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Divas on a Dime: Last-minute tasteful gifts from the kitchen

Procrastinators unite! Even those of us with the best intentions need a little last-minute help at Christmastime. Here are five inexpensive, quick and easy no-bake treats that come together in 20 minutes or less. Perfect for treating friends and neighbors or taking to a party. Gifts from the kitchen, from the heart.

Here’s the trick – chocolate chips to the rescue! Each recipe here uses chocolate chips to enrobe tasty tidbits turning ordinary ingredients into extraordinary delights!

For versatility’s sake, you can use any variety of chocolate chips, Almond Bark or Candy Melts for any of these recipes.

Here’s how you melt the chocolate for all these recipes: Put chocolate in a bowl and place in microwave. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring with a spatula until smooth. Easy peasy.

All these recipes can easily double, triple or more. To make things even easier I suggest lining baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent candies from sticking. All you need are some little plastic gift bags and ribbon and you’re set!

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark – Place about 6 candy canes (to taste) in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin until pulverized with some chunks. Melt an (11 ounce) bag of white chocolate or candy melts. Pour onto parchment and spread with a spatula. Quickly sprinkle with peppermint candy, pressing lightly. Let set and break into pieces.

Christmas Pistachio and Cranberry Bark – Melt an (11 ounce) bag of white chocolate or candy melts. Add ½ cup each dried cranberries and roughly chopped pistachios (to taste). Pour onto parchment and spread with a spatula. Let set and break into pieces. I love this because it’s red and green. Festive!

Haystacks – Remember these? They’re old school and wonderfully addictive. Melt one (11 ounce) bag any kind of chips or melts (milk, semi-sweet, butterscotch, white) add 2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles and 1 cup Spanish peanuts. Stir until coated. Drop by tablespoons onto the parchment. Let set. Devour.

Nut Clusters – Melt a (10 to 12 ounce) bag of any variety of chips or candy melts and stir in 2 cups of your favorite nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews or mixed nuts). Use a spoon to scoop clusters of coated nuts. Let set. Take a bow.

Chocolate Crunch Bars – If Rice Krispie treats and a Nestle Crunch bar had a baby, it’d be this easy DIY candy bar. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side of the pan. Spray with cooking spray. Melt one (11 ounce) bag of dark chocolate chips (or chips of your choice) and mix with about 2 cups crispy rice cereal. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and press flat with a spatula. Allow to firm up in the fridge. Use the parchment overhang to remove the chocolate from the baking pan and cut into pieces. You can add anything that strikes your fancy to these bars. Nuts, sprinkles, candies, candy cane pieces, other cereals, dried fruit.

All of us at Divas On A Dime wish you and yours a sweet holiday season and a very merry Christmas!

Festive Food by Patti Diamond from “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” – www.divasonadime.com Join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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