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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Turning the Final Page of 2020 —And Finding Christmas

By Sherrie Norris

We have now turned to the final page of the 2020 calendar and I would guess there’s no one happier about that than I am. What a year this has been — and one that few would like to repeat.

With that said, however, I don’t want the anxiety, pain and instability of the previous nine months to take away from the beauty and holiness of the Christmas season for which many of us anticipate the whole year through.

As a Christian, I honor the birth of Jesus Christ and what it represents all the time, but especially during this sacred season that was set aside many years ago for its observance.

Regardless of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds us on many levels, there are a few things that remain clear, especially if we believe in the real reason for the season.

Christmas is almost here, and while it might “look” different in some ways, many of us still hold tight to its meaning and the customs we’ve come to know and love, which include cooking and baking for our friends and family.

Hopefully, a few ideas that I share here today and in the coming days will help make things seem a little more “normal” than they have been recently.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Let’s make it count.


Cheese Crisps

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

In mixing bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Slowly mix in the flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in cheese and cereal. Shape into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. May serve warm or cold.


Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Dip

2 (10 oz.) boxes of frozen chopped broccoli

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup sour cream

½ lb. Mexican Velveeta cheese

½ lb. plain Velveeta cheese

2 tsp. garlic powder or garlic salt

Cook and drain broccoli. Melt cheese in crockpot (set to low for about 1½ – 2 hours). Mix together the soup, sour cream, broccoli and garlic powder or salt. Mix into melted cheese. Keep crockpot on warm and serve as dip with tortilla chips.


Festive Baked Ham 

1 (approx.7 lbs.) shank ham

Whole cloves

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. prepared mustard

Place ham, fat side up, on rack in baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 2½ hours or until done. Trim off rind, leaving ¼-inch layer fat. Square fat side up into diamond sections and insert clove into each section. Combine remaining ingredients,, pour over ham and continue baking for about 30 minutes. Garnish with pineapple, cherries, or both. Serves 8 to 10.


Frozen Cranberry Salad

1 can whole cranberry sauce

1 small can pineapple, drained

3 ­­– 4 bananas, mashed

1 cup sugar

1 (8-oz.) container Cool Whip

1 cup chopped nuts

Combine with mixer, spread into square baking dish or pan and freeze until time to serve. Double as needed for larger crowd.


Holiday Mashed Potato Casserole 

5 lbs. potatoes

½ cup butter

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup half and half (or whole milk)

1 tsp. onion salt

1 tsp. seasoned salt

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Peel potatoes; cook until tender and drain. Mash and beat softened cream cheese with hot potatoes; add cream and blend well. Add butter and seasonings. Put in a 2-quart casserole; brush top with butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Can be made ahead and refrigerated; just bake for 45 minutes.


Italian Cream Cake 

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. soda

2 cups sugar

1 stick butter

½ cup shortening

½ tsp. salt

5 eggs, separated

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

1 small can coconut

Combine buttermilk and soda. Cream sugar, butter, shortening and salt. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Add buttermilk/soda, alternating with flour. Stir in vanilla. Fold in beaten egg whites. Stir in pecans and coconut. Bake in (3) round pans for 25 minutes at 325 degrees or in oblong pan for approximately 40 minutes. Cool before frosting.



1 (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 box powdered sugar

1 stick butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Blend until smooth and creamy. May need to add more sugar for spreading consistency if too thin.



1 (18 oz.) roll refrigerated cookie dough (chocolate chip, sugar or peanut butter)

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

¼ tsp. vanilla

1 to 2 Tbs. milk


Miniature semisweet chocolate pieces


Cut cookie dough into 18 equal pieces. Divide each dough piece into three balls: one large (about 1¼ inches in diameter), one medium (about 1 inch in diameter), and one small (about ¾ inch in diameter). Assemble each set of balls ¼ inch apart in a snowman shape on an ungreased cookie sheet, placing the largest balls 2 inches apart so the snowmen don’t bake together.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for eight to 10 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

For glaze, in a small mixing bowl, stir together powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbs. of milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 tsp. at a time, to make glaze of drizzling consistency. Spoon glaze over snowmen. Decorate as desired with gumdrops and/or chocolate pieces. Makes 18 snowmen.