It’s sad when you lose classmates from high school. My high school class lost a special lady, Laurie Sands Martin, this past week.  

The last time our ladies group got together for a night of fun, she had joined us. Laurie always looked so young. She will be missed by many.

This past week was a joyous occasion for Rachel and Trevor Santos. Rachel gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, Elizabeth Whitmire Santos. This is Wayne and Melanie’s first grandchild, also. Several days after she was born, she started experiencing problems with apnea (stopped breathing) and seizure-like activity. She was moved to NICU and placed on a ventilator and later moved to Children’s Hospital in Augusta. Doctors are still trying to figure out what’s causing these things. Prayers for this little girl are greatly needed and appreciated.

Prayers also go out to Tom McLocklin, who is in Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

I’d gotten some new recipes to try out and share with friends and family during the Christmas season. Hope you will try some of these to share with those unable to bake.

Banana Bread Brownies are not the same as banana bread. It’s definitely a recipe worth trying.

Banana Bread Brownies 

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed

2 tsps. vanilla extract 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Brown Butter Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsps. milk

Directions 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. For bars, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, for frosting: Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth. (It should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting). Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars (the frosting will be easier to spread while the bars are still warm.)

Another one sent to me this week was Reese’s Peanut Butter No Bake Bars. Rather simple but a really good treat to share.

Reese’s Peanut Butter No Bake Bars

Ingredients 

1 cup butter (melted)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 (11-ounce) bag milk chocolate chips 

Directions 

Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour peanut butter mixture into a 9x13-inch pan. Melt chopped chips in the microwave (at 50-percent power). Spread chocolate over mixture with a spatula. Put bars in fridge for one hour to set. Cut while bars are cooled.

Adding cream cheese to chocolate can give you an awesome-tasting brownie.

Hershey’s Cream Cheese Brownies

Ingredients 

10 Tbsps. butter

3 ounces chocolate chips 

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsps. vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsps. unsweetened cocoa, powdered

Cream Cheese Swirl Topping

8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)

1/3 cup sugar

1 pinch salt

1 large egg

2 tsps. vanilla extract 

6 full-size Hershey bars

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In the microwave, melt chocolate and butter until smooth and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and vanilla with the sugar. Slowly add in chocolate mixture until well combined. In a small bowl, sift together cocoa, salt and flour. Add mixture to the rest of the butter. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  

Cream Cheese Swirl:

Beat ingredients (except Hershey bars) together until smooth. Pour over brownie batter. Use sharp knife to swirl together. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until just set and toothpick comes out clean. Top with Hershey bars and return to still warm (but off) oven until lightly melted. Allow to cool. 

Simple but delicious peanut butter meltaways is one of my favorite things to make at Christmas. They just melt in your mouth when you start to eat them.

Peanut Butter Meltaways

Ingredients 

6 ounces white chocolate chips

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 Tbsp. shortening 

Directions 

Combine all of the ingredients, cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove cover, stir and microwave 30 additional seconds. Stir until smooth and pour into mini cupcake liners. Place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until set. Be sure to keep refrigerated or in a very cool spot.

Most people love fudge but hate making it. I just got this recipe for white fudge that’s simple to make and very good.

White Pecan Fudge

Ingredients 

1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup butter, divided 

2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows 

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

16 ounces white baking chocolate, finely chopped

2 tsps. vanilla extract 

2 cups chopped pecans

Directions 

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil. Grease the foil with 1/2 Tbsp. butter and set aside. Butter the sides of a large heavy saucepan with 1/2 Tbsp. butter. Cut remaining butter into small pieces and place in a large heat proof bowl. Add marshmallows and set aside. In the buttered saucepan combine sugar and cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cover and cook for 2 minutes to dissolve any sugar crystals. Uncover; cook over medium heat without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees. (Soft ball stage). Remove from the heat. Pour over butter and marshmallows. Stir until melted. Add the chocolate continue to stir until chocolate and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla and mix. Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, lift out of pan, remove foil and cut into 1-inch square pieces. Store in an airtight container. 

Joyce Jacks is a native of Barrow County and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School, Athens Technical College and the University of Georgia. She can be reached at georgiagirl2424@yahoo.com.

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