Commercials and advertising encourage us to buy, buy, buy for the holidays. What they don't tell us is that the bills can carry far into the New Year! Set a budget and stick to it for your holiday spending. And be creative with gifts. Make someone a jar of applesauce (see yesterday's tip) or bake them an assortment of cookies before you buy them a cheap sweater from a mall. It's the thought that counts, not the label.
Here are a couple of recipes to make some lovely special gifts.
Remember crisp rice cereal treats? Well, they got nothin' on these babies!
MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN
1 cup almond butter
1 cup non-dairy, dark chocolate chips
3 cups crispy brown rice cereal
In a large saucepan, heat rice syrup and almond butter over low heat until creamy. Stir in chocolate chips until they melt. Remove from heat and stir in rice cereal until coated. Press into a shallow, square casserole dish. Allow to set until firm. Cut into squares and serve.
COOK'S TIP: Any nut butter is fabulous in this treat: peanut butter, cashew or hazelnut butter--yummy. Omit chocolate and create a decadent nutty-flavored rice treat.
DOWN-AND-DIRTY EASY TRUFFLES
These are not totally quick, but they are so easy to make and so delicious. And since most of your time is simply spent waiting for them to set in the fridge, I advise you make them the night before you plan to enjoy them.
MAKES 24 TRUFFLES
12 ounces non-dairy, dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Suzanne's Specialties brown rice syrup
¾ cup unsweetened organic almond or soy milk
Generous pinch ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons silken tofu, pureed
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Place a couple inches water in a deep pot and bring to a boil. Place chocolate and rice syrup in a glass bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring almond milk and cinnamon to a gentle boil and pour it over the chocolate. Place the chocolate mixture over the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla and tofu. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate until well set, as long as 3 hours.
When the mixture is set, remove from fridge. Make your hands as cold as possible so you don't melt the truffles. (Run them under cold water and dry them). Using a teaspoon, take 1 teaspoon of the truffle mixture and form ¾-inch balls and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Place the tray of formed truffles in the fridge for 20 minutes. To coat them with cocoa, roll each truffle in your hands for a couple of seconds to warm the surface. Toss in the cocoa powder to coat and return to the baking sheet. Do not worry if there is too much cocoa on the truffles. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes. Shake off any excess cocoa and place each truffle in a miniature foil candy cup.
These will keep, in a sealed container, in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
(Recipe courtesy of Christina's e-book, Christina Pirello's Wellness 1000...a great holiday gift... Order here!!)