When it comes to cooking and baking, there's very little Judy Stevens of Eldridge hasn't done.
"I like it all," she says. "I do barbecue cook-offs, breads ... it's second nature. I just got done canning 500 jars of everything, you name it. Jellies, pickles, pickled beets. The kids come with empty boxes," she said with a sense of pride in her voice. The produce she cans comes from her extensive gardens.
Stevens also makes sweets, including a very easy recipe called Sensuous Chocolate Truffles that she created by taking bits and pieces of three other recipes. "The kids gobble them up," she says of her two adult children and five grandchildren.
The truffles are made by mixing a container of chocolate frosting, powdered sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder, then forming the mixture into small balls and dusting with cocoa powder or rolling in chopped nuts or crushed candy canes. That's all there is to it.
Her recipe is one of about 90 submitted by Quad-City Times readers in our Holiday Treats recipe contest. In a random drawing, Jeannie Franklin of Davenport was picked as the winner of a $100 gift card.
Most of the recipes we received were for candies, cookies and other sweets, although we also received a recipe for Leg of Lamb.
Of the sweets, more than half involved chocolate.
Especially intriguing was an entry for Velveeta Fudge from Janis Harbison of DeWitt. She attached a note saying, "Does not taste like cheese."
Marjorie Spranger, of Davenport, sent in "My Mom's Remarkable Fudge," the old-fashioned kind that is made by cooking sugar, milk and butter to the soft ball stage, then adding the rest of the ingredients and beating by hand until of the right consistency for pouring into a pan.
"When I was little my mother would make fudge anytime that she was in the mood," Spranger said. "That was such an exciting time. We didn't have a lot of sweets around like we do now. And one of the best memories was licking the pan. I was one of three girls, and we each had a spoon."
Spranger's mother was an expert at gauging the imprecise soft ball stage, but Spranger uses a candy thermometer and cooks until the mixture reaches 236 degrees.
"Mom's was always perfect; she never did a wrong," Spranger said. "But she's not around, so I use a thermometer."
Margaret Zellmer, of Davenport, submitted a recipe for Chocolate Pizza that makes a colorful and classy looking gift. She makes the pizza in an inexpensive pan purchased at a dollar store, then covers it with plastic wrap and attaches a bow.
"It looks like a million bucks," she said.
Digressing from the chocolate theme, Arlis J. Enburg, of Rock Island, sent in a recipe for Peppermint Swirl Fudge and Holly Jean Howell, of New Liberty, Iowa, submitted a recipe for four-layer Holiday Cherry Bars.
You'll find all these recipes in this section. Other recipes submitted by readers are online at qctimes.com.
Thank you all who sent in your favorites and Merry Christmas.