Fran’s Favorites: Autumn leaves, country music & sweet treats

By Fran DeWine

The leaves were beautiful this week on the front lawn of the Governor’s Residence where different governors have planted all sorts of trees. I especially love the brilliant orange tree outside the dining room window — an Autumn Blaze Maple planted by Gov. and Mrs. Ted Strickland.

We had a lot of fun getting ready for Halloween at the Residence. I made some buckeyes candies, although we bought some to give out to trick-or-treaters because I feel most parents prefer packaged candies just to be safe. I like to make buckeyes this time of year during football season. I also have a Buckeye Dip I like to make as an easy alternative for parties. It goes great with vanilla wafers or graham crackers. I got the recipe while visiting our county courthouses during the campaign last year.

Late this week we had an interview with 8th grader Nolan Pastore from Hartville. He is Ohio’s representative to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. He told me he liked to bake so I asked him what his favorite recipe was. He said Snickerdoodles. I told him that was the first cookie I ever made! My grandmother taught me.

Even though Mike had jam-packed days this week, we were still able to pick up some fun Ohio events over the weekend and in the evenings. Mike took our journalist daughter Anna with him to the Niehoff Lecture series in Cincinnati to hear author and journalist Bob Woodward one night, and the next night he took our granddaughter Izzy to hear country singer Trisha Yearwood perform in Cleveland.

Mike and I also went to Portage County to see Garth Brooks during his Dive Bar Tour. He performed in Rootstown at the Dusty Armadillo, a former ball room and then auction house and now venue for many bands. I saw Garth Brooks in the early ’90s at the Ohio State Fair and I have been a fan ever since. His show Monday night was amazing. As he said, he wanted to get back to his roots. I think he’s doing seven stops on his tour. He told us his largest fan base is in Ohio and Pennsylvania so I think that is why this one was picked. The crowd was incredible. I think every person there, old or young, knew every song and sang along with him! We told him even our 6-year-old grandson was a fan because he got to shake his hand at a spring training game where Garth stayed for hours to sign balls and shake every single hand!

I remembered Trisha Yearwood, who has her own cooking show on the Food Network, had a great recipe for some no-bake chocolate pretzel squares. If you like buckeyes, I think you’ll like these. I’ll serve them this weekend.

Buckeye Dip

4 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tablespoons milk

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

8 ounces Cool Whip

12 ounces mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with vanilla wafers or graham crackers.

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Trisha Yearwood’s

No-Bake Chocolate-Pretzel-Peanut Butter Squares

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

2 cups pretzel rods, crushed into crumbs

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup plus 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, add the melted butter, pretzel crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter and stir together until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Combine the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate and peanut butter are melted and smooth; two intervals should be enough. Mix to blend, then spread over the peanut butter-pretzel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.