Spring Recipes

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!

May has arrived!  Beautiful flowers and refreshing showers are evident of God’s great creations. When Azaleas (or bah-zale-yahs as one of my granddaughters calls them) bloomed in April I took a picture of mine that has grown very large over the thirty-plus years since my sweet husband and I planted them beside the gazebo he built for our wedding. I have never been much of a gardener, and I envy though with green thumbs.  I’ll stick to my white thumbs, as in baking, and admire the handy work of God through the talents and skills of others.

Decorated bakeAnother birthday was celebrated at our family Easter lunch.  This one was for my oldest granddaughter who wanted a Rainbow cake.  She drew several pictures of rainbows to make sure I got the colors of the 6-layer cake in order. My first attempt making Swiss Meringue Buttercream was successful, however, my 2nd, 3rd and 4th attempts were not!  I was so disappointed having just enough of the first batch to frost between the layers and crumb coat the cake. Two pounds of butter later, I opted for a whipped cream frosting of pink and white.  Some sugar butterflies were place on it for a beautiful finish. The traditional lighting of the candles and singing was followed by helping the birthday girl make the first cut of her cake revealing the colored cake layers. We all missed celebrating my sweet husband’s birthday that would have been in early May.  What a photo that would have been with all of his grands, especially the little ones, helping him blow out his candles!  His cake request would have been either Peanut Butter or German Chocolate.

31E9s8nv95LThere has been several overwhelming days/nights as I pray and wait on God’s answers for my future and guidance in making wise decisions. As humans, we naturally try to handle all of our life issues and drive ourselves crazy worrying about how to solve them ourselves. It is hard for us to “Let Go and Let God”.  I’m no exception to this fault.  My life was turned upside down when my sweet husband was sick and then passed away.  So much to try to handle on my on without him here to be my voice of reason, as he was throughout our marriage.  I am reminded of the song “Press On” sung by the christian group, Selah.  The chorus is, “In Jesus name, we press on. In Jesus name, we press on. Dear Lord with the prize, clear before our eyes.  We find the strength to press on.” So this I will do…press on and follow the whispered answers the Lord has sent to me.

The end of the school year is upon us, and hectic as usual.  My students and I have enjoyed a few global cuisine recipes including Crepes, Soft Pretzels, Churros, Empanadas and Cottage Pie (Sheppard Pie made with ground beef).   I have included a few of these hoping you will enjoy them, too.

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Soft Pretzels

Crepes

Cottage Pie

 

Easter Memories

Hello Everyone!

Easter Egg HuntEaster was this past Sunday, and as most, we had a special sunrise service at our church.  How wonderfully blessed I am to be able to worship and remember the ultimate sacrifice our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for all of us.  I hope you and your family attended an Easter Service, too.  I am sure many new Easter frocks were worn and eggs and candy were in abundance. I can hear my grandmother singing the Easter Parade song, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Many probably participated in a church breakfast and/or family lunch, as was the plan for our day. Egg hunts (more like eggs just scattered all over the lawn) for the little ones took place as the adults cheered them on to “find” the plastic eggs with treats hidden inside. Lots of photos were taken and games were played, including croquet. However you celebrated Sunday, I hope you enjoyed and remembered the real reason the day is celebrated.

Last Easter (along with most other holidays and celebrations) was odd without my sweet husband. We were married on Easter weekend and always made it a point to celebrate our anniversary with dinner out, a trip to the beach, or a cruise like we took for our honeymoon and a few more milestone years following. The last cruise we took was in celebration of our 35th Anniversary. He was so proud and excited to tell me he had booked it himself…a suite with a balcony!  This year would be our 40th Anniversary.  I am blessed to have spent most of those years together, and that is a great testament to our love for each other. It is hard not to miss your best friend and soul mate.  Much “rain” has fallen along with the April showers. Without a doubt, we would be on a cruise in a suite with a balcony right now.

