We recently had our annual Christmas party at our church. We are members of the Cruger Independent Methodist Church. When we first married and joined the church, we had quite a large congregation. We have dwindled in numbers, but our congregation is very close-knit and we have a wonderful church family.

Every year the children in the church would perform a church play for the congregation before our Christmas party. One year, my son was a shepherd in the play. He was only about 3 years old and didn’t have a part, he was just to stand there and be a quiet shepherd. He had to be forced on the podium and stood there in total shock, just staring into the congregation. Toward the end of the play, he dropped his walking cane/staff and everybody laughed. He sort of liked that and continued to drop it over and over again. While I was praying he would stop, he finally did. Unfortunately, he began to dance in the background while Mary and Joseph were celebrating the birth of Jesus.

One year, my young nephew, Thomas, played a young son in a family that was portrayed in our play. His dad had a Nativity scene, and baby Jesus was wrapped in cloth in the manger. We couldn’t find a doll to be baby Jesus, so we wrapped one of his action figures in cloth. Unfortunately, we forget to tell Thomas. In the middle of his daddy’s rendition of the Christmas story, David held the baby Jesus up to make a crucial point in his story. Thomas yelled out, “That is not baby Jesus, that is He-Man.” The entire congregation became hysterical, and the people in the play never recovered from laughing because Thomas kept insisting that the doll was He-Man, not baby Jesus!

While at our Christmas party, we enjoyed the delicious food and reminisced about all of the programs put on in the past. The children who were in those programs are all grown up now and have children of their own. We are all so proud of each and every one of them. It still seems like yesterday that they were running around excitedly preparing to perform and couldn’t wait for Christmas to arrive.

As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, I don’t think anyone will be sad to see 2020 behind us. Let’s hope and pray that 2021 will be a great year. I hope you will give today’s recipes a try. Thanks for reading.

HOT TURNIP GREEN DIP

5 bacon slices, chopped

½ sweet onion, chopped

2 chopped garlic cloves

¼ cup dry white wine

1 (16-ounce) package frozen, chopped turnip greens, thawed and drained

12 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towel. Reserve bacon drippings, and saute onion and garlic in hot drippings for about five minutes. Add wine, and cook about two minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Stir in turnip greens, next four ingredients and ¾ cup cheese. Cook, stirring often until cream cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated. Transfer to a serving bowl, and top with remaining cheese and bacon. Serve with hot sauce and your favorite crackers.

BLACK-EYED PEA CAKES

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 (16-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1 (8-ounce) container chive and onion cream cheese, softened

1 large egg

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 (8-ounce) package hush puppy mix with onion

Saute onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Mix onion, one can of the peas, cream cheese, egg, hot sauce and salt well by hand or in a food processor. Transfer into a large mixing bowl, and add hush puppy mix. Gently fold in remaining can of peas. Shape into 3-inch patties (about 12 tablespoons each). Place patties on a waxed paper lined baking sheet, and chill for one hour. Cook patties in hot oil until golden brown on each side, adding oil if needed for later batches. Drain patties on paper towels, and keep warm. Serve with sour cream, salsa, tomato relish or anything else you desire. These are wonderful!

HOT BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

½ cup hot sauce

½ cup blue cheese dressing

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

2 (10-ounce) cans of chicken breast, drained, or 2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into a deep baking dish or pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, until hot. Serve with your favorite crackers.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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