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17 December, 2009

Oldies But Goodies...or...Easy Christmas Recipes

IMG_9729I have been busy baking for my family Christmas celebration this weekend and I realized that I have a few quick and easy recipes that I might share with you. I will be assisted by our guest co-hostess Vanna the Christmas Mouse since Baby Kitty is busy wrapping the Christmas gifts for the staff.
The first one is a simmering potpourri…not intended to drink, although it wouldn’t hurt you since it’s all natural, but intended to make your house smell wonderful and Christmasy! I don’t know about you, but the smell of oranges and cinnamon just says Christmas to me!

IMG_9726It’s so simple that you probably already have all of the ingredients!
  • First bring a quart of water to a boil. 
  • Next add half of an orange cut into smaller sections (I usually squeeze the juice into the water and then add the peel).
  • Finally, add two cinnamon sticks, two bay leaves and 20-25 whole cloves.
Let it boil for a few minutes, then turn it down to a simmer and leave it on the stove. In about 30 minutes, your whole house will smell wonderful! You can put it in the fridge and reuse it for several days. I have even frozen it and pulled it back out on a really cold night to make the house feel cozy. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level when the potpourri is simmering. It is so easy and inexpensive compared to store bought potpourri!

IMG_9737 The second is intended to drink…instant Russian tea! I keep it in my snowman jar. Here in the South, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Russian tea! Can I still call it that? Is it politically correct? lol My sister makes a big batch of it whenever we come over during the holidays. She makes the real thing (click here for that recipe), but I like the instant kind because I can make as much or as little as I want and I can make it as strong as I want. I will give you the recipe, but you have to promise not to laugh! OK?

IMG_9749 Why will you laugh? Because I have had this recipe for 30 years and you will know how old I am when you see the ingredients!
Instant Russian Tea
1 one lb container of Tang (It’s actually 1.4…I just don’t use it all.)
1 pkg instant unsweetened lemonade
3/4 cup instant tea
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Mix all ingredients well. Place in a tightly covered jar. Place 2 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. (I like to use 3 teaspoons.) Enjoy!
I LOVE this stuff! You have to hunt the Tang…maybe on the bottom shelf! It seems that the astronauts don’t drink it so much any more! lol lol You ladies my age will remember that! I wonder if the Russian cosmonauts drink Russian tea? Ahem…

IMG_9752 My third recipe is a very easy candy recipe…chocolate butterscotch granola candy. Those are the ingredients, too! At my house we call it Uncle Larry's candy because it’s his favorite. I actually got this recipe from one of my students in the '70s…yikes! I’ve been using this one a long time! The butterscotch gives it an extra little yummy taste.
Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Candy
about 3/4 of a box of Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins ( The box is bigger than it used to be.)
one 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
one 12 ounce bag of butterscotch chips
Melt the chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Add the cereal and stir until coated. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper and allow to cool. (I cool mine in the fridge.) Cover tightly to store. I keep it in the fridge and take it out shortly before serving, but you would not have to once it has cooled.

IMG_2561 One final quick and easy recipe is from my mom’s friend Bonnie who gave it to her about 50 years ago, so we call it Bonnie’s cheese ball. Hmmm…we seem to name all of our old family recipes after people. It has certainly stood the test of time! I posted this recipe last year, but it bears repeating.
Bonnie's Cheese Ball
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (4 ounce) package bleu cheese
6 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cracker Barrel)
1 tablespoon freeze dried chives
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt (to taste)
chopped pecans
1 olive
Let the cheeses soften at room temperature. Mix together adding the chives. Add the garlic salt to taste starting with about 1/2 teaspoon. Mine usually wind up with about a teaspoon. Even if you think you've added too much, you probably have not. Drop the mixture onto wax paper and refrigerate until it is easier to handle. I usually divide the recipe into 2 balls because one is usually enough and the other one freezes great! Take them out of the fridge and form them into nice round balls. Roll them on a plate where you have put the pecans and the paprika until they are covered. I usually have to shake on a little extra paprika to make them pretty. Top each with 1/2 olive to decorate. I always serve it with Nabisco Sociables crackers.

