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Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house the cats are prowling and Pixie plays with her catnip mouse. I will spend the bulk of the day finish wrapping my niece’s presents and getting them under the tree for the kids. I’ll also start prepping for dinner tomorrow. It is the first Christmas for my niece without her Dad so I decided on a very non-traditional menu for tomorrow that includes some of her favorite dishes. Follow me below the cheeto for what our dinner will be tomorrow.

To Drink

Mulled Apple Delight
Serving Size: 12    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
2             quarts          apple juice
¼            cup              dark brown sugar -- packed
3             whole           cinnamon sticks
1             teaspoon      whole cloves
3             slices           ginger root -- slightly crushed
1             whole           orange -- sliced unpeeled
½            teaspoon      nutmeg
½            teaspoon      allspice

Pour juice in a crockpot.

Stud the orange slices with the cloves.

Add the nutmeg, brown sugar, and allspice to the juice and stir to mix.

Add the cinnamon, orange, and ginger root.

Cover and heat on LOW for 2 to 5 hours.

Per Serving: 127 Calories; 1g Fat (3.7% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 11mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); ½ Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 0 Fat; ½ Other Carbohydrates.

To munch on with tortilla and potato chips

Caramelized Onion Dip
Serving Size: 16    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
16           ounces          light sour cream
1             whole           shallot -- finely minced
4             whole           green onions -- white part finely minced
1             tablespoon    balsamic vinegar
½            teaspoon      garlic salt
¼            teaspoon      white pepper
2             tablespoons   olive oil

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add shallots and green onions and cook stirring frequently until caramelized about 20 minutes. Cool.

Mix cooled onions, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt and pepper together until well blended.

Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight to meld the flavors together.

Per Serving: 27 Calories; 2g Fat (69.0% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 72mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; ½ Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

I Promised Salsa
Serving Size: 8    

Amount      Measure        Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------     ------------  --------------------------------
4             medium           Roma tomatoes -- seeded and diced
½            small               red onion -- diced
2             whole              jalapeno chili peppers -- seeded and diced
2             tablespoons      lime juice -- from a fresh lime
¼            cup                 cilantro -- chopped
1             clove               garlic -- finely minced
¼            teaspoon          salt
⅛            teaspoon          cumin

Mix everything together in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Cover and let set for at least an hour or longer to let the flavors meld.

Per Serving: 22 Calories; trace Fat (10.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 75mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat.

Main dish served with rice

Korean Bulgogi
Serving Size: 6    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------    ------------ --------------------------------
2            pounds          sirloin steak, trimmed -- sliced thin
½           cup               low sodium soy sauce
6            tablespoons    sugar
¼           teaspoon        crushed red pepper flakes
6            whole            green onions -- minced fine
4            cloves           garlic -- minced fine
2            tablespoons    sweet sherry
1½         tablespoons    vegetable oil
1            teaspoon       sesame oil
1            tablespoon     sesame seeds
1            tablespoon     cornstarch

Slice the steak into thin slices and put into a freezer bag.

Mix remaining ingredients except cornstarch together and pour over steak. Marinate the steak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Remove steak from marinade and fry in batches in a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat. Remove to a bowl.

Add remaining marinade to the frying pan and add cornstarch. Heat to boiling and stir until thickened. Pour over steak and toss to coat.

Per Serving: 432 Calories; 26g Fat (54.7% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 95mg Cholesterol; 881mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 2½ Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Main dish for the vegetarians

Grilled Teriyaki-Ginger Portobello Mushrooms
Serving Size: 6    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------    ------------ --------------------------------
½           cup               low-sodium teriyaki sauce
2            teaspoons      ginger root -- minced fine
4            tablespoons    balsamic vinegar
12          ounces           Portobello mushrooms -- sliced 1/4-inch thick or keep cap whole

Mix teriyaki sauce, ginger and balsamic vinegar together in a large Ziploc plastic bag. Add mushroom slices. Let marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Remove mushrooms from marinade and grill 3 to 5 minutes.

Per Serving: 36 Calories; trace Fat (5.1% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 296mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1½ Vegetable; 0 Fruit.


Mandarin Salad
Serving Size: 8    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
1             bunch           red leaf lettuce -- torn
1             small            yellow bell pepper -- seeded and sliced
8             ounces         water chestnuts, canned -- drained and sliced
8             ounces         mushrooms -- sliced
11           ounces         mandarin oranges in light syrup
1             small             red onion -- sliced thin
1             tablespoon     ginger root—minced fine
⅓            cup               vegetable oil
3             tablespoons   wine vinegar -- I use Garlic Wine Vinegar
1             tablespoon     low sodium soy sauce
1             teaspoon       sesame oil
1             tablespoon     no salt added tomato paste

Remove seeds and ribs of yellow bell pepper and slice into thin strips. Slice red onion into thin slices. Slice mushrooms. Tear red lettuce into bite size pieces.

Drain water chestnuts. Drain oranges saving syrup.

Mix lettuce, peppers, onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts and orange slices together in a large salad bowl.

In a blender add juice from oranges, oil, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and tomato paste. Process until smooth and ginger is finely chopped.

Either toss the salad with the dressing or serve it on the side and let people add their own.

Per Serving : 149 Calories; 10g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 84mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 1½ Vegetable; ½ Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.


Not Exactly Southern Cornbread
Serving Size: 8    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
1             whole           egg
¼            cup              butter -- melted
8¼          ounces          creamed corn, low calorie
½            cup              light sour cream
1¼          cups             yellow cornmeal
½            teaspoon       salt
2             teaspoons      baking powder
1             cup               all-purpose flour
2             cups              sharp cheddar cheese -- shredded
                                  vegetable cooking spray

Heat oven to 350²F.

