December 31, 2011

New Year Nibbles...and The Family Dinner

Darling and I went to dinner last night at our favorite Friday night spot, DiMillo's. We talked to Steve DiMillo, the owner, who always stops and talks a bit and thanks us for coming in to dinner. Now, is that not the sweetest thing ever? We talked about Stephen King's home up in Bangor and did I mention Miss Judy has the biggest crush on Mr. Steve? Yep, I believe he made quite an impression on that Florida gal!!

DiMillo's on a Warmer Day

As we were talking about the past year and thinking of our 2012 move home with happy anticipation, we also discussed current events and the state of "things." I said, "I was listening to a daily talk show today, and they were giving a review of Laurie David's book about the family dinner. I found it surprising that the "family dinner hour" is now considered am "oldie but goodie!" WHAT? Here is the small tidbit review of her book.......

Producer and Author of "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time"

Laurie wants to help America’s overwhelmed families sit down to dinner in her newest book The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time. The Family Dinner is an inspirational, practical - and, of course, green - guide to the most important hour in your family’s day, dinnertime. With input from more than 50 experts in everything from parenting to poetry to pasta, this book is chock full of fantastic family-approved recipes, dinner conversation starters, ways to express gratitude, green values for the kitchen, and a whole lot more. The Family Dinner will help families cut through the fog of computers, television, texting and busy schedules and will help overwhelmed parents re-discover the joy of this time honored ritual.

Well, perhaps this is now the "norm" for America's society. I agree with the last sentence regarding the fog of computers, texting (did I mention I detest texting?) and not fit for viewing television. Hmmm.....we actually need to rediscover the joy of the family dinner ritual? Hope and pray for America, dear ones. It is so simple really. No need to make the yearly resolutions on the last day of the year. Let us all just simply promise to leave the world a better place, be kind to one another, be polite to all of those you meet, show love to God's helpless creatures, hug and kiss your children and love your family. Thank the good lord for all of your blessings and enjoy your family at dinner time.....this time honored ritual. Blessings for 2012 from The Maine House.

What's the great thing about New Year's celebrations?
Everyone's ready to take it easy!

After a month of parties with elaborate buffets, plus the burgeoning family holiday tables, enough is enough! For the last festive fling of the season, these are a few simple appetizers that have been requested by our family for the past few years. They can be whipped up in no time! I'll bet these will satisfy those party palates all the way to the horn-blowing, confetti-throwing time!

Warm Turnip Green Dip
5 bacon slices, chopped
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (16-oz.) package frozen chopped turnip greens, thawed
12 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish: dried crushed red pepper
Assorted crackers, flatbread, and gourmet wafers

Preheat oven to broil. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté onion and garlic in hot drippings 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine, and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven. Stir in turnip greens, next 4 ingredients, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook, stirring often, 6 to 8 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated. Transfer to a lightly greased 1 1/2-qt. baking dish. (Make certain that you use a broiler-safe baking dish.) Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Broil 6 inches from heat 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Sprinkle with bacon. Garnish, if desired. Serve with assorted crackers, flatbread, and wafers.

Lucky Black-eyed Pea Salad
1 (16-oz.) package frozen black-eyed peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup red pepper jelly
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 large fresh peaches, peeled and diced
2 cups torn watercress

Prepare peas according to package directions, simmering only until al dente; drain and let cool 1 hour. Whisk together cilantro and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cooked black-eyed peas, bell pepper, and onion, tossing to coat; cover and chill 8 hours. Stir peaches and watercress into pea mixture just before serving.

May the new year bring
The warmth of home and hearth to you.
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you,
The hope of a childlike heart to you.
The joy of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

December 30, 2011

Spaghetti Supper! That's Amore' !

I can't begin to tell you how much fun we had over the Christmas Holidays! People can tell you all day long how much fun it is to be blessed with grandchildren, but until you experience it for is simply "the best" life has to offer! The Divine Miss M went all out entertaining her family and boy oh' boy, did we eat well!! One of our favorite nights, was Italian Night! Divine Spaghetti and Meatballs......delish!


