• 70°

Deck the halls with these sweet holiday treats

Some of the Tribune staff tried out some fun, festive recipes for this holiday season. — Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Some of the Tribune staff tried out some fun, festive recipes for this holiday season. — Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Editor’s note: It has become a Christmas tradition for Tribune employees to share their holiday recipes with readers.

Peppermint French Silk Pie Bars

Peppermint French Silk Pie Bars by Colleen Harrison. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Peppermint French Silk Pie Bars by Colleen Harrison. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

I love peppermint and chocolate together, so this seasonal twist on French silk pie is one of my favorites. — Colleen Harrison

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening

Ice water (about 1/4 cup)

Filling

1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

3 large pasteurized eggs or egg beaters

Peppermint whipped cream

1 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Crushed peppermint candies

Instructions

Crust

Combine flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add shortening in small cubes. Cut shortening with two knives or a pastry blender until you get pieces that are pea-sized. Sprinkle ice water by about a teaspoon at a time over the flour/shortening mixture. Gently turn the dough with your fingers so it gets exposed to the water. Don’t mix, just try to moisten all of the flour/shortening mixture. Gradually, all of the flour mixture will be moistened. Gently pat the dough into a ball (It should come together easily but not be sticky). Win plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Heat oven to 450°F. Roll the dough into a circle that’s about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully transfer the crust into baking dish. Trim the edges and shape as desired. Price the bottom of the pie crust and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Filling

Cream the 1 1/2 sticks of butter, vanilla, peppermint extract and granulated sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes) in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add 1 egg and beat for 5 minutes. Add second egg and beat for another 5 minutes, and then add the third egg, beating for another 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides if necessary. Scrape the chocolate filling onto the pie crust using a rubber spatula. Carefully cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Peppermint Whipped Cream

Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract in a large bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Serve immediately by topping the french silk pie bars with the peppermint whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies.

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese by Kim Ehrich. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese by Kim Ehrich. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

I found this recipe on Pinterest. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas my cousin, who is a chef in Minneapolis, brings her cranberry salsa. It’s always a big hit, and it’s usually gone by the end of the night. I had been reluctant in trying it because I am not a huge cranberry fan; however, this salsa really hits the spot. — Kim Ehrich

Serves: 12

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar (add more to taste)

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped coarsely (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)

1/2 cup cilantro

4 green onions

2 tablespoons lime juice

pinch of salt

2 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese

Instructions

Place all of the ingredients in a blender (except cream cheese) and pulse until desired consistency. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours (preferably overnight) to allow the salsa to macerate. Serve over cream cheese and with crackers or with chips.

Christmas Wreaths

Christmas Wreaths by Sarah Stultz. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Christmas Wreaths by Sarah Stultz. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The last time I remember making these cookies was as a young child. As I was looking through some recipes to figure out what I wanted to make for Christmas this year, I stumbled across these. I thought it would be fun to make these and reminisce about my younger years. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com though there are many variations available on other sites. — Sarah Stultz

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

4 cups miniature marshmallows

1 teaspoon green food coloring

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups cornflakes cereal

1 (2.25 ounce) package cinnamon red hot candies

Instructions

Microwave marshmallows and butter on high for 2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on high for 2 minutes more. Stir. (This can also be done in a double boiler.)

Add and mix quickly the coloring, extracts and cornflakes. Drop by spoonfuls in clumps on greased wax paper, and decorate with three red hots each.

Once cool, transfer to lightly greased serving or storage tray with lightly greased fingers.

Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint Ice Cream by Renee Citsay. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Peppermint Ice Cream by Renee Citsay. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 cups half and half

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Instructions

Mix in a blender and chill for 2 to 3 hours

Pour into your ice cream mixer for 15 to 40 minutes.

When your ice cream is thick enough, put it into a chilled ice cream bowl.

Add 3/4 cups of crushed peppermint candy. Put back into the freezer.

Chocolate Holiday Pretzels

Chocolate Holiday Pretzels by Sam Wilmes. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Chocolate Holiday Pretzels by Sam Wilmes. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

While I don’t have much experience baking, I found this recipe and realized it was a quick and easy way to make a holiday snack that everyone can enjoy. This is a good recipe for work, home or other parties that your friends will enjoy. — Sam Wilmes

Ingredients

1 bag of checkerboard pretzels

1 bag of multicolored M&M’s plain chocolate candy

1 bag of Hershey’s chocolate kisses

Instructions

Preheat oven to 170° F. Open the bag of pretzels, and remove unbroken pretzels. Place them on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets on a single layer. Unwrap kisses, and place one on each pretzel. Repeat for entire cookie sheet. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Place M&M on each pretzel, and then place cookie sheet in freezer for 8 to 10 minutes so chocolate can reset.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies by Jarrod Peterson. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies by Jarrod Peterson. Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Ingredients

1 cup softened butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

As many mint M&M’s as you’d like

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips and mint M&M’s. Drop large spoonfuls of dough on pan. Bake cookies on tray for 12 to 15 minutes.