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Chewin' the News from 30 Day Gourmet
Kitchen Fun with Carol
Contest Winners
Bonus Recipes
Closing Comments from Carol
Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley
Bonus Recipes from Shelley
Software Suggestions
Closing Comments

Kitchen Fun with Carol



 

Merry Christmas everyone! I just love this time of the year. It is a season full of family traditions. One of the favorite traditions in my family is putting up the Christmas display in our front yard. My father-in-law made an animated Christmas set over 50 years ago. The elves and Mrs. Claus are all motorized. Sometimes I think that they are almost a part of the family. My father-in-law calls them the "boys" and my husband makes sure they are in working order every year. We also try to add our own touch to the display. This year we added reindeer. Next year we are looking into adding our first "new" animated creation.

 

Another fun tradition is a cookie exchange. I went to a different variation this year which was really quite fun. My friend hosted a Pampered Chef® party. Every one who attended brought a standard cookie ingredient such as chocolate chips, flour, sugar, brown sugar, unsalted butter, etc. We then took all the ingredients and made all kinds of different of cookies together. We made Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, Spritz, Tollhouse Bar Cookies, and Molasses Cookies. It was so fun to make cookies with my friends!

 

Other cookie exchanges I have been to have you make the cookies before the party. For freezer cooks, this is the perfect kind of cookie exchange! So many cookies can be made before hand and frozen, either fully baked or the unbaked dough.

 

Never hosted a cookie exchange before? Here are some basics:

 

  1. Decide on a date and time for the party. Weekday evening and weekend afternoons usually work the best.

  2. Send out invitations instructing everyone to RSVP with the type of cookie they are bringing. When we host an exchange we usually have them bring one dozen for each person attending so if there are 8 people attending, bring 8 dozen cookies. Also ask them to bring recipe cards filled out with their cookie recipe.

  3. Think of a few snacks and beverages that you can serve at the exchange. Make an evening of it with your friends!

  4. Make table markers for each type of cookie that is brought to the exchange so everyone attending knows what kind of cookie they are getting.

  5. On the day of the exchange set up a festive table where the cookies can be displayed. You will need to provide take home containers or ask quests to bring their own. Also, set up your snack and beverage table.

  6. Enjoy spending time with family and friends as you exchange cookies.

 

There are some great cookie recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet web site that would be perfect for a cookie exchange. Share them with your friends and try your hand at hosting a party.

 



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Contest Winners



 

 

New ebook is available!

Our newest ebook, Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, is now available on the 30 Day Gourmet web site. The ebook includes 25 tried and true freezer friendly recipes that are sure to become family favorites. This has been a fun experience for me and my family. My slow cookers got a great workout the last few months but it was worth the effort. We have added many of the recipes from the new ebook to our winter menu. My boys really like the Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders, Wedding Soup, BBQ Meatballs (as a sandwich), and the Meatball Stew. My husband likes the Chicken Enchiladas, Pepperoncini Roast, French Dip Sandwiches, and Chicken Cordon Bleu Rolls. Take a look at the sampler. I hope you and your family will enjoy the recipes as much as mine.

 

This month's Freezer Cook of the Month winners are our wonderful cooks who submitted recipes to the Cooks' Corner Message Board for this ebook. Everyone whose recipe was included in the ebook will be receiving a free copy. Emails notifying the winners will be sent this week. Congratulations to our winners.



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Bonus Recipes



The bonus recipes this month are from Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites ebook. I hope you enjoy these recipes.


Cranberry Pork Roast

This recipe smells so good as it is cooking in the slow cooker. The orange peel and cranberry combination give it a great flavor. It is fancy enough for company but it is also great served as a sandwich. If you don't like to cook with pork you could use a turkey breast instead.



Click here to view/print this recipe!



Iowa State Fair Guinea Grinders

My boys love this recipe. It quickly became one of our family favorites. You can change the spiciness of recipe by changing the type of sausage that you use. You can also lower the fat content by using turkey sausage. The recipe still tastes great! Different brands of pizza sauce will also change the flavor of the meat mixture. We like using our homemade sauce or a local store brand. One recipe makes a lot so it would be great for Super Bowl Sunday.

Click here to view/print this recipe!


