Lee's Kitchen: Three easy recipes for spreading holiday cheer

This is certainly stressful time of year for many of us.

I am lucky that my kitchen has lots of counter space and two ovens (although one is much smaller than the other). I love to make food presents for the holidays. And maybe you, too, want to give gifts to your children’s teachers, bus drivers, post office people, next door neighbors and those who are hosting parties.

Three of these recipes can be made right now and will hold for Christmas. Only the herbed cheese should be refrigerated. To make them pretty, all you need are Mason (or Ball or Kerr) jars. Most “big box” stores and hardware shops carry these jars. Most come with labels, too.

I will be making lots of these. I stuff little inexpensive baskets with tissue paper to hold the jars. Maybe next year I will add homemade pure vanilla extract, but mine won’t be ready until May.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

 

1 quart-sized Mason jar

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Three-quarter teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Beginning in the bottom of the jar, layer the flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, firmly packed brown sugar and the chocolate chips. Cover. The mix will keep in a cool, dry dark place for up to 6 months.

Write the recipe (below) and attach it to the jar.

“Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, add 3/4 cup room-temperature butter, 1 large egg and 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Add cookie mix, breaking up clumps. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, then put cookies on a wire rack. Cool completely (if you can). Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

 

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Herbed Cheese Spread

Yield: 3 cups

 

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

 

In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth; season to taste. Transfer to jars; refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

 

***

 

Chocolate Syrup

From my grandparents’ recipe served in the soda shop of their grocery in the 1920s in Troy, New York

 

4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 sprinkle of salt

In a saucepan, mix cocoa and sugar together. Add boiling water and, stirring often, heat until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and salt; let cool. Add to jars and cover.

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