Way-Back Advent Calendar: Holiday Foods

This recipe of my grandma’s for Cocktail Meat Balls can be used any time of year, but I associate them with winter-time parties, especially around Christmas, New Year’s and the Superbowl. I need to figure out a way to make them without eggs (due to an allergy), because I love these things. She claims this recipe makes 65 servings. That’s not 65 Missy-size servings, I can tell you. Thanks to my Aunt Dorrie for letting me scan this.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Mom’s Fried Flounder Plus a Tale of Soggy Spinach & Childhood Angst

This post also is available at my food blog, Freezer Full.

When I was little, my mom made fried flounder. A lot. And she always served the same thing with it. Soggy, boiled, previously frozen spinach that no amount of “Real Lemon” juice from a plastic bottle was going to save.

I hated flounder night.

I avoided the fish for years. Then, one night in my twenties, I had an epiphany. Flounder didn’t have to be served with spinach! I called mom to tell her about my discovery and asked for her fried flounder recipe.

Mom’s Fried Flounder (this is how I wrote it down during our phone conversation)

coating of flour w/salt & pepper
egg white w/water

coat one hour before

canola oil and butter or corn or olive (I’m sure I asked her, “But what if I don’t have canola oil?” Personally, I wouldn’t use olive oil)
1/2 in. thick in non-stick pan
enough heat for flour to sizzle nicely
1-2 filets at a time
serve with lemon

Tonight, I added Old Bay to the flour instead of salt and pepper. I coated the fish in the egg white-water mixture before dredging in the flour mixture. Then I let it sit in the fridge for a while before finishing the dish pretty much as described above (I used just canola oil in the pan). I fried the flounder for 2 minutes on each side and then patted the excess oil off with paper towels before putting it on the plate.

Instead of spinach, I served roasted broccoli and roasted potatoes. The broccoli was really, really good. I’m just glad I checked on it early because it was done in the oven in less than 10 minutes (the broccoli I bought at the farmer’s market is way more delicate than what you find at the supermarket).

For the roasted potatoes, I just washed some small potatoes (also from the farmer’s market), dried them and cut the larger ones so they were all the same size in the pan. I tossed them in olive oil and Old Bay and popped them in the oven with the broccoli. They did take 25 minutes. I cooked the fish during the last five minutes.

Voilà.

My All-Time Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe

This is post #8 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Okay, so I got the appetizer out of the way. Now, I’m skipping straight to dessert.

One Christmas about a decade ago, while visiting my mom, I pored over her cookbooks, recipe cards and magazine clippings for the dishes I loved so much growing up. I was finally out of college, with a kitchen I could cook in, and I was desperate to recreate many of those dishes on my own.

Among the recipes I copied down were several for cookies. Chocolate chip cookies were the standard throughout the year at our house growing up, but at Christmas… Oh, at Christmas. That’s when all the special recipes were made — gingerbread men, chocolate butter cookies (for the cookie press), peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s Kisses on top, molasses cookies, pfeffernüsse (literally, pepper nuts), almond crescents, we made them all.

My all-time favorite holiday cookies always mesmerized me as a child, the way the powdered-sugared crusts of the cookies would split and crackle, revealing the dark chocolate yumminess inside. And all of this was topped with a nonpareil (Now, how do you pronounce that? Non-peril or Non-pair-eye?).

I so wish I had a picture of these cookies. Hmmm… might just have to bake some, so I can take some pics. That’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make for you, my readers. In the meantime, imagine these with these on top.

Here is the recipe for Sugar-Coated Chocolate Cookies:

Ingredients:
1/2 c. butter
3 1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
2 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 pkg. nonpareils

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (F). Melt the butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat; combine the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl; add the chocolate mixture, eggs and vanilla; mix until smooth (will be thin). Cover and chill for 2 hours. Roll into 1-inch balls and roll these in the powdered sugar. Bake 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets for 10-12 minutes. Press one nonpareil onto each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven.

12/29/2009 UPDATE: Picture now available! Just baked a batch of these with my sis:

My All-Time Fave Holiday Family Recipe

This post/recipe is my contribution to the GeneaBloggers 2009 Holiday Recipe Cookbook.

My all-time favorite holiday family recipe has earned me quite a rep among those I’ve met at the parties to which I’ve brought these tasty appetizers (actually, I’m now required to bring these to most tailgates, showers and other gatherings). Good thing they couldn’t be simpler.

Some of my earliest memories of family gatherings feature these Sausage-Cheese Balls (alternatively dubbed Cheesy Poufs, Snausage Balls and Cheesy Sausage Nums Nums, by those who have had them).

Below is my mom’s hand-written recipe card containing the recipe, which has an (almost) embarassingly small amount of ingredients and work involved. They can be incredibly messy to mix together, but the end result is well worth going through all that.

I have made these with turkey sausage for those who don’t favor pork and they have come out splendidly. They are practically impossible to mess up. Too much Bisquick and you just end up with cheesy, sausagy biscuits instead of balls. No problem! Play it off like that’s what you meant to make all along.

I believe that one of my aunts came across this recipe when she lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Our family has enjoyed them ever since.

Treasure-Chest Thursday

Some of my most treasured possessions are the hand-written recipes my mom and grandma left behind. I miss them both terribly, but can bring back wonderful memories of them by cooking their recipes. I recently started scanning many of these recipes into Creative Memories Memory Manager software, to make sure I’ll always have a copy. This has allowed me to start a digital cookbook in CM’s Storybook Creator software as well. I’ll be able to share this cookbook both online and in print form with friends and family when I’m done. If you’re interested in seeing my cookbook or learning how to create your own, please contact me!

Flank Steak Marinade