Christmas Goodie Bags

Zack likes to do something special for his employees each holiday.

He asked me to make some goodie bags for them and he cooked them a big breakfast.

I spent all day (up until 1:30 am) working on their goodie bags, because I wanted them to be perfect.

I was so happy with the way everything turned out and I REALLY hope they like them.

I also hope Zack’s breakfast part of it turned out good.  He was making them bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy.  I hope they all appreciate all the extra things that Zack goes out of his way to do for them.

Also, today is Christmas Eve!  I have been looking forward to the holidays for months.  This is my favorite time of the year.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

South of the Border Mix

– 6 T butter

– 1 pkg (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix, dry

– 1 T Worcestershire sauce

– 1 t hot pepper sauce

– 8 c Toasted Rice or Corn Cereal, or combination

– 1 c peanuts

– 1 c pretzels

– 1 c bite-size cheese crackers

– 2 T American cheese food powder, optional

In preheated 250 degree oven, melt margarine in open roasting pan.  Stir in taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and pepper sauce.  Gradually add cereals, peanuts, pretzels and cheese crackers; stir to coat evenly.  Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Spread on absorbent paper to cool.  If desired, sprinkle American cheese food powder over warm mix.  Store in airtight container.  Makes 11 cups.

Sugar Cookies

Prep: 25 minutes.  Chill 2 hours.  Bake 7-8 minutes.

– 1 1/2 c powdered sugar

– 1 c butter

– 1 t vanilla

– 1/2 t almond extract

– 1 large egg

– 2 1/2 c AP flour

– 1 t baking soda

– 1 t cream of tartar

– granulated sugar

Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening on spray with cooking spray.

Divide dough in half.  Roll each half 1/4″ thick on lightly floured surface.  Cut into desired shapes with 2 1/2″ cookie cutters.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are light brown.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Candy Cane Cookies

– 1 c butter, softened

– 1 c confectioners’ sugar

– 1 egg

– 1 t almond flavoring

– 1 t vanilla

– 1/4 t peppermint flavoring

– 2 1/2 c AP flour

– 1 t baking powder

– 1 t salt

– 1/2 t red liquid food coloring

Beat first 6 ingredients in large bowl until light and creamy.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.  Add to butter mixture.  Stir until sift dough forms.  Divide dough into 2 equal portions.

Knead food coloring into 1 portion of dough until evenly tinted.  Roll about 1 t of each color dough into 5 1/2″ rope.  Lay side by side.  Pinch ends together.  Twist and form into candy cane shape.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Arrange, about 2 inches apart, on greased cookie sheets.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until just golden.  Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.  Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Melted Snowman Nutter Butter Cookie Balls

Prep: 30 minutes, plus refrigerating.  48 balls

– 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

– 24 nutter butter cookies, finely crushed (~ 3 cups)

– 2 pkg (6 squares each) white chocolate, melted

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.  Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet.  Freeze 10 minutes.  Melt chocolate.

Dip balls in chocolate mixture, allowing excess chocolate to pool at bottoms of balls.  Return to baking sheet.  Before chocolate coating firms up, decorate balls with decorating icings for a face.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Keep refrigerated.

White Chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Cream Fudge

– 1 c sugar

– 3/4 c butter

– 5 oz can evaporated milk

– 2 12-oz pkgs white chocolate chips

– 7 oz jar marshmallow creme

– 25 chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely crushed and divided

– 1/8 t salt

Line a greased 9×9 baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over sides; set aside.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; add white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, 2 c crushed cookies and salt.  Stir until chips melt.

Pour fudge into prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining one cup cookies over fudge, gently pressing cookies into fudge.  Cover and chill until firm (about 1-2 hours)

Lift uncut fudge in aluminum foil from pan; remove foil and cut fudge into squares.  Makes 4 pounds.

Candy Cane Marshmallows

– 2 c sugar

– 1 T light corn syrup

– 4 packages (1/4 oz each) unflavored gelatin

– 3/4 t peppermint extract

– 2 large egg whites

– 2 t red food coloring

Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray, and set pan aside.  Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 c water in a small saucepan.  Cover over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil.  Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 c water in a heatproof bowl, let stand 5 minutes to soften.  Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat, and stir in extract, set aside.

