The Money Savvy Mommy: Easy-to-Make Homemade Holiday Treats

by Mira Reverente

Last week in my “10-Step Guide to Rocking the Holidays,” I mentioned making homemade gifts. I have two that are my top favorites for two reasons: they are easy to make and cost-effective. I say cost-effective because one uses an ingredient that would otherwise be discarded from the first one. I make both at the same time almost every year to give to family and friends.

Aren’t they just lovely to look at and so gift-worthy ? I can’t take credit for the photos since I haven’t made them yet this year. I usually begin my baking bonanza the day after Thanksgiving, right after I put up my tree. Yes, I’m one of those people!

Anyway, here’s the first one:

Credit: RealSimple.com

Credit: RealSimple.com

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
unsalted butter for the baking dish, at room temp (or cooking spray)
6 egg yolks
2 cups 1% or 2% milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 croissants, cut into small pieces (Costco croissants are perfect!)
1/2 cup chocolate chip morsels

Procedure:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray an 8-inch or shallow 2-quart baking dish.
2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Add the croissants and chocolate chips to mixture.
3) Transfer mixture to baking dish and bake until the knife inserted in the center comes out clean, usually 30-35 minutes. Serve warm or a la mode.

Adapted from: RealSimple.com

Note: Instead of discarding the egg whites from this recipe, I use it for this recipe:

Credit: GetCreativeJuice.com

Credit: GetCreativeJuice.com

Candied Nuts

Ingredients:
6 cups (mix of pecans, almonds, walnuts or whatever nut you prefer)
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. salt

Procedure:
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with Pam or any non-stick spray.
3) Mix nuts in a large bowl. Set aside.
4) Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and water on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about four to six minutes.
5) Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt, until well-mixed.
6) Pour sugar mixture over nuts and stir to coat completely.
7) Spread the coated nuts over the baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes.
8) Cool completely before consuming or storing in containers.

Tips:
1) I like to use reusable containers to put my holiday treats in. Friends love getting two gifts in one!

2) I buy square or rectangular glass containers from Ross or Marshalls and bake the chocolate croissant pudding in them. Top with a bow and a small card and they’re set for gift-giving.

3) For the candied nuts, I use various sizes of mason jars – large ones to give to families and smaller ones for individual friends.

Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more money savviness tips or check out her new blog.  


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