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December 1, 2001

Christmas from the Heart....back to simpler times.....when we were young we always made gifts for giving. Maybe it is time to step back and make Christmas this year just a little bit easier. Have a memory making day in your kitchen with your children this year with "Gifts from your Kitchen".

Is Christmas coming faster than you want it to? Are you still trying to figure out your gift list? You don't know what to get Aunt Susie, she's already got everything right? How about gifts you can make in your kitchen?

Okay here's what you do....Plan on spending part of the day in the kitchen. Get a list together of what you want to put in your baskets. How about a basket made up of Caramel Nut Cake with Julia Child's Caramel Sauce, a few bags of Hot Cocoa Mix, Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Mix and some Double Fudge Brownie Mix? A Christmas Mug filled with Hot Cocoa Mix and Chocolate Spoons or a Peppermint stick for stirring is always a comfort on a cold winter night. Or perhaps a Tin filled with Taco Seasoning Mix, Your own Chili Blend, Lemon Pepper, and then add some store bought spices that have the grinders on the top for fresh spices you grind as you use them.

Do you have a cookie lover in your life? Make them a basket with 4-5 cookie mixes, throw in a few potholders, cookie cutters and maybe a new spatula. The great thing about these baskets is that they can be as simple or as extravagant as you like. If you have 4 or 5 people that you can give the baskets to, make enough of each recipe so that you get all done at the same time. If the kids are helping let them pack down the layers while you measure. You'll be done in no time.

When you get the jars done and need tags or toppers for the bags, go to the Artists Cafe. Artists Cafe just opened and they've made lots of goodies for you to use for the Holidays. Print as many of the Tags or Recipe Cards as you need and tie with a ribbon. For the jars you can cut a circle of fabric just slightly larger than the top before you add the ribbon to dress it up just a bit more. 

There are also more Jar and Mix Recipes in the General Store. http://www.thatsmyhome.com/general.htm
Artists Cafe is now open. There are 5 really talented graphic artists that are now offering their graphics. There are Recipe Cards, Bag Toppers, Cards for Mixes in a Jar and Gift Tags. Print out all you need for your personal use only. They look really good if you use a slightly heavier grade paper than you might normally use for printing. If you are looking for Kitchen Page Sets for web site design, there are links to their sites so that you can see all they have to offer.

Zesty Cranberry Nut Sweet Rolls

1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted pecans or walnuts
6 Tablespoons butter (softened)
zest of one orange finely diced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Bring orange juice to boil and pour over cranberries. Let stand for 10 minutes. Strain and save liquid. Heat butter with buttermilk until warm (not more than 115F.) Place in mixing bowl; add eggs, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix. Add flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Add nuts and cranberries; and distribute evenly throughout the dough. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn dough over to coat. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double - about 1 hour. Divide in half.

Roll one half into a 12" x 8" rectangle. Smooth 3 tablespoons softened butter on dough. Sprinkle with one-half of the orange zest and 1/4 cup sugar. Roll up from long side. Seal seam. Cut 12 even slices. Place rolls cut side down into greased 9" x 1 1/2" round baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover. (Each pan of rolls can be refrigerated at this point for up to four days.) Let rise till double - about 30 minutes. For a creamier roll drizzle 1/4 cup heavy cream over each pan of rolls. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Drizzle with icing. Makes 24 rolls.

Crab Puffs

1 lb. fresh crab meat, flaked
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 T. sour cream
1 egg
1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
3 T. finely chopped onion
2 T. finely chopped red bell pepper
2 T. finely chopped celery
1/4 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. salt
Up to 1/3 C. fine, dry bread crumbs
2/3 cup cracker meal
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine crab meat, mayonnaise, sour cream, egg, Tabasco, onion, red pepper, celery, Old Bay seasoning, paprika, cayenne, mustard, garlic and onion powder, and salt. Mix well. Add bread crumbs until mixture holds its shape.
Using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each serving, shape into a ball; coat evenly with cracker crumbs and place on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Refrigerate until chilled, approximately 1 hour.
In a Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of about 3 inches and heat to 375F. Fry balls a few at a time until golden.
Drain on a paper towel. Reheat just before serving, either in a microwave or conventional oven.

Some Tips for sending Cookies in the Mail

Pick cookies that are 1/4 inch thick for mailing. Don't pick soft or fragile cookies for shipping.

Avoid cookies that have points such as stars, or reindeer. If they break in shipping, your recipient may get crumbs. A better risk for shipping are snowmen or bells. Gingerbread men ship well if you use a cutter that has the arms close to the body.

Wrap each cookie separately or 2 back to back to minimize breakage.

Separate layers with wax paper or saran wrap. I really like thin bubble wrap best.

Pack the container of cookies to be mailed in a sturdy, corrugated box with plenty of room for a cushion of filler (popcorn, Styrofoam pellets, or plastic bubble-wrap). Pad the bottom of the box with several inches of filler; add the container of cookies, then more filler around the sides and on top.
Military Mailing Deadlines

Dec. 4 is the recommended deadline for Parcel Air Lift Mail with a maximum weight of 30 pounds to arrive by Christmas.

Dec. 11 is the recommended deadline for sending priority packages to arrive by Christmas. This includes APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090-098, APO/FPO AA ZIPs 340 and APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962-966.

For suggestions on care packages, try: www.militarycarepackages.org   Because of security concerns, all mail must be addressed to a specific individual. Letters and cards of holiday good wishes addressed to "Any Service Member'' are not being accepted. Service members, like Americans everywhere, have received instructions not to open letters or packages not specifically addressed to them or from people they do not know.

Christmas Cookie Baking Tips

Use parchment paper instead of greasing the cookie sheets. It's widely available and can be reused throughout a batch. It saves you only a paltry amount of calories, but helps keep the cookies from getting too browned on the bottom.

Remember that cookies continue to bake as they sit on the cookie sheets out of the oven. Unless your recipe recommends otherwise, transfer cookies from the cookie sheets to wire racks within 2 to 3 minutes of coming out of the oven.

Double-check to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients before beginning.

There is now a Lost and Found recipe section on the front page. If you have a recipe you've been looking for and can't find anywhere, please post the recipe on

. If you request isn't answered, I'll add it to the column to see if we can find it for you. If you have a recipe someone is looking for, will you please share it? Thanks a lot, the person searching will greatly appreciate it.


Printing Tip

If you don't want to print the entire page, Left Click with your mouse to highlight the text you want. Then go to File, Print and check Selection. You will then only get the recipe you want.


I hope you have enjoyed this edition of our newsletter. Next edition we'll be talking about party appetizers. The cookie swap in http://www.razzledazzlerecipes Holidays is still going on. The deadline for submissions is December 15th. Send in your favorite Christmas Cookie or Candy Recipe.

Happy Holidays!
Mary Ellen



I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
Charles Dickens

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That's My Home & Razzle Dazzle Recipes 2001