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Friday, December 25, 2009

God bless us, everyone!

One of the strongest memories from my childhood Christmases is that of my parents making peanut butter balls in the kitchen. Dad would roll the peanut butter mixture into balls, and Mom would dip them in melted chocolate. (Or maybe it was the other way around... I don't recall, but that's not the point anyway.)

Peanut butter balls are delicious. Tott says they're better than sex. What better endorsement could a tiny Christmas treat get??

I always make a double batch of these guys for our Christmas party. (That way, there's enough to snack on before the party, and there's always some left over.) I suppose you could make these at any time of the year, but I'm betting they taste best at Christmas.

Peanut Butter Balls

1 box powdered sugar (I think it's a pound)
1 cup of butter, room temp
1 jar creamy peanut butter (around 12 oz)
8 oz milk chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 bar of parafin wax

Combine the butter and sugar, and beat until smooth. Add peanut butter and keep beating until well blended.

Roll into balls. Smaller balls are better because the chocolate-to-peanut butter ratio is higher. My great grandmother's recipe card instructs us to roll the peanut butter mixture into 1/2-inch balls. I think it is preposterous to think that one might make such small balls. The ones I make are usually about an inch in diameter.

Grate the parafin wax into the top of a double boiler. Add the chocolate, and stir until melted and well combined.

Dip the balls in the chocolate, roll them around for a second with a fork to make sure they're completely covered, and then lift out.

Let the extra chocolate drip off for a moment, and then set on a cookie sheet that has been lined with wax paper.

Cool them in the refrigerator, and store them there. They can be (and always are) set out at a party, but they will soften a bit at room temperature. They're better at fridge temp.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

christmas party 2009

It's our favorite time of year again. Christmastime! (Actually, it's been Christmastime for a while now, but we've been busy. Hence, a lack of posts.)

We love the movies, the music, the presents, the parties, the drinks, the decor, all of it! Most of all, we love throwing our Christmas party. We start planning the menu around the first of August, and it's a great chance to get compliments on our food and have a great time with all of our friends. (This year was also our chance to show off our new house and all the work we've done on it.)

This year's party was Saturday night, so we have loads of new recipes to share. I'm going to try to space out the posts, though. If I put all of the recipes up at once, you'd start drooling copiously, and too much drool can be hell on a keyboard.

I'll start with the little bowls that we place on virtually every flat surface in the house. We've found that when people are drinking (it is a cocktail party), they like to snack on something salty. So, we give everyone easy access to popcorn, olives, and nuts.

Fancy Olives

Stuffed olives are great, but they're expensive to buy and a pain in the, um, neck to make. Here's a quick and easy way to modify your olives.

Do this 3 or 4 days before you want to serve the olives. Get a jar of green olives from the grocery store. Drain the brine. (Next year, I'll save it in a small pitcher so we can make dirty martinis.) Peel 4-5 garlic cloves and slice them in half lengthwise. Cut two 1/2-inch slices of red onion into quarters. Put the garlic and onions into the drained jar of olives, and shake 'em all about. Fill the jar back up with olive oil, and let it sit in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Ta da!

Roasted Pecans

These are awesome. 'Nuf said.

24 oz raw pecan halves
3 Tbs butter
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs garlic salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

Melt the butter. Mix in the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, cayenne, and cinnamon.

Pour the mixture over the pecans, and toss to coat the nuts.

Bake the nuts on a cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes, until they start to brown.

Remove and drain on paper towels.

Roasted Walnuts

Kaytie also made roasted walnuts, but she went for a different flavor on them.

24 oz raw walnuts
3 Tbs butter
3 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/8 tsp cumin

Follow the above procedure. Melt the butter. Mix in the garlic salt, cayenne, paprika, chipotle, and cumin.

Pour the mixture over the walnuts, and toss to coat the nuts.

Bake the nuts on a cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes, until they start to brown.

Remove and drain on paper towels.

**Obviously, you could use either pecans or walnuts for either recipe.