This year, the timing was off for my class to make and sell our hand-made and decorated peanut butter eggs. Our Spring Break came the week before Easter. The annual sale of 500+ of the confections preceding Easter was just not possible.  Many of our customers were disappointed, however my students were not. One class made a few batches, dipped them in chocolate and decorated them for both classes.  When we first started making the Peanut Butter Eggs years ago, I remember having some of the filling left over and bringing it home to make a few for my sweet husband who LOVED peanut butter eggs.  They were shaped and placed on the island in my kitchen to dry overnight so I could dip them.  He had already left for work early that morning before I came into the kitchen only to discover some were missing!  I called him to ask why he ate them before I finished them.  He replied that he had not eaten any of them. Puzzled, I turned around to see our Jack Russell and realized she had to have jumped up on one of the island chairs and helped herself to the missing eggs!  It was like she was giving me the, “I was just making sure they were fit for human consumption” look.  She was immediately banned to the yard for the day!

I am including the small recipe we have used for years to make the peanut butter eggs, though converted to make very large batches!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Peanut Butter Eggs

@ 16 1.4 oz. (@ 3 T.) Eggs before dipping in chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. Softened Butter (3 sticks)Peanut Butter Eggs
  • 3/4 c. Peanut Butter, Smooth or Crunchy
  • 1 T. + 1 1/2 t. Light Corn Syrup *Tip-Spray measuring spoons with pan spray before measuring
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package @ 20 oz. Candy Coating Chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Melts or Wilton Candy Melts
  • Royal Icing or Fondant Decorations

Procedure

  1. In a mixer bowl combine butter, peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar a couple of cups at a time to form a stiff dough-like filling.
  3. Line a sheet pan with waxed or parchment paper.
  4. Weigh 1.4 oz. or scoop 3 T. together of the filling.
  5. Roll each portion into a ball and then shape into an egg shape.
  6. Loosely cover with a paper towel and allow to air-dry overnight or several days. The more dry they are, the better for dipping.
  7. Melt chocolate per package instructions.
  8. Dip each egg in chocolate and return to waxed or parchment paper to harden.
  9. Carefully trim any excess chocolate from bottom of each egg.
  10. Place each egg in a paper cupcake paper cup.
  11. Decorate as desired.
  12. Store at room temperature.

 

Baking Blessings

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day/Evening with family, friends, spouse, or significant other!  My daughter bought me my coveted Whitman’s Sampler….and I devoured it promptly!  LOL.  My students and I made a special “Amore” lunch for our faculty and staff on Valentine’s Day serving 4 cheese baked ziti, garlic butter bread sticks, spring mix greens salad, and chocolate delight for dessert!  It was enjoyed by all, and they anxiously await the announcement of our next faculty and staff lunch! Great support for our program.

20190215_144016 (1)I was also blessed to have attended a European breads class at Trident Technical College in Charleston last week.  The chef and staff were awesome, and the breads were delicious!  I have included some pictures of the beautiful breads the attendees and I made during the 6-hour class. The breads include Ciabatta, Challah, Baguettes, Levain, and Focaccia. I enjoy baking so much that I registered for the next 3 classes too! It’s just a little something for me to do as my year gets better and better.  Praise God for listening to me, for answered prayers, for peace, and for happiness.  “I am patiently waiting, Lord, for Your plan for my life.”  Baking may be one of His answers!

My daughter is our “Almost Valentine Baby,” born on February 12 (also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday).  It was a cold, wet day similar to what SC is experiencing now.  With a pocket of dimes for the pay phone to call the relatives, it was just my sweet husband, doctors, and nurses for the delivery.  While I was in recovery, he walked down to Taylor Almost Valentine BabyStreet Pharmacy from the Baptist Hospital for a bouquet of yellow roses. He is pictured here with his baby girl: a very musically gifted, beautiful inside and out, NASCAR Racing, Clemson fan just like her Daddy. We were not able to celebrate until after her birthday this year, but we made up for it with her special lunch request of herb marinated pork loin with sauce, butterbeans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and of course, her birthday dessert choice, strawberry swirl cheesecake with chocolate dipped strawberries!  All my family, my mom and sister, gathered together to celebrate.

