HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Best Homemade Food Gift


Each year I like to make something edible to give to various people as gifts. I have made cookie mixes in the jar, pancake mix, and soup mix in a jar in the past. Do you have something special that people love to receive? Do you make something they crave? I would love to hear about it!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We found that too many people feed the fruit cake they receive at Christmas time to their dogs. Most of the fruit cake I've sampled deserves that end. So my wife and I worked on a recipe that people would truly enjoy - and it's become a standard that friends and family actually ask to receive each year. I can't say they "crave" it, but they sure enjoy it with a good cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate.

    7 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Funny you should mention hot chocolate. I once made homemade hot chocolate mix and gave it away in pretty jars, and that went over really, really well. What was nice was that it was something that lasted a while, and I'd occasionally get a nice email from someone even months later that said, "I'm just enjoying a cup of your hot chocolate!"

      1. re: katecm

        Would you mind posting your recipe? TIA

        1. re: debby

          Here's the very basic recipe. I do try to use a high-quality cocoa, and then you can play around with flavours using spices. I've done cinnamon, and it was lovely, and then I also did one with cayenne and a touch of chili powder.

          2 cups of powdered milk

          Dash of salt

          1/4 cup of cocoa

          1 cup of powdered sugar

          1. re: katecm

            katecm, do you use regular or dutched cocoa? Also, how much cinnamon did you use and what amount of this mix would I use to make a cup of cocoa? Sounds like a great idea to give to a friend of mine, but I don't drink much hot cocoa, so I don't really know how much mix to add to how much water!

            1. re: nofunlatte

              I used regular cocoa, and just a dash of cinnamon. You don't want the cinnamon to overpower it, just to give it a bit of warmth.

              I would typically use a spoonful to mix into the hot water, but it depends on preference. My grandma would add several because she liked it really strong.

            2. re: katecm

              I did this also a few years ago and tied to the jars some homemade marshmallows in colored bags/cellophane. I think they were a hit, and surprisingly easy to make.

              1. re: ScarletB

                What a great idea - Home made Marshmallow, I bet the presentation was great!

      2. My Favorite to receive & give: Pecans.
        1. Praline Pecans

        2. Pralines

        3. A sort of trail mix with Pecans, Golden Raisins and (red label) Togarashi Spice Mix and Sea Salt. (EVERYONE loves this!)

        4. A homemade Indian Spice Mix for Lentil & Spinach Soup

        5. Peanut butter fudge

        2 Replies
        1. re: Isabella

          I'd love to hear more about the Indian Spice Mix for soup.

          1. re: cbritton

            It is really good. But I have to figure out what I put in it.
            I really wish I would write down some of this stuff, but I just start grabbing
            spices & kind of whip up something.

            However, I will say that Garam Masala is a good one to use & I often do, but
            will add other spices to the mix as well.

            Great in butternut squash soup.
            I will be making some in a few days, so I'll pay more attention to what I put in there & let you know. By no means is it officially Indian, but it does taste that way.

        2. I enjoy giving (and receiving homemade food gifts) as well. I've made and/or received: salsa, hot mustard, pepper jelly, bourbon balls, peppermint bark, pretzels dipped in chocolate (then rolled in nuts), biscotti, cookies (or course), crystalized ginger. This year I might be doing an herb blend with a small grinder, maybe a dip mix with handmade pottery dish - that's it so far. Found a few awesome sites if you google "homemade food gifts" - many in a cute cone wrapping.

          9 Replies
          1. re: lexpatti

            Lexpatti, what recipe did you use for your crystallized ginger? I haven't tried making it myself, mostly because I've heard so many people say heir attempts failed, but I'd love a tried and true recipe.

            1. re: lexpatti

              I love those long fat pretzels dipped in one end of chocolate.

              1. re: iL Divo

                OOh I've had them double dipped in caramel then chocolate. Dangerously good. I'd be making some for the holidays but can't find the thick long pretzel rods anywhere in town.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    I'll have to check our local WalMarchay ;) I've checked every other grocery store. Maybe they just don't ship them north to us Canadians?

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      I like pretzel rods (still looking btw) and driving to Pennsylvania would be a heck of a road trip but I don't think I can convince DH to drive that far for pretzels heh(I'm north of Montana). It's one of those things things that I'll have to look for on Amazon.ca.

                      1. re: maplesugar

                        not sure if you've found them yet.
                        the pretzel rods.
                        let me know if you can't find them.
                        I'll get a bag or two and send them your way.

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          How sweet of you to offer! I just found some awhile ago at Michaels (craft store) of all places. Mr. Sugar has demolished a bag but I do plan on experimenting with the remaining bag once the kiddos are back to school next week.

              2. Frozen cookie dough, bread dough. There is so much food around the holidays that people appreciate something they can have another time. Plus nothing beats freshly baked cookies or bread/rolls, especially for people who don't cook.

                1. Infuse a bottle of white wine vinegar with a couple of sprigs of tarragon (two teaspoons of dried also works) and a few garlic cloves (no need to peel). After about three weeks this can be used to make wonderful vinaigrette.

                  Fruit spirits are another favorite: Fill an empty bottle to about one-third with fruit (cherries are good or plums, which will of course need slicing to fit into bottle), shop-bought is fine, add about a wine glass of any sort sugar (using a funnel helps). Then top up with your chosen spirit. Vodka, gin or brandy work well. Stopper the bottle and lightly agitate once a week for three months (up to a year is fine) or so then strain off the liquid. A real winter treat!

                  1. I've been thinking a lot about possible homemade gifts lately as well - and will throw another question out there. What homemade food gifts have you made using fall/winter produce? I've got loads of it - squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, apples, leeks, fresh sage, honestly you name it - from my winter CSA. And I'll get another big batch early next month that I can use.

                    My concern is that anything I make might not stay fresh long enough to be considered "gift-worthy," and of course, I'd also like it to be presentable as a gift (i.e. given in a nice jar, bottle, etc. - not just a container of frozen soup!). Thoughts?

                    19 Replies
                    1. re: chevrelove

                      a fellow chowhounder recently gave me a wonderful homemade zuchinni relish that is awesome. I'm sure there are other type vegie relishes to can or jar. Or pickles of all type too would work.

