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Monday, December 31, 2018

Universal Hour of Peace

Would it not be great to hear of no more war or strife in this world ?? One individual by the name of Dr. Barbara Condron planned the first Universal Hour of Peace on October 24, 1995. The day was the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and autumnal equinox. The following year and there after the day was moved.

Universal hour of peace is a day that was created as a simple step towards a war free world. This hour of peace is planned to occur between 11:30 p.m. December 31st to 12:30 a.m. January 1st.

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Slow Cooker Hoppin John

One tradition here in the United States is to have black eyed peas for New Years day. To me it is more than a tradition it is a must have. The legend behind having black eyed peas on New Years is that they welcome in good luck in the new year.

1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
4 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, undrained
2 (10-oz) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
3 cups beef broth
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tsp Cajun/Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 family-size package boil-in-bag rice, uncooked (about 1-1/2 cups uncooked)

Cook sausage in a large skillet until browned, about 5 minutes. (You can skip this step and the dish will be fine.)
Place sausage in slow cooker. Add black eyed peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, beef broth, onion, bell pepper, cajun seasoning, garlic, and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
Pour uncooked rice into slow cooker. Stir. Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.
*You may need to add water if the mixture is too thick.*

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Baking Soda Not Only For Baking

Most of us know at least one use for baking soda. Many of us may have heard of bicarbonate of soda. Some of us may know that they are one in the same. Yes, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are simply two names applied to the same item. Americans often refer to it as baking soda and in the UK and Australia it is often known as bicarbonate of soda.

There are many uses in the home that baking soda can be useful in. We all know that it is very useful in baking but here are a few more:

  • Use baking soda to clean your kitchen
  • Stop smelly trainers with bicarb
  • Soothe a sore throat naturally with baking soda
  • Use bicarb to kill weeds in your garden
  • Bicarb can help keep your carpets clean
  • Defrost your driveway in seconds with bicarb
  • Use baking soda to cure heartburn
  • Find relief from insect bites with bicarbonate of soda
  • Get your white laundry even whiter using baking soda
  • Make a natural mouthwash with bicarb

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Balsamic Vinegar +++ Recipe

Balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grapes pressed together results in a thick syrup like vinegar. The mixture is stored for an average of 12 years in several barrels as it reduces to smaller sizes. 

One way balsamic vinegar is used is in what is known as a Balsamic Reduction. It is rather easy to make a simple one that requires bringing 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil then lowering heat to a simmer until the vinegar is reduced by 1/4 cup. This reduction can be drizzled over just about anything from simple salads to cheese appetizers. Balsamic vinegar is also used as a dip for antipasto skewers and to accompany chicken breast whether grilled or baked. 

Other ways that Balsamic Vinegar reduction is used are:

  • Squirted over roast green beans and onions or other roasted veggie 
  • many fancy restaurants use the reduction to dress up  a plate by adding a design of sorts
  •  over caprese salad of sliced tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves
  • top sweet strawberries for a healthy dessert

Like most things Balsamic vinegar comes in a range of prices. The cheap imitation stuff as well as highly prized aged bottles can be found. The best reduction often is made from the lower end price of vinegar but make sure it is a decent quality that has no added ingredients. 

2 cups decent quality organic Balsamic vinegar 500ml
1 tablespoon organic brown sugar
1 dry pint strawberries washed and quartered

  1. In a small saucepan, place vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a strong simmer, add sugar, and reduce by half to one cup. Watch so it does not burn or reduce too far. Stir or whisk occasionally. Allow to cool. It will thicken further upon cooling. Place in a squeeze bottle or small jar with a tight fitting lid.
  2. If using the syrup to top strawberries, place washed and sliced berries in a bowl or wine glass and drizzle with syrup. Serve immediately.
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Champagne Salad

8 oz. Cream cheese softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 lg. can crushed pineapple drained
10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries thawed
2 bananas sliced
1 lg. carton whipped topping

Mix cream cheese and sugar.
In another bowl, mix other ingredients.
Combine the two and spoon into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap and freeze until solid.
Slice to serve.

recipe source 
Illinois Country Living

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Swedish Tea Ring

A tradition in our family is to enjoy a breakfast pastry on Christmas morn. When I was little this pastry was in the  form of a Swedish tea ring that my grandmother made. She made several of them each year to be delivered on Christmas eve to the homes of her friends and family in time for Christmas morn. Enjoy

