From my December column in the Petaluma Post. A little dated... until the holidays are back!
The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! Actually by the time you read this they will be here and on top of us. The month of December seems to roll by so fast with family, friends and business events. Then you have the shopping, gifts, gifts ,gifts. All of a sudden someone gives you a gift you did not expect, or you are invited to someone’s home and need that hostess gift. What if you had a couple of recipes that you could make in advance, package, and have ready? They are also great for those teacher and coworkers gifts.
We have all baked lots of cookies and bars, but you can’t have them ready at hand because of the dual threats of needing them fresh, and hubby eating them. Over the past few years I have been making a sour cream coffee cake that freezes great. Just wrap well and pull it out when you need a gift. It is also great to put aside for Christmas morning.
6 Tbl butter
2/3 cup flout
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse till crumbly, then set aside. This recipe is also a great topping for pies instead of the top crust.
1¾ cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup vegetable oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients, and mix till smooth. Finally, add to dry ingredients, mixing until well incorporated.
Place 2/3 of the batter into an 8” cake or bundt pan, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and about half of the crumble topping. Add the remaining batter and top with rest of the crumble and cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 325 degree for approximately 45 minutes, till a tooth pick comes out clean.
This recipe translates great to anything. You can use any pan you like, it doubles and triples well. At the catering company we make it ten times this recipe for our use. There are great paper pans available that are oil lined and ready to give away, available at Sur La Table and other gourmet kitchen stores.
Feel free to add your personal touch, cranberries, chocolate chip or more.
Another unexpected favorite of my friends is homemade granola. Make ahead and put in mason jars with a bow ready to go. If you don’t give it all away it is a great way to start out the New Year. It is a great recipe to make with your kids
8 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts- your choice- sliced almonds, pecans. Walnuts
2 cups seeds- your choice -pumpkin, sunflowers, other
¼ cup poppy seeds
1 T cinnamon
½ cup oil
1 cup honey
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups dried fruits
Combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon, and mix well. Then combine the oil, honey and extracts, warming slightly till the honey is thin; drizzle over dry mixture and stir till well combined. Place on cookie sheets, toast at 350 degree, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes till golden. Approximately four times, depending on depth. Allow to cool completely, then add the dry fruit. Pack in mason jars for gifts.
Let the kids add their favorite dried fruits, cherries, cranberries, golden raisins, chopped up dried apricots.
Mason Jars are really in and with the cold nights what about a ready to go soup in a jar?
Split Pea & Barley Soup
½ cup dried barley
½ cup split peas
2 Tbl minced onions
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbl granulated Garlic
2 Tbl chicken bouillon granules
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup macaroni - your favorite
Layer each of the ingredients in a 1 quart mason jar, finishing with the macaroni as the last layer. Seal with the lid. Add a nice ribbon and a gift card that says “Add contents to 2 qt water, simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Optional add ins celery, carrots and canned tomatoes. Enjoy”
Don’t ever think twice about a jar of jam or jelly. I remember one year my niece and nephew got assorted jars and they thought it was the best gift. In this age of long hours and being pulled many ways, a homemade gift shows that you care.