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THE NEW YEAR TAKES SHAPE

SHARE THE NEW YEAR TAKES SHAPE

Remember those sweetened rice teddy bears that were all the rage a couple of Christmases ago?

Since their creation by a local company - Mouldings, Inc. - Teddy now has a menagerie of plastic molds to keep him company.Now you can fill the molds with everything from birdseed to mashed potatoes and shape the filling into ducks, lions, pigs, fish, dinosaurs, elephants, bunnies and bats, just to mention a few of the animal forms available.

And Mouldings, Inc., continues to increase its zooful of "moulds," trying to keep up with the demand from craft and kitchenware stores.

But did you know that these colorful critters can be YOUR key to a carefree New Year's Eve party to remember?

What's that, O Ruler of the Kitchen and Adjoining Areas? You're mumbling something about burnout? Not quite up to doing the Martha Stewart thing AGAIN?

Perhaps it's time to drag that sleigh to a halt and turn the reigns over to the rest of the family.

Martha herself would tell you, "it's a good thing."

Let the kids plan the New Year's Eve party.

There's probably an entire team of child psychologists out there holding a seminar at this very moment, discussing the benefits of turning kitchen responsibilities over to young children.

"Cooking encourages creativity, independence, self-esteem, and eye-hand-coordination," they'd tell you.

Just imagine. You'll actually be able to sit back on New Year's Eve and count Dick Clark's wrinkles without interruption.

This is where a variety of molds can help you out. Let the party menu "take shape," so to speak.

According to Dee McBride, vice president of International Sales for Mouldings, Inc., just about any foodstuff takes on a whimsical feeling when molded into an animal shape.

She's collected recipes from kitchen equipment dealers and "mouldies" across the country.

We've included some festive dips and dessert recipes - so you can let your young chefs take the hint.

Here's how to get it all going:

1. Have the PCP (Primary Cooking Person) in your family purchase all the food. (This simple step will save you lots of money!)

2. Let the PCP choose the main dish, so that he/she doesn't feel left out. Perhaps a baked ham, turkey, tenderloin of beef, prime rib, etc.

(An important note here: In order for the entire family to experience happiness and unity on the first day of 1995, the main course selection must be approved by a majority vote.)

3. Mold appetizers into various shapes. Perhaps a turtle cheese shape, ham dip in the shape of a pig, a fish-shaped shrimp dip or an elephant guacamole. Serve these with snack crackers, veggies, or chips.

4. You can serve frozen fruit salad or molded Jell-O salads in any shape you choose. A lion or a cow might be lovely here. Green Jell-O, of course, is altogether fitting and proper for the turtle mold.

5. For a side dish, pack mashed potatoes into a cat or a star mold and display them, garnished with fresh parsley, on a large platter beside the meat. Or mold sticky rice (Calrose brand found in Chinese groceries or in supermarkets works well) into a dinosaur shape.

6. Microwave individual cakes for dessert. Hold a pre-New Year's Eve bake-off with your siblings. (See recipe below for microwave cakes).

7. Rent a video to match the "party animal" mood. "Dr. Doolittle" would be a fine selection.

8. Don't forget our feathered friends flapping around outside, freezing and foodless. A duck mold filled with bird seed and suet would make a great project for those "I'm-bored-what-can-I-do-because-I'm-too-young-to-drive" kids who are out of school for the Christmas vacation.

9. Most important of all, enjoy the planning, preparation and party partners. (Someday, you'll look back on this New Year's Eve and remember the weird mashed potatoes!)

Remember, you can mold 1995 into any shape you wish.

After all, you're the cook.

Mouldings, Inc., molds are available at Spoons 'n Spice, The Quilted Bear and other local craft stores. Molds from Wilton and other companies can be found in many housewares stores.

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Recipes

"THE ORIGINAL" CRISPIE TREATS

2 cups brown sugar

2 sticks margarine

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 3/4 cup light corn syrup

20 cups crisp rice cereal

Combine sugar, margarine, and corn syrup. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk. Boil for an additional 3 minutes. Add cereal. Mix well. Let cool for a few minutes, then begin packing mix into molds. Knock shape out of mold immediately. Decorate with small candies. Yields approximately 20 shapes.

Substitutions or options:

- Use other small grain cereals such as puffed rice, cocoa crisps, fruit crisps or popcorn.

- Make crispies with crisp rice marshmallow recipe (found on cereal boxes).

- Add semi-sweet chocolate to mix before adding cereal.

- Color mix with food coloring for special occasions (i.e. green trees, orange pumpkins, etc.).

- Fold in raisins, nuts or coconut into mix before molding.

- On molds with recessed cavities (such as heart, shamrock, star, etc.) after molding crispies, pour chocolate on top, let cool.

- Each serving contains 423 calories, 11 g fat, 79 g carb, 367 mg sodium, 7 mg cholesterol.

- From Mouldings, Inc.

"ROCKY ROAD" PEANUT-BUTTER SHAPES

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup peanut butter

6 cups Triples cereal

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

Heat syrup and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter until melted. Place cereal in bowl, pour mixture over cereal, stir until well coated. Stir in marshmallows. Press mixture in mold. Remove immediately. Place on waxed paper, and sprinkle with peanuts. Heat chocolate and shortening over low heat until melted. Drizzle over shapes. Yields approximately 10 shapes.