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups very warm milk 120 degrees F
1 egg beaten
3 tablespoons butter softened
5 tablespoons butter softened
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
candied red and green cherries optional

In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm milk, egg and butter until well combined. Slowly add in remaining flour until the dough starts to come together. Change to your dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and allow to rise until double in a warm place. (About 25 minutes)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon for the filling of the tea ring, set aside. Lightly grease a large baking pan and set aside.
Punch dough down and roll out to a 20"x12" rectangle. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. With the long side facing you begin to roll up the dough into a long log. Seal the seam by pinching the dough together. Bring the ends together and pinch the dough together to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet seam side down.
Using a pair of kitchen scissors cut the dough in 1 to 1 1/2" sections around the ring be careful not to cut the whole way through. Gently pull up each section and give it a small twist and lay back on the pan. Cover and let rise until double.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Decorate with optional candied cherries. Also may drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze.

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Green Bean, Potato and Bacon #recipe

5 slices bacon
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced (any sweet onion may be substituted)
2 pounds fresh whole green beans, ends removed
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 pounds small red/new potatoes, halved
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

In a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to cool. Leave bacon fat in pan.
Add diced onion to the bacon fat. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until onion softens.
Add green beans, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir together. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Uncover sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt over beans. Arrange halved potatoes over the green beans. Dot tops of potatoes with cubed butter. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over top. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are done (fork-tender).
Stir to incorporate. Crumble the cooked bacon and sprinkle over top. Serve warm.

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Have Faith

As the new year will be here within just a short period of time, 2 days to be exact, I offer you a word that I believe I will carry through the new year. The word is Faith. It is a word that can make a difference in the life of us all. Having faith allows us to hold onto what we know is true as well as hope of what is to come. However , we must know where and what to place our faith in.

Faith is a choice that we make as we travel through out life. Faith is a choice for all of us to make each day but did you know that Faith was originally a gift from God??

We are all given faith but that is not enough. We must also hear the word of God to grow our faith as it will tested. We have all had those days when challenges appear that tries our faith.

For many of us the "what ifs" in life will challenge our faith. "What if we can not make it on our own" "What if I have the health challenges my parents did" what are your what ifs?? Have faith as the bible has a message from God that answers these what ifs:

God's perfect love protects each of us from our fears and doubts. We should allow faith to beat out our fear. By keeping our eyes on Jesus and having faith we can not only feel loved but we are loved

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Did You Get It All Done?? Don't Worry

You made it... The rush of Christmas is over and thinks hopefully are feeling a bit calmer. But there may still be those small little tugs inside your heart and mind that says that it is not truly over. Perhaps, this bit of news will help you just a bit.

December 29th is the day to complete the things you Still Need to Do. What was it you did not get done this year?? Was there a project you did not get completed?? YouTube may be able to help you here. How about getting the whole family in finishing up last minute projects. The kids can complete their own checklist that they need to complete or you can create a list of projects the entire family can do together. Activities like this can help the entire family come together for great experience as well

Still Need To DO Day is something that needs to get done. Getting started may have taken you a while but start today and get it done. After all what are you waiting for??

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Texas Joins The Union

In 1845 the Republic of Texas was annexed into the United States of America. December 29th would marke the completion of the Texas Annexation that admitted Texas to the Union as the 28th state. Prior to the annexation of Texas to the United States Texas had declared independence from Republic of Mexico on March 2nd 1836.

Popular vote was with joining the United States with most of Texas residents. This was not the case with major U.S. political parties of the Democrats and Whigs. They disagreed as Texas was a vast slave holding region and that they desired no war with Mexico. In the end it would be Sam Houston that would arrange talks with Mexico to discuss independence and that the United Kingdom would mediate the meetings.

The debate on making Texas a state would eventually be decided with power of office. The Democrats dominated the House o Representatives would pass the amendment bill to expand pro slavery provisions. The senate would narrowly pass the annexation allowing President Polk to immediately annex Texas. On December 29th 1845 President Polk accepted Texas as the 28th state of the Union. However, problems with Mexico loomed in the future with the Mexican American war.

By 1843 most of the eastern states would be established but the western half was still divided into territories. Because Mexico denied Texas to be its own territory war broke out. In the end General Lopez de Santa Anna would surrender to Sam Houston. After this it would be Spanish and Indigenous immigrants from North Eastern provinces of New Spain that would settle Texas during the 17th century. Missions would be constructed in East Texas and South Texas. During the early 1800s Anglo American immigrants would settle in the northern frontier for cotton production.