                      1. re: chevrelove

                        I don't think I've made sage jelly but I used to make rosemary jelly. Sorry I can't remember what kind of base I used. Some herb jellies use fresh apple jelly as a base because of the natural pectic. It was still a sweet jelly, ideal for a fancy thumbprint cookie or a biscuit. How about drying your sage and presenting it in a nice glass bottle, whole leaves. Make a small cookbook with 5 or 6 recipes for using sage. I would also be tempted to make a chutney if you want to do some canning. We have a nice crop of winter squash but one variety is extremely dry. I've been experimenting with recipes planning to use if for some baking. Using canned pumpkin, I made the pumpkin beer bread recipe in the current issue of Cooking Light. Very good but not what I considered a beer bread. My husband thought it was fantastic. I noticed pumpkin bread at Border's cafe is $1.95 a slice!

                        1. re: dfrostnh

                          Thanks, lexpatti and dfrostnh, for the great ideas. Although I must stay, I've never canned anything and am hesitant to do so based on how timely and complicated I've heard the process is. And not to mention buying all the necessary gear. Any tips on quick or low-maintenence canning recipes?

                          And I positively LOVE the idea about drying sage and provding a small cookbook to accompany. I will have to ask my farmer if I can purchase a few more bunches of sage to have enough for all my friends/family!

                          1. re: chevrelove

                            You can make no/low sugar refrigerator or freezer jam without any special equipment. Get some of the 4 oz pretty canning jars. Sage jelly is awesome and easy to make and great as a glaze on pork and chicken as well as a sweet. Save some of the prettiest leaves for garnish and use the rest to make about 2 cups of strongly infused sage tea. Then follow the recipe for freezer jelly that comes with the pectin. When you're ready to jar it, pour a thin layer in the bottom of the jar, lay a leaf garnish on that and then fill the jar. Store in the fridge or freezer until gift giving time and be sure to tell the recipients to keep it refrigerated. We give gift baskets every year and tuck little gel ice packs from the dollar store under the stuff that needs to be kept cold. Works great!

                            1. re: chevrelove

                              Canning is easier than you think - don't be intimidated. It sounds complicated, but it's really not, nor is it time consuming, unless you are canning bushells of peaches, or something...

                              Canning does not require a lot of fancy equipment - you don't need a $50 "kit" , you do not need a pressure cooker, just a pot deep enough to cover your jars (they make jars of all shapes and sizes - I prefer the short or tall "Wide Mouth" jars and lids, the jars come in several sizes but the ids are interchangeable for all the wide-mouth jars). If you have a dishwasher, it's even easier (you can sterilize your jars in the DW, very convenient) but people have been canning forever with boiling water, too.You can find most of what you need to do canning at any thrift store (sometimes even the jars!) and some grocery stores carry jars lids, supplies.

                              The Ball Canning Company has a good site
                              ...that has all your basic info.

                              Good quality ingredients, prepared with care, and preserved at home (by you) are, in my opinion, far superior to any jarred or canned product on a grocery shelf.

                              1. re: DpBluSea

                                People do need to be aware, though, that different foods need different canning procedures. Jellies, jams and chutneys are virtually foolproof, but you need to be a bit more careful with foods that don't have high percentages of sugar or acid.

                                1. re: DpBluSea

                                  I bought a couple of jars of pickled hot green pepper slices, jalepeno's I think.
                                  can't wait to do a good strong hot/sweet jelly

                                2. re: chevrelove

                                  I would enthusiastically recommend http://www.foodinjars.com/ as a very approachable resource for information about home canning. It covers the gamut from newbie to expert needing inspiration.

                              2. re: chevrelove

                                My current favorite food gift contenders are gingered apple butter, pinot noir jelly, and tomato basil preserves (the latter two served with goat cheese or cream cheese and crackers, the first two easy to make right now). Our blueberry vanilla bean syrup is always a hit and people who like fruit syrups ask for it every year, both for pancakes and ice cream and as a marinade for grilled salmon.

                                I'm also think of making some concord grape infused vodka. It's really sweet, but delicious, and makes a good cocktail with lime juice and soda.

                                I'm thinking this year of homemade cocoa mix with pink peppermint homemade marshmallows.

                                Layered chocolate peppermint bark is always a hit.

                                1. re: girlwonder88

                                  I did the berry infused vodka years ago, little different then how another mentioned: take a ball jar of any size, put 1/3 berries, 1/3 rock sugar & 1/3 100 proof grain alchohol - leave it alone.

                                  1. re: girlwonder88

                                    girlwonder! any inclination to share?

                                    1. re: lollya

                                      if you were looking for the bark, there's a new one out with that salty/sweet mix by Paula Deen (Prezle Peanut White Chocolate Bark) - been wanting to try it myself: 18 (1-ounce) squares white chocolate, 3 cups skinny pretzel sticks, broken into small pieces but not crushed, then measured, & 2 cups dry salted peanuts. Melt the chocolate, mix in pretzels and peanuts then spread on a wax lined cookie sheet - allow to cool/then break up.

                                      1. re: lollya

                                        Of course! Not sure which one you want, though :)

                                        The concord grape vodka was the easiest-put a bunch of grandma's grapes in a sun tea jar, covered with vodka, and let sit for a month or more, then poured off the vodka. It was gorgeous and fragrant and candy sweet, with no sugar added.

                                        The apple butter was from a search on chowhound-a CHer made it in her crockpot, layered sliced peeled apples, with a handful of mixed brown and white sugars between layers, a dash of spice between each layer, and a big spoonful of grated ginger at the end. Cook on high, adding layers as it cooks down. When it is as full as can be, turn to low, cook all day until spicy and dark-stir occasionally. Puree with immersion blender. Can in boiling water bath.

                                        Blueberry vanilla bean syrup:can't copy the link but I think you'll find my recipe if you search the board.

                                        I use the "layered peppermint crunch bark" recipe from epicurious with some modifications. Just do two layers, one of chococlate, one of white chocolate. Use crushed candy canes instead of peppermint candies as they are cheaper and easier to crush.

