Cook It Forward

Pineapple Cheese Ball

— 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
— 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained well
— 2 tbsp finely chopped green onions
— 4 tbsp chopped green bell pepper
— 1 tbsp seasoned salt
— 1 cup chopped pecans
— crackers

Mix cream cheese, pineapple, onions, bell pepper, and salt. Shape into 2 balls, cover, and freeze. On the day before, remove ball from freezer and allow it to thaw. Reshape and roll in chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with crackers.

Carrot and Apple Soup

— 3 tbsp margarine or butter
— 2 onions, finely chopped
— 5 medium apples (Golden Delicious recommended), peeled, cored, and chopped
— 2-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
— 3 cans (14 oz.) chicken or vegetable broth
— 2 tbsp sugar
— 2 tsp salt
— 2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
— 3 cups water
Optional Garnish:
— half-and-half or heavy cream
— fresh chives

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, melt butter over medium heat. Saute’ onion until tender and golden. Stir in apples, carrots, broth, sugar, salt, ginger, and water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Puree the mixture with a hand blender until smooth. Freeze. On the day before, move the soup to the refrigerator to thaw. On the day of, reheat and serve with a swirl of half-and-half or heavy cream. Garnish with fresh chives.

Simple Stuffing

— 4 quarts bread cubes
— 1 tbsp salt
— 2 tsp poultry seasoning
— 1/2 tsp ground pepper
— 1/4 tsp crushed sage leaves
— 1/4 tsp crushed thyme leaves
— 1 cup butter or margarine
— 2 cups chopped celery
— 2 cups chopped onion
— 2 cups chicken broth
— optional: 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Blend the bread cubes and seasonings, set aside. Saute’ celery and onion in butter over low heat until golden. Add the celery-onion mixture. Toss lightly, then pour broth over and stir to blend. Add more seasonings and the cranberries, if desired. Freeze up to 3 weeks. The day before, remove from freezer and allow up to 3 hours to thaw. The night before, stuff the turkey. You can also bake in greased loaf pans for about 1 hour, basting occasionally with turkey drippings.

Hot Apple Cake with Carmel Pecan Sauce

— 2 sticks butter, softened
— 1 cup sugar
— 2 eggs
— 1-1/2 cups flour
— 1 tsp ground cinnamon
— 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
— 1 tsp baking soda
— 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled,
cored and finely chopped
— 1/2 cup chopped pecans
— 2 tsp vanilla
— optional: vanilla ice cream
Caramel Sauce (to be prepared THE WEEK BEFORE serving):
— 4 tbsp butter
— 1/2 cup pecan halves
— 1 cup light brown sugar
— 1 cup whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350°  F. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended. Add flour, spices, and baking soda and beat until just mixed. Mix in the apples, nuts, and vanilla. Spoon batter into greased 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Remove to rack to cool. Freeze the cake when cooled, up to one month.
For the caramel sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add pecan halves. Add brown sugar and whipping cream, and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce boils and sugar dissolves. Refrigerate for up to a week. THE DAY BEFORE, let cake thaw in refrigerator overnight. The day of, reheat at 350° F for 10 minutes. Warm caramel sauce in saucepan, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Place a slice of warm cake onto dessert plate with one scoop vanilla ice cream, if desired, and drizzle everything with sauce.

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