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Christmas Cookies and Other Recipes That Are Great Any Time of Year

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We just finished Christmas, I know. But it’s always a good time for a cookie as simple and delicious as the one in “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Cookbook” (Harlequin, $29.95).

All you do is spread some peanut butter between two Ritz crackers, then dunk the sandwich in melted chocolate chips. Sprinkle on a little Christmas candy, if desired, and let set. That’s it.

The end result is sweet and salty, with a good variety of textures, especially if you use crunchy peanut butter.

What makes it a Christmas cookie? Nothing except the name: Jack Griffin’s Christmas Cookies.

I don’t rightly know who Jack Griffin is. I haven’t read one of Macomber’s books, but I gather they are served up with plenty of food references.

What I can tell you is that Macomber does know her food. She likes it simple yet often elegant, with a healthy dose of comfort mixed in. For appetizers, there are recipes for Celery Cups With Blue Cheese Mousse and Bacon as well as Mini-Hamburgers decked out to the max. No pretense here.

Blueberry Muffins, Pumpkin Tea Cake, Southwestern Taco Salad and Roasted Salmon with a creamy dill sauce are among the more enticing offerings.

[amazon-product]0373892136[/amazon-product]The book is set up as a tour through Macomber’s fictional Cedar Cove. You stop at 16 Lighthouse Road for breakfast with Olivia Griffin, then move on to 204 Rosewood Lane for lunch with Grace Sherman Harding. Tea time is spent with Justine Gunderson at 6 Rainier Drive, and so on through dinner, dessert, Easter, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each is accompanied by a short story from your tour guide, Charlotte Jefferson Rhodes, Macomber’s centra character.

Nothing is too complicated, and the instructions are straightforward, making this a good choice for beginners. I may not agree with Macomber’s choices in all recipes. Velveeta cheese food in macaroni and cheese is too easy and just doesn’t taste as good as a real cheese, such as fontina or even sharp cheddar.

In the end, the emphasis favorites the sweets, but don’t overlook some of the savory dishes whether it’s Cowboy Eggs With Smoky Black Beans and Lime-Avocado Salsa or the vegetarian Broccoli Lasagna.

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