                                        1. re: girlwonder88

                                          I was thinking of trying that peppermint bark recipe (Williams Sonoma's sooo tempting but a bit pricy)... What do you use for white chocolate?

                                          1. re: maplesugar

                                            I'm probably not as picky as I should be, but I've been really happy with the white chocolate I've found at Trader Joe's, and it's pretty reasonable.

                                          2. re: girlwonder88

                                            thank you. i am sorry i didn't say which because they all sounded good. i will have to search the blueberry syrup...i'm a sucker for blueberry anything. :) thanks ago.

                                            1. re: girlwonder88

                                              A quick question re: the bark: how far in advance can you make it and how do you store it?

                                              1. re: zook

                                                When I did mine (just white peppermint bark), I did it in late Nov. put in gift boxes lined with wax paper. I also put some in gift cellophane bags that come with twisties. (like @ Michael's craft store or Oriental Trading):

                                          3. re: girlwonder88

                                            Would love to get the tomato basil preserve recipe. Sounds delish!

                                        2. This year, we're making takuanzuke and shoyuzuke to give to our friends and family (or at least to those that would use them). I like to make stuff that makes ME feel good, and both of those are comfort foods for me. In previous years, it's been candied pecans/walnuts, or a variety of jams.

                                          1. How about a nice brownie mix in a jar. Everyone loves brownies....okay, most everyone.

                                            1. We usually make a variety of breads in mini loaves (zucchini, strawberry nut, banana, cranberry orange. lemon poppy, gingerbread) & homemade fruit perserves or compound butters. Damson plum preserves have been a big hit in years when I can find them at the Farmer's Market. The Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread is always a hit & I've given that as a whole cake or mini loaf.

                                              The breads freeze well & I put 3 of them in a basket with a linen napkin and jar of preserves or butter for hostess gifts. Just realized....I'm turning into my Mother! Everyone is getting Stoli Doli this year! Stoli vodka infused with fresh pineapple. Mom would never do that! Cheers!

                                              1. Things I've made as gifts in the past:

                                                Chilli jam
                                                Preserved peaches
                                                Dried tomatoes packed in oil
                                                Chocolate-pistachio fudge

                                                I think sloe gin would be nice too, and pickled pears or clementines.

                                                1. I've made pistachio-cranberry biscotti, half dipped in white chocolate, and my father gets a large bag of spicy mixed nuts each year!

                                                  1. My kids and I got some home made candy many years ago and loved it so much we now make it for friends. Toffee, butterscotch kinds of things packed in really nice little boxes. Although I no longer eat these treasures, we still enjoy making them and giving them away. The one time in the year I use the candy thermometer.

                                                    1. This recipie for cranberry vodka is really good, and simple...

                                                      1. I often bake a fresh loaf of sourdough bread or multigrain bread, and it always pleases. And I wish I could make a decent Pandoro. On the receiving end, I welcome gifts that are not holiday cakes and cookes and that will be interesting later in the year. Interesting marmalades and preserves are always nice. Good salsas and aromatic vinegars (listed by some Chow Hounds) are wonderful. For special gifts, consider a basket with a loaf of home-made bread, a jar of some kind of preserve or maybe lemon curd, perhaps a savory topping (pate, for example), nuts, cheese (homemade?) and a really nice tea towel to wrap things in. (Handweavers, where are you?) It's too late this year, but home-canned vine ripe tomatoes and other goodies from the garden make nice gifts. And brandied fruit can be a festive choice.

                                                        1. caramel corn. It's fast, easy, inexpensive, and SO much better than the stuff you get in cans.

                                                          I have also made numerous varieties of nut brittles, including one with mixed nuts and sunflower seeds that people seemed to really like.

                                                          1. French macarons. Make the chocolate - the only ones I have liked so far. No one would ever make them. I am giving home made cookies - several flavours - as gifts. Cookies are very labour intensive so I think they would be appreciated.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                                              Everyone I know is drowning in cookies at the holidays. I usually make spiced nuts, but I found some nice jars and I'm thinking of going the "X in a jar" route this year. It's nice to give something they don't have to consume right away, since there's usually so much food around during the holidays.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                My kids do xxx in a jar meals for gifts. I've always wondered if people use them. I've been to some recipients houses and they have them on display because they say they're too pretty to use.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  An old boss gave out tea mix in a jar - it was gross! I love the concept of X in a jar, but this particular version was just poorly executed.

                                                                  1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                    I've seen recipes for "tea mix" in a jar. I knew it wasn't for me when the first ingredient was a jar of Tang!

                                                                    1. re: eamcd

                                                                      Oh, that might have been it! It did have an odd acidic flavor - I couldn't pinpoint it. I was sick and wanted something hot and soothing. Soothing, I didn't get.

                                                                      1. re: eamcd

                                                                        Russian Tea! I am not a huge fan of tea, or of things made with artificial flavor, but man, I love this. I think it has Tang, lemonade powder, instant tea???? Fabulous :) Of course, I used to sneak and eat the dried tang out of the jar as a kid.

                                                                        1. re: girlwonder88

                                                                          You and me both (the Tang from the jar).

                                                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                      I was just using X as a variable for whatever mix you want to put together, could be soup in a jar, chili in a jar, brownies in a jar, cocoa in a jar, etc. You layer the ingredients in the jar so they look pretty, and include the instructions for preparing whatever it is. http://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Jar-One-D...

                                                                      Got and good recipes, chowser?

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        The problem for us is that the recipients aren't cooks for the most part. They need to be able to put it all in a pot, possibly ground some beef at most, and let cook. So, those types of recipes call for boullion, dried onion flakes, etc. which makes for a salty, yet bland, soup. If the recipient is more of a cook, there are good options, like this pasta fagiola in a jar:


                                                                        Desserts like brownies are better, for non-cooks:


                                                                        and cornbread in a jar is good:


                                                                        For best results, recipients have to add more of their own ingredients. I don't like the recipes that use dried milk, boullion, dried onion flakes, etc., but that makes more work for the cook. FWIW, for all we've given out, I've yet to hear one person tell me they enjoyed the meal. But I have seen the jars used as decoration.

