Toffee Crack-Up

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Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw

Well, friends, ready or not, Christmas is upon us! I hope you are ready and relaxed! Every year the holiday season seems to fly by quicker than the last, but I try to fit in as much fun as possible in what little time we have.

With a twist to my annual Christmas bus trip to New York City, this year, rather than taking my Mom, my husband, older son and his fiancé went with me! For those of you who have never tried this particular excursion, it is something to experience! We board a motor coach about 10:30 on a Friday night, sleep away the travel time while the bus rumbles down the highway, and wake up just in time to see the sun rise over the sky scrapers of Manhattan. Because I could easily sleep through a sonic boom, I wake refreshed and ready to hit the city! We have about 16 hours to fit in as many of the sights and sounds of Christmas in the city as we can, and boy do we make the most of it!!

This years’ trip was extra special because Robert and I were were able to spend a bunch of those hours with Todd and Amanda, exploring the sights, sounds and of course, tastes of the city. It was a different path than Mom and I usually take. Rather than hitting the stores for power shopping and simply grabbing a bite here and there, food, good beer and college football were worked into our day. After exploring the amazing displays at the Winter Market at Union Square, we went to a great sports bar in the theatre district for lunch and then made our way up 5th Avenue to Central Park and Tiffany’s, passing the crowds at Rockefeller Center and St Patrick’s Cathedral. It was a gorgeous day, albeit cold, so the sidewalks were packed with happy holiday tourists. The striking difference I noticed in this trip this year was the abundance of high security measures…I lost count of the number of heavily armed guards we saw, and I am sure there were significantly more that were not visible. While I am comforted by the extra safety measures, I am equally saddened that our world situation has come to this!

Before dinner that evening, we split up. Todd and Amanda had tickets to see the Rockettes extravaganza and wanted to grab an early dinner, so they went on their way, while Robert and I walked and watched the crowds a bit more. We made our way past the amazing light display covering the wall of Saks Fifth Avenue store. The crowds at this point were beyond excessive; I have never felt so “herded” as when we were simply pushed with the crowd down the sidewalk. It was both exhilarating and yet a bit unnerving. I now have a new appreciation for the way sardines feel in a can!

By the time Robert and I were ready for dinner, we had found a terrific Irish Pub to check out. As soon as we walked in the door, I knew it was going to be wonderful! The staff all appeared to be Irish, speaking with that wonderful brogue, and the smells wafting through the place were mouth-watering. I chose an Irish sampler platter, consisting of small bowls of Irish stew, Shepherd’s pie and chicken potpie. Talk about comfort food overload! Every bite made me smile. We warmed up, relaxed and soaked in the atmosphere for a while before making our final walk to our pick-up point at Bryant Park. It was an amazing day, spent with a few of the loves of my life, and I was blessed by the experience!

One week post trip, and I am right back in the thick of holiday preparations! Cookies are baking and the phone is ringing. While the season is flying by, I recommend finding a few minutes when you can to sit back, grab a Gazette, a cup of coffee and a few cookies and savor the season!

Toffee Crack-Up

  • 50 saltine crackers
  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 2 C chocolate chips
  • ½ to 1 C M&M’s, crushed peppermints or chopped nuts

Pre-heat oven to 325*

Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Line pan with the saltines.

Place butter and brown sugar in a medium pot and heat to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Carefully pour hot mixture over saltines. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crackers. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove and let sit until chocolate melts, then carefully spread to cover. Top with desired toppings.
Once cool, break apart to serve. Store in air-tight container.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.