CARTHAGE, Mo. —
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My sister, Sue, and her husband, Bill, welcomed our family into their home, and a good time was had by all. Bill purchased a new infrared fryer for the turkey and got all the goodness of a deep-fried bird without the greasy mess. Quite the invention.
I want to share some homemade gift ideas from your kitchen. One of the nicest gifts is a recipe book filled with your favorite recipes. Sharing recipes so everyone can enjoy them is much better than keeping them to yourself so only you can fix a certain dish. What if the inventor of fruitcake had decided to never share the details of producing the holiday staple? OK, that's not a good example, but you get the idea.
Today the focus is on baking. While a home-baked gift is always gladly accepted, the first thing to do is make sure the recipient doesn't have any special dietary needs. Diabetic or gluten-free friends would appreciate the extra thought, as would those with allergies. Also consider storage space if the gift requires refrigeration.
I really like the gift idea of giving a pretty baking dish along with either your favorite recipe or some of its necessary ingredients. All the ingredients for a decadent batch of cookies, along with a baking sheet and assorted cookie cutters, would be welcome, as would biscotti with a couple of mugs and cocoa mixes that are sure to warm the body and the heart.
Got a favorite family recipe you fix each year? Make a double batch and share one of them. There's no limit to what you can give. Think meatloaf, noodles, muffins, coffee cake or the fixings for green bean casserole.
The cinnamon rolls recipe is one that yields two rolls, so you can keep one and share one. Who wouldn't like one of these delivered the day before Christmas, just in time for reheating and Christmas morning enjoyment? The mini loaves make a great gift served up on a pretty plate, and they're perfect for hostess gifts. I've never considered myself a date fan, but I've recently discovered that their sweet taste and moistness really add to baked items. Both of these recipes are from "Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations 2006 Cookbook."
The recipe for the nuts comes from Marge Rogler, of Carthage, who got the recipe from a friend and shared it with my sister, Sue. My sister had a bowl of these sitting on the counter at Thanksgiving, and I have a feeling they are going to become a new family tradition. Get a jump on gift-giving by putting the pecans in a sealed container with a pretty bow -- I guarantee your family and friends will request these each year.
The focus of next week's column will be the various mixes that can be layered in a jar to make perfect homemade gifts. I'll also talk about jellies, jams and, later, cookies for Santa. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!
Gigantic cinnamon rolls
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 (1-pound) loaves frozen bread dough, thawed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a shallow bowl, combine sugars and cinnamon; set aside. On lightly floured surface, roll each loaf of dough into a 12-by-4-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into four 1-inch strips. Roll each into an 18-inch rope. Dip in butter then roll in sugar mixture. Coil one rope in the center of a greased 12-inch pizza pan. Add three more ropes, pinching ends together to fill in pan. Repeat with remaining ropes on a second pizza pan. Sprinkle with pecans and remaining cinnamon sugar. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls. Yields 2 rolls (6 to 8 servings each).
Maraschino cherry mini loaves
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped dates
Drain cherries, reserving 1/4 cup juice; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs and reserved juice; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in nuts, chips, dates and cherries. Spoon into three greased mini-loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire rack to cool completely. Wrap and store for 24 hours before serving. Yields 3 mini loaves.
Judy's glazed pecans
Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water until frothy. In another large bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional). Dump 1 pound pecan halves into egg white mixture, then into sugar mixture. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour on baking sheet, stirring every 15 minutes.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.