                                                                      2. re: sarah galvin

                                                                        LOL....I was thinking the same thing Sarah!!! Too funny.

                                                                    2. re: sarah galvin

                                                                      for many years I've been making multiple cookies, but I'm taking a break this year!

                                                                    3. Each year I make gingerbread houses for friends and neighbors. Some I decorate, some I don't and instead include a cone of royal icing and a bag of candies (we typically do this for families with children). They keep for weeks, they smell amazing, they're very impressive, and though they're somewhat labor intensive, they're fairly easy to make.

                                                                      1. One year I made a Maple Walnut Syrup that was used to spoon over a round of Brie and baked. I still have requests for that. It was so easy and I found the recipe in the Ball canning cookbook. I attached the recipe to the jar and was all set.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: nanasue

                                                                          Would you share the recipe? Sounds good.

                                                                          1. re: nanasue

                                                                            If your edition of the Ball canning book has their recipe for Apricot Chutney be sure to try it if you haven't already. It's on page 240 of the 2006 edition. People gobble this down with everything from Indian curry to grilled chicken. It's heavenly and since it's made with dried apricots you can make it any time of the year. This year I'm giving it and the Cranberry Mustard on page 273.

                                                                          2. Things I've made as gifts in past years include:

                                                                            Bouche de Noel
                                                                            Tryopita and spanikopita
                                                                            hand made chocolates and assorted candies
                                                                            Plum puddings with a container of hard sauce
                                                                            Marzipan cookies
                                                                            Gingerbread houses
                                                                            Gingerbread tree ornaments

                                                                            Then there were various and sundry non-edibles.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Could I send you my address? Yum, a plum pudding with hard sauce, please! Dee

                                                                            2. I remember one year as a child, my mom made egg rolls from scratch, deep fried them, and then we set out to deliver them while hot. People really appreciated them, but can you imagine doing that now? She also did that with hot and sour soup another year. We were the only Asians in our town in Missouri so maybe she wanted to make an impression.

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: sibaik

                                                                                Everybody I work with gets a box of homemade fudge. I usually make two white chocolate and two dark chocolate, this year it will be white maple walnut, white cranberry pistachio, dark with pecans, cherries and a little cayenne, and dark marbled with chopped caramel, topped with fleur de sel.

                                                                                1. re: sheiladeedee

                                                                                  Hi Sheila

                                                                                  Could you share your fudge recipes with us? I'm always looking to improve on past success and your varieties sound devine! Thanks

                                                                                2. re: sibaik

                                                                                  My mom does that (tradition passed down from her mom). The weekend before Christmas she makes a boatload of doughy fritters (dipped in sugar). They are yeasty and wonderful when eaten warm. My dad, brother, me and my husband drive around town like mad people. After each delivery, we head to my parents to pick up the next freshly made batch. People go crazy when we show up with them!

                                                                                  1. re: itryalot

                                                                                    Sibaik and itryalot, your folks sound WONDERFUL. I feel inspired after reading your posts and perhaps my friends will be receiving warm goodies delivered by subway this year! Sibaik, I esp. like the savory spin and can't imagine how much work it must've taken to make eggrolls -- dough and everything -- from scratch. Wish I'd been on your mom's list!

                                                                                  2. re: sibaik

                                                                                    that's lovely! I would have been so impressed and happy with such a gift.

                                                                                    1. re: sibaik

                                                                                      I have friends that come by with tamales and lumpia. I love these special gifts, your mother was a smart woman~ not to mention thoughtful!

                                                                                      lol just saw the date,,, oh well. Still a terrific idea and gift.

                                                                                      1. re: sibaik

                                                                                        One year when I was in high school our Chinese neighbors from across the street brought over a plateful of steamed vegetable dumplings, still piping hot. My Dad and I were the only ones home and I'm afraid the rest of my family didn't get a single bite - we scarfed them all down in a sitting!

                                                                                        1. re: sibaik

                                                                                          I bet that was WONDERFUL, the egg rolls and Hot and Sour Soup. I bet the recipients STILL remember those gifts!

                                                                                        2. The Barefoot Contessa's rosemary cashews! Easy and people love them! You can find the recipe on the food network site.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: jackiecat

                                                                                            Those cashers are amazing, you can also make them with mixed nuts as well.
                                                                                            Last year I made carnberry orange infused vodka, rosemary cashews and ginger infused simple syrup for gifts, bottles up the liquor and the syrup in nice bottles, tied up the nuts in a cello sack and boxed the whole thing with some cocktail napkins and some recipes for cocktails using either or both of the ingredients. It was a cocktail party for 4 people in a bag...

                                                                                            I have already had folks hinting around for more this year.

                                                                                            1. re: gardencub

                                                                                              That sounds fantastic! I was planning to do cranberry vodka already, and did ginger pomegranate syrup earlier this year, which would be worth repeating. What were your cocktail recipes?

                                                                                              1. re: girlwonder88

                                                                                                i did up my ginger cosmopolitian recipe,
                                                                                                2 parts vodka,
                                                                                                1 part triple sec, or cointreau
                                                                                                1/2 part cranberry juice
                                                                                                1/2 part ginger simple syrup
                                                                                                splash of fresh lime juice
                                                                                                garnish with a slice of crystalized ginger

                                                                                                I also did a cranberry vodka cosmo
                                                                                                2 parts vodka
                                                                                                1 part cointreau
                                                                                                1/2 part lime juice

                                                                                                I also included a recipe for Champagne Cosmopolitans
                                                                                                2 parts champagne
                                                                                                1 part cointreau
                                                                                                1/2 part ginger simple syrup
                                                                                                1/2 part lime juice
                                                                                                garnish with frozen cranberries floating in glass

                                                                                                I am looking for the file I made last year, It had two other cocktails but they are lost in my complete disorganization.

                                                                                                1. re: gardencub

                                                                                                  Late reporting back, but the cranberry orange infused vodka is fantastic. I found out I was pregnant right after last Christmas, so didn't really get any, but still have some left (I started mine too late and it wasn't ready before Christmas). I need to make some gingery syrup soon, I think.

