For about the first 20 years we lived here, we used to do a family progressive dinner every Christmas Eve with my in-laws and various relatives. I always liked to be first and would serve several different appetizers. I thought it was fun to set the stage for Christmas Eve with music, candles, and the magic of the night. I would also have our two daughters perform something, whether it be a song on an instrument they were studying or reading of The Night Before Christmas or a bible passage from the first Christmas. The four houses were all in the same neighborhood and we would walk to each one in a group. There would go about 25-30 Benedicts walking through the moonlight on Christmas Eve singing Christmas songs and having the time of our lives. My husband’s aunt and uncle lived across the street from us in the winter, and my in-laws lived a couple of blocks away, coming down in early December every year. My husband’s sister and her family had a vacation home a block away from us and then another aunt and her family who lived in Sarasota would come down. Of course, there would also be various other relatives down for the holidays, so there would always be a big group. It was always an evening everyone looked forward to with great anticipation. Over the years though, kids grow up, loved ones pass away, and times change. We no longer do a progressive dinner, so these recipes always bring back lots of happy memories of Christmas Eves gone by.
The shrimp dip recipe was found on the back of a Miracle Whip jar. I always liked this recipe because it was fast and easy and then I could serve a few others that were more complicated and still have time to do it all. We are such small-town Michiganders. I didn’t even know there was a “real” mayonnaise until I became an adult. I always thought Miracle Whip was mayonnaise, as that was all I ever saw anyone use when I was growing up!
I found the mushroom recipe in the Junior League of Orlando's Sunsational cookbook from 1982. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me for this recipe over the years - so simple, so good!
The third recipe, Sausage and Apple Appetizers, was found in the 1990 Spirit of Christmas book. They would send out a new edition every year, just like the Christmas with Southern Living book, which I also get every year. Don't you look forward to every June when you know that year's new edition will arrive? They stopped sending out the Spirit of Christmas books a few years. Thankfully I have them from many, many years, so I have a good stock to reference.
Tangy Zip Shrimp Dip
½ cup Miracle Whip Light Salad Dressing
¼ cup lemon flavored yogurt
1 can (4 ½ ounces) tiny shrimp, drained
2 Tablespoons Kraft prepared horseradish (do not substitute this with regular horseradish)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 Tablespoon catsup
Mix ingredients until well-blended; refrigerate. Serve with chips, crackers or vegetables. (I usually double this recipe.)
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, cut into rings
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon mustard (I use Dijon)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Mix together all ingredients. Add mushrooms. Simmer 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Sausage and Apple Appetizers
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup apple jelly
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 pounds cocktail-size smoked sausages
3 apples peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons warm water
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, sirring constantly, until onion is golden. Stir in apple jelly and brown sugar. Add sausages and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Add apples, partially cover pan, and cook 10 minutes until apples are tender. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mixture in pan. Cook 2 - 3 minutes more or until mixture thickens. Serve warm.