It’s over for another year

The weather this past week has been a doozy. I went from mild and balmy to totally icy in just a couple of days, and Texas isn’t in nearly as bad a shape as many of the northern states. The temperature here at my house was a very cool 17ºF, on Friday morning. None of my pipes were frozen mostly due to all the work that was done a couple of years ago. The only problem I encountered was that I had hot and cold water all over the house except the kitchen, it had only hot water! That worked OK as the RO system was working fine. Finally, around 3:30 in the afternoon when the sun was on that side of the house, the pipe thawed out and I had water again. I went out and checked and the pipes were well wrapped. Needless to say, on Friday night, that faucet stayed on with just a fine trickle of water.
This Christmas started out as being a very quiet one, that didn’t last for long! We are actually celebrating on Monday and what began as a small get-together mushroomed into being about 15 to 18 people! As it turns out, I will probably have all four of my children and their spouses, two or maybe three of my grandsons and their families and several friends of the family. We will be serving Mexican Food, as it’s something fairly simple and goes a long way.
Saturday evening, I will go to church in town with my sister and her husband, and then we will go to her house for supper and exchanging of gifts. It will be just the three of us and it has become our tradition, as we have done it almost every year since I’ve been here! We enjoy it so much. For several years, we went to the little country church for Midnight Mass, but since Covid, all Christmas Eve Masses are in town.
Are you planning a get-together, open house or party for New Year’s Eve? If you are, here are a few recipes for dips and some cheese balls if that is what you care to serve.
Italian Dip
2 blocks cream cheese (8-ounce size)
½ cup sour cream (if desired)
1 package Good Seasons® Italian, Zesty Italian or Garlic dressing mix
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Beat cream cheese until smooth, beat in sour cream (if used), add dressing mix and Parmesan cheese. Stir together until well mixed.
Chalupa Dip
2 cans (16-ounce size) refried beans (your choice, with or without jalapenos)
1 package taco seasoning mix
3 large avocados (or a package of ready made guacamole)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup picante sauce (mild medium or hot)
3 to 4 cups finely shredded lettuce
2 small tomatoes, diced and drained well
4 or 5 green onions, sliced thinly, including tops
1 can sliced ripe olives
2 cups shredded Longhorn style cheese or Monterrey Jack cheese
Mix taco seasoning into the refried beans. Spread into a 9×12 clear glass baking dish or onto a large sandwich tray with sides (10 to 12-inch glass cake plate with sides about ½ inch deep). Mix together the avocados with the juice and garlic to make guacamole or spread the package of ready-to-eat guacamole over the beans. Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise and picante sauce, spread over the avocado mixture. Top with remaining ingredients in order listed. Chill before serving. Serve with tortilla chips
Hidden Valley Ranch Cheese Ball
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup milk
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
8-ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package cream cheese (8-ounce)
Toasted almonds or pecans, very finely chopped.
Mix together milk, mayonnaise and dressing mix. Set aside. Have cheese at room temperature for at least one hour. Beat cream cheese thoroughly with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in shredded cheese and dressing mixture. Pack into small bowl which you have lined with plastic wrap. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes. Lift out of bowl with plastic wrap and shape into ball. Roll in chopped nuts.
French Dressing Dip
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Kraft French Dressing
2 tbs. catsup*
2 tbs. mayonnaise
2 teaspoons very finely chopped or grated onion
Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then beat in the French dressing, catsup, mayonnaise and onion until well mixed. Chill before using to allow flavors to blend. Serve with chips.
This is a very good basic dip that also makes a great shrimp dip. *For shrimp dip, I added about a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and in place of the catsup, I used an equal amount of the bottled chili sauce and added a couple of teaspoons of prepared horseradish. For shrimp dip, drain and rinse a small can of shrimp, dice finely and stir in with the rest of the ingredients.
Dill Pickle Cheese Ball
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided use
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup finely chopped dill pickle, or ¼ dill pickle relish
1½ teaspoons pickle juice
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
4 to 5 slices bacon cooked and crumbled (thin sliced bacon)
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; then add the remaining ingredients until well combined and shape into a ball.
In a shallow bowl or plate, mix the bacon, cheese and fresh dill, and roll the cheese ball in this mixture until well coated. Chill before serving.
(Make ‘mini’ cheese balls, about ¾-inch in diameter; roll in the mixture and use a pretzel stick in each one to serve. (They need to be one-bite size, I made mine the size of a walnut and they were too big and my friends ended up having to spread them on chips).
Here’s wishing all my friends and readers a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. God bless you and be safe if you’re traveling!