Marniated Cheese

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas.  We have had a great season so far, spending time with family and friends, and eating way too much!

I’m sharing a recipe that I got from a neighbor in Florida several years ago.  She gave me the original version, but with a few changes you can make a Southwestern version too.  I’ve served both many times and everyone always loves it.  I think it’s best with Ritz crackers, but you can use any crackers you like.


Marniated Cheese
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ½ c. white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp. minced green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-oz. mild cheddar cheese
  • 8-oz. pepper jack cheese
  • 8-oz. cream cheese
  1. Combine oil and vinegar, whisking to mix. Add chopped parsley, minced green onion, minced garlic, sugar, basil, salt and black pepper, set aside.
  2. Cut mild cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in half lengthwise. Cut into ¼-inch slices.
  3. You can stick cream cheese in the freezer for a while and slice it up like you did the cheddar and pepper jack. as I do and using a butter knife spread about 1 tsp. room temperature cream cheese on cheese slices, arranging alternately in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edge. Pour marinate over cheese slices.
  4. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours.
  5. Serve with crackers.

Southwestern Version
  1. Omit dried basil.
  2. Add ½ of a 7.5-oz. jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained and diced.
  3. Add ¼ c. fresh lime juice.
  4. Omit parsley.
  5. Add 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro.

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I remember ambrosia being on holiday tables when I was growing up.  But I never really cared for ambrosia, which is crazy because I LOVE oranges and pineapple and coconut.  I have finally figured out why.  I was eating ambrosia made out of canned fruit.  Over the past few years I’ve been trying different recipes made with fresh fruit.  This one is very simple and delicious.  You add powdered sugar, but only add the amount you like.  I could eat this all day long!


  • 8 large oranges, skinned and sectioned
  • confectioners' sugar (up to ¾ c.)
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into medium dice, juice reserved
  • 2 c. unsweetened coconut
  • 16 maraschino cherries, drained, pat dry and cut in half
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill until serving me. (Can be made 1 day in advance)
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Almond Roca

You may have noticed that I went MIA last week.  My mother had surgery and I went up to be with her.  My visit ended up lasting all week long and I had no camera and no computer.
For years I’ve made candy for Christmas called Butter Almond Crunch.  It’s a toffee candy and everybody that tried it loved it.  While at my mom’s last week I found this recipe on  It doesn’t require a candy thermometer and it doesn’t have as many ingredients as my old stand by recipe.  So, I thought I’d give it a shot.  It is delicious…in fact, I think it’s better than what I’ve made for years!!
I have now made it twice, once using a 9 x 13 pan and once with 7 x 11 (as recommended in recipe).  I suggest using the smaller pan.  I liked the candy a little thicker.
As for the almonds, the first time I used whole natural almonds and toasted them…delicious.  The second time I used natural oven roasted almonds with sea salt and I didn’t do any additional toasting…delicious.  So, just saying, either works.
Almond Roca
  • 1½ c. chopped toasted almonds, divided
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c. salted butter
  • 4 Hershey Bars (if you use a 9 x 13-inch pan you may need more)
  1. Butter a 7 x 11-inch pan. Sprinkle 1 c. chopped almonds on pan.
  2. In a heavy saucepan melt butter, add brown sugar. Stir until gently boiling. Boil 12 minutes exactly, stirring constantly. (I actually boiled my candy about 10 minutes because it smelled done and like it would burn if I cooked it longer)
  3. Remove from heat, immediately pour over almonds.
  4. Immediately open Hershey bars and place on top. Let stand long enough to melt. When melted, spread evenly over candy. Sprinkle with remaining chopped almonds, gently press them into chocolate.
  5. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes to cool. Break apart and store in airtight container.
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Homemade Bought Pickles

These are quick and easy to make, they’re delicious, and they make great Christmas gifts.  My Aunt Ruby gave me this recipe years ago and it’s one of those that I only make this time of year.  They are great alone or on the holiday dinner table.  Personally I think they make egg salad special.

My favorite way to make and serve egg salad…mash boiled eggs, add chopped Homemade Bought Pickles, a few chopped onions, salt, pepper and mayonnaise.  Serve on a ciabatta roll with arugula.
Homemade Bought Pickles
  • 1 gallon sliced dill pickles, drained
  • 4 lbs. sugar
  • 2-oz. bottle Tabasco sauce
  • 4 - 5 garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
  • Drain the liquid from the pickles. Add the sugar, Tabasco and garlic cloves to the jar. Let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking each day.
  • After 1 week store in refrigerator.
  1. Drain the liquid from the pickles. Add the sugar, Tabasco and garlic cloves to the jar. Let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking each day.
  2. After 1 week store in refrigerator.
You can pack pickles into smaller jars for gifts, if desired.
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Cranberry Bliss Bars

I have loved this holiday treat at Starbucks for years.  I found a recipe last year and made it for the first time.  They were good…however, this year I made a few changes and they are GREAT!!

Be careful when you bake them.  They can dry out really fast.  I removed these from the oven when they were just starting to lightly brown around the edges.  The middle almost looked undercooked (not wet, but not browned).  It was perfect timing!

I like these chilled with a hot cup of coffee, so I store them in the refrigerator.  Let them set at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
  • 1 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ c. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. orange extract (or Orange Bakery Emulsion)
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. good quality ground ginger
  • ¾ c. dried cranberries
  • ¾ c. white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • Frosting
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. orange extract (or Orange Bakery Emulsion)
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a 10 x 15-inch pan wit parchment paper, set aside.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix just until blended. Add orange extract. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. (Do not over beat)
  5. Stir in cranberries and chips.
  6. Spoon into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 325 for 10 to 20 minutes, or until light brown just around edges. Watch closely and do not over bake.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. To make frosting beat cream cheese and butter until blended. Add powdered sugar and be until light and fluffy. Add orange extract and orange zest, mix well.
  9. Frost bars. Sprinkle top with a few chopped dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container.
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