Wedding Soup

I love Wedding Soup. I first tried it at a restaurant call Eastside Mario's and it was wonderful. This soup reminds me of that restaurant. It is wonderful fresh and it freeze great! My kids request it for lunch. We add spinach to the recipe when we make it. Add a couple handfuls of washed/trimmed spinach to slow cooker when you add the pasta at the end of the cooking time.

Click here to view/print this recipe!



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Closing Comments from Carol



I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

Do you have any other topics that you would like to cover? Do you have any cooking questions that need to be answered? Email me at carol@30daygourmet.com. I enjoy hearing from you!


Carol



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Cookin' at the Keyboard with Shelley



Scraping Bottom

Have your frozen dinners run out just when you need them the most? Does your freezer look more like an empty reservoir than an enabling resource? With Christmas just around the corner, now may not be the time to restock the freezer, but we can do some damage control and plan to reclaim the territory that has served us so well. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Look at your January calendar and plan your next cooking session. It may take a day, an afternoon, or an entire weekend. Whatever your plan, schedule it now! I'll be cooking on January 9 & 10.

  2. Now schedule a few hours to plan the cooking session that you just put on the calendar. If you're anything like me, you'll need some time to anticipate the cooking day before it gets here...otherwise it will never happen. Select recipes, enter the new ones in your Advantage Cooking database, and print a grocery report.

  3. Now let's do some damage control by planning next week's menu. Look at the calendar and choose one night (maybe two?) to be in the kitchen to prepare one of your more time consuming meals that you're hungry for. My favorite is always stir-fry, but it takes forever to cut all those fresh veggies! Double-batch all or part of the recipe if possible and put it in the freezer for next week.

  4. Inventory the freezer. There's probably several meal's worth of food hiding in there somewhere. Pull it all to the front, or stash it on the door for easy access. Make a list and add it to the meal plan.

  5. Don't overlook the leftovers. Your refrigerator probably has a meal or two waiting for you. Make a fresh batch of muffins and the leftovers are easier to sell to your picky eaters.

  6. Be realistic and buy some prepackaged, easy-to-fix foods. I'm always an idealistic when I'm walking the aisles at the grocery store; I always think I'll find time to cook from scratch and avoid all the processed foods. But reality strikes when I get home to the kitchen and the holiday schedule. So avoid the fast-food franchise and stock some things that will look like dinner when you add a salad and a vegetable.

Although the holiday schedule is looming large, and my empty freezer has caught me by surprise, I can still be the master of my kitchen and the food I feed my family.



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Bonus Recipes from Shelley



Hot Chocolate Cones
The girls made these last year to give to their friends, teachers, and the neighborhood children. It's a simple and inexpensive gift that's always received with delight.

View/print/import this recipe!
   
     
Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
When my husband brought home this recipe from an office luncheon, I took one look at the pretzel crust and put it aside. But when I finally got around to making it, I loved it! And so does everyone else. The dessert is not too heavy and the perfect color for the season.

View/print/import this recipe!
   




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Software Suggestions



New Software Version
For those of you who are waiting for the Vista-friendly version of the software, it's on it's way! We're in the beta-testing phase, which means that my husband has completed his portion of the programming, and now it's my turn to do the testing and uncover any problems. I can't imagine I'll get too far this month, so I'll let you know how I'm doing in my next issue.

In the mean time, the current version of Advantage Cooking will run under Vista if it's installed in the C:\AdvCooking directory, instead of the default directory. Vista doesn't like data files in the program directory, but it will work if you make that adjustment. The current help menu doesn't work under Vista, but the complete manual in .pdf format is available. The upcoming Vista-friendly version will be available as a free upgrade, so you have nothing to lose.

Download a trial version of the software! It's free!

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Closing Comments



Here are some encouraging words from a mom who has been temporarily bed-ridden but has rediscovered the blessing of freezer meals.

"Dear Shelley, Thank you so much for all your help. You have no idea. My mom and dad and daughters cooked lots of meals for us using the Advantage software. Thank you for all the newsletter articles as well! When I am better I know they will help for years to come. You guys are wonderful people, tears are in my eyes as I speak. God bless you."

Have a Merry, Merry Christmas! Joy to the world; the Lord has come! 
    ~Shelley



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