Easy is good…

I’m not really a foodie. I’m happy for people who find joy in cooking really complicated recipes, but I’m more of a “let’s feed these masses and get moving with our next activity” kind of mom. Over the years, I’ve discovered that if a recipe has more steps than tacos, it’s probably not going to work out long-term for me. Tacos are my baseline. 

Since it’s quickly becoming holiday season, I wanted to share with you three recipes that make great gifts. All are less difficult than tacos.

 Homemade Bailey’s Irish coffee creamer

(This is a fun treat to add to afternoon coffee with friends or sip over ice in the evenings. I usually double this recipe and sometimes triple it, depending on how many people we’re giving it to.)

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups Tullamore Dew or Jameson Irish Whiskey

1 cup half & half

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp chocolate syrup (I use Ghiradelli dark syrup)

2 tsp vanilla extra

1 tsp instant espresso

Heat the half & half on low in a saucepan. Stir in the espresso until dissolved. Combine all the other ingredients and blend on high for 30 seconds. (Sometimes, I skip the blender part and just put it in jars and shake them.)

Divide into small mason jars or other decorative containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Save at least one jar for yourself. Shake well before using.

I think there are probably laws against walking into public elementary schools with glass jars full of liquor treats, so I make pies for my kids’ teachers and other kind souls that help our family. I usually make between 4-8 pies at a time. My kids help and it’s easy to make these in batches.

Chocolate Chip Pie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips, dipped in flour so they will float

Graham cracker pie crust

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into unbaked graham cracker pie crust. Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes. The tops will be golden and the pies will be slightly gooey. Cool, slice and serve with vanilla ice cream. Be sure to tell the recipients that the pies freeze really well, in case they are inundated with sweets.

Speaking of too many sweets, here’s one last recipe for a savory snack that people devour. They are truly addictive. Make a double batch and save some for your family.

Seasoned Dill Pretzels

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch powder

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbs. dill

1 tsp. lemon pepper

1 box Snyder’s sourdough pretzels, broken into smaller pieces

Mix the oil and spices in a large bowl. Add the pretzels and toss to coat. Let sit for about 15 minutes to absorb. Scoop coated pretzels into deep roasting sheet or glass brownie pan, drizzling any excess oil over the top. Bake at 300 for 30 minutes, stirring once. Cool and store in airtight containers. 

I hope these next few weeks of holiday preparations go smoothly for everyone. It’s my goal to remember that it doesn’t have to be difficult to be worthwhile. Easy is good. This is true of cooking, relationships and most holiday hoopla. Good luck, my friends! 

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