Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

Thanks for participating in the Cookie Swap--it was so much fun for me!

I am working on my goals for the year, and I will try to do a better job of posting recipes on a regular basis...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cookie Swap

Oh, how I wish all my friends lived close by and we could have a cookie swap this month! Doesn't that sound like so much fun??? I really want to have one, but I think I should have planned ahead a little more... Oh well. This season always creeps up on me, and then I'm already out of time!

So here's my idea: Let's have an virtual cookie swap! I'm going to post a bunch of my favorite cookie or Christmas treat plate recipes below. Then this is what I want YOU to do: click here to post your favorite cookie/treat recipe, and as I get them I will add it to my page (credited to you, of course). That way, everyone can see each other's recipes and get some new ideas for their own plates this year. Or, even if you don't give out plates--who doesn't want a bunch of yummy treat recipes? Hello??? It's Christmas!

We'll see how this works--hope to hear from you soon :o)

Heather's Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Yikes, this is hard! Thinking about all of you makes me sad that you're all so far away :o(

Heather Heather Heather... where do I start? Again, we were at Ohio State together--GO BUCKS! Heather is my hero because she has always been thoughtful of others, even though she had three girls under 3 and a husband trying to finish up school, interview for residency, take boards, etc. I have lots of wonderful memories with Heather, but probably my favorite is the night after Book Club when we sat under the tree in her front yard and just talked and talked... until her husband finally came out looking for her :o) Heather is so honest and optimistic... I LOVE MY FRIENDS! Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
mini chocolate chips
a few candy canes, smashed

Cream butters and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, soda, powder, and salt. Don't over mix. Add chocolate chips to your liking. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. When fresh out of the oven, sprinkle with crushed candy canes for a festive look and let cool on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Elisa's Christmas Popcorn

Elisa was one of my very first neighbors as a newlywed! We lived in the same 4-plex just south of BYU campus, and we had our first babies just 5 months apart. So we spent TONS of time together and have lots of fun memories :o) It's been over 5 years since we've seen each other, but Elisa is still one of the happiest, most grateful, easy-going people I've ever known! She's still a great example to me...

Christmas Popcorn
1 lb. white chocolate
3 bags popped popcorn
1 peppermint candy cane (crushed)

Melt chocolate (go by package directions). Stir in the crushed candy cane. Pour over the popped popcorn and stir until evenly coated. Let it dry on a cookie sheet--YUM!

Elisa's Molasses Cookies

Molasses Cookies
Elisa says: "We have the tradition of making Gingerbread Men around Christmas time. Here is the recipe. You add more flour until it is barely sticky and then roll it out and do the cut out shapes!"

4 C flour
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C shortening or margarine
2 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C molasses

Cream together margarine, sugar and eggs. Mix together remaining ingredients. Mix everything together. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Elisa's Caramels

2 C sugar
1 1/3 C Karo
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 C cream
3/4 C evaporated milk
4 T butter

Bring sugar, syrup, 1 C cream, and salt to boiling point, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cream and evaporated milk gradually so candy does not cease to boil. Cook until candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage). Add butter and continue stirring constantly until mixture forms a hard ball under cold water. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour mixture into buttered pan. When cool, cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.

*Cooling takes several hours or overnight. Place in refrigerator for faster results.

Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chip Cookies (Lindsay)

Lindsay and I go way back... actually, Lindsay and Jeremy go way back, so therefore she and I do too :o) They worked together at Subway in high school, and then Lindsay ended up marrying Jeremy's mission companion (they were comps twice) and that's when I come into the picture. I saw them the night she and Jake got engaged! We've been friends ever since--and our husbands are both interns this year so we share that burden as well :o) Thanks, Linds!

Top Secret Recipes' Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chip Cookies
Be careful not to cook these too long. I know it becomes tempting to keep cooking these because they don’t seem to be done after 10 minutes, but they will continue to cook for awhile after you take them out of the oven, and when cool, will be nice and chewy.

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 twelve-ounce bags semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.
With your fingers, place golf ball-sized dough portions 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes or just until edges are light brown. Makes two dozen cookies.

Lisa's Pfeffernuesse

I know Lisa from Columbus--our husbands were in the same graduating class of medical school at Ohio State. Something I will always remember about Lisa is that during the white coat ceremony (which takes place right before med school starts), when the announcer called out her husband's name, he had to explain that Joe couldn't be there because he was in the hospital with his wife, who was having their first baby! What a way to start out med school :o)

Lisa says: "While "pfeffer" generally means "pepper" in German today, in the old days the term was used to refer to spices."

