Ring in new year with casual entertaining

December 25, 2013 

Santa, I just know that you overlooked my new computer in your bag of presents.

You see, Santa, as I was preparing to write this column, my old monitor conked out. All my files and recipes are locked in my hard drive, and this does not please me one bit.

Since you know everything, like when I'm sleeping or when I'm awake, I thought surely you would see my plight. Perhaps I wasn't good enough this year, even though I tried to be. Or maybe you had already bought all the presents and didn't want to face those long shopping lines. Whatever the case, I guess I've blown it with you for next year, too, because I am pouting about my lack of a computer and all my files.

I think I need to go back to bed and start Christmas all over again.

Oh, well, Santa, New Year's Eve is at hand, and folks have parties to plan and for which to prepare. My readers have been very good this year and sent lots of recipes for their fellow readers. Today, two Bradenton readers share bread, fruit muffin recipes that are perfect for holiday mornings and a spinach and Italian sausage pie that would be perfect on a New Year's Eve buffet. I also have a recipe for spinach balls that also would be good on a buffet.

Let's face it, Santa, buffets work so much better for entertaining at home than sit-down dinners. In our hectic lifestyles, we can even ask guests to bring a dish so we do not have to do all the work. It's casual entertaining at its best, and guests get a good variety of flavors. Perhaps Mrs. Claus would like to try these recipes.

Oh, by the way, I still think you are an OK guy, even if you didn't bring me a new computer.

"This pie is a family favorite, " said E. Youngs of Bradenton. "It is a good make-ahead dish that can be done early in the day or the day before. It is great

for casual get-togethers and even picnics."

MRS. C'S SPINACH PIE

1 pound Italian sausage

1/2 onion, chopped

2 (10 ounces each) packages chopped spinach, defrosted and drained dry

1 (16-ounce) package shred Mozzarella cheese

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

6 eggs whipped, reserve small amount for egg wash

Dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder

2 prepared pie crusts

Cook and drain sausage and onions. Sausage should be crumbled.

In large bowl, whip eggs; stir in cheeses and add spinach, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add sausage and onion.

Pour into a 9-inch crust. Top with second crust. Seal and cut vents in top crust. Brush with egg wash. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees until golden. Let sit for 15 minutes and serve; or cool and chill for later use.

-- Submitted by E. Youngs

SPINACH BALLS

2 medium packages chopped frozen spinach

2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing

2 medium onions, chopped

3/4 cup melted butter

6 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon black pepper1 teaspoon Accent

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Cook spinach a short time and drain thoroughly. Mix all ingredients together. Form into small balls, chill well or freeze. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

HERMAN STARTER and WHITE BREAD

1 package yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups Herman Starter (first 3 ingredients, mixed; see directions below)

2 cups hot water

6 tablespoons shortening

4 teaspoons salt

9-10 cups bread flour or regular flour

2 tablespoons liquid lecithin

Combine first 3 ingredients in glass bowl and set aside to rise; this makes the Herman Starter.

In another bowl, combine hot water and shortening and salt. While slightly warm, add lecithin and add Herman Starter, gradually stir in flour until thick enough to knead (about 12 minutes). (I let my mixer with dough hook do that.) Then place dough in greased bowl and turn to grease sides.

Cover and let rise until doubled (2 hours).

Punch down and let rise after kneading 2 minutes and cut dough into 4 sections. Cover and let rise 10 minutes, shape loaves and press down each end of roll to seal and place in greased pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Loaves should sound hollow when thumped.

Makes 4 loaves.

-- Submitted by Betty Bailey

TROPICAL FRUIT MUFFINS

2 cups 100 percent bran cereal

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1/4 cup margarine, melted

1 egg, beaten

1- 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup diced pineapple

Coconut streusel (recipe follows)

In medium bowl, combine bran and next 3 ingredients. In small bowl, combine flour¸ egg, baking powder, baking soda and pineapple. Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cup and sprinkle with coconut almond streusel on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12.

Coconut Almond Streusel

Mix 1/2 cup flour and 3 tablespoons each sugar, margarine, coconut and slivered almonds.

-- Submitted by Betty Bailey

Merry Christmas and happy new year to all my readers, even Santa.

Andrea Yeager, takes contributions at P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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