Braille Monitor                                             December 2015

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As a special holiday treat, the Monitor put out a call on the Nfbnet-members-list for holiday recipes. And the members responded with a variety of the most delicious recipes, from the classic and traditional holiday favorites, to more unusual choices for holiday fare, from breakfast to dessert. But whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice, or just having friends and family together, you’re sure to find something to tickle your taste buds in these amazing recipes.

Breakfast Delight
by Yvonne Garris, Pennsylvania

Yvonne tells us why this is her favorite holiday recipe: “My mom use to always make this for Christmas morning, and now I make it. Since you make it the night before you have a stress-free Christmas morning with breakfast in the oven. It makes me think of my mom and makes Christmas a little warmer.”

1 loaf of bread, cut into cubes
1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (cubed ham or sausage work as well)
12 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 stick butter, melted

Method: in a nine-by-thirteen-inch pan layer half of the bread, cheese, and meat. Repeat layers. In mixing bowl beat eggs together with butter and milk, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over layers in pan. Set pan in refrigerator to sit overnight. In the morning preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove pan from refrigerator, cover with aluminum foil. Bake covered for fifty minutes, remove cover, bake additional ten minutes.

Stuffed French Bread Casserole
by Linda Coccovizzo, Missouri

Linda says: “I’ve been doing Christmas at my house for the last seven or eight years, playing Mama Santa. I do everything I can to make sure there is either a present under the tree or a stocking for anyone there, especially if you’re a kid. Sometimes I have people in early, and there is a need to put together a large breakfast. This is an overnight, quick, but awesome dish that will have your family and friends convinced you are the bomb in the kitchen!”

20 slices French bread (one-inch thick)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
12 eggs
2 cups milk

Method: Arrange ten slices of bread in a thirteen-by-nine-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread each slice with cream cheese. Top with remaining bread. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together; pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator thirty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

You can use flavored cream cheese or flavor it yourself with fresh strawberries or preserves. You can go the fat free or sugar free route if you like. Add flavoring to your egg mixture with maple syrup or cinnamon and sugar and maple extract. Leave the cream cheese plain and top with preserves, syrup, or whatever fits your fancy. Change it up however you want. I serve this with ham steaks for a quick, easy breakfast for a crowd.

Egg Drop Soup
by Una Lau, Texas

Una LauUna has this to say about her holiday recipe, “My father was a professional chef from China. We owned Chinese restaurants, and he gave me his recipe, which is a favorite among my friends when they come over for dinner.”

1 can of premium chicken broth
1 can of premium cream corn (has to be creamy)
1 cup cubed pork or ground pork
Green onions, minced (optional)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste
1 egg
Oil to cook meat (Canola, peanut, or non-extra-virgin olive oil all work well)
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Method: Season cubed pork with salt, sugar, soy sauce and cornstarch. This is a traditional Chinese seasoning method: get one pork chop and slice into strips and put in a bowl. Put a pinch of salt and sugar on top. Then pour in soy sauce. In a separate bowl, put cornstarch and mix with water to make it into a glue-like consistency. Wear a disposable glove and mix the cornstarch with the meat. Now use your gloved hand to squeeze and massage the meat so that the seasoning is well mixed in with the meat.

In a deep soup pot, pour in oil and pan fry the pork until half cooked. Pour in the cans of chicken broth and cream corn; bring everything to a boil. Add the white pepper and salt. Very slowly pour in the eggs in a steady stream. To make shreds, stir the egg rapidly in a clockwise direction for one minute. To make thin streams or ribbons, gently stir the eggs in a clockwise direction until they form. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Egg Drop Soup is frequently thickened with cornstarch in restaurants. To add a cornstarch thickener, mix two to three tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Just before adding the beaten egg, stir in the cornstarch/water mixture, remove the soup from heat, and then add the beaten egg.

Sweet Potato or Yam Casserole
by Mary Ellen Gabias, British Columbia

Mary Ellen says, “In our home we celebrate Thanksgiving twice—Canadian Thanksgiving on the weekend of the second Monday in October and American Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. My children tell me that neither Thanksgiving feast is official unless this casserole is on the menu. It’s the only sweet potato or yam casserole I’ve ever found that has no added sugar, yet it tastes dessert sweet.”

