Yummy!

Published 7:10 am Friday, December 24, 2010

Monster cookies with Christmas-colored M&Ms

The Albert Lea Tribune presents its annual holiday feature, recipes from staff members of their favorite family foods.

Monster cookies with Christmas-colored M&Ms

This recipe of one of my favorite cookies comes from my girlfriend’s childhood librarian in Hull, Iowa. They’re so hard to screw up that even I was able to bake them perfectly. — Andrew Dyrdal

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oleo
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
5 cups quick oats
2 teaspoon soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup M&Ms
Cream eggs, oleo, vanilla and sugar, and then add peanut butter.
Add the rest.
Drop by teaspoon and flatten slightly.
Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter Balls

While Santa always enjoyed getting cookies at our house, he especially enjoyed the rich, chocolatey treats, such as peanut clusters, fudge and his favorite, peanut butter balls. It was mine and my brothers’ favorite growing up, as well. Mom would always have to hide a few to make sure there were some left for Santa on Christmas Eve. To this day, it’s not uncommon for us to break into the candy early to hoard a few, just to be on the safe side. — Michelle Haacke

1 pound powdered sugar
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/4 stick melted butter
2-12-ounce bags of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate — whichever you prefer)
Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together. Add a little water for moisture if needed. Stir until stiff and roll into 1/2 to 1-inch balls. Set on wax paper.
Mix chocolate chips in separate bowl. Dip peanut butter balls into chocolate and set back onto waxed paper until dried.
Recipe can be made up to weeks in advance and put in freezer until holidays.

Christmas wreaths

Christmas wreaths

Instead of planning a Thanksgiving meal my mom’s side of the family gets together in December for a cookie swap and a meal of sloppy joe’s. Often we wait until we’re together to decorate the sugar cookies and make these Christmas wreaths (which work well with teamwork). These wreaths have been made year after year in our family and are still one of my favorite treats! — Kelli Lageson

10-ounce bag of mini marshmallows
6-7 cups of cornflake cereal
1/4 stick of butter
Vanilla extract
Green food coloring
Cinnamon dot candies (red hots)
In a large nonstick pot, melt 1/4 stick of butter and add bag of mini marshmallows (they melt better and faster than the larger size). After mixture has melted add a drop of vanilla extract and around 5 to 10 drops of green food coloring until mixture looks right. Add cereal one cup at a time until mixture is not too wet.
Lay a sheet of wax paper down and have a small bowl of water to shape the cookies. Wet fingers and grab 1-inch balls of the mixture and shape into a circle on the wax paper. Attach two cinnamon dot candies or use red frosting to make a bow on the wreath. Allow wreaths to dry for one hour, then flip for an hour so the bottom dries. Then enjoy!

Peanut brittle

Peanut brittle

Every Christmas my Daughter Kayla and I make peanut brittle. We enjoy trying different recipes, and the flavor of the butter in this recipe makes it wonderful. Our family at the Tribune love it as well so this is a keeper. — Renee Citsay

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup corn syrup
2 1/2 cups raw peanuts
5 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon soda
Bring sugar, water and syrup to a boil until it reaches hard ball stage or 255 degrees, and add a few extra tablespoons of butter. Add raw peanuts and butter. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until hard crack stage or 300 degrees. Add vanilla and soda, stirring hard, and pour into two buttered cookie sheets. Spread with wooden spoon until all bubbles are gone. Cool and break into pieces when hard.

Chocolate swirled bars

Chocolate swirled bars

I was on the hunt for a healthier Christmas treat, when I found this recipe for chocolate swirled bars. The base is a lightened-up cookie dough recipe that I found on the Taste of Home website. Then there’s swirled dark chocolate and white chips on the top. — Sarah Stultz

Cookie
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Chocolate swirl
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup vanilla or white chips, melted

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, oil and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Divide dough into four 1-1/4-cup portions. Shape each into a disk; wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle, or freeze for up to 3 months. Yield: 4 portions (1-1/4 cups each).
Press one portion of dough onto the bottom of an ungreased 13-by-9 inch baking pan (dough will be thin). Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow chips to soften for a few minutes, then spread over bars. Drop spoonfuls of melted vanilla chips over top; cut through chocolate with a knife to swirl. Let stand until set. Cut into bars.
Yield: about 3 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Torte Cake

Chocolate Chip Torte Cake

This cake is probably one of my favorite cakes. My mom got the recipe a long time ago from a cookbook and it has been a family favorite ever since. It has traditionally been made only for my birthday the past several years. However, it makes for a delicious dessert for any time of the year. — Danielle Boss

Chocolate chip layers
1 cup margarine
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups chocolate chips

Frosting
1 12 ounce container of milk chocolate frosting
1 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip

Soften butter in a large bowl. Mix with shortening, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and mix. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix. Stir in chocolate chips.
Divide into four chunks. Spread into 9 inch round cake pans. Cook two at a time for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.
Let all cool completely.
Mix chocolate icing and Cool Whip in a bowl.
Put one layer down on desired plate or pan. Spread frosting mix and repeat with the other layers.
If desired, sprinkle chocolate chips on top of cake.