Last minute holiday gift recipes from Rita Heikenfeld - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Last minute holiday gift recipes from Rita Heikenfeld


I like to give a couple of fun mugs with this. If you make the regular, add some cinnamon sticks and/or peppermint  sticks to the mugs. 

3 cups nonfat dry milk

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1-1/2 cups cocoa powder

1-1/2 cups good quality white chocolate chips (I like Kroger brand)

Couple dashes salt

Mix everything together. Divide into two batches and pulse in food processor until chocolate is finely ground. Store in airtight container up to 3 months.

To make hot chocolate: Stir 1/3 cup into 1 cup hot milk.

Top with whipped cream, mini morsels or mini marshmallows.


Mocha: Add 1/2 cup instant coffee to regular gourmet hot cocoa mix

Cinnamon: Add 1 tablespoon cinnamon to mix. 

This is fun to give with the blueberry syrup recipe given below.  For special diets, use a reduced-fat baking mix and a heat-stable sugar substitute.

2 cups all-purpose baking mix

1/2 cup nonfat milk powder

1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Combine everything and store in airtight containers in refrigerator.  Makes 3 cups. 

Gift Card Directions: Combine 3 cups pancake mix, 1-3/4 cups water and 2 slightly beaten eggs.  Stir until just moistened.  Heat a greased griddle and pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle and cook until top of pancake is full of bubbles and underside is golden.  Flip and cook until remaining side is golden.  Serve warm with blueberry syrup.  Makes 14 pancakes. 


3 cups each: corn and rice Chex cereal

Small Sesame rice crackers,– a generous 2-1/2 cups, broken if you like

1-1/2 generous cups tiny pretzel twists

1 can, 4.90 oz, wasabi peas

2  cups dry roasted peanuts, lightly salted

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons curry power (I like Aralia brand yellow vegetable curry powder)

2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin ground

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 to 1/2  scant teaspoon ground cayenne  pepper

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 200.  In a big bowl, mix the cereals, thins, pretzel twists, peas and peanuts. In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add rest of ingredients and cook a couple of minutes for flavors to blend.  Start pouring the butter mixture over the cereal mixture and blend well. 

Spray two rimmed cookie sheets and spread mixture in single layers. Bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool before serving.

Store in airtight containers at room temperature.  Makes about a gallon.

For gift giving: Pack in Chinese to go cartons.      

Like you get at country fairs, but even better!

3 cups pecan halves, toasted and set aside

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Couple gratings of nutmeg

To toast pecans: Place in single layer on baking sheet and roast in 350 degree oven until fragrant, about 10-15 minutes.

Combine sugar, milk, water, vanilla, cinnamon, maple and nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and then bring to a gentle boil. Add nuts all at once and cook until pecans are completely sugared and no syrup remains in pan. 

Pour onto sprayed baking sheet and let cool.  They will become more opaque as they dry. Separate into small clusters

Appetizer Cheese Trees

Adapted from friend, Carol Tabone's, recipe.

Mix together:

3 packages (8 ounces each), cream cheese, softened

4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (16 ounces)

1 generous tablespoon grated onion

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Few shakes cayenne pepper powder

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm enough to shape. Place the cheese mixtures on a cookie sheet.  Shape each half into a cone shape to look like a Christmas tree.  Roll trees in parsley, pressing parsley evenly onto tree. Press pine nuts onto trees in string form for garland.  Press bell pepper pieces onto trees for ornaments. Serve with crackers.




This is a recipe that makes the rounds of lots of folks each Christmas season. With the kids out of school, this is a fun last-minute gift from the kitchen or for decorating the tree.

Cookie sheet lined with foil

Preheat oven to 325

Hard lifesaver candies 

To make candy canes: Lay 8 lifesaver candies side by side in a candy-cane shape on the foil. Check after 3-4 minutes in the oven. They should be melted. If not, leave them in but check every 30 seconds.

Remove from oven and immediately poke a hole in the top with a skewer or straw that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let harden and enjoy. 



A gift from the hands is a gift from the heart!

Can you guess which items in the jar are mentioned in the Bible?
(Hint: Lentils, onions, garlic, thyme, cumin, chicken, and barley).

If you want to make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable bouillon granules and vegetable broth. Soy sausage can be subbed for the smoked sausage.

Layer these in the jar as indicated below.

2 cups lentils (brown or a combo of brown, red or green)

Dried vegetable flakes from Knorr-Swiss vegetable soup & dip mix***

1 tablespoon dried onion flakes or minced dried onions

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1-1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 cup quick cooking barley flakes

1/4 cup plain sun dried tomatoes, diced (measure after dicing – I like to put these in a baggie since they're somewhat moist)

** Place vegetable soup mix in a sieve, shaking to allow the powdered bouillon/flavoring to be removed.

Layer lentils, vegetable flakes, onion flakes, bouillon granules, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, cumin in a food storage jar with lid.  (Or you can mix the oregano, garlic, thyme and cumin together and make one layer).

For gift tag: In large pot, place contents of jar, 12 cups chicken broth, 1 pound favorite smoked sausage, sliced, and 1 can, 14.5 oz, stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. If necessary, add more broth or water, 1/2 cup at a time to reach desired consistency.  Garnish with Parmesan or favorite cheese. Serves 8-10.

Gilding the Lily: Stir in a few handfuls of fresh spinach after soup has cooked.



Better than Wms Sonoma Peppermint Bark

11.5 oz bag white chocolate chips, good quality (I'm using Kroger private selection) about 2 cups

1/3 cup, approx. crushed peppermint candy

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract divided into 1/2 and 1/4 measures

11.5 oz bag Belgian chocolate chips (I'm using Kroger) about 2 cups

Line baking sheet with foil.

Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until almost smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir to smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract. You can also use a nonstick pan or microwave. Be careful as white chocolate tends to burn easily.  Pour mixture right away onto prepared baking sheet; using a spatula, spread evenly.  Chill until firm. Melt dark chocolate, add 1/4 teaspoon extract, and spread on top of chilled white layer.  You may have some chocolate left over – it keeps in the frig; just melt to reuse. Sprinkle immediately with crushed candy. Refrigerate until firm and cut or break into pieces. Store in refrigerator or in a cool place at room temperature.

Variations: To make this less expensive, buy the chocolate "bark", both white and dark, and use that instead of the chips.



Really, the reindeers love this! The glitter is the "magic" ingredient!  And so do Santa's elves, if you leave the glitter out!  

4 cups corn cereal squares

2 cups dry roasted peanuts

1 cup orange and cranberry "fruitlings" or raisins or dried cranberries

1 cup tropical mixed dried fruit

2 cups yogurt covered raisins


Combine all ingredients.  Place in decorated bags or jars and put out with Santa's cookies for the reindeer!

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