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Tic Toc Day

Only a few days til the year is over...

December 29 is Tick Tock Day The day is meant to finish up any old business of the year. Have all your goals for the year been reached. While it does not seem a lot of time to get it all tied up but these last few days can help revamp your dreams and goals to prepare for the new year. While the day may seem like a sad one it is truly meant to be just the opposite.

Tic Toc day is to help you prepare for the new year and complete the old year in a likeable manner. Some ideas to get this done include:

  • Make a list of all the goals and dreams you had for 2018 and check off the ones that were completed
  • On a seperate sheet of paper write down the goals that were not reached note the reason of why it was not reached
  • If you desire to reach these same goals in the new year then make a detailed reason of why you want it to be reached
  • Use these ideas to make a vision board for 2019 

Happy Tic Toc Day ,.... Take some time to make new goals and prepare the old ones to be reached 

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Battle or Massacre

December 29, 1890 was the date that destroyed the lives of many Lakota Indians. It was the battle of Wounded Knee other wise known as The Wounded Knee Massacre. The battle took place near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

In a manor to disarm the Lakota people the United States 7th Cavalry escorted the tribe 5 miles west  from their settlement Camp was made at Wounded Knee Creek The Indian people would be surrounded by cavalry and large guns as well. Stories say that while gathering guns one went off accidentally and the army began to shoot the Natives. Since the Lakota people had no guns after being disarmed they had no way to fight back.

In the end more than 150-300 men, women and children from the Lakota tribe had been killed. There was around 25 soldiers that also died that day. Ironically there were 20 or more soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for the event. In 1990 the United States congress passed a resolution expressing "deep regret" for the massacre.  In 2001 many years after the event the National Congress of American Indians organized and passed two resolutions that condemned the awards.

The battle site where the massacre took place is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Pepperpot Stew

Pepperpot is a dish that many will enjoy during the time of Christmas to New Year's Day.

One ingredient that helps a pepperpot with that special taste is Cassareep. Cassareep is a sauce base that is used in Caribbean dishes as well. The root of the cassava plant helps make this browning / thickening agent. Be careful as raw cassava juice contains a large amount of cyanide.

The tradition is for the pepper pot to sit in a lidded pot on the stovetop from Christmas day until New Years day. There is no worry about refrigeration or food poisoning. The pot is heated to a simmer daily. Pepperpots are said to help keep you healthy. It is also a great way to soothe a hangover when bread is dripped in the pepperpot mixture.

Want to try to make some of your own check this recipe out:

Stewing beef – 400g – all visible fat removed and cut into chunks
Red peppers -2 – deseeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
Sweet potatoes – 2 small – peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
Green beans – 200g – trimmed and halved
Garlic cloves – 2 – finely chopped
Jerk seasoning – 2 tbsp
Red wine vinegar – 1 tbsp
Sweetener – 1/4 tsp
Chopped tomatoes – 400g tin
Beef stock – 200ml
Worcestershire sauce – 2 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker
Stir well and cook on low for at least 8 hours
Serve with rice

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Happy Birthday Iowa

This day in U.S. history::::
On December 28, 1846 the state of Iowa was admitted to the United States as the 29th state.

The state was first visited by two white explorers in 1673. Jolliet and Marquette were the first two white people to arrive in Iowa. They were travelling via canoe down the Wisconsin River towards the Mississippi River and stopped on Iowa June 25, 1673.

Explorers Robert Cavelier and Sieur de la Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi River and claimed the entire region drained by the Mississippi for France. La Salle named the entire area Louisiana in honor of King Louis  XIV. However, in 1762 France would give control of the land west of Mississippi to Spain.

The Fox Indian tribe was in control of much of the land no matter who it belonged to In 1788 a French - Canadian Julien Dubuque was the first European settler to Iowa and was granted permission to mine lead in 1788. In following years hunters and trappers would settle there as well.

Iowa would change owners a few more times. First with Spain returning the land to France and then France selling the large area to the United States in 1803. You may have heard of the deal that took place between the U.S. and France it was known as the Louisiana Purchase. In addition, a famous expedition led by Lewis and Clark would lead the legendary Lewis and Clark Expedition through the area.

