I’m so excited that the Christmas season is finally here!! I am a Christmas junkie and truly do “jingle all the way.” If only I could figure out a way to attach jingle bells to my chef clogs.
It is a longstanding tradition in my home to not give store-purchased gifts. Our decision to make and give homemade gifts started out when we were newlyweds (25 years ago) as a means to be frugal, but has grown to have deeper meaning and value to us as we aim to truly embrace the holidays, not simply endure them.
My shopping frenzy is not at the mall and I don’t spend hours shopping online. Instead, almost all my shopping is limited to grocery stores, large warehouse members-only stores, discount superstores, crafts stores and dollar stores where I gather my ingredients for all the goodies I will make. I try to give equal thought and effort to packaging and presentation, believing as I do, that presentation is part of the gift as well.
I make all of my own hand-tied bows for my goodies. Here’s a tip: by making my bows, cute fabric jar toppers and labels well in advance (ever heard of Christmas in July?), packaging my gifts becomes a breeze. I also find it quite beneficial to have an elf around to assist. You might have children to help or maybe a friend or two to help out.
This year Bill helped me package a lot of our gifts as we listened to Christmas music to keep our spirits up — he really is a good sport. What fun we had spending time together finishing off our holiday gifts from the kitchen. Elves really are great help. Santa really knows what he is doing!
This year I will be sharing with you 18 recipes for making your own holiday gifts from the kitchen — perfect for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Actually a homemade treat is welcomed anytime of the year! There are three different recipes for hot drink mixes; Café Vienna, Spiced Orange Cocoa and Nutcracker Suite Tea Mix. Four different recipes for dry mixes (for your gourmet friends); Scarboro Fare Chef’s Seasoning, Caesar Salad Dressing Mix, Apple Pie Spice and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Bourbon & Brown Sugar Mustard, Tiramisu Cream Cordial and Spiced Pumpkin Butter are great gourmet gifts as well. And who wouldn’t want my crunchy chocolate and peanut butter treat, Tiger Butter Pretzel Bark? There are also two recipes for gifts-in-a-jar; Mochaccino Muffin Mix and Sugarplum Scone Mix. I also like to give the Bed & Breakfast “Oatmeal Cookie” Hot Breakfast Cereal Mix in a quart-size caning jar.
And by all means create gift bags or baskets with companion goodies — Mexican Bean Soup Mix, Mexican Beer Bread Mix, and Horseradish Cheddar Spread make a great gift trio. How about giving the Nutcracker Suite Tea along with the Sugarplum Scone Mix to someone special?
Wishing you a blessed and beautiful holiday season filled with love and meaning. And remember… JINGLE ALL THE WAY!
3 cups dry coffee creamer
2 cups sugar
2 cups instant coffee granules
16 oz. hard butterscotch candies
2 (4 serving size) packages instant butterscotch pudding mix
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine all ingredients. (Work in half-batches or quarter batches if necessary.) Process until all ingredients are finely ground. Makes about 9 cups mix. Package attractively along with the following directions:
Café Vienna: Place 2 – 3 Tablespoons of mix into a mug. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Enjoy!
6 cups regular powdered non-dairy coffee creamer
4 cups sweetened chocolate drink mix powder
4 (4 serving size) packages orange flavored gelatin
2 cups cinnamon red-hot candies
1 (12 ounce) bag mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 teaspoons salt
In work bowl of food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine all ingredients. (Work in half-batches or quarter batches if necessary.) Blend well. Store airtight. Makes about 14 cups mix. Package attractively along with the following instructions:
Spiced-Orange Cocoa: Place 1/4 cup cocoa mix in mug. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Enjoy!
Nutcracker Suite Tea Mix
4 cups sweetened lemon flavored instant tea mix
2 cups sugar
10 packages (individual serving size) spiced cider drink mix
2 (4 serving size) packages blackberry or raspberry flavored gelatin mix
1 Tablespoon apple pie spice
Blend ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. Makes 9 cups mix. Package attractively along with the following instructions:
Nutcracker Suite Tea: Place 2 tablespoons tea mix in a mug. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Enjoy!
Tiramisu Cream Cordial
2 cups golden rum
2 cups brewed espresso, cooled
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup vanilla vodka
2 cups liquid cinnamon coffee creamer
1 cup chocolate syrup
Combine all ingredients and blend well. Bottle and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Makes about 9 cups.
