Thanksgiving 2019 is history, and Christmas is barreling down the pike. This week I am offering some Christmas ideas for you to think about as you plan your meals and festivities.

In Billie Doty’s Apple Cranberry Pie, the apples were left out so I am printing that recipe again in its entirety. It is a great pie for any occasion! I also want to share a few things from Thanksgiving that might also give you an edge on Christmas meal planning.

First of all are the Hot Turkey Sandwiches. Mother used to make these, and it was a perfect way to use up leftover turkey in a way that everyone seems to enjoy. You can serve them with something as simple as chips for a light supper after heavy holiday meals.

Be sure to look for the Easy Pot Pie—perfect for leftovers, too! Also, there is the Whipped Cream and Ginger Dessert, which works well as a topping for Pumpkin Pie or else as a simple, light dessert all by itself. I learned this little trick from a friend of mine who had picked it up in San Diego years ago. It makes a perfect dessert after a heavy meal.

Then there is the heated Pecan Pie with a tablespoon of Apricot Brandy drizzled over it. If that suits your style, you will find it a most delightful twist on an old favorite.

Billie Doty’s Apple Cranberry Streusel Pie

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3 cups whole fresh cranberries

1/3 cup butter or margarine

3 cups diced apples

Place in crust. Top with Streusel Topping. Bake 400° until top is golden and filling is bubbly. May need to cover with foil to avoid browning too fast. May also use frozen cranberries. Don’t under-cook. Top should be somewhat crunchy.

Streusel Topping for Pie:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup margarine

Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Richard’s Note: I used leftover rolls from Thanksgiving. For my cheese, I used a 5-cheese shredded Italian mixture.

Leftover turkey

Dinner rolls

mayonnaise

Parmesan cheese

Slice rolls apart. Place desired amount of turkey on the bottom half. Combine mayonnaise (depending on the number of sandwiches you are planning to make) and the cheese. I made nine sandwiches, and for that I used about a cup of mayonnaise and about that much cheese. Spread the mayonnaise-cheese mixture on top of the turkey. Place the top half of the roll on top of that. Wrap in foil and bake at 350° until very well heated—about 20 to 25 minutes. Delicious!

Easy Pot Pie

Richard’s Note: Occasionally a recipe comes along that you know you will make for the rest of your life. This is one of those! And it is perfect for leftovers! For it you will need

Chopped chicken or turkey

1 large can mixed vegetables, drained (I use Veg-All)

1 pkg. country gravy mix, made by its directions

A sprinkle or two of onion powder, to taste, and this is also optional

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Make the gravy and add the drained vegetables and the meat and the onion powder. Then pour it all into a buttered 10-inch square casserole dish. Take the puff pastry and lay it over the top. I used the scissors to snip the corners so it would fit and then I used those corners in the center as a garnish of sorts. Take a sharp knife and make slits in the top for the steam to escape and then bake it at the temperature the puff pastry calls for. Save the other sheet of puff pastry to make another pie of some kind. You’ll know you want to. Look for the puff pastry with the other frozen pie crusts. It come is a long, skinny box. When I don’t have leftover meat, I boil skinless thighs for this and then take the meat off the bone. I like dark, but you can use any.

Ginger Cream Dessert

About 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

1 pt. whipping cream

Confectioner’s sugar to taste

Vanilla—one or two drops

Whip cream until peaks form and sweeten with confectioner’s sugar. Add vanilla. Stir in ginger. Serve in a pretty stemmed glass or else use as topping on gingerbread or pumpkin pie.

Drizzled Pecan Pie

1 slice Pecan Pie, heated in the oven or microwave

1 Tbs. or less brandy (apricot is a good choice)

Heat pie. Drizzle with brandy. Enjoy!

Christmas Pinecones for the Fireplace

Soak pinecones in any of the following solutions. When the pinecones are tossed into the fireplace, they will burn different colors.

1/2 lb. soda to 1/2 gal. water OR

1/2 lb. borax to 1/2 gal. water OR

1/2 lb. salt to 1/2 gal. water

After soaking pinecones in any of the above solutions, remove from solution and place in mesh bags to dry thoroughly.

Holiday Candy Bar Cookies

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter real, melted

1 (8 oz.) pkg. coconuts flaked

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

6 oz. chocolate bars with almonds 6 (1 oz.) bars or 1 (6 oz.) package milk chocolate pieces and 1/3 cup chopped almonds

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, sugar, and butter; press into an ungreased 8x8 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine coconut and condensed milk, stir to blend. Spoon over hot crust. Return to oven; continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until edges have lightly browned and center is set. Place candy bars or chocolate and almonds on top, return to oven for four to five minutes, just until chocolate has melted. Remove from oven and spread chocolate evenly over top. Cool completely before cutting.

Holiday Caramel Cookies

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg large

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. maple flavor or almond extract

Dash salt

2 cups flour

48 round, wooden toothpicks

Coating:

36 caramel candy squares unwrapped

1/4 cup milk

1 cup peanut finely chopped, walnuts, or almonds

Heat oven to 350°. Have baking sheets ready. To make cookies, beat butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, maple flavor, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in flour. Form dough into forty-eight balls, about one inch in diameter. Place one and one-half inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until balls are set, but not browned (tops may crack slightly). Insert a toothpick into center of each. Cool on wire racks. To make coating, melt caramels in milk, stirring often. Keep warm over a pan of hot, not boiling, water. Dip each cookie into the caramel mixture, coating completely and drawing bottom of cookie across edge of pan to remove excess caramel. Dip bottom of each in chopped nuts. Place on a sheet of wax paper to set. Store loosely covered; best served within 24 hours.

