When I think of the food I like to cook to welcome in the New Year, it's always with the thought of this one particular recipe in mind. When I met my husband, his father was the cook. His recipes are famous in our family and we love to make them as a memory to him. I know is sounds silly, but when I make them I feel him close to us. From his Jungle Punch, to the Lumpia, and all the rest.

This is one that all the kids love best...what's not to love about mac n cheese? And believe it or not while we all love it hot from the oven, it's even better cold, the next day. If your kids like "mac n cheese" they'll love this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 pack Ham cut in small pieces
1 pack large macaroni elbow
6 eggs beaten
1 pack cheddar cheese shredded
Pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

Boil macaroni and drain.
Add eggs and cheese and ham.
Stir and season with salt and pepper.
Grease large pan with butter and pour in macaroni mix.
Cover with foil.
Bake 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil back another 15 minutes until done.

Happy New Years!
deb



I was at my daughter’s house two weeks ago and faced my first snow storm in years. To occupy the girls on a no school day, their mother decided to start decorating the house for Christmas. Full of energy and enthusiasm the little girls brought up from the basements the many boxes where reeds, trees, stockings and other ornaments have been stowed after the previous season.


Suddenly we saw the nine year old grab a box and stare at the red elf inside it. The smile on her face disappeared to be replaced by a scowl. My daughter grumbled. “Oh, oh.” 

“Mom, what is the naughty elf doing here?” Her wrists clenched on her hips, my granddaughter darted accusing glares at her mom. My gaze flitting from mother to daughter, I tried to understand the problem. “Mom, you and Dad lied to us.”

“Oh God.” Obviously my poor daughter felt terrible.

“This elf is the one who goes to Santa Claus at night to report that we have been good or bad,” the seven year old explained with a pout. “We leave cookies for him and carrots for his reindeer.”

“At least we thought he was going to Santa.” The nine year old pursed her lips and pointed a finger at her Mom. “I bet Daddy has been eating the cookies and you the carrots. Right, Mom?”

Poor Mom nodded. “Let me explain.” 

“No.” The nine year old ran to her room and banged the door behind her. We all followed.

“Darling,” I said to my granddaughter. “You two are very lucky girls. You have a Mom and Dad who love you very much and spoil you rotten. Many children don’t have so many toys. I never had toys like while growing up. Just a ball once and my sister a doll. Dad gave us books only and no one else gave us anything.” 

“Really? No toys only books?” Both girls looked at me with pity.

I am a writer who always feels the need to elaborate. Why couldn’t I have stopped here?

“Well you see, Christmas is about the birth of Baby Jesus. All the rest is a legend. A nice story like Cinderella, or the Little Mermaid, or Santa Claus. They are nice stories, but they don’t exist, of course.”

“What?” The seven year old screamed. Santa Claus doesn’t exist? No way.” It was her turn to run to her room and bang her door.

“Oh God, I messed it up.”

“Yes, Mom. You killed Santa Claus.”

It took me half an hour to try to reconcile Christmas, Santa Claus and loving Mom and Dad. I also assured my darling little one that grandma adored her and that all she wrote in her letter to Santa Claus will be fulfilled by grandma and grandpa.

“So now we are big kids,” my seven year old said. “But I am not going to tell Kelsey and Heather the truth about Santa Claus and the naughty Elf. They are two months younger than me.”

Do your little ones still believe in Santa Claus? 

CHRISTMAS HERE AND THERE, with romance  everywhere: beach, cruise, or faraway. 3 novels, for 99c, http://tinyurl.com/lhxkfha

  

 HER CHRISTMAS CRUISE: The perfect fiancĂ© is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. When a desperate Julia comes in Tony's mother's travel agency, the dedicated psychiatrist is there to pick up the pieces. Sparks fly between them and Tony is willing to put his life on hold for Julia. Nothing goes according to plan, but the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill their secret dreams.  

AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS: Dr. Jillian is always running away to the end of the world to avoid Christmas celebrations and the sad reminders of her dead son. But in Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor will teach her the true meaning of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS BABIES: When a health problem jolts Dr. Madelyn into the realization than there's more to life than just work, she longs to surrender to the magic of Christmas. But can she handle the charming and secretive Dr. Nick Preston who carries his own package of disillusions? 