- Each serving contains 533 calories, 17 g fat, 93 g carb, 297 mg sodium, trace of cholesterol.

- From Mouldings, Inc.

CHEESE SHAPES

8 ounces sharp cheddar flavor cheese spread

8 ounces cream cheese

2 teaspoons chopped pimento

2 teaspoons chopped onion

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine cheeses and mix well. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until well-blended. Spray mold with vegetable shortening. Pack molds. Chill until firm. Makes three shapes.

Dip Hints:

- After pouring mixture into mold, knock mold onto counter to get mix into the design of the mold.

- To unmold any recipes using gelatin, after recipe sets up, sit mold in a pan of hot water for a minute or less (depends on recipe). In some cases you may need to trim the edges of the shape with a knife, then knock out.

- Each shape contains 485 calories, 46 g fat, 5 g carb, 1458 mg sodium, 138 mg cholesterol.

- From Bountiful Baskets, Danville, Ill.

HAM SHAPES

6 ounces ham, cubed

5 green onions

16 ounces cream cheese

Dash Accent or MSG (or any seasoning)

Dash garlic salt

Combine ingredients with mixer or food processor. Spray mold with vegetable oil. Pack mold well. Freeze mold until hardened. Knock out. Thaw. Serve. Makes approximately five shapes.

- Each shape contains 383 calories, 36 g fat, 4 g carb, 719 mg sodium, 119 mg cholesterol.

- From Bountiful Baskets, Danville, Ill.

SHRIMP DIP

1 can tomato soup

3 - 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

2 cans shrimp (drained, rinsed and mashed)

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cups finely chopped celery

3/4 cups finely chopped green onions

4-6 drops hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water. Heat soup to boiling point. Dissolve cream cheese into soup. Add gelatin, mix and cool. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into molds. Chill for six hours. Makes about 12 shapes.

- Each shape contains 378 calories, 35 g fat, 6 g carb, 489 mg sodium, 113 mg cholesterol.

- From Courtney's, Destrehan, La.

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SHAPES

Fill 1/4 of mold with molding chocolate (any color). Brush up sides. Let harden. Fill with softened ice cream. Top with more melted chocolate. Freeze. Carefully tap shape out of mold and serve.

- Each mold contains 515 calories, 31 g fat, 54 g carb, 132 mg sodium, 156 mg cholesterol.

- From Southeastern Candy, Oak Creek, Wis.

CAKE AND CREAM

Spray mold with vegetable oil, lightly flour. Pour mixed cake mix into bottom of mold (to 1/4 capacity). Microwave until cooked (less than 1 minute). Cool. Fill balance of mold with softened ice cream. Freeze. Knock out of mold onto serving dish.

- Each serving (using vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake) contains approximately 383 calories 19 g fat, 51 g carb, 422 mg sodium, 78 mg cholesterol.

- From Dolls Gifts & More, San Ramone, Calif.

MICROWAVE CAKES

Cake mix

Frosting

Shortening or vegetable spray

Flour

*Optional cake decorations

Coat mold with shortening or spray. Dust with flour. Fill mold to 1/2 capacity with mixed cake mix. Microwave 60 to 90 seconds or until dry on top. Remove from mold by inverting and tapping sharply on plate or cooling surface. Let cool. Frost and decorate. Makes approximately 12 shapes.

*Decorating tips:

- Try putting little microwave cakes on larger baked cakes as decorations.

- If using molds with recessed centers, put fruit filling in center after frosting cake.

- Each shape (chocolate cake and vanilla frosting) contains 20 calories, 1 g fat, 3 g carb, 18 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

- From Mouldings, Inc.

GUACAMOLE OLE

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1 cup mashed avocado

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 .5 ounce package Italian salad dressing mix

1 pint sour cream

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Green food coloring

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Cook until mixture comes to a boil to dissolve gelatin. Remove, cool to room temperature. In a food processor, blend avocado, lemon juice, salad dressing mix, sour cream, parsley, Tabasco sauce and green food coloring. Add gelatin and blend. Pour into molds. Chill. Makes about six shapes.

*NOTE: After pouring mix into mold, knock on counter to get mix into the design of the mold. To unmold any recipe using gelatin, after recipe sets up, sit mold in a pan of hot water for a minute or less.

- Each shape contains 242 calories, 22 g fat, 9 g carb, 269 mg sodium, 34 mg cholesterol.

- From Creative Cuisine, Milwaukee

BIRD FEEDERS

2 pounds ground suet (see your butcher)

3 cups bird seed

4 inches of heavy-duty string (for each mold)

Cook suet on medium heat to a water consistency. Skim off any meat particles. Remove from heat. Refrigerate until suet starts to gel. Mix in bird seed. Spoon into mold until half full. Loop string at top of mold. Fill mold. Refrigerate until hard. Remove gently by tapping on hard surface. Seal in plastic wrap until ready for use. Makes eight or nine shapes.

- No calorie counts on this one, chickadees!

- From L&S Gardens, La Pine, Ore.