Monthly Archives: December 2007

Can It Be Christmas Without Peanut Butter Balls?

Several Christmas’s ago, my oldest sister was having a very stressful holiday and hadn’t done any baking or candy making.

I remember her bemoaning the fact that it simply could not be Christmas without Peanut Butter Balls.

These have been a tradition in my family for years, and a huge favorite!

Thankfully they are also very easy to make! We made two batches this year, one for ourselves and one to add to our goody plates that we shared with others.

The filling can be made in advance and dipped later, but it really doesn’t take too long from start to finish, and it’s worth the effort!

Peanut Butter Balls

Combine: 1 1/3 stick of melted butter or oleo, 1 cup peanut butter, and 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Form into balls. Melt 6 oz. of chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp. of shortening. Dip each ball into the chocolate using a fork. Let harden on waxed paper. Store in a cool dry place and enjoy! Makes about 50 pieces depending on how much you snitch while dipping! I sometimes need more chocolate but if you have extra just dip in anything that’s handy to finish it up: raisins, pretzels, almonds, marshmallows, your fingers…

Enjoy a chocolate covered Christmas!

Another Woodpecker Sighting!

All the ice, snow and cold weather has made our bird feeders the “in” place to hang out the last few weeks! It was right after a massive ice storm that we spotted our first Downy Woodpecker at our Woodlink feeder. What a beautiful bird! I’m not sure why they haven’t frequented our feeders, although they might feel more welcome if we added suet to our menu. This loner was looking for an easy meal during pretty tough conditions and we were very glad to serve it. He didn’t stick around long, just for a day and we haven’t seen him since, although we have looked! He seemed to get a long just fine with the juncos and the finches, all of our regular customers. I guess he just needed a respite from the storm as he journeyed onward.

That’s one of the joys of feeding birds during the winter months, the ability to watch a bird closely for a few minutes from the warm, dry house. They are much harder to see in the other seasons when there is an abundance of color and activity all around. The stark surroundings of winter and the need for food brings these hard to spot birds out in the open where even my young ones can watch them and enjoy them.

The Importance of Following Directions

I feel so behind! We lived five days last week with no power following a massive ice storm. Five days lost in the midst of the Christmas rush. So many of the urgent things on my to-do list required electricity, so I could do none of them. Not that I had much extra time since just doing the basics took twice as long! Even so, it was an adventure and allowed us a break (however unwelcome at the time) during a very busy time of the year. So when the power came back on, I hit the floor running! I went into warp speed trying to catch up with everything I had planned. That’s when the trouble began. You see I was moving so fast, I forgot to slow down and think. I spent one afternoon making candy and truffles and other yummies to put in our Christmas goody plates for teachers and neighbors and others who have blessed us this year. Everything was fine until I got to the Oreo Truffles. These are one of my all-time favorites! But this year, in my hurry I didn’t read the directions before I started. Instead of crushing the oreos in the food processor first, and then adding the cream cheese, I dumped everything together and started whizzing. What a mess! The cream cheese got so hot it started to melt, but I still had huge chunks of Oreos. I worked it and worked it until I thought it was okay, but the texture was still a little off and there were still some hidden Oreo chunks. Oh well, I finished them off the best I could and we’ll enjoy them. I learned a lesson though. It takes less time to read the directions then to fix the mess you make when you don’t! Here’s the wonderful Oreo Truffle Recipe, just make sure and read the directions first!

Oreo Truffles:

18 oz. package OREO Cookies

8 oz. cream cheese

16 oz. chocolate chips melted (can you use semi-sweet or dark or milk chocolate)

Crush the oreo cookies in a food processor or zip top bag. Add softened cream cheese until well-blended. Roll into balls (or use a cookie scoop). Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm. Melt the chocolate until smooth (I add about 1 Tbsp of vegetable shortening or butter to to make it easy to coat the balls). Dip each OREO ball into the chocolate until coated (I like to use forks and shake off the excess chocolate). Place on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until hard. Yum! Keeps in the fridge for weeks (they won’t last that long though! or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 50 one inch truffles.

Birthday Cake Number 55

Birthday Cake Number 55 happened this week. My oldest celebrated his 15th birthday complete with his traditional, quite inventive and very yummy birthday cake! We came up with this signature cake on his golden birthday (your golden birthday is the year that your age is the same as your birthday. For example: when you turn 15 on the 15th.) I wasn’t sure how to make gold colored frosting but in our experimenting we discovered that crushed Butterfinger candies have a golden tint to them. We started with an angel food cake (his favorite) frosted it with whipped cream (my handy-dandy birthday cake shortcut!) and then threw crushed Butterfingers all over the cake. You do need to throw them about the cake, especially on the sides if you want them to stick! The combination is really tasty and has become his traditional birthday cake. I’d love to try this idea with Andees mints sometime, wouldn’t that be good! But then whipped cream with any kind of chocolate is always a good thing!

It’s Begining to Taste a lot Like Christmas!

We had very cold icy weather this weekend. It was our first big winter storm, so I made Christmas candy. I think it’s programed into me, part of my DNA, my heritage, my very being, but when the weather turns cold and snowy, I make candy. My Dad was the candy maker at home. The first snowy Sunday afternoon in December he would start mixing together Divinity and Penuche and chocolate fudge.

My own forays into candy making are much less complicated than his and rarely require a candy thermometer. Our favorite recipes were chosen (by necessity) as ones that my children could assist with and enjoy. Now that they are older, they can sometimes do it all by themselves. These peanut clusters are a great example of that! They are so simple to make my 4 year old won a blue ribbon with them at the County Fair! Since they are my husband’s favorite Christmas treat, they are always the first ones I make (with lots of help of course!).

Peanut Clusters

Melt 2 1/4 pounds of almond bark and 24 oz. of chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring often. When smooth and creamy add 24 oz. of roasted and salted peanuts. Mix together and quickly drop by teaspoons on waxed paper. Let sit until hard, then enjoy! These are also yummy with almonds, walnuts or pecans. They keep quite awhile in the freezer, but you will need to hide them if you want to store them for any length of time!

So simply, so delicious, so Christmas!