                                                                                            2. re: jackiecat

                                                                                              I made that recipe, and although the coating is delicious it did not stick to my cashews very well. Not sure what went wrong, but would be willing to try again.

                                                                                              1. re: goodegg333

                                                                                                I had that problem too! I helps to make sure the hot cashews don't cool at all. Also I've read that pouring the spices over the hot cashews helps.

                                                                                            3. A bottle of hot sauce tailored to the recipient

                                                                                              A liter tub of thick, rich yogurt

                                                                                              A jar of chutney with spices from around the globe

                                                                                              An Irish soda bread

                                                                                              A tub of Japanese quick vegetable pickles

                                                                                              A cured smoked cheese

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                Oh, chutney sounds like a wonderful idea!

                                                                                              2. I'm thinking about making small jars of vanilla infused sugar for my friends and family this year. As a back up, I may make pretzels dipped in caramel and sprinkled with peanuts and white chocolate. They are messy to make - but everyone loves them.

                                                                                                1. Homemade booze -- I mean brews. A friend of mine owns a winery on Long Island that puts out a surprisingly decent bottle of Gewurtraminer that I actively drop hints for come December. I've also received homemade bourbon (ok, maybe it'd be classified as whiskey or just plain old hooch), homemade beers, homemade plum wines, etc... I've enjoyed them all.

                                                                                                  If you are not inclined to set up a moonshine distillery in your backyard for the sole purpose of giving your friends the gift of holiday cheer, you can cop out by making infused vodkas at home. Infuse with rosemary, thyme, horseradish, watermelon -- almost anything you can think of. Bottle it in an attractive glass bottle and attach instructions for mixing as part of your favorite mixed drink.

                                                                                                  Oh--the other thing I give that seem to go over well: bourbon balls. They are ung-dly sweet, but if you have friends with sweet tooths, bourbon balls are a nice treat.

                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                                                                    Rum balls! The first time I made them I mis-read the recipe and added twice as much rum as I should have. They were over the top rummy, and now I'm more careful, but part of me wishes I made the mistake again.

                                                                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                                                                      Anybody have a good bourbon / rum ball recipie you could point me too? I would like to try these this year...thanks

                                                                                                      1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                        Here's a really good rum ball recipe that I've made for a few years. I always give some to my car mechanics to keep them sweet! They keep well/freeze well and actually are better after they ripen a bit.

                                                                                                        6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
                                                                                                        12 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                                                                                        4 cups vanilla wafers finely ground in food processor
                                                                                                        1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
                                                                                                        1/3 high quality cocoa
                                                                                                        1 cup toasted pecan halves, finely ground in food processor
                                                                                                        generous pinch salt
                                                                                                        1/4 cup almond paste
                                                                                                        1/2 cup sour cream
                                                                                                        3/4 cup Meyer's dark rum or other rum (first time I made these I accidently doubled the rum addition -- wow!)
                                                                                                        3 cups chocolate sprinkles (very worth tracking down high-quality (real chocolate) sprinkles instead of using supermarket sprinkles.

                                                                                                        Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Stir, set aside to cool to lukewarm
                                                                                                        Combine wafer, sugar, cocoa pecans, salt in large bowl.
                                                                                                        When chocolate mixture is cool, transfer to food processor Break almond paste into small pieces and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sour cream and process 20 seconds. Pour this on top of the dry mixture in the bowl. Add rum and stir until very well mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until firm, overnight preferablly. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in chocolate sprinkles. Chill overnight on parchment paper/waxed paper on baking sheet, in refrigerator, until very firm.. Transfer to covered container and allow flavors to mature for three days and up to two weeks. Makes about 5 dozen balls.

                                                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                          That sounds goooood! And as the daughter of a car mechanic, I can safely say they must be very appreciated.

                                                                                                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                            Wow, sounds really good, thanks for sharing! Need to edit this weeks shopping list:)

                                                                                                            1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                              Hi, just in case you are checking in today, just a quick question....Is it 4 cups wafers prior to grinding or afterwards? I ground a normal store size box, but only got about 3 cups of ground wafers....I don't see a grocery run in my future, so I think I will go with what i've got, unless it's totally going to mess up the balls...but chocolate, rum, butter, I think it will be good regardless:) thanks

                                                                                                              1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                                Geminigirl---I just made these the other day "Spicy Crunched Rum Balls" - they took all of 7 min to make!!! I didn't have any vanilla wafers, so I subbed graham crackers.


                                                                                                                1. re: apple342

                                                                                                                  thanks for the recipie, what did you think of the final product? I went ahead and made somervilles recipie, it seemed a bit soft after mixing, but I think in the fridge they will firm up pretty well, but wow, the smell of rum:)

                                                                                                                  1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                                    they were amazingly delicious; particularly for something that look so little effort to make. somervilles looks awesome--will have to try those also! and ahhh, yes - the smell of rum :)

                                                                                                            2. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                              Do a search on this site for *Midnight Rum Balls*. OMG.......devine!!

                                                                                                          2. I love hearing all of these wonderful ideas! I think I will be busy makins some of these soon!

                                                                                                            I also made a herb infused vinegar and homemade croutons and gave it with a nice olive oil and some salad tongs for the perfect salad kit. Sugar free baked goods for diabetic family members are always a hit too since the ones in stores don't taste great.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: etoiles

                                                                                                              Can you point us to good sugar-free recipes? I'd love that. Thanks!

                                                                                                              1. re: fern

                                                                                                                Some things I have made sugar free include pretzel rods dipped in melted sugar free chocolate and rolled in nuts or unsweetened coconut, nuts like those that you smell in the mall but with splenda instead of sugar:
                                                                                                                For recipes I just use regular recipes but use splenda instead of sugar (for white sugar). I don't make many recipes with brown sugar subs. A loaf of banana bread made with splenda and a loaf of sugar free jam is nice.

