Just Mulling things over…..

Its cold out. Cooler than usual for mid-November in Georgia. Even with weak, watery sunlight filtering through autumn trees it feels dank and chill. Rooms in my house are only partially cheered by lamplight, casting warm nets of incandescent light that draw one into cozy corners with deep chairs and plush throws in which to curl up. Nesting is one of the best activities for days such as these. Even though my vocation IS the kitchen, I’d rather be nesting and sipping something warm and spicy. Cinnamon, allspice and cloves mirror the brilliant burning leaves of the trees in the backyard-all rusts and reds and oranges. The trees are getting ready to nap for a while. They’re tired of being green and alert. So are we all. We need that short break before family Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and wrapping up another year. Pick your favorite spot in the house, some place quiet and all your own. Make a recipe of Mimi’s Spiced Tea Punch and heat up a serving in your favorite mug, pull up the softest throw you have and settle back. Warm spices will cheer your nose and tingle your eyes with nostalgia. There goes the cell phone. Ah….let it ring. You can call ‘em back.

Mimi’s Spiced Tea Punch
5 cinnamon apple tea bags (in the specialty tea section)
1 ½ cups frozen lemonade concentrate
1 ½ cups frozen orange juice concentrate
1 ¼ cups sugar

  1. Cover tea bags with water and bring to a boil; turn off and steep 15 minutes.
  2. Strain tea and combine with remaining ingredients in a gallon pitcher.
  3. Stir well and add water to complete the gallon.
  4. Serve hot or cold.

Mulled Cranberry Juice
32 ounces cranberry juice
2 oranges, each quartered
4 to 5 pieces whole stick cinnamon
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
Sugar to taste

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer and keep at a simmer about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  3. Strain before serving to remove oranges and spices.
  4. Keeps in refrigerator for 1 week.
  5. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick.

Tailgating … .It may just be sacred, but it’s not just Southern!

Although Southerners are known for their hospitality and the ease with which they entertain, tailgating is a universal pastime for football enthusiasts. Foodstuffs at said events can run the gamut from simple quick pick-ups, to the more elaborate spreads with smoking grills and more intense offerings. College football in the South is a sacred thing (I’ve seen televisions set on college games at wedding receptions and even funeral receptions). Inside the stadiums is hallowed ground and that extends to the parking lots where the feasting and drinking and entertaining takes place. Buffalo Chicken Dip has become a great standard on party tables. This recipe is easy and can be put together relatively quickly. Bake it before you take it and keep it serve ready in an insulated casserole carrier. Note: When free time permits cook a large batch of chicken breasts whether you boil or roast them. Cut them up and measure into 2 cup and 3 cup packages. Place them in quart freezer bags and you’ll have chicken ready for dips, casseroles or chicken salad in a snap. Thaw and use. Enjoy!

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Serves about 8
4 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast
1 cup chunky blue cheese dressing
¾ cup Franks hot sauce
2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 scallion, sliced into rings for garnish (optional)

  1. Combine chicken, dressing, hot sauce and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.
  2. Spread into a 2 quart Pyrex casserole dish.
  3. Top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped scallions if desired.
  5. Serve with crackers, Fritos scoops, or Tortilla chips.