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Easy-Does-It Holiday Food

Since both my husband and I have family to see at Christmas time, we spend time with his family at our house on Christmas Eve and my family at their house on Christmas day. Since my mom always makes a big beautiful dinner and we have so much going on at the time, I usually make a SNACK BUFFET table for the Christmas Eve celebration at our house. 

It is very simple and helps keep my stress level down. I can make all of it AHEAD of time and just set the table up later. I don't get fancy with the table decorations, but do include a pretty poinsettia tablecloth and pretty holiday paper plates and napkins. I started this about seven years ago and it's now a tradition that everyone looks forward to because it's EASY and provides delicious snacks all day long. The best part is that by using paper plates, there are no dishes or pots and pans to wash! The only CLEAN UP involved is putting away any leftovers, that is, if there is any!

Let me start with a few tips to plan your own snack buffet. When you have time, take out a piece of paper and start writing down some possibilities. Write down any recipes that come to mind as you read the following:
  • Trays of things to DIP are always popular. I like to put out a veggie platter with ranch dip (I use the packet of Uncle Dan's found in the grocery store to make the dip) and an assortment of crackers with my famous clam dip.

  • A tray of SANDWICH MAKINGS. I load a tray with deli meats and cheeses, and other sandwich makings -- such as onion, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise, and  mustard. You might try a tray of club sandwich makings or Reuben sandwich  makings. You can also experiment with different breads such as party rye or sourdough.

  • Don't forget the SWEET STUFF. Each year I make two or three of our family's favorite cookie and candy recipes. You can even start a tradition with a cookie or candy swap -- each person bringing a tray of their favorites to share. What are  your family's specialties?

  • My guests love those special occasion BEVERAGES. Each year grandma Laura makes her special Irish Cream that we serve over ice. We also buy pop and beer  and this seems to make everyone happy. You might have a favorite punch,  eggnog or hot buttered rum recipe you'd like to serve.

  • Last, but not least -- the CRUNCHY THINGS. I always have the Chex mix out!
Don't forget that you can have family members or other guests contribute! This will give you more variety and less work! Just tell them to bring a snack type item. I'll now share my quick and easy recipes with you in case you'd like to try them.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (6-ounce) can minced clams, save juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste
Combine cream cheese and clams. Stir in just enough clam juice to make a nice consistency for dipping. Add remaining ingredients and thoroughly combine. Serve or cover and CHILL. Serve with CRACKERS or chips.

1/4 box saltine crackers
1 cup sugar 1 cup butter or margarine
1 large bag chocolate chips
chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease with butter. Cover with saltine crackers. Bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup butter to a boil & continue to boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Pour over crackers & spread fast. Bake 5-7 minutes. Spread a large bag of chocolate chips over, like ICING. Top with chopped WALNUTS if desired.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 c. Whiskey
1 tsp. instant coffee
2 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
1 tsp Vanilla

Put all the ingredients in a BLENDER and mix on high for 30 seconds. Refrigerate. Shake well before serving over ice. Should keep for at least 2 months.

1 - 1 lb box powdered sugar 
1 cup cubes Margarine
1 cup peanut butter chocolate chips or chocolate almond bark

Mix all ingredients except chocolate. Shape into round BALLS. Chill. Insert toothpick and dip into MELTED chocolate. Chill until set.

Well, that's it. I know the recipes aren't for the health conscious, but hey -- it's only once a year. And you can certainly replace my sinful goodies with more waist-watching treats. Either way, here's to hoping you have an 'EASY DOES IT' holiday celebration this year!


Monica is the Editor of The Homemaker's Journal Ezine, a jam-packed e-mail e-zine that publishes the collective advice of thousands of homemakers in all home and garden topics like organizing, cooking, parties, decorating, cleaning, family life, gardening, crafts and much more! Send a blank e-mail to: .

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