This is a sample Christmas menu that should please most guests. The eggnog recipe can be doubled and it may also be made without alcohol. The raspberry-cheesecake crescent roll treat is just a delight. It is very nice for breakfast or brunch or even dessert.

This is a sample Christmas menu that should please most guests. The eggnog recipe can be doubled and it may also be made without alcohol. The raspberry-cheesecake crescent roll treat is just a delight. It is very nice for breakfast or brunch or even dessert.

The orange glazed shrimp may be served as a side dish, an appetizer or even an entrée. For an extra kick you can add a little chopped chili pepper to the sauce. The apricot sauce on the ham is very elegant and has a nice flavor. Make extra to use as a sauce if guests would like to have more.

The asparagus and cauliflower dishes can be prepared the day before and cooked on serving day. The sweet potato casserole is a lifelong recipe in my family.

As for dessert the Bundt cake will melt in your mouth. The fruitcake is very nice and is usually enjoyed by people who don’t even like fruitcake. It’s worth a try to make this recipe, you may find that you are asked for the recipe and to make it more often. It’ll keep for up to a year, if you keep it wrapped and brush it with rum or liquor or sugar syrup every week. It gets better and stays moist the longer it sits.



Holiday Eggnog

This recipe maybe doubled and also made without alcohol.

6     eggs, room temperature

6     tablespoons granulated sugar

24    ounces half-and-half or 3 cups

1     cup bourbon

1     cup dark rum

1     quart good vanilla ice cream


Separate yolks and whites of the 6 eggs. In a bowl add 3 tablespoons sugar to the 6-yolks while beating until very thick.

In another bowl add remaining sugar to egg whites while beating and beat until stiff. Fold in the egg whites and mix well with the yolks.

Transfer the egg mixture into a punch bowl. Stir in half-and-half. Add bourbon and rum. Stir thoroughly. Add ice cream, fold into eggnog.  Ice cream may be cut into chunks and put into mixture.

Serve cold in chilled cups or glasses. Sprinkle a little ground nutmeg on top.


Raspberry-Cheesecake Crescent Roll Treat

1     can of refrigerated Crescent rolls

1     8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

½     cup granulated sugar

1     teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3    cup seedless raspberry jam

2     tablespoons butter, melted

Ground cinnamon


Unroll and spread one half (1/2) the crescent rolls on the bottom of a buttered 8 x 8 –inch baking dish.

In a bowl combine softened cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla. Spread this mixture over crescent roll layer in baking dish. Spoon the raspberry jam over the cheese mixture. Layer remaining crescent rolls over the raspberry jam.

Melt the butter and spread over top of crescent rolls. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and sugar.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes, slice and eat.


Orange Glazed Shrimp and Rice

Serves 4

1     pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2     cloves garlic, minced and smashed

2     teaspoons grated orange rind

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1     tablespoon EVOO, olive oil

1     tablespoon butter

3     tablespoons fresh orange juice

2     tablespoons butter

2     cups cooked long-grain white rice

¼     cup fresh chopped cilantro

Cook rice according to package directions, adding 2-tablespoons butter and one chicken flavored bouillon cube to saucepan before cooking, boil water, stir, then proceed with package directions.. When rice is ready to be served stir in chopped cilantro.

In a bowl combine shrimp, garlic, orange rind, salt and pepper, to taste, tossing to coat shrimp.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and 1-tablespoon butter, heat until butter is melted, stir. Add shrimp to pan, sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in orange juice and butter, cook 1-minute, tossing to coat. Remove from skillet and serve over rice.


Apricot and Rum Glazed Ham

A pork tenderloin works well with this recipe also. You might want to double the recipe for the sauce to serve along with the ham slices.

¼     cup rum

¼     cup finely chopped dried apricots

½     smoked fully cooked ham

1 1/2  cups apple cider or apple juice

Pinch of ground cloves, if desired (Optional)

½     cup rum

2     tablespoons butter

3     tablespoons brown sugar

In a small bowl stir together chopped apricots and ¼ cup rum. Set aside and let marinate for at least 45 minutes. Drain and set aside, rum may be added to glaze mixture.

In a saucepan combine together apple cider, ½ cup rum, ground cloves, if desired (Optional), and brown sugar, stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup liquid. Stir in butter and marinated apricots, mix until butter is melted. Cook for 3-5 minutes until apricots are very soft.

