Menifee Foodie: Christmas Baking for the Whole Family

By Malissa Meeks

What are your favorite smells of Christmas? When my granddaughter Maxyne was in Kindergarten, her class made a list of their favorite Christmas things. The teacher gave them a paper that had the five senses printed on it and the students had to complete the sentence with their favorite things. Maxyne's went something like this:

The sound of Christmas Carols
The sight of Christmas Lights
The smells of Grammy’s cheese bread
The taste of Christmas Cookies
The feel of Christmas Love

Maxyne is now 14 years old and none of her favorite Christmas things have changed. Two of her favorite things happen in my kitchen. Forming Christmas traditions in the kitchen can be some of the happiest times of the holiday season.

I have six daughters who are now adults and we still get together every Christmas and do our baking. Now that I have granddaughters who are young, we have added a couple of baking favorites that are easy and fun for the kids to be involved in making. Kids love to cook. They seem to feel special when they are included in baking.

Here are a couple of recipes that are fast, easy and fun for the kids to make with you.

Pretzel Turtles

20 small pretzels (I use the waffle pretzels)
20 Rolo candies
20 pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Put the 20 pretzels on baking sheet in a single layer.
4. Unwrap the Rolo’s and place one on top of each pretzel.
5. Bake for 4 minutes (chocolate will have a shine)
6. Remove from oven and put 1 pecan on top of each rolo. Press down lightly with your thumb.
7. Let cool.

Saltine Toffee (sounds strange but is so tasty)

1.5 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet. Don’t leave any spaces. Crush any remaining crackers and set aside.
4. Place butter and brown sugar in small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring the entire time.
5. Carefully pour over crackers. If you miss some spaces, don’t be too concerned. The toffee will spread when baking.
6. Bake for 5 minutes. Toffee should be boiling on top of the crackers. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute.
7. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the crackers and let melt. Spread over all of the crackers. While the toffee is still melted sprinkle the top with the crushed crackers.
8. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Break the toffee into uneven pieces by hand.
9. This can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy your time in the kitchen with your family. I have been making my baking list and checking it twice for my family’s big baking day next week. I can’t wait!!!

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every week. Leave comments here or email them to


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