By Cheryle Finley
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Less than a week until Christmas and last week's school tragedy makes us all stop and count our blessings. So many families facing the holiday without loved ones. Keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
Do you think you have your shopping done but in the back of your mind you think you may be forgetting someone? This is a good time to search your recipe collection and make something worthy of gift-giving to have on hand just in case. Homemade is always appreciated. If you end up not giving the food to anyone, you know your family will be eager volunteers to enjoy it -- and there's not a thing wrong with that.
When thinking about giving food items, you might want to give thought to the recipients' storage availability. If they are preparing a big meal for family Christmas, a gift that doesn't require refrigeration would be most welcome.
Maybe you have a special family cookie, pie or cake recipe. Put them in a disposable pan or gift them with a pretty pan they can keep. Candy, such as fudge, is sure to be a hit with those who have a sweet tooth. Muffins, biscotti and coffee cakes can become a Christmas morning tradition, and putting them in a pretty basket makes them ready for serving. Perhaps there's a special coffee, tea or spice blend you have perfected and would be willing to share with family and friends. Jelly, marmalade and jam will bring a smile to just about any face. All of these make great hostess gifts, too.
Make a batch of cookie dough, scoop it into balls, then put in a nice plastic container for freezing. That way they can bake a batch of homemade cookies anytime. Smoking a turkey or a ham is a bit more costly and time consuming but such a nice surprise for someone feeding lots of people.
Think about what you can put together as a homemade gift with your special touch. And remember, if it's really good, it will be expected again next year.
Here's an interesting little food tidbit. In China, they have introduced Pepsi chicken flavored potato chips. Can't begin to imagine what they taste like. What's next? Coca Cola salmon chips? Dr. Pepper ribs chips? Wonder how this new concoction will go over and if we will ever see it here.
Truffles sound fancy but are really easy to make. There's dozens of fillings to use as well as coatings. The Oreo truffle recipe for today is from food.com and will have everyone wanting more. Even though these are stored in the fridge, I'm saying you won't need to worry about finding room. These truffles will be gone before you even need to start thinking about storing them. Julie Smith brings these tasty tidbits to work and they never last long. She dips hers in white chocolate then drizzles with milk chocolate, so this is a recipe you can make your own, even rolling the balls in chopped nuts, sprinkles, cocoa powder or any number of toppings.
I'm sharing my mother's fudge recipe, which is actually the one from the marshmallow fluff jar. Originally, the recipe called for one package of chocolate chips but now the jar recipe lists the addition of another half a package of chips. Either way works. Once our family starts thinking about this fudge, we have to have some. The ladies at my sister's work will call Mom and simply say ÒfudgeÓ then hang up. She knows it's time to get stirrin'. For the softball stage, spoon a small amount of the mixture into a cup of cool water. Pick up the mixture from the water between your fingers and if it rolls into a soft ball, it's good to go.
It wasn't intentional but today's recipes have turned into a chocolate extravaganza. The cereal peanut butter cups from Kraft's Best Ever Holiday Recipe Collection aren't cookies but I'll bet they would be welcome by Santa if left out Christmas Eve. The Cocoa Pebbles are like chocolate Rice Krispies so they are great in these treats.
Have a wonderful Christmas and happy eating!
1 pound (3 sleeves) Oreo cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound milk chocolate
1/2 pound white chocolate
Grind cookies to fine powder in food processor. With a mixer, blend cookie powder, cream cheese and vanilla. Roll into small balls and place on wax paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 45 minutes. Melt milk chocolate and dip balls to coat thoroughly. With slotted spoon, lift balls from chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off. Place on wax paper lined baking sheet. Melt white chocolate and with a fork drizzle over balls. Let cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Yields 40 truffles.
3 cups sugar
11/2 sticks butter
2/3 cup Milnot
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
Mix sugar, butter and Milnot over medium heat. Melt sugar and butter then bring mixture to a 5 minute boil until mixture is softball stage. Add chips, vanilla and marshmallow fluff; mix until well blended. Pour into buttered 9-by-13-inch pan and smooth out with a spoon. Cool.
Cereal peanut butter cups
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
3 cups miniature marshmallows
3 cups Cocoa Pebbles cereal
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Melt peanut butter and butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows; stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add cereal; mix to coat well. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Refrigerate about one hour or until firm. Mix sugar and milk. Drizzle over cereal mixture. Store in refrigerator. Yields 12 cups.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.