By: Cheryl Radkiewicz
No matter how many weeks we have between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it never seems enough to get ready for the big day.
Many of us wish for a holiday of simpler times, rather than such extravagant gift-giving, which has become the norm. We’re all pressed for time, yes, even some of us retired baby boomers.
Some quick thoughts about gift giving this year. Look at your copy of The Dunmorean. Why not a gift certificate from Socafe’, which specializes in coffee roasting and grinding, or from one of our advertiser restaurants, such as La Cucina, Ragnacci’s, Carmella’s, and Nardozzi’s Pizza?
While you’re at La Cucina, pick up some of their house made dressings. House, Caesar, Asiago Dill, or Poppy Seed…or put a few in a basket for a super gift. Think of creating a “Dunmore Basket”.
Years past people always made something by hand as gifts…such as a knitted or crocheted item…or a special recipe. This holiday I’m going to share some wonderful “make and give” items for you to use as gifts. All are easy to prepare. Get your jars ready!
1-14 oz. can whole tomatoes, chopped, not drained
4 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. ketchup
6 drops of hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
In saucepan on medium heat mix all ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer for 2 hours or until cooked to a thick sauce. Serve with cream cheese and crackers or as a vegetable side dish. Yield: 3-4 cups.
For this recipe, you can pack it in small jars. Actually, you can buy a holiday tray, place a jar of this on the tray with a box of crackers and a block or carton of cream cheese…wrap in cellophane, tie with bow and you’ll be the hit of the party!
NOTE: You can divide this up into 2 -cup portions to use as either two gifts or one for you and one for giving.
Here’s another jarred dessert sauce which lasts forever, and I mean forever, in your refrigerator.
Brandy Walnut Sauce:
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup water
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup walnut halves
In medium saucepan combine brown sugar with 1 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup brandy and walnut halves. Let cool. To store: Pour into glass jar or plastic refrigerator container.
Store tightly covered, in refrigerator for weeks, even months. Sauce improves in flavor as it mellows. To serve, heat sauce over low heat and pour into serving bowl or spoon over ice cream. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
NOTE: You can also add chopped dates to this, if desired.
This was a favorite recipe I got when I did my student teaching at Cedar Cliff in Camp Hill many moons ago! (Yes, I’m a “food nerd”, been collecting recipes since a child).
Creamy Garlic Dressing:
1 pt. mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Duke’s)
1 pt. sour cream
1/2 cup oil (Canola)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup minced onion
Combine all ingredients. Makes 1 quart. Can use as a salad dressing or as a dip for fresh veggies.
1 jar green manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos
1 can black olives
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Few teaspoons of canola or olive oil
Put all ingredients in food processor. Store in small jar in refrigerator. Spread on tiny baguettes or crackers.
NOTE: I made this for the Dunmore Senior Citizens when I did a cooking demonstration for them a few year ago. It was a big hit.
Deviled Ham Dip:
1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2-4 1/2 oz. cans deviled ham
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce, to taste
1 cup sour cream
1/2 jar stuffed green olives, chopped
Combine cream cheese, deviled ham, mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce, blending well until smooth. Stir in sour cream and olives. Refrigerate, covered. Can store in jars. Serve with crackers, raw veggies or baguettes.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some thoughts on “jarred” gifts for the holiday. I have made all of the above numerous times and they are always in demand at my house…true favorites. So enjoy!
Merry Christmas from our house to yours!