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* Chanukka *
* Christmas *
tips, tools and
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A Simple Christmas
Easy Inexpensive Gifts
Buy candles of all sizes on sale during the year.
You can buy cinnamon sticks in bulk at the grocery store.
Cut cinnamon sticks the same height as your candle. Have a pan of boiling water the same height as your candle.
Hold the candle by the wick and quickly dip candle in the boiling water. Lightly press the
cinnamon sticks into the candle.
To finish the candle, tie around the middle with a piece of jute rope or raffia.
- Replace cinnamon sticks with dried flowers.
- Replace cinnamon sticks with dried whole chilies around the bottom third of the candle.
Scented Note Paper
- Buy an inexpensive stationery set.
- On 2 or 3 cotton balls, dab your favorite essential oil or perfume, then place in a plastic sandwich bag, leaving bag open.
- Place sandwich bag in the stationary box, replace lid, and let stand for 7-10 days.
- Remove sandwich bags before giftwrapping.
The kids can help with this one. You'll need a collection of jars. You can use any size jar with a lid. Tie a decorative ribbon around the lid and make special labels if you like. You can buy press on labels, or make your own and glue them on.
Break a cinnamon stick to the same height as the jar. Place the cinnamon stick in the middle of the jar and hold in place while pouring the sugar to fill jar completely. Screw the lid on. Sugar will be flavored in 1-3 days.
Replace the cinnamon stick with a vanilla bean cut in half. For a small to
medium jar, use 1/2 bean. For a large jar, use both halves.
Take your favorite cake, scone, bisquit, or cookie recipes.
- Combine the dry ingredients and place in a jar.
- Tie a decorative ribbon around the lid and add the recipe on a card attached to the ribbon.
- Add to a basket with a flavored sugar, oven mitt, and mix.
- You could also paint the jars.
Baking Mix Gift Suggestions
- With Cookie Mix - add cookie cutters to basket
- With Scone Mix - add hot chocolate mix or a bag of coffee or herbal tea
- With Cake Mix - add a note on the recipe card to use sugar instead of flour when preparing pan for cake mix
- With Bisquit Mix - add a jar or two of honey or jam
Canned Bread is a great way to give baked goods that don't have to be eaten during the holidays when baked goods are everywhere. It can be stored in the pantry with the canned goods to be eaten later in the year. You don't need a special recipe; you can use any quick bread recipe as long as it has a thick waffle mix consistency. Here's how to do it:
- Jars- Use only tapered canning jars available in your grocery store.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Do not bake at a higher temperature as the jars might crack.
- Wash 1.5 pint sized, tapered jars in the dishwasher or hot soapy water. Let dry completely.
- Place all jars in a baking pan for easier handling. Bake open jars for 55-60 minutes.
- Just before the bread is finished baking, prepare the canning lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- When the bread done, remove jars from the oven, quickly clean the
sealing edges and screw the 2 piece lid on finger tight only.
The jars will vacuum seal as they cool. Any jars that don't seal properly should be refrigerated and eaten within 2 weeks. Properly sealed jars can be stored in the pantry with the canned goods.
Christmas Dinner and Dessert
For a change of pace -
Instead of the pumpkin or sweet potato pie - try pumpkin or sweet potato cheesecake.
- Instead of plain mashed potatoes - replace butter with cream cheese (no fat works great) and crushed garlic.
- Instead of sweet potatoes with marshmallows - whip the sweet potatoes with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves along with chopped pecans. Place in baking dish and bake just until slightly browned. You can still add marshmallows for the kids.
- Instead of store-bought rolls - why not make flower pot bread?
- Take a terra cotta flower pot (use the small ones). Line with aluminum foil (do not let the bread touch the terra cotta).
- Thaw frozen bread dough. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into a ball (approx. the size of a golf ball).
- Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into a ball (approx. the size of a golf ball). Place 3 in each flower pot.
- **Note - you can divide the dough, roll out, spread with butter, and add herbs, cheese, dried tomatoes, or chilies. Fold dough over, then knead for a minute or two to disperse the herbs, cheese, ect. Continue with above instructions.
- Cover the flower pots with a tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes to rise. Bake pots in 350 degree oven for approx. 12 mins. or until tops are brown.
You can reheat by placing aluminum foil on top of flower pot and placing in 350 degree oven for 5 min.
An alternative serving idea
Line medium terra cotta pots with decorative napkins (cloth or paper), then place the different flavored breads in the pot, filling to the top. Decorate the outside of the pot with holiday ribbon and silk flowers.
Pumpkin/Sweet Potato Cheese Cake
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 egg
Cream sugar and butter, add egg and flour. Mixture will be a cookie dough consistency.
Pat out dough in a 9 inch springform pan on bottom and sides. Bake at 400 degrees for
5-7 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups canned pumpkin(not the pumpkin pie mix) or
- 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
Cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into crust and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
Garnish with sweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
With Christmas decorations, the memories created while making are what count.
- Buy plain ornaments - let the older kids decorate with glitter glue.
- Don't throw away the old burned out Christmas lights. Drill a hole in each indivdual light bulb and string with decorative string or ribbon. Hang as a swag on the mantel or window.
- Make cinnamon ornaments
- 10 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 4-6 tbsp. plain applesauce
- Extra ground cinnamon
Place cinnamon in a bowl and add applesauce 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough is
Sprinkle rolling surface with additional cinnamon(to prevent sticking) and roll
out dough approximately 1/4 inch thick. Use holiday cookie cutters to cut out dough.
Reroll out left over dough as many times as needed to use all of the dough. With a straw, cut out a hole 1/2 inch from the top.
Place the shapes on ungreased cookie sheets and place in an electric oven set on
warm or a gas oven set on 150 degrees. Leave the door open to allow the moisture to escape. You are drying the ornaments, not baking them. This will take 3-6 hours. The ornaments are done when the front and back feel firm to the touch.
Once the ornaments are dry, string holiday ribbon through the hole made with the straw. You can not only hang on the tree, but also use as decoration on holiday packages.
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