Simply Delicious by Cyndee Dather

This holiday season seems busier than usual for me!

Your guests will be impressed with your creative culinary talents. Toffee Delights bring together a salty and sweet combination that will bring back memories of Christmas past. Add some chocolate and pecans to enhance the toffee even more. The Delights freeze well and can be made weeks ahead of the holidays.

Dessert or drink? You can serve Wine Floats for either one. Red or white wine works for this recipe. Add your favorite ice cream with a splash of seltzer and you have a delightful beverage or smooth and creamy dessert.

I am one of those “EARLY CHRISTMAS DECORATING PERSONS.”  If I am not hosting Thanksgiving, I designate November 1st as the official decorating starting date. I want to enjoy the season as long as possible. I enjoy all the merriment of the holiday. For example: Christmas Music, Church Services at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Spirit Lake, Hallmark Movies, Christmas Open Houses, Entertainment (Spencer Community Theatre production of “Miracle on 34th Street”, Tonic Sol Fa at The Roof Garden in Arnolds Park, and The Nutcracker at The Sami Bedell Center in Spirit Lake).

I usually shop early and keep it simple and stick to my budget. Slow down and enjoy the sounds, smells, sights, and, of course, taste during this holiday season. 


Sugar Cookie Snow Globes

  • Batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe or refrigerated dough tub
  • Clear plastic 4” Xmas ball
  • White Frosting-Favorite homemade or store bought
  • White Sugar Crystal Sprinkles
  • No taller than 1 3/4” small figurines, toys, animals, or ornaments
  1. Prepare sugar cookie recipe according to directions. Make sure cookies are at least 4 1/4” in diameter. Bake according to directions.
  2. Spread frosting evenly over the entire cookie.
  3. Arrange figurine(s) as desired. Press into frosting.
  4. Sprinkle cookie with white crystal sugar.
  5. Gently press one-half of the plastic ornament on top of the cookie. Ta dah!

Cookie Snow Globes are a creative way to personalize a place setting during the holidays. They would also be a special addition to a cookie tray. Even Santa may like one with his milk and cookies on Christmas morning.

The ideas on how to use them are endless. 

Just remember to remove the small figurines/toys/animals/ornaments before serving to children.


Christmas Trees

1-2 pkg Roasted Garlic Naan Bread (8.8 Oz) Can be found in the bread aisle at Hy-Vee.

24 Thin Pretzel Sticks

1 C Ready Made Pesto

1 C Red Bell Pepper Finely Chopped

  1. Cut each Naan bread into 12 tree shaped triangles.
  2. Cover each tree with 1-2 teaspoons of pesto.
  3. Gently push a thin pretzel into the bottom of the tree for the trunk.
  4. Sprinkle peppers in a diagonal fashion to form garland.
  5. Store for up to 8 hours covered in the refrigerator.

I made a paper pattern to follow so the trees are the same size. Also, I used scissors to cut the bread which simplifies the process even more. If desired you could use a smooth guacamole in lieu of the pesto. There are some great ready made varieties that help make the preparation of the trees easier. ENJOY!


Wine Floats

5 oz Red or White Wine

1/4 C Unflavored Seltzer Water (Tonic or Perrier Water)

Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Berries for Garnish if desired.

  1. Pour red or white wine into a wine glass.
  2. Place 2-3 large scopes of ice cream into glass.
  3. Pour in unflavored seltzer water. This gives it that extra fizz.
  4. Serve immediately!
  5. If desired you could scoop ice cream ahead of time. Place on wax paper or parchment on a small baking pan. Freeze till ready to use. This saves time if you are serving multiple people.

Wine floats can be used as a beverage or dessert. Different ice cream flavors can be used such as cherry, strawberry, or sherbet. These wine floats are festive, easy and light. Mix and match garnishes to add even more pizazz!

Makes one serving.


Thai Turkey Meatballs

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 Egg

1 1/2 C Panko Bread Crumbs

2 Green Onions finely minced. Reserve some of the green tops (chopped) for garnish.

1 T Fresh Ginger, finely chopped

1/2 Lime Zest

1 t Chinese 5 Spice

1 t Salt

2 t Garlic finely minced

1/2 C Chili Sauce, Reserve 1/4 C to drizzle over the meatballs after they cook. 

  1. Prepare 8 x 8 inch pan or dish with cooking spray. 
  2. Mix all ingredients except chili sauce in a medium bowl with your hands or large spoon till combined.
  3. Shape balls using approximately 2 T of meat mixture.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes uncovered at 375 degrees. Take out of the oven and brush on 1/4 C of the chili sauce on top of the meatballs. Put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Drizzle remaining Chili over meatballs. 

Try this new version on a meatball for an office party, neighborhood gathering or holiday event. Friends and family will want the recipe for this tangy and sweet delight.

Makes 14 meatballs!


Toffee Delights

40-50 Saltine Crackers

1 C Butter

1 C Light Brown Sugar, Packed

2 C Chocolate Chips any Variety

1 1/2 C Chopped Pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 9”×13" pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with Pam. Line pan with crackers salted side up.
  2. Cook butter in a medium-sized pan on medium/low heat. Stir until butter is slightly melted. Add sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-heat for 3 minutes, or until it thickens and sugar has dissolved. Stir constantly until the mixture is amber (golden) in color.
  3. Pour butter mixture over crackers and gently spread with the back of a spoon till all the crackers are covered completely.
  4. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove pan from oven and using a small turner gently remove each individual cracker from pan and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle pecans on top.
  6. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. Drizzle chocolate over nuts/cracker. Garnish with pecan half. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.