I've had fun sharing my favorite recipes from Thanksgiving and Christmas, now it's time to get you all ready to celebrate the end of 2013 and prep for 2014. I have many things to be thankful for in 2013, my family, my job, the sale of my first book, I am truly blessed. (We won't discuss the bad...no gonna ruin anyone's holidays). I look forward to the New Year to see what it will bring for us all. May it be wonderful for everyone.

For those of you who love Egg Nog, here is a Puerto Rican Egg Nog that is to die for. I like to make it to ring in the New Year.

Note: No way can I survive this recipe on 5 cups of Rum, I'm a light weight--I usually do 3 cups, so use that at your own risk.

Coquito

Ingredients:

2 - 3 cinnamon sticks
2 c. water
12 oz. evaporated milk
14 oz. condensed milk
4 egg yolks
15 oz. cream of coconut
5 c. white rum (Bacardi, Don Q. etc) (Adjust to taste)

Directions:

Start by boiling the cinnamon sticks in the 2 cups of water.

When the water turns yellow and has the smell and you can taste the cinnamon, take the sticks out.

Now add the evaporated milk, condensed milk and egg yolks and cook at a very low temperature. Make sure to stir while it is cooking to avoid it sticking to your pan.

After it has boiled for a few minutes, stir in the cream of coconut and then the rum. Stir it very well and take off the stove.

Naturally you have to have a cup to taste test, then I store mine in the refrigerator, in a big pitcher. It's a lovely drink to warm up before bed.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Much love to all,

deb

  



The first photo is in Duluth, Georgia in a lovely park area in the center of town!

 The others are not.
 

I've been posting candy recipes for the past month and this is the last of the Christmas treats I'll post for the year, and it's one of the best.

I can't think of Christmas Candy without this being at the top of the list. It's quick, easy to make, and everyone loves it.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter
1 package grahams + 3 more whole crackers (crushed)
1/2 cup Coconut
1 (12 oz) package Chocolate chips
1 (12 oz) package Butterscotch chips
1 cup Cashew halfs and pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat over at 350.
While oven is heating, put a cube of butter in 9 x 13 pan into the oven to melt, remove when melted.
Sprinkle crushed grahams over butter evenly, then coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, condensed milk (in this order)
Bake 15 minutes, turn bake 15 minutes longer.
(Note: at higher elevations may need up to 10 minutes longer to cook, condensed milk will turn deeper shade of brown.
Remove from over, let cool, cut.
(Note: I like to toast my coconut first so it’s crunchy)
PS: These are seriously addictive!

It doesn't matter if you say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa, simply share the blessings with those around you.

From my house to yours, Merry Christmas.

Deb



Ever wonder about the history of Christmas Cards in America? Here’s what I found.
From Something Olde: Christmas Card History
“In the late 1700’s merchants sent their customers best wishes for the new year. The cards were created on lithographs and hand-colored. A lithograph is an etching on a stone that can be reproduced on paper. Sending Christmas cards first became popular in England over 150 years ago.  In the 1840’s John Calcott Horsely was a curator at the royal museum.  He was late sending his usual holiday letters to his friends and relatives for Christmas.  He asked the artist, Sir Henry Cole, to design and hand-color 1,000 cards.  He wanted the card to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.”
Holiday Cards
The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.
(In 1953) President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first “official” Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president’s staff, a practice continued to this day.
Vintage Santa Christmas CardFrom Idea Finder:  "A relatively recent phenomenon, the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. By 1822, homemade Christmas cards had become the bane of the U.S. postal system. That year, the Superintendent of Mails in Washington, D.C., complained of the need to hire sixteen extra mailmen. Fearful of future bottlenecks, he petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of cards by post, concluding, “I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps on.”
Not only did it keep on, but with the marketing of attractive commercial cards the postal burden worsened. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a “merry Christmas.”
Christmas sleigh rideFrom The History of Christmas Cards: At Christmastime, many people would send letters to friends and family far away, and children at boarding school would decorate paper and write letters to show off the writing skills they’d improved upon that term at school. However, the first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain.
Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.
old time SantaCHRISTMAS CARDS RISE IN POPULARITY
“Christmas cards were quite elaborate and though the lithograph printing process helped in producing cards, they first became popular among the upper-class in England. However, the development and improvement of the postal system, making sending cards more affordable, was a big part of the rise in the popularity of Christmas cards. Early cards were not necessarily religious Christmas cards but favored images such as beautiful flowers, birds, scenery and other pretty things.
In 1875 Louis Prang brought the commercial Christmas card to the United States. Prang, a German lithographer, had developed a new innovative way of printing that made the process of creating Christmas and other cards much simpler and more affordable. Like British Christmas cards, Prang’s cards included various images that were simply pretty and tasteful, not truly having much to do with Christmas or even necessarily winter. However, some cards did include holly, snow and some other wintry or Christmas images. His cards became extremely popular in the U.S.; his company printed almost five million cards a year by 1881.”
christmas-holly
Well, you get the idea. In my holiday release, A Warrior For Christmas, (also in audio now!) I journeyed farther back in early America to the colonial time period and the holiday celebration in a wealthy household. However, the hero, a former Shawnee captive, would rather return to his adopted people in the colonial frontier.
Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.
Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~
***A Warrior for Christmas is available from all major online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Christmas Bells“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens
And God bless us everyone. ~

