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Grandma got run over by a reindeer

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My grandmother is coming in for the holidays and I'm now in distress. I love her to death but she is one of those women that wants everything done her way and she wants ALL of the attention. Now, I'm a teenage girl and everyone knows that I am the one that gets the attention. We've never really gotten along.

The real problem is that she wants to cook with me. I'm usually the one that cooks the Christmas Eve feast and I know that she will try to get in on that and steal my moment AND she'll mess up my whole menu if she doesn't like one little thing that I plan on cooking. Am I overreacting? I am not because she's done it before.

You guys can help me. I need a very angry reindeer with a thing against elderly people. JUST KIDDING! I'm looking for multiple appetizer recipes that I can make ahead and freeze so that all I have to do is bake them or put them in a deep fryer. So far I'm planning on making stuffed jalapeños, mozzarella sticks (or maybe just bite sized mozzarella balls?) , and spinach balls. I'm also planning on making a raspberry and chipotle spread to put over cream cheese. The father and stepmother are vegetarian but eat seafood and dairy products.

I need help! Anyone have any ideas to help me enjoy the family Christmas?
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #2 of 20
Now you know why the holidays are the most stressful time for any cook.

Does granny have a specialty dish, something she's particularly proud of? Factor that into your menu, and tell her ahead of time that you're really looking forward to having her make that as part of the meal. Maybe even phrase it as, "I'm dying to learn how you make X" That will give her the attention she needs, and keep her off your back a little.

If you're talking about poppers when you say stuffed jalapenos, that might be a bit samee-same with the cheese sticks. Personally, I'd be looking at a seafood appetiser of some sort. So, go with either the poppers or the cheese sticks. Unless everybody at your gathering is into hot foods, I'd drop the poppers altogether because of the chipotle dressing on the cream cheese. Then add the seafood appetiser. Something simple; perhaps garlic shrimp, or crab puffs.

PM me if you'd like my recipe for crab puffs with peach gastrique.

Another simple app that can mostly be made ahead of time is gougerre. That's the savory version of pate choux. Instead of just dropping the paste by spoonfulls, though, pipe it into different shapes---circles, triangles, crescents, etc. Then have a different stuffing for each one: tuna salad, tappanade, pimento spread, the list is endless. While these are always good, it's another way to keep granny busy. She can stuff the puffs while you do something more important.

What are you planning for the rest of the meal?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 20
Your grandma probably still remembers you as the tiny bundle of joy that was so helpless and dependent, or the preschooler who needed adult help with everthing from tying your shoes to combing your hair. So it may not have actually dawned on her that you have become confident and capable enough in the kitchen to prepare a special holiday meal. Also, what you perceive as her taking over, may only be that she wants to feel useful and needed. However, her attempts to help probably seem to you like interference.

Instead of letting this become a competition between you and Granny, how 'bout you and she team up, from the planning, to shopping and executing the menu? Even if she wants the whole thing to be 'her show', you can demonstrate your growing maturity by letting her take the reins. This can be your extra gift to her, and help make this visit special. Everyone will still know that you played a vital role in the success of the party.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #4 of 20
I know you mean well, amazingrace, but you have obviously never had to deal with this sort of narcissistic nightmare. I have, i know, there is no "pairing up" there is no "teaming up" and there is nothing much but outright manipulation. Some people will happily cut their hand to need stitches if they're not being the center of attention. Let's just try to help this girl find her own way to shine.

Gummybear, i make a very successful savory squash turnover for my christmas party. I make it ahead and freeze, then take it out in the morning, let it defrost and can heat it briefly or serve it at room temp (not cold though).
Quantities are rough.

