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Treats While Trimming the Tree : Dress Up a Simple Menu With Fancy Accomapaniments

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Inviting a few friends in to help trim the tree is one way to simplify life during the holidays. Even just two or three extra sets of hands make quick work of testing lights, hanging ornaments and draping garlands.

No matter how many hands, they do get hungry.

Since you don’t want to be left late at night cleaning up empty ornament boxes as well as dirty dinner dishes, why not invite the gang over early for a tree-trimming brunch?

It’s almost as easy as scrambling a panful of eggs. You can make the main dish more complicated, but why bother? Dress up a plain menu of sausage and eggs with ginger-studded scones that are a snap to mix up using self-rising flour. Serve the scones topped with whipped cream and a bottled chutney.

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An ambrosial but easy fruit dish of oranges and bananas spiked, or not, with rum is all else you need except coffee, cocoa, cranberry juice, Champagne . . . and the tree.

GINGER SCONES WITH CREAM AND CHUTNEY

2 cups self-rising flour

2 tablespoons sugar

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4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces

1/3 cup chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup currants, optional

3/4 cup milk, about

Whipped cream

Bottled chutney

Combine flour and sugar in bowl. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ginger and currants, then mix in enough milk to form soft dough. Gather dough into ball and, on floured surface, pat out to 3/4-inch thick circle.

Cut into circles using 3-inch round cutter. Gather up scraps, pat out and cut until all dough is used. Arrange on lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly on rack. Serve warm with whipped cream and chutney. Makes about 8 scones.

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ORANGES AND BANANAS AU RHUM

4 bananas

4 to 6 oranges

1/4 cup rum, optional

Sugar

Peel bananas and slice into bowl. Peel oranges. Holding oranges over bowl of bananas to catch juices, cut between membranes to section. Add rum and sweeten to taste with sugar. Makes 8 servings.


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