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Monday, December 15, 2014

A Little Christmas Banter and Recipes to Impress Your Holiday Guests

I love Christmas. Christmas and Easter are easily my busiest seasons as a church organist and mother, but I still truly love each and every cookie, carol, and smile from friends and passersby. Christmas is in less than two weeks and I haven’t bought or wrapped any gifts, our tree isn’t up yet, and there are no decorations in the yard. It is nonetheless Christmas. We spent the weekend baking and though our house doesn’t look like Christmas, it feels and smells like a special time of year. We helped decorate the tree at church and we’ve gone to see several local light shows. We may not get around to all of the holiday “to do” items on the list, but we will sing carols and enjoy cookies. Just so you think I haven’t totally forgotten, we keep the manger out year round, so there will be a nativity scene and plenty of chatter about the Christ Child.

I was preparing some special Christmas music this evening and realized it was time to post my article for the Muffin. I wasn’t sure if readers would be interested in a book review for a holiday book, some holiday recipes, or a quick reminder of why it’s okay to say no to some things during the busy holiday season. I asked my social media friends to vote and those who know me best have asked me to share some quick and easy holiday recipes. As I write this, my peanut butter balls are chilling in the fridge, the truffles are done and in the freezer, and there are eight different types of cookies packaged on the kitchen table. It certainly seems appropriate to stop practicing that pesky Sonatine Op.20-1 First Movement and share some treasured recipes with you, my treasured friends. After all, no one is really going to know if I get all those F sharps right on the last page of the Sonatine anyway, right? And two of our three children are sleeping, so I may as well give the little guy some toy tractors and pop him on the floor of my office!

Here is my gift to you for this Christmas. There won’t be any cards, and I’m pretty sure some of you will get a hand knit scarf and a plate of cookies. As for the tree … maybe that will happen …

Banana Bread Recipe
1 ½ Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons butter
½ Cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup ripe bananas (about 2)
¾ cup chocolate chips (I prefer semi sweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Whisk together thoroughly: flour, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a large bowl, beat on high speed until light in color and texture (2-3minutes): butter and white sugar
Beat in the flour mixture until blended, then gradually add eggs, and bananas.
Add chocolate chips last and do not over-stir
Scrape batter into a pan and spread evenly
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (50-60 minutes)

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan – then let cool completely on the rack.

Peanut Butter Ball Recipe
2 Cups Crushed Graham Cracker
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Cups Peanut Butter (you choose crunchy or creamy…but I’ll always choose creamy)
½ Cup Melted Butter (salted or unsalted doesn’t matter for this recipe)
1 or 2 squares of Baker’s Sweetened Chocolate
Note: we ran out of sweetened chocolate and used unsweetened and then added semi-sweet chocolate chips and a bit of heavy cream instead.

Mix graham crackers, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and melted butter. Mix until well combined and sticky. Place peanut butter mixture in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes while you enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
Remove from refrigerator and roll into balls (we place the balls onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet to cut down on the mess).
Refrigerate balls for an hour or so while you do something else. This is usually when we start unwrapping chocolate kisses for our other cookie recipe. Feel free to enjoy another cup of coffee or glass of wine!
Before removing balls from the refrigerator, begin melting the chocolate. I’ve never had much luck melting it on the stove, so I recommend using your microwave and a glass bowl. This part is completely up to you.
Remove balls from fridge and roll them in the chocolate.
Please chocolate covered balls back on the wax paper covered cookie sheet or a tray.
Refrigerate until ready to serve or gift.

Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 7, Andre 6, Breccan 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 200 Holsteins. The Otto family is expecting an addition with Delphine Elizabeth Otto due February 2015!

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: and keep up with her WOW! tours and blog posts at:

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