Spray an 8 or 9 inch round or square pan.

In a bowl beat egg and butter until well blended. Add corn, sour cream, cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Stir until thoroughly blended but don't over beat.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup cheese over top.

Bake for 1 hour or until crust is lightly browned and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Per Serving : 337 Calories; 17g Fat (44.2% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 73mg Cholesterol; 504mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 2½ Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.


Gingered Vegetables
Serving Size: 4    

Amount    Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
8          ounces            frozen mixed vegetables
¼         cup                 water
1          clove               garlic -- finely minced
½         small                onion -- finely minced
1          teaspoon          ginger root -- finely minced
1          tablespoon        butter
1          tablespoon        low sodium soy sauce

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until softened.

Add vegetables, water, and soy sauce. Cook four to six minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Don't overcook. They should still have a crunch to them.

Per Serving: 71 Calories; 3g Fat (37.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 207mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Vegetable; ½ Fat.


Daddy's Pfeffernüesse
Cookies: 90    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
½            cup              dark molasses
¼            cup              honey
½            cup              butter
2             whole           eggs -- beaten
4              cups           all-purpose flour
½             cup            granulated sugar
½             cup            dark brown sugar
½             teaspoon     baking soda
½             teaspoon     baking powder
1½           teaspoons    cinnamon
½             teaspoon     ground cloves
½             teaspoon     nutmeg
½             teaspoon     ground black pepper
¼             teaspoon     salt
½             teaspoon     anise seed -- ground
½             teaspoon     ginger
½             teaspoon     ground allspice
½             teaspoon     ground cardamom
1              cup            confectioner's sugar -- sifted

In saucepan combine molasses, honey and butter. Cook and stir until butter melts. Cool to room temperature.

Stir in eggs.

Sift together all the dry ingredients except the confectioner's sugar. Add to molasses mixture; mix well.

Chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Shape chilled dough into 1-inch balls. Baked on greased cookie sheet for 12 minutes.

Cool; roll in confectioner's sugar.

Per Cookie: 53 Calories; 1g Fat (20.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 7mg Cholesterol; 29mg Sodium.  Exchanges: ½ Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fat; ½ Other Carbohydrates.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookies: 48    

Amount    Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------ --------------------------------
2½         cups              all-purpose flour
1            teaspoon        baking soda
½           teaspoon        salt
1            cup               unsalted butter -- softened
¾           cup               cocoa powder
½           cup               granulated sugar
1            cup               brown sugar, packed
2            teaspoons      vanilla extract -- pure
2            large             eggs
18          ounces          semisweet chocolate chips
¾           cup               walnuts -- chopped fine

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla extract until creamy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed each time.

Add salt, cocoa powder, baking soda and flour. Beat until mixed.

Add chocolate chips and nuts and mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet and bake 9 to 11 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 48 cookies.

Per Cookie: 152 Calories; 9g Fat (47.4% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 55mg Sodium.  Exchanges: ½ Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1½ Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

The Nuttiest Peanut Butter Cookies
Cookies: 54    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------   ------------  --------------------------------
½            cup               sugar
½            cup               dark brown sugar -- packed
½            cup               peanut butter, chunky
1             whole            egg
1¼          cups              all-purpose flour
¾            teaspoon        baking soda
½            teaspoon        baking powder
1             teaspoon        vanilla extract -- pure
½            cup               peanuts -- chopped
½            cup               butter -- room temperature

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add peanut butter and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extra, and peanuts. Mix until thoroughly combines.

Refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Shape dough into 1¼ inch balls, about the size of a walnut, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes.

Cool for about a minute on the baking sheet and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 54 cookies.

Per Cookie: 64 Calories; 4g Fat (50.3% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; ½ Fat; ½ Other Carbohydrates.

The Ultimate Ginger Cookie
Cookies: 60    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------    ------------ --------------------------------
¾            cup               butter -- softened
½            cup               sugar
½            cup               dark brown sugar -- packed
¼            cup               molasses
2½          cups              all-purpose flour
1             whole            egg
1½          teaspoons       baking soda
2             teaspoons      ground ginger
1             teaspoon       ground cinnamon
½            teaspoon       ground cloves
½            teaspoon       ground nutmeg
½            teaspoon       ground allspice
1             tablespoon     ginger root -- finely minced
¼            teaspoon       salt
1½          ounces          crystallized ginger -- ground fine
4             tablespoons   sugar

Heat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Stir in the molasses and egg.

Add flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, crystalized ginger, and ginger root.

Shape dough into walnut size balls and roll in sugar. Put on ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on rack.

Per Cookie: 64 Calories; 2g Fat (34.2% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 10mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.  Exchanges: ½ Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; ½ Fat; ½ Other Carbohydrates.

Leprechaun Fudge
Pieces: 64    

Amount     Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------    -----------   --------------------------------
2             cups             semisweet chocolate chips
14           ounces          fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2             teaspoons     vanilla extract
1             cup              white chocolate chips
1             tablespoon     peppermint extract
6             drops            green food coloring

Melt chocolate chips with scant 1-cup condensed milk in a heavy saucepan. Stir in vanilla. Pour half of the mixture into waxed paper lined 8x8 inch pan. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep remaining chocolate mixture at room temperature.

Melt vanilla chips and the rest of the condensed milk in a saucepan. Stir in peppermint extract and food coloring. Spread over chilled chocolate layer. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spread reserved chocolate mixture over the peppermint layer. Chill for 2 hours longer.

Invert into cutting board and remove waxed paper. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Per Candy: 63 Calories; 3g Fat (35.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; ½ Fat; ½ Other Carbohydrates.

Mulled Cider
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