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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gifts Kids Can Make

a girl with a lollipopImage via Wikipedia


By Juvy S. Iliwiliw


Kids love to try new things all the time. I remember how curious I was when I was first allowed to help in the kitchen. Everything seem new and unfamiliar and I like to play the thrill of holding the cutting utensils. Mother would be there to guide me all the way but its always intriguing to do it alone away from her watchful eyes.

I thought that your kids would love the same thing and I want you to let them do these simple gift ideas on their own. These are easy cookie treats that are as much fun to make as they are to give away. They can be made by children aged seven and up with minimal adult supervision. Younger kids can also work on these recipes but will need more assistance.

These cookies make great giveaways for friends, classmates and relatives during the Christmas season and other occasions, but they also make a good weekend activity for your kids.

So, let them try now and put that cookie smile on their faces!


LOLLIPOP COOKIES


You will need:


1/2     cup butter, softened
1/2     cup sugar
1        egg
1/2     tsp. vanilla
1/4     tsp. salt
1        tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cups flour
          Lollipop sticks

Here's how:


In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar until well mixed. Blend in the egg and vanilla. Add the salt, baking powder and flour, mixing well. Turn the dough out on a counter lightly sprinkled with flour. Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 10=15 minutes or until lightly browned. When done, immediately insert the lollipop sticks gently into the middle of the cookies (if the sticks are made of plastic, which is often the case, do not bake the cookies with them). Let the cookies cool completely before decorating.



Decorating Icing

Wait for the icing to dry to a hard finish so that you can easily pack cookies for gift giving!


You will need:


1 1/2-2    cups powdered sugar
1-2          tbsp. water
                Food coloring

Here's how:


Combine the powdered sugar with just enough water to produce an icing that holds its shape when squeezed through an icing bag. (You can find inexpensive icing bags or syringe-type icing applicators in department store kitchenware sections or big supermarkets, or use a sandwich bag with a tiny hole snipped from one corner). Tint the icing in different colors using just a drop of two of food coloring. After decorating cookies, let icing harden until set.

Yield: 2 dozen 3-inch cookies
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Storage time: 2 weeks in an airtight container
Packaging Ideas:

Individual. Wrap cookies individually in clear cellophane or insert them into small plastic bags (like sandwich or ice bags) and fasten with a ribbon around the lollipop stick.

Edible Boquet. If you cut the cookies into flower shapes, you may want to stick the lollipops into a small clay or plastic flower pot that has been filled with styrofoam cut to fit. Cover the pot with wrapping paper and tie with a ribbon.

NO-BAKE COOKIE BALLS
Here's a recipe suitable for very young kids-just mix and shape into balls! Its important that the graham crackers be finely crushed; use a food processor of the back of a spoon to pulverize them. Otherwise, you can also buy graham crackers already in crumb from in the supermarket.


You will need:


1         cup finely crushed graham crackers
1         cup chocolate chips
1/3      cup condensed milk
1/2      cup chopped nuts

Here's how:


In a mixing bowl, combine the graham crackers, chocolate chips and condensed milk. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in chopped nuts. Chill to set before packaging.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Storage time: 2 weeks in an airtight container, refrigerated
Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. You can also use clear sandwich bags, tied up with a colorful ribbon.

GUESS-WHAT'S-INSIDE
BUTTER COOKIES
Hide different treats inside these colorful butter balls-Hershey's KIsses, chocolate chips, cherries, nuts, or dates!


You will need:


3/4      cup butter, softened
1/4      cup sugar
1/2      tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring
2         cups flour
           Red and green food coloring
           Powdered sugar
           Assorted fillings (Hershey's Kisses, chocolate chips, maraschino or
               candied cherries, whole walnuts or cashews, dates cut into smaller pieces, etc.)

Here's how:


           In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla or almond flavoring and flour until well blended. Divide the dough into three parts. Leave one part plain, then tint one part pale pink and one part pale green using just a couple of drops of food coloring. Knead the dough well to distribute the color evenly. Get a tablespoon of dough, make a depression in it and put the filling of your choice. Cover the filling completely with the dough and roll into a ball. Set on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until bottoms are browned. The tops of the cookies will not brown. Let cool, then roll the balls in powdered sugar.


Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Storage time: 2 weeks in an airtight container
Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. You can also use clear sandwich bags, tied up with a colorful ribbon.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD
Make sure to use butter and not margarine for a really good flavor.


You will need:


3/4      cup butter, softened
1/2      cup sugar
1         tsp. vanilla
1-2/3   cups flour
1/3       cup cocoa
1/4       tsp. salt

Here's how:


         In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla, then blend in the flour and cocoa. Pat or roll the dough out 1/2-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes using small cookie cutters (simple designs like stars and hearts are best; dough is not pliable enough for large shapes). Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully as these cookies dark, so it's hard to tell when they have "browned" underneath! If your oven temperature is correct, 15 minutes should be maximum.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Storage time: 2 weeks in an airtight container
Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. You can also use clear sandwich bags, tied up with a colorful ribbon.

FUNNY FACE COOKIES


You will need:


1/2     cup butter, softened
1/2     cup dark brown sugar
1/2     tsp. vanilla
1        egg
1-2/3  cups flour
1/2     tsp. baking soda
1/4     tsp. salt.
          Assorted toppings (cashew nuts, colored candies like M&Ms, raisins
              maraschino cherries, chocolate sprinkles, pretzels, etc.)

Here's how:


        In a mixing bowl, blend together the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Get a tablespoonful of dough and shape into a ball. Flatten the ball into a circle with the palm of your hand on an ungreased baking sheet. Use assorted toppings to create funny faces (i.e., cashew nuts for "smiling" or "sad" mouths or eyebrows, cherries for the nose, raisins for the eyes, colored candies or chocolate sprinkles for hair). Try to make a variety of faces that are mad, sad, happy, sleepy, or surprised. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until browned underneath. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Storage time: 2 weeks in an airtight container
Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. If the cookies are large, it's better to have them flat, in layers separated by wax paper, in shallow containers to avoid breakage. See-through containers are still best for these so that people can see the funny faces right away!
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