6 to 8 large yams or sweet potatoes
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or you can use 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice)

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a small slit lengthwise in each yam and bake until soft, about an hour and a half.

When potatoes have cooled enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop pulp into mixing bowl. If you choose, you can save the skins and make “twice baked” potatoes; otherwise, discard skins. Add the rest of the ingredients to the potatoes and mix thoroughly using electric beaters. For twice baked, spoon mixture into reserved shells; otherwise, put mixture into casserole. Whichever you choose, return to oven at 350 degrees long enough to heat through, between fifteen and thirty minutes.

Killer Mac ’N Cheese
by Beth Taurasi, Colorado

Beth says, “I'm a graduate from the Colorado Center for the Blind from the class of 2011. This particular recipe is a huge hit especially with my friends. This is a really good treat for Christmas.”

1 package pasta, whatever shape you like
1 pound Velveeta or other processed cheese
1 3/4 cups of whole milk or 2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk,
2 cups or 1 8-ounce bag of your choice and the of cheddar cheese, white or sharp
2 cups or 1 8-ounce bag of any other cheese (Monterey Jack, Fiesta blend, taco cheese, etc.)
3/4 cup egg whites/egg substitute in cartons
1 whole stick of butter

Method: Cook pasta according to package directions, but for best results do not completely cook the pasta. Strain the pasta, then place it in a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients, usually I do liquid ones first, to the slow cooker and cook on low until cheeses are melted through. You may serve this as soon as all of the cheeses melt, stirring occasionally. The total cooking time is only one to one-and-a-half hours maximum.

Bruce’s Rigatoni
by Claudia J. Combs-Wise, Michigan

1 pound Rigatoni (brand of your choice)
1 large sweet onion
1 green pepper
Olive oil
6 cloves garlic (plus or minus to taste)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 pound ground sausage (as mild or spicy as you like)
2 to 3 tablespoons oregano
2 to 3 tablespoons basil
Salt and pepper to taste
A few flakes of red pepper (if you like heat)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta in salted water and drain. In a saucepan add tomato sauce, paste, and spices, heat to simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning while cooking. In a skillet, brown sausage, crumbling sausage as it cooks. Chop onion and garlic and sauté in olive oil until light to medium brown, and then set aside. Chop green pepper and sauté in olive oil until it starts to brown and set aside. Combine all ingredients in ovenproof pan, stir, cover, and bake for ten minutes.

Peanut Blossom Cookies
by Linda DeBerardinis, New Jersey

Linda says,I am an active member of the NFB of New Jersey.  I’m on the board of directors for the state and on the scholarship committee, plus I am the treasurer for the Garden State chapter. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember. If you follow these directions, you will have baked what others have only tried! They are delicious!”

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
30 to 35 Hershey’s Kisses

Method: in a bowl mix butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla with a spoon. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together. Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing evenly. Eventually you may need your hands to knead the mixture. Shape dough into small balls, using rounded spoon. Roll balls around in additional granulated sugar on wax paper.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for six to eight minutes.
Remove from oven and place one Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down firmly. Return to oven and bake for three to five minutes longer. Note: It’s wise to unwrap all the chocolate kisses before the cookies first come out of oven.

Swedish Twists                                                   
by Maureen Pranghofer, Minnesota

Maureen says this is her favorite holiday recipe. It is an old family recipe brought to the United States by her great-grandmother from Sweden.

1 cake yeast or one packet
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3-1/2 cups sifted flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shortening
3 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar

Method: Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Sift flour and salt, and cut in butter and shortening. Blend in eggs, sour cream, one teaspoon of vanilla, and softened yeast to flour mixture and mix well. Cover and chill for two hours.

After two hours, mix sugar and remaining vanilla. Sprinkle board with one-half of sugar/vanilla mixture. Roll out one-half of dough into a rectangle (approximately 16” by 8”). Sprinkle some sugar/vanilla onto rectangle and roll again the width way of the rectangle. Fold one side of dough over to the center; repeat with the other side to make three layers. Put some more sugar/vanilla on top and roll just enough to have the sugar/vanilla set in dough or about one-quarter inch thick. Cut into one inch strips. Twist each strip two or three times and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. If strip is too long, cut in half and continue with twist. Repeat for rest of dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 12 minutes.

