Helpful Ingredients for the Holidays

It always happens, an unexpected glitch in even the most organized holiday plans. Such glitches as - the gravy doesn't seem to thicken, or you thought you had all the ingredients for your special chocolate frosting, but you can't find the cocoa. Then comes a phone call - cousin Mike found out he will have his kids for the Thanksgiving holiday and he wants them to be around family. He's coming to dinner with his 2 kids, plus he's bringing an old friend that he would like you to meet! That makes the number at dinner 15 instead of the 11.
You're beginning to feel like the quarterback in all those football games on TV this afternoon. You're ready to serve up a great meal, but there's a bunch of big ugly tackles in front of your goal, getting ready to take you down. By planning ahead you can run around these obstacles and still have a wonderful outcome. Here's how to keep some fast solutions and plays handy.

ClearJel is a wonderful thickening agent. When substituted for standard kitchen starches, it can be used to thicken sauces or gravies and forms a smoother mixture in less time. These gravies can be refrigerated and reheated without losing their consistency. Use ClearJel as a one-for-one substitute in your favorite recipes that use cornstarch.

Buttercreme Icing (available in white or chocolate) can be kept in the cupboard for those times you have to make a cake or cupcakes and you don't have the ingredients or time to make icing. This icing has an excellent flavor and you can easily add colors or flavors if desired. This icing is also available in holiday red and green and works great for decorating Christmas cookies.

"Any Flavor" Muffin Mix  This mix is handy for last minute treats for drop-in visitors, or a social gathering you just remembered - you've got it covered! Just-add-water mix will quickly make 12 muffins. Although these taste great plain, you can create tastier variations with the simple addition of fruits, nuts and flavors.

Need some cookies? You can create decorated sugar cookies quickly with the help of Grandma's Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie Mix. Just add water to this complete mix to make delicious sugar cookies you'll be proud to call home-baked. More economical than refrigerated dough and almost as easy!

Serve up the salsa! When you have extra guests arriving, soften up their appetite with some fun appetizers and the main course will go farther. Quick and Easy Fiesta salsa is a great tasting crowd pleaser. All you need is to open a can of diced tomatoes or dice up some fresh ones - add the mix and in 5 minutes it's ready to serve with your favorite tostados or chips! Include some other common appetizers like cheese or cold cuts that you have cut into shapes using your miniature Christmas cutters and you'll hear the cheers from the crowd!

To figure out how to have handy mixes available year-round there is a cookbook just for you. Make-A-Mix. The book starts out with basic mix recipes to use for breads, rolls, cookies, coatings for meats and more. Make these when you have time to spare and store. When you're in a hurry, these mixes will speed up meal preparation as much as a store-bought mix, but at a fraction of the cost. Over 300 recipes to use with the make-ahead mixes are included.

These are just a few of our fast action plays for your holiday entertaining. Don't let the blitzes ruin the fun. Remember you are quick and nimble and can move around all those big tackling problems.

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