Thursday, December 22, 2022

Holiday Entertaining

 Holiday Entertaining



The week before Christmas and lots of holiday guests!  This week we had get togethers with friends we had not seen in a long time...and we had a wonderful visit.  

First up was brunch with retired teacher friends and their spouses.  We like to get together every few months, but due to that darn Covid it has been over a year since we gathered.  

I love to have guests for brunch...everyone likes brunch food and it is easy to prepare ahead of time.

Table for 6 set with Pfaltzgraff Christmas Heirloom - which is not discontinued but luckily I have LOTS of plates and accessories due to the Pfaltzgraff Outlet that used to be here in Lancaster and York, PA.  Sadly...those great stores are gone.

I used a little Santa ornament from Dollar Tree for each place setting and everyone was delighted to take the ornament home for their tree.

Centerpiece was a bowl and plate I found at a Goodwill several years ago - I just used some greens and ornaments to make it festive.

We used to have 12 of these matching glasses...over the years they became chipped or broken, so we are down to 7.  I am going to have to scour the thrift stores in the area for more as they are asking an high price for them on Ebay.
A mimosa station set up with both champagne and sparkling cider...

Cookies at the ready...


I like to set up a coffee and tea area as some people like something warm to drink when they arrive.
A simple menu...
I made French Toast Casserole, purchased the quiche from Costco, and made my favorite muffins.

This is the French Toast before I popped it into the oven.  I forgot to take photos of the process, but it is SUPER easy.
I have the recipe for years...in 1973 there was  book called 
The Total Woman. It was a "how to be a good wife" book and it was a hoot to read.  But...the author, Maribel Morgan, wrote another called The Total Woman Cookbook in 1980.  I was working in a library at the time and saw the book...and this recipe.  Been making it ever since!

French Toast Casserole  Serves 6  to 8
1 loaf of French or Italian bread
8 large eggs
3 cups milk ( I use milk and that sugar free sweet Italian creamer)
4 teaspoons of sugar ( when I use the creamer I do not use sugar)
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
Cinnamon
Grease a 13x9 pan.  Cut bread into 1 inch thick pieces and arrange in one layer on bottom of pan.  I cut as many as I can and try to squeeze them in without squeezing too much. Beat eggs with remaining ingredients except butter and cinnamon.  Pour over bread in pan.    Dot the top of each piece with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cover with foil and refrigerate 4 - 36 hours.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until puffy and light brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.   Top with hot maple syrup and serve with bacon or sausage.

This is great for guests as you can make it way ahead of time!

The next day we had friends we had not seen for several years come for lunch.  I used the same dishes, but changed up the tablecloth to placemats and used different ornaments. I planned to use the rest of the fruit salad I served the day before, and made baked Monte Cristo sandwiches.  They were great...I will post the recipe the next time I make them and remember (???) to take some photos.

These little JOY ornaments are also from Dollar Tree and they were a big hit.  
Both days I used my "good stainless" - a wedding gift from my dear Aunt Mamie - I don't remember the name of the Oneida pattern, but she purchased service for 12, along with iced tea spoons, the extra serving pieces, and carving set.  

It was a JOY to have these friends as company...and we felt blessed to share the time together.
It has been a busy week with company, taking friends to the airport, and traveling to visit family....so now, I am dreaming of a white Christmas.  I don't think the white will run out, and today for lunch we will have leftovers  - including leftover mimosas!!!
And then...watching the weather.  Don't know if we will get snow, but it is going to be ugly everywhere.  I am still 4 books short of my 2022 Goodreads goal...so it's tea, cookies, mimosas, and a few good books.  Tomorrow we start to prepare for Christmas Eve.
To everyone who reads this...thank you for visiting Our New Vista.  Hope you are having a great time getting ready for the holidays...enjoy the process and the people.
Merry Christmas !


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Snowman Cookies

 


Snowman Cookies

I posted these cookies back in 2017...but thought there might be some people who did not see that post, so it was worth sharing again.  I have been making these snowman cookies since I found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1986.  They are a favorite of family and friends.

Recipe
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups of sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract

Hershey Kisses
Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Mini chocolate chips
Decorator icing ( I use a purchased tube)
Powdered sugar...for the SNOW!


In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.





Add sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, almond, and coconut extract and beat well. 







Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture beating well after each addition.  


Cover, and chill overnight...or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.
For each snow person, shape the dough into 3 balls...one 1 inch, one 3/4 inch, and one 1/2 inch.   After a bit you get the feel for the size and it goes quickly.

Use the mini chocolate chips to make eyes and buttons...and push the three sections together slightly to make them bake together.  I also try to flatten the top of the head to make the candy caps easy to attach.
Bake in a 325 degree oven about 18 minutes until the edges are firm and the bottoms are light brown.  Cool one minute on cookie sheet then remove to rack.

With decorator icing add a cap to each snowman...kisses look like girls and the peanut butter cups look like boys ski caps.  I cut the peanut butter cups in half so they attach easily.
Then take the icing and make a scarf and a little pom-pom for each hat...and sprinkle with powdered sugar "snow".
I put them in airtight containers between layers of wax paper...and I freeze them, too.  You can make them early in December and freeze to take out when you need some.

People LOVE them....many friends tell me that they love biting the kiss or peanut butter cups off the top!

I am making these this afternoon....did the cut out cookies already.  They will be making some spritz, gingerbread people, and a few others.  I love to give cookies as a gift. And...my mother was a great baker and always made TONS of Christmas Cookies.  To me, it just is not the holidays with out some homemade cookies!
Are you making cookies this year ?  What is your favorite ?  Please leave a comment below - I love hearing from you !
Happy Baking !




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