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Herb Marinated Pork Loin

@ 10 servings

Pork:

  • 4 lb. pork loin, trimmed (so @ 4 1/2 lb. before trimming)

Marinade:

  • 2 T. Italian seasoning
  • 2 T. granulated garlic
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 T. soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. honey (optional)

Sauce:

  • Pan drippings strained
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 1/2 c.
    Chicken broth/stock
  • 1 c. BBQ sauce (I use Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ)

Place the pork in a gallon freezer bag. Mix the marinade and pour over the trimmed pork, turning to coat. Polk meat with a fork all over to allow the flavors to penetrate some.  Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slip the pork into a baking dish/pan and pour the marinade over it. Cover with plastic wrap and then heavy aluminum foil. Bake @ 1-1 1/2 hours or until a minimum 145 degrees F internal temperature is reached.  Remove the foil and plastic wrap and brown the top of the roast, if desired. Remove dish/pan from oven, remove pork to a cutting board to rest and carefully drain & strain the pan drippings into a medium saucepan. Whisk in the cornstarch, chicken broth, and BBQ sauce.  Bring just to a boil to thicken, whisking to prevent scorching.  Slice the roast, put it back into the baking dish/pan and ladle the hot sauce over the slices.  Cool any leftovers and refrigerate.

 

Crumb Topped Macaroni and Cheese

@ 12 servings

Macaroni:

  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 lb. dry macaroni

Sauce:

  • 6 T. butter or margarine
  • 1/2 c. flour, plain
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. dry mustard
  • 1 T.  Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 c. milk, whole
  • 1 lb. (4 c.) shredded cheddar cheese (I use Velvetta Cheddar)

Crumb Topping:

  • 2 c. fresh bread crumbs (@ 4 oz or 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 1/2 T. butter or margarine

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small stockpot, bring water, oil, and salt for macaroni to a full boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (done, but still firm), drain, and put it back into the stockpot. In a large saucepan, melt butter for the sauce.  Whisk in flour, salt, and dry mustard to make a roux.  Cook, stirring for 8 minutes over medium heat-DO NOT BROWN.  The roux should be light in color.  Add Worcestershire Sauce and milk, whisking until smooth.  Cook until thickened.  At this point, you have made Béchamel Sauce. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon and stay firmly separated when you drag your finger though it.  This is called Nappe’.   Add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.  Remove from heat and pour over the cooked macaroni in the stockpot, stirring to mix.  Lightly spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or pan with pan spray.  Pour the macaroni and cheese into the prepared dish/pan.  In a mixing bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the macaroni and cheese.  Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly and the crumb topping is golden brown.  Cool and refrigerate leftovers.

Note: try this recipe with Gouda, Havarti, White Cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese.

 

4 Cheese Baked Ziti

@ 12 servings

Sauce:

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1-2 t. dry onion flakes
  • 44 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 8-10 oz. oz. tomato puree
  • 1 1/4 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1 t. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1 t. salt
  • Cheese mixture:
  • 12 oz. cottage cheese
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 t. dried parsley flakes (optional)

Ziti:

  • 12 c. hot water
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. oil
  • 12 oz. dry ziti

Topping:

  • 4 oz. shredded Provolone cheese
  • 1 t. dried parsley flakes

In a large saucepan, brown the ground chuck and onion flakes.  Drain.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, pepper, and salt.  Simmer, stirring occasionally while making cheese mixture and cooking pasta.  In a small stockpot, bring water, salt and oil to a boil.  Add ziti and cook until al dente.  Drain.  In a mixing bowl, combine cottage, Mozzarella and Swiss cheeses with optional parsley flakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or pan with pan spray.  Combine sauce, cooked ziti and cheese mixture together (this will look very questionable, but hang in there, it is delish when baked together).  Cover the dish/pan with plastic wrap and heavy foil.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove foil and plastic wrap.  In a small bowl, mix the shredded Provolone and parsley flakes together.  Sprinkle over the baked ziti.  Return to the oven to melt the cheese topping.  Cool and refrigerate leftovers.

 

Once Upon a Time…

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!

