My Neurotic Christmas Baking, Recipes Included.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Holiday Baking traditions. I have done it all my life in one way or another…

~ When I was really little, I did it with my mom.

~ When I was a kid, I’d do it myself and sell it to the adults at my church to give away for the holidays.

(Of course, I had a very organized price list and order form.)

~ When I was married without a kid and working as an Accounting Manager, I’d take a day off of work to do all of my baking, and give it to all of my employees and bosses, our neighbors, AND send a huge tray to Chris’ office.

(Since you already know my borderline-neurotic recordkeeping tendencies, it probably won’t surprise you at all that I have all of my worksheets back to 2003 in the back of my cookbook – what I made, how many I got out of each batch, how many baggies I needed, who all I gave them to…)

At the height of my Holiday baking, I was making over 500 pieces of 6 different kinds of treats.

Now that I’m a Mom, I find it much harder to devote a whole day to baking.

Plus, it really hurts my back.

And feet.

Because I’m a geezer like that.

So, because I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, last year I didn’t do ANY baking, because I knew that I couldn’t just do a LITTLE.

I wasn’t planning on doing it this year either, until I talked to my friend Barkley last week, and she asked if I was doing it. THEN she had to go on reminiscing about one year when she helped me. And how it was one of her FAVORITE memories with me.

(Obviously, I’m not that exciting of a person.)

So, after I got off the phone with her, I felt all bakey, even though the instigator of my sudden need for bakeryness was going to be in HAWAII and would not be available to make more favorite memories with me.

(I’m thinking my back and feet would have hurt less if I had been in Hawaii rather than the kitchen.)

I knew I had too much to do in the next week already, but I also knew this was a tradition that I couldn’t just leave by the curb.

My goal was to cut back and not make as much so that it wasn’t overwhelming, and include Ali in the tradition.

I DID cut back somewhat, but also ended up making two more batches of treats than I planned on. But progress was made – the total treat count was only 219!

But no Ali memories – she was still at my Mom’s from us going to the Red Mountain concert the night before (and she had a whole agenda of stuff she wanted to do before she came home), so she missed almost all of the baking.

(That was probably better for my sanity. It was a LOT of baking for a two year old.)

So, after all that lengthy Modern History of Rachel’s Baking, here are the recipes that I made this year:

Cheesecake Squares with White Chocolate

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* This recipe is an extreme modification on one that I got from a website years ago, but since I’ve modified it so much, I’d like to consider it original…ish.

Crust:

1/4 c. Butter (softened)
1/3 c. packed Brown Sugar
1 c. plain flour
1/4 c. finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add flour and pecans, mixing well. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.

Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cheesecake:

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 c. White Chocolate Chips
1 c. regular or swirled semi-sweet chips
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla, beating at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, mixing well.

Sprinkle half of the white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, and pecans on the bottom of the now-baked crust.

Put the cheesecake mixture on top of the crust.

Sprinkle the rest of the white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, and pecans on top of the cheesecake mixture.

Bake for 20-30 minutes. Keep refrigerated.

Ribbon Fantasy Fudge

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* This is a fail-proof (if you can follow directions) fudge recipe that we’ve used in our family for years.

If you want to put it in mini cupcake holders (great for gifts or making you feel like you’ve eaten less fudge than you actually have) set them out before you begin:

IMG_6231
Chocolate half:

1 1/2 c. sugar
6 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 c. milk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. marshmallow cream or 2 c. of loosely backed miniature marshmallows
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Put sugar, butter, and milk in saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. When you get to a rolling boil, set your timer for four minutes, and continue boiling for THE FULL four minutes over medium heat, still stirring constantly (you will get blisters on your fingers from all the stirring – it’s worth it).

Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add marshmallow cream and vanilla until well blended. Quickly fill mini cupcake holders about 1/3 full (or pour into a 13 x 9 pan).

Peanut Butter half:

1 1/2 c. sugar
6 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. marshmallow cream or 2 c. of loosely backed miniature marshmallows
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Repeat instructions with sugar, butter, and milk from above.

