Sunday, December 19, 2010

Haystacks (Butterscotch Noodles)

These are a Christmas cookie classic for us, I can remember making them as far back as middle school with either my mom or grandmother. They are very simple to make, but continue to be one of our favorites, along with “White Chocolate Treats”.

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  • 1 12oz. package butterscotch morsels
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles
  • 1 cup spanish peanuts

Melt butterscotch morsels in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, then 30 second intervals until just melted. Stir in noodles and peanuts.

Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper, let stand until thick, 20 to 30 minutes.

Yields 3-4 dozen

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Balls

Similar in appearance to Brownie Lollipops, however I enjoyed the peppermint aspect of these. Next go around I think the brownie base would be perfect paired with the mint flavoring.

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  • 1 box (18.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons pure peppermint extract, divided
  • 1 container (16 ounces) prepared fudge frosting
  • 1 package (about 24 ounces) chocolate almond bark

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper.

In a large bowl, stir cake mix with eggs, water, oil and 11/2 teaspoons peppermint extract until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 33-38 minutes.

Cool slightly and crumble while warm into a large bowl; stir in the frosting until well blended.

With a small cookie scoop, form balls (smooth with hands if desired) and place on wax paper. Chill 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer. Insert candy cane ends or lollipop sticks, if desired.

In a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate bark in the microwave set on HIGH for 90 seconds. Stir and heat at 30-second intervals until melted; stir in remaining extract until smooth.

With a fork, dip balls into chocolate, shaking gently to let excess dip off. Return to wax paper and sprinkle with crushed candy cane. Let sit at room temperature until coating hardens. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 36-42 cake balls.

Recipe courtesy of Bliss Tree

Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints

These are a bit time consuming, but are my all time favorite Christmas cookie!! Don’t tell, but underneath the raspberry jam is a dollop of chocolate.

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  • 1/4 Basic Sugar-Cookie Dough, premade and chilled
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces walnuts, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam, warmed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Allow your disc(s) of dough to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place walnuts in a shallow dish. Form dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in nuts, coating completely.
  2. Place balls on parchment- lined baking sheets. Use your thumb to make an indentation in center of each ball. Chill 20 minutes.
  3. Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching positions of sheets halfway through, until firm to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven. Using a small teaspoon or the handle of a wooden spoon, press indentation of each cookie to redefine shape. Allow to completely cool on wire racks.
  4. Melt chocolate and fill each with about 1/4 teaspoon. All chocolate to completely set. Cover each chocolate portion with raspberry jam, so the chocolate becomes a hidden surprise. Store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 5 days.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Brie en Croute

Tonight we hosted 10 church friends at our 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. Along with lots of cookies (recipes to come), I also prepared a few appetizers: holiday brie en croute, mexican dip, spicy sausage balls served with apple cider punch, wine or beer.

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  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves or seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberry
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almond
  • 1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
  • crackers

Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Spread the preserves on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the cranberries and almonds. Place the cheese in the center of the pastry. Fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. Brush the seam with the egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Decorate with the pastry scraps, if desired. Brush with the egg mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes. Serve with the crackers.

Recipe courtesy of Pepperidge Farms

The pups getting ready for the festivities…

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kelly’s Peanut Butter Fudge

My best friend Kelly Winebarger shared this recipe with me back in high school and it’s been my go to fudge recipe ever since. I haven’t made it in a couple years, but so glad my pregnancy cravings pulled this one back up to my memory. (She also has a wonderful peanut butter pie recipe that I will have to share sometime too.)

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  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 1/3 c peanut butter (used natural)
  • 1 7oz jar marshmallow crème
  1. In a saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add peanut butter and marshmallow crème, mix well.
  3. Quickly pour into a buttered 8-in square pan; chill until set. Cut into squares

Yields 3-4 dozen

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I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting back into cooking this week. Earlier in the week I made us two nights worth of taco salads (romaine, ground chorizo, tomatoes, avocados, and corn chips); Friday night a made a homemade pizza (chicken sausage, green onions, green olives, mozzarella and goat cheese); Saturday morning two dozen hanky panky on split English muffins, peanut butter fudge; and finally this morning banana flax pancakes and gingerbread cookies!!

I also happened to be at the grocery store at just the right time yesterday morning and the florist gave me this free bouquet of flowers, as they were deemed no longer sellable – but they are gorgeous and smell wonderful!

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Finally, we got an 1 inch of snow in North Carolina yesterday afternoon, during the UK game. It was beautiful to watch come down and we got to enjoy it all evening.

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