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Serve a classic Christmas dinner

Santa has come and gone; now it's time to feast!

The house is decorated, the cookies are baked and now it's time to think about what to prepare for Christmas dinner. I'm convinced if the men in my family had to do all the cleanup, Christmas dinner might consist of takeout pizza served on Christmas-themed paper plates. But I think this is the perfect time to take out the beautiful china, the crystal and those family heirloom serving pieces, all arranged on your best tablecloth and with a stunning floral centerpiece and candles on the table. Merry Christmas!

Apricot-Glazed Ham

1 (5-lb.) fully cooked whole boneless ham

1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. cloves

2/3 c. apricot nectar

2 T. lemon juice

Place ham on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 325-degree oven for 1 1/4 hours or until meat thermometer registers 140 degrees (about 15-18 minutes per pound.) For the glaze, in a small saucepan combine brown sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in apricot nectar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Brush ham with glaze. Continue baking 15-20 minutes more, brushing occasionally with glaze. Serves 20.

Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits

1/2 c. warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

2 (1/4-oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast

1/2 t. sugar

7 to 8 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. milk, scalded and cooled to 110 to 115 degrees

1 c. canned pumpkin

1 c. packed light brown sugar

1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted

1 t. salt

2 t. ginger

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. ground allspice

1/4 t. ground cloves

Combine water, yeast and sugar in large bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Stir in 1 c. flour, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, salt and spices until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding a small amount of flour, if needed, to prevent sticking. Place in greased bowl; turn dough greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Lightly grease baking sheet. Punch dough down. Turn onto lightly floured surface; roll to 1-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter; re-roll leftover pieces and cut. Arrange biscuits 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet. Cover; let rise until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Yields 3 to 3 1/2 dozen biscuits.

Elegant au Gratin Potatoes

7 to 8 medium red potatoes (about 2 1/4 lbs.)

8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese

1 t. salt

1 pint (2 c.) whipping cream

1/4 c. soft bread crumbs

1 T. butter or margarine

Boil potatoes in jackets, cool; peel and shred using medium grater. Shred cheese with same grater. Butter a 2-quart casserole. Alternate layers of potatoes and cheese in casserole; sprinkle with salt. Pour cream over potato-cheese layers. Combine crumbs and butter; sprinkle over top. Refrigerate, covered. Bake, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven until heated through, 55 to 65 minutes. Yields 10 to 12 servings. Note: Can be refrigerated overnight and popped into the oven just in time for dinner. Variation: One (2-lb.) pkg. frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed, can be substituted for the red potatoes. Bake, uncovered, in a 350-degree oven for 65 to 75 minutes.

Christmas Green Salad

1 small head Boston lettuce

1 large or 2 small ripe pears (Anjou or Bosc work well)

4 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, cubed

1/2 c. walnut halves

3 T. olive oil

1 T. white wine vinegar

1/4 t. dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Pinch of dried marjoram

Pinch of ground cloves

1/2 pkg. (4-oz. size) alfalfa sprouts

A few hours before serving, wash and dry the lettuce. Tear into bite-size pieces; place in a plastic bag and chill. Chill the pears. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Toast the walnuts in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Shortly before serving, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to taste, marjoram and cloves in a small bowl. Place the lettuce and sprouts in a large salad bowl. Thinly slice the pears and add them along with the cheese and walnuts to the salad bowl. Drizzle on the dressing, toss gently and serve. Serves 4.

Green Beans Amandine

2 lbs. fresh green beans

4 T. slivered almonds

4 T. butter (1/2 stick)

2 t. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove ends of beans and slice lengthwise. Cook in salted water until tender. Drain. Cook almonds in butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over beans. Serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Amaretto Cheesecake

3/4 c. zwieback crumbs

2 T. butter or margarine, softened

1 c. sugar

2 T. flour

1/4 t. salt

2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened

3 eggs, separated

3/4 c. half-and-half

1/4 c. Amaretto

Combine crumbs and butter; press in bottom of buttered 10-inch springform pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Gradually beat sugar, flour and salt into cream cheese. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Gradually beat in half-and-half and Amaretto. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gently fold into cream cheese. Pour into crust. Bake 60 minutes. Turn oven off; leave cheesecake in oven 60 minutes longer. Remove from oven; cool on wire rack away from drafts. Refrigerate. Makes 12 to 16 servings.


2 qts. apple cider

2 c. orange juice

1 c. lemon juice

1 stick cinnamon

1 T. honey

1 t. ground ginger

6 whole cloves

1 1/2 c. pineapple juice

1 orange

In a saucepan combine all ingredients except orange and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain to separate spices and pour into a punch bowl. Garnish with orange slices. Serve hot. Makes 3 quarts.