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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Holiday Gift Guide

Festive recipes for the holiday season

There are so many things about the holiday season that brighten people’s spirits – cold, crisp winter weather, family gathered around a warm fire, sparkling lights, tinsel and holly that adorn Houston homes and the all-around spreading of holiday cheer. But the best part about the holidays is not the quality time you spend with your family or the fun lights – it’s the food and more specifically, the desserts. With thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, these holiday-themed desserts are the perfect addition for your holiday table.

Christmas_sugar_cookies,_January_2010 (1)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sugar cookies are a classic holiday treat. Not only are they simple to make, they are both easy and fun to decorate. Cookie-cutters come in all shapes and sizes – snowflakes, reindeers, sleigh bells –the hardest part is choosing which ones to use! Pillsbury classic sugar cookie dough is the way to go – cut out some cookies and throw them in the oven for 10-12 minutes. If you’re more ambitious, make the dough from scratch for a real holiday treat. After the cookies cool, get creative with your frosting and you’re good to go.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Gingerbread houses are one of the best parts of the holidays. They are great for parties with friends or just a night in with your significant other. There are tons of kits you can find just about anywhere with step by step directions that make this holiday treat a cake-walk. Also no oven is required, so you don’t have to worry about burning the house down.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t heard of Hersheys’ Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies, you have not truly lived. These cookies are the ultimate treat for the holidays – best served warm, these treats feature a Hershey’s kiss pressed into the middle of sweet, crumbly peanut butter dough that’s sure to have your taste buds tingle. To add some holiday flare, use peppermint Hershey’s kisses instead of milk chocolate.


  • 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Additional granulated sugar (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
  2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Hershey’s


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Peppermint bark is another classic holiday treat. It’s perfect with hot cocoa around a warm fire and is a great gift idea. This treat may take some extra time and skill – check out Food Network’s take on the perfect piece of peppermint bark.


  • 12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed


  1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming.
  2. Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted. Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
  3. Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving dessert. Pie can sound daunting, but Pillsbury has you covered. Try their easy-as-pie recipe.


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 ¼ cups evaporated milk or half and half
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Pillsbury™ Pet-Ritz® frozen deep-dish pie crust


  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, mix filling ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
  2. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake 40 to 50 minutes longer or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate until serving time. Store in refrigerator.

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury

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