Christmas Kitchen: From Chaos to Candy, Cookies, and Cocoa

You know me, right?  Never can do just one thing at a time...gotta multi-task.  It's genetic...or, possibly a character flaw.  Or both.  No matter...not gonna change at this stage of life.

So, (and that's something I picked up from living in the STL area..."they" seem to begin every single sentence with "So...") yesterday was Baking Day here in HPNC.  I got the Family Cookbook out (actually, it's never really "put away"), and gathered the ingredients for a few of our Holiday favorites...and one new addition.

As you can see in the photo (left), I got several goodies going at once:  Louisiana Microwave Pralines (ab fab, only takes 13 minutes to make), Delaware Butter Ball cookies (you may know them by other names like Crescent Cookies, Swedish Sugar Balls, etc. -- they are those yummy cookies that get covered in powdered sugar), and Pumpkin Raisin Muffins (that's the new one for 2009).  The photo to the right shows the Pralines cooling on the counter.  Later, after the bowls and beaters got washed for the first time, they were used for Chocolate Chip cookies, Rice Krispie Treats, and Fudge.  By 10:00 last night, I was pooped...but on a sugar high...:)  Had to sit and knit for an hour to relax enough to go to bed.

I didn't have the time or energy to make one of my favorite mixes last night, but as you can see in the photo to the left, I'd better find the time...I'm down to my last cup of Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix.  I found this recipe years ago at The Container Store when we lived in ATL area.  I checked their website, but they no longer publish it for some reason, so here are the ingredients for a small batch, as promised in my Christmas newsletter this year.


Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix


3 (4 1/2-inch) soft peppermint candy sticks
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup powdered nondairy coffee creamer
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
Mini marshmallows (opt.)


1. Place peppermint sticks in a zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal bag, and crush candy with a mallet.
2. Combine crushed candy and remaining ingredients in an airtight container, and store at room temperature up to 1 month.
3. Add 2-4 T. mix to a cup; fill with boiling water.  Add milk to cool and make beverage even richer.  Mmmmmm.

Note: I like to use King Leo Peppermint Sticks.  They always remind me of both my Papaw (N/M/E's dad) and his youngest brother, Uncle Smiley.  They both loved King Leos.

OK, after I make the perquisite Hello Dollies and No Bake Cookies tomorrow, I'll assemble the goody bags to deliver to neighbors and service-givers.  I'm also wrapping up boxes to deliver to further-afield zip codes.

Tonight, I'll pause in the busy-ness of the Season to attend the Winston-Salem Symphony's performance of Handel's Messiah.  That always makes my soul soar, especially when we stand for the Hallelujah Chorus, just like audiences have been doing since the mid-1700's.  If it's good enough for King George II...


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