Friday, September 14, 2007

Treats for Care Packages, Small Gifts, and Holiday parties

It's almost that time of year to be thinking of sending small goodies to college students for their exams (mid-terms and finals), what to give co-workers or friends for last minute gifts, and even a quick tasty treat for a holiday party. I have a few suggestions that I have found over the last few years, that are yummy, inexpensive, and can be packaged creatively in short time.

Here are a few:

Bake a Cake in a Coffee Cup! (this one is great for college kids, and you can pair it with any large coffee mug with their school logo---just make sure it can go in the microwave so no metal print on it)
You will need a standard box of cake mix and 1 regular box of instant pudding.
Some flavor combos that are good are:
lemon cake +lemon pudding
vanilla cake + chocolate, vanilla, banana cream, lemon, cheesecake, or white chocolate pudding
chocolate cake +chocolate pudding or white chocolate pudding
spice cake + butterscotch pudding
strawberry cake + white chocolate or cheesecake pudding

Now here are directions for making this mix:
1. empty cake mix and pudding flavor into a large mixing bowl and whisk them together thoroughly. You will get about 4- 41/2 cups of dry mix. This will make about 8-9 cup cake mixes.

2. Place 1/2 cup of this mixture into a zip-top bag (sandwich size is good). You will want to squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible. I find that putting the bag on the edge of the counter where the edge is just above the top of the ingredients works for pushing out all the air before sealing.

3. Continue making these packets until all the mix is used up or you can't get anymore 1/2 cup servings.

1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. flavoring if you like (cocoa, powedered orange or cherry drink mix, or dry creamer flavors like hazelnut, vanilla, mint, etc.)
You will use this amount for each cup cake mix you package. Place this in a zip top snack size bag.

Directions for those receiving this mix (you will want to type or handwrite this for each mix).
Empty contents of large packet into a plain coffee cup with a 12 oz. capacity.
Add 1 egg white, 2 teaspoons of oil, and 1 tablespoon of water to this mix. Stir well.
Microwave 2 minutes on standard power. Let cake cool 1 minute. You can squeeze glaze on it in the cup, or take the cake out of the cup, cut in half and then drizzle glaze 0n.
While cake is baking add a very few drops of water to the glaze bag. Squeeze bag to mix the ingredients. You can add more water as needed one or two drops as a time until glaze consistency. You can push the glaze into the corner of the bag, snip off the corner with scissors, and drizzle out the glaze onto the cake.

This is very yummy and doable in a dorm room. Make these for a birthday gift by adding sprinkles and a candle for your child to put on the cake.

Chocolate fudge mix in a cup:
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon finely chopped pecans or walnuts if wanted
1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Place first 3 ingredients into a zipper sandwich bag.
Place mini marshmallows into another zipper bag. Staple bags together.
Attach instructions below:
1. empty contents of chocolate chip bag into a plain coffee cup
2. Add 2 1/2 Tablespoons of butter or margarine cut into at least 2 pieces. Place butter on top of chocolate. Microwave 3 min.
3. Add marshmallows and stir quickly and thoroughly to melt and mix in.
4. Let cool in the cup for 5 minutes. Then place in refrigerator for only 10 min. for fudge to set.
5. unmold from cup and cut into about 6-8 pieces. yummy.

Iced Mocha Cappuccino mix:
2 Tablespoons coffee creamer
2 Tablespoons Nesquick chocolate drink mix
2 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. instant coffee
Place all ingredients into a zipper sandwich bag.
Place baggie into a cup like container that has a secure snap on or screw on lid (how about a canning jar, or a tupperware /rubbermaid drink container)
Add directions and a straw.
Empty contents of baggie into the cup.
Add 1 cup of milk. Stir with the straw.
Add a few ice cubes
Snap or screw on lid and shake this mixture very fast for 15 seconds over a sink just in case it leaks.

Iced Cappuccino
2 Tablespoons coffee creamer (flavored like Amaretto, French vanilla)
1 Tablespoon powedered sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Use same instructions for Iced Mocha Cappuccino recipe above.

The previous four recipes are from Jackie Gannaway. She has lots of cookbooks for gift mixes.

Here is a yummy cheesecake ball recipe. You can experiment with lots of add in on this one.

1 cup of sugar (powedered or regular)
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 stick of butter
1 tsp. of vanilla
(you can add in about 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, peanutbutter chips, crushed oreos, crushed peppermints, or crushed lemon drops to this)
Cream together the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Add mix ins. Divide mixture in half. Shape each half into two balls on plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until firm. You can roll the cheesecake ball in the mix ins listed above, or chopped nuts or crushed cookie crumbs.
Serve with sweet butter cookies, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, fruit, or slices of pound cake. It is awesome.

Here is another version:
Peanutbutter chocolate chip:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanutbutter
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Mix as stated above. Roll in mini chocolate chips before serving or chopped peanuts.

Caramel pecan:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup of chopped pecans
Mix up and proceed as above instructions.

Key lime or Margarita cheeseball:
1/3 cup sugar
1 box of lime jello
1 tsp. key lime juice
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 stick of butter
(roll in toasted coconut or graham crumbs, or coconut and macadamias)

You can make these into little bite size cheeseballs for a party tray too. Just scoop out using a small cookie or ice cream scoop (Pampered chef makes a good one in their small size) when the mixture has chilled until it is firm. It's messy but shape the scoops into a ball and roll in chopped nuts or crumbs.

You can turn these recipes into little mousse tartletts by taking out the butter, adding only one and 1/2 packages of cream cheese. Add a little milk to the cheese mixture to thin it out a little (about 1/4 cup or less). Fold in a 8 0z. container of cool-whip that has been thawed. Pipe this into phyllo shells, brownie cups, or tart shells. Or line the bottom of mini muffin cups with a teaspoon of graham cracker crumb crust and pipe in the filling.

You can even package up these cheesecake ball mixes for gifts. Just package the sugar/sugars and any other dry add-ins in a zipper bag. Place chopped up nuts or other finishing garnish to roll the cheesecake balls in in a zipper bag (approx. 1/2 cup per cheeseball). Staple or tie together with ribbon and the instructions that tell them to add the 2 packages of cream cheese and 1/2 stick of butter. Place these in a pretty gift bag and voila, your gift giving dilemmas are over. Makes a great hostess gift to give to those holiday parties you go to.

I'll post a recipe or two for cakes baked in wide mouth canning jars that keep for a couple of months in a day or two. I have to go now as it is getting late.

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