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"Make It Special" Food Tips

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Make plain brownies special by melting a few of your favorite candy bars, along with a splash of milk, in the microwave. Use the melted chocolate mixture to top the brownies. Delicious!

When you make a pie, make a double or triple batch of dough (it's the same amount of work) and freeze it in portions. Then for a quick and easy dessert, thaw, roll out and cut into strips or shapes, and bake. Arrange the crisp crusts over individual servings of fresh or cooked fruit, pudding or ice cream.

Mash about 6 garlic cloves into a 1/2 cup butter, add chopped chives or parsley. Form into logs, wrap in plastic, and freeze. Slice as needed to melt onto meats, vegetables or use as a spread.

Use leftover pie or tart pastry to make pastry cases for hors d'oeuvre. Freeze and save for a special occasion.

Flavored oils give extraordinary lift to many dishes. Drizzle basil-flavored oil over sliced tomatoes and mozzarella. Use roasted garlic-flavored oil to perk up ordinary fried potatoes. Have fun and experiment with other flavors!

For a fast topping on a cake, place a paper doily on top of cake and dust with powdered sugar; then carefully remove doily to reveal a pretty design.

Clean, dry coffee cans make ideal baking containers to use for baking gift breads.

For a great gift idea, wrap homemade bread in festive paper or a holiday tea towel and tie with a bow and fresh greenery.

A homemade cookbook of treasured family recipes compiled in a colorful journal or ring binder is a loving gift that will be cherished and used many times over.

To keep appetizers appealingly hot--and you out of the kitchen--use your chafing dish and warming trays for serving.

Add a finishing touch to desserts by garnishing with an ingredient used, such as lemon slices on a lemon pie, peanuts on a peanut butter pie or chocolate curls on a chocolate pie or cake.

Use a vegetable peeler to strip off spirals of citrus zest or tomato skin, and twirl into "roses" to use as garnishes.

To help reduce calories, use nonfat sour cream instead of milk or cream to enrich sauces and soups.

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