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Nov 19, 2006 11:42 PM

Best homemade food gifts?

I would love some suggestions, please

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  1. Martha Stewart's recipe for spiced almonds is actually delicious, easy, and very popular. The trick is finding whole blanched almonds as the base ingredient. Here's the recipe:

    Spiced Nuts...(a good thing)

    Makes 2 cups

    2 tablespoons peanut oil (scant)

    2 cups whole almonds, blanched

    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

    1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    (1) In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan (cast iron is best), warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the almonds, and stir with a wooden spoon, coating each thoroughly with oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar, and continue to stir until the almonds become golden brown and the sugar caramelized, about 4 minutes. (the almonds will continue to darken some after they are removed from the heat)

    (2) Remove the pan from heat. Sprinkle the remaining sugar, salt, cumin, and the red-pepper flakes over the nuts, and toss well. Work quickly for this and the following step.

    (3) Pour the spiced nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper, and separate into a single layer with a wooden spoon. Allow nuts to cool for about 30 minutes. Spiced nuts can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rcallner

      I have been making these for years and they are wonderful. I use three different nuts, almonds, walnut and pecans just for variety.

      1. re: rcallner

        I do this, but with pecans. Always a big hit. And lovely in a salad.

      2. Here's one that I received last year:

        Friendship Soup Mix - Layered Soup Mix In A Jar

        1/2 cup dry split peas
        1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
        1/4 cup pearl barley
        1/2 cup dry lentils
        1/4 cup dried minced onion
        2 tsp. italian seasoning
        1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
        1/2 cup alphabet macaroni or other small macaroni (can be put in a plastic sandwich bag to make it easier for the recipient to get out of jar )

        Additional Ingredients:
        1 lb. ground beef
        3 qts. water
        1 (28-ozs.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

        In a 1-1/2-pint jar, layer the first eight ingredients in the order listed. Seal tightly.

        Yield: 1 batch.

        Instructions to attach to jar:

        Friendship Soup Mix:

        To Prepare Soup: Carefully remove macaroni from top of jar and set aside. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, brown beef; drain. Add the water, tomatoes and soup mix; bring to a boil Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add reserved macaroni; cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until macaroni, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

        Yield: 16 servings (4 quarts)

        3 Replies
        1. re: rmperry

          Sometimes a batch of homemade granola is nice. You can easily find a recipe on epicurious or a google search. Very easy to make & has a good shelf life.
          I send cookies for Thanksgiving & Christmas but I'll usually add a bag of homemade cocoa mix &/or depending on if they have a dog some homemade dog biscuits.

          I have a friend who is not a big sweet eater but I'll send her a "coupon" for whatever sweet she would like on her birthday or other special it a cake or truffles..etc.

          1. re: sugarbuzz

            Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa granola recipe is very good. Rich and tasty. Those I have given this to seemed to really enjoy it.

          2. re: rmperry

            How did it taste? I want my kids to make something like this for relatives but wasn't sure if it would taste good.

          3. A very favorite for those on the receiving end are chocolate truffles, which are easy to do but can cost a bit if you use high quality chocolate (which I think is key). You can make a few different kinds, either keeping them traditional or venturing into the modern interpretations using a little chile powder, or infusing the cream with Earl Grey tea or fennel seed, etc.

            Other sweet ideas are cashew brittle, peppermint bark, sugar and cinnamon coated pecans.

            Savory ideas include a variety of puff pastry twists with different combinations of cheeses and toppings, old-fashioned cheese straws, homemade crackers delivered with an herbed soft cheese ball. One of my favorites is to make 3 varieties of nuts -- spicey, herbed and sweet.

            If you have experience and supplies for canning, you could do a variety of things like salsas, chutneys, curds.

            Because I like to grind my own spices, I have developed a few blends like a barbeque rub, a curry powder, garam masala, pork rub, etc. I have made packets of each in a basket and included an easy recipe card on each mix.

            Homemade infused alcohalic drinks are also popular.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Terrie H.

              Yes..bbq rubs are a great gift. My brother sends me his secret recipe every summer & I really love it.
              Jacque Torres has a great recipe for candied nuts. caramelized in sugar & then tossed in chocolate & then cocoa or powdered sugar.
              A fellow chef friend always send me some infused vodka every year. Last year was star anise..the year before was vanilla. Screwdrivers never tasted more like creamsicles ever.

            2. If you are giving gifts to alcohol-drinking folks, homemade limoncello is nice. Of course, I live in a lemon-growing area, so the lemons are free for me. :) That star anise vodka sounds good as well.

              One year when my sister was in college I made her the base for ginger pancakes and sealed it in a bag. All she needed to do was to add the wet ingredients.

              2 Replies
              1. re: burnt toast

                can you please post a recipe for lemoncello, thanks

                1. re: galka

                  This is the limoncello recipe I used:


                  My own notes: I use 100 proof vodka. I would not recommend putting the zest directly into the vodka bottle, as he suggests -- when I tried that, there wasn't enough room in the bottle. I just use a mason jar. I've made a batch using Eureka lemons, one using Meyer lemons, and one using a mix of the two, and they've all come out well. I'm also making some "Buddhacello" using the same recipe.

                  It takes a couple of weeks at least to infuse, so you'd better get going if you want to give it away for Christmas!

              2. My gifts for Christmas include:

                Brandied Fruit Cake

                Spiced nuts

                Preserves and Chutneys

                Mahagony Toffee from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Christmas book

                3 Replies
                1. re: Fleur

                  How is her toffee? I have always looked at the recipe but never gotten around to making it. Is it much different from others? Some recipes I have found make the toffee sticky on my teeth. Does this one?

                  1. re: sam21479

                    The toffee from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Christmas book is delicious. I make it every year. The only change I make to the recipe is adding a little bit of salt to the hot sugar before pouring it over the chocolate.

                    Edit: I just realized this thread is 4 years old, but the toffee is still delicious.

                    1. re: potato or yam

                      I am just realizing how old it is, too. However, I always read old threads for recipe ideas so I don't see any reason to not add comments. Right? And I was also looking for a toffee recipe. So it worked out well for me. Thanks.