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Saturday, November 27

Christmas, Here We Come!!

Now that we've all survived the Thanksgiving tables, it's time to turn out sights on the next holiday that looms...Christmas!!  I've always been a huge fan of homemade gifts, something that really comes from your heart.  Sure...it takes some effort, but it's still a whole lot easier than fighting the crowds at the stores, isn't it?

I'll cover one of the simpler ideas today, and as we move through the month, we'll explore some of the more elaborate creations out there.  Simplicity first, though...after all, why overwhelm? 

One of the easiest things to give out would be cookies.  Everyone loves cookies.  With a total investment of around $20, you can create 12 (or more) gifts!!  Now, I'm not talking about making cookies...I'm talking about putting together the dry ingredients in an attractive way, and leaving the cooking to the recipient.  That way, they get the cookies when THEY are ready, and you have given something from the heart.  Win-win for everyone!!

First thing you'll need are some quart size canning jars.  They run about $9 for a dozen.  You'll also need a wide mouth funnel, which you can typically find wherever the jars are.  The last thing you'll need will be some pretty cloth...about 1/4 yard, cut into 5" squares...for the lid decoration.  That's it!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

For EACH jar, you'll need:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, whisking thoroughly.  Pour into quart canning jar.  Top with remaining ingredients, pressing down firmly, creating a layered appearance.  Do NOT shake up.  Seal jars: place one of the flat sections of lid on the jar, lay a square of decorative cloth over it, then seal with the second part of the lid, tightening well by hand.

Using ribbon, attach the following recipe to each jar:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Beat 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter or margarine, 1 large egg and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until blended. Add cookie mix and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional); mix well, breaking up any clumps. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

There you have it, folks...up to 12 gifts that are SURE to please!!  By the way...this also makes a GREAT way to store some homemade premixed cookie mix for your OWN home!!


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