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Make this holiday memorable with these festive favorites

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Do you need to have a sweet treat on hand when all the troops come a caroling?

Here's a tasty item that will fit the bill. These honey cookies will make everyone hit the right note.

You'll probably have all the ingredients on hand for these cookies.

Honey Spice Balls

(makes about 2 1 / 2 dozen cookies)

1/2cup butter, softened

1/2cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2teaspoon baking powder

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4teaspoon ground nutmeg

Uncooked quick oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the cookie sheets. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg, honey and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended.

Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and then roll in oats. Place 2-inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until cookie tops crack slightly.

Cool one minute on cookie sheets. Remove to wire racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Are you having a tree trimming party?

Here's a “peppy” popcorn recipe for all of the helpers to enjoy and it works great for Steeler game parties too!

Cinnamon Hot Sauce Popcorn

(makes 18 cups)

10 cups air-popped popcorn (1/2cup unpopped)

11/2cups (7 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans

3/4cup granulated sugar

3/4cup packed light brown sugar

1/2cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce

2 tablespoons honey

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into thin pats

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn and pecans in a 5-quart ovenproof bowl or Dutch oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine the sugars, corn syrup, hot sauce and honey in a 2-quart saucepan.

Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugars dissolve. Boil about 6 to 8 minutes or until at the soft-crack stage (290 degrees on a candy thermometer). Do not stir and remove from heat.

Gradually add the butter and cinnamon to the sugar mixture, stirring gently until well blended. Pour over the popcorn, tossing to coat evenly. If the popcorn sets too quickly, return to the oven to rewarm. Popcorn mix may be shaped into 3-inch balls while warm, if desired.

Spread the mixture on greased baking sheets, using two forks. Cool completely then break into bite-sized pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

As far back as I can remember, every holiday season had a tray full of those wonderful thumbprint cookies.

They were great with hot cocoa and even better now with a hot cup of coffee. Of course, you always had to save a few for Santa to enjoy.

Here's a trip down memory lane for you.

You'll be surprised at how much money you save by making them versus the retail price of the prepackaged cookies. You'll be able to buy yourself a well-deserved gift.

CrispyThumbprint Cookies

(makes about 3 dozen cookies)

1 package (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix

1/2cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/4cup water

3 cups rice cereal, crushed

1/2cup chopped walnuts

Raspberry or strawberry preserves or Andes mint candies, cut in half

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the cake mix, oil, egg and water. Beat at the medium speed of an electric mixer until well blended. Add cereal and walnuts and mix until well blended.

Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Use thumb to make indentation in the center of each cookie. Spoon about 12 teaspoon preserves into the center of the cookie, or place a mint candy in the center.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or, until golden brown in the preheated oven. Cool cookies for one minute on a baking sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly has been a culinary columnist for more than 20 years. Originally for New England, he now calls Western Pennsylvania his home.

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