December 2022 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Hello again.  Time is moving faster than Santa’s reindeer going downhill on a ski slope!  Actually I have no idea how fast that is because I have never been on skis.  Nope.  Too fast, too cold.  My kids love it, but I’ll stick to a comfortable chair, sitting by the fireplace drinking some mulled cider.

Tis the season for shopping, planning, and panic attacks.  I was in a store the other day and a woman in line started breathing heavily and started to sweat.  She turned to me and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack!”  Naturally everyone gasped, but before someone dialed for an ambulance, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s ok.  You’re going to be ok.  In fact, I’ll let you get in line ahead of me.”  The woman clutched her chest, looked at me and said, “Really?”  I handed her a cookie I pulled from a bag I was about to pay for.  Like magic, she snapped out of it and pushed her cart in front of mine.  The cashier was so grateful the incident didn’t escalate, she gave me the cookies for free!  One good turn deserves a bag of chips!  Chocolate chips!

I know I told you that we have to have our Christmas decorations up right after Halloween or the Ornament Police will issue a summons and drop a chunk of black coal on your doorstep.  I’m only half kidding.  My kids arranged to decorate my house this year.  I usually go all out turning my modest home into a magical holiday scene, and this year was no different.  I must have thousands of lights in all colors; some are blinking, others are twinkling.  I even have one of those flood lights that shines an outline of Santa in the tree.  If it weren’t for the palm trees and lack of snow, you would think you were at Santa’s workshop!  It gives me such joy to see and know that a passersby can enjoy the magic of Christmas even for a moment.  Please remember to stop for a moment, too.  It’s good for the soul.

Lots of book news to share.  Santa Cruise has hit the shelves, along with Falling Stars.  At the end of December the mass market edition of Tick Tock will be available.  It’s book 34 in The Sisterhood.  The longevity of this series is astonishing.  Goes to show you women like the satisfaction of seeing justice done.

Because it is Christmas, this month’s contest will be a satchel of Christmas books. Be sure to enter.

I am including a lot of recipes this month because holidays are a wonderful reason to share a meal.

Be well.  Be Safe.  Take care of yourself and have a peaceful, wonderful, magical holiday.

And a sane, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Warmest wishes,

P.S. Now we wait and see how long it will take before my little fur family decides the ornaments are their new toys.

December 2022 Recipes

You may often hear about the Italian tradition of Christmas Eve dinner when they serve seven fishes.  Luckily, I have several friends who are Italian who shared some recipes with me.  I sent these out last year but they bear repeating, and Diane Sarrocco is providing some scrumptious deserts.

Christmas Eve Dinner Italian Style


(2) large eggplants, skinned and sliced ¼ inch thick
(3) cups Italian flavored breadcrumbs
(2) eggs beaten
(1/4) cup milk
(2) cups Parmesan cheese
(4) tablespoons chopped parsley
(2) teaspoons dry oregano
(2) cups Ricotta Cheese
(8 oz.) tomato sauce – Prego or other brand
(2 cups) shredded mozzarella
(1) cup olive oil

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl.
Mix breadcrumbs, and half the Parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano in a different bowl.
Heat olive oil to medium.
Dip eggplant in egg batter and dredge through breadcrumb mixture.
Place eggplant in frying pan and brown on both sides.
Place on paper towels.
Mix/whip ricotta cheese and remaining ingredients (except mozzarella) together.
Let the eggplant cool.
Begin stacking.
1 slice of eggplant, top with 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture—spread on eggplant; add another slice of eggplant; top with a spoon of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of mozzarella.
Repeat until you have 3-4 slices of eggplant per stack.
Once assembled, bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese melts.


1-2 lbs JUMBO shrimp/shelled and deveined (leave tail on or off)
2 Tbs Olive Oil
4 tbs butter
4-5 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup dry white wine or vegetable stock
2 tbs lemon juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
Crushed red pepper if desired

Heat olive oil and ½ of the butter.  Saute’ garlic 2 minutes.
Add shrimp and saute on one side for 2 minutes.
Flip shrimp and pour wine/stock over shrimp, cook 3-4 minutes.
Shrimp should be pink.
Add remaining butter, lemon juice, and toss parsley into shrimp (red pepper).
Remove pan from heat.
Can be served over linguini or rice if desired.


1 Piece of founder per person (using 6 pieces for recipe)
1 cup chopped crab meat (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
(4) lemons for garnish – cut into equal pieces
Zest and juice of (1) lemon
2 cups breadcrumbs Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
4-5 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon oregano

Rinse flounder and pat dry.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat butter and ½ olive oil in sauce pan, add garlic and saute’ for 1-2 minutes.
Add breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, oregano (crabmeat if desired) and saute until blended and if   adding crabmeat until cooked.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of mixture and spread in middle of flounder.  Roll flounder and hold together with toothpick.
Mix lemon zest and lemon juice together and pour over flounder.
Bake 15-20 minutes until fish turns white.
Once removed from oven top fish with any remaining stuffing.
Squeeze lemons over fish.

FRESH APPLE CAKE, courtesy of Deb Yarmula.

You will need (3) large mixing bowls, Bundt pan, shallow baking pan
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples – cored and peeled
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325.  Coat 10 inch Bundt pan with non-stick spray and lightly floured.
Spread walnuts in a separate pan and toast for about 7 minutes until golden.  Cool completely.
In large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl combine walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon and 3 cups of the cut apples.
In third bowl beat sugar, oil, and eggs with electric mixer on medium until well blended.
Turn mixer to slow speed and gradually add the flour mixture from bowl 1. Scrape bowl occasionally with spatula.  Beat one minute longer or until well combined.
Fold in apple mixture from bowl 2.
Once all ingredients are folded together spoon batter into Bundt pan. Add remaining apples to top and gently press into mixture.
Bake 1 ½ hours or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on rack.  Serve with a big helping of ice cream.


1 Cup butter softened
½ Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ Cups flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ Cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix well butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
Mix in flour, salt, and walnuts until holds together.
Roll into 1” balls.
Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Dough should be set, but not brown.
While still warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool. Then roll again in powdered sugar (or gently shake in bag).
Makes 4 dozen.


1 lb butter
3 1/3 C sugar
10 eggs
4 C flour
½ tsp salt
1 T vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly. Add sifted flour and dry ingredients. Add flavorings. Beat 15 minutes. Bake in greased tube pan. Bake 300 degrees for 2 hours or 325 degrees 1 ½ hours.


3 oz. cream cheese softened
½ Cup butter or margarine softened
1 Cup flour

Blend together cream cheese and butter.
Stir in flour.
Chill 1 hour.
Shape into 2 dozen 1” balls. Place in 1 ¾” muffin pans. Press dough against bottom and sides.

For filling beat together just till smooth:
1 egg
¾ Cup brown sugar
1 T softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

Divide 1/3 Cup coarsely broken pecans among “tarts”. Add egg mixture. Top with 1/3 Cup coarsely broken pecans.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25 min or until filling is set.
Cool completely and then remove from pans.