Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cream Cheese, 🍑 Jelly 🍑 and Bacon Spread

We recently had an author's event at the library. One of the trustees prepared the most delicious (and extremely easy) dishes for the guests to enjoy. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I knew my bunch would love it. The original dish called for pineapple preserves. I substituted with the homemade reduced sugar peach jam I made this past summer to make this just a tiny bit healthier. In my opinion, the pineapple was much better but we are still being mindful of our sugar intake, so there you go.

INGREDIENTS:
1 block cream cheese, softened
Pineapple preserves (or flavor of your choice)
4-6 slices of firmly cooked bacon crumbled/chopped
 Using plastic wrap, smoosh the cream cheese to spread out in the serving dish.
Top cream cheese with jelly.
Top jelly with bacon crumbles. Serve with crackers.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

🎄 Rum Balls 🎄

Here it is as promised...FINALLY! When I started working at the library, I heard all about the different events and the numerous contributions Mrs. Pankey (who retired late summer) made to make the events a success. There's no way I can compete with the scale of her efforts as my responsibilites differ than hers (and she epitomized the word dedication) but I can definitely incorporate as many traditions as possible. We recently had our Christmas Quarterly Tea. It appears several of the attendees were very fond of Mrs. Pankey's rum balls. 

I know what you're thinking..."but you aren't a baker!" You've heard me say it numerous times. However, I was willing to try my hand at them. When Brianna handed me a copy of the recipe Mrs. Pankey used, I was all in! No bake...YES!! The recipe Mrs. Pankey used was from  Taste of Home.

I decided to make a batch ahead of time to test as I would need to prepare a triple recipe for this event. Shocker: I had all ingredients except vanilla wafers. Do not buy the mini wafers, You will not have enough in the box. My thinking was they'd be easier to crush. Do not use a mini food processor. You'll be crushing them forever and a lifetime. In a pinch, plain graham crackers are the perfect fill in if you need a little bit more.

These were easy to make, but it did require a little time rolling them out. The taste was good but the rum didn't kick in until just right after you swallowed. The longer they sit,  the more you'll enjoy that kick. ;-) These cookies are fairly soft. The original recipe called to store in an airtight container. I did that in addition to storing in the refrigerator.

As a side note, when the testing was complete and everyone seemed pleased with my offering, I got a little bit of a shocker. One of the young ladies informed me that consuming one of the rum balls was the first time in her life she had consumed any type of alcohol. I apologized to her mother, whom I have known for years, and received absolution from her. We raised our kids to act better than we did and that's all I'll say on that subject.

INGREDIENTS:
2.5 cups crushed vanilla wafers (regular size)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. baking cocoa
1/4 cup rum (plus) *I used Bacardi 151 white rum
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. water
Additional confectioners' sugar to coat the balls

 In a large bowl mix the crushed vanilla wafers, pecans, cocoa and confectioners' sugar.
Stir until dry ingredients are well blended and is clump free.
 Add honey, water and rum to dry ingredients.
 Stir all ingredients. If too wet, add a little more crushed wafers or confectioner's sugar.
Roll into 1" balls. On a large piece of waxed paper spread out confectioners' sugar and coat the balls.
Coat all the balls and store. I put a layer of waxed paper between the layers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peanut Butter Cornflake Clusters

It is easy treats like these PB cornflake clusters that will make one blow their good eating habits out the door. I made a batch of these for Thanksgiving and whatever was left would be treats for work. Well, it didn't work out that way. My kids and grandkids inhaled them and I opted for PB cornflake squares for work. (January 2012 post)

These came to mind one evening when Andy and I were discussing the ones the junior high school cafeteria served back in the 70s. They were a huge block---guessing 3" x 3" if not more---and you'd give away just about anything on your tray to garner one of your friends'.

After a quick grocery run, I picked up the ingredients and decided to fix them at the cabin so I would have one less thing to fix for Thanksgiving. I believe we sampled one that afternoon and then had one for dessert that night. Andy confessed he ate one additional one when he got  up to turn on the coffee pot or some other midnight kitchen run. Oh yea. They are that addictive!

INGREDIENTS:
6 cups cornflake cereal 
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Measure out six cups of cornflakes in a large bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat one cup each of sugar and corn syrup.
Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter.
Mix until well blended.
Pour sugar/syrup/peanut butter mixture over the cornflakes. Carefully, but quickly blend well until flakes are coated. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on waxed paper. Let the clusters set-up. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Peppermint Almond Bark

If I could only get through the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas; I could easily by-pass sweets. I've had an instance at work recently where a few sweets for a snack was needed for groups who generously donate their time to decorate some Christmas trees. Now ya'll know I'm not a baker, but this girl can put together a plate of treats when needed. The great part? You don't even have to turn on an oven. I'll be sharing several recipes over the next few days but don't think Andy and I have totally back slid on eating healthy. Like I said, I "have" to do this. LOL! The Peppermint Almond Bark is one of my favorite Christmas treats to fix. Using this basic recipe, you can substitute the white with chocolate bark; and the peppermint with nuts and mini marshmallows to make a Rocky Road version or any combination you prefer.
 In a large bowl, carefully break up the squares of one package of white almond bark, with a knife on a cutting board. Cook for periods of 15-20 seconds, stirring between time settings, until the blocks are smooth and creamy. Stir in one teaspoon of vegetable oil.
 Crush King Leo Peppermint candy (sticks or the puffy kind) work fine. I put several sticks in a sandwhich bag and use the flat side of my meat cleaver until I have small pieces.
 Stir peppermint into the almond bark mixture until it is well blended. If you really want to boost the flavor,
you can add a few drops of peppermint extract.
Line your counter-top with waxed paper and spread the mixture out. Try to get it thin--around 1/8" or more, but not so thin it breaks off too easily. Let this mixture set-up until firm--around 30 minutes. Peel the wax paper from the candy and break up into chunks. Store in an air-tight container.