3/4 cup light molasses
1/2 cup butter
2 beaten eggs
4 1/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In saucepan, combine molasses and butter. Cook and stir over medium low heat until butter melts. Cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs.
Sift together: flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add to molasses mixture, mix well. You probably will not need all the dry mixture--be careful of how dry the dough becomes. You don't want it to crumble, the dough should form into a soft, somewhat sticky ball. Chill overnight.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls (they will expand in the oven). Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for 12 minutes--be careful not to overbake; they are dark so you can't tell if they are burning, they should be a softball shaped cookie. Cool and roll in confectioner's sugar.
Yields 42 cookies.

Laura's Butterscotch Bars

Laura is my friend in my ward here in Maryland. Thankfully, when the Primary president got released last month, Laura was called to take her place--and not me!!! I still haven't quite recovered yet... Thanks for the great recipes, Laura!

Butterscotch Bars
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter or margarine
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 32 crackers)
1 6-oz pkg butterscotch chips
2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

Combine eggs, sugar, and butter in saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 2 min, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Add marshmallows, nuts, and graham cracker crumbs. Pat mixture into 9x13 pan. In saucepan, melt butterscotch pieces over very low heat; stir in peanut butter, mix well. Spread over crumb mixture in pan. When set, cut into 1x1” pieces.

Laura's Caramels

Another yummy one...


½ lb butter
2 cups light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
½ cup flour (mixed with about ½ cup of the condensed milk)
2 tsp vanilla

Measure and set out all ingredients before you start. Have a spatula and a long handled wooden spoon or scraper handy.
Melt butter in large, heavy saucepan/pot (non-stick works best). Add corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 5 minutes. Take pan off burner (don’t turn it off) and stir in 1 ½ cups of the milk, then add the flour/milk mixture. Stir well and return pan to burner. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture darkens and reaches a medium hard ball (240). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Turn into buttered 9x13 glass pan. Cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces with buttered knife. Wrap in small pieces of wax paper.

Yummy Pretzel Rods

I don't really have a recipe for these--but they are easy and fun to make!

Yummy Pretzel Rods
1 pkg. long, thick pretzel rods
melted white chocolate
melted milk chocolate
melted caramel
Optional toppings: coconut, crushed candy canes, toffee bits, chopped-up M&Ms, chopped peanuts or almonds, whatever tastes good to you!

Dip pretzel rod in one melted liquid, then lay on cookie sheet covered with greased parchment paper. Sprinkle with desired topping(s) and refrigerate till hardened.

One of our favorites is the pretzel rod first dipped in caramel, then let sit till hardened. Then dip into milk chocolate and sprinkle with toffee bits.

Other combinations:
white chocolate with candy cane chunks, milk chocolate with white chocolate drizzled on top, etc. etc. etc. The possibilities are endless!

Mildred's Toffee

Brent and Ann, our neighbors in Columbus, gave us a whole tin of this sinful stuff every Christmas and it was always gone way too fast. One time I think Bennett (yeah, let's blame him) got into it and ate most of it, so Jeremy just asked Brent for the recipe so we could make more. Brent not only gave us the recipe, but made a whole new batch for us. Yikes! Not so good for the hips... but worth every second on the treadmill :o)

Mildred's Toffee
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans or almonds, divided
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Spread 1 cup pecans/almonds into a 9-inch circle on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture is golden brown and a candy thermometer registers 290 to 310 degrees (about 15 minutes). Pour sugar mixture over nuts on baking sheet.
Sprinkle with chocolate morsels; let stand 30 seconds. Spread melted morsels evenly over top; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup nuts. Chill 1 hour. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Peppermint Bark

I am a sucker for anything mint. If it's mint, I WILL love it (hint hint). I also love anything Paula Deen makes--at least I love watching her make anything. If I actually ate everything she made, I would have a heart attack very soon. But her Peppermint Bark does NOT have any butter in it, and so I will eat it :o) Enjoy! It's a fun one for the kids to help with, too...

Paula Deen's Peppermint Bark
1 1/2 cup crushed candy canes
2 lbs. white chocolate
Peppermint flavoring (optional)
Red food coloring (optional)

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave in VERY short increments, stirring in between, so you don't burn it. Stir 1 cup candy cane chunks into chocolate, and add peppermint flavoring at this point, if desired.
Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper. Drop 2-3 drops of red food coloring in different places on chocolate mixture; use a toothpick to "marble-ize" for a red-and-white swirled look. Sprinkle remaining candy cane chunks on top, and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm.

Previously on KarensRecipes...

A while back I posted some recipes that are perfect on Christmas plates...

Click here for Heather's Gooey Chex Mix--it has craisins and white chocolate chips and would look so pretty. You could probably just do a huge batch, wrap it in cute cellophane with a ribbon, and pass that out on its own. SO GOOD!

Also, my sister-in law Ashlee requested my recipe for Magical Mint Kisses. When they are straight out of the oven, they are literally to-die-for.... I told you I love anything mint! Click here for that recipe.