“Once upon a time…” is a game my granddaughters like to play while riding with me.  We all take turns adding to the story, and as you can imagine, their stories always include a mermaid or princess.  What fun and memories we are making!  The older three were with me this past weekend for some Nana spoiling.  The sleepover included running, squealing, laughing, playing, and ice cream cones.  I even took them bowling.  Yep, that’s right, I took them bowling by myself!  Adventurous, right?  None of this would princess-869721_960_720have been possible without my constant prayers for peace and God’s merciful grace answering those prayers.  I have faith that my life story will have a ” …. and she lived happily ever after” page.

My family, friends, and students have been happy to see me as I once was- energetic, confident, and “large and in charge!”  With two weeks of school left in the first semester, my tasks included finishing up quizzes, tests, and exams and a faculty/staff lunch.  The students stayed busy helping me freshen up the commercial kitchen for the new semester and preparing foods for practice labs.  Between the two classes, the students made Waffle Iron Brownies, Cinnamon Rolls, Buttermilk Biscuits, Chocolate Covered Strawberry or Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites, Shrimp Scampi, Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Remoulade, and Low Country Boil.  I bound their final projects: a cookbook complied of recipes used during the 18-week course. It was a proud moment for both the students and I when I handed each of them their own personal creation.  Most will keep this special memento for years to come and will use the prized standardized recipes.  Former students from my 18-year culinary arts instructing career still have theirs and keep in touch.  I thank God several times a day for this peace and renewed spirit that makes life enjoyable again after a year and a half of sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, and overcoming regrets.

So, let me share some of the recipes prepared by my students the past two weeks.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as they did.

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours.

 Chef Woods

Cheese Cake Bites

Yields 30-36

Tools and Utensils:

  • Gallon-sized plastic freezer bag or food processor with blade
  • Large metal spoon
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • ½ sized sheet pan
  • Waxed/parchment paper
  • Measuring spoons
  • Microwavable container
  • Fork

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sandwich cookies (30 large cookies)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8-12 oz. chocolate candy coating, (bark), melted
  • Garnishes (as needed):
  • Chopped nuts, sprinkles, melted white chocolate

For Chocolate Covered Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites: 

  • 20 oz. vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1.5 t. butter flavoring
  • 2 t. red food coloring
  • 10 oz. chocolate candy coating, (bark), melted

For Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bites: 

  • 1 lb vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 T. + 2 t. sugar free strawberry jello mix
  • 1 t. strawberry extract
  • 8 oz. chocolate candy coating, (bark), melted

Procedure:

  1. In a food processor or gallon freezer bag, crush sandwich cookies to make crumbs.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs and cream cheese to form soft dough.
  3. Line a half-sized sheet pan with waxed/parchment paper.
  4. Portion dough into 30-36 pieces with a tablespoon.
  5. Roll each portion into balls.
  6. Place formed dough on the waxed paper lined pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until firm.
  7. In a double boiler, or microwave, melt chocolate candy coating.
  8. Dip chilled cheesecake bites in the melted chocolate and place back on waxed paper lined pan.
  9. Sprinkle with optional chopped nuts or sprinkles before the chocolate hardens, or drizzle with melted white chocolate.
  10. Place the finished cheesecake bites in mini muffin papers.
  11. Refrigerate finished cheesecake bites in a covered container until ready to serve.

Waffle Iron Brownies

Tools and Utensils:

  • Waffle Iron
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Small microwavable bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ c. Flour
  • ¼ c. Cocoa
  • ¾ c. Sugar
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 T. Water
  • ½ c. Melted margarine
  •  1 t. Vanilla
  • Pan spray
  • Toppings:
    • Ice cream,
    • Chocolate or Caramel Syrup,
    • Powdered Sugar or Whipped Cream/topping,
    • Maraschino Cherries

Procedure:

  1. Preheat Waffle Iron to 350°
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, measure and combine flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, measure and combine eggs, water, melted margarine, and vanilla.
  4. Stir liquid ingredient mixture into the dry ingredient mixture, until smooth with a whisk.
  5. Lightly spray waffle iron with pan spray.
  6. Portion batter on the griddle, ¼- ½ c., depending on the size of your waffle iron.
  7. Bake the brownie batter for 1 minute or until firm enough to remove.
  8. Server warm with the suggested topping.

