Christmas Eve Mice

I’m a big fan of putting little decorative things as place settings at dinner parties (see Thanksgiving Dinner Turkeys).

I didn’t have my own Christmas dinner, but mom did and she asked me to make some cute for the tables.  I have had this recipe for months just waiting to be able to make them.

They turned out even cuter than I imagined and they were so easy to make!

All of my family kept complimenting me on them.  They must have tasted pretty good, too, because most of them got eaten!

The only word of caution that I want to give is to be careful if you transport them.  Their little ears will snap right off pretty easily.  I broke two of their ears off!  Oops!

Christmas Eve Mice

Prep: 25 minutes + chilling

– 15 double-stuffed cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies

– 1 c (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

– 2 t shortening

– 15 red maraschino cherries with stems, well-drained

– 15 milk chocolate kisses

– 30 sliced almonds

– 1 small tube red decorative icing gel

Carefully twist cookies apart, set aside the halves with cream filling.  Save plain halves for another use.  Melt semisweet chocolate chips and shortening.  Stir until smooth.  Holding each cherry by the stem, dip cherry in melted chocolate, then press onto the bottom of chocolate kiss.  Place on the cream filling of cookie with cherry stem extending beyond chocolate cookie.

For ears, place slivered almonds between the cherry and the kiss.  Refrigerate until set.  With red gel, pipe eyes on each chocolate kiss.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 15 servings.

Christmas Cookies :)

I feel like I have really let my blog go lately and I feel pretty guilty.  I do have a couple of excuses, though.  First of all, Christmas was nothing short of a madhouse.  Zack and I had to do 5 Christmases.  We had my step-grandma’s Christmas dinner at a ritzy hotel in Roanoke, Christmas with my mom and stepdad, Zack and my Christmas, Christmas with my dad, and Christmas with Zack’s parents and brothers.  It was crazy and although I love spending time with our families, I am really glad it is over.

Plus, I have been really sick all week.  I used to get sick all of the time, but for the past couple of years I haven’t been really sick at all (except for the occasional cold).  I think those years of not being sick caught up to me, though, because I haven’t left the couch in 3 days.  I went to the doctor and he said it seems to be the flu.  Thanks flu shot for failing me!  I’m finally starting to feel better and might actually leave my house tomorrow!  You realize what a big deal that is once you are home bound for a couple of days.

I should have posted these about a week ago, but hey, better late than never!

PS – these preacher cookies were so good that one of Zack’s coworkers actually paid me to make her another batch.  Yeah!

Preacher Cookies

– 2 c white sugar

– 1/2 c butter

– 1/2 c milk

– 4 T cocoa

– 1/2 c peanut butter

– 2 c quick oatmeal

– 1 t vanilla

– 1/4 t salt

Combine sugar, butter, milk, salt, and cocoa in saucepan.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter, and oatmeal.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or buttered cookie sheet.

M&M Cookies

– 1/2 c shortening

– 1/2 c brown sugar

– 1/4 c granulated sugar

– 1/4 t vanilla

– 1/4 t water

– 1 egg

– 1 c + 2 T flour

– 1/2 t soda

– 1/2 t salt

– 3/4 c M&Ms

Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add vanilla, water, and egg.  Mix flour, soda and salt then add to creamed mixture.  Stir in M&Ms.  Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.

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.

Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Biscuits

I am not a dog person.  I don’t know if I missed out on the dog-loving gene or what.  I don’t like little ones because they are yappy and annoying.  I don’t like big ones because they are scary and intimidating.  There’s no middle ground here for me! Haha!

Zack loves dogs.  His parents have a chocolate lab and my aunt and uncle have a cocker spaniel.  I’m the type of crazy person that gives pets Christmas gifts.

I found a recipe for some dog biscuits and thought that would be perfect for a little gift.

My aunt and uncle’s dog is named Gordy and Zack’s parents dog is named River, so I made some R and G shaped cookies!

Gordy got his cookies last weekend and I was told that he loves them!  River gets his on Christmas.  I hope he likes his too.

Pets need Christmas love, too!

Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Biscuits

– 1 egg

– 1/3 c peanut butter

– 1/2 c mashed banana

– 1 T honey

– 1 c whole wheat flour

– 1/4 c wheat germ

– 1/4 c old fashioned oats

– 1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, stir together the egg, peanut butter, banana, and honey.  STir in the flour, wheat germ and oats.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll to 1/4″ thickness.  Using a cookie cutter, cut into desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheet.  Brush with egg white.

Bake until dried and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes, depending on size.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

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 Dinner # 2 Desserts

As I mentioned in Mini Bread Loaves, my mom had her annual Christmas dinner on Sunday.  I was enlisted to make some desserts.

I’d been wanting to try out these recipes for a while, but hadn’t had an opportunity, especially for the banana one, because, gasp, Zack isn’t a big fan of bananas.

I’m glad that I got to sample both of them, but I think they were both one time things.  Neither really knocked my socks off.