A Two-Fisted Eater

I love to welcome Darling home on Friday night, with the aroma of simmering red sauce on the stove and the candles lit......put on your lipstick sweeties.....pour a glass of merlot, play some Dean Martin and kiss that man of yours....That's Amore!

Estelle's Favorite Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sausage
1 chopped onion
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
1 grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped parsley (2 ½ T. dry)
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
Tomato sauce can of water
1 24-26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 T. sugar
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ t. red pepper
¼ t crushed red pepper
2 t. Worcestershire sauce

Brown ground beef and sausage with onion. Drain grease, and add garlic. Add carrot and parsley and simmer for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for a few hours.

The Ultimate Meatballs
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.
Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Divide into 10 equal pieces and shape them into 10 nice looking meatballs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Dance Like No One's Watching
Ah....Dino....You Really Melt my Buttah"......

December 29, 2011

Christmas Atlanta Style!

The Atlanta Christmas Home

A Maine House Mosaic

There is that quiet moment, when there is no more time for rushing about, the presents have all been opened and the rubble is cleared away. An abundant Christmas feast was happily consumed and all the family has now trundled off to their own homes. It is time to light a fire, turn down the lights, and sit quietly in the living room, content for the moment.

Glancing over at the twinkling lights of the tree, a deep sigh escapes. Christmas had arrived, and despite the world's attempt to steal the peace of the season away from me, it had been perfect after all. It was perfect in small moments.

If I had hurried too much they would have been lost, and I had been so determined not to let that happen. I desired more than anything to be able to retain that deep joy despite the hassle of airports and security lines, holiday traffic, the greed and the sometimes excess of the season.

I hope your Christmas was joyful, and that, in those quiet moments after the hubbub you were able to take in the meaning of it all. As Luke blessed our food, I heard it in his prayer as we returned thanks for all that we have been blessed with, and for the Greatest Gift we have been given.

Twas' the Night Before Christmas

Under the Mistletoe

Santa's Cutest Elf

The Joy of the Stocking

1 pkg french vanilla cake mix

1 carton (16oz.) ricotta cheese
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz semisweet chocolate,finely chopped

2 cartons (8 oz. each)mascarpone cheese
3/4 c confectioners sugar
1/4 c whole milk
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c sliced almonds
2 Tbsp miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using two greased and floured 9 inch round baking pans. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners sugar, cinnamon and extracts;stir in finely chopped chocolate. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, confectioners sugar, milk and extracts until smooth;cover and refrigerate filling and frosting until frosting reaches spreading consistency.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate;spread with 1 cup filling. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining filling over top to within one inch of edges. Frost sides and top edge of cake with 2 cups of frosting. Press almonds into sides of cake;pipe remaining frosting around edges,sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Refrigerate until serving.

Three Times Watching "A Christmas Story"....

December 21, 2011

It's A Marshmallow World!

The Maine House is hanging our stockings in Atlanta!

"The little red stockings he silently fills, Till the stockings will hold no more; The bright little sleds for the great snow hills Are quickly set down on the floor. Then Santa Claus mounts to the roof like a bird, And glides to his seat in the sleigh; Not a sound of a bugle or drum is heard As he noiselessly gallops away..." by Rosie Winters (Excerpt from Christmas Poems and Stories)

As this is our final posting for the Christmas season, I find it is the perfect time to share the best recipe from Mother's archives! Miss Mamie's Marshmallow Fudge. We have made this every year since I was a small child. Mother never failed to make Christmas extraordinary for each of us. If I could twitch my nose, I would wish for her to be here, sharing our holiday once again. I treasure my parents and they are with me in memory, especially at Christmas. Darling and I are so looking forward to Christmas Eve festivities with The Divine Miss M and her family. Little Luke should provide plenty of joy and laughter...Christmas through the eyes of a three year old.....just magical! Wishing a very blessed and merry Christmas to you all!

Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge
1/4 cup Butter (1/2 stick, chilled)
4 3/4 cup Sugar
12 oz Evaporated Milk (one large can)
12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (one bag)
11.5 oz Milk Chocolate Chips (one bag)
13-14 oz Marshmallow Creme or Marshmallow Fluff
(two 7 oz. jars)(may substitute 4 cups of mini-marshmallows)
2 cup Nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, chopped -or- 8 oz. bag)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Butter Flavor Extract

Line a 13" x 9" pan with aluminum foil, butter the insides, and set aside. Place chips, vanilla & butter flavor, about half the marshmallow creme, and nuts into a LARGE saucepan or Pyrex glass dish and set aside. Use Medium heat to bring the milk and sugar to a rolling boil while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or single stem hand mixer. Add half the marshmallow creme (or 2 cups of mini-marshmallows) - fold in - the boil will stop. Bring back to a rolling boil and continue to boil for [8] full minutes by the clock (start timing once the marshmallows have melted and the boil has resumed). The mixture will expand and start to turn brown during the boil. If you get brown flakes in the mixture then turn down the heat a little and continue stirring. Remove from heat, mix in the butter, and pour hot mixture over chips, vanilla, and nuts without scraping the sides of the hot saucepan. Mix thoroughly and pour into prepared pan. Cool 2-3 hours at room temperature. Remove from pan, remove foil, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container with wax paper dividers for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 4 pounds of fudge. This is simply divine!

May your stockings be full and your
memories many!

December 20, 2011

The Best Sugar Cookie...Christmas Snowflakes!

Snowmen aren't forever, but
Christmas memories are!

"In the jolly winters of the long-ago, It was not so cold as now -Oh, oh no! Then, as I remember, snowballs to eat Were as good as apples now, and every bit as sweet!" ~by James Whitcomb Riley, 1883

Miss Isabella...A Georgia Peach!

This recipe was shared with us by an Atlanta Belle.....Miss Christina! She is a brand new mom to little Isabella....."Izzy".....whom we shall see during the holidays! Can't wait to hold this new baby! Thank you for the recipe shugah....they are simply delish!

 Christina's Christmas Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1 egg
1 T.milk
1 t. vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to375 degrees F. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat butter on medium -high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat well. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. Then add flour in batches and mix well. Cover the cookie dough and chill about one hour. Roll out the dough in batches and cut your desired shapes.

Notice Miss Helen's vintage rolling of my most treasured baking tools!

 Today we made snowflakes!  Frost with confectioners icing! Might want to add those festive sprinkles too! Betcha' can't eat just one!!

Wishing you all A Very Happy Holiday!

December 19, 2011

The Reading Corner.... Christmas in the Country!

"It was a fortnight before Christmas, and everyone agreed that this would be a real Christmas, such as had not been seen for many years. There was a delightful cold nip in the air, as exhilarating as good news; the sky was grey and overcast, and the streets were covered with a thick layer of snow. Few sights are more charming than that of a town covered with a new-fallen, clean, white snow; and how pretty it is to watch the tiny flakes drift downward through the air as if there were a wedding in the sky and the fairies were throwing confetti..." ~Excerpt from The Mysterious Toyshop by Cyril W. Beaumont, 1891-1976.

  Ritual is important, family and friends are important,
snow is good, and a tangerine in a stocking is enough to inspire
oohs and ahs of delight.
"Christmas in the Country" is a worthy addition to the genre.

“This loving celebration of Christmas is as fresh as the season’s first snowfall, and as warm as a steaming mug of eggnog. A young girl growing up in the country enjoys a simple but enchanting Christmas with her family. Boxes of treasured homemade ornaments are brought out; an evergreen wreath brightens the front door; and relatives gather for a delicious meal.
In it, our pony-tailed heroine lives in the country with Grandma and Grandpa in a house that is "small and white. It had an old coal stove to keep us warm and a tiny little kitchen for supper and a nice back porch for the dogs." In the country, spring is for walks, summer for tomatoes, and fall for apples. In winter, "The snow slows everything down. Birds are silent and serious. Dogs stay in their warm houses. Children want cocoa and blankets. Everyone is ready for something really special."
Grandpa will cut the tree in the forest, and the narrator and Grandma will take the precious old ornaments from the closet that "smells like wool and mothballs." Diane Goode's illustrations are just right - simple and energetic. Everyone's hair is windblown at all times, as if country folk have better things to do than spray, mousse or pin! Captured here are the memorable holiday moments we cherish and remember – always”

