Listener ?: Gifts from the kitchen
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A few baking tips and food gift ideas:

 -You can replace at least ˝ the fat (oil, butter, margarine, shortening) in quick bread and muffin recipes, pancakes and waffles, and dips and salad dressings with non-fat or low fat plain yogurt.

 -Cheesecake is baked when it is still jiggly but not soupy. The top of the cheesecake will jiggle as a whole and the center two inches will look soft. Do not stick a knife or a toothpick in the center, as it may cause the top to crack as it cools.

 -Accidents happen.  If you over bake your cake/cheesecake, serve with lightly sweetened fruit puree (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry), caramel sauce or fudge sauce.

 -Traveling with your baked goods: 

  • Cookies- in a sturdy lidded container; stand them on their sides instead of on top of each other, packing them snuggly together so they won’t shift around and break.
  • Anything iced- I see lots of people sticking toothpicks in the baked items and covering them with plastic.  Iced items don’t need to be covered until they are cut into, so you can simply place your plate in a box that the plate fits snuggly in.  Even a picnic basket will work.  Use a piece of the “no slip” drawer material under the plate or box to keep it from sliding around. 
  • Perishable/melt able items- if you are going long distances keep the items cool by placing reusable ice cubes on the bottom of an ice chest and then place of piece of cardboard on top of the ice cubes, then your plate or box of goodies. 

 -Keep food gifts simple.  People eat with their eyes first, so the key is to have a neat and tidy presentation more than giving a huge assortment/quantity. 

 -Give a coupon for a cooking/baking/decorating lesson.  Cooking together is fun and it encourages the trying of new foods/recipes.

 -Food gifts don’t have to be sweet: homemade bread, home canned anything, homemade soup

 -Food baskets with a theme: customize with the person in mind, choose a nice basket that can be re-used and wrap with festive plastic wrap and curling ribbon. Make sure to let the gift recipient know if there are perishable items in the basket.  Some ideas: ethnic (Italian- pasta, spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese, the makings for garlic bread, Mexican- taco shells, salsa, fresh avocado and tomato, etc), breakfast (bacon, biscuits, fresh fruits, etc), candy/cookie.  I like this gift because it introduces different food items and tastes that otherwise might not be tried or purchased. 

-Include the recipe with the food gift.  New recipes are always welcome. 


Buckeye Bars

 Mix together 3 c powdered sugar, 8 T softened butter and 2 c peanut butter.  Stir in 3 c crisped rice cereal.  Press very firmly into a 8” or 9” foil lined pan.  Melt 1˝ c chocolate chips with 3 T vegetable oil (in defrost mod: microwave 1 minute, stir, microwave 1 more minute).  Spread melted chocolate on top of the peanut butter mixture.  Chill for 2 hours.  Remove from pan by lifting at the edges of the foil.  Cut into 1” squares.  Makes 25 (8” pan) to 36 (9” pan)



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