You take squash (acorn, butternut, whatever you find), cut in chunks and either steam it or bake it - don;t peel first, it;s a waste of time, and is so much easier after.
Meanwhile while it's steaming, sautee a couple or three large onions in butter, slowly, with salt and grated pepper. The idea is to get them transparent and soft, not browned. Add a handful of raisins and pine nuts if you like.
Scrape the flesh out of the squash with a spoon when it's cooked. Put in a bowl. Mix with the onions, etc.
Make an olive oil crust - 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 egg, 1/2 cup olive oil, 4 tbsp warm water.
Put flour and salt in bowl, mix in the other ingredients. It should hold together into a ball when you press it. If it looks very greasy, break it up, sprinkle with flour, toss and press together again. If it looks crumbly, crumble it up, wet your hand and sprinkle with water, till you have enough that tossing it you can then press it together and it holds.
Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. You can roll it large and cut rounds out and then fill with the squash, wet the edge and fold over and press around with fork. Or you can roll out longer strips, about 6-8 inches wide, and then lay a long pile of filling along half of the strip, wet the edges and fold together, pressing the edge with fork (or fluting with your fingers). Keep it on the paper, and lift it onto a cookie sheet, sliding the sheet under it. Do the others and put them side by side. Prick with fork, brush with milk, and bake at preheated overn at 400 degrees until they turn slightly nut-brown.
You cool them completely, and wrap with thick foil, and put in freezer. (Individual small turnovers can be kept in tupperware containers in freezer). Defrost on the day you want to eat them early in the morning, and then heat slightly on cookie sheets if you want them warm, or jsut serve at room temp. The long turnovers look nice cut diagonally, into about 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch strips.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 20
G-B

not to be moribund, but our kids have not had a good year with regard to grandparents.

to enjoy the holidays, fix what you want ahead, do the rest her way, relax and let the rest go - you may not know how many more times you need to endure. in the absence of open warfare in the kitchen, you may discover more common ground than initially assumed.
post #6 of 20
I know you mean well, amazingrace, but you have obviously never had to deal with this sort of narcissistic nightmare.

Siduri, I don't believe you know me, or my circumstances well enough to draw that conclusion. I have dealt with attention junkies all my life, and taking the road of least resistence has always worked for me. My mother in law, as much as I loved her, was one such person. She was the self-declared queen of whatever kitchen she was in. The only right way was her way. And she let everyone know it too. If the meal was a success...good, she would revel in the glory. If it wasn't, then at least it wasn't my fault. I was just the gopher. :)

.....there is no "pairing up" there is no "teaming up" and there is nothing much but outright manipulation. Some people will happily cut their hand to need stitches if they're not being the center of attention.

I saw nothing in the OP to suggest that Grandma is that far over the top. However, if she is, then the best thing to do is simply clear out of the kitchen altogether and let the old lady go it alone. (of course, she can then complain that no one was there to help...it's a no-win situation) Some people just get their kicks from meddling. Relax and let it play out however it does. Most of the stuff we worry over and obcess about with our festive meals are things that no one else even notices or cares about. When I think back over the years of holiday meals, I don't remember the food. I remember only one of two things... 1. if it was fun. 2. if it wasn't fun. Never mind 'perfection'... just enjoy yourself. If there are people who want to try to ruin it for you...that is their problem. Don't let it become yours.

Let's just try to help this girl find her own way to shine.

I agree. I think she is on the right track, trying to prepare as much in advance as possible, so all that remains is to do the warmup or last minute details. And perhaps the rest of the family may be enlisted to distract Grandma and keep her out of the kitchen as much as possible...making her the center of attention in a different room.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #7 of 20
How about making a spinach and mushroom ravioli and them deep frying them? They freeze easily and taste delicious! Especially for the vegs in your family.

The filling is simple and easy: I use baby spinach and blanch it in water since it's more tender but you can use the two packages frozen (chopped) spinach. Defrost, wring out the water and then sautee 14 ounces of chopped button mushrooms in a pan with 1/2 cup of olive oil until all of the moisture evaporates. Set aside and cool and combine 2 containers of marscapone cheese, grated parmesan (to taste), salt and pepper to taste, spinach and mushrooms (I find I don't need to chop it very fine. . .I like tasting the texture of the filling. But if they're too big, you can always hand chop or place in a food processor for a few pulses to make the filling more fine before you combine with the marscapone cheese).

