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Diane's Delights: Sweets for the holidays.

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are in the countdown for Christmas, the season of celebration is in the air. Sparkles of color are everywhere and kitchens are a busy room of the house filled with the aroma of fancy candies and cookies. I’ve made my list of holiday recipes, and plan on trying to make at least one recipe each day so that my holiday baking doesn’t become a chore and makes each day of the season special.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla; add flour and walnuts. Beat on low speed with electric mixer until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill.

Wrap each kiss with about 1 tablespoon dough, covering each candy completely.

Roll each between palms to form a ball. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until centers of cookie look set and edges are beginning to brown.

Cool and store in tins, or cool slightly and roll in confectioners’ sugarwhile still warm.

Line a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with foil. Melt butter in a large h eavy saucepan. Stir in sugar, corn syrup and water. Attach a candy thermometer and cook without stirring to 300 degrees. Remove from heat and quickly stir in 1 cup slivered almonds. Pour immediately onto prepared jelly roll pan.

Cool. Melt half of chocolate and spread over cooled toffee. Sprinkle with half of finely choppednuts, pressing in slightly.

When chocolate is hard, lift foil from pan and peel away from candy. Turn over and repeat procedure with melted chocolate and nuts. When chocolate is completely hardened,

break into pieces. Store in tightly covered container or freeze.

Combine the lettuce, cheese, craisins, cashews, apple and pears in a large salad bowl. Toss gently. For dressing, combine the sugar, orange juice, onion, salt, oil and poppy seeds; pour over lettuce mixture, toss gently and serve.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Dollars always do better when they’re accompanied by some sense.

GARY’S TIP: To keep bulk chocolate or almond bark warm for repeated dipping, pour melted ingredients into a warm crockpot.