"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm Having a Very Pinteresting Christmas

 My daughter (who will be 20 tomorrow - yikes!) usually does all the goodie making at Christmas, but she's of to college on the other side of the country this year, so I'm on my own.  I wanted to make goodies (even though I'm not allowed to eat them on my diet :(  I've been pinning Christmas treat ideas all year, so I figured it would be a great time to try out some of the ideas.  They all came out perfectly.  So here's some of the things I've made...  

  This was called Christmas Crack - because it's as addictive as crack.  I would have to agree.  Glad I'm on a diet, or I would have eaten a whole pan of this stuff myself.  It's very simple - put a layer of saltine crackers on a foil lined pan with sides (I used a big sheet cake pan).  In a saucepan, cook 1 cup of unsalted butter together with 1 cup of brown sugar until bubbly and starting to thicken - somewhere around 5 minutes or so.  Pour that over the crackers, spread to coat, then bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until bubbly.  Pull out of oven and sprinkle a bag of chocolate chips on top. When the chips have melted, spread out the chocolate, then chill till set.

Santa hat pretzels. My eight year old made some of these (he got tired of it quickly though, so this is all we made).  I'm guessing you can figure out how to do this without instructions ;)

 I had little helpers too.  One clinging to my leg (ever try to move around the kitchen with a one year old attached to your leg?) and the other hoping I would drop something, or grabbing things off the counter when he thought I wasn't looking.  He typically doesn't like sweets - won't eat cake or pie and doesn't even really like ice cream.  But he does love bugles and pretzels... and m&m's.  And he loves the Christmas crack.

 I made cinnamon popcorn.  This is super easy - just melt down 1/2 cup of red hots with a quarter cup of water and pour over popcorn.  I used two bags of microwave popcorn for that amount of cinnamon.  Good stuff.

 The eight year old made the Santa hat bugles too.  These are yummy - the perfect blend of chocolate and salt ;)  I'm not a big fan of almond bark, which I cheated and used on this.  Next time it will be white chocolate chips, which are just as easy to melt down. 

 The mint oreo truffles were a bit more work, but soooo worth it.  Wish I could afford the calories & carbs to eat a whole one of these.  Instead, I had to make do with just a tiny taste.  But ooh.  I'm definitely gonna have to make these again.  It's a pretty simple recipe too - I put a whole package of mint oreos in the food processor and pulverized them, then added a package of softened cream cheese to the food processor.  It was a little hard on the food processor, so next time I'll probably just stir them in with a wooden spoon.  I made two batches of these, and one of my packages of cream cheese was 1/3 less fat, which worked out much better.  The full fat variety was too soft.  Mushy even.  I put them out on the porch to cool (until it started snowing), then dipped them in white chocolate tinted green.  The original recipe called for peppermint extract in the white chocolate, but I was running low on that, so I didn't use it, and I think they turned out just fine without it.  I had saved some cookie crumbs to sprinkle on top, and I'm glad I did.  The white chocolate was a little dirty looking after rolling the truffles in it, and sprinkling cookie crumbs on top hid that.

 I made a few with dark chocolate coating too, since that's my husband's favorite thing.

 The cinnamon sugar pretzels were the easiest thing to make.  1/2 cup of vegetable oil, mixed with 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon, stirred together really well and poured over a 16 ounce bag of pretzels.  Then baked in the oven at 300 degrees for thirty minutes, stirring twice.  Much easier than chocolate dipped pretzels, which I also made.

 I tried peppermint divinity too, but I don't think I did it right.  It seems awfully dry. I suspect is has something to do with my cooking time due to our elevation (7,200 ft. which is 1 1/4 miles for those of you impressed with Denver's "mile high" status).  Anyway, either my candy thermometer is off or cooking it that long was a problem. 

At any rate, here's the recipe:
  • 4 cup(s) granulated sugar

  • 1 cup(s) light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) peppermint extract
  • 6 drop(s) red food coloring
  1. Oil a 9" by 9" pan and a spoon and set aside. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan with 3/4 cup water and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes.
  2. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks in a large bowl using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed. Reduce speed to medium and slowly pour sugar mixture into egg whites. Add peppermint and continue to beat until mixture is very thick and fluffy, about 12 minutes.
  3. Immediately transfer to prepared pan and smooth using back of oiled spoon. Dot divinity surface with red food coloring and drag a skewer through to create a marbled effect. Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours. Slice into 1-inch squares. Note: For a simple variation, drop dollops of divinity batter onto an oiled baking sheet, then top with chocolate kisses.
The recipe is from the Country Living website.

 I needed something vegan for my 22 year old son, so I made these peppermint crackers (fake thin mints).  They're just town house crackers dipped in dark chocolate which has a little peppermint oil mixed in.  I also dipped some pretzels in the dark chocolate for him, and am thinking of making him a batch of cinnamon popcorn too.  I'll have to dig out my air popper for that though.  The only thing that makes the other cinnamon popcorn not vegan is that I used microwave popcorn, which contains butter.  I may make some with the air popper though because the one year old could have that too, even with all his allergies.  I'm not sure that's such a good idea though, since popcorn is already a choking hazard.  We'll see.

 Then I made peppermint patties.  And boy, are these incredible - better than any store bought ones I've ever had.  Simple too - a can of sweetened condensed milk, a little peppermint oil, and 5-6 cups of powdered sugar.  The recipe called for 6 cups, but 5 1/2 was plenty dry.  I made these into little patties (I scooped them with a cookie scoop, then cut that ball in half and made two patties from each scoop).  They sat in the garage overnight getting good and cold and dry, then I dipped them in dark chocolate the next day.

I also made flavored oyster crackers.  These are just vegetable oil mixed with ranch dressing mix and poured over the crackers.  You have to let it sit for a couple of days for the flavor to be good.  I didn't measure - just mixed it freehand - maybe around a cup of oil, who knows how much ranch, and two bags of oyster crackers.  That was the only recipe that wasn't from pinterest. 

Well, that and the chocolate dipped pretzels. I was surprised how easy all these recipes were (except the divinity).  And I ended up making a lot more treats than I expected to.

Oh, and incidentally, I have snitched a few bites here and there (definitely more than I intended to), but it hasn't been too hard on the diet.  I've already lost two pounds since Monday.  I'm not pushing my luck though.  If you're trying to not snack on goodies while you make them, I highly recommend ice breaker mints.  They have a strong flavor, and no carbs, and things won't taste right if you snack on them.  That or toothpaste ;)

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