We are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, aren’t we? At this point in the month, we have made our lists and are checking them twice, hoping we haven’t forgotten anything. I encourage you to truly ponder on the ones you will be gifting, whether it is a loved one or perhaps a Secret Santa gift chosen for someone you’ve never met.
The season is certainly not all about our gift giving. This season is one of hope, peace and love because of the great gift of Christ’s birth. The best way to honor the season is with love in action. Love in action can be dropping some change in the red bucket; being kind to the cashier who has been standing on his or her feet all day; paying for the order behind you in the drive-thru; or taking an elderly person to look at Christmas lights.
Of course, you know I’m going to say to show love in action with food. So I have some ideas. Let’s leave a bag of Christmas Crunch for the Mailman; gift a tin of Peanut Clusters for the neighbors; and take this wonderful Brie and Puff Pastry as a hostess gift served in a pretty pie plate for them to keep. Love in action — let’s do it this season!
From my kitchen to yours with love, Merry Christmas!
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Cheerios cereal
1 16-ounce M&Ms
2 cups peanuts
2 cups pretzels twists or sticks
16 ounce white chocolate bark
Mix first six ingredients together in a large bowl. Melt chocolate bark in the microwave and pour over mixture. Working quickly, stir to coat. Spread on wax paper to let cool. Break into small pieces. Package in festive tins or bags.
Peanut Cluster Candy in the Slow Cooker
1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 4-ounce package German chocolate bars
32 ounces white chocolate bark, broken into small squares
1 16-ounce package dry roasted salted peanuts
1 16-ounce package dry roasted unsalted peanuts
Spray slow cooker lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Add chocolate chips, German chocolate and white chocolate bark. Place a clean, dry kitchen towel over the top of the slow cooker then place lid on top of that. This keeps water condensation from developing inside the lid. Cook on high for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and cook for another hour, or until chocolate is fully melted, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid and towel and add the peanuts, stirring well to combine. Line several baking sheets with wax paper. Drop candy mixture by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Let stand on counter at room temperature until set. Store in a cool place in an airtight container. Package in festive tin or bags.
Baked Brie in Puffed Pastry with Honey and Almonds
12-ounce wheel of brie cheese
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon water
Apricot or blackberry jam, if desired
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim rind of brie, if desired. Roll out defrosted puff pastry into an approximate 11 inch square. Be sure the pastry is large enough to fold over the cheese and seal. If not, roll your pastry out wider. Place brie in center of the pastry and top with two tablespoons of honey and half the almonds. Mix together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Fold up the corners of pastry one at a time, brushing the dough with the egg wash using like glue to hold it together. Continue to brush the egg wash over the top and sides of the pastry after formed. Put the brie in a pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the brie from oven and quickly drizzle with remaining honey and almonds. Slide it back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the almonds. Serve with apricot or blackberry jam if desired.Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.