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Season’s eatings: Try one of these tasty treats at your next holiday gathering

FRANKLIN LIVING—

The holidays are Amy Dolan McCollum’s favorite time to be in the kitchen, cooking up seasonal scrumptiousness. Although some traditional favorites are always on the menu – “I guess the one thing I love most about the holidays are the traditions,” McCollum said – she’s always trying the new craze that seems to be dominating the culinary scene right now: the charcuterie board.

“I am sharing my Christmas tree board in memory of my Grandma Dorothy Dolan,” McCollum explained. “Grandma had a Christmas tree farm in the East Franklin community for many years. I definitely miss being able to go cut a fresh tree at her farm.” Her take on the charcuterie board includes a little freshness to cut through some of those heavier holiday treats – broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, sliced bell peppers, dill pickles, red and green grapes and raspberries – along with meats and cheeses and accompanied by a dip.

Of course, a few family recipes are a must for Thanksgiving, including Mama’s Dressing and Rachel’s Sweet Potato Casserole. An apple cake with brown sugar frosting serves as a great dessert option to tempt anyone’s sweet tooth. Speaking of sweets, McCollum’s family also craves a few must-haves for Christmas: Aunt Doris’ Chocolate Candy, Froot Loop Candy and, for Christmas morning, chocolate gravy and homemade biscuits.

CHARCUTERIE TREE

Ingredients

  • Meats and cheeses: pepperoni, sliced string cheese for snow and sliced cheddar and provolone for stars and snowflakes
  • Produce: broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, red and green bell peppers, petite dill pickles, red and green grapes and raspberries
  • Carbs: pretzel rods and crackers, on the side
  • Accoutrements: Olives, ranch dip, mixed nuts
  • Garnish: rosemary

Instructions

  1. Start at the bottom of the board with the pretzel rods for the tree trunk. 
  2. Work your way up layering the ingredients, alternating colors.
  3. Use a star cookie cutter to make the tree topper with the cheese.   
  4. When you finish, put the sliced string cheese around bottom for snow.
  5. Ruck the rosemary into the sides to add texture to the tree.
  6. Serve with a side of Marshmallow Fruit Dip.

MARSHMALLOW FRUIT DIP

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese
  • Large container of marshmallow crème
  • Optional: 1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions: Mix ingredients until creamy.

NOTE: I like to add the 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Be sure all clumps are out of the brown sugar. 

CHOCOLATE GRAVY

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 Tb. flour
  • 3 Tb. cocoa
  • 2 Tb. butter

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, flour and cocoa. Whisk together to remove any lumps.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, heat milk and butter to the boiling point.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Remove from heat as soon as the ingredients are mixed and it is free of lumps. Be sure to stir constantly!
  5. If you like a thinner gravy, you can add more milk.
  6. Serve over hot biscuits.

SOUTHERN BISCUITS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily)
  • 3/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 2 Tb. butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Place flour in a large bowl.
  3. Using a pastry cutter or fork, work shortening into flour until crumbs are the size of peas.
  4. Add milk.
  5. Stir with large spoon just until flour is moistened.
  6. Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface.
  7. Gently roll dough with floured rolling pin until 1 inch thick.
  8. Cut out biscuits using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter or the rim of a cup.
  9. Place biscuits on a baking sheet with edges touching.
  10. Reform the scrap dough to make additional biscuits.
  11. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Remove from oven. Brush tops with butter.

AUNT DORIS’ CHOCOLATE CANDY

Ingredients

  • 24 oz. almond bark – chocolate or vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups dry-roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Stir frequently until melted. Do not scorch.
  2. Add peanuts and stir until all peanuts are covered well.
  3. Add marshmallows. Stir until completely covered.
  4. Be sure to add the marshmallows last so the chocolate cools and doesn’t melt them.
  5. Drop in miniature cupcake papers.

    NOTE: Great to box up in holiday tins and give as gifts!

FROOT LOOP CANDY

This Froot Loop Candy recipe was given to me by Martha Pace, a long-time Russellville elementary school teacher. She passed away in the 2011 tornado. She always had a Christmas party for us and made this delicious candy. Christmas isn’t the same without it.

Ingredients

  • 24 oz. white almond bark
  • 1 cup Froot Loops
  • 1 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish.
  2. Stir frequently until melted. Do not scorch.
  3. Add peanuts and cereal and stir until all peanuts and cereal are covered well.
  4. Add marshmallows. Stir until completely covered.
  5. Be sure to add the marshmallows last so the chocolate cools and doesn’t melt them.
  6. Drop in miniature cupcake papers.

NOTE: Great to box up in holiday tins and give as gifts!

APPLE SPICE CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 4 medium Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line bottoms of two greased 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper.
  3. Place apples in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.
  4. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  5. In another bowl, whisk flour, pie spice, baking powder and salt
  6. Gradually beat dry mixture into sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  7. Stir in apples and pecans.
  8. Transfer to prepared pans.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
  10. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.
  11. Remove paper. Cool completely.
  12. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, sugars, vanilla and pie spice until smooth.
  13. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.
  14. Gently press pecans into frosting on top of cake.
  15. Refrigerate any cake not eaten right away.

MAMA’S CHICKEN AND DRESSING

Ingredients

  • 1 fryer, cooked, boned and cut in small pieces (reserve broth)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Onion
  • 4 eggs, divided use
  • 8 Tb. butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups reserved chicken broth
  • 1 package Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, mayonnaise and chopped onion and set aside.
  2. Combine two eggs, melted butter, chicken broth and cornbread stuffing mix and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat remaining two eggs and milk.
  4. Spray large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. In bottom of dish, spread half of the stuffing mixture
  6. Layer on the chicken mixture.
  7. Add second layer of stuffing mixture.
  8. Pour egg and milk mixture over top layer of stuffing mixture.
  9. Refrigerate overnight.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Spread cream of chicken soup on top of casserole and bake for 45 minutes.

NOTE: If you don’t have time to boil and prepare an entire chicken, you can substitute chicken breasts and canned chicken broth.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Ingredients

For the casserole:

  • 2 40 oz. cans of yams, drained and mashed
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of milk

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Marshmallows
  • Pecans

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the casserole ingredients and pour into a casserole dish.
  2. Combine first three topping ingredients and pour over the casserole.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Top with marshmallows and pecans and bake until golden brown.

SAUSAGE PINWHEELS

Ingredients

  • 2 tubes of crescent roll dough
  • 1 lb. bulk pork sausage
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened, divided

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook and stir sausage in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and discard grease.
  4. Spread dough from one package of crescent rolls out onto a work surface and pinch perforations together to create a single sheet of dough.
  5. Spread half the cream cheese over the dough sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch margin all around.
  6. Sprinkle half the cooked sausage evenly over cream cheese.
  7. Roll dough up into a log, starting at a long edge.
  8. Wrap log in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  9. Repeat steps to make a second roll.
  10. Refrigerate rolls at least one hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Unwrap rolls and cut each into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place slices onto a baking sheet.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven until pinwheels are golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

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