1 Italian panettone, about 1.2 pounds
Unsalted butter, for greasing the dish
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Trim the dark brown outer crust from the panettone (optional). Cut the rest of the loaf in 1-inch cubes and place on a sheet pan in a single layer. Toast the panettone for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Grease a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish with the butter. Place the panettone cubes in the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, vanilla and almond extracts and sugar. Pour this custard mixture over the panettone. Set aside for 10 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top of the pudding. Place the baking dish into a larger pan and add very hot tap water to the larger pan until it's halfway up the side of the baking dish. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes, until the custard is set and the top of the pudding is light golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm!

December 18, 2011

Fireside Chats

May your December days be filled with
Warmth and Happiness.

I believe we have had some of our best and most memorable times sitting in front of a warm fire at The Maine House. Our first Christmas in Maine was two years ago. We traveled over 16 states and a period of three days from Texas, to arrive in bitter cold December temperatures one week before Christmas. The previous owner had so kindly left us a beautiful "welcome to Maine" Christmas card, a gorgeous Poinsettia, and a box of chocolates as we began the transition into our new home. Boxes were in every room so we were able to create little pathways throughout the house. The Poinsettia served as our Christmas tree. This was our only decoration. Rob made the move with us and left to go home to Texas after the New Year. We bought some Champagne, sat by our new fireplace and reflected on past Christmases. Darling and I wondered if we had made the right decision? Did we really just move clear across the country from our children and grandchildren? Are we actually going to live in the far eastern part of the country in snow and ice, where they have basements, furnaces, wood stoves and snow blowers? Well, yes we were. What do southerners know about any of these things? We have learned about them now. We have explored Maine each and everyday. We have learned to adjust to this new lifestyle and have learned to love our little New England Village and the state of Maine. We have come a long way emotionally from our first fireside chat that Christmas two years ago. And now we find ourselves in the transition of moving back to Texas...discussing how much we are going to miss The Maine House in yet another, Fireside Chat. This time with Mae Mobley by our side, wondering what Texas is all about?

Mae Mobley warming herself by the fire

Feeling a little Playful

An Inquisitive Look

Beautiful Appetizer and Bellini's for your own Fireside Chats

Brown Sugar Glazed Brie
apple wedges
1 14-ounce round of Brie
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
pear wedges
lemon juice
Assorted crackers

In a small bowl stir together the sugar, nuts, and brandy. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours or up to one week. At serving time, place the Brie on an ovenproof platter or pie plate. Bake at 500 degrees F for 4 or 5 minutes or until the Brie is slightly softened. Spread the sugar mixture in an even layer on top of the warm Brie and bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the sugar melts. Brush the fruit wedges with lemon juice and arrange them around one side of the Brie. Place crackers around the other side.

 Estelle's Mixed Berry Bellini's
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12-ounce) package frozen mixed berries, thawed
1 (750 ml) bottle sparkling wine (Estelle's used Asti Spamanti) 

In the container of an electric blender, combine berries and sugar; process until smooth. Strain mixture, if desired. Pour fruit mixture into a serving pitcher; slowly add wine, stirring gently to combine.

Quiet Kitty Thoughts....thinking the warmth feels good on Little Kittie Toesies!

December 17, 2011

First Snowfall

Hoping your holidays find you in the company of those you love.

"The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree Was ridged inch-deep with pearl."

One of our family favorites at Christmas!

Cranberries in the Snow
1 package raw cranberries
3/4 cup water
1 (6-ounce) box cherry flavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
Chopped pecans
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped

Cook raw cranberries in water until tender. Add gelatin and 2 cups sugar; stir well and cool. Then add celery, pineapple and pecans. Put into a 13" x 9" pan and refrigerate until jelled. Combine marshmallow creme, cream cheese and whipping cream; spread on top of jelled cranberry mixture. Ready to serve and enjoy! A beautiful Holiday dish!

