Friday, December 6, 2013

Visions of Sugarplums

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Everywhere you go. 
Take a look in the Five and Ten, Glistening once again, 
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.

Yes, yes it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. By now you have your trees up and decorated. You probably have enough tinsel hung to choke a fully grown elephant. Buddy the Elf is wreaking havoc on your home every night. Everything is perfect... yet something is missing. Where is the warmth, the love in the air? Until your home is overtaken by the smells of gingerbread and peppermint, it’s not quite there yet.
Humans connect most of their memories to smell and sound, and until Christmas is literally in the air with the smell of baking cookies and the sound of a child’s laughter, it’s not complete. Everyone has their favorite recipe for this time of year. Sometimes it’s basic chocolate chip cookies or sugar cookies you let the little people in your house decorate.
Today, I am going to share a few of my favorite Christmas recipes.
The first one is a house favorite. It’s easy, creamy and oh so peanut buttery.
What you need for Golden Peanut Butter Bars:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter or margarine
1 cup finely chopped peanuts (or crushed... crushed works too)
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1) preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and the egg. Cut in butter until it’s crumbly. Stir in peanuts. Reserve 2 puts of crumble for later and press the rest in the bottom of a 13X9 baking pan.
2) Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
3) While that’s in the oven, in another bowl, beat condensed milk, peanut butter and vanilla. Spread that over the crust then top with remaining crumble.
4) Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Once it’s cool, cut into bars and enjoy. (store at room temp.)

The next one calls for no baking and instant gratification. It’s a base thing and you can make whatever actual flavor you want with a simple substitution.
What you will need for Haystacks:
1 cup Butterscotch chips (or chocolate, white chocolate, mint chocolate... getting the point?)
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 tablespoon shortening (DO NOT use butter, margarine, spread or oil)
1 1/2 cups (3oz can) chow mein noodles, coarsely  broken.
1) Line baking sheet with wax paper. Place chips of choice, peanut butter chips and shortening in microwave safe bowl.
2) Microwave on HIGH for 1 (one) minute; stir. If needed, microwave in 15 second intervals (stirring after every time) until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
3) Immediately stir in noodles and stir to coat. Drop by heaping spoonfuls on wax papered sheet OR into paper cups (baker’s choice). Let stand until firm (about 30 minutes or so) and store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

The last one is the most Christmasy one. Cream Cheese Snowmen... ‘cause who doesn’t like cream cheese and snowmen.
What you will need:
1 package (8oz) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1) Mix cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda, mix well
2) Shape dough into equal number of 1/2 inch and 1 inch balls. Using one of each, place balls slightly overlapped on ungreased cookie sheet. flatten to about 1/4 inch thickness with flour coated glass. Repeat for all balls.
3)Bake at 325 for 19-21 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Then the fun starts. With gels, candies, and whatever else, decorate to look like snowmen. 

(recipes taken from The Cookie Bible, Publications International, Ltd. Copyright 2004)

What are some of the favorite sweets recipes in your home this time of year?

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