Apple Pie Spice
1 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 cup ground nutmeg
1/4 cup ground allspice
1/4 cup ground cloves
In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine all ingredients. Process well. Makes about 1-3/4 cups pie spice. Package attractively along with the following directions:
Apple Pie Spice: Use in all recipes that call for apple pie spice. It is also a lovely addition to French toast and hot breakfast cereals.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup ground cinnamon
1/4 cup ground nutmeg
1/4 cup ground ginger
1/4 cup ground allspice
In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine all ingredients. Process well. Makes about 1 3/4 cups pie spice. Package attractively along with the following directions:
Pumpkin Pie Spice: Use in all recipes that call for pumpkin pie spice. It is also a lovely addition to French toast and hot breakfast cereals.
Scaroboro Fare Chef’s Seasoning
2 cups coarse kosher salt
2 cups Canadian steak seasoning
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dried marjoram
2 Tablespoons dried thyme
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried sage
Place all ingredients in a large zip-top plastic food storage bag. Seal shut with a lot of air in the bag. Shake well to blend all ingredients. Package into individual gifts. Give along with the following recommendations for use:
Scaroboro Fare Chef’s Salt: This is a great all-purpose seasoning. It is also delicious when used as a rub for all cuts of meat for grilling, broiling and pan-searing.
Caesar Salad Dressing Mix
2 cups finely ground Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons garlic salt
2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons dry oregano
2 Tablespoons dry thyme
In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine all ingredients. Process until all ingredients are finely ground. Makes about 2 1/2 cups salad dressing mix. Package attractively along with the following directions:
Caesar Salad Dressing: In a jar with a screw-top lid combine 1/4 cup mix along with 3/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Secure lid and shake very well.
Bourbon & Brown Sugar Mustard
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, beaten
2 ounces dry mustard powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk until smooth. Cook on high power, stirring and scraping down sides at one-minute intervals, cooking until thermometer registers 180 degrees. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to four months. Makes about 2 1/2 cups. Recipe easily doubles — keep some, share some!
Note: My mother is the one who spoiled me on homemade mustards. I came up with this recipe because I just love the combination of flavors, especially the bourbon! (However, if you’re a good Baptist (like my parents), you can replace the bourbon with apple cider vinegar. Or you could ask a non-Baptist friend to purchase the bourbon for you.) This mustard is just great served as a condiment with cold cuts, cheeses, sausages and grilled meats.
Tiger Butter Pretzel Bark
1 (24 oz.) package white candy coating bark
1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
3 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
2 cups milk chocolate morsels
Completely line the interior of a large jellyroll pan (half-sheet pan) with foil, smoothing out all wrinkles. Melt white candy coating bark according to package directions. When coating is melted and smooth, add peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is melted. Stir in the coarsely crushed pretzels. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Using an offset spatula, spread mixture to an even layer. Meanwhile, melt milk chocolate morsels, stirring until smooth. Transfer melted chocolate to a zip-top freezer bag. Snip a small hole in corner of bag. Drizzle chocolate in a zig-zag fashion to top peanut butter layer. Swirl if desired by using a skewer or toothpick. Firmly rap pan on countertop to level candy. When firm, break into pieces. Store airtight for up to one month.
Spiced Pumpkin Butter
4 (29 ounce) cans solid pack pumpkin
9 cups sugar
2 (12 ounce) cans frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons salt
8 pint-size canning jars, lids, and screw-top bands
Preheat oven to 325 F. Working in half-batches, place half the amount of each ingredient listed in a large mixing bowl. Stir well to blend. Transfer mixture to a very large roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and transfer to the same roasting pan. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for three hours, stirring well once every 30 minutes. During the last half hour of baking, prepare canning jars. Sterilize clean jars and lids in boiling water for five minutes. Remove jars and lids from boiling water, but do not pour out the water, because you’ll need it later for a hot water bath for the filled jars). Keep jars warm. Fill jars to within 1/4 – 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe rims of jars clean. Place lid on jar and secure with screw-top band. Place jars back into the pot of hot water. Add additional hot water to the pot (or remove some if necessary) to cover tops of jars by at least 1-inch. Once the water returns to a boil, process jars of filled pumpkin butter for a full 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from boiling water and leave undisturbed for at least four hours. Check jars for proper vacuum seal. Store any unsealed jar(s) in the refrigerator for up to one month. Store all properly sealed jars in pantry for up to two years. Makes 8 pints (plus just a bit more for home enjoyment).
Note: Here’s a real treasure for home enjoyment as well as gift giving. What’s so great about this recipe is that because it’s baked in the oven there’s no chance of it scorching — and no constant stirring necessary (as with stove-top methods). The flavor and aroma of this delicious spread literally exudes holiday warmth and cheer.
Bed & Breakfast
Hot Breakfast Cereal Mix
12 cups quick cooking oats
3 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries
3 cups vanilla flavored powdered nondairy creamer
1 pound dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons apple pie spice
2 Tablespoons salt
Place oats and raisins in a very large mixing bowl, stirring with your hands to break-up any clumps of raisins. Add remaining ingredients and blend well using your hands to break-up any clumps of brown sugar. Blend well. Divide into five equal gifts and package attractively along with the following instructions:
“Oatmeal Cookie” Hot Breakfast Cereal:
Place 1 cup oatmeal mix in a microwave safe dish. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir to blend. Microwave on high power just until oatmeal begins to boil. Stir oatmeal. Let stand for two minutes before serving.
Sugarplum Scone Mix
2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant orange breakfast drink mix
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
1/2 cup dried fruit bits
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened orange flavored soft drink mix
In a quart-size canning jar, layer the Scone Mix ingredients in the order listed. Combine ingredients for Glaze Mix and place in a separate bag, securing shut. Pack the Glaze Mix bag in the canning jar on top of ingredients. (Cram it in there — it will fit!) Place the following instructions in the jar before securing jar lid with screw-top band.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Open jar and set aside the Glaze Mix. Empty canning jar contents into a mixing bowl. Stir to blend. Make a well in center of ingredients. Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream into the “well.” Stir until all ingredients are well blended and dough clings together. Do not overmix. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half. Shape each half into a round disc about 1-inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut each dough round into 6 pie-shaped wedges. Space evenly on a greased baking sheet, leaving at least 1-inch of space between. Bake until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. While scones are in the oven, prepare the glaze. Empty contents of Glaze Mix into a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 -2 Tablespoons warm water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm scones. Let glaze set-up. Enjoy while warm.
Makes one dozen.
Mochaccino Muffin Mix
1 (18.25 ounce) box Chocolate Cake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup coarse sugar (turbinado sugar or sugar-in-the-raw)
Combine cake mix, sugar and instant coffee. Stir well to blend ingredients. Place in a quart-size canning jar. Combine ingredients for topping mix and place in a separate bag. Pack the topping mix bag in the canning jar on top of the muffin mix. (Cram it in there — it will fit!) Place the following instructions in the jar before securing jar lid with the screw-top band.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a standard size 12-cup muffin tin. In a medium mixing bowl, blend together two large eggs and 2 cups sour cream. Stir in muffin mix. Blend briefly. Divide batter evenly in prepared pan. Evenly divide topping mix on top of muffins. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until center tests done when pick is inserted in center. Remove from oven and place pan on a cooling rack. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and place on a cooling rack.
Makes one dozen.
Mexican Bean Soup Mix
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 pound dried kidney beans
1 pound great northern beans
Combine dried beans and mix to blend. Divide equally into 3 bags.
(In each of 3 small baggies place the following ingredients):
1 Tablespoon dried chives
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place a sealed packet of Seasoning Mix in with each of the three bean bags. Include the following instructions to make the soup:
Mexican Bean Soup
Package of Bean Mix
1 pound pork breakfast sausage
2 onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
Packet of Seasoning Mix
Rinse dried beans. Place in a soup pot. Cover with water by at least 2-inches. Soak beans overnight. Drain beans in a colander and flush with water. In a large soup pot, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, stirring to crumble. Add onion and garlic. Saute briefly. Stir in remaining ingredients along with the beans. Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during the cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Horseradish Cheddar Spread
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon prepared Horseradish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Blend until almost smooth. Place in a pint-size jar or small cheese crock. Seal tight. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Serve at room temperature with crackers or party breads.
Makes about 2 cups.
Note: Erick Erickson, the husband of my best friend, Janna, was the one who inspired me to make this cheese spread. He and I both love horseradish cheddar to nibble on.
Mexican Beer Bread Mix
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 -1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a quart-size zip-top bag and seal shut. Shake to blend. Package attractively with the following instructions:
Mexican Beer Bread
4 Tablespoons butter
Package of Mexican Beer Bread
1 (12 ounce) bottle beer or non-alcoholic beer
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butter in an 8-inch round cake pan. Place pan in oven to melt butter and to heat the pan. In a mixing bowl combine Mexican Beer Bread Mix along with the beer and eggs. Stir by hand just until blended. Swirl butter in pan to coat entire bottom and sides. Pour batter into hot pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.