Holiday gifts of food: thinking outside the (gift) box

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Linda Marrone's sour cream cinnamon buns would make a great gift or Christmas morning treat.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Linda Marrone's sour cream cinnamon buns would make a great gift or Christmas morning treat.

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I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Now it's time to start getting ready for the busy days of December.

I was so behind for Thanksgiving dinner because we had new carpet installed Nov. 23, and the stuff I usually make Wednesday night didn't even get started until 8:30 Thursday morning. The pies and yeast rolls had to be done and out of the oven by noon so the two turkeys could go in.

I was making two batches of my buttermilk yeast rolls. On the second batch, I forgot the salt, sugar and baking powder so I had to knead it in as an afterthought. Even good cooks get flustered and forget ingredients.

Thanksgiving is one of those days where you are in the kitchen the whole day, but it is so worth it when you sit down to eat. It's my favorite holiday to cook and eat.

Maybe this year you might want to try giving a homemade gift. It really doesn't take any more time to whip up something in your kitchen than getting in your car, driving to the store, picking out something to buy, standing in line to pay for it, and bringing it home to gift wrap.

It doesn't have to be anything special - whatever you make on a regular basis that your friends and family would enjoy receiving. We give spaghetti sauce with store-bought pasta, jam and syrup and cookies with a bag of good-quality coffee or tea.

This year, I made my own seasonal potpourri. None of it is especially fancy, but the jam is always good on a piece of toast. If you are pushed for a quick dinner, all you have to do is cook the pasta and heat up the sauce.

Homemade cookies are always a welcome sight, especially with a cup of tea or coffee. So this year, think outside the box (the traditional gift box, that is) and put together your own individual gift baskets.

On a last note, I want to give a little plug to the Victorian Christmas Tour on Dec. 11, sponsored by the Carson City Historical Society. Our house will be featured on the tour this year (more in the old-house category than Victorian). It's a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. La-Tea-Da Tea Shoppe will serve Christmas tea at my house, and I plan to bake a few cookies for our guests.

The recipe I'm going to share with you would make a great gift, either baked in a muffin tin or made cinnamon roll-style and put on a pretty plate.

This recipe is adapted from an old "Christmas With Southern LivingCookbook." They would also be a wonderful Christmas morning treat.

1 cup sour cream

2 T. butter, melted

3 . sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda,

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 package active dry yeast

3 cups flour, divided

3 T. butter, melted

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

You can add raisins and nut if you want

Heat sour cream in a small saucepan over medium to 105-115 degrees. I always use a thermometer when working with yeast. Combine warm sour cream, 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, salt and soda in large mixing bowl. Add yeast then egg; mix well. Add 11/2 cups flour and beat until well blended. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 5 or 6 times. Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes. Roll dough into an 18-by-6 inch rectangle. Spread 3 tablespoons of melted butter over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over dough (add a few nuts and raisins at this point, if you want).

Roll up dough, starting at long side, pressing firmly to eliminate air pickets and pinching seam to seal. Slice into 11/2 inch slices and place cut-side down in greased muffin pans. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.

For icing, mix 2 ounces softened cream cheese with 2 tablespoons softened butter; beat until smooth and add 11/2 cups powdered sugar and dash of vanilla. Spread icing over buns. You can also make these cinnamon-roll style and bake them in a square pan, but they will take a little long to bake. The recipe says you get 12 rolls, but I usually get between 16-18.

n Linda Marrone has lived in Carson City since 1973, and with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone's Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin's Cookin' Catering.


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