Today we are happy to welcome Brenda from a farmgirl’s dabbles to our table! Brenda’s blog, built on the foundation of a midwest farming family shares her journey of preserving and sharing family recipes, traditions and memories. We are delighted to have her share a story and a recipe at our table today! ~Chris Ann & Kristin
Hello! I’m Brenda from a farmgirl’s dabbles. And I am both honored and delighted to have been asked by Chris Ann and Kristin to join them at their table.
I just love these girls. They not only have a beautiful enduring friendship that reaches out so freely to others, but they always have tons of fun things to share. Their table is a warm and welcoming spot to sit down, take a deep breath, and slowly exhale.
And so I pull up my chair…
My mom was a great role model for gifting from the kitchen. As soon as Thanksgiving was behind us, she would start the annual holiday baking.
And she didn’t make just a couple batches of goodies. Depending on the year, I’m guessing Mom made six to ten different kinds of fun sweets for our Christmas season festivities.
Some were family recipes, such as Grandma Klein’s Chocolate Caramels or Great Grandma Braun’s Sugar Cookies. Others were new finds that caught Mom’s eye, from magazines or cookbooks. She was always up for a fresh recipe. And this is something I appreciate now more than ever. I was taught to preserve the traditions of our past, but to also keep looking ahead.
Planning a day of cookie making with three young (and very helpful, I might add) girls was no small task for Mom. The evening before, she would mix up the dough so it could chill, set out all the other baking necessities, and possibly say a prayer or two, asking for patience the following day.
Then, the next morning, the fun began.
Rolling out dough, spreading frosting, and sprinkling colorful sugars, we were a chatty, happy lot. Oftentimes, a cousin or neighbor kid would join in, and it was all the merrier.
And when the fun was done, Mom would pack it all up. The shoe boxes she had been saving would get wrapped up in pretty Christmas paper, lined with colorful tissue. Then the boxes were filled to the tippy-top with a variety of the indulgences we had just produced.
Some of these boxes were given to our teachers on the last day of school before Christmas break. The yum was joyfully received, as teachers often expressed not having the time for their own holiday baking.
Other boxes were mailed off to Dave and John, my college cousins. I’m certain it was a bright moment in their halls of knowledge, to be given these boxes of cheer. I’m also pretty sure those boxes were heavy with homemade mini peanut butter cups, a favorite of theirs.
And the rest was placed in plastic containers and packed away in the seemingly bottomless chest freezer, ready for all sorts of holiday goodie platters for sharing.
My mom’s kitchen gifting has made a very positive impact on me. It’s let me see the joy in both the giving and receiving of homemade gifts, and has me sharing sweet treats with friends, co-workers, our daughters’ teachers, and elderly neighbors.
Baking up cheer and sharing it with special people in our lives is a wonderful way to savor the holidays. To know that you’ve brightened someone’s day with a simple gift from your hands is priceless. And I have a recipe to help you do just that!
This recipe for Caramel Heavenlies is one Mom made for the first time this year, and one that is sure to stay in my recipe box for years to come. It’s very simple and has only eight ingredients.
Whole graham crackers and marshmallows make up the base, with a cinnamon loaded caramel spooned over it. After a sprinkling of almonds and coconut, it’s baked until golden. The result is both crispy-crunchy and ooey-gooey.
And truly heavenly, just as its title proclaims.
Caramel Heavenlies (print recipe)
12 graham cracker rectangles
3 c. mini marshmallows
3/4 c. butter, cut up
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sliced almonds
1 c. flaked coconut
Line a 15″ x 10″ pan with parchment paper or foil. Grease foil, if using. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Spoon over the graham crackers, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with almonds and coconut.
Bake in a 350° oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Use foil or parchment to lift uncut bars from pan. Cut into 3″ squares and then cut each square in half diagonally, making triangular pieces. A pizza cutter wheel works great for this.
Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.
Yield: 30 cookies
Source: adapted slightly (Mom increased the marshmallows) from Midwest Living
Thank you so much for having me, Chris Ann and Kristin! And happy holiday baking to you all!
Thank you to Brenda from a farmgirl’s dabbles for sharing your recipe at our table!