The last column of the year

This past year has been, on the whole a great year. I’ve managed to get my columns in on time, even when my computer was down, and the library was the place to go! Luckily the staff is used to seeing me, and when I managed to have copy that was typed, they helped me send it as an attachment, and otherwise, they just helped me get my act together and gave me room to work. They are an awesome bunch of people, and our librarian has all sorts of activities planned for us, including making a coffee cup, doing a painting, and the material to make a plaque with flowers on it. They have a Cri-cut and believe me; those ladies know how to use it!
What can I say; another year has gone down the tube? All in all, 2021 was better than 2020, as we at least got to be out and about a little more, even if we did still have to mask up sometimes, and that was a help, especially to some of us older folks. We still have to wear a mask when we’re at the hospital and they still have stations for us to check in, but we do it!
As far as the weather in 2021 especially early in the year, it was horrible, and hopefully we don’t have another winter such as that one! I came home from a weekend out of town in March to find my water turned off. The plumber had been replacing outside faucets when I left and thankfully, he noticed a problem around the west side of the house and left my water off, if he hadn’t my home would have been totally flooded, as it was, when we turned the water back on, that it ran out of my ceiling and also another location in the kitchen. It took a few weeks to get it all straightened out, my kitchen has been pretty much totally remodeled. I’m sure I told you in a previous column, this included removing everything from my pantry and cupboards and using my dining room table as a pantry for a few weeks, the ceiling being torn out up to the rafters and the floor being replaced. However, I’m thankful it wasn’t as bad as it was first thought to be. After that issue was solved, my life pretty much returned to normal, more or less.
The ensuing months seem to have flown by, summer came and went and I felt as if I never got to see spring time, now, Christmas is actually over, but since it fell on a Saturday, there is still one more family group to celebrate with. All four of my children were with me on Christmas Eve, and we had a great time together. Since my daughters were here during the day with their spouses, we got a lot finished that I might not have succeeded in finishing without their help! The three little great-grands who were here had a wonderful time playing together and all in all it was a truly awesome day. Part of them left and went back to their homes after gift opening and visiting, late on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day the others left and I went to visit with my sister for a while, getting to see my nieces and great-niece as well. Truly a wonderful weekend! Now, it is Sunday afternoon, and time to get back to work!
Now, it’s time to decide if you are going to have a New Year’s Eve party.
As usual, you need to have at least an idea of how many people you are going to invite. And, as always, remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. (At a recent party, the one lady wanted to make sure her slaw was cold until serving time, and she brought a large bowl with ice in it and sat the dish of slaw down into it). This seemed to work very well.
For dips and such, you might consider placing ice in one of the deeper disposal aluminum pans, filling it with ice and setting the bowls of dip down into it, or, a larger bowl filled with ice with a smaller dip bowl sitting in it. Cheese balls are best at room temperature; just don’t leave them out over a couple of hours. If you are serving a hot cheese dip, serve it in your crock-pot. Available now, are smaller slow-cookers that are made for serving dips and such.
Here are a few recipes to try for your party!
Chalupa Dip
Mix together the following and spread in a 9×12 glass-baking pan or on a large sandwich tray:
1 or 2 cans refried beans
1 package taco seasoning mix
Mix together and spread over the above:
3 large avocados
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 very finely minced clove of garlic
Mash avocados with fork or potato masher; add lemon juice and garlic or use commercially made guacamole if desired
Mix together and spread over the above:
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup picante sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Top this mixture with the following in order listed:
1 small head of finely shredded lettuce
3 sliced green onions
1 can sliced black olives
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheese
You can also add a layer of diced tomatoes after the lettuce if desired.
Good Seasons Dip
2 packages (8-oz each) cream cheese at room temperature
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope Good Seasons salad dressing mix (garlic or Italian)
Beat chest and mayonnaise together; add the Parmesan cheese and salad dressing mix; mix well. Let stand for several hours to blend flavors. Serve with crackers or bread rounds.
Hot Broccoli Dip
1 package frozen, chopped broccoli
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup boiling water
1 small, chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 roll garlic cheese spread (6-oz)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Tabasco, etc.)
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
Add salt to water, cook broccoli. Drain well. Melt butter in skillet and sauté onions until limp Add soup, cheese, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Cook on low heat until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Add broccoli and cook 1 minute, stir in mushrooms. Serve in chafing dish with tortilla chips.
French Dressing Dip
1 package cream cheese (8-oz)
1/3 cup Kraft® French dressing
2 tablespoons catsup*
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons very finely chopped onion
Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat or stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. 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 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, or a package of the tiny ready-to-use shrimp from the freezer case. Thaw thoroughly and pat dry before using.
Dried Beef Dip
2 blocks cream cheese (8-oz each)
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (do not substitute salad dressing)
1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced onions
1 jar (or packet) Armour® dried beef
Beat cream cheese until smooth, add sour cream and mayonnaise and stir until smooth. Finely dice dried beef (I have found it works really well to chop using a small food processor). Stir in remaining ingredients; chill several hours or overnight for flavors to blend. Serve with Triscuit® type, wheat crackers or Melba rounds, or use the following bread rounds.
Bread Rounds
1 or 2 packages hot dog buns
1 or 2 sticks melted butter or margarine
Seasoned salt or fajita seasoning (without tenderizer)
Garlic powder and onion powder
Slice the buns crosswise into 8 to 10 slices each. Place slices in rows on a large baking sheet, (if you used 2 packages, you will need two or three baking sheets), brush with the melted butter or margarine. Lightly sprinkle with any or all of the above seasonings. Most generally, I sprinkle them with the fajita seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder, then a little seasoned salt or paprika for color. Be careful if you use garlic salt or onion salt rather than powder, it is really easy to get them too salty. (If you want them a little spicy, sprinkle very lightly with some cayenne pepper). Bake at 200º for about an hour or until they are dried and crisp.
Carol’s Delicious Spicy Pretzels
1 package (15 or 16-oz) pretzels
½ cup cooking oil
1 package ranch dressing mix
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper* (I used about that much Tone’s chili powder)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Pour oil over pretzels with tossing lightly to coat all. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl and sprinkle over the oiled pretzels. (I sprinkle about 1/3 of the mixture over the pretzels and toss lightly to coat, then repeat 2 more times, gently tossing or stirring to distribute mixture evenly. Bake at 200ºF for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Some of the spices will come off and fall to the bottom of the pan and they will scorch if you aren’t careful. *I have used as much as 1½ teaspoons cayenne, depending on how spicy you want these pretzels. Most people seem to like it best with 1 tsp.