When you are ready to fill them up, I found Giada's recipe for using Chinese egg roll wrappers work well. (they crisp up beautifully in the deep fryer. . .nothing fries better!) The sheets usually can make 4 raviolis, so you brush the edges with an egg and water mixture, then you place a dollop of filling in each square, and then place another sheet on top. Press down firmly and then cut them with a ravioli cutter or a knife. Also, you can of course use your own dough or store bought dough as well.

For when it comes time to fry: Take them out of the freezer and let them deforst a bit before you put them in the fryer. Fry until they float to the top and they turn a beautiful golden brown. Place on a paper bag or paper towels to blot out the excess oil. Arrange them on a plate and have either one or two dipping sauces: a cream based and/or tomato-marinara sauce. Grate some parmesan over the top of the raviolis. . .and you're set!
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"If it's spicy going in, it's gonna be spicy coming out!"
Cooking and Baking : Resources and Recipes
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Mandarin.mint
"If it's spicy going in, it's gonna be spicy coming out!"
Cooking and Baking : Resources and Recipes
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post #8 of 20
As corny as it seems I would give a lot to learn the recipes my grandmothers know, no matter how narcissistic they are or how melodramatic they become (Believe me, all old people are like that in one way or another). I mean, in the holiday season is it really the time to bandy around one-upping each other? Isn't it just enough that everybody makes something tasty and everybody has fun (unless your idea of fun is to grab all the glory and show others up)?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #9 of 20
Great timing on this thread as I now find myself in a similar situation. My Mother is visiting and I'm thrilled she is here. But both of us in the kitchen at the same time causes a nuclear explosion. There is no way to work around our different approaches except to just stay out of each other's way. We even have a saying in Greece about this situation.. "Where there are 2 roosters dawn comes late."

Both of you are at the age where you need to shine. You are a teen and you want to show your maturity and ability to prepare something great for your family. Your Grandmother has also now reached an age where she may be feeling insecurities about not being needed anymore, or that her moments to shine are gone. My advice is to respect her, don't question her, and have her make dishes that she wants to make all on her own. I think it's a great idea to make dishes of your own ahead of time. That way you stay out of her way and she stays out of yours. Compromise is everything!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #10 of 20
You can always make my wife's favorite meal.....

"Takeout"

Thank you...thank you...I'll be here all week, don't forget to tip the waitstaff and bussers...and HEY try the Veal!

"Grandma got run over by a reindeer...comming home from my house Hanukkah eve...
you may say there's no such thing as grandmas...but as for me and Prancer...WE believe" (It's not the season until I hear that grand old song!)
Cantor Posner aka ChefBoyof Dees

"An Armed Society is a Polite Society"--Robert A Heinlein

"You either Do or Don't Do...There is no TRY" --Yodah
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Cantor Posner aka ChefBoyof Dees

"An Armed Society is a Polite Society"--Robert A Heinlein

"You either Do or Don't Do...There is no TRY" --Yodah
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post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Dillbert- I love spending time with my grandmother and am always excited when I get to see her but we butt heads on many things, the kitchen and the way we cook being one of them. I am planning on spending LOTS of time with her and enjoying her immensely but the kitchen has always been my safe place to work and show myself through and Christmas Eve is a tradition-packed meal for the family.

Blueicus- It's not that I'm trying to "outshine" anyone. It's not a competition for me so much as a very sentimental time for me to be in the kitchen.

Mandarin.Mint- That recipe sounds excellent! I'm going to save it and deffinatley play with it, if not for the holidays than for my own delight!

Siduri- the squash turnover sounds delightful! Could I use different colored squash for a fun splash of color? Would it show well?

TO ALL- I meant this in no way too offend anyone or start up a riot. I'm simply looking delicious appetizers that can be frozen ahead of time. I'd still love more recipes.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #12 of 20
Hi G-B,

This reminds me of an old Chinese saying "Twice women under once roof". Meaning there'll always be conflict no matter what the well-meant intention is, with 2 women wanting to be in charge. Its just life :)

I like KYH's idea of putting your gran in charge of a special dish of her own - that way hopefully she'll be busy enough to leave you to what you want to do, and will love to teach you the dish meanwhile.

