14 December 2009

Holiday Food Gifts to Give: Chicken Chili, Fudge, Easy Cake and Bread

From Denny: Our local newspaper was featuring these recipes this week as gift givers to those of us who enjoy giving gifts of food during the holiday season! Divide up the chicken chili into individual servings and make the banana bread in small loaf pans. When I lived in Atlanta my next door neighbor made small zucchini breads cheerfully packaged with a 3 ounce size cream cheese. What a presentation!

Photo of chicken chili serving from 2theadvocate

Chicken Chili

From: Ellie Skillman

Skillman: This recipe serves 6 to 7. I’ve served it numerous times. It’s delicious and a “lighter” version of chili. A jar or container of this would be a welcomed gift for Christmas or New Year’s.


1 tbl. oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat removed and cut into bite-size chunks
4 tsps. chili powder
1 tbl. ground cumin
2 tsps. oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-oz.) can peeled, diced tomatoes
2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (15-oz.) can pinto or red beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
Sour cream and grated Cheddar cheese for toppings, if desired


1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add chopped onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft.

2. Add chicken pieces and cook over medium heat until pieces are no longer pink, about 3 or 4 minutes.

3. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir, then add chicken broth, peeled tomatoes with their juice and chopped jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

4. Stir in the beans and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer.

5. Serve with garnish of cilantro or parsley. Offer sour cream and grated Cheddar for toppings, if desired.

Note: The beans can be any combination you like (all black beans, red beans, etc.).

Candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate close-up by AlexC @ flickr

From Denny: My husband adores a grapefruit peel version I make from time to time. Most people prefer orange peel as it is sweeter. Try this version as it is so easy to do and quite festive for the season when rolled in large crystal sugar. Making candy out of fruit peels makes you feel so smug for being "green" too! :) They are great "naked" but if you really want to kick it up a notch make sure to dip them also in dark chocolate for the flavor combination is absolutely divine!

Photo by Jocely McAuliflower @ flickr

Candied Orange Peel

From: Corinne Cook

Makes: about 2-1/2 to 3 cups.


6 medium oranges
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
Sugar (about 1-1/2 cups)


1. Cut peel of each orange into fourths and loosen from orange with bowl of tablespoon. Remove most of the white pith from peel. It’s OK if small, thin patches of the pith remain on the peel. Use peeled oranges for snacks or salads.

2. Place peel in large saucepan or Dutch oven, add enough water to cover, add salt and bring to boil, uncovered. When at a full rolling boil, drain orange peel in colander. Repeat this once more, but do not add the salt (bring to full boil and drain).

3. With shears, cut the orange peel into long, thin strips, about 1/2-inch wide at the center. In saucepan, combine peel with 2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup water. Heat over medium-high until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer slowly, uncovered, until peel is translucent, do not stir. When translucent, remove from heat and cool for about 10 minutes.

4. Drain peel in colander then roll each piece of peel in sugar. Shake lightly to remove excess sugar. Place on parchment - or waxed paper-lined baking sheet in single layer. Allow to dry 4 or 5 hours, then store in airtight container.

5. If desired, dip half of the dried and sugared peel in melted semisweet chocolate.

Date Loaf Cake Photo from 2theadvocate

Date Loaf Cake

From: Mary Bordelon

Serves: 15


1 lb. whole, pitted dates (leave them whole)
1 lb. walnuts (leave them whole)
1 cup flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
4 eggs; whites and yolks separated (Bordelon uses jumbo-size eggs)
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour tube pan or line bottom of tube pan with parchment or waxed paper.

2. Put dates and walnuts in large mixing bowl. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together and stir dry ingredients into whole dates and walnuts.

3. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks with whisk until well blended; set aside while you beat egg whites. In mixer bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until egg whites are stiff. With a spoon or rubber spatula, gently stir the egg yolks into stiffly beaten egg whites. Gently fold in vanilla.

4. Fold egg white mixture into floured dates and nuts; gently stir to mix. Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour or until lightly browned on top and tester comes out clean.

5. After the cake is completely cooled, wrap in foil or plastic wrap for storage.

Photo by plain_jane53177 @ flickr

Daisy’s Never-Fail Divinity Fudge

From: Daisy Gardiner

Makes: about 48 pieces


3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (or as many as you like)


1. In a heavy, 2-quart saucepan, stir sugar, corn syrup and water together until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. At that point clip the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, making sure the bulb does not rest on the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches 235 degrees on candy thermometer or until the mixture forms a soft ball when a bit of it is dropped into a cup of water.

2. Meanwhile, using a free-standing, heavy-duty mixer, begin beating egg whites until stiff peaks form. When syrup reaches desired temperature (235 degrees Fahrenheit), continue beating while slowly pouring HALF of the syrup into the beaten egg whites. Pour only a thin stream at a time. Syrup will not blend if you add the syrup too fast.

3. Place remaining half of the syrup mixture back on the heat and cook until it gets to 275 degrees. At this point, Daisy said, the syrup, when dropped in a glass of cold water forms a hard ball and will make a cracking sound, not a thud, when it hits the side of the glass. Gradually add remainder of syrup to egg mixture while continuing to beat.

4. Add vanilla and beat until mixture is thickened and just begins to lose its gloss. At that point, stop beating and quickly add nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or parchment paper.

5. If mixture gets too thick before you finish spooning it out, you can add a few drops of hot water to thin it.

Banana Bread

From: “All Time Favorites of Raymond Community” cookbook published by Mary Ray Memorial School Organization of Newnan, Ga.

Makes: 3 (5x9-1/2 x4-inch) loaves. (See note.)


1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
8 medium bananas, mashed
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups chopped dates
1-1/2 cups raisins


1. Cream shortening and sugar with a mixer in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and bananas.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture in the bowl. Mix in pecans, dates and raisins.

4. Bake in well-greased loaf pans for 1-1/2 hours at 325 degrees until golden brown and baked through. Cool. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in closeable freezer bags to store. Can be frozen.

Note: I halved the recipe and made 6 mini loaves for gifts. To order a copy of “All Time Favorites of Raymond Community,” send $19.95 to Mary Ray Memorial School Board of Trustees, 1876 E. Highway 16, Newnan, GA 30263.

Candy photo from 2theadvocate

Crock-Pot Candy

From: Nordeen “Dee” Barlow

Makes: approximately 7 dozen pieces of candy.

1 (16-oz.) jar unsalted peanuts
1 (16-oz.) pkg. shelled pecans or walnuts
1 (12-oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
1 (4-oz.) pkg. German chocolate baking squares
1-1/2 pkgs. (24 ozs. each) almond bark


1. Layer ingredients in slow cooker. Set on Low for 2 hours. Do not open lid. After 2 hours, stir mixture.

2. Cook 2 minutes. Stir again.

3. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.

Note: Watch the time carefully. Do not overcook.

*** Thanks for visiting and check out my other food blog, Romancing The Chocolate for more holiday recipes!
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