Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Cookie Bars

These are the cookies we're leaving out for Santa tonight. The kids had fun helping me measure and stir (and taste, of course) these yummy cookie bars. Crushed candy canes add a barely-there peppermint flavor to the bars themselves, and the frosting puts that minty flavor over the top!

Christmas Cookie Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2-3 candy canes, crushed
1 package mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. mint extract
Sprinkles, if desired

Cream butter and sugars in a bowl. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Combine flour, salt and baking soda, and beat slowly into creamed mixture. Stir in candy canes and chocolate chips.

Grease a 10x15 jelly roll pan. Spread cookie dough evenly in pan. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan before cutting into bars.

For frosting: Melt butter or margarine. Beat in powdered sugar, milk, and extracts. Spread on cookie bars. I cut the bars and then spread each one individually, or they could be frosted before being cut. If desired, top with sprinkles. Serve with a big glass of milk or eggnog, and enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Russian Refresher

I've had this recipe for quite a while, and we like to make it every winter. It's called Russian Refresher because it's similar to Russian chai, or tea. But this has no tea in it, it's just a spiced citrus punch that is served hot. Jeff and I sometimes like to call it Citrus Cider. This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of powdered mix, which you can use to make individual servings of this hot, refreshing drink.

Russian Refresher Mix
2 cups powdered orange drink mix
1 pkg (3 oz) presweetened powdered lemonade mix*
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

*I like to buy a larger container of lemonade mix and just measure out 3 ounces, because it ends up cheaper per ounce. Then I still have most of the container left for making plain lemonade.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. Put in a 1-quart container. Label as Russian Refresher Mix and store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Makes about 3 1/2 cups of mix.

RUSSIAN REFRESHER: Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of RUSSIAN REFRESHER MIX to 1 cup hot water. Stir to dissolve. Makes 1 serving.

This mix would make a good last-minute Christmas gift for neighbors or family. I also have several other gift mix recipes that make good gifts; they can be found in this post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Buckeye Bars

I love buckeyes - peanut butter balls with chocolate coating. My favorite kind are the ones with graham cracker crumbs, because they add a wonderful texture and richer flavor than the ones loaded with butter and tons of powdered sugar.

However, I don't love quite so much the amount of time it takes to roll all those little balls and dip each one into chocolate. So when I found a recipe for Buckeye Bars, I was excited to see that I could just press my peanut butter filling into a pan and top it with chocolate. Quick and easy! So I used the instructions for that recipe, and the filling from my regular buckeye recipe, and made my own delicious buckeye bars.

Buckeye Bars
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and confectioners' sugar in a bowl or a food processor until smooth. It starts out really crumbly, but keep at it. I like to use my hand and squish it like play dough. It takes quite a while, but it's fun.

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.

Press peanut butter mixture into pan evenly. Microwave chocolate chips on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave 15 to 30 seconds or until chocolate is melted; stir until smooth. Spread over peanut butter layer.

Refrigerate 2 hours. Use foil handles to lift bars from pan before cutting to serve.

My chocolate actually hardened too much to cut. So I just broke off pieces. To make the chocolate softer so you can cut nice little squares, I would stir in some sweetened condensed milk. But it's fun to just eat big chunks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Covered Shortbread

Jeff wanted to make something similar to Twix just for fun, so he came up with these yummy cookie bars. They don't have caramel like Twix, and the cookies aren't quite as crispy, but they are delicious and are being eaten up rather quickly! I don't think these will last long.

Chocolate Covered Shortbread
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
chocolate candy coating (almond bark)

Heat oven to 350.

Mix butter and sugar in large bowl. Stir in flour. (If dough is crumbly, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened.)

Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into small rectangles, about 1/2 inch by 3-4 inch. Place 1/2 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake about 20 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Melt chocolate coating according to package directions. Dip cookies in chocolate. Let harden, and enjoy!