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"Make It Special" Food Tips

Useful and economical tips for adding a festive touch to foods.

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During the holidays, wrap up an assortment of cookies and candies for teachers, friends and neighbors—and keep some on hand to serve when friends drop by, too.

Make meatloaf festive by forming into a heart shape for an easy, economical and fun entrée for Valentine's Day, or when you just want to share some love from the kitchen! Decorate by piping mashed potatoes around the edge.

Layer vanilla yogurt, fruit and granola in glasses for quick, healthy and delicious breakfast parfaits. (Use fresh, frozen (and slightly thawed) or canned fruit.)

Place a carton of premium vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator overnight to melt. Next day you've got eggnog with a sprinkling of nutmeg added!

When serving caviar, proper serving utensils are designed to reduce damage to the roe and ultimately, its taste. Such utensils are traditionally made mother-of-pearl, wood, porcelain, glass, ivory, horn and gold. They are not absolutely necessary but like a good wine glass they can help bring out full appreciation. Serving caviar with metals that oxidize easily (i.e.; silver) have been known to impart a metallic taste and thus are not preferred by serious aficionados.

Sprinkle fruit-flavored gelatin powder over vanilla pudding to give it a pretty look and added flavor!

Placing a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone helps prevent ice-cream drips and adds a surprise!

Freeze leftover coffee and tea in ice cube trays. Use cubes to cool down complementary iced beverages without diluting them.

Perk up cooked carrots by mixing in apricot, peach or pineapple preserves.

Roll peeled bananas in strawberry preserves, sprinkle with granola or chopped nuts and freeze for a cool treat!

Make a plain coffee cake special by topping with your favorite preserves and broiling until the topping bubbles.

Stir 1 or 2 teaspoons of mint jelly into iced tea for a refreshing minty twist.

For very light and tender pancakes or waffles, separate the egg and beat the whites until stiff. Stir the yolk and other liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the beaten egg white.

Make ice cubes festive for a party by freezing sprigs of mint, maraschino cherries, lemon or orange peel in them. If serving lemonade as a beverage, try making lemonade cubes!

Freeze some of the party punch in a ring mold, then float it in the punch bowl. This way the ice won't water down the punch.

For crispier French toast, add a touch of cornstarch to the egg mixture.

Perk up that bowl of breakfast oatmeal by first toasting the oats same as you would toast nuts in the oven, then cook as usual. See Nut Tips.

For a taste treat and extra light pancakes, try substituting apple cider for the milk called for in the recipe for pancakes.

Paint paper muffin cups with melted bittersweet chocolate; chill until firm, then peel off the paper. Fill the chocolate dessert cups with Easy Chocolate Mousse and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Serve on a chilled dessert plate so the chocolate stays cold and the cups hold their shape.

For a delightful change of pace, serve your hot or iced drinks with citrus sugar. Bury strips of lemon and/or orange zest in granulated sugar to for a week or so to give the sugar a delicate citrus taste.

For a quick and tangy sauce to accompany baked ham or fried chicken strips, combine equal amounts of honey and prepared mustard; mixing well.

Try a little calorie-free club soda in your favorite fruit juice to add a bubbly sparkle and to make the fruit juice calories go further!

For a delicious aroma and flavor, add some red wine to the skillet while frying hamburgers.

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