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Homemade Holiday Treats

By Kim Robson:

This is the perfect time of year to hole up inside a warm kitchen and make goodies for family and friends. I especially enjoy puttering around the kitchen during football games. Right now I’m working on making acorn meal from all the nuts I collected over the past couple of months. Other winter baking projects include those listed here:

hot-apple-ciderMulled Apple Cider

Mulling apple cider makes the house smell amazing, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as sipping the spicy warm brew in front of a fire. It couldn’t be simpler to make: simply add mulling spices to some apple cider in a pan and simmer on low until fragrant. You can make your own mulling spices by combining cinnamon, allspice, cloves, dried orange peel and star anise. Or you can buy pre-blended mulling spices online. You can use these mulling spices to make mulled wine, too, for the grown-ups to enjoy.

peanutbuttersnowballsNo-Bake Snowballs

Kids and adults alike will love these nutritious gluten-free No-Bake Snowballs. With only four pantry staple ingredients (peanut butter, honey, oats, and shredded coconut), and zero oven time, they’re easy enough for children to make without supervision.

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are all acceptable substitutions)
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Combine the peanut butter, honey and oats in a large bowl. Place the coconut in a separate bowl.

Work the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the coconut until coated.

Chill before serving. Store in fridge in an airtight container.

candied-walnuts-1Candied Spiced Nuts

I make several batches of these every year. Placed in a nice mason jar or decorative tin, they make inexpensive and easy homemade holiday gifts — perfect for gifting to teachers, delivery people, co-workers, friends and family. If you can keep from eating them all yourself!

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups walnut halves and pieces (almonds and pecans also work great)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

In a bowl, combine the egg white and water. Whisk until foamy. Add nuts and stir to coat. Drain nuts in a colander for a minute or two.

Using a Ziploc bag, combine the dry ingredients and shake to mix. Add the nuts. Close bag and shake to coat the nuts.

Spread nuts out on baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, stirring to break nuts apart. Don’t worry if they stick to the foil – they’ll peel right off.

Store in an airtight container.

Vintage Pie-in-a-Pumpkin

I’ve had fun with pie pumpkins in the past, making this delicious roasted cheesy pumpkin. But I just heard about this fun idea for a new/old take on pumpkin pie. For the first American Thanksgiving, the pumpkin pie Pilgrims made didn’t look anything like the pumpkin pie we eat today.

  • 1 pie pumpkin (make sure it’s a “pie pumpkin,” which is intended for consumption)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, allspice)
  • (2) 12-ounce cans evaporated milk

Cut off top and scoop out the guts. Loosely cover in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until fork-tender. (A 15-pound pumpkin took about 2 hours. Adjust for size.) Use a ladle to remove any moisture that may have collected inside.

Whisk remaining ingredients and pour custard mixture into pumpkin. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another hour or until custard firms.

Slice right through the pumpkin just like a pie. It makes a gorgeous presentation, with the white pumpkin-spice-flavored custard layered inside creamy roasted orange squash. Delicious and nutritious, and guaranteed to be a show-stopper!


About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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