Homemade gifts make it easy to be prepared

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving is over and the last of the turkey and dressing has been eaten. You’ve probably started putting up your Christmas decorations.

Next thing to do?

Check your Christmas gift giving list. The main players on that list aren’t that hard, by now your children having given you their Santa list and you and your significant other have discussed what you are giving each other.

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But as your pen meanders down the page you realize that you are adding a bunch of other names. Teachers, friends, hair stylist, a party host, what on earth are you going to get them? The answer is easy and means more to the recipients than a hastily bought I-couldn’t-think-of-a-thing gift at your local discount store.

Make them something in your kitchen. Take the time to mix up one of these food gifts for those who do so much for you during the year.

Don’t forget to think about your packaging. Wrap these gifts as prettily as you would if you add bought them at a specialty store. After Christmas sales are a great time to buy packaging supplies for the next year, rolls of cellophane, wired ribbon, coffee mugs, trays, pretty tins and stickers.

Another key to giving food gifts is to make your list of what you are making, get all your ingredients out and make batch after batch until you are completely done. Also, pick recipes that make large quantities at a time. Then package them all up and begin handing then out. It’s a smart idea to make a few extra. You never know who is going to add you to their Santa list!

This recipe is not only delicious but it makes 6 cups at a time. If you double the recipe be sure you use two baking sheets or they won’t be done on time and will be sticky. If you cook them in the same oven (and I do, because my other one is full of other recipes) swap the baking sheets half way through the cooking time.

Sugared nuts

1 egg white

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 11-ounce cans lightly salted mixed nuts (or make your own combination)

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees and lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a large bowl beat the egg white until foamy. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and then the nuts. Be sure you coat the nuts well. Spread the nuts on the baking sheet and cook for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let them cool and store in airtight containers.

Christmas cappuccino mix

2 1/2 cups instant chocolate drink mix

8 cups dry milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup instant coffee granules

8 ounce jar French vanilla flavored non-dairy creamer

Combine all the ingredients (carefully mix, these dry ingredients like to fly all over the place). I like to put this in Ziploc bags and put in them in Christmas coffee mugs for a gift. Make a pretty tag that tells the receipent to mix 1/4 to 1/3 cup cappuccino mix with 6 to 8 ounces hot water.

Perhaps baking is your thing and you want to give something from your oven to your friends. Not only does this recipe double like a dream it will make your friends mouths water.

Cranberry hermits

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for one minute on the cookie sheet and then remove to a rack to completely cool. Make 3 1/2 dozen delicious cookies.