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A little piece of Ladies Night Out

Recipes from a memorable event

A night to remember! That would be the annual Ladies Night Out held Thursday at the elegant Brandywine in Dixon. Sponsored by Sauk Valley Media and the Brandywine, LNO has become the highlight of the year for all the girls – from teens to grandmothers. 

I don’t know how many years Ladies Night Out has been going on, nor do I know who started it, but it was pure genius on the part of its founders. It gets larger every year and the chatter becomes so loud you can barely hear what the person next to you is saying. 

They shop, they look, they touch, as they ooh and aah over the fine jewelry, bags, purses, makeup, fashions, fine lotions, crafts, and health care tips. Everything for the ladies. Brightly decorated silk scarves seemed to take center stage this year. From 4 to 8 p.m., the women took over every room as they sipped on beverages and nibbled on an endless assortment of fancy hors d’oeuvres. 

Speaking of food, that’s where we – Dash of Grace – found our niche. 

Dash of Grace has been presenting a food/cooking demonstration for Ladies Night Out for several years, and the response has been beyond belief. Thursday night was no exception. It was standing room only in our area on the main floor. 

We talked about recipes, demonstrated our version of a scary slithering snake pizza, ham balls and pineapple sauce; our friend and helper, Diane, handed out 2 large pans of peanut butter bars, and Abra taught the younger ladies how to make kid-friendly cookies and gave them recipes. Granddaughters Emma and Cassandra, kept all the ladies’ cups filled with snack crackers they had made. 

So if you have not joined us, we will be waiting for you next fall. Ladies Night Out is from 4 to 8 p.m., so you will be home early, and the whole shebang costs only $5. The food is free. 

Mark it on your calendar for next year. It is in October or November. It sure seemed like all the ladies in the area were there, judging from the crowd, but every year for those who can’t attend, I print the recipes so you can enjoy them. If you have any questions  just email or call me. My phone has been giving me trouble for a while, so if you don’t get me, try again.

Ham balls in

pineapple sauce

Ham balls are one of my favorite dishes to make and serve. For some reason, many folks have never eaten them, and those who have love them – well, most people, anyway. They just make a nice meal.

Ham balls are a mix of ground ham and ground pork sausage. The portions of each of the two meats depend on the cook. Some mix it half and half, others call for different amounts. Some recipes call for ground beef to be mixed in with the ham and sausage. 

I prefer to buy the ham ball mixture already combined. I get mine at the Fulton Meat Market, and it is always fresh and perfectly mixed. Their mix is 1/3 pork sausage to 2/3 ground ham.

Ham balls

Makes: 25-30 meatballs, depending on size

2 pounds ham ball mix

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk (I did not need the milk)

Mix all ingredients together (with hands is the best way)

Shape into 2- to 3-inch balls and place in a sprayed or lightly greased 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Set aside.

If you want to freeze the ham balls for later, do it now. When you are ready to cook them, thaw them and continue with directions.

Pineapple sauce

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

1½ cups brown sugar

½ cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup yellow mustard (or honey mustard)

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour over meatballs. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour, basting a couple of times. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a slow cooker. Watch them closely, If they are small, they will be done sooner. Mine were done in a little less than an hour.

Slithering snake

Simply thaw a loaf of frozen bread dough and twist it into a curvy snake shape. Bake the loaf of bread, then cut a slit down the middle and stuff it with pepperoni, pizza sauce, green and red peppers, chopped green onions, cheese or anything you like on pizza. Stick 2 “stuffed olive” eyes and a “red pepper” tongue on the face of the snake, with green frosting. Put back in the oven and heat until the vegetables are warm and the cheese is melted. 

This is also good for sports parties.

Peanut butter bars

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

2/3 cup of softened margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla 

2 cups of packed light-brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of powered sugar

2 teaspoons of water

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon Crisco

Mix peanut butter, vanilla, beat with mixer, then beat in sugar and eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour and salt. Spread in a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Do not overbake.

Mix powdered sugar and water, drizzle over still-warm bars. Then melt chocolate chips and Crisco and drizzle over bars. Let bars cool and chocolate set before you cut.

Snack mix

Make 24 servings

2 (12-ounce) packages of oyster crackers 

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (1-ounce) package of ranch-flavored salad dressing seasoning and salad dressing mix

Place oyster crackers in a large bowl. Combine vegetable oil, dill weed and garlic powder, 1 bag of dry ranch dressing, and 2 cups of canola oil in a large zip-lock bag. Shake until oil is mixed well with the crackers. Shake until well mixed. Wait at least 5 minutes before use.

Easy kid-friendly holiday cookies

By Abra

Witch hat cookie

One bag of Keebler Hershey kisses

One package of Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies

One jar of frosting (homemade or store bought)

Orange food coloring (or red and yellow food coloring)

Add food coloring to frosting to make orange frosting. If using red and yellow to make orange, follow the directions on the food coloring box to make the orange or improvise. Take one Fudge Stripe cookie and flip it so the fudge side is up. Then add a dollop of frosting to the middle of the cookie. Unwrap the Hershey’s kiss and place it flat side down into the frosting, applying enough pressure to make the frosting spread out just a little bit wider than the kiss. Repeat until out of ingredients.

Easy reindeer cookies

One package of Nutter Butter cookies

One bag of regular size M&Ms

One jar of frosting (homemade or store bought)

One bag of mini pretzels

Use the Nutter Butter sandwich cookie as the base. Dab a little bit of frosting to the top of the cookie and attach one mini pretzel to look like antlers. Then make two dots further down the cookie and attach two M&M candies to look like eyes. Finally make one dot at the bottom of the cookie and attach one M&M to look like a nose. Repeat until out of ingredients.

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