Cook up your Christmas presents this year

Published 12:27 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everyone loves presents at Christmas, both those given and those received. Sometimes there are those friends that you need to give a gift to, but it doesn’t need to be a big to-do. Perhaps it needs to be a “thank-you for being my friend gift,” or maybe a “you do a great job teaching my child” gift. For those gifts I find that taking the time to make something edible for your gifts is always appreciated.

The recipient knows you put time aside to make the effort, everyone in the family can enjoy the gift, and when it’s gone there’s nothing left sitting on a shelf to dust.

This first recipe is my all-time favorite gift to make for friends and co-workers. It makes a large quantity; it’s nothing but measuring and a little melting; it’s colorful and it is delicious.

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I got the recipe from a cookbook that a friend gave me from Carthage. My kids and I changed the name but I’ve made it at Easter time with pastel M&M’s also.

Reindeer Crunch

3 cups Rice Chex

3 cups Corn Chex

2 cups peanuts

3 cups Cheerios

2 cups stick pretzels

1 12-ounce bag plain Christmas M&M’s

1 12-ounce bag peanut M&M’s

12 ounces white chocolate morsels or Almond Bark

Mix all ingredients except white chocolate in a large bowl. Melt the white chocolate (this burns easier than milk chocolate so be careful) and pour evenly over the mixture. Mix well with a large spoon and toss well to coat. Spread out on wax paper or foil and let it sit until the chocolate hardens. Break apart and store in bags or tins for gifts. I use the almond bark, and I use one ounce more than the recipe calls for because I love the flavor it adds. I melt mine in the microwave, on half power, very slowly because once it burns you can’t undo it.

I used to give spiced tea at Christmas but I know so many people who love coffee that when I found this recipe I quickly fell in love with it. You can double, triple or quadruple the recipe easily. I make it in a big bowl, mix it well and package it in Ziploc bags. Then I tuck them into coffee mugs and wrap them for gifts. Be sure you add the tag that tell them the directions to enjoy.

Mochaccino Mix

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 nutmeg

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1/2 cup dry milk

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pack into bags or tins. Mix makes enough for 10 to 12 servings.

Add a tag to the gift that reads. Combine 3 to 4 tablespoons mochaccino mix and 3/4 cup milk, warm slowly in a saucepan until it comes to a simmer or heat slowly in a microwave.

Nothing is better than cookies for a gift. The problem comes in deciding which ones to make. When you are tired of chocolate chip, peanut butter and snickerdoodles these snappy cookies are the answer. They go wonderfully with a glass of milk or a cup of hot chocolate.

Ginger Snap Cookies

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the shortening with an electric mixer until creamy, add one cup sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well and add the sifted dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Mixture will be very stiff. Shape a teaspoonful of mixture into a ball and then roll the ball in the remaining sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at