                                                                                                            2. I make biscotti every year, they are sturdy and keep well and people love them. The favorites are cranberry-pecan, I've also made chocolate-hazelnut and almond. Todd English's cookbook Fig's Table has the best biscotti recipe (Cranberry-Pecan) I've tried, the texture is perfect.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: dubedo

                                                                                                                I usually make individual cheesecakes in muffin tins. Last year I made batches of the dry chimichurri rub (from either Bon Appetit or Gourmet) and filled little mason jars along with the ingredients and a couple sample recipes. That was very popular around the neighborhood. One thing I'm going to do this year for sure, is all my neighbors with dogs are also going to get a package of my homemade dog biscuits. Can't forget man's best friend! Since they look like cookies, I'll have to put the dog's name on them (or not, depending on the neighbor ;)

                                                                                                              2. Wow! My daughter and I had a conversation about this just a few days ago. She was reminiscing (sp) about her high school days and the best teacher gifts I had given one year. They were quite the hit. Here's what I did: I made a ton of homemade biscotti, and my chocolate-dipped pretzel rods with various toppings so to speak--like, holiday sprinkles, chopped hazelnuts, copped pistachios, chopped toffee bits, mini M&Ms. Then, I went to the local dollar store and picked up these small tin buckets in holiday colors--some red--some green. I filled the buckets with tissue paper (in contrasting colors of the buckets) and stuffed biscotti and pretzel rods into the tissue filled buckets. I wrapped these buckets in clear wrap and tied with very festive bows that I made from wire ribbon. They were such a hit that it became my "staple" gift for the kids' teachers and for friends. Fun, simple and everyone loves 'em! The great thing about the chocolate-dipped pretzel rods is that the kids can help as well!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: jarona

                                                                                                                  Jarona, try melting caramels with a splash of water, then dip the rods. When hardened, drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with pecans or walnuts. The caramel , chocolate and salty pretzel combo is great. I use a silpat sheet to prevent sticking.

                                                                                                                2. This is our favorite to make and give. It is hard to stop eating.

                                                                                                                  Sweet Crispix Mix

                                                                                                                  Dry ingredients:

                                                                                                                  1/2 a box OR 8 cups of Crispix cereal
                                                                                                                  4 cup of Golden Grahams cereal
                                                                                                                  1 cup sliced almonds
                                                                                                                  1 cup coconut

                                                                                                                  Combine and toss in large bowl.

                                                                                                                  Syrup Coating:

                                                                                                                  1 cup sugar
                                                                                                                  1 cup light corn syrup
                                                                                                                  3/4 cup of real butter (1 1/2 cubes of butter)
                                                                                                                  (use two whole cubes if you would like more gooey)

                                                                                                                  Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly.

                                                                                                                  Pour into large bowl and coat dry ingredients. Stir to coat evenly.

                                                                                                                  Place wax paper on cookie sheets and spread mixture out in thin layer
                                                                                                                  to cool.

                                                                                                                  Brake into large pieces and store in Zip lock bags.

                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Kari

                                                                                                                    The book Bittersweet's cold creamy truffles, with 80% chocolate and infused cream


                                                                                                                    Lemon marmalade--lemons from neighbor's tree/

                                                                                                                    I would love some savory suggestions, myself.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Guenevere

                                                                                                                      I made a cheddar shortbread - nice biscuit to accompany a cheese plate.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                        Cheddar shortbread sounds wonderful. Could you post the recipe? Thanks.

                                                                                                                        1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                          I think this is the recipe I used....


                                                                                                                          I didn't keep very good notes. I subbed sharp cheddar because that is what I had.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                              I just made these and they are absolutely delicious! Made the parm recipe first and the cheddar crackers are in the oven right now. I'm so glad you posted the link! They are incredibly easy and so very good. I'll be packaging some up to share with friends tonight.
                                                                                                                              Many thanks!

                                                                                                                              1. re: fern

                                                                                                                                Hi - I would love to try the cheddar shortbread recipe but can't find it in the above link. Is it an Ina Garten recipe as well? If there is an updated link, I would appreciate it. TIA

                                                                                                                                1. re: tokyo

                                                                                                                                  Hi tokyo,

                                                                                                                                  sarah galvin said she used the parm recipe but subbed sharp cheddar because that's what she had, so that's what I did, too. Here's the link she provided:


                                                                                                                                  They were delicious, hope you think so, too!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fern

                                                                                                                                    Ah! Thank you, now I understand. Appreciate the reply, I might just try these today...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: tokyo

                                                                                                                                      These cheese shortbreads sound wonderful.

                                                                                                                                      Here's a related recipe from Fine Cooking that has parmesan, rosemary and lemon zest. I had these at a party recently and will be making them for gifts. They are to die for:


                                                                                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                        Oh my, those look awesome, karykat. I will definitely be making them this month, either for gifts or for a party.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Guenevere

                                                                                                                          Guenevere -- might you share your panforte recipe? I've been thinking of making it for a while.

                                                                                                                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                            I don't know if Guenevere is still around, but here is a panforte I have made and enjoyed, and had compliments on: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                            In this one, I used dried cherries in place of the citron. This is something to make early, as it improves after sitting for a couple of weeks.

                                                                                                                      2. I give homemade cookies -- a plate with 4 different kinds (VERY labor intensive). Plus a jar of homemade jam, perhaps peach or cherry, that was made in the summer. Used to give lots of cookies, but now give fewer cookies plus jam, which makes the whole thing easier.

                                                                                                                        1. Homemade hot fudge. Lasts for months in the fridge. This is the recipe I use.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                                                                            Thanks, this looks great and got all around great reviews.
                                                                                                                            One question, what is the consistency after being in the fridge - is it thick like fudge so you would have to reheat to serve as a sauce?

                                                                                                                            Thanks again, think this may be going into some gift baskets!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                                              Yep, its thick. I just give it a quick microwave and its good as new.

                                                                                                                              Just an FYI, I always pick up bars of chocolate on clearance at Target or the grocery store. I've used many different types when making this. I prefer at least a 60% chocolate.

                                                                                                                          2. Lots of great ideas on this blog: http://28cooks.blogspot.com/2008/11/t...

                                                                                                                            We just bought our first house, so we are definitely on a tight budget this Christmas, so I will probably be doing a lot of homemade gifts. I just took a class on them on Tuesday night- we learned to make a no-cook chutney, macadamia nut fudge, hazelnut cookies with mocha frosting, cheddar cheese soup, freezable paninis, citrus garlic salad dressing, and smoked nuts. It was a lot of fun! I'm planning on for sure making my dad some homemade Cheez-its from King Arthur Flour.