Beat egg white in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites.  Mix on high speed until very thick, 12-15 minutes.

Pour mixture into lined pan.  Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow.  Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect.  Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.  Cut into squares.

Peanut Butter Fudge Balls

– 1/4 c butter

– 1/2 c creamy peanut butter

– 1/4 c milk

– 3 2/3 c powdered sugar

– i t vanilla extract

– 1 1/2 c special dark chocolate chips or semi sweet

– 1 1/2 t shortening

– 3 c finely chopped peanuts

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil; butter foil.

Cook butter, peanut butter and milk in large saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is melted.  With wooden spoon, gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Remove from heat; pour into prepared pan.  Cool completely.  Mixture will appear dry, but softens when rolled into balls.

Line 2 trays with wax paper.  Spread chopped peanuts on one tray; set aside.  Roll peanut butter mixture into 3/4″ balls and place on second tray.  If necessary, refrigerate peanut butter balls until firm enough to handle for coating.

Melt chocolate chips and shortening.  Cool slightly.

Dip peanut butter balls completely into chocolate mixture, one at a time, with fork.  Gently tap fork on side of bowl to remove excess chocolate.  Immediately roll in chopped peanuts; gently reshape if necessary.  Place candy balls into small paper candy cups or return to wax paper lined tray.  Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.  Store in cool, dry place.

Cinnamon-Sugared Nuts

Prep: 10 minutes.  Bake: 30 minutes.  Yield: 2 cups.

– 1 T slightly beaten large egg white

– 2 c pecan halves, unblanched whole almonds or walnut halves

– 1/4 c sugar

– 2 t ground cinnamon

– 1/4 t ground nutmeg

– 1/4 t ground cloves

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix egg white and pecan halves in medium bowl until pecans are coated and sticky.

Mix remaining ingredients and spinkle over pecans.  Stir until pecans are completely coated.  Spread pecans in a single layer in ungreased jelly roll pan.

Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until toasted.  Cool completely, or serv warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.

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Christmas Candy

One of the best thing about the holidays is how much baking and cooking I get to do.  I made a bunch of goodies to take to various places and all of it got eaten except for a couple of marshmallows.

I had never made any of this stuff before and all of it turned out perfectly, except for the potato candy.  I don’t think I added enough sugar to make the candy stiff, because it was really runny.  It tasted good, but it looked awful.

Someone told me that homemade marshmallows are DELICIOUS and I was curious if this was true.  To me, a marshmallow is a marshmallow.  Well, my mind has been blown.  These things were just as delicious as I told they would be.  Plus, they were so easy to make!  They would be great in hot cocoa (or just plain like I ate them).

Making all of this stuff was so enjoyable. I’m going to make more goodies for Zack to take to work with him on Christmas eve.

People seem to really appreciate when I bring them goodies and it makes me feel so good.  I love making people happy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

– 12 oz dark chocolate

– 1/3 c creamy peanut butter

– 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

– 1/4 c crushed graham crackers

In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar and graham crackers.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate (using microwave, double boiler, or chocolate melter).

Using a pastry brush, clean paintbrush, or even the back of a spoon, brush the melted chocolate on the bottom and sides of 12 mini cupcake liners.  It’s helpful to stack some liners together to give more support.  When in doubt, add more chocolate, since this will be the base for your candy.  Place the cupcake liners on a plate or in a cupcake tin and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove the liners from the freezer and place about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture in each cup.  Press down a bit with a spoon to spread.  Spoon more melted chocolate on top of each cup.

Place the peanut butter cups back in the freezer for another 15 minutes to set.  Eat cold or let warm to room temperature before serving.

Potato Candy

– 1 medium potato

– 1 large bag confectioners sugar

– peanut butter

Boil the potato until soft.  Mash with a fork.  Stir in confectioners sugar gradually until mixture forms a dough.  Roll dough out on sugared surface in a rectangular form.  Spread peanut butter thinly over entire rectangle.  Roll the length.  Slice into pieces.  Store at room temperature.