Place cooked ham in a large baking dish. With a pastry brush cover outside of ham with glaze mixture. Bake ham according to package directions. As ham bakes, every 15 minutes, baste ham with glaze mixture. Do not over cook or the ham will dry out.


Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

1     pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

2     tablespoons olive oil

1     clove garlic, minced then smashed

½     teaspoon dried sweet basil, crushed

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2     tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Vegetable spray a 15 x 10 –inch baking dish. Wash asparagus, break off tough ends where stalks snap easily.

In a pie dish mix together olive oil, smashed garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Toss asparagus in this mixture until well coated. Spread asparagus in pan. Roast uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, toss to coat and roast uncovered for another 5 to 8 minutes or until asparagus is crisp tender.


Cauliflower Gratin

1     large head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

1     cup heavy cream or half-and-half

1     tablespoon flour

¾     cup cheddar cheese, shredded or grated

½     cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼     cup grated Parmesan cheese

½     cup flavored bread crumbs

2     tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine together cauliflower florets, cream, flour, and cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-quart casserole dish, cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes in 400 degree oven.

In a bowl mix together grated Parmesan cheese and flavored breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over cauliflower. Dot top with butter pieces, bake uncovered until topping is a golden brown and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife about 10-15 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.


Sweet Potato Casserole with Pineapple and Pecans

Serves 6.

4     sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)

2     tablespoons butter

1     small can crushed pineapple, drained

3     tablespoons brown sugar

½     cup chopped pecans, toasted

Pierce each sweet potato with a fork or sharp knife 4-6 times on each side. Wrap each potato in a damp paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes, turning after 4 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes.

Cut potatoes in half and scoop pulp into a casserole bowl. Mash pulp, stir in butter until melted and mixed well. Stir in crushed pineapple and brown sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. The last 10 minutes top with toasted chopped pecans.


Rum-Raisin and Pecan Bundt Cake

This cake may be made in a 10-inch tube pan also.

2/3    cup raisins

2/3    cup toasted chopped pecans

¼     cup rum

3     cups cake flour

1 ½   teaspoons baking powder

½     teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

¼     cup butter, softened

½     cup butter, softened

1 1/3  cups granulated sugar, divided

2     tablespoons grated orange rind

2     teaspoons vanilla extract

3     large eggs, room temperature

1     cup milk

Baking spray with flour

3     tablespoons light colored corn syrup

2     tablespoons water

1     tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small microwave safe bowl stir raisins and rum; microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Cool for 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add 1-cup granulated sugar, orange rind, ¼ cup rum, and vanilla, beat on medium for 4-5 minutes until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each mixture.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Drain raisins, and reserve rum. Stir raisins and pecans into batter. Pour batter into a 10-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a serving plate.

In a saucepan combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water, bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in reserved rum. Brush rum syrup over warm cake. Cool completely then sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.


Easy and Quick Fruitcake

This is a last minute fruitcake recipe.

½     cup butter

¾     cup granulated sugar

½     teaspoon ground cinnamon

2     teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1     teaspoon vanilla

1/3    cup rum (preferably dark rum), or Grand Marnier, for an orange flavor

3     large eggs, room temperature

1 ½   cups unbleached flour

1     small can crushed pineapple, undrained

¼     cup crystallized chopped ginger (Optional)

½     cup halved candied red cherries

10    halved candied cherries, for garnish

½     cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped

½     cup dates, coarsely chopped

½     cup dark raisins

1 1/2  cups pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts or hazel nuts, coarsely chopped

2     tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 5 –inch loaf pan

In a bowl and with an electric mixer beat until smooth, butter, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, rum, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, stirring to combine.

Stir in undrained crushed pineapple, apricots, raisins, dates, ginger, cherries, and nuts. Mix well. Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.

Arrange cherry halves down 2 rows of the cake. Sprinkle top with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired (Optional). Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes, then tent with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven, brush with rum or Grand Marnier or a simple syrup of boiled vanilla and sugar. Cool cake for 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool.

Let cake cool completely then wrap in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Brushing the cake every week with rum or simple sugar syrup will keep the cake moist and tasty as it was the day it was baked. If keeping more than 6 weeks, refrigerate.


Cookie, candy or bar recipes sought

Do you have a special cookie, candy or bar recipe that you make for the holidays? Share it with us for our holiday cookie special. Send recipe and your name to:             


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.