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I sat next to a man on an airplane (first time in first class– thanks for the free upgrade, Delta!) last weekend who told me he capped his wife’s Christmas neighbor-gift budget at $700 and 45 houses. Say what?!

While I generally whip up a little something for our fantastic neighbors each Christmas, it’s not something I stress nor refinance the mortgage over. As I’m decidedly not a baker, and Little Man has a love/hate relationship with gluten anyway, we try to think a bit outside of the box a bit with the homemade goodies that we share.

peppermint bark, click pic for link to recipe

I added a dark chocolate layer to last year’s embarrassingly simple & easy peppermint bark (woah, Mia, don’t hurt yourself!), and also cooked up a double batch of Great Grandma Schafer’s famous sweet-hot mustard for the first time in about a decade, which I then spooned into the most darling, teeny-tiny mason jars for gifting.

This mustard is so good, you don’t even know. Admittedly, I’ve always been a mustard enthusiast, but her rendition is unique, perfected over decades with love. I can eat it plain. She was a wonderful, patient cook/baker, her Green Tree Cookies equally famous amongst our relatives. I wonder what dishes I might be “famous” for as a Grandma… likely not anything that goes in the oven! Husband is already famous for his pho, but I don’t know that I have found my THING yet. I would hate for my potato salad to be my culinary legacy. (yawn)

in case you can decipher my chicken scratching & care to try your hand at it (though I suspect it requires genuine Schafer blood or legal adoption paperwork for success)

husband’s pho, the ultimate comfort food

I did also concoct these lovely coconut macaroons, which are so very simple they hardly count as baking: Mix 1 bag coconut, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, & chocolate chips; bake @325′ 12-14 minutes.

Best part? They’re gluten-free, so Little Man can enjoy them without a subsequent eczema flare-up. One could omit the chocolate chips, instead either dipping them in melted chocolate or adding Hershey kisses to the center after baking, like I did with my aunt’s gluten-free 3-ingredient Peanut Butter Blossoms last week.

Further evidence that I’ve never been a baker, this Facebook post from five years ago: “Informed Lex that [Firstborn] & I were going to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies tonight, to which he replied w/a straight face, ‘The soft kind or the burnt kind?'”

What about you– what are you famous for in the kitchen? Doing the dishes? Getting in the way? Eating all the cookie dough before it makes it to the oven? What do you share with neighbors this time of year?

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