IMG_9731 That’s it! Thanks so much for stopping by! And thanks also from the Plate Addict staff to Miss Vanna for taking time out of her busy schedule to give us a hand! I hope that at least one of these recipes will help to make your Christmas holidays a little easier!

Foodie_Friday_Logo_2 Please head on over to visit our own Gollum, Michael Lee, who is the hostess with the mostest for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum! There you will discover her latest recipe and perhaps get a peek at her beautiful home! Be sure to check out the list of this week’s participants, who are certainly better cooks than I am! lol See you next time! A la prochaine!


  1. Debbie~~~

    I am ready to put a pot of the potpourri on right now. It sounds heavenly and you are right...I do have all the ingredients. The Russian Tea is something I used to make years ago and packaged up nicely as little hostess gifts. You brought back some good memories and I wouldn't know where to begin searching for the recipe. Thanks so much. The cheese ball also sounds delish. My late MIL loved a cheese ball from a Scandinavian shop close by and I haven't had it since she passed. It had bleu cheese in it also. I will have to try this.

    Thanks for the great recipes. When Baby Kitty is done wrapping, send her over. I need help (shouting!!). the new Monet header pic!!

    Happy holidays, sweet lady! :-)


  2. Debbie, I love Ms. VAnna, what a beautiful little mouse and her dress is just fabulous. Your recipes sound so good I will definitely have to make some of the tea, that's my favorite evening drink. Your candy and cheese ball sound really good too. The potpourri sounds so good I could smell it as you were talking. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Hugs, Marty

  3. This is the first year I haven't simmered some homemade potpourri! Wow, how this month has just gotten away from me. What a yummy sounding cheeseball- you know how you always have to take something to a holiday get-together- it would be perfect. Looks like you've been busy. Hope your Christmas season is blessed.
    hugs, Sue

  4. Debbie, Vanna is the cutest Christmas mouse I have ever seen; her dress is exquisite and look she has ruby shoes, just like Dorothy!
    I haven't had Russian tea in years. I will make some if I can find the Tang...the cheeseball is always on my list of must-haves for Christmas, sometimes I even make it look like a pine cone using sliced almonds! Thanks for sharing, especially, Vanna.

  5. Oh Yes! I remember the novelty of Tang as the drink the astronauts took to the moon! I love your King Henry Mouse!! How cute! I'm gonna make up some of that potpourri first thing tommorrow and find me some Tang! God Bless! Lauralu :)

  6. Debbie.. thanks so much for sharing these recipes today. The first two, long forgotten from my childhood... I haven't thought of the "tang-tee" in years... but now, I'll make it this year... and the cookies... My sister use to make them about as fast as we (me, dad and sis) could eat them.. but I haven't had them in year and years... I can't wait to make them now!

    Wishes to you for a sweet, happy, wonderful Christmas. Blessings. Dixie

  7. What a great post! Love it. I do that simmering spice thing a lot. I stage homes (advise lots of folks on it too) and that is a MUST. I tell them fill a pan with water, slice up an orange, put in a couple of cinn. sticks, whole allspice, &whole nutmeg...boil like crazy and then when company is showing up, put it in the oven to get it out of the way. You can use this same pan of stuff 3 or 4 times before you need to redo!

  8. Debbie, I haven't had Russian Tea in years, thanks so much for the recipe! I haven't had Tang in years either lol. I used to drink that stuff by the gallon when I was a kid. The cheeseball sounds wonderful. And I'm going to simmer some of the potpourri tomorrow for Cait's homecoming. Hugs, Kat

  9. Love Vanna the mouse :)

    and tang, haven't had it in ages. I have to try your Russian tea!

    Fun post! I would just love the smell the potpourri!

  10. Back in the 70s, I made Russian Tea and put it in Mason jars with little scraps of fabric on the lids. I am going to make your potpourri tomorrow. My house will thank me. I'm watching Under the Tuscan House tonight and feel just like the heroine when she moved in and had to deal with scorpions and 2000 wine bottles. My house has gotten away from every way.
    This has NOTHING to do with Christmas baking, however. I loved this post and the happy memories it evoked (and thanks in advance for the wonderful smell that will be floating through my house tomorrow).