                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                              can you tell me about the smoked nuts recipie? This sounds god and i'm wondering if I could use some of the chipotle peppers I have. thanks

                                                                                                                              1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                                                I don't have the recipe in front of me, because I left the recipes at the class! :-( My friend is going to send me copies though. From what I remember, she said you could use any kind of nut and basically marinated them in worcestershire, curry, salt, and pepper, and then smoked them in a stovetop smoker for 20 minutes. She said you could also do them in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. The smoked ones we sampled were a little soggy, I thought, but I think she had done them pretty far in advance. I'll post when I get the actual recipe.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                  I often give crab apple or quince jelly to go with cheese or pate. It's also good just plain and spread on toast.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandyone

                                                                                                                                    Oooo, quince jelly sounds so good, and I'll bet the house smells amazing while you make it. Do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share?

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                    Here's the recipe from the class:

                                                                                                                                    Smoky Spicy Nuts

                                                                                                                                    3 teaspoons curry powder
                                                                                                                                    ¼ cups Worcestershire sauce
                                                                                                                                    ½ cup water
                                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons sugar
                                                                                                                                    2 garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                                    4 cups whole walnuts, almonds or pecans

                                                                                                                                    Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add nuts and marinate for an hour. Drain the nuts and place on a greased cookie sheet in a single layer. Smoke in a 225-degree smoker for 1 hour, or smoke until the nuts are crisp and lightly smoked. Serve immediately or store in a covered container.

                                                                                                                                    Instead of smoking, you can also bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                  Let us know how the Cheez-its come out and if you want to share the recipe.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                    This is the recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/R... I've never tried it, but my dad adores Cheez-its, so I thought they would be a fun stocking stuffer.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                      Thanks--that sounds really good. Has anyone ever tried rolling cracker dough through a pasta maker? I'm thinking it would be so much easier than trying to roll a uniform 1/16" of an inch but am wondering if the dough would fall apart.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        There's a recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook that calls specifically for rolling out the dough in a pasta maker- it's a fabulous recipe! I would think it would work in most cases. The only reason I could see it not working is when you kind of want a light and flaky kind of cracker- more like a pie dough type of dough.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                        I just looked up the recipe; I've never heard of cheese powder - where would I find that?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                          I ordered it from King Arthur. To be honest, it's kind of yucky tasting in its powdered form, but I've since baked with it, and it tasted fine in baked goods. I think the recipe in the cookbook says you can use macaroni and cheese powder packets... you could use Annie's organic White Cheddar and I bet that would be pretty good.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                            I think King Arthur's catalog has it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                              Kraft used to have it. The stuff in a Kraft mac 'n cheese.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                In the bulk aisle I see it and by the green can parmesan there is a cheddar cheese version that you could use.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                            Homemade Cheez-its? That sounds awesome. Would you mind sharing the recipe, Katie?

                                                                                                                                          3. This year, we're blending our own spice rub for roast chicken, bbq pork chops, roasts etc. We'll also give a card with the recipe too...

                                                                                                                                            1. I like to make homemade marshmallows- these are especially good if you want to ship something to people because they keep well for a few days in an air tight bag.

                                                                                                                                              This year I'm going to try making biscotti. I tested a few shortbread recipes but they didn't look so great- tasted good but whenver I tried to cut them they crumbled at the edges. If you were a better baker than me Cooking Light had three recipes in their recent issue.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: lhb78

                                                                                                                                                your problem is that you are using a cooking light recipe.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bryn

                                                                                                                                                  True, that. I use a Martha Stewart cranberry/pistachio biscotti recipe that holds together and is delicious. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/c...

                                                                                                                                              2. Barefoot Contessa's rosemary cashews, homemade dog biscuits, Mark Bittman's crystallized ginger shortbread and the Cocoa Snowflakes (fudgy cookies) recipe from Penzey's catalog were some of the better ones I have given friends. The Cocoa Snowflakes came out gratifyingly gorgeous especially since I'm not really a baker. http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                                                                                                                                And I always make a couple of pates for my father, packed into their little terrines, frozen and ready for baking, with instructions attached. He loves pate and no longer makes them -- but he taught me well!

                                                                                                                                                1. Every day before Christmas I bake about 50 loaves of bread, each year a different one (this year will be a new whole wheat recipe) . Then, Christmas Eve, my son and I go on the reindeer run, and we deliver the bread to friends and family :) We've been doing this for about 25 years. Everyone loves it, and some families have built traditions around the bread delivery.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: UnConundrum

                                                                                                                                                    By 'every day' do you mean 'the day' before Christmas? Sounds like a wonderful tradition.

                                                                                                                                                    1. My gifts are only food. I only buy for my husband. I make a variety of canned goods such as marinara sauce, chinese duck sauce, rib sauces, bbq sauce, jams, dilly beans, tomato porcini sauce etc. When I am finished canning (typically the week before Thanksgiving I send out a list and people choose. Since I don't see my family after Thanksgiving they pick them up then. Then for Christmas I make cookies and candies:
                                                                                                                                                      citrus rinds; almond buttercrunch, white chocolate craisin pistachio bark, caramel corn (great for the teachers my husband works with)
                                                                                                                                                      apricot foldovers, lemon stars, craisin pistachio biscotti, macademia lime cookies, Champagnebrod
                                                                                                                                                      and have lately added bar nuts.

                                                                                                                                                      A trick for those making biscotti-I have had great success in doing the first bake, cooling, wrapping and freezing the logs. Then defrosting and slicing for the second bake close to when I am sending out the boxes. It is also great for having something for surprise guests.

                                                                                                                                                      I am attaching (if this works) a photo of last two year's holiday plate.

