Welcome to Simple Fare, Fairly Simple. This is a place for me to post recipes of all kinds...along with other miscellaneous fodder from my so-called life here in the south. Who knows what you will find here. Could be anything from my husband...known as IT Guy...to my kids and beautiful grandbabies that are growing up way too fast right before my eyes. But...mostly this will be a place for food. I hope you'll see something you like and if you decide to try something from the list...leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not Your Grandma's Cookie Exchange

Next Monday I'm doing an old fashioned cookie exchange....except it's not just cookies and I'm not old-fashioned. But I am a grandma...but most likely not YOUR grandma so at least part of the title of this post is correct. I'm not sure what the other ladies are bringing....but I'm stepping out of the box and giving candy and jam. Yeah...I'm crazy like that. Anyway...if everyone comes through and follows the directions on the handy-dandy handout they received....everyone should be going home with at least 20 bags/jars/bundles or sacks of goodies. Not just a plate of cookies!! And the best part? No kids allowed! Not that I don't like kids. I do. I have three of my own...but sometimes it's nice to get away from the little rugrats darlings every now and again. They'll be happy enough when their mom walks through the door loaded down with treats. I hope. If the moms don't eat all the good stuff before they get home, that is. Which is what I would do and then proclaim to my kids what a lame party it was because no one brought anything good. Not really. Well, kind of.

Anyway...these recipes aren't anything new or spectacular...but they're easy enough and fun to take to a party. Or serve at a party. Or make and eat by yourself.

                                                   White Chocolate Peppermint Bark 

Here's the finished product. At the end I will show you how I dressed it up to give away.
 2 bags (15-ounce) white chocolate chips
12 - 15 candy canes

Unwrap the candy canes and place them a zip-top bag. Take your husband's hammer....or use what I used...a meat tenderizer....and smash the daylights out the candy canes. I did this on concrete because bits of the candy canes will make little holes in the bag and I didn't want candy cane dust in my kitchen and I don't have concrete in my kitchen.  Make sure you place a clean towel under the plastic bag.

Crushed candy canes!
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl.

Yes...I know this stuff isn't technically chocolate. Let's move on, shall we?

Add the crushed candy canes to the chocolate and stir it all up! You can reserve a bit to sprinkle of top when you spread it out to cool. Makes it purdy.

Spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and let it harden.

Spread it all out.....try not to let it get too thick. You want to be able to break it easily.

Sprinkle some of the reserved crushed candy canes for sprinkling. 

 Break it up into chunks. I made mine small because I only wanted people to have a little taste since there would be SO much other good stuff at the exchange.
I had some mesh bags I put the bark in....but first put it in little baggies.
Made a little tag..voila! Cute as can be.

        Now for the next item I'm giving at the exchange.....

Apple Butter!! 

Have you ever eaten apple butter? Have you ever made it? It's SO good and so easy to make. A little time consuming, yes.....but the results are very worth it. IT Guy and I had some with dinner this evening and can I just say...that this batch was the best I've EVER made. Ever. Whoever comes to my house on Monday night for the exchange will come away with some yumminess, fo sho!!

Here's the run-down......

This recipe...from a good friend in California.....makes a small amount but can be easily doubled or tripled....or in my case quadrupled x's 2....whatever that is. (I never was good at math....as IT Guy can attest...he used to tutor me when I was in high school. But that's another story for another day.) 

So here's the original recipe and quantities. 

Apple Butter

4 cups apples (I used Golden Delicious) peeled and rough chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, mashing apples down as they cook (I use my potato masher). Cook until apple mixture is thick and brown. This could take as long as 30 minutes or so. Transfer to clean jars. I wash my jars and lids in the d/w or in VERY hot water in the sink. After the apple butter is done, I fill the jars, put the lids on and turn the jars upside down and leave them until the apple butter is cool. The lids should be sealed down after they're cool then you can store them in the fridge for a long time. 

This is what you need to get going...

No need to be perfect when chopping because the apples
will break down while cooking.
Start cooking the apples until ...

...it starts darkens and thickens.

Jar it up!!!

This is how many jars I got out of the batch I made.

This is how I dolled up the jars to give away. Cute, yes?

If you decide to make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!