Iowa was first a part of Missouri when Louisiana became a state in 1812. It would be traders and hunters to bring people to the land in Des Moines, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Iowa was considered Indian land and was closed to settlers entering. However when Missouri became a state in 1821 Iowa would become a territory to its self.

The U.S. government forced many Indians to move from where they were into the Iowa territory. Chief Black Hawk refused to move and thus started a war in 1832. The Native Americans would be defeated and would lose more territory in Iowa along the Mississippi River as well. It did not take long for white settlers to move into the territory that the Indians had lost. Iowa would become part of the Michigan territory in 1834. Eventually in 1838 the Territory of Iowa would be created.

The large territory included all of Iowa, most of Minnesota and 2/3 of North and South Dakota. The governor of this large territory proposed statehood in 1839 It however was rejected by those living in the state as a tax that would pay for all local officials was included in the deal. Statehood would be brought up a few more times each time trying to make adjustments so all were happy. In 1846 the state boundaries were accepted. Thus allowing a state constitution to be created.

Iowa was formerly admitted as a state to be part of the United States America December 28th 1846. President James Polk signed a bill admitting Iowa as the 29th state. The bill was adopted in 1857

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Scientific Discovery---- The Planet Neptune

December 28th was a great day in science It was the day that the fourth planet of the solar system was discovered.

The name Neptune derives from the god of the Sea according to Roman mythology. The planet could not be seen simply with the human eye. While there had been planets discovered early on Neptune occured when scientist started to look into the Solar system in depth. Without numerous studies and astrological observations Neptune may not have been discovered.

The first scientist to notice Neptune was Galileo. He however, was mistaken when he assumed it was a fixed star. Alexis Bouvard was the French astrologer who first made the hypothesized about a planet. While making the discovery she noticed some motion irregularities. However, Bouvard did not officially make the discovery of Neptune.

The discovery of the planet Neptune was credited to two astrologers. John Couch Adams of Britain and Urbain Le Verreir of France. Building on a hypothesis they made calculations that led them to the planet discovery. The men had not worked together but independently but since the discoveries were so closely related in time the scientific community credited both men.

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Be Safe No Drinking and Driving

As many of you who have read my post before know that I take a hard stance on drinking and driving I have had 2 family members and many friends who have been cut down and not allowed to live their lives. My uncle who was killed in his prime at the age of 16 and my cousin who returned from war to be hit and killed by a drunk driver. Both innocent lives taken away and missed by family dearly. Each year drunk driving crashes kill more than 10,000 people in America. Moreover we need to remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving

Having a few drinks while out may leave you feeling fine but still buzzed. You still get in the car and start to drive home. Perhaps you will make it as planned but you may face the consequences of drunk driving in a number of ways. Buzzed driving takes place all too often. Consequences of a crash, death, or jail time may be waiting for you. Perhaps you would like to change your mind and choose a designated sober driver.

Some feel that there is a magic number of drinks or hours that will help your blood alcohol level to go close to normal. The number is not the same for all as alcohol has many many factors that change your body. You do not have to be stumbling around to be under the influence. The legal blog level account is .08. Thus there is no safe amount of alcohol for any driver.

The best bet is to designate a sober driver ahead of time. Waiting until you have been drinking to see if you need a driver to take you home is too late. You may believe that you are "okay to drive" when you are not. It only takes one drink. It is best to make a plan. Here are some ideas what to do next time you go to a party:

  • leave your keys at home or give them to a friend
  • designate a sober driver who isn't drinking at all
  • tell others your intentions about driving and stick to the plan
  • do not drive buzzed even after just one drink. 
  • before the party make your choice to drink or drive

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Play a Game of SlapJack

Play a game of Slapjack. While a great game to get the youngsters involved I love to play it with my grandkids as well  It is easy to learn with a simple concept and race to slap when the right card appears. Kids love the fun of this game and the interaction of the game leaves little chance that boredom sets in. 

Game set up:
Deal clockwise until all cards are gone. Cards should be held face down where no one can look at them.

Playing the game, by having each player draw a card from the top of their deck. Place card in center of the circle. Play continues til everyone has had a turn.

Object of game is to be the first to  "slap" the jack if it comes up. The rule is the first person who slaps the jack gets the cards in the pile to add to their own pile. However, if a player "slaps" a card incorrectly that player must give the top card in their pile to the player who offered up the card that was slapped. The card goes to the bottom of the deck.

Ending the game occurs when the player is out of cards. The person that ends up with all the cards is the winner.

