Christmas is No Time for Prison Food

As I sit here in my red velvet, ermine-trimmed evening garb, in my fashionably decorated house, I ponder what new recipes to bestow upon my hordes of blog readers. My handsome, perfectly-coiffed (yet straight) “butler” cleans up the remnants of another Martha Stewart-like meal prepared in my fabulously well-appointed kitchen….

(Insert sound of screeching record album here.) Okay, okay. So I lied about the red velvet evening garb. And the “butler.” And the Martha Stewart meal. And the fabulously well-appointed kitchen. And the hordes of readers (unless you can call “two” a horde). But my house is decorated for the holidays and I’m wearing a Christmas sweatshirt. Close enough.

I guess we tend to idealize the holiday season a bit and I would imagine that a good deal of what we remember about the Christmases of our youth is the food. It’s a time of year when we’re encouraged to eat the good stuff (uh, that would be cookies, candy, and hors d’oeuvres). No one yammers at you to eat turnips or wax beans. God bless us, everyone.

Round about this time of year folks get the notion that a cookie exchange is a good idea. Even though I am a happy consumer of cookies, I’ve only once participated in a cookie exchange. And once was more than enough. After I poured my heart and soul into making something delicious, I came home with trays of cookies one would have expected to see in the state prison system. Even my palate-challenged husband wouldn’t eat them. So, while slice-and-bake Pillsbury cookies might suffice for the orange jumpsuit crowd, they don’t cut the mustard in my house.

While I’m not advocating creating miniature cookie houses with marzipan “snow” on top, I am advocating flavor. First up is a recipe of my Mom’s called “Everything Cookies.” They’re not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but they are tasty. I never appreciated these cookies until I left home and got a wave of nostalgia a few years ago. Goodness knows what took me so long to come back to these little marvies since they’ve got something to please everyone.

Mom’s Everything Cookies

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup flake coconut
1 cup Rice Crispies
1 12 oz. package chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix these ingredients in order. You can use a mixer up until you have to add the oatmeal. After that you must use the Armstrong Method. (Uh, that means stirring by hand.) Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 300º.

Next is a painless (i.e., without a candy thermometer) way to make a fun candy-type thingy.

Chocolate Coated Drops

1 20 oz. package Oreo cookies
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
15 oz. white candy coating (white chocolate)
12 oz. chocolate candy coating
Red and/or green candy coating (optional)

Place the Oreo cookies in a blender or food processor; cover and process until finely crushed. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and crushed cookies until blended. Roll into ¾ inch balls. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white candy coating, stirring until smooth; dip half the balls to completely coat. Melt chocolate candy coating and dip remaining balls. Place on waxed paper until hardened.

Drizzle white candies with remaining chocolate coating and drizzle the chocolate candies with the remaining white coating. Or, alternatively, melt red or green coating and drizzle over the balls. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 7 ½ dozen.

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