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Easy dishes for friends

The holidays are upon us, and you’re probably scratching your head over something to give your friends. My favorite answer to this dilemma is a food gift.

I love to cook, but most importantly I love to cook for other people. I think it says a lot to someone when you give them a gift of food that you took the time to make.

Of course part of that problem for everyone is the time it takes to get one more thing done during the holiday season.

I think that is one reason you will love these two recipes. They are both easy to put together, and they are a great change from all of the sweets that people have during the holidays.

Plus, they are easy to have on hand at your house for drop-in guests. Just add some pretty packaging and you are one step closer to marking off your to-do list!

You can make this dough and wrap it tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and then just bake as needed.

 

Blue cheese and walnut bites

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper

8 ounces blue cheese

1/4 cup butter

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 egg yolk, slightly beaten

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour and black pepper. Then use pastry blender and cut in the cheese and butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and egg yolks. Stir until combined. Form the mixture into a ball and knead just until combined.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long and wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices and place an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the bottoms and edges are golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before storing in a covered container.

As much as I love this recipe as is, every once in awhile I like to spice it up a little with a teaspoon cayenne. I just add it when I add the nutmeg and stir well.

 

Citrus candied nuts

1 egg white

1 1/2 cup whole almonds

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Generously grease a 15-by-10-by-1 inch pan jellyroll pan. In a medium bowl beat the egg white with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add almonds and pecans, stir until coated. Stir in powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, orange peel and nutmeg. Pour out onto the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the pan of nuts sit in the oven for 15 minutes more. Immediately remove the nuts from pan to a sheet of foil. Cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

 

Christina Hall writes a food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.