Well, I didn’t plan to be gone quite this long, but I’m back, so let’s catch up. I have spent the last 2 weeks enjoying extra time with my hubby. While it was wonderful, my schedule was so out of whack that I wasn’t always sure what to do with myself (of course, the extra holiday stuff going on didn’t help with that). Honestly, both of us are happy about getting back to a regular routine. Because we wanted to really enjoy our time together and holiday get-togethers, I didn’t really get around to starting most of my resolutions until this week. Somewhat unusually for me, I’m not fretting about it. My family is way more important than my resolutions, so that’s why I’m cutting myself that slack. Since I am back on a schedule, one of the first things I wanted to do was get back on here and catch up on the holiday goodies. Now that they’re out of my house, I can ruin your diets by telling you about all these amazing treats that we indulged in. I figured that we could start with the diet-busting sweets and work our way into the savory items later. Hopefully, I’m not ruining your diets, but even if I do, you’ll forgive me, won’t you? I baked so much that I’ll have to split the desserts into 2 or 3 posts, otherwise we might all get a sugar high just from reading the recipes.
The first recipe I’m going to share is something I’ve eaten since I was a little girl: congealed salad. It’s sweet enough to be a dessert, but I really think of it more as a side. A lady in my dad’s church used to make this whenever we had dinner at her house. Since it’s a family recipe (so to speak), the measurement’s aren’t exact. The lovely thing about this dish is that you can switch out the type of fruit and the flavor of Jell-O, so you get lots of fun options to play with. I particularly enjoy it with strawberry and citrus Jell-Os and mandarin oranges or pineapple as the fruit.
1 6 oz. pkg. of Jell-O
2 c. hot water (This is what I have listed on my recipe card, but I think you should probably use boiling water.)
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 can fruit cocktail or crushed pineapple (I usually use a 15 oz. can.)
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. finely chopped nuts (I usually use pecans.)
1. Mix the Jell-O and hot water til dissolved. Add the cream cheese. Then add the fruit with its juice. Finally, add the cold water and nuts. Chill til set.
The next recipe is one that I tasted and photographed, but didn’t actually get to eat. I made it for a church function, but then I was too sick to actually go to it. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic recipe because you can’t go wrong with brownies and peanut butter. These were easy to whip up from scratch, but you could also just jazz up a boxed brownie with peanut butter chips. Whatever floats your boat. Since I was making these for a crowd, I did them in a mini muffin pan. I think (I forgot to write it down.) that I got 3 dozen.
Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Cups (I’m not sure where these came from, but I’d love to credit the source. Let me know if you know where they’re from.)
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. cocoa
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 10 oz. pkg. peanut butter chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 18 standard muffin cups. Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Nuke it on high for 1 1/2 min. or til melted. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat it well. Add the cocoa, and beat til well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt; beat well. Stir in 1 1/3 c. of the peanut butter chips.
2. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with the remaining peanut butter chips. (Or you could eat them. Just saying.) Bake for 25-30 min. or til the surface is firm.
And in my usual fashion, I have saved the best recipe for last. This is supposed to be a copy of the Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bar. I’ve never had their’s, so I can’t tell you if it’s close, but I do know that these were addictively good. They’re like a cross between a sugar cookie and a blondie that’s been filled with white chocolate and cranberries and topped with cream cheese frosting, more cranberries, and a sweet glaze. This made a 9×13 pan full, and I cut them into 1 in. squares, so there were a lot to share. Still, I managed to “test” enough to know that these are very sweet and a perfect treat for the holidays.
Cranberry Bliss Bars (from Recipe Girl)
For the Base:
1 c. softened butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. craisins
6 oz. white chocolate chunks (I used leftover white chocolate chips which worked great.)
For the frosting:
4 oz. softened cream cheese
3 c. 10x sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. craisins
For the glaze:
1/2 c. 10x sugar
1 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. veggie shortening
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar til smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla (1 1/2 tsp.), ginger, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in the flour til smooth. Dice the craisins (3/4 c.). (I didn’t bother dicing them, and I thought it tasted great.)
2. Add the craisins and chocolate chunks to the batter and fold them in. Pour the batter into a well-greased 9×13 pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 min. or til the cake is lightly browned on the edges. Let it cool.
3. In a clean bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 10x sugar (3c.), lemon juice, and vanilla (1/2 tsp.) til smooth. Spread the icing on the cooled cake. Dice the craisins (1/4 c.) and sprinkle them over the frosting. (These I did dice, but I didn’t worry about them being even, just smaller pieces so that I could spread them out more.)
4. In another bowl, whisk together the 10x sugar (1/2 c.), milk, and shortening. Drizzle over the craisins. Chill the bars before slicing them.
I hope that I’m not fattening you up too much, but I had to tell you about it all sooner or later. Sweet dreams!