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Old-fashioned Christmas

We love traditions at my house and a traditional holiday meal can be very satisfying. Think back to the days when Christmas dinner was so special because a favorite aunt or grandparent was doing the cooking. Or maybe you just remember the pumpkin pie your mother made with a special fondness. Try some of these traditional holiday recipes and add a few of your own.

May this blessed season be full of joy, peace, and wonderful familiar aromas throughout your house.

PRETZEL SALAD

2 cups pretzels, crushed

1-1/4 cups sugar

1-1/4 sticks margarine or butter

8 oz. whipped cream cheese

1 cup whipped topping

2 cups pineapple juice

2 (3-oz.) packages strawberry gelatin

2 (10-oz.) packages frozen strawberries

Additional whipped topping for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pretzels, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and margarine or butter. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with cooking spray and spread pretzel mixture in it. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Mix cream cheese, the remaining 1 cup sugar, and whipped topping; spread over baked pretzel mixture. Heat pineapple juice and dissolve gelatin in it. Add frozen strawberries and cool until gelatin just begins to set. Spread over cream cheese layer and refrigerate until solid. Cut into squares and serve on lettuce bed. Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping if desired. Serves 8.

OLD FASHIONED HAM

1/2 (6-8 lbs.) fully cooked ham with bone

20 whole cloves

6-8 canned pineapple rings (reserve juice or syrup)

3 Tablespoons dry mustard

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Maraschino cherries

Score the surface of the ham with shallow diamond-shaped cuts and insert cloves evenly in cuts all over top and sides of ham. Combine brown sugar, dry mustard, and juice or syrup from canned pineapple to make a thick paste. Spread over ham and place pineapple rings with cherries all over top and sides using toothpicks. Ham should be roasted on a rack in roasting pan in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes per pound, or until inserted thermometer reads 140 degrees. I like to baste mine with pan juices several times during the baking process. Serves 12 to 14.

CREAMED POTATOES AND PEAS

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 (15-oz.) can sweet peas

1 teaspoon sugar

3 Tablespoons butter

12 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 cups milk

Cover potatoes with water and cook over medium heat until fork tender. Simmer peas until heated thoroughly. Drain and add sugar. Melt butter in a saucepan and add flour, salt, and pepper to form a paste. Gradually stir in milk and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 additional minute. Drain potatoes and combine with peas in a bowl. Pour white sauce over and stir to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

MERRY CHRISTMAS CAKE

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

1 (16-oz.) can whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/3 cup orange juice

1 Tablespoon grated orange peel

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

Icing

2 Tablespoons orange juice

1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all cake ingredients except for walnuts and mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and pour batter into it. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 60-65 minutes or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool 12 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack. Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over warm cake. Serves 12-16.

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