I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a gift from the kitchen. Here are some of my ideas and recipes. Once again, baskets are a wonderful way to ‘wrap’ them. I also keep holiday themed tins each year just for food gifts
Breads and Cakes
Instead of wrapping them in foil or cling wrap, buy an inexpensive tea towel, wrap it around the bread and tie the ends into a bow. If you’re not in the mood for baking, one option is to parcel up the dry ingredients, add instructions, and a list of other ingredients the recipient will need, and place everything in a disposable baking pan. This also works for brownies and muffins.
Chocolate, Ginger and Pear Bread
- 6 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 canned pear halves, drained, dried and chopped into medium size pieces
- 1 4 ounce bar of good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 2 pound loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine until soft, slowly add brown sugar and then gradually add beaten eggs.
Stir in flour, cocoa powder and ginger and beat together until mixture is smooth.
Fold in both the pears and chopped chocolate.
Pour mixture into loaf pan and back for 50-60 minutes until it’s well risen. Cool in pan for about ten minutes and then remove it and allow it to cool on a rack for at least an hour before cutting.
You can decorate it with more chopped chocolate and also crystallized ginger pieces.
Yields 12 slices and pairs perfectly with a cup of tea.
Who wouldn’t appreciate coming home to a bowl of homemade soup? Well, the recipient has to do a little work, but this makes a really thoughtful gift, especially for a senior. And you can even keep a few of these soup mixes in your own pantry for the cold winter months ahead.
I like to layer all the ingredients in a mason jar. I type the instructions for making the soup on an index card and tie it around the neck of the jar with a red or green bow. Here is what you’ll need-
- 1/3 cup lentils, or yellow split peas
- 2/3 cup dried tortellini (meat, chicken, or cheese variety)
*I like to use lentils with the meat tortellini and the split peas with the chicken or cheese variety.
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
- I bouillon cube, chicken or vegetable
- 1 ½ tsp dried basil
- 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried minced onion
Instruction label should read-Empty the ingredients into a three-quart saucepan, add five cups of water. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer soup for 45 minutes or until the lentils and peas are tender. Serves 4.
Something Different From Cookies
I don’t know about you but sometimes I get bored with making and giving cookies every year. Here’s an alternative that’s a lot less work-
Sweet BBQ Nuts
- Two tablespoons honey
- Two tablespoons BBQ sauce
- One tablespoon ketchup…if you like some heat, replace the ketchup with some Frontera Chipotle Hot sauce.
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Just about any types of nut work perfectly in this recipe. My favorites are pecans and cashews, but I’ve had great results using peanuts, almonds, and even walnuts. The above mixture coats about 2 cups of nuts, so if you want more, double the above amounts.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the meantime, take a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients, except the nuts, and mix together.
Place the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven to warm through. About five minutes should do it, watch them carefully because they can burn very quickly. Add the nuts to the mixing bowl and toss in the honey/BBQ mix. Make sure they’re all covered.
Cover the baking sheet with some parchment paper and place the coated nuts on top and spread out evenly.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, stir occasionally and keep your eye on them as they can get too hot and burn.
In my house these have a mysterious way of disappearing within 24 hours of making!
I admit I love chocolates any day of the year but it wouldn’t be Christmas without making this recipe.
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I’ve also used part cream, part eggnog)
Melt the butter and add the cocoa powder. Sieve the confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl and add the butter mixture. Blend together until well mixed. (I’ve done this by hand but using a mixer is a lot easier). Add the cream and mix everything together. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour until firm and then roll into balls. The roll them in cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, toasted coconut or chopped nuts.
Some variations I’ve made include adding about three tablespoons of the chopped candied orange peel, two tablespoons chopped candied ginger or try adding about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder when you add the cocoa powder. I’ve also thought about chopped dried cranberries and mango.
Keep these refrigerated. Makes about a dozen.