I love Christmas. I mean, I really, really LOVE Christmas. Not like the way a normal person enjoys the holidays. Much more like an irrational crazy person. I love the lights and the carols, the smell of a fresh Fraser Fir Christmas tree, the warmth and aroma of cookies baking in my oven. I love shopping for the perfect gifts for my loved ones and wrapping beautiful packages with high-quality paper (I spend a lot of time thinking about the paper) and perfectly coordinated organza ribbons. I love the smiles on my kids faces as they see the tree filled with gifts for the first time. I love having a house full of people and cooking a big meal. I love planning the color schemes for our Christmas trees and dining room table; burgandy and gold or a peacock theme of bright blues, greens, and purples, or maybe silver with shades of green. Our storage room is overrun with bins of ornaments, lights, nativity sets, snowmen, and festive jeweled fruits. The entire season puts a skip in my step, a perpetual grin on my face, and an extra pitter-patter in my heart.
My anticipation and yearning for the Christmas season is so strong that it physically pains me. I’m aching for it right now as I write this. You’ll never hear me complaining about stores decorating for Christmas in October or radio stations who start playing nonstop Christmas carols as kids are trick-or-treating. You can fully expect this blog to get a little Christmas crazy sometime in early November. I sure hope you won’t hate me for it.
When I was younger, I took the idea of Christmas in July very seriously. Each December, I’d spend large chunks of my hard-earned babysitting money on Christmas decorations; cardboard cut-outs of wreaths and Santas, tinsel garland, and long strands of blinking, musical lights. I’d bathe my small pink room in Christmas. Then, I’d pack it up after New Years and wait. Until July rolled around. At which point, I’d drag out the bin and decorate every square inch of my room. My parents didn’t mind, as long as I kept the Christmas carols at a low volume and my door closed. I brought the bin with me to college, where I added a 6 foot artificial tree to my collection and had easily the most festive room in the whole dorm. Thank you freshman year roomie, wherever you are, for tolerating my insanity.
I don’t decorate my house for Christmas in July. My husband wouldn’t be nearly as tolerant of it as my parents were. But, I couldn’t let July pass without celebrating just a little. So, I decided I’d cook something that reminds me of Christmas. I went through the mental list of all of the foods that remind me of Christmas. The huge turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy my family makes every year. The pork loin with peanuts, ambrosia, and green bean casserole my grandmother-in-law would make. The roast beef with bordelaise sauce, ham with pilaf, scalloped potatoes and biscuits, or beef bourgignon with potatoes au gratin and quiche lorraine that I’ve made. Or perhaps a dessert, like my Dad’s apple pie or the Friendly’s Jubilee Roll my husband’s family enjoys each year. And then I started thinking about Christmas cookies…
And that’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to make for our Christmas in July celebration. Something so incredibly simple and so irresistibly delicious. I’m pretty sure the only reason we don’t make them all year round is because they are so utterly addicting. These little treats may seem more appropriate for a Halloween celebration, but they ring Christmas to me. My grammy and mom make them every year as part of the Christmas cookie collection. And every year, they are the first cookies to go. Actually, they’re not really cookies at all.
They are Chocolate-Covered Spiders.
I always thought of this recipe as my grammy’s special recipe. After running a search online, I now see that this recipe has been out there for a while. Sometimes called Haystacks and each recipe using slightly varying proportions of chocolate chips to butterscotch or peanut butter chips, the basic concept is the same. And I’ll always think of it as my grammy’s recipe.
- 1 package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 cup Butterscotch Chips
- 1 container Chow Mein Noodles
- 1 cup Peanuts
Line a few baking sheets with wax paper. Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring frequently. Fold in the chow mein noodles and peanuts until they are well coated in chocolate. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the wax paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until the chocolate has hardened.