Ring in the New Year with Fire Crackers and Iced Cranberries

Lose weight.  Exercise more.  Stop smoking.  Avoid red meat and alcohol.  (This one is SO not going to make my list… bring on the steak and Béarnaise sauce!)

There’s a reason the same resolutions make American’s Top 10 List every year.  With such lofty goals, it is any wonder that less than 50% of people who make resolutions are successful after six months?

There are a few, simple practices people can put into place that will increase the likelihood of achieving success.  University of Scranton psychology Professor John Norcross, in a special story to CNN today, offers these evidence-based tips for making and keeping your New Year’s resolutions:

  • Make short, attainable goals;
  • Develop a specific action plan;
  • Establish confidence in your plan; and
  • Publicly declare your resolutions to hold yourself accountable.

To hold herself accountable, one of my friends creates a daily reminder of her resolutions.  She prints her annual goals on an interesting piece of paper and places them in a cute frame beside her bathroom sink.  Then each morning she reflects upon her list and decides what she needs to do to continue to work toward achieving her goals.  She is truly one of the most productive and successful people I know.

Perhaps this year I should resolve to write down my goals and place them beside my bathroom sink!  The number one goal on my 2012 list is “to write a book about the history of agriculture and 4-H in Franklin County, Iowa.”  I’ve already publicity declared that I’m going to do this, so I have to make it happen.  The second resolution I have is to raise $20,000 to endow the Franklin County 4-H Scholarship Fund.  Since these two goals are dependent, failing to write the book really isn’t an option unless I win the lottery.  (But you can’t win if you don’t play.)  My third goal is to open a pumpkin patch this fall, and I’ll be blogging more about this in the coming months.

In the short term, my holiday weekend goals are to “Eat. Drink. Be Merry.”  That’s why today I’m sharing with you two of my favorite recipes – straight from my mom’s recipe box!  Cranberry Slush has been a holiday tradition for more than 20 years.  We were laughing at Christmastime as family members entered the kitchen because the first words out of each one’s mouth – whether they were age 10 or 70 – was, “Where’s the slush?”

The Fire Hot Crackers is a recipe that my mom made for the first time this year, and it was a hit on Christmas Eve.  Try topping these crackers with summer sausage and cheese.  I’m looking forward to enjoying this snack again New Year’s Day.  Thanks, Mom!  🙂

Fire Crackers


  • 1¼ c. oil
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 16 oz. box of Keebler® Club Crackers
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes (double the flakes for a little more “fire”)
  • ½ T. onion powder
  • 1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix


  1. Mix oil garlic and onion powder, crushed pepper, and dressing mix.  Pour into a 2-gallon bag.  Add crackers and carefully shake bag so that crackers get coated.  Let the bag set for 15 minutes and then shake it again.  Pour onto paper towels and let dry.  (COOK’S TIP:  Top with paper towels, as well, to remove excess oil.)  Store in airtight container.

Cranberry Slush



  • 2 large (12 oz.) cans of frozen cranberry juice
  • 2 large cans of frozen orange juice
  • 1 large can of frozen lemonade
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 9 c. water



  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and pour them into freezer-ready containers.
    COOK’S TIP:  I use one-gallon, ice cream pails.  This recipe fills two pails.
  2. NOTE:  The original recipe calls for 18 cups of water mixed with 4 cups vodka.
  3. Since we make it non-alcoholic, we reduce the amount of water and add 7-Up before serving.
  4. My personal favorite is to fill a Red Solo® Cup three-fourths full with slush and mix in Cranberry Sierra Mist.