  11. Hi Debbie,
    I love your mouse, the recipes are so good.....yes, the tang part made me laugh! Thanks for sharing, I will be using some of these! Hugs, Cindy

  12. Wow! You are on a roll here, Debbie and everything looks so good. You make me smile!...Christine

  13. Debbie, I love your little mouse and that gorgeous dress she is wearing. How wonderful. Your recipes all look delicious but I promised myself to not bake cookies anymore. I tend to eat most of them '((
    Have a great day

  14. Thank you for this cookbook full of wonderful recipes! I love the potporri idea! I think I will try it in my tiny crockpot! This will make my home smell very Christmassy!
    I also love the cheese ball. Yummy! I am having some friends in, so this will be a lovely addition.
    Thanks for all the great recipes.
    Merry Christmas!

  15. Oh what a great fun post....loving the potporri one, will definitely have a go...thank you. hugs Teresa

  16. I love that potpourri and often it is a "Christmas remembrance" -- all ingedients (whole fruit, however) in a bag with a note. It does waft Christmas all through the house! I must do it today while we're home -- hopefully with snow!

  17. Thank you for all the recipes. A very festive looking post. Merry Christmas!


  18. I can smell it from here:) Unfortunately most smells do not agree with my daughter so I rarely even spray lemon scent in our home. Now the food recipes as you know are things I like to copy and make at a later date so thanks for posting. I like your little mouse. Merry Christmas and I hope Santa brings you lots and lots of plates this year!

  19. Bonjour!que de bonnes idées pour un Noël gourmand et parfumé!
    merci d' avoir partagé ces petits trésors (i feel like trying pot-pourri and chese balls,miam!).
    A bientôt (and thanks for your last visit!)

  20. Deb, you have been one busy lady. I can only imagine how wonderful your home is smelling today. I remember getting this tea as a Christmas gift and they called it friendship tea and I remember how much I loved it. I was just thinking about this tea the other day wondering where I could find the recipe,"Deb to the rescue" I am going to make this,thanks for sharing. Love ya, Kathysue

  21. Debbie, this is just wonderful! I'm laughing about the Tang because that's my era, too! LOL!

    And that potpourri sounds like it would smell fabulous.

    Love the chocolate dessert, and I am going out to get those ingredients for a cheese ball. I have to go to a party on Saturday, and I might bring it with me! :-)



  22. Hurrah a recipe without turning on the stove! I can see it now, Cheeseball a la Muse...LOL LOL

    PS..I am with you and Ms Magpie...pass the tang (wink) :)

  23. Debbie, Miss Vanna is too cute. This is another beautiful post. Looks like you are having fun. Best wishes for a happy time with Page, Kevin, and Andrew.
    Busy time here as well, but all so much fun!
    Hugs ~ sarah

  24. Debbie,

    These recipes are great!!! I can't wait to try them! I had all but forgotten about Tang. How funny to hear it again. I too remember the commercials with the astronauts drinking it:). Your blog is such a delight, I enjoy my visits!

    Merry Christmas!


  25. Hi Debbie, I have never heard of Russian Tea but I've got to try it! Tang - OMG - I haven't had that in ages. Remember it's the drink of astronauts! Miss seeing Baby Kitty but love Miss Vanna.

    Have a great weekend, Bonnie

  26. Thanks for sharing the recipes with us, they sound yummy. I have not had any Tang in years & years!! I forgot all about it!! I am going to have to purchase some now.

  27. I used to LOVE Tang! I didn't even think they made it anymore? I'll have to look for it tomorrow when I go grocery shopping.

    Thanks for all the recipes! I do the simmering potpourri all the time but I use orange or clementine peels.


  28. I have one of those small candle warmers that looks like a crock pot. I wonder if I could warm the spices in a mason jar in that. Don't know why not. I think I'll try it. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I appreciate my wonderful readers!... Debbie