Christmas Pretzel Salad
by Barbara Pierce, Ohio

3 cups pretzel crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar (I use 2/3 cup)
1 small tub Cool Whip
1 large box strawberry Jell-O
 20 ounces frozen strawberries
1 cup water

Method: Mix first three ingredients and press into 13-by-9-inch dish. Bake for ten minutes at 425 degrees; set aside to cool. Beat cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip. Carefully spoon it to the edges of the crust. Dissolve Jell-O in water that has come to a boil. Stir in the frozen berries and their liquid. Pour over the cream cheese layer and chill till set. In recent times I have spun the berries in the food processer to make the Jell-O part smoother, I leave a bit of texture.

Crock Pot Candy
by Arlene Hill, Louisiana

Arlene says, “This is a recipe that I have found to be wonderful tasting, easy, and fun for children to help out with. I unfortunately didn't have it when my kids were little but have had fun doing it with grandchildren, almost always at Christmastime. It makes a lot and can be given to neighbors and friends.”

1 jar unsalted peanuts
1 jar salted peanuts
1 18-ounce package chocolate chips
1 4-ounce plain chocolate bar
2 packages chocolate bark

Method: This must be done in exact layers. First layer unsalted peanuts on bottom of crock pot. Next salted peanuts, then chocolate chips. Break the chocolate bar into pieces, sprinkle over layers. Finally, break chocolate bark into pieces, sprinkle over top. Do not stir, cover and place crock pot on low, mine cooks a bit high so I put it on keep warm or it scorches on the bottom. Leave alone for three hours. Remove lid and stir, drop by table spoon full onto waxed paper and let cool. Package as you wish for gifts or have your family enjoy.

Peanut Butter Balls
by Melissa Riccobono, Maryland

Melissa RiccobonoA collection of holiday recipes from the Federation just wouldn’t be complete without one from the Federation’s First Family. Federation First Lady Melissa Riccobono offers this memory of her recipe, “I have fond memories of making these with my mom and older sister. First of all, the dough by itself is delicious, so I know we ate our fair share while we worked. Our job was to roll the balls and put them on wax paper. After all of the rolling was done, we had to carry the balls, one at a time, to my mom at the stove. My mom would say "plop" each time she put a ball into the chocolate. My sister and I thought this was hilarious when we were young and loved the sound effects. I now love making these with my own kids. It's a great way to pass the time on a cold winter afternoon. Warning! These peanut butter balls look to have no nutritional value at first glance. Remember however, there is protein in peanut butter, and if you use dark chocolate you will reap the health benefits from it as well!”

1 pound butter
1 pound crunchy or creamy peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 to 2 pounds baking chocolate (I prefer a darker chocolate, but I am sure any type would work. Even melted chocolate chips might work in a pinch.)

Method: Melt butter and peanut butter together. Stir until well blended. Add powdered sugar, stirring frequently to mix into dough. Roll dough into small balls—a bit smaller than golf balls will probably work best—and put balls on wax paper. Allow them to cool a bit while you prepare the chocolate. Melt chocolate on stove or in microwave. Start with one pound of chocolate; you can always melt more if needed. Carefully dip balls into chocolate until coated. Put balls on wax paper to cool and harden. Store in a cool place. You can refrigerate, but it is not absolutely necessary. Makes many servings!

Bourbon Balls
by Shelia Wright, Missouri

Shelia Wright has been a member and leader in several states. She currently serves as the first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, and she has a good sense of chapter history. Here is how she introduces this recipe: “I remember one of the longtime traditions at our Kansas City Chapter Christmas parties was the Bourbon Balls made by Bill Simms, Jana Moynihan’s father. Because they were quite potent, he always made a special batch to go on the front edge of the tables for the kids, but he would monitor the buckets to be sure that no young hands reached into the adult bucket.”

Box of vanilla wafers
1 16 oz. pack of chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
2-1/2 cups of chopped pecans
1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of light Karo syrup
1/2 cup of bourbon
Powdered sugar for rolling

Method: Melt chocolate in double boiler. Crush wafers and nuts. Combine granulated sugar, bourbon,  syrup, and  melted chocolate. Add crushed wafers and nuts. Stir  all together. Shape into balls and  roll in powdered sugar. Store in tins. 

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