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Peanut Brittle

3 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water

Pre-measure and have ready in separate containers (This is IMPORTANT...
near the end you don't have much time to get all this in the pot.):

4-1/2 cups salted roasted peanuts (1 lb. 7 oz.)
4 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping teaspoons fresh baking SODA

Coat two large baking pans or cookie sheets with vegetable oil spray.

In a heavy 5 quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. As it heats, dissolve the sugar by swirling the pot often over the burner. Keeping the lid on will prevent sugar crystals from forming inside the pot.

Once steam begins to rise around the edges of the top, remove cover and reduce heat to medium, insert candy thermometer, and continue to boil until temperature reaches 230 degrees (thread stage) about one minute.

Add the peanuts and stir constantly with a METAL spoon until the mixture reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage), about 13 to 18 minutes. At this point, the mixture should be a rich gold brown. It will seem like it takes a long time, but all of a sudden (as soon as you see the brown color start to appear, things happen very quickly... get ready, and be careful not to burn yourself with the hot liquid.)

Immediately remove from heat when thermometer hits 300 degrees and QUICKLY add butter, vanilla and baking soda. Stir with a metal spoon until butter melts. Mixture will become foamy. Pour half of mixture down the center of each pan and spread it by tipping the pan from side to side. Try to avoid spreading it with the spoon as this will take out all the great foam bubbles that makes the candy light textured and wonderful. Allow to cool for at least one hour.

Turn brittle out of the pan and snap it into shards. Peanut Brittle can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks. I pack it in zip-lock bags, suck the air out and re-bag in a second zip-lock.

Mulled Cider

1 gallon apple cider
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 sticks cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 whole orange, sliced (unpeeled)

Combine ingredients in slow-cooking pot. Cover and heat on low for 2 to 5 hours or longer. Serve from pot.

Not only is this delicious, but your house will smell wonderful!

Holiday Salad - Festive and beautiful!

Tender fresh spinach (wash and crisp)
Whole cashews
Fresh strawberries (quartered)
Dried cranberries (raspberries or cherries)
Small croutons (plain)
Marzetti's Fat Free Raspberry Dressing

Fill large shallow bowl with spinach -- arrange strawberries around, like a wreath; sprinkle cashews, dried cranberries, and croutons over center area... drizzle with raspberry dressing.

Sourdough Cheese Puff - An excellent made ahead, delicious at room temperature!

1/3 cup chopped onion
1 - 16-oz. loaf sourdough bread -- cut into 1-inch strips
4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
4 cups milk
1/4 cup snipped parsley
4 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In small saucepan cook onion in a small amount of boiling unsalted water until tender, drain. Arrange one-fourth of the bread strips in bottom of two greased 9x9 baking pans (or one 10x14). Sprinkle with Monterey Jack, Parmesan, and onion atop bread. Top with remaining bread.

Beat together eggs, milk, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper. Divide evenly (if using two pans) -- pour over the bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate 1 to 24 hours (overnight is best). Bake covered 350 degrees 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 20 - 25 minutes more until puffy and light brown. Cool slightly, cut into squares.




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