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.

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.

Halloween Goodies

I’ve been waiting for this all month.

I have a special section in my recipe binder entitled “Halloween” and I’ve been looking at it for weeks just waiting until I got to try them out.  Well, yesterday was finally the day.  At Zack’s place of employment, they are dressing up today and doing all sorts of Halloween-esque things, so I used that as an excuse to send these goodies with him.

I had a recipe for popcorn owls that was ADORABLE and the recipe I was most looking forward to trying out, but it was a disaster.  I thought about still including the recipe in here, but it was THAT much of a disaster that I threw it away.

I’ll still include a picture of the one owl I attempted.  To make them, you made popcorn balls (one big and one smaller) and stuck them together to form the body and head of the owl.  You then were supposed to decorate them with various candies and adhere them to the owl using marshmallow creme.  Well, the marshmallow creme did not hold and caused everything to slide right off, so I tried using some frosting.  Same problem.  I was disappointed.

See how awful it looks? Somebody needs to go to cosmetology school. I had to hold the eyes on until the last second when  I took the picture, because they slid off that fast.  They would have been adorable had they worked.  Oh well, at least my other stuff turned out well.

Quick Ghost Cookies

These were so easy to make and I think they’re adorable!  I talked to my mom yesterday and she was making a batch of these, too.  I guess great minds think alike!

These would be cute with mouths painted on, too, but I was pretty tired by this point (I made these next to last), so they will have to wait until next year to get mouths.

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1 lb white candy coating, coarsely chopped

– 1 package (1 lb) Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies

– miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Melt candy coating (in microwave, double boiler, or candy melter), stirring occasionally.  Dip cookies into coating, covering completely.  Place on waxed paper.

Brush ends with bakery brush dipped in coating where fingers touched cookies.  While coating is still warm, place 2 chips on each cookie for eyes.  Let stand until set.  Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

Miniature Witches

I loved making these.  It is strictly just assembling the parts (which I like) so it is more like you are doing a craft instead of baking.  I would definitely make these again.

You could used canned icing to decorate these, but I just used some left over icing from when I made cake pops (shown below).

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided

– 36 mini semisweet chocolate chips

– 12 large marshmallows

– 1 drop each green, red, yellow food coloring

– 1/4 c flaked coconut

– 12 chocolate wafers

– 12 mini peanut butter cups

– 12 milk chocolate kisses

For the face of each witch, place a dab of the frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips; press two for eyes and one for each nose onto each marshmallow.

For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag.  Add coconut and shake well.  Spread a small amount of frosting on the side of marshmallows.  Press coconut into frosting.  Place 2 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy duty resealable plastic bag.  Tint orange with yellow and red food coloring, set aside.

For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of the chocolate wafers, press the peanut butter cups upside down into frosting.  Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting.  Place on the peanut butter cups.  Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag, insert a small star tip (I used tip 16).  Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup.  Secure the hat to each witch with a dab of frosting.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would try this (or even bake it) I would have looked at you in utter disgust.  My whole life I’ve had a strong aversion to pumpkin food, but I finally gave in last week and made a pumpkin roll…and it was delicious.

I had some pumpkin left over from it, so when I saw this recipe I knew it had to be added to the Halloween goodies menu.

I’m a big fan of fudge and this is AMAZING.  It has such a good flavor and it literally melts in your mouth.  It’s easy to make, too.

– 2 cups white sugar

– 1 cup light brown sugar

– 3/4 cup butter

– 2/3 cup condensed milk

– 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

– 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

– 1 package white chocolate chips

– 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

– 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the sugars, butter, condensed milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice.  Heat until all the ingredients are combined and begin to boil.  Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes or until it reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from pan and quickly stir in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts (if using), and vanilla until all ingredients are fully combined and the chips are melted.  Immediately pour the fudge into your prepared baking dish and let sit on a wire rack for at least 2 hours to cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Cut fudge into squares before serving.

Halloween Cake Pops

I love the idea of a cake pop.  Bite size pieces of cake, mixed with icing, covered in chocolate?  Count me in!  I’ve been wanting to make some for a while, but hadn’t had a reason to until now.

The only “bad” thing about making cake pops is that there is so much idle time…wait for the cake to bake, wait for it to cool, wait for the balls to harden in the freezer, wait for the coating to harden…

I would definitely make them again, though.  I was very pleased with the way that they turned out.  I made half of them with the Halloween sprinkles like shown below and half just plain chocolate.

Here they all are arranged in their bouquets.  Aren’t they adorable?  I individually wrapped each one in a treat bag so that they would be easy to grab and take with them.

Cake:

– 2 1/4 cup AP flour

– 1 2/3 cup sugar

– 2/3 cup shortening

– 1 1/4 cups milk

– 3 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 5 large egg whites

– food coloring, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of 9×13 pan.

Beat all ingredients together except egg whites and food coloring in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Beat in egg whites on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in food coloring, if using.  Pour into pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack completely, about 1 hour.

Buttercream Frosting:

– 2 sticks butter, softened

– 1/2 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

– 1 lb confectioners’ sugar

– 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  Slowly add in confectioners’ sugar and continue creaming until well blended.

Add vanilla, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or milk.  Blend on low speed until moistened.  Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Make Pops:

– cake

– icing

– 1 bag melting chocolate (12 oz) any color

– 1 bag lollipop sticks

– 1 bag treat bags

Once the cake has completely cooled, begin gently crumbling the cake.  Place sections of the cake into a large bowl, 1/4 of the cake at a time.  When you’re finished, you should have a bunch of very fine cake crumbs.

Use two forks to work the icing into the cake.  Keep working until the icing is no longer visible.  It will eventually blend in entirely.

Next, roll the mixture into balls – make them about walnut size – a small ice cream scoop could help with this.

Pop them in the freezer, uncovered, for at least an hour.  The cake balls need to be very firm before coating them.

When cake balls are nice and firm, go ahead and melt your candy coating, stirring occasionally.

Insert a stick sideways into each ball (paying attention to flat part on bottom).  Now you can either dip in chocolate or spoon it over top.  Be sure to thoroughly coat bottom of ball where it meets the stick.  Lay them back down onto waxed or parchment paper, paying attention to flat part (put against parchment again).

Now decorate & put into treat bags!

Homemade Butterfingers

Butterfingers are probably my favorite candy bar.  They have the best flavor and such a wonderful texture.  I did not have a clue how they were made, so when I came across a recipe for them on the internet, I could not resist trying it out!

Plus, with only 3 ingredients, how could you go wrong?

These things turned out great! If they didn’t taste exactly like butterfingers, they were darn close!  I think it’s cool that they use candy corn as an ingredient, but it sucks that I will only be able to make them in the fall!

Some of them covered with the chocolate really well and others were kind of lumpy, but it definitely did not take away from the taste.

I will probably end up making a bunch of these in the next month or so, so that I can get it out of my system for the rest of the year! 🙂

Major YUM!

Homemade Butterfingers

Adapted From: In Katrina’s Kitchen

– 3 cups candy corn

– 1 cup peanut butter

– chocolate for dipping

Melt candy corn in the microwave for about 60 seconds.  Check and stir returning to microwave for 15 second intervals until completely melted.

Add peanut butter and combine.  Return to microwave if necessary to incorporate until creamy.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and let cool about an hour.

Cut candy into desired shape and cover in melted chocolate.