Holiday gifts from the kitchen come straight from your heart

Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Cherry Brittle Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Cherry Brittle

Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Cherry Brittle

So, Christmas is fast approaching and there are still a few names on your list that haven’t been checked off. If you’re stuck for present ideas, consider making some.

I’ve been making jams and jellies, relishes, candies and cookies and other goodies for gift-giving since I was about 12. I find that aunts and uncles, grandparents and even my parents have so much stuff. It’s hard to get them something they really need, so I send food. It won’t clutter up their house and it’s really appreciated, especially around the holidays when everyone is so busy.

My stepfather loves to grill and he gets steaks. Maple syrup finds its way to my relatives in Florida who miss New England. I even sent lobsters once. But, I also like to make cookies, truffles, spiced or candied nuts, and breads to share with friends, co-workers and relatives closer to home. For those who love to cook, I make herbal vinegars and sauces like the Apple Mustard Glaze.

Get some pretty tins, waxed paper, colorful tissue, ribbons or raffia and make up some pretty packages for gift-giving this year. It always gets me in the holiday spirit and everyone appreciates it.

If you want a more impressive gift, buy an elegant dish, plate or basket at a local store to hold your treats. Wrap it in clear wrap with a ribbon and maybe a sprig of holly.

Toll House Famous Fudge 

Makes 48 pieces

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup (5-ounce can) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full, rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon (or other heavy spoon) for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

For milk chocolate fudge, substitute 1 3/4 cups (11.5-ounce package) Nestlé Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels for semi-sweet morsels.

For butterscotch fudge, substitute 1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) Nestlé Toll House Butterscotch Flavored Morsels for semi-sweet morsels.

Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Cherry Brittle 

Makes about 8 cups

10-ounce container mixed nuts

4 to 5 cups popped popcorn

8 ounces dried sour cherries*

4 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon large sea salt crystals, for sprinkling

Lightly oil a large baking sheet; set aside. In a large bowl, combine nuts, popcorn and sour cherries; mix well.

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water; bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat. Add butter; cook, without stirring, until caramel reaches a temperature of 300°F, about 8 minutes.

Carefully remove from heat; immediately pour over popcorn mixture. Wearing an oven mitt, and using a wooden spoon, stir well to make sure that each nut and popcorn kernel is coated. Quickly pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; press, with back of wooden spoon, to make it as even as possible; sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool slightly.

Using a heavy sharp knife, score brittle into squares, or let brittle sit and use a small hammer to break into pieces.

* You can substitute dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots for the sour cherries, if desired.

Apple Mustard Glaze

Makes 3/4 cup


2 cups apple juice

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard

Pour apple juice into medium saucepan, add cloves and cinnamon stick. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Cool; remove and discard cloves and cinnamon stick. Blend cooled syrup with mustard. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator until ready to serve.

A 2 tablespoon serving has 60 calories, 0 fat and 480 mg sodium.

— From Mott’s

 

Visit Lynda Rego on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lynda.rego where she shares tips on cooking, books, gardening, genealogy and other topics. Click on Like and share ideas for upcoming stories.

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