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Easy but elegant

December 03, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Evelyn Madden's holiday guests have come to expect the tasty treats she's been making for 50 years - Date Cream Cheese Roll Ups, Royal Crowns, Melt-In-The-Mouth Cookies and Praline Cookies.

The Halfway resident has been making the easy but elegant eats for holiday gatherings and other get-togethers since she saw the recipes in Woman's Day magazine's first cookie edition in December 1953, she says.

"If I don't have these when my guests come over, they're disappointed," Madden says. "They are tasty. And these recipes are extremely easy."

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The simplicity of the dishes make them ideal holiday party fodder for busy cooks such as Madden, who volunteers at Hospice of Washington County and the John Marsh Cancer Center at Robinwood Medical Center, and plays in the New Horizons Band. The Christmas Punch that Janice Frye has been making since she got the recipe from the late Isabel Poole of Hagerstown also is a quick, crowd-pleasing party favorite, she says.

"My family really does enjoy it," says Frye of Rohrersville.

The festive concoction contains only four ingredients - cranberry juice, pineapple juice, ginger ale and sugar - and one instruction: Mix together. Recipes for the Christmas Punch, Praline Cookies and Date Cream Cheese Roll Ups are included in Hospice of Washington County's "Taste of the Town, Too" cookbook.

As a former caterer, Mary Ashe-Mahr of Waynesboro, Pa., prepared countless culinary creations for holiday gatherings. Some of her favorites - and her clients' - were Shrimp and Crabmeat Salad on Sweet Potato Biscuits and Spirited Eggnog Cake, which she cut into bite-sized pieces to serve.

"What I've noticed is that people really like things that are easy to eat," Ashe-Mahr says.

For holiday cooks, she suggests such time-saving tips as preparing food ahead of time and freezing it until party day, and enlisting the help of family members to serve and clean up.

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