 

The New Year, a New Start

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

I hope you, your family and friends have had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was hectic, as usual, but odd at the same time.  We all knew something was missing, yet went through all the motions for our family, especially the children who did not notice our loss of happiness. I have tried to recall last Christmas, but it is pretty much is a blur.

By the time this is posted, we will have reached one year since the passing of my sweet husband on January 4. So much has happened in a year.  Through the good and bad times, trials and blessings, the one thing that remains unwavering is God.  He has never left me.  He has let me pour my heart out to Him on innumerable days and nights.  He has answered my prayers, allowed me rest and calmed my anxiety. I know the emptiness and uncertainty I have felt almost daily will part slowly like dark clouds that reveal the beauty of bright days ahead. God has a plan for my life and I am looking forward to opening my eyes and heart to His will. My faith and hope is for many changes, a new start, a new chapter and happiness.

Food brings happiness to many.  Sometimes it is a particular food that comforts us.  I like to think of the feeling you get from eating a comfort food as your “Ratatouille” moment.  If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the moment the food critic take a bite of the dish, Ratatouille, commonly know as a peasant dish made of root vegetables, was served.  One bite and he reminisced of his childhood and a version of this favorite dish made by his mother to comfort him. One of my comfort foods is Pound Cake, Chocolate Pound Cake, to be exact.  My great-grandmother “Doodle” made the best pound cake.  my grandsonThe texture was smooth and dense.  Lemon, AKA “Wemen” Pound Cake, as my grandson would say as a young child, (one of my favorite pictures of him).  It is still is his favorite.  We will celebrate his birthday in January with a family meal, most likely Nana’s Big Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread and, of course Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing Drizzle.

I have used several pound cake recipes using all butter, half butter and half Butter Flavored Crisco, and all Butter Flavored Crisco.  When I baked wedding cakes, pound cake was used for sturdy stacking of the decorated tiers. All butter will result in a shorter cake due to the amount of water in butter, while more height can be achieved with all Butter Flavored Crisco.  Pound Cake was named due to the ingredients being weighed by the pound.  The three pound cake recipes I have made the most are South American Pound Cake that uses all Butter Flavored Crisco, Lemon, Orange and Vanilla Extracts, Chocolate Pound Cake, and most recently, Million Dollar Pound Cake. Now don’t think I left out an ingredient when you read this recipe.  I thought so, myself the first time I made it.  It uses no chemical leavener; baking powder or baking soda.  The leaving comes from the half dozen eggs, a natural leavener.  The amount of milk is not a misprint either..  Go ahead and try this one and you’ll add it to your favorite recipes, also.

As your start the new year and resolve to lose weight by dieting, just remember, “It’s not what you eat, but how much of what your eat!”.

May God bless you and your family as he continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

 

Million Dollar Pound Cake

1-10″ Tube Pan

 

4 c.plain flour

3 c. sugar

1 lb. butter, room temperature

2 t. Lemon Extract (or your favorite flavor)

6 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 c. milk, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.,

Prepare the tube pan by greasing, flouring and lining the bottom with parchment or waxed paper (I call this” insurance”, as it insures the cake will come out of the pan!”

Sift flour and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and extract until light and fluffy.  This will take 3-5 minutes and when a small amount is rubbed between your fingers, does not feel grainy because the sugar has been dissolved in the fat (butter).

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth after each one.

Add sifted flour and milk, alternately, and then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Spoon and spread he cake batter evenly into the prepared tube pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Store the completely cooled cake at room temperature in an airtight container or the cake may be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

 

 

 

Reminiscing and Ginger Bread Houses

By Rhonda Woods

Oh, Christmas, you are only a few days away.  The children are excited for Santa to come.  Parents and grandparents are trying to find all the items on their sweet little lists. Some people go all out with decorations, while some, like me, keep it simple (barely getting the tree up). Secret Santa, playing the White Elephant gift exchange game (not sure where that name came from) and holiday music on every station.  Calendars are filled with special events, cantatas, drive through light shows, and of course, food…lots of food.  Pace yourself and forgo the fancy fitted frocks.  Opt for “eating pants”, as we say, you know the ones that allow a little room in the waist for “I just want a little taste”…of everything!

