The December Holiday issue of Recipes Express is here. Wishing you a very wonderful season and fantastic new year!

December 15, 2004
Issue #011

*******Table of Contents:*******

1. Make Your Own Ornaments
2. Have a Healthy Holiday
3. Get Organized with a Holiday Planner


1.Make Your Own Ornaments and Gifts This Holiday

Christmas is a time of giving, however, this pressure to give gifts can cause many financial woes for families on a tight budget. Make Christmas special and unleash your creativity. During this busy season, set aside an arts and crafts night for the whole family to make Christmas ornaments and gifts.

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Bake some quick breads such as pumpkin, banana, raspberry, or zucchini. Cover with colored celaphane, and tie with a ribbon.
2) Pop some popcorn and flavor with parmasean cheese or caramel. Fill a decorated tin.
3) Roast nuts and fill a glass jar.
4) Make your own ornaments such as dough ornaments (see recipe below) and cranberry and popcorn garlands.

Try these recipes with your children and watch them have fun and take pride in making their own ornaments and gifts:

Easy Dough Ornaments

1 cup warm water
1 cup salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cups flour

Dissolve salt in warm water. Next add oil and stir. Stir in flour. Turn out dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes.

Roll out dough and cut out shapes with Christmas cookie cutters (gingerbread man, stars, bells, hearts, etc.). Take a sewing needle and prick all over each ornamen to make sure it doesn't puff up in the oven. Make a hole in the top of each ornament.

Place ornaments on cookie sheet covered with foil. Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 220F for 1 1/2 hours (or until hard). Remove from oven and cool.

Cover ornaments with craft varnish to seal and shine. Tie yarn or ribbon through hole for hanging. Tie strips of fabric or rafia around each gingerbread man. You can also hang cookie cutters on the tree using strips of fabric.

The following recipes make delicious and inexpensive Christmas gifts. Pour the mixtures into gift tins or decorative glass jars decorated by your child and tied with a lovely Christmas ribbon or bow.

Sugared Almonds

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 stick butter
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds

Stir together sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer without stirring (but do not cover) until it is like sticky candy (when a teaspoon dropped into a cup of cold water can form a soft ball).

Remove from heat. Then stir in almonds until the sugar mixture begins to crystalize. Then stir over low heat until the almonds turn golden and are fully coated (about 5 minutes). Next add butter and stir until melted.

Spoon the almonds onto a large cookie sheet separating the almonds with a fork and spoon while they're still hot. Let cool.

Keep in an airtight container in a cold, dry place for up to two weeks. Delicious treat! Perfect for the holidays.

Instant Spiced Tea Mix

1 cup Tang powdered orange drink
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup instant tea
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix ingredients together and store in airtight containers. Include a card with these instructions: Add 1 to 2 heaping spoonfuls of this mix to 1 cup of hot water.

Instant Hot Chocolate Mix

1 pound powdered sugar
14 ounces dry powdered instant milk
1 pound Nestle's Quick (or other chocolate mix)
11 ounces powdered creamer

Mix together and store in airtight containers. Include a card with the instructions: Add 2 to 3 heaping spoonfuls of mix to 1 cup of hot water.

2. Have a Healhty Holiday

For some healthy eating strategies this holiday time, click here to read my recent article.

3. Time to Get Organized

Having trouble getting organized during this busy season? I highly recommend the Get Organized Now! "Holiday Planner." It's loaded with forms, checklists, logs and information sheets to help you get organized for the holidays. Or look ahead for the new year with "Finally Organized, Finally Free."

Find more information by clicking here.

Happy Holidays and Happy Kid Cooking!

Clarissa, mom chef
Easy Kids Recipes


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