Mix in peanut butter until melted. Add marshmallow cream and vanilla.

Spoon/pour quickly over Chocolate mixture (the peanut butter mixture pours nicer than the chocolate mixture, hence it’s placement on top).

This recipe is also nice just using one or the other of the types of fudge, if you prefer.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_6237* often called “No bake oatmeal cookies”, it seems like everyone has a version of this recipe. But just in case, here’s mine:

2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 c. quick style oats

Mix sugar and cocoa together in a saucepan. Add butter and evaporated milk and cook slow on medium heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved (I test this by dripping a drop on something, then tasting it once it cools. If it’s gritty, it isn’t ready yet). Remove from heat immediately after sugar is dissolved.

Stir peanut butter and vanilla in.

Stir quick oats in well. Drop quickly by the spoonful onto wax paper and let cool.

A lot of people have trouble getting these cookies to harden appropriately. My Grandmother’s tip was to be sure and use the same type of measuring cups for all ingredients.

My tip is to measure dry ingredients liberally and wet ingredients conservatively. It always works for me, even if I can’t find a matching set of measuring cups.

All I wanted to eat after being immersed in a bazillion chocolate calories all day:

Alison’s Salad

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* I just had this salad a couple of weeks ago for the first time, and immediately fell in love. I’ve eaten it continuously ever since.

Spinach
Sliced almonds
Craisins
Mandarin Oranges
Ken’s Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

the key: mix the mandarin orange juice in with the dressing and toss. It is AMAZING.


I hope you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!

I leave you with my pitiful excuse for a Christmas Letter – emailed out, since I’ve never had it together enough to actually MAIL one:

Christmas Letter 2009 Page 1Christmas Letter 2009 Page 2

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    Mama Hen says:

    Wow! I wish I was your next door neighbor. I would make a point to drop in right as those were coming out of the oven. :)

    Hope your family has a wonderful two days!

  2. 2
    Alice says:

    We were so glad that you made such yummies! We enjoyed a piece of the cheesecake last night after supper! Merry Christmas and thank you!

  3. 3
    Marie says:

    Merry Christmas!!! I'm tired just looking at all that baking. It looks fabulous though.

  4. 4
    Giann says:

    We call those Chocolate – Oatmeal cookies, Boiled Cookies.

    Merry Christmas!!!!!!

    Please, Please, Please come and visit and comment on my blog!

  5. 5
    Faith says:

    great idea on the card…i laughed at the "words" haha. And you go girl…I made pizzelles (italian wafer like cookies) and after two batches I was wore out and quit. hahah. Nice job on all those treats you made!

  6. 6
    Crafty Mama says:

    I usually bake things ahead that can be frozen after baking, so I only have to do one treat a night. :)

    PS- We make the Chocolate oatmeal cookies too, but we call them Dog Doo cookies because, well, they look like dog doo.

  7. 7
    Jaci Spain says:

    Wow, this sounds a lot like me:) I used to love baking to and would make 4 or 5 different things. But it is so much more exhausting to me now. Mainly because my girls like to help which is sweet but takes longer with much more patience:)

  8. 8
    This Is The Day says:

    Wow, those treats look amazing…definitely a lot prettier than what I made. :). Maybe I'll try those recipes next year!

  9. 9
    Anonymous says:

    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  10. 10
    rachel says:

    yum! I think I'm going to try your white chocolate cheesecakey thing for our new year's eve part. The more chocolate, the better!

    And…I think what you need is a house helper!! =)

  11. 11
    Christen says:

    All your Christmas goodies look delicious, so which one are you going to make for the New Year's Party? :)
    I'm going to have to try the fudge recipe, it looks fairly simple and sounds amazing!
    I used to make those "no bake" cookies for my 6th graders for a fraction lesson, they were sooo good!

  12. 12
    Ann Marie says:

    mmmmm that fudge is GOOD!!

    not that i've eaten any of your PB fudge in recent years..ahem… ;)

    wait, no chocolate chip cookies?!?

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