Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas full of special memories. ~Brenda

(I'll be back on Monday!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Christmas Recipes

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic
ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
~Peg Bracken.

jdsmom shared this recipe with us previously and I made them last year. I used the square grid pretzels I found at Sam's Club instead of twists and topped it with the M&M. They were a HUGE hit. We also made a "pretzel sandwich" with 2 white chocolate chips and 2 semi-sweet chocolate chips on each pretzel. I put them in the oven for 2-3 minutes as in the recipe below and then topped them with a second pretzel, which I pressed on and it smashed the melted chips down. I then sprinkled red/green sugar on the top.

Candy-Kissed Twists

1 bag small pretzels (twisted)
1 (13 ounce) bag Hershey's Kisses Milk Chocolates
1 (10 ounce) bag of Hershey's Holiday Bits

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the chocolates kisses. Place 1 unwrapped chocolate on top of each pretzel. Bake 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate is soft, but not melting. Take the pan out of the oven and gently press Holiday Bits on the top of the soft chocolate. Cool and serve. *Instead of the Hershey's Holiday Bits, I pressed in an M&M candy on the top.

Simplycindy's note: A lady I work with brought some treats to work. It was the same idea you have here. She put a Rollo candy on top of the pretzel, put in a 250 degree F. oven for 4 minutes or so and then topped with a pecan, they were so good!

Denirae shared her Buckeye recipe!

Peanut Butter Balls (sometimes called Buckeye Balls)

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with hands to form a smooth stiff dough. Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on a prepared pan, and refrigerate. Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. Enjoy!

We love these cookies and they're soooooooooo easy!

Almond Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lard/Crisco
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
96 almonds

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together into a bowl. Cut in the lard until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg and almond extract. Mix well. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Set them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press down to flatten slightly. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) oven for 15-18 minutes. Cool on rack.

jdsmom also shared this yummy recipe!

1 (18.25 ounce) box French Vanilla cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with Pam. Combine the first 3 ingredients. Press into bottom about 1 inch up the sides of prepared baking pan. Mix together the next 6 ingredients and pour over crust. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool completely to set and cut into small squares.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cooking With Herbs for the Holidays

It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit. ~Isabel Currier

Today I have some elegant, but easy recipes using fresh and dried herbs for the holidays.

Lemon Basil Cookies

1/4 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon peel
1 package lemon cake mix
1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pecans

Mix together the butter, cheese, yolk and juice. Add the cake mix, and blend well. Stir in the nuts, peel and basil.Chill for 1/2 hour or more. Roll into small 1/2 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Parchment paper works well. Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Place in a pretty tin with parchment paper in between layers of cookies. A lovely gift on it's own or given in a gift basket with tea, a pretty mug and an herb recipe book.

Caramelized Onion Dip

1/3 cup herb or wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 large clove garlic, or two small, minced
2 cups sweet onions, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup plain yogurt, low fat or nonfat
1/3 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1/3 cup sour cream, light or regular

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cover and cook on low for about 8 minutes or until soft. Watch so the garlic does not scorch. Add the vinegar, honey and pepper-stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook for 10 minutes without the cover or until the onion is caramelized and turns a golden brown. Stir occasionally. Combine the onion mixture with remaining ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill to develop flavors.

Marinated Mushrooms

1 pound button mushrooms
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup scallions
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 tsp. minced fresh parsley

Pack the mushrooms into a sterile glass jar. Combine the remaining ingredients with a
whisk. Pour over mushrooms and seal the jar. Chill for several hours or overnight shaking occasionally.

Parsley Butter Balls

1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup minced parsley

Cream butter until light. Blend in all ingredients except for 1/2 cup parsley. Chill until firm. Shape into small balls and roll in parsley. Place these on a pretty plate covered with cellophane or plastic wrap that has been twisted at the top and tied with raffia. Give along with a baguette or French rolls and a set of holiday or herb themed spreaders.

Can you have too many fudge recipes? Look here: