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Not a creature was stirring ... Don't look now, but here comes Christmas

 

With cherries dipped in chocolate for bodies, and Hershey kisses for heads, these little Christmas mice can fill a party tray or be wrapped as individual treats. The mouse pictured was posted by thewednesdaybaker.blogspot.com.

With cherries dipped in chocolate for bodies, and Hershey kisses for heads, these little Christmas mice can fill a party tray or be wrapped as individual treats. The mouse pictured was posted by thewednesdaybaker.blogspot.com. Photo by: thewednesdaybaker.blogspot.com

 

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Strawberry Santas are simple to make and sure to draw oohs and aahs. Whipped cream, icing or cream cheese can be used as filling.

Strawberry Santas are simple to make and sure to draw oohs and aahs. Whipped cream, icing or cream cheese can be used as filling.
Photo by: leannebakes.com

 

Who can resist Rudolph, especially one that delivers on both sweet and salty?

Who can resist Rudolph, especially one that delivers on both sweet and salty?
Photo by: geniuskitchen.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

November isn't even quite out the door, and here I am touting Christmas goodies. My rule of waiting until we flip the calendar to December to talk of Yuletide has fallen to an onslaught. The past few days' parade of holiday TV programming, round-the-clock holiday radio, the Columbus tree lighting and one Golden Triangle parade already behind us have hurried things along. Plus, the aforementioned calendar reveals it's only three and a half weeks 'til Christmas. Yikes. 

 

So here we are, scouting around for simple ideas to help time-strapped elves. Some may be hosts planning a luncheon or party, others are parents making something for the classroom or neighbors wanting to share a touch of cheer. One was a teacher who posted at geniuskitchen.com, where the Christmas Mice recipe comes from. She made a mouse for each of her students. She placed each chocolatey critter on half an opened double-stuffed Oreo -- "snow" -- then placed it in a white muffin paper. Each little mouse was then wrapped in Saran wrap and tied off with ribbon. 

 

Strawberry Santas are billed as being especially easy. The recipe calls for whipped cream, but icing or cream cheese would work, too, and would probably travel better, if you're not serving these at home. Be sure to keep Santa cool until serving. 

 

Both the young and young at heart can enjoy whimsical Rudolph cookies. The recipe says use halved gumdrops for the nose, but red M&Ms could do the job, too. And because every holiday gathering should have a suitably special beverage, below is also a recipe for an apple spice punch made with cloves and cinnamon -- aromas to add to the ambiance. 

 

Yes, it may still be November, but the calendar waits for no one. Embrace the season ahead, simplify where possible and savor what comes.  

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS MICE 

 

Time: 30 minutes 

 

Makes 2 pounds of mice 

 

 

 

1 pound cherries, with stems 

 

1 pound Hershey chocolate kiss 

 

Semi-sweet chocolate chips, for melting 

 

Sliced almonds 

 

Icing or red-hot candies (for eyes and nose) 

 

 

 

  • Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler and dip a cherry into the chocolate, holding by the stem ("tail"). 

     

  • Set cherry on its side on waxed paper. This is the mouse's body and tail. 

     

  • While chocolate it still gooey, "glue" on a Hershey's kiss to the mouse's body, with the bottom of the kiss touching the cherry and the pointy part pointing out, the opposite direction that the tail is pointing. 

     

  • Add sliced almonds in the seam for ears. 

     

  • Decorate with icing or red hots for eyes and nose. Repeat with the rest of the cherries. 

     

    (Source: geniuskitchen.com/Sayster) 

     

     

     

    SANTA STRAWBERRIES 

     

     

     

    1 dozen strawberries 

     

    1 cup whipped cream 

     

    Handful of chocolate sprinkles 

     

     

     

  • Using a paring knife, slice the leafy end off each strawberry so they stand up evenly. Then slice the tip off to make a little hat. 

     

  • Using a spoon or a large icing tip, place a large dollop (about 1-2 teaspoons) of whipped cream on top of the strawberry base. Plop the little hat on top. Add another small dollop of whipped cream to the tip of the hat to make a mock pom-pom. 

     

  • Place two chocolate sprinkles in the Santa's "face" for the eyes. Using a toothpick, place two very small splotches of whipped cream down the front of the strawberry for buttons. You're done! It's that easy. If you don't eat them right away, store them in the fridge to keep them cold. Santa doesn't do well with heat. 

     

    (Source: leannebakes.com) 

     

     

     

    RUDOLPH COOKIES 

     

    Time: 30 minutes  

     

    Makes 32 

     

     

     

    1 (16 1/2 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough 

     

    1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

     

    1 cup vanilla frosting 

     

    64 small pretzel twists 

     

    64 semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup) 

     

    16 gumdrops, cut in half 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 

     

  • In a large bowl, break up cookie dough, and work flour into dough until well blended. 

     

  • Shape dough into triangle-shaped log. (If dough is too soft, place in freezer for 30 minutes). 

     

  • With a thin sharp knife, cut dough into 32 (1/4 inch) triangular slices. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-11 minutes or until set. 

     

  • Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then move from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely. Frost cookies with frosting. 

     

  • Place 2 pretzel twists at the top , near the corners for antlers. 

     

  • Lightly press 2 chocolate chips into each cookie for eyes and 1 halved gum drop for the nose. Store in between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. 

     

    (Source: geniuskitchen.com/French Tart) 

     

     

     

    APPLE SPICE PUNCH 

     

    Time: 17 minutes 

     

    Serves 6 

     

     

     

    1 1/2 liters apple juice (not from concentrate) 

     

    8 whole cloves 

     

    2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half 

     

    1 pinch ground allspice 

     

    1/4 cup apple, crisps (to garnish) (optional) 

     

     

     

  • Place apple juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks and allspice into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

     

  • After 15 minutes, take off the heat and leave to cool completely with the cinnamon and cloves still in the pan. Once cool, discard cinnamon sticks and cloves and decant into a bottle/jug (with a lid). Apple spice punch will keep in the fridge for one week and can be served warm or chilled. 

     

    (Source: geniuskitchen.com/anniesnomsblog)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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