Holiday Delite

3 cups sugar

1 cup corn syrup white

1 & 1/2 cups half and half

1/4 tsp. salt

1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 lb. Brazil nut, sliced

1/2 lb. pecan halves

1/2 lb. walnut broken

1/2 lb. candied cherry cut in half

1/2 lb. candied pineapple chunk cut in small pieces

Combine sugar, corn syrup, half-and-half and salt in a heavy saucepan and boil to soft ball stage, 234°. Remove from heat and start beating immediately. Add vanilla. When mixture thickens, add nuts and fruits, mixing well. Spread evenly in a well-greased 9x13 pan. When cool, cut into bite-size squares. This confection stores very well in a tightly covered container. (Note: For every 500 feet elevation over sea level, decrease end cooking point by one degree. For example, at 6000 feet decrease the end cooking point by 12 degrees; hence your thermometer would read 222° to 226°.)

Mulled Holiday Punch

4 sticks cinnamon (about 3 inches each)

2 Tbs. allspice whole

1 & 1/2 Tbs. clove whole

2 (48 oz.) bottles apple juice or cranapple juice

16 sticks cinnamon (optional)

Place four cinnamon sticks in a folded kitchen towel. Coarsely crush with a rolling pin or mallet. In a small bowl, mix crushed cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves. Place mixture in a large tea strainer or on an 8-inch square of double-thickness cheesecloth. Bring corners of cheesecloth together and tie securely with string to make a loose bag. Thirty to 40 minutes before serving, pour juice into a 4-quart saucepot. Add filled tea strainer or spice bag. Over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and discard spices. Cover punch and keep warm or transfer to a slow cooker for serving. Serve hot in mugs or heatproof glasses. Use a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Mixture is also good cold.

Holiday Wreaths and Trees

Children love making these!

1/2 cup butter or margarine

30 marshmallows large

1 tsp. vanilla extract

15 to 20 drops food color green

3 & 1/2 cups corn flake

1/3 cup cinnamon candy

Melt butter or margarine and marshmallows together. Blend in vanilla and food coloring. Fold in corn flakes. Form into wreaths and Christmas trees on wax paper. Decorate with red hots.

Southwest Holiday Dip

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 (3 oz.) pkg. pepperoni or salami, chopped (about 2/3 cup)

1 (4 oz.) can green chilies chopped, undrained

1 & 1/2 Tbs. dried minced onion

2 tsp. chive chopped

1/2 cup pecan chopped

Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small mixer bowl at low speed, beat cream cheese and sour cream until well blended. By hand, stir in pepperoni or salami, green chilies, onion and chives. Spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and edges are bubbly. Serve hot with tortilla chips. To Microwave: Place cream cheese in a small microwavable dish. Microwave, uncovered, at 100 percent power (700 watts) for 30 to 45 seconds or until softened. Transfer to a small mixer bowl. Mix as above. Transfer to a 1-quart microwavable dish. Do not add pecans until after heating mixture. Microwave dip, uncovered, at 50 percent power (350 watts) for six minutes, stirring every two minutes. Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

Christmas Tarts

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter cold or margarine, cut in pieces

1/3 cup vegetable shortening solid

1 egg large

2 Tbs. water, cold

1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 cup mincemeat prepared Or 1 can (12 or 12 1/2 oz.) fruit or

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, beat egg with water, vanilla and almond extract. Sprinkle over top of pastry mixture and toss with a fork until well moistened and you can press mixture firmly into a ball. Chill if needed for easier handling. On a lightly floured surface, roll a portion of the dough to 1/8 -inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch circles. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the center of half of the circles. Place one teaspoon of the desired filling in center of the uncut rounds. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. With a fork, press around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between layers. Lightly dust tops with powdered sugar before serving.

Plantation Christmas Bars

1 & 3/4 cups flour

1 & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon ground

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. nutmeg ground

1/4 tsp. salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar packed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 egg large

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 & 1/2 cups mixed candied fruit chopped

1 cup walnut chopped or pecans

Lemon Drizzle

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 15 & 1/2 x 10 & 1/2 x 1 jelly roll pan. In a medium bowl, stir flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, stir oil, brown sugar, sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture until moistened. Stir in fruit and nuts until well mixed. With lightly floured fingers, pat dough evenly in pan. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on a wire rack. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife. When cool, glaze with Lemon Drizzle. Store loosely covered. (Note: If making ahead, store without drizzle. Cover tightly with foil up to two days. One to two hours before serving, glaze with drizzle.)

Lemon Drizzle:

In a small bowl, combine one cup sifted powdered sugar, two teaspoons corn syrup, and one teaspoon grated lemon rind. Stir in four and one-half to fine and one-half teaspoons lemon juice until desired consistency. Tint with one to two drops yellow food color if desired. Use on Christmas Bars or on cookies of your choice. Makes about two-thirds cup.

Easy Christmas Tree Bread

2 (11 oz.) cans refrigerated cinnamon rolls

Red and green maraschino cherries

For gift-giving, place bread on a large wooden or plastic cutting board and include a small crock or bowl of flavored whipped butter. Cover tightly. Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 17x14 baking sheet or slide two sheets together. Open cans of rolls; separate rolls and set glaze aside. Arrange rolls, touching each other, in a tree pattern on baking sheet, beginning with one roll for top of tree and building two rolls under that, then three, etc. End with a base of five rolls. Place last roll below base of tree in center to form the trunk. Bake 16 to 18 minutes until golden brown, covering top and base loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Cool bread 10 minutes, then spread with glaze. Decorate with cherries as desired. Tightly wrap bread and store at room temperature. Best eaten the same day. To reheat, place bread on baking sheet. Warm in a preheated 350° oven 10 to 15 minutes until hot.