Last Christmas was the beginning of what I think will be a tradition in my family.  With my sweet husband in the hospital, I had no time to shop or even think about gift giving.  Talking about it, we decided to give each of our children and their spouses a set amount of money to purchase a special gift for themselves, and their children.  The instructions that came with the money was specific.  They must wrap their own gifts and place them under our tree to be opened on Christmas day in front of us, thus surprising us with the gifts they chose.  Worked great, but I must admit, with all that was going on, it was a blur.  Shopping has never been a favorite for me.  Hard to believe, right?  Now, keep in mind, I’m no Scrooge or Grinch, I just can’t seem to get into the “Christmas Spirit”, especially this year.

My mama was reminiscing about the foods we enjoyed on Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house as we were making our newer version of fruitcake last Saturday.  Now, Fruit Cake was something my mama and her grandmother made every year…early, like right after Thanksgiving! They would wrap them in cloth, place them in tins, and occasionally brush with some blackberry wine to “keep them moist”!  My sweet husband would say, “That’ll go good with my coffee in the morning”.   She told us about how they would go downtown in Columbia to Silvers on Main Street to purchase the candied fruits, not in the containers like today, but weighed by the clerk at the counter from bins. Mama also reminded us about the deli meats, cheeses, mustard, Kosher pickles and breads that were purchased from Groucho’s Deli in Five Points and served at my grandmothers house.  The food list went on describing things like celery stuffed with a cheese spread, olives, nuts, and deviled eggs.  We will honor her requests for all of these and more at our family Christmas gathering this year.

So, as we race through the last few day of school before Winter Break, my students are making Gingerbread Houses.  It’s a process and a lesson in patience.   Each one rolls and cuts the house parts from the cookie dough.  I bake them, and then the patience part comes into play when they assemble them using royal icing.  Each students customizes their house with a variety of candies and other edible decorations. I’m looking forward to seeing their final projects.

With limited time to spare these busy days, I have included a few quick and easy sweet treats, dips and spreads for you to try.  Merry Christmas Ya’ll!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Appetizers and Dips

Zesty Crab Cakes

Squares

Spinach Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade Sauce

Quick Fudge with Nuts

Pimento Cheese

Double layer fudge

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Orange Glazed Pecans

Countdown to Christmas (and Cookies!)

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!

The countdown to Christmas is officially on!  A lot to do, you know, like decorating my tree with new unbreakable ornaments, for the little ones.  Last year’s tree was thankfully assembled and decorated by my daughter-in-law and her mom.  I left the boxes in the middle of the den as my sweet husband’s health took that unforgettable turn.  He was admitted to the hospital the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Less than 3 weeks later, we would return home with the help of all our family, friends and hospice.  Countless prayers and tears.  Precious moments and memories were mixed with what none of us could be prepared for in the short time that followed.  So, with Christmas rapidly approaching, I need a giant umbrella for the imposing “rain”.

It was extremely important to me to have, what turned out to be, our last family photo with him.  I refused to take the tree down and was so sad to have missed the opportunity for the photo by Christmas Day.  As I was finishing preparing the traditional New Years Day lunch the phone rang.  It was my daughter saying she had arranged for a friend to come and take the photo I longed for.  The family arrived shortly afterwards, with the photographer friend in tow.  The boys helped my husband into a chair in front of the tree, and then the race was on to take the group picture and one with each family, as sitting up was becoming more difficult for him. Our last family photo is featured in this blog.  I know for some this would seem ridiculous and unnecessary, but not having that photo would have been a sad regret for all of us.

Family Photo

Cookies! Yep cookies!  My sweet husband loved all kinds of cookies.  He was the best taste tester of the tempting smells that wafted from my oven.  So, this is a great time to share some cookie recipes.  I believe baking can be therapeutic, and your house will smell wonderful without those cookie scented candles!  Bake and enjoy the smiles you will bring to people of all ages, especially during Christmas. Take time to make time for others.  You won’t regret it.

May God bless you and your family as He has continued to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Cookie Recipes

Blondies

Cheese Straws

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies-Std.

Cran-Cherry Cheese Bars

Lemon Bars

Magic Cookie Bars

Outrageous Brownies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites

Spiced Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

Wedding Cookies