from Beth

English Toffee is one of those things that everyone has a particular preference for. Thick Toffee vs thin Toffee, blanched almonds vs regular, chocolate on one side vs chocolate on both. I like my Toffee thin, blanche almonds, chocolate on both side and it's even better when the toffee is in Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream. Yeah, I hear those sighs.

I received a box of English Toffee from my friend, Jennifer Kost, in my freshman year of high school (1972) along with this recipe. It is my opinion that this is the best recipe I have in my recipe box. I have made it every year since.

We've long since grown up, married, had kids, but we still keep in touch. I don't know why she and I never played in the kitchen, but one of these days, I think I may just surprise her and do just that.

Hey Jen, don't be surprised if I show up on your door and make you play in the kitchen with me. It's on my bucket list!

Ingredients:

1 cube butter
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons corn syrup

Frosting:

1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped almonds (divided)

In a heavy pot, cook first five ingredients (butter, nuts, sugar, water, corn syrup) to 290 degrees (hard ball).
Pour into a foil lined cookie sheet.
Using a rolling pin roll thin, to about 1/8” thick and let harden.
In a microwavable bowl, melt chips, as 30 second intervals, until melted.
Frost immediately and sprinkle 1/8 cup of nuts on top.
Let chocolate harden, flip, repeat on the other side.
Break apart when chocolate sets.

Enjoy!

Deb

Main Street Evening Christmas Bash

Posted by Mona Risk | 5:30 AM | 3 comments »

The Authors on Main Street would like to invite you to their Main Street Evening Christmas Bash that will take place today, Thursday, December 19, 2013, from 3pmEST to midnight at

 https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsofMainStreet

We are excited about spending fun time with you. We have planned activities, songs , games and prizes, even two Amazon cards of $25 and $50. We hope to have you visit with us to all get in the holiday spirit
feeling excited.



Presenting the 11 authors of CHRISTMAS ON MAIN STREET.
Have you read any of their books?

The Christmas Wish by Tori Scott. Page-turning stories from the Heart of Texas.
Her Christmas Cruise by Mona Risk. Around the world through Stories that Simmer with Emotion and Sizzle with Passion.
A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming by E. Ayers, Writing the Romantic Slices of Life.
The Christmas Con by Jill James. A little Sweet. A little Sexy. A lot Happily-Ever-After.
Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas by Stephanie Queen. Zing of Excitement; Zap of Wit; Long-lasting Zip of Feel Good.
The Christmas Gift by Pepper Phillips. Southern stories with a Touch of Heart.
A Potters Wood Christmas by Leigh Morgan. Strong Women, Strong Hearts
A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes. Sweet with a Touch of Heat.
A Light in the Christmas Cafe by Kristy Tate. Romantic stories laced with Humor, Mystery and a hint of Magic.
What if...this Christmas by Kelly Rae. Love really is all there is!
A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol DeVaney. It’s Love and the Little Things that matter.

Again, see you on  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsofMainStreet  at 3pm EST