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A la carte: '12 Days of Christmas' cookie molds

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
 

The “12 Days of Christmas” is captured in a new line of cookie molds based on the holiday carol. They're from House on the Hill and were commissioned by its owner/baking instructor Connie Meisinger.

The original designs of the wood-resin composite molds, such as the “Partridge in a Pear Tree,” can be used to bake springerle, gingerbread or shortbread and shape marzipan. The roughly 2-by-3-inch molds are $28.50 each at houseonthehill.net.

Quick dips

Instant hors d'oeuvres: Influenced by the Egyptian-inspired blend of ground nuts and spices known as dukkah, Gary & Kit's Napa Valley Dukkah Spice Blends can be combined with olive oil for quick dips or sprinkled over roasted vegetables or salads.

They come in three flavors: classic hazelnut; toasted sesame and pistachio; and savory coconut.

The 2.5-ounce packets are $7 — Olive oil sold separately — at www.cliffamilywinery.com.

Extra-large vs. large eggs

Supermarkets sometimes sell extra-large and even jumbo eggs for less than large ones. So, say the thrifty shopper brings home a dozen extra-large or jumbo eggs. Can they be used in recipes calling for large eggs? Bear in mind that large eggs are the industry standard and that most recipes are tested with large eggs.

If you're just making fried or scrambled eggs, the size doesn't matter. If you're using eggs to provide moisture in a savory recipe, such as a meatloaf, you might use a tad less milk or water to accommodate more egg.

Baking recipes are a different story, because there, eggs provide not only moisture but structure. If a recipe calls for one or two large eggs, the American Egg Board says to use the same number of extra-large or jumbos. But:

• If recipe calls for 3 large eggs, use 3 extra-large or 2 jumbo.

• If recipe calls for 4 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 3 jumbo.

• If recipe calls for 5 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 4 jumbo.

• If recipe calls for 6 large eggs, use 5 extra-large or 5 jumbo.

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