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VOL. 35 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 23, 2011

Potluck lets guests share party spotlight

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’Tis the season for potlucks!

Christmas is upon us full swing now, and most of us are about to wrap-up (pun intended!) our seemingly endless lists of shopping, whether it is for gifts or food.

I still have some food shopping to do, but my husband and I gave up the notion of buying gifts for each child a few years ago in exchange of offering money. No, we aren’t bah-humbugs, just tired parents and grandparents!

Although Don would go with me to help do the shopping, which was always enjoyable and much needed, I was the one who did the wrapping. That was always at least a two-night ordeal ending with an aching back. Then I had to lug some of them to the post-office to mail. This would usually cost more than the gifts themselves, and I would be totally wiped-out by the time I was through. Yep, no happy little elf here!

However, this year we went and picked out Christmas cards for each person, and then Don did the writing and signing. I made out like a queen! Although I did really enjoy picking out paper I thought was suited for each child or grandchild, and then decorating with pretty ribbons or ornaments. Now, I just have a few “dummy” gifts under my tree so that it is not completely barren. And I do still purchase a few toys for the younger grandchildren, although those are usually mailed before Christmas, so the tree remains without a spread of brightly wrapped gifts under it.

Anyway, I think I mentioned potlucks somewhere up there! Most people have several potluck dinners to attend this time of year. Families, in-laws, work, church, and book clubs – the potlucks abound!

Robin, the bookkeeper at our office, is known for her wonderful salads at our potlucks. She is a good cook and brings more than salads, but her salads are always yummy and one that you have never tried before.

The recipe I have for you below is Broccoli Slaw. Robin has made Broccoli slaw before and it is delicious. The recipe below is a “lightened” version, so it is a little more heart healthy and less fattening! We can all use that with all the food we will be cramming in our mouths this month!

I also have a recipe for a wonderful roasted chicken with potatoes. It is so good – one of our favorites for dinner. Combine this with the slaw and you have a healthy, low-fat dinner.

Broccoli Slaw

4 slices turkey bacon

1 16-oz. bag shredded broccoli slaw

1/4 cup low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea-salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 8-ounce can low-sodium sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning frequently, until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. Chop coarsely. Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add water chestnuts, onion, bacon and broccoli; toss to coat. Chill until serving time.

Tip: This slaw is better if covered and chilled up to two days before serving.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes

6 oz. (3/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened

2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, divided

1 tsp. pepper, divided

1 whole roasting chicken (3-1/2 lb.)

2/3 cup zesty Italian dressing, divided

2 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

6 slices turkey bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled

2 green onions, sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, 1 tsp. rosemary and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Starting at neck of chicken, use handle of wooden spoon or fingers to carefully separate skin from meat of the breast, thighs and legs of chicken, being careful to not tear the skin. Spoon cream cheese mixture under skin; use fingers to push and spread some of the mixture out to thighs and legs. Place chicken in shallow pan. Brush with 2 tbsp. dressing.

In a separate pan, toss potatoes with remaining dressing, rosemary and pepper. Bake chicken and potatoes 1-1/4 hours or until chicken is done (165 degrees). Stir potatoes every 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to large serving dish, reserving juices in pan. Add bacon and onions to pan of potatoes; mix lightly. Spoon around chicken in dish. Skim fat from reserved chicken juices in pan; discard. Spoon juices over chicken and potatoes.

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