Here are some pre-holiday delights. The spring holidays awaken the desire for different recipes to greet the budding season. Here is a selection that would add a nice touch to a holiday menu.



Scottish Eggs

Serves 6.

6 eggs, hard boiled

1 pound ground breakfast sausage

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon ground sage or thyme

Pinch of black pepper

2 large eggs beaten

¼ cup all purpose flour

½ to ¾ cup bread crumbs or panko crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Peel hard boiled eggs and chill well.

In a bowl mix together meat, parsley, sage, and pepper, blend well.

Divide meat into 6 equal parts

Press meat around eggs with hands, keeping the oval shape.

Coat eggs with flour on all sides. Beat 2- large eggs in a bowl. Dip floured eggs into beaten eggs and roll in bread crumbs.

Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan to 350 degrees.

Fry eggs until well browned, about 4-5 minutes. Drain. May be served hot or cold.


Orange Pecan Muffins

Makes 2 dozen.

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 ½ sticks butter, melted

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup orange juice

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In another bowl stir together eggs, vanilla, orange juice, butter, marmalade, and nuts.

Stir into flour mixture and stir until moist, batter may be lumpy.

Grease muffin pans and fill each cup ½ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Deviled Egg Spread

1 dozen hard cooked eggs, divided, reserve one egg

¾ to 1 cup good mayonnaise, for desired consistency

½ teaspoon seasoned salt, more if desired for taste

3 scallions, finely sliced, separated into light and dark pieces

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

¼ teaspoon paprika

Reserve 1-hard boiled egg for garnish. Cut remaining eggs in half. Remove egg yolks; place in a blender or food processor. Add mayonnaise, seasoned salt, light scallion pieces, and relish, add in 12 egg white halves that are cut into fourths. Process until blended well. Spoon mixture into a medium sized serving bowl.

Coarsely chop the remaining egg white halves into small pieces. Add to egg mixture; stir in finely chopped scallions.

Chop the reserved egg finely and sprinkle over egg mixture in bowl along with dark scallions pieces. Garnish with paprika.

Serve with your favorite crackers, celery sticks, carrots, and/ or colorful bell pepper slices.


Orange Glazed Carrots

2 pounds fresh carrots (I like the little thin carrots for this recipe.)

¼ cup orange juice

3 tablespoons orange flavor gelatin, about ½ of 3-ounce package

1 orange, sliced in half lengthwise then sliced crosswise into thin slices

Peel and trim carrots; cook in a large saucepan of water for 5-8 minutes until crisp tender. Drain carrots reserving 1/2- cup cooking water.

To the saucepan add reserved cooking water and orange juice bring just to a boil. Add dry gelatin mix; stir until completely dissolved. Add drained carrots, cook for 3-4 minutes or until carrots are glazed and tender, stirring frequently.

Toss in about 8-10 orange slices orange slices and stir to coat. Transfer carrots, oranges, and sauce to a serving platter. Garnish outer edge of platter with remaining orange slices.


Baked Melt in Your Mouth Mushrooms

Serves 6

1 pound fresh white button mushrooms

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons dried sweet basil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove stems from mushrooms and wash caps in warm salted water. Drain on paper towels

In bowl stir together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, basil, and pepper until well blended.

Stuff each mushroom cap with about 1-teaspoon cream cheese mixture.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Serve hot.


Cold Spinach Dip

2 packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry

1 4-ounce package blue cheese

1-1 ½ pints sour cream

3 scallions finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced then smashed

3 eggs hard boiled and finely chopped

Press thawed spinach, then pat dry with paper towels.

In a bowl crumble blue cheese and stir in spinach. Then stir in scallions, smashed garlic, and chopped eggs. Blend in sour cream gradually until easily spreadable.

Serve with crackers or thick chips.


Marinated Shrimp

2 pounds shrimp, cooked and peeled

1 medium sweet onion, sliced thinly

½ cup canola oil

1 cup ketchup

½ cup cider vinegar or rice vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl whisk together canola oil, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until well blended. Fold in shrimp and sliced onion.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Remove shrimp to a large bowl or serving platter and serve with toothpicks.


Cranberry Lemon Sugar Cookies

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

¾ cup butter

¾ cup granulated sugar, divided

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, lemon peel, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, blend well. Stir in cranberries and set aside.

In another bowl with an electric mixer beat butter, ½ cup granulated sugar, and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until blended.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar. Arrange on ungreased or parchment lined baking sheets, 2-inches apart. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass.

Bake 10 minutes or until edges are slightly golden. Cool 2-3 minutes on a wire rack; remove cookies from pans and cool completely.


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; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.