Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Holiday Treats, Part 1 of ??

As promised in my last post, FINALLY, here is a holiday baking post.  Well, “treats” actually, since two of the three recipes in here aren’t baked.  Yes, I know it’s February… a tad late, but hey, some people have a lot going on at the beginning of a new year/just aren’t punctual in general (like me!).  But my blog goal shall be to post more consistently and ramble on less:)

On that note, let’s get to the baking/treat-making!  This year, I decided to share my love of cooking with the fam.  All of the recipes in this blog were created as Christmas gifts to mine and Jarrett’s aunts/uncles/cousins.  (And ALL of them were made in paper bags!)  I changed all of the quantities from the original recipes to fit my needs (all recipes are in quantities to make six 2-cup gift baggies, maybe with a small amount of leftovers), but for the most part, maintained the ratios (except where I saw fit to alter them to my liking).  And I actually remembered to take pictures, too!

Puppy Chow
2/3 cup peanut butter
5 Tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 cups Crispix cereal (1 box)
3 cups powdered sugar

1.      Combine peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute.

2.      Stir to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Add vanilla. Stir again.

3.      Place the 12 cups of Crispix cereal (1 box) in a paper shopping bag.

4.      Pour the peanut butter-chocolate mixture over the cereal, firmly hold the bag shut, and shake, making sure all the cereal gets a good covering.

5.      Add the powdered sugar to the bag, and again, firmly hold the bag shut, and shake the bag vigorously to evenly coat each piece of the puppy chow with powdered sugar.

*Original recipe may be located here.

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (approximately 16 cups popped depending on your popcorn and popper)
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Dash of salt
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes (approximately 6 canes)

1.      Pop the 1/2 cup of popcorn in the 2 tablespoons oil.  (If you don’t have a popcorn popper, you can do this in a big stock/soup pot on the stove, by heating the oil over medium high heat, covered, with one kernel of corn.  When the first kernel pops, remove the pot from the heat, add the remainder of the kernels, recover, wait 30 seconds, then put back over heat.  Continue to heat until popping slows down to 2-3 seconds between pops.)  Place popcorn in a paper grocery bag.  Drizzle with melted butter and the dash of salt, to taste.

2.      Place peppermint candy canes into a ziplock bag and finely crush with a hammer, mallet, etc.  (I use the flat edge of a meat tenderizer!)
3.      In a heat proof bowl, carefully melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent scorching.  It took me 1 1/2 minutes, and be careful not to overheat!  (I burnt my first batch and thankfully, had extra chips.)

4.      Add the melted white chocolate to the paper bag, firmly hold the bag shut, and shake until the popcorn is coated.  (You may have to stir with a spatula a bit.)
5.      Quickly add the crushed candy canes, and again, firmly hold the bag shut, and shake until the popcorn is coated.

6.      When the popcorn is completely cool, break up into smaller pieces, as large hunks may have formed:)
*Original recipe may be located here.

Cherry Almond Cinnamon Granola
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
3 cups sliced almonds
2 1/4 cups dried cherries
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.      Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, and cherries together in a paper grocery bag.
3.      Pour the applesauce and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids.

4.      Pour and divide onto two sheet pans. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

5.      Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container (if not creating gifts).
*Adapted from this recipe.

FYI, I got rave reviews for the gift tins I created.  Yes, they were family, but it still counts!  So hopefully you'll be inspired to make your own gift treat bags next time the opportunity arises!

The fruits of my labor, neatly packaged

The final product (sans lid)!

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