December 16, 2011

Celebrate Christmas..... Texas Style!

Boo Hoo! We'll have a Blue Christmas
without you..........

A Maine House Mosaic

This year, Darling and I will be hanging our stockings and kissing under the mistletoe in Atlanta. Our sweet Jenn and Greg will be toasting with champagne in Texas with Jenn's family.  Now somehow we got off track in sharing the holidays. Next year, we plan on being back in Texas and ALL the family will be home for the holidays! So, this posting is in honor of this darling couple, soon to be bride and groom, as they celebrate Christmas Eve.....Texas Style!!

Chipotle Monterey Jack Cheese Chicken Sausage Quesadillas
12 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 (12 ounce) package Chipotle Monterey Jack Cheese Chicken Sausage,grilled and chopped
 (Estelle's uses Johnsonville)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

Place 3 tortillas on a large greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each with sausage, red pepper, green onion and cheese. Top each with tortilla. Place baking sheet on the center over rack. Broil for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with salsa.

Spicy Marinated Shrimp
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon salt
1 lemon, cut in half
8 cups water
3/4 cup white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 serrano chiles, seeds and veins removed, finely minced
  1 dried chile de árbol, crushed (no seeds)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (if desired)
3 green onions (white part only), minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the water, salt and lemon halves in a Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp, stir, and boil gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, chiles, cilantro and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag or other plastic container. Add the boiled shrimp, and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight, turning several times. To serve, drain liquid from shrimp. In a large bowl, combine chilled shrimp with additional cilantro, green onions and black pepper, and toss well. Arrange in a serving dish, and serve immediately!

Texas Dip
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 (10 ounce) cans Rotel tomatoes
1 (1 ounce) package chili mix
2 (15 ounce) cans ranch-style beans
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 cup  half-and-half

Brown meat in a large skillet and drain. Add onion and cook briefly. Add Rotel, chili mix and beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cheese and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in a chafing dish with tortilla chips. This is also easy to prepare in the crock pot before your guests arrive!


December 15, 2011

Christmas Fondue

 Wonderful white Winter! We must clap our hands at you: You are old, and we are cold, And there is nothing else to do. You and I are glad,... When the snow comes flying down, And ice drops fair leap out of the air To hang on the branches brown! Wonderful white Winter! We will make a league with you: You must know of want and woe, Tell us what we ought to do. Must we feed your little birds? Shelter to the homeless land? Comfort and aid the poor and afraid? That we will, my brave old friend! ~Excerpt from Winter Frolic, pub. 1890.

A Maine House Mosaic

Less hands-on time for the cook means more time with your family and friends. These may taste like you spent hours in the kitchen, but these are quick and easy to prepare. What a perfect ending to a day of sightseeing in the snow!

Veggie Dippers
2 cups fresh cauliflower florets
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 package (8 oz) fresh whole mushrooms
2 cups French bread cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 450°F. In large bowl, toss dippers with oil to coat evenly; arrange in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and bread cubes are toasted!

New England Lobster Fondue
1 cup velveeta cheese, cubed
1 cup Swiss cheese, cut into small pieces
1 can Campbell's cream of shrimp soup
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cup lobster meat chunks
French bread

Combine everything except the lobster in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. When melted, stir in the lobster meat. Garnish with red pepper if desired; serve with French bread.  Cut the French bread into chunks for dipping, or pour fondue over bread slices for individual servings.

Ultimate Southern Fondue
8 ounces of shredded Swiss cheese
8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 (4 oz) containers of garlic-herb spreadable cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (12 oz) jar quartered, marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 (7 oz) jar sliced pimento, drained

Combine first 6 ingredients in a lightly greased 4 quart slow cooker. Drain spinach well, pressing between paper towels. Stir spinach, artichokes and remaining 2 ingredients into cheese mixture. Cover and cook on LOW heat 1 hour and 30 minutes until cheese melts, stirring after 45 minutes.

"Sending wishes for a blissful holiday!"