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Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen

University City Patch's resident foodie shares some holiday recipes.

The Christmas season is upon us. The Loop is decorated with tinsel and lights. Christmas music blares in stores and restaurants. Your calendar is filled with parties on the weekends and school concerts and holiday happy hours during the week. Then there’s the shopping and the wrapping and the exchanging of gifts!

This year, one side of our family has elected to give completely homemade gifts. While the details of my gifts are still a secret, I highly recommend you consider homemade gifts this year. Rather than spending money on little trinkets or stocking stuffers that will be appreciated but then tossed aside by your friends and family, why not offer them something they can enjoy immediately whilst appreciating the time and effort that you, their loved one, put into it? Enter: baking.

Given the aforementioned busyness of the season, I understand if you don’t have tons of hours to devote to whipping up treats in your kitchen. That’s why I’m here to provide a few relatively easy homemade food gifts that you can put together in a few hours.

First up: cinnamon sugar pretzels. It truly doesn’t get easier than this. These pretzels have the addicting salty sweet combination that will leave your gift recipients begging for the recipe! Make a few batches, place in clear plastic treat bags (available at the dollar store), and tie with a festive ribbon!

Cinnamon Pretzels

Ingredients:

-2/3 cup vegetable oil

-1/2 cup sugar

-2 tsp ground cinnamon

-1 16 oz. package small pretzel twists

 

Directions:

1. In a large roasting pan, stir together vegetable oil, sugar, and cinnamon.

2. Add pretzels to the pan and toss to coat completely with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

3. Bake, uncovered, at 300F for 30 minutes, stirring at 10 minutes and 20 minutes.

4. Spread on waxed paper to cool and store in an airtight container.

Or what about a three-ingredient recipe? Think you can handle that? I know you can! These mint oreo truffles have few ingredients but a major taste! Top these with holiday sprinkles for a perfectly seasonal treat!

 

Mint Oreo Truffles

Ingredients:

-1 package Mint Oreos

-1 package  (8 oz) cream cheese

-1/2 package chocolate almond bark

 

Directions:

1. In a food processor (or by hand in a ziploc bag), pulse Oreos until crumbs. Add cream cheese, mixing until completely combined.

2. Place Oreo cream cheese mixture in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to stiffen slightly. Remove from freezer and roll mixture into 1-inch balls.

3. Melt almond bark in a microwaveable bowl, heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring. Dip balls into melted bark. Place on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Top with sprinkles if desired. Allow to harden and store in refrigerator or freezer until serving. (if giving as gifts, bag them and store in fridge until you give them away)

Do you have a little extra time on your hands? Impress your friends with candy cane cookies. Though they look like candy canes they’re actually flavored with almond extract—and make for a cookie that is both delicious and appealing to the eye! Because these are slightly more breakable, place on a plate and wrap in plastic wrap with a bow to give away!

Who do you still need gifts for? Your children’s teachers? The mailman? Your chiropractor? Your next-door neighbor? Make one of these simple treats and show them you care!

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