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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas baking

Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving is my time to decorate the house and start baking. I load up the freezer. This year, I'll lose all of Thanksgiving week, in a joyful way, because I'll be at my son's house in Frisco with all my family (while my house and dog are in the capable hands of Elizabeth--I am so grateful to her!). So I have started baking--and I've made a cheeseball, which is already in the freezer. If I haven't posted that recipe and you'd like to have it, please leave a comment below. It's a favorite that I remember from my childhood. Every year, I mean to make an extra for my brother, who also loves it; sometimes I wrap up the leftovers for him, but it's not quite the same.
But so far I've stocked the freezer with cranberry/chocolate cookies and chocolate banana bread. As usual, I didn't read the recipe on the cookies closely enough and thought it also called for nuts, so now I have chocolate/cranberry/pecan cookies. Should be good. The chocolate banana bread is good though I think the banana taste got lost. Today I made chocolate pecan bars. The recipe calls for light Karo, and the warm little bit I tried just now stuck to my teeth--should I serve toothpicks with the bars? I'm afraid when they cool completely, they may have a certain "take-out-your-filling" quality.
This year I was smarter than usual--I made out a shopping list and then checked it against what I had in the cabinet. Found, for instance, enough Karo syrup for today's recipe, along with chopped pecans in the freezer and cocoa in the cupboard. Why I bought so much Baker's semi-sweet chocolate is beyond me, but I sitll have two-and-a-half boxes. Maybe they're for the Oreo truffles I haven't made yet?
Still to come too are peanut butter cookies. Since Jacob and I have been having a small war over peanut butter, I've been hoarding the jar of Jif I bought. I got nonhydrogenated peanut butter for his daily sandwich, but he has rebelled and said he will not eat that healthy peanut butter. Guess I may have to break down and buy more Jif. But peanut butter cookies are, like the cheese ball, a staple of my childhood.
Here's the recipe (so easy). It may make you say, "My mom used to make those." Don't buy that roll of prepared dough in the refrigerator counter at the store. Make them from scratch--so much better and better for you!
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
1 c. smooth peanut butter
2-1/4 c. flour
2 level tsp bakind soda
1/2 tsp salt
Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and peanut butter. Add flour, soda, and salt. Roll small amount of dough in the hand to form a ball. Flatten and pat down with a fork, flattening one way and then the other so you get that crisscross pattern. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges barely start to brown.
One year I got fancy and dipped two edges of each cookie in melted chocolate chips and then finely chopped pecans. Christian never forgets and wants me to do it again. Jordan is still clamoring for those brownies with chocolate chunks in them. Why are some people never satisified?

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