Optional ending:
the game can end when the first person runs out of cards. The player with most cards wins.

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Feast of the Holy Innocents

December 28th is the date of a feast known as the Feast of Holy Innocents. It may also be referred to as Childermas or Innocents' day. Western Christian churches celebrate the date of December 28 while Eastern churches celebrate the day on December 29. The feast of the Holy Innocents brings awareness to the terrible massacre of the children by King Herod when he attempted to kill the Baby Jesus.

The bible regards these children as the first martyrs. The day was possibly celebrated during epiphany in early days . Then in 5th century the day was created to stand alone and celebrated during a festival of remembrance. Rome celebrated the day of fasting and mourning. Later in 1962 the Roman Catholic calendar shared the date in red and if the date fell on Sunday this feast was commemorated on Sunday within the Octave of Christmas.

Pranks like those played on April Fool's Day take place on December 28th during the Feast of Holy Innocents in Spain, Hispanic America and the Philippines. The pranks in Spain are known as inocentadas and the victim of the prank inocentes or vice versa. The victims should not show anger as they have been saved from sin. Likewise, a tradition known as Els Enfarinats has the inocentadas dress up in full military dress and incite a flour fight.

Medieval customs of not working in any way that is not needed during the 'Innocents Day' as well as the day of the week that the day falls on. This continues the entire year. It was primarily the better half of the economic system that participated in this custom.

Take time in the light of this festival to make a list of children and young people you know in your own life who are living in darkness. Place the list where you will see it every day or perhaps in your bible. Commit to pray for them through the year. Pray the light of Christ will shine in their darkness and deliver them from evil.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Dont Drink and Drive

There are no prime example of drunk drivers. The 'usual suspect' are not the only ones on the roads drinking and driving. The holiday crackdown on those that are drinking and driving has all ready started. Any driver that is stopped due to concerns over the manner of driving while drunk or drugged will be stopped.

Individuals from all genders, backgrounds, and ethnic group are capable of drinking or drugging and driving. Many professionals will drink and drive. Individuals with children and grandchildren choose to get behind the wheel when they are intoxicated. Drinking and driving is socially unacceptable it does not matter who participates in it.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Toy Safety

Toy safety is a top priority at this gift giving season and during the month of December. Many injuries may occur some of the worst are often in the face and head area. There are tips that can be taken to help make the best decision on how to keep the holiday season joyful and safe for everyone. These tips include:

  • Read all warnings and instruction on the box
  • is the toy right for the child?? is it his ability and age appropriate level?? 
  • if possible do not buy toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges. 
  • purchase toys that will withstand being played with and not break into dangerous shards
  • Some toys may hold the label ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials
  • avoid toys that shoot or include part that fly off
  • young children should not be given toys with small parts If the part can fit in a toilet paper roll it is too small and could lead to choking if placed in mouth 

To help keep the holidays with good cheer and safe we hope that all gift givers will take note to make sure the gift they are giving are appropriate.

For more information on safe toys and gifts for children, including the PBA Safe Toys Check List, please, or call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020.

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Christmas Party Behavior

Are you heading to a Christmas eve party or have another date set aside to celebrate the new year?? A time to celebrate and enjoy some social time with others. Everyone should feel welcome but there are a few conduct rules that should be observed. These socially accepted conduct rules include:

  • having a good time catching up on old times. Respect each other at the party. If you will be consuming alcohol remember that not respecting others is still not acceptable. 
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol should not be allowed at any party no matter the occasion. Inappropriate behavior should be a sign to no longer serve a guest alcohol.
  • Drinking and driving should not be allowed. Public transportation or other means of getting guest home should be arranged. 

Following these tips should allow everyone to enjoy the party and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Copy Cat Whatchamacallit #Recipe

1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
Caramels (about 1/2 bag unwrapped)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 bag light cocoa Wilton Candy Melts
Line a 13x9 inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Butter it generously, set aside.
In a saucepan combine sugar and corn syrup, bring to a boil.
Once boiling remove from heat, stir in peanut butter.
Place Rice Krispies in a large bowl, pour peanut butter mixture over cereal.
Mix well.
Press into cake pan firmly. Set aside.
In a small microwave safe bowl, combine caramels and heavy cream.
Melt in 30 second incriments until caramels are smooth and pourable.
Pour caramels over cereal in cake pan. Smooth out into a thin layer.
Refridgerate for 1 hour.
Pull aluminum foil from pan with bars still on top of it. Place on a safe cutting surface.
With a large knife or pizza cutter, cut into bars or squares.
In another bowl melt candy melts in microwave according to directions on package.
Dip bars or squares into the chocolate melts, place on wax paper or plastic wrap to cool.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Meatloaf all wrapped up in Bacon #recipe

