I always fix croutons and have them stashed away in the freezer to top salads off, along with homemade ranch dressing and honey mustard dressing. I make herbed mustards and flavored mayo for sandwiches, cheese balls and all sorts of goodies. This time is generally what I call playtime, but I'm pushing it tonight!! I've got a feeling this is going to pour over into tomorrow.
I love to take mayonnaise and crank it up. I’ll add a little sour cream to it, some minced onion, a little crushed rosemary and hot sauce and what a savory flavor that will be on cold cuts. Not just store bought hot sauce either mind you, my own homemade. Nothing made me prouder a few years ago than when I made my own hot sauce and canned it up. I have to laugh a little here though because there’s not anything much easier to make! I’ll probably mix together a little mayo, sour cream, minced garlic and diced dill pickles as well. Oooh! that will be great on burgers. Then I’ll make some homemade ranch dressing. I’ve been making my own ranch dressing for years, and the Honey Mustard too. Vinegar and oil dressings abound but for special occasions we love Ranch and Honey Mustard, not only for salads but for dipping our chicken fingers. I also take a jar of store-bought Dijon Mustard and add assorted herbs for knock-out flavor. Take your dried herbs, about 2 Teaspoons, and put them in a small bowl and add just enough white wine vinegar to wet them and let the dried herbs soak the vinegar all up, then take your herbs and put them in the jar of Dijon Mustard, stir and let sit for a day or so. It is so tasty. Yes, you can make your own Dijon but this is so simple and delicious as well. For a special touch you can take some crushed (not too crushed up) purple basil and put about ½ to 1 Tsp. full of the dried herb straight into a jar of Dijon Mustard and make sure it is covered by mustard(just push it straight down into your mustard). Let it sit in the mustard for a couple hours and then stir gently. The purple basil becomes damp and will release its red color streaking your mustard and you will have a very delightful, Christmas Mustard to serve! Little tricks of the trade that everyone should enjoy, as far as I’m concerned. Then it will be on to cheese balls . . . herbed cheese balls and fruited cheese balls, just as many as I can make . . . no I’ll stop at 4 but we do LOVE cheese.
I always keep at least 1 pound of superior tasting, quality block of cheese in my refrigerator during the holidays. Try something a little unusual. Plus, I keep a loaf of Italian or French Bread in the freezer. Then if I have surprise guests I quickly get my bread out to thaw, put a block of cheese in an oven proof dish, sprinkle some fresh lemon thyme over the cheese along with some red peppercorns then pour some olive oil over it and throw it in the oven to semi-melt. Then I slice up the bread, brush a little olive oil on each and perhaps shake a little garlic salt on top and toast it - and oooooh boy!!!! When you start dipping that bread in that melted cheese and olive oil, WOW!!!
My mini-preparations are for making the holidays joyous and comfortable for those around me as well as for myself. Spread a little Christmas Spirit and don't be a stressed-out hostess!!