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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Candy Cane Recipes

Candy Cane Dessert Squares ~ Rich chocolate and zingy peppermint — is there a better holiday combo than that?
Crust
36 (2 cups) chocolate wafer cookies, finely crushed
1/2 cup Butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
Ganache
1 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream
Filling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream, whipped
2/3 cup coarsely crushed red or green hard peppermint candies
Heat oven to 325°F. Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely. Set aside. Melt chocolate chips and 2/3 cup whipping cream in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes or until smooth. Spread evenly over crust. Place in freezer at least 10 minutes while making filling.
Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese and peppermint extract in bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth and creamy. Gently stir in whipped cream and crushed candies. Spread evenly over ganache layer. Sprinkle with additional crushed candy, if desired. Cover; freeze 4 hours or overnight. Cut into squares. Top each serving with small candy cane, if desired. Serve frozen or refrigerated. Store frozen.

Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Sticks ~ These peppermint sticks look beautiful and taste even better! Leave out a dish of them when trimming the tree or relaxing by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa.
12 (5-inch) peppermint sticks
7 ounce(s) white chocolate, melted
1/4 cup(s) white nonpareils
Dip peppermint sticks, one at a time, into melted chocolate. Transfer to a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Allow chocolate to set slightly, about 5 minutes. Roll chocolate end of peppermint sticks in nonpareils. Return to lined pan and let stand at room temperature until chocolate hardens.

Simple Holiday Bark ~ Keep around the house for a holiday treat — or wrap it up as a gift!
12 ounce(s) (semisweet ) chocolate, chopped
8 ounce(s) white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup(s) (coarsely crushed) candy canes or peppermint candies
Line cookie sheet with foil. Microwave semisweet chocolate in bowl on medium power 1 minute; stir. Keep microwaving at 15-second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth; set aside. Repeat process with white chocolate. Spread semisweet chocolate on prepared cookie sheet about 1/3-inch thick. Drop tablespoons white chocolate on top. Swirl chocolates together with tip of knife to marble. Sprinkle with crushed candy. Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm. Peel off foil; break bark into pieces. It will keep for about a month in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Cookie Recipes That Dazzle

Blondie Sticks
Bundle up fresh blondie bars in warm coats of white and dark chocolate as a sweet way to wish friends a Merry Christmas. Bedazzle them in nuts, toffee, and sprinkles, then stick them on red-and-white sticks for a cute lollipop look.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup tiny marshmallows
1 cup chopped unsalted cashews, toffee pieces, and/or jimmies
1 11 1/2 ounce package bittersweet chocolate pieces or white baking pieces
32 lollipop sticks or 6-inch wooden skewers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the ends of the pan. Grease foil; set pan aside. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in marshmallows.* Spread dough evenly in the prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes or until top is golden and edges are firm. Cool on a wire rack. Use the foil to lift uncut brownies out of the pan. Invert onto a cutting board; remove foil. Trim edges of uncut brownies to make a 12x8-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle into thirty-two 3x1-inch sticks. Cover and freeze about 30 minutes or until firm. Insert a lollipop stick or skewer into an end of each brownie stick and place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Place cashews in a small shallow bowl. In a small saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces over low heat until melted and smooth. Dip half of each brownie stick into melted chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to drip back into saucepan. Immediately sprinkle with cashews. Place on prepared baking sheet. Let stand about 1 hour or until set.

Snowball Trees
Roll and pack homemade dough into snowball-like cookie trees. String them with sweet vanilla icing, then add fun pops of color using decorative candies for lights.
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Green paste food coloring
1 recipe Powdered Sugar Icing
Decorative candies
In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in milk and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Remove 1/2 cup of the dough. Tint the remaining dough with green food coloring. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For each cookie, use the green dough to shape ten 1/2-inch balls. On an ungreased cookie sheet, arrange balls in a row of four, topped by a row of three, then two, then one on top. As you arrange the balls, gently press them into each other. Use the plain dough to make a 3/4-inch ball and place it at the bottom of the tree for a trunk. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving 2 inches between cookies on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Drizzle Powdered Sugar Icing back and forth over cookies to look like strings for lights. Add decorative candies to icing for lights. Let stand until icing sets.
Powdered Sugar Icing
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 - 4 tablespoons milk
In a medium bowl stir together powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make drizzling consistency.

Friday, December 12, 2014

No-Fuss Holiday Buffet



Festive Holiday Buffet
Make planning a festive get-together simple with this foolproof plan. Here are ideas for a party that flourishes including decorative vases, handmade crafts, no-fuss foods, and more.For a simple party buffet, serve foods that taste great at room temperature, such as herbed popcorn, nuts, fruits and veggies, and a cheese sampler.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crafty Christmas Tree Topper Ideas


Monogram Tree Topper
A wooden block letter is transformed into a creative tree topper with some paint and holiday-color ribbon. Paint your letter a desired color; let dry. Measure strips of glittery ribbon to fit across your letter and adhere in place using hot glue. Secure a paper towel roll to the back of your letter with hot glue and slip onto top of tree.

Fleur-De-Lis Medallion Tree Topper
Rolls of old book pages come together in this pretty paper tree topper with a vintage feel.

Photo Star Tree Topper
Add instant charm to your Christmas tree with this easy tree topper. Cut a star shape from thick paper or cardstock. Cut out a black and white photo, mat it with colored paper, and glue it to the center of the star. Secure the star to a rolled paper cone or paper towel tube with glue, and carefully set your star on your tree's highest branches.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Easy & Fun Christmas Decorating Projects

'Mod podge' wreath ~ A thrift store frame and fabric scraps make for a darling DIY project.

DIY snow globes ~
Put your leftover mason jars to good use by creating a magical set of DIY snow globes.

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Create a Cozy Winter Wonderland



Shine On ~ Tired of traditional red and green? Neutrals like winter white still feel seasonal and bring some sophistication.


Center of Attention ~ Add texture to create an elegant and unique winter arrangement.  For this design, a birch log as a vase, placing the floral centerpiece on an antiqued mirror elongates the farm table and adds a nice reflective quality.