Haystacks

– 24 oz butterscotch chips

– 1 large bag chow mein noodles

– 2 c peanuts (unsalted or lightly salted)

Melt chips and pour over noodles and peanuts.  Make haystacks on wax paper.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

– 3/4 c butter

– 3 c sugar

– 1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk

– 1 (12 oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

– 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream

– 3/4 c creamy peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla

Microwave butter in 4-qt bowl on high 1 minute or until melted.  Add sugar and milk; mix well.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes until mixture begins to boil, stirring after 3 minutes.  Mix well.  Scrape bowl.  Microwave 5 1/2 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes.

Stir in chocolate pieces until smooth and melted.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well.

Pour into a buttered 9×13 pan.  Makes 3 lbs.

Peanut Butter Balls

– 1 lb powdered sugar

– 1 stick butter

– 8 oz peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla

– 12 oz chocolate chips

– 1/4 block paraffin wax

Mix sugar, melted butter, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Roll into balls and place in refrigerator.  Melt wax and chocolate chips.  Dip balls in chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.

Marshmallows

– 3 pkgs unflavored gelatin

– 1 c ice cold water, divided

– 12 oz granulated sugar (~ 1 1/2 c)

– 1 c light corn syrup

– 1/4 t salt

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

– 1/4 c cornstarch

– nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 c of the water.  Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 c water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Place over medium-high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (about 7-8 minutes).  Once a mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from heat.

Turn the mixture on low speed, and while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.  Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.  Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12-15 minutes.  Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping.  When the mixture is whipping, prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover.  Reserve the rest for later use.  Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture.  Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Christmas Party Goodies!

Zack and I got to go to the first Christmas party of the season last weekend.  His boss had a dinner party for the management and office employees.  I really enjoyed going, because I got to meet the people that Zack works with.  It was really nice to get to put faces with names that I’ve heard Zack talk about.

Everyone was so nice, too!  Plus there was lots of good food.

Zack and I took a platter of desserts – peanut butter and chocolate fudge and cookie balls and a plate of jalapeno cheddar bite appetizers.  People seemed to like both plates of stuff.

There were some leftovers on both plates, so I took them to work with me Monday and every bit got snatched up 🙂

I forgot to take a picture of the platter of goodies which sucks, because the fudge and cookie balls looked so cute arranged on the platter!  Oh well, at least I got individual pictures.

Christmas Tree Cool Mint Oreo Cookie Balls

Prep: 30 minutes, plus refrigerating. Makes about 24 cookie balls.

– 6 oz package cream cheese, softened

– 1 pkg (15. 25 oz) Oreo cool mint cream cookies, finely crushed

– 2 pkg (6 squares each) white chocolate, melted

– 6 drops green food coloring

– red and green decorating icing

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.

Shape into 1″ balls; place on waxed paper covered baking sheet.  Freeze 10 minutes.  Mix melted chocolate and food coloring until well blended.  Dip balls in chocolate; return to baking sheet.  Squiggle green and red icing onto balls to make Christmas trees.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Keep refrigerated.

Chocolate Fudge

Prep: 10 minutes.  Cook: 30 minutes.  Cool 2 hours.  Stand 1-2 hours.

– 4 c sugar

– 1 1/3 c milk

– 1/4 c corn syrup

– 1/4 t salt

– 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate

– 1/4 c butter

– 2 t vanilla

Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 8×8 with butter.

Butter sides of heavy 3-qt saucepan.  Place sugar, milk, corn syrup, salt, and chocolate in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Cook, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, to 234 degrees on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into a cup of very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from water; remove from heat.  Drop butter on top, but do not stir.

Cool mixture without stirring to 110 degrees, about 2 hours (bottom of saucepan will be lukewarm). Add vanilla.  Beat vigorously and continuously using wooden spoon until fudge begins to thicken.  Then, continue beating 5-10 minutes until mixture is thick and no longer glossy.

