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Bonnie Aeschliman: Easy, tasty recipes for Christmas entertaining

  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at 8:45 p.m.

Caramel Corn

7 quarts plain popped popcorn

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups dry roasted peanuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the popped popcorn into two large shallow greased baking pans such as roasting pan or jelly roll pans. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Place brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil while stirring blend ingredients. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda, peanuts and vanilla. The baking soda will make the mixture light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don’t worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.

Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans and stirring every 15 minutes.

Line the counter top with parchment paper or waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the paper and separate the pieces with a fork. Allow to cool completely. It will be sticky while still hot but will crisp and dry when cooled.

For gift giving, fill cellophane bags with caramel corn and tie with a festive bow. Or fill a pretty jar with the caramel corn and add a festive label and a bow.

Any extra may be stored in a zippered plastic bag and will keep for several days.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Dec. 19, 2012

Cranberry-White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

11/2 cups oats

1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Gradually add flour mixture, mixing it in thoroughly. Add rolled oats, white chocolate chips, dried cranberries and walnuts; mix to blend.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Shape dough into balls about the size of large walnuts; dip each into cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place balls on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden. Cool cookies on wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Dec. 19, 2012

Spiced Mixed Nuts with Rosemary

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

11/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

3 cups mixed nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter with dried rosemary, salt, and cayenne. Pour this mixture over mixed nuts, tossing to coat them. Bake the nuts on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For gift giving, fill a pretty stemmed glass with nuts, wrap in cellophane and tie with a festive ribbon.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Dec. 19, 2012

With Christmas fast approaching, there is much to be done. Our calendar is filled with special school programs, church activities and parties. Still many of us enjoy taking the time to make special treats for those we hold dear. Great pleasure comes from getting out the mixing bowls while thinking of the ones you are going to gift with your specialty.

Some of us have traditional things we make every year. Others look for new ideas to surprise their friends and neighbors. Some just want a good recipe that is not too complicated but is sure to please.

One reader is faced with a major time crunch but still has the desire to make and share holiday treats – something many of us can relate to.

Q. Do you have some quick and easy ideas for small food gifts? I want to share some holiday goodies with others, but don’t have time to make anything very elaborate this year. Do you have some ideas for a simple cookie or other treats that will not be too labor intensive but still be delicious?

Here are some easy recipes that are very tasty and are always well received.

Bonnie Aeschliman is a certified culinary professional who owns Cooking at Bonnie’s Place in Wichita. For more information, call 316-425-5224 or visit cookingatbonnies.com. To submit a question to Bonnie, e-mail her at bonnie@cookingatbonnies.com.

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