Sunday, December 27, 2015

6 Favorite Christmas Treats

One: peppermint chewy candies 

The only store-bought item on my list. Couldn't find them this year. Had to dig out the stash I buried in the cabinet. I like anything peppermint. These candies have a Christmas tree in the middle. For Valentine's, a heart. Maybe stores will sell them in February.

Two: Mom's cranberry relish 

As a child, I never ate it, but after my sister Brenda served it one time at Thanksgiving, because she knew our nephew Michael liked it, I tried some. Now I make it for my family. My little nephew-in-law Wesley couldn't get enough of it one year for Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's. It's quite a sight when I make it though. I have to stand on a chair to smash it down into the attachment to the mixer. Nothing makes me feel short like that does.

Three: peanut blossom cookies
The ones with the chocolate kiss on top made with a bit of cream peanut butter. I prefer Mrs. Elmer Hofer's recipe in the old Hutterthal Church cookbook that Mom gave me when I moved out on my own. I'll be making my second batch of these during Christmas break.

Four: fudge 
Simple ingredients from Laura Goosen's recipe. She was our pastor's wife when I was an elementary student. Wrote about her famous bun recipe here. I have to freeze this fudge it to cut it otherwise it's too gooey. One small piece satisfies me for hours.

Five: cheese ball 
Mom's recipe with pimentos. Son-in-law Nate almost ate half of it in one setting the other day he liked it so much. My niece-in-law Amy in South Dakota loves it when I make this at Christmas time.

Six:  Mom's fruitcake 
Yes. Fruitcake. I make it every year for my seventh graders. because of "A Christmas Memory," a short story we study by Truman Capote. Kids gag, spit it out, eat it fast to get it over with. I tell them it's okay, they don't have to like it, and that they won't hurt my feelings.
But many do the opposite and come back for more at the end of the day. Past students hear I've brought it again and pop in for leftovers. And teachers peek in to say, "If you have enough, may I please have a piece?" And of course, I oblige. This too is my mom's recipe in that old church cookbook.

What I didn't list 
Notice I didn't say sugar cookies? I do enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth ones made by my friend Paula Voth, but I cannot make them. My husband and step-daughter Brittany joke that I'm not good at making the simple things: mac and cheese from a box, eggs, pancakes—so it doesn't surprise me that I can't make these.
Mom couldn't make them either, but that didn't stop my Kansas sister Brenda and me from trying sugar cookies one holiday season. We took them home to the family in South Dakota. People didn't seem interested in eating a Christmas stocking that looked like a cowboy boot, so they got dumped to the hogs.
I also enjoy homemade caramel, but this too, Mom and I couldn't master. Janice Peterson, the mother of my childhood friend and classmate Adele, made incredible caramel. I have the recipe in a classroom cookbook from third grade. Each of us brought family recipes for Mrs. Gilchrist to organize in a cookbook that we gave to our moms for Christmas. I need to find that thing and try the caramels again.

Soon holiday celebrations will cease and so will the treat making. No. Wait. Valentine's Day brings more of the same. I'll make more fudge. And peanut blossom cookies. And look for the peppermint chew candies in the stores. Then after that, it's Easter. Oh, how I love solid chocolate bunnies! And peeps. And candy message hearts. And Russell Stovers.

Oh, how my sweet tooth rules. I have a mouth full of cavities, capped teeth, and an implant to show for it too—but that's due to not brushing my teeth when I was little and lying to Mom about it.

What are your favorite holiday treats? Which ones are the must-makes? Which ones belong in the hog pen? Are there some holiday treats you make all year round?


  1. Oreo bonbons, coconut bonbons, rum balls. Burbon balls, turtles.. (a rolo sat in top of a pretzel baked in the oven for just a few min to make them soft. Fudge, homemade cherry mash.. I have not had the pleasure of fruit cake. Cranberry jelly can be tossed for me...

    1. Lots of those sound yummy, Christina. My Kansas sister makes peanut butter balls. I've made the Rolo deals. They are easy & fun. I make them more around V-day. Weird how we each associate certain foods with specific holiday.