A really easy make ahead appetiser I like to do when pushed for time is vol-au-vents (sp?). Buy the cases, big or small, up to you. Make a grandparent friendly filling that you can freeze ahead, maybe shrimp and/or mushrooms in white sauce, defrost and heat the sauce, then preheat the cases and fill away. Serve.

Or samosas, you can google a recipe, but do buy the puff pastry - sounds like you're going to need time savers! Or Mini cornish pasties (no meat) just onion, potato and carrot mix, whatever tickles your fancy, into circles of puff pastry, cook ahead, freeze, re-heat in oven for 20 mins. Or feta and spinach parcels in filo - freeze well, re-heat really well.

I love cooking with my mum when I get the chance - which is not often now we live far apart. But in her kitchen - I do it her way (heaven forbid if I didn't!!). And she does it my way (with helpful "hints") when in mine. Guess we're lucky that way. And I love every minute of it.

Hope it works out well for you both.

Cheers,
DC


P.S. Hey -maybe put her in charge of washing the dishes......lol
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 20
Gummy Bear,

I can't really offer you any recipes but I just wanted comment that I really like KYHeirloomers suggestion to incorporate one of Granny's favorite dishes into the meal. Do the stuff you want to do ahead of time and try to leave as little for you to do as is possible so you can actually work with Granny on her favorite dish. Actually learn to do it her way. Her way may be different than the way you would prepare the same dish but thats OK. Its the differences between us that make life interesting. You might even try to find out why she does things the way she does them.

There is a story I once heard of a man who was helping his wife cook a ham. Her instructions to him, as though this were the greatest secret to preparing a ham, were to cut the hock off the ham before placing it in the roasting pan. He asked his wife why? She said because thats what my mother always did. The man asked his mother in law why she cut the hock off the ham before placing it in the roasting pan and she said, again with the hint of a great and mystical secret, because thats what my mother always did. The man then asked the mother in laws mother why cut the hock off the ham before placing it in the roasting pan? She replied simply, "so the ham would fit in the pan that I had"

I'm a great grandfather now and we kind of have a tendency to not be around for much longer. So instead of "dreading" this holiday in the kitchen with Granny let it be a chance to bridge the generations. By planning ahead, like you are doing, and getting most of the family meal ready you can indicate to her that you made time to spend with her in the kitchen where both of you like to be. Like the cast of a stage production you can take your bows together after the meal.
post #14 of 20
Hi Gummy bear
I understand the tradition you are trying to create and hold on to. I do a christmas party every year, and cook a meal with some 10 to 15 dishes, plus 10 or more types of sweets, all myself, working months in advance and freezing. People offer to bring stuff but i don;t want any help in this particular thing, it's a tradition and a work of art. If you've been doing it this way for a while, and you're so young, you need the space to develop your own little work of art. I'm almost 60 so my own independence is well-established! But at your age, it's easy to be pushed around. (There ARE some advantages to being old, believe it or not!). And while it's hard, i think i've learned to sit on my hands in someone else's kitchen if they don;t want help (most people do, but some, like us, liek to do it on our own).

Anyway, i usually use the kind of squash they have here for ravioli or gnocchi - it's a large round dark green with little bumps all over it, sort of round but squat. It's got a bright greenish yellow-orange pulp inside. There's another type called "mandolin" squash, almost as big as a mandolin, and like a very elongated butternut squash, but with slight ridges, slightly bumpy and pale beigey color, also bright inside. The pulp is not very wet, so it makes a nice dense filling, creamy. Like a potato texture. Between that bright greeny yellow-orange and the regular squash orange there isn;t much difference in color in the end, so maybe you have some other squashes in mind that i don;t know of. I think you could use any kind that isn't too watery, (and if it were, you could just sit it in a colander for a while to drain, or squeeze in a cloth).

