But here I am making banana nut bread from my mom’s recipe again. Just like so many years before.

I miss that I can’t make it for my dad anymore. But this, to me, more that just about anything else, is Christmas.

It would not be Christmas without toasted (under the broiler) banana nut bread slathered in too much butter for Christmas Day breakfast/brunch. Sausage balls are the close second.

D&D_2576This keeps well. And if you make a loaf and split it and put half wrapped in two layers of heavy duty foil in the freezer you can pull it out in March and it is still amazing.  That is what I did for my dad – half a loaf to eat now and the other have to save for a couple of months. You can make this anytime of year, really, but – it is just Christmas. And my family’s tradition.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 1/12 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I upped this – my mom only used 1 cup)

Grease and line a 9 x 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper and spray again with baking spray.  Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda – typically, I do this on a piece of waxed paper. In the stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs, one at a time until blended. Add the mashed bananas and blend until combined. Mix in dry ingredients. Add pecans and mix well.

Turn into loaf pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and increase temp to 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

21 December 2017 – post procedure – funny, that – that is a story for a whole different day.(said in the voice of River Song from Dr. Who – the Matt Smith version). Dear lord, I am a dork of the nth degree. And obviously, the drugs are still having an impact of sorts.

300 degrees 1 hour – turn 1/2 way through
345 degrees 15 minutes – turn
20 minutes more – check with long wooden skewer – damnation – perfect.
9 x 5 inch Williams Sonoma gold-ish large loaf pan

D&D_1599

Work Hack – good for breakfast or lunch as long as you have Kerry Gold butter.