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Print Exclusive: Gifts created from the kitchen can speak more from the heart

Dec. 05, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Christmas gifts from the kitchen are more personal, thoughtful and sometimes inexpensive.

Not only are they homemade, but these gifts are signed and sealed with love before wrapped in colored cellophane or decorative freezer bags, holiday boxes or tins to be delivered to that special someone.

This recipe is from "PocketChangeGourmet.com:"

CHEX PARTY MIX

2 cups Rice Chex cereal

2 cups Corn Chex cereal

2 cups Wheat Chex cereal

3/4 cup mixed nuts

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In very large bowl, add cereals and nuts. Melt butter or margarine. Stir in sauce and salt. Pour over cereal mixture. Spread mix onto large cookie sheet. Bake 30-45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through.

This shortbread is provided by "Southern Living:"

PECAN TOFFEE SHORTBREAD

2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in single layer in shallow pan 8-10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 15 minutes). Beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Stir together next two ingredients; gradually add to butter, beating at low speed until well blended. Stir together flour and salt; gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Add vanilla and 1 cup pecans, beating at low speed just until blended. Turn dough out onto lightly-greased baking sheet; pat or roll dough into 11- by 14-inch rectangle, leaving at least 1-inch border on all sides of baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack; sprinkle shortbread with chocolate morsels. Let stand 5 minutes; gently spread melted morsels over shortbread. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup pecans; let cool completely (about one hour). Cut or break shortbread into 2-3 inch pieces.

These recipes are from "Family Circle:"

MARBLED WALNUT FUDGE

3 cups white chocolate chips

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line 13- by 9- by 2-inch pan with nonstick foil. Combine white chocolate chips and one can of condensed milk in medium saucepan. Combine semisweet chips and remaining condensed milk in different saucepan. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to each pan. Heat both over medium-low heat until chocolates are melted and smooth, about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pans from heat; stir 1/2 cup chopped walnuts into each. Add vanilla to semisweet chocolate mixture. Spoon alternate mounds of chocolate mixtures into prepared pan. Swirl together with knife. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm, then left from pan with foil and cut into squares.

CHUNKY SALSA

3 pounds plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced

1 (20-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 medium onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 (5.5-ounce) can tomato juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

In eight-quart pot, combine all ingredients, except black beans. Bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in beans; cook 5 minutes. Cool; spoon into jars. To give as gift, pair with tortilla chips and include chip-and-dip bowl, if desired. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.

These "sweet treats" are furnished by "Taste of Home:"

GRANDMA'S OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

2 cups raisins, chopped

2 cups boiling water

3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

21/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups old-fashioned oats

11/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped walnuts

Place raisins in small bowl. Cover with boiling water; let stand 5 minutes. Drain; set aside. In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Combine next four ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Flatten with glass. Bake at 325 degrees 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are browned. Remove to wire racks.

CREAM-FILLED CHOCOLATE SUPREME MUFFINS

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup baking cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups cold water

3/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FILLING

1 (4-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons beaten egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Confectioners' sugar, optional

In large bowl, combine first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine next five ingredients. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. For filling: beat first three ingredients until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Fold in chips. Fill 12 paper-lined jumbo muffin cups half full with batter. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of cream cheese mixture into center of each; cover with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

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