I am wishing for a white Christmas this year and the holiday treats for this issue support that dream.  My family and I are celebrating Christmas early this year by opening our gifts on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My son and his family are traveling to Colorado to visit his wife’s family for Christmas. My daughter and her family are staying in Lincoln, NE for the holidays. She is due to have a baby girl (Rebel Rose) soon after.  Pamela, my ex sister-in-law is joining us also. Funny thing, I got her in the divorce 14 years ago. She even stayed with me during the pandemic. There also is a special guy in my life, Jim. He loves my cooking!! He did learn that saying “Not Bad” as a compliment is NOT a compliment. LOL. It is a sliver away from BAD. “Very Good” is his new compliment and I appreciate it.

2020 has been a year of isolation for many of us. Staying home is the new norm as are face masks and canceled activities. We have all dealt with canceled trips, family functions and even concerts. Personally, I have missed going to the movies and missed seeing my friends.

I am very grateful that my family and friends are healthy, happy and safe. I am grateful for simple things like ice cold Diet Pepsi, snuggles with Jim and my grandchildren’s voices when they call me Ba Ba. This holiday season let us be grateful for things we are blessed with, the love that surrounds us and the magic of the holidays.

IMG_1756-forweb

Oreo Ornaments

Serves: 24

24 Vanilla Oreo Cookies

1 pkg Vanilla Candy Coating

24 Rolo Candies, Wrapped Pearl Sugar Beads

  1. Melt the candy coating according to package directions. Sprinkle sugar beads on top. Chill. Spread each Oreo cookie with the candy coating using a knife. Sprinkle sugar beads on top. Chill.
  2. Using candy coating that has begun to harden roll into balls sightly smaller than peas and attach to Rolo and then adhere to the cookie.

Cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

IMG_1766-forweb

White Chocolate Caramel Nut Clusters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

8 oz Cashew or Pecan Halves

8-12 oz Werther's Soft Caramels

1 lb Vanilla Almond Bark

  1. Arrange 6-7 nut halves in a small circle formation, overlapping the nuts.
  2. Unwrap caramel. (You must use the Werhers soft caramels. I tried other varieties and the candy turned out rock hard). Melt caramels in the microwave at 45 second intervals till in a thick liquid form. Cool slightly. Top nuts with 1 heaping tablespoon of caramel. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Melt vanilla bark according to the package directions. Using a spoon poor approximately one tablespoon of chocolate onto the caramel. Chill for 5 minutes.
  4. Drizzle warm caramel using a fork to garnish the top of the nut candy.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for six weeks.

These nut clusters are decadent. I am going to be making these every year for the holidays. They are so easy (my kind of candy). Kids can even assist with the help of their parents in assembling the clusters. The first time I made them I used Kraft wrapped caramels. I had to go back to the drawing board. Too hard as I almost broke a tooth. Then I tried the Kraft Caramel Bites. Same thing happened, too hard. I was determined to make the recipe work. Luckily the Werther’s Soft Caramels were perfect. Last resort I was going to ask my sister, Debbie Morrow to make homemade caramels for me. She is the best. Hint, hint Debbie, please make wrapped caramels for me for Christmas.

 

IMG_1747-forweb

Coconut Fudge

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 32 1" squares

3 C White Chocolate Chips

1/2 C Virgin Coconut Oil (plus 1T)

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 C Coconut

1 tsp Coconut Extract

1 C Dark Chocolate Chips

1 C Whole Almonds

  1. Line a 8”x 8” or 9” loaf pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Combine white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Microwave in 45 second intervals till melted. Add cocoanut and extract.
  3. Pour into pan and chill.
  4. Melt chocolate chips and one tablespoon coconut oil in microwave at 30 second intervals till melted.
  5. Spread chocolate on top of chilled fudge. Garnish with whole almonds. Chill till firm and cut into 1” squares of slices. Store in freezer for four weeks in an airtight container.
IMG_1585-forweb

Peppermint Chocolate Grahams

Prep Time: 3 Minutes

Serves: 14 Squares

20-24 oz White Almond Bark or White Chocolate Chips

7 Graham Crackers

1 tsp Coconut Oil

Crushed Peppermint & Chocolate Sprinkles

  1. Lay parchment paper or wax paper on sheet pan or cooling rack.
  2. Melt chocolate in microwave (90 Seconds) or on the stove according to package instructions.
  3. Gently score graham crackers in half on the dotted line. Break in half width-wise.
  4. Spread melted chocolate generously on smooth side of crackers and sides.
  5. Sprinkle crushed peppermint and chocolate on top.
  6. Cool until chocolate has completely hardened. Store in air tight container. Can be kept in the freezer for 4-6 weeks.

Peppermint chocolate grahams are extremely easy and a great project for kids to participate in. Milk and dark chocolate can be substituted for the white chocolate. The toppings are endless and let your imagination take over. Some topping suggestions include chopped candy bars, nuts, and mini MM’s. Decorating the grahams are a great activity after trimming the Christmas tree or an afternoon or weekend activity.

IMG_1777-forweb

Decorated Cookies in Glass Canisters

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Serves: 2 Dozen Cookies or 2 Cookie Canisters

1 C Butter

1 1/3 C Granulated Sugar

4 Egg Yolks

3 T Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tsp Almond Flavoring

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

4 C Flour

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Slowly beat in egg yolks, yogurt and vanilla.
  2. Add flour, salt, baking powder till combined.
  3. Roll out dough on parchment paper to desired thickness. Dust with flour to prevent sticking.
  4. Cut out designs with cookie cutters or design your own patterns and go around patter with a small knife.
  5. Place on parchment covered baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-20 minutes depending on thickness. For my cookies in a glass I rolled my dough to 5/8 inches.
  6. Small cookies can be frozen for 6 weeks. Cookies in a jar will last approximately 8 weeks. Keep out of direct sunlight.

This is the best dough for cut out cookies. It doesn’t stick and best of all it is tasty!!! I am excited to be displaying some specially decorated cookies in large glass canisters this season. The best part is that I will get to look at them every day during the holidays.


Easy Royal Icing

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Serves: 2 3/4 cups icing

Recipe from: houseofnasheats.com

4 T Meringue Powder

4 C Powdered Sugar

6 T Warm water

1 tsp Vanilla

Gel Food Coloring

  1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the meringue powder and powdered sugar, then slowly mix in the water and vanilla while the mixer is running on medium-low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until stiff peaks form, around 5 minutes. This can be done with a hand mixer, but will take a couple minutes longer.
  2. Divide the thick white icing into individual bowls for however many colors you want and add gel food coloring, a few drops at a time, mixing well until you achieve the shades you like. From there, you can reserve half of each color at piping consistency for piping borders as described in the post, or thin all the icing to flood consistency.
  3. To thin each color to flood consistency, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time and stir well, continuing to add water by 1/2 teaspoon increments until you reach your desired consistency.
  4. Once your icing is colored and the right consistency, scoop it into a piping bag fitted with a size 2 or 3 tip. Decorate your sugar cookies by first outlining the border, then filling in the middle with flood icing which should settle into itself. Use a toothpick or scribe tool to fill in any gaps by spreading the icing around, then tap the cookie on the counter a few times to help the icing settle into a smooth, even layer.
  5. Dry cookies at room temperature for 6-8 hours until the royal icing is completely firm before adding additional layers or design or stacking for transport.