Quickly, spread or press into pan.  Let stand about 1-2 hours or until firm.  Cut into 1-inch squares.

Peanut Butter Fudge

– 8 T butter, plus more for greasing pan

– 1 c smooth peanut butter

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 1 lb powdered sugar

Combine the butter and peanut butter in a 4-qt microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.  It will be HOT.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen.  Spread into a buttered 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.  Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Jalapeno Cheese Bites

– 1 can pizza dough

– 2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded, blanched, and sliced

– 1 – 1 1/2 t olive oil

– salt & pepper

– 1 t mixed dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil)

– ~ 1 c Tex-Mex shredded cheese

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press down the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Then pull and stretch the dough into a rectangular shape.

Spread the oil on the dough and gently press it into a 14×8 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some salt, herbs, pepper, cheese, and jalapeno peppers onto the dough.

Roll up the dough as tightly as you can.  Pinch both ends, and slice the log into 3/4″ – 1″ rounds.  Place the rolls on the baking sheet, cut side up, and bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and light golden brown in color.

Makes about 14 bites.

Layered “Cupcake” Fudge Cups

Last weekend Zack and I went to Virginia Beach for a concert.  My closest friend from high school, Mackenzie goes to school in the area, so we decided to visit and have dinner with her.  I wanted to take her some goodies, so I made these.  I got the mini cupcake carrier from a local bake shop.

Mackenzie really enjoyed these fudge cups and said her neighbors did, too! 🙂

The bottom layer is milk chocolate fudge and the top layer is confetti fudge (white chocolate fudge with sprinkles).  I think they did end up looking kind of like cupcakes.  I like this dessert, because there are so many options.  You can make practically any flavor combination you want.  The recipe includes several varieties, but you can only limited by your imagination!

Cupcake Fudge Cups

– 2 tablespoons butter, melted (divided)

– 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk (divided)

– Pinch of salt

– 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*

– 1½ cups white chocolate chips*

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)

Flavor Variations:

– Peanut butter fudge: sub peanut butter morsels for white chocolate chips

– Butterscotch fudge: sub butterscotch morsels for white chocolate chips

– Fruity Fudge (strawberry, raspberry, orange, etc.): In white chocolate fudge, sub fruit flavored extract/flavoring of your choice for vanilla. Add a drop of food coloring to create color of fruit. Top with dark chocolate fudge for a ’choco dipped fruit’ taste or white chocolate fudge for a ’fruit and cream’ taste.

– Oreo fudge: Add ½ cup crushed Oreos to white chocolate fudge

– Confetti fudge: Add ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles to white chocolate fudge.

– Mix ins: add ½ cup nuts, toffee, dried cranberries, crushed peppermint, marshmallows, etc to your fudge.

Line a mini muffin/cupcake pan with baking cups.

Divide ingredients in half, as directed in recipe. Place 1 tablespoon of butter, 7 oz (half the can) of sweetened condensed milk, and a pinch of salt in 1 microwave safe bowl, and the other half in a second microwave safe bowl.

In the microwave, melt one bowl of the butter/milk mixture, about 30 seconds. Add 1½ cups of milk chocolate chips (or flavor of your choice).

Microwave until chocolate is completely melted, about 2-4 minutes on 50% power, taking out to stir every 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn your chocolate by overheating!

Once chocolate is melted, stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract into each bowl, or choose an extract or flavoring of your choice, followed by any mix-ins if desired. Scoop fudge into mini muffin pans using a spoon or ice cream scoop.

Press down so the tops are flat. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, to firm up.

While the bottom layer of your fudge cups are cooling, prepare white chocolate fudge (or second flavor of your choice). Repeat process above, using 1½ cups of white chocolate chips (or flavor of choice).

Remove milk chocolate fudge from fridge. Scoop the white chocolate fudge on top of milk chocolate fudge and smooth with a knife.

Garnish with toppings if desired. Refrigerate fudge cups for 2-3 hours, until firm, before serving.

Yummy!