The Wassail tea was really good, though.  I will definitely make that again.  In fact, I saved some of it to give to my dad.  He loves wassail.

I’m also taking the leftover desserts to work with me and hopefully they will get gobbled up!

Also, I cannot believe Christmas is in 5 days! Oh my gosh!  I am so excited!

Banana Split Pie

– 1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs

– 6 T butter, melted

– 3 medium bananas

– 4 oz cream cheese, softened

– 8 oz cool whip

– 1/2 stick butter, softened

– 1 c confectioners sugar

– small can pineapple

– various toppings of choice: ex) chocolate syrup, sprinkles, cherries, nuts, etc

Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into an ungreased 8×8 baking dish.

Mix confectioners sugar, cream cheese and 1/2 stick butter together until fluffy.  Slice bananas into crust.  Add fluffy mixture on top, then add fluffy mixture.  Sprinkle pineapple on top and cover with cool whip.

Top with various toppings before serving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert

Prep: 20 minutes + chilling

– 20 chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies, divided

– 2 T butter, melted

– 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

– 1/2 c peanut butter

– 1 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, divided

– 1 carton, 16 oz, frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

– 15 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped

– 1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix

– 1 1/2 c milk

Crush 16 cookies, toss with the butter.  Press into an ungreased dish.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Fold in half of the whipped topping.  Spread over crust.  Sprinkle with peanut butter cups.

In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Fold in remaining whipped topping.  Spread the pudding mixture over the peanut butter cups.  Crush the remaining cookies, sprinkle over the top.  Cover and chill dessert for at least 3 hours.

Wassail

– 1 c sugar

– 4 c water

– 4 cinnamon sticks

– 1 t allspice

– 1 t cloves

– 1 qt orange juice

– 2 c pineapple juice

– 2 qt apple cider or juice

Simmer for several (at least 2) hours.  Serve hot.

Mini Bread Loaves

Every year on the Sunday before Christmas, my mom has Christmas dinner at her house.  Her two brothers, their families, her parents, and her fiancee’s mom all come.  It is a great event full of joy and holiday festivities.

The older adults decided not to exchange gifts this year and decided to just buy for us younger folks.  I still wanted to do something nice for my grandparents and aunts and uncles, so I decided to make some mini breads for them.

My mom bought me a set of mini loaf pans a while back and I had been looking for an excuse to use them.

The first set of breads that I decided to make was Cream Cheese Pound Cakes.  Well, I had no idea how long to bake them (or how full to fill the pans) so they did not turn out very well.  I burned the edges and the pans overflowed.  Luckily, I set the mini pans on a baking sheet, so that they didn’t overflow into the oven.

Since they turned out so ugly (and the edges were definitely unedible), I decided just to keep these and will be using the middles of them for something, I just haven’t figured out what yet.

I’m not throwing away the recipe, because the middle of the loaves was really good, I just needed to work on baking times and the actual filling of the pans.

 

Cream Cheese Pound Cakes

Prep: 20 minutes.  Bake ~ 50 minutes.

– 1 1/2 c butter, room temperature

– 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

– 3 c sugar

– 6 large eggs

– 1 t vanilla extract

– 3 c AP flour

– 2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well until each addition.  Mix in vanilla.  With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined.

Generously coat 5 mini loaf pans with cooking spray; immediately pour in batter (pans will seem full).  Tap pans on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, ~ 50 minutes, check after 30 minutes.  If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan.  Turn out the cakes, cool completely with top sides up, on a wire rack.

 

These turned out much nicer.  These actually looked like cute little mini loaves.

I wish I had taken a picture of how I gifted them to them.  Mom and I wrapped the baby loaves in saran wrap and put ribbon around them (and labels saying what they are) and put them in a little snowman gift bag.  They were adorable.

Plus, there is something so special about homemade gifts.

 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

– 1 box yellow cake mix with pudding

– 1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding

– 1/2 c sugar

– 3/4 c vegetable oil

– 3/4 c water

– 4 large eggs

– 8 oz sour cream

– 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine cake mix, pudding and sugar with a wire whisk to remove large lumps.  Add oil, water and eggs, stirring until smooth.  Stir in sour cream and chocolate chips.  Pour into greased and floured mini loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

These turned out the best looking.  Both the banana bread minis and the chocolate chip pound cake was very moist and fresh looking.

Everyone who got their little bread bags seemed to really appreciate them.  Seeing others happy because of stuff that I have made makes me so happy.

I love my family so much and am so thankful for them.

Banana Bread Minis

Prep: 10 minutes.  Total 50 minutes.

– 1 package yellow cake mix

– 1 package (3.4 0z) banana cream flavor instant pudding

– 4 eggs

– 1 c water

– 1/4 c oil

– 1 c mashed, fully ripe bananas (about 3)

– 1/2 c chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 5 foil mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

Beat first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer 2 minutes or until well blended.  Add bananas and nuts; mix until just blended.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool completely.

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.