Last week I had the opportunity to talk with the Women's Connection group of Dover about making gifts in their own kitchens. I really wanted to encourage the ladies to use what they have on hand and to remind them that by making these treats themselves that they could avoid adding unnecessary ingredients that are so often present when you buy similar products that have been commercially packaged.
There are all kinds of recipes on the Internet – and especially on Pinterest – for "gifts from your kitchen." But, as we all know, not everything that sounds good tastes good. We've been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and the recipes below reflect our successes. Let's just try to forget about the failures that included fudge that never did get firm and had to be eaten with a spoon. That recipe needs a little more work.
To contact Judi Leaming, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SANTA'S SWEET & SALTY SURPRISE
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
14 to 16-ounces small, square, thatched pretzels (feel free to be creative. You could also add dry-roasted peanuts and/or fresh orange zest)
Purchased cinnamon-sugar mixture
4- to 6-ounces white melting chocolate wafers
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two cookie sheets or a jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Combine oil and granulated sugar in a 2-cup glass mixing measuring cup or bowl. Whisk to blend smooth; stir in the ground cinnamon. Pour pretzels into a large microwaveable bowl. Pour oil mixture over pretzels and toss to coat evenly. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for 45 seconds more. Spread pretzels out in a single layer on prepared cookie sheets or jellyroll pans. Sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon-sugar blend. Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately melt white chocolate (see below) and drizzle evenly over pretzels. Set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Melting-white-chocolate in the microwave:
Adjust the power on your microwave to about 50 percent. In a glass bowl, place no more than 8 ounces of your chopped white chocolate pieces, chunks or chips. Put your bowl in the microwave and cook for one minute. Then stir. Your chocolate will not look melted until you stir it. If this is still lumpy, continue the above process at 30-second intervals until it stirs smooth and creamy. Proceed cautiously. Should not take more than one minute, 30 seconds.
PECAN PIE MUFFIN MIX
1 cup chopped pecans (small chop)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Combine these ingredients and mix well. Place in a freezer-weight one-quart zip-lock bag and attach these directions:
Page 2 of 2 - "Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line nine (9) regular size muffin cups with paper liners. Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and set aside to cool slightly. Beat two (2) eggs until fluffy then whisk in the slightly cooled butter. Pour mix into a bowl and pour butter/egg mixture over the dry mix. Fold in the liquid ingredients to moisten evenly. Spoon each muffin cup 2/3 full with the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until done. Immediately remove from muffin tins and place on wire rack. Best served warm. (From www.southernplate.com )
SANTA'S SECRET BREAD DIPPING HERB MIX
1 tablespoon minced dried basil
1 tablespoon minced dried parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a mini-chopper and blend. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.