Peanut Butter Ball Bars

Peanut Butter Cup BarsAs I’ve confessed before, peanut butter balls are almost a staple at our house during the Christmas season.

They are one of the first things I make after Thanksgiving and we enjoy them through-out the holidays.

Imagine my shock when I discovered <gasp> that we had run out before Christmas.

Time was slipping by and I didn’t see how I could possibly make another batch. But a quick flip through my recipe file yielded this yummy substitute. The peanut butter base is very similar to the innards of a peanut butter ball and it was super quick to whip together!

Peanut Butter Bars
(recipe from my sweet and wonderful niece Sarah!)

1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup crushed graham crackers
4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt the butter. Add the peanut butter, graham crackers and powdered sugar.

Spread out on an ungreased jelly roll pan. (Your hands work best for this part!)

Melt the 2 cups of chocolate chips and spread over the peanut butter base.

Cool in refrigerator for about an hour or until the chocolate is set. Cut into small squares.


Of Snow Fall and Christmas Candy

The snow is falling outside. Big fluffy flakes that fill the air and quickly cover the ground.

It makes me want to turn on Christmas music, drink hot chocolate with whipped cream, but mostly, it makes me hungry for Christmas candy.

Not the store bought stuff- I’m talking about the old-fashioned homemade kind, rich buttery penuche, fluffy white divinity and gooey chocolate fudge.

This craving for sweet stuff was ingrained in me at an early age. Every year in December, usually on a Sunday afternoon, when it started to snow like this, my dad would announce, “It’s time to make candy!”

Then there was a flurry to find the recipes, the right pans and that elusive candy thermometer.

Once he had his equipment and ingredients in place, Dad would begin the great candy making afternoon.

Snow would be falling outside, Eddie Arnold would be singing Christmas music, wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, and best of all, pans to lick!

It was a memory for all the senses to enjoy!

Now if you’ll excuse me… I think I need to dig out some recipes…

Velveeta Cheese Fudge

I know that Velveeta Cheese Fudge may sound just a little bit odd, maybe even a little bit crazy. But believe me, it sure tastes good!

It all started with my families annual “Iron Chef” competition at our spring family get-together. Every year my mom chooses a secret ingredient and all family members are encouraged to bring a dish using it. Then we appoint judges and have a taste testing. It really is a fun family tradition.

This year’s secret ingredient was cheese.

Now being the very creative person that I am, and with my love of chocolate, I wanted to find a recipe that would amaze everyone. A recipe that would be so unique that my family with just gaze in awe. I wanted to win.

But I had no new amazing ideas and I was running out of time. Then I remembered a fudge recipe that my husband’s aunt had shared with us several years earlier using Velveeta cheese. I scoured the recipe file and when I found it, I had Buddy help me make it.

It was a hit! Rich and creamy, it just melts in your mouth before settled on your hips for the rest of your adult life.

Velveeta Cheese Fudge

In microwave carefully melt 1/2 pound of Velveeta Cheese and 1/2 pound butter.

Sift in 2 pounds of powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of cocoa.

Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and chopped nuts.

Spread evenly into a buttered 9 x 9 pan.

Cool then cut into pieces. Makes about 3 pounds of candy.

I doubled the recipe with no trouble. I would recommend sifting the powdered sugar and cocoa. Buddy and I didn’t do that and we did have a few sugar clumps in the final product.

I’ve been told it never fails as some fudges do. I do know it never fails to get attention and raving reviews from all who try it!

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.

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!