Another thing you can do is quiche. It's pretty banal, but you can make some amazing quiches like artichokes sauteed with onion, put on the base, add grated gruyere and egg-and-milk mixture.
Or crumble gorgonzola and bleu cheese, crumble walnuts on top, then pour the egg-and-milk mixture on top.
These go over very well - can be frozen completely and then defrosted or heated, cut in small wedges and served, or baked in square pans and cut in diamond shapes (diamond shapes, and diagonal cuts, by the way, give a special fancy appearance to almost anything - take brownies or other bar cookies, and cut diagonally in small diamonds (no more than an inch and a half) and they look like some special pastry-shop sweet.)
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #15 of 20
>She said because thats what my mother always did. <

Reminds me of that great line in The Cowboys. Roscoe Lee Brown, in order to prove his qualifications as a cook, recites the recipe for making an apple pie. He concludes with, "....put three slashes in the crust, one to let out the steam, and two because that's how your mama did it."
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 20
God, I wish I had my grandma around for the holidays! She would have adored my boys.

Did you want to have only vegetarian appetizers? Cause there is a brazilian appetizer called Coxinha, which is a fingerfood made with a boiled flour dough (i dunno what the fancy french name for that is) with minced chicken and cream cheese filling. All shaped in the form of a mini drumstick. (coxinha is "little drumstick")

I can get the recipe fer ya, if'n ya want it.:look:
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'd love the recipe, even if it's for my own enjoyment it sounds yummy.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
The quiche idea popped into my head during a chemistry test I was taking this afternoon. Had a whole bunch of great fillings and serving ideas but no paper so I wrote it on the test. I'll need to ask for the test back, I guess. What good is a piece of paper for if you can not brainstorm on it at random moments? :rolleyes:
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #19 of 20

coxinha recipe

My mother gave me this recipe, she used it years ago.
It is rather labor intensive, but it is really a nice dish to serve and quite different.
3 boneless chicken breast
½ chopped onion
2 chopped cloves of garlic
6 tablespoon margarine
2 cubes beef bouillon (I use "better than bouillon)
salt
ground pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 (8oz) cream cheese
2 eggs
Bread crumb


Combine chicken breast, chopped onion, garlic, beef bouillon, salt, ground pepper, margarine and 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker.
Place the pressure cooker in medium-heat. Chicken is ready 10 minutes after the regulator starts to blow steam.
(If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cut chicken breast into 2-inch cubes and cook with the same ingredients in a saucepan over medium-heat for about 30 minutes or until done.)
Remove chicken breast from broth.
Finely chop chicken breast to make the coxinha filling.
You can increment the filling with parsley, green onions. But do not add liquids to the filling.
Bring exactly 3 cups of the remaining broth to boil. Add the 3 cups of flour into the boiling water and stir vigorously with a wood spoon for about 1 minute until it becomes dough. Take dough out of pan. When warm, knead dough until it becomes smooth and dissolve the flour lumps (about 10 minutes).
Flatten dough with a rolling pin to about ¼-inch thick and cut medium size circles with a biscuit cutter. Place the dough in your palm, place a small cube of cream cheese and a teaspoon of chicken filling previously prepared.
Dose the ingredients according to the size of the dough circle you cut so that you can close the dough with the filling inside. Knead scraps and re roll, repeat cutting circles until all dough is used.
Fold and close the dough in a shape of a drum stick (a little chicken drum stick in Portuguese translate to "coxinha"). Grease hands if necessary.
Baste the filled dough with egg whites and roll them over breadcrumb.
Deep-fry the snacks 350 °F for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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post #20 of 20
Good place for notes is the inside of your forearm - not the back of your hand, it tends to get washed off.

Quiche doesn't freeze and thaw to re-heat that well. But if you would be making it the same day, or the day before to re-heat in the oven- sure, give it a go. Asparagus and cheese and mushroom; spinach and ricotta; semi-dried tomatoes, olives and fetta. Endless possibilities.

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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