12 oz thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
2 lbs lean ground beef
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeƱo, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of foil on a rack placed over a baking sheet. Poke holes in the foil and set the pan aside.
Mix all ingredients except bacon in a medium-sized mixing bowl just until uniformly combined. Place the mixture onto prepared pan and form the mixture into a loaf shape.
Place strips of bacon on top of the meat loaf diagonally running lengthwise. The strips should touch each other but not overlap. Now pull every other strip back halfway and place another strip of bacon running along the opposite diagonal. Return the pulled back strips to their original position and pull back the strips not pulled back the first time. Place another strip of bacon and return pulled back bacon to the first position. Continue until entire loaf is covered in a beautiful lattice.
Bake 85-95 minutes or until the center of the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Remove from oven and rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

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BLT Dip #Recipe

1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Mayo
2 tablespoons Chives
3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Tomato - diced
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and service with crackers

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Feast of Seven Fish

Many Italian families will celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes which takes place on Christmas Eve. For the celebration a variety of seafood and frying fish would be served.

The tradition dates back to Southern Italy many years ago. Christmas day is met with a massive meal so on the night before or what we refer to as Christmas eve but is also known as La Vigilia or "Vigil" a lighter meal is called for. This meal will vary from region to region but eating fish on the night of the "Vigil" is a Roman Catholic custom There are many theories that may explain the reasoning behind The Feast of the Seven Fishes.

  • 7 sacraments in the Roman Catholic church
  • 7 is the number that appears most frequently in the bible
  • 7 is the number of days it took to create the earth
  • 7 is the number of deadly sins
  • 7 represents perfection
  • 7 hills surround the city of Rome
Variations on the 7 fishes them are dinners served on Christmas Eve that have more or less courses. At times there are 9 courses as the Holy Trinity is taken times 3. Perhaps you will be dining on 10 courses for the 10 stations of the cross. Even another variation would be 13 fishes to represent the 12 apostles and Jesus. Therefore whether you serve a meal of many courses or one pot of stew that contains a variety of seafood the meal is still served on Christmas Eve. 

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Peanut Cashew Candy CUp

9 oz semisweet chocolate baking squares
3 oz unsweetened chocolate baking squares
1 lb and 8 oz vanilla almond bark
10 oz milk chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz dry roasted peanuts
9 oz salted cashew pieces

Turn the crockpot on low and put all the chocolate in and cover.
After one hour, uncover and stir well. Return the lid and let sit for 20 minutes.
Then remove lid and stir. This time add the peanuts and cashews. Return the lid and let cook for another 20 minutes. Remove lid and stir.
Using a small cookie scoop, fill mini cupcake liners with the warm chocolate mixture. Then wait about half an hour to let the chocolate fully set up.

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Fudgy Butterscotch Bars

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons margarine
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup margarine or 1 cup butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt

1 Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
2 Grease pan.
3 In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips with the 2 tablespoons of margarine and condensed milk.
4 Stir constantly and set aside when mixture is well blended and looks smooth.
5 In another saucepan, melt 1 cup of margarine over low heat.
6 Remove from heat and add brown sugar and eggs.
7 Blend well.
8 Add the rest of the ingredients (flour, coconut, vanilla, salt, etc) and mix well.
9 Spread half of this batter into the pan then layer the chocolate mixture by tablespoonfuls over the batter.
10 Now spread the remaining batter over this chocolate layer.
11 With the tip of a knife, swirl slightly to create a marble appearance.
12 Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until slight golden brown and center comes out clean when a toothpick is inserted.
13 Cool for at least 45 minutes.
14 Cut into bars.

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Sugar Cone Christmas Trees

These Christmas trees are a fun craft to make as well as a sweet treat to eat. 

8 sugar cones
2 cups green buttercream frosting
8 12- inch licorice strings
2 cups mini M&M candies
8 candy gingerbread men
Other assorted candy if desired

Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and cover the sugar cones with frosting.
Decorate the trees with the licorice strings, candies and top with a gingerbread man candy.
Serve or allow to harden to use as decorations.

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