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                                        Great idea about freezing the biscotti after the first bake! Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                                          interesting, I have frozen the biscotti logs after forming, but not after the first bake, I will have to try that this year...thanks

                                                                                                                                                        2. My sister and her husband run a CSA and often send us food gifts. Her homemade fruit roll ups and flax crackers usually don't last very long, we love them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Some of our past homemade gifts include: flavored salts in a nice glass jar, cinnamon ornaments, chocolate dipped spoons, BIG candied apples wrapped & boxed, tea leaf cookies, herb sachets, and our family favorite is to create a "breakfast in bed" notecard on the computer and place it inside a really nice coffee mug or tea cup and wrap it as a gift for family & friends then have them "book" their breakfast in bed present later in the year.

                                                                                                                                                            1. I make this Sour Cream Babka every year. http://articles.latimes.com/2000/may/... (second recipe provided at that link). I had to go looking for the Times recipe to link and saw that I've been using that recipe for 8 years now. I wouldn't think of a Christmas without having one for my family and more to give. The flavor is very nice but my favorite part of it is how tender and lovely the dough is to work with.

                                                                                                                                                              The recipe makes a huge amount of dough. I divide it up into those 8" paper loaf pans and get a bunch of them.

                                                                                                                                                              I also make a microwave pumpkin butter that tastes like pumpkin pie in a jar. It's great on scones and sometimes I make up a dry scone mix to give with it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I give away chocolate macadamia cashew brittle.

                                                                                                                                                                1. We do homemade toffee for the (many many many) inlaws -- I use Martha Stewart's recipe on her website and do double batches, covering it with Trader Joe's milk chocolate.

                                                                                                                                                                  One year we also did peppermint bark, which was a huge hit. Very simple to make. Jacques Torres dark chocolate bark w/ dried cherries, pecans, and marshmallows was a hit on with the east coast relatives but no so much in the midwest, no idea why.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Brandied Candied Walnuts, from the California Walnut Council, something like that:

                                                                                                                                                                    Delicious, easy, my new favorite best friend. If the link doesn't work, try Walnuts.org.

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                                                                                                      Updated link to Brandied Candied Walnuts. These look good! Don't see why it wouldn't work with pecans too.... http://www.diamondnuts.com/recipes/re...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                                                                                        I've never seen a candied nut recipe with brandy in it. Sounds intriguing. I wonder how much you taste the brandy. Has anyone tried?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                          I made this very recipe last year, and the nuts were excellent. With only a quarter cup of brandy, it's not a strong flavor. If I recall correctly, I actually added a little extra.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chevrelove

                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds interesting. I've made candied nuts before but these sound just a bit different. And good.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                              They're delicious. And brandy flavor is subtle. I don't dare make them often!!!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Cranberry-infused vodka is both easy and beautiful. I put a 3 lb bag of fresh cranberries in a large jar and pour over vodka to cover. I let it sit for 6 weeks, and voila!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I gave cookies to friends last year (I know - Queen of Originality) - BUT I included homemade dog biscuits (I used Gail Gand's recipe). You know what people are asking for this year? Not Fudge.

                                                                                                                                                                        One thing. Do not make them into ornaments or attach them to a picture frame. Take my word on this.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I think we are going to make some compound cheese mixtures (grated cheese, cream cheese, spices, etc.) in little jars with some nice crackers and maybe some spiced nuts, all in a basket. I saw some cheese ideas in another thread here and we will probably adapt that.

                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                            That sounds perfectly lovely. I would be pleased as punch to get that!

                                                                                                                                                                            I remembered reading this: http://www.sunset.com/sunset/foodslid... in my Sunset mag. You might want to flip thru the pictures. I made the savory cookies for muching with drinks. They were really yummy!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh that sounds heavenly. What could be a better gift than cheese?!

                                                                                                                                                                              This year I gave my boss some very decadent caramels, and I made a big batch of Limoncillo that I divided up into beautiful jars ($1.99 at Ross)! It is a beautiful natural yellow, and it needs to be shown off.

                                                                                                                                                                              I love the ideas about including recipes for the drinks though; that is a fantastic idea!

                                                                                                                                                                              Here is the link to the limoncillo recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesgui...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggie Liv

                                                                                                                                                                                I did that one year too as a friend brought some to work, we're not allowed to drink there though.
                                                                                                                                                                                She gave the recipe to me and that was the start of the fun to be seen. 100% vodka she said was the only must that I had to follow and I did. It really was well received.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Homemade snack mix( bits and bites)

                                                                                                                                                                              Crispix cereal, I also added cherrios, popcorn,almonds and another item not sold in Ontario, Oyster crackers. This was mixed with melted butter and a large amount of Penzey's Rocky Mountain Dip Mix. I added more parmesean, worsteshire, a squirt of lemon juice, garlic powder, smoked salt, more sesame and poppy seeds. This whole mess was baked for a good hour( tossing a few times) at 250F. When it cooled down, we added Rold Gold Pretzel sticks, cheetos and 2 bags of bbq kettle cooked peanuts( bought at Big Lots for 1.00 each). This blend is absolutely addicting!!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. "best ever" nut brittle

                                                                                                                                                                                peppermint bark

                                                                                                                                                                                rosemary salt


                                                                                                                                                                                preserved lemons

                                                                                                                                                                                tomatoes with olive oil + basil

                                                                                                                                                                                scented sugars (vanilla, ginger


                                                                                                                                                                                cocoa in a jar

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I've made homemade truffles a few times. It's quite easy, maybe a little finicky, but they always turn out nice and people really like them. You essentially make a ganache, add a flavouring of some kind if you like, chill it, form it into balls, and either dust with cocoa or dip in chocolate. My experience has been it can be a bit difficult to deal with the ganache as it warms really quickly while you're making it into balls, but in the end, the fuss is well worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: banjoman2375

                                                                                                                                                                                    My favorites are www.recipezaar.com/Oreo-Balls-52035 Oreo Balls or mashed up Oreo cookies mixed with melted cream cheese and dipped in milk or white chocolate. Add a few red and green sprinkles on top for a delicious holiday gift.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. This very day, I received a recipe from King Arthur Flour(if you're not on their mailing list, get on it!) for COCOA BLOCKS which I plan to give. Basically an inch square of chocolate on a stick that you dissolve in hot milk. I think my friends will LOVE it and it looks soooo
                                                                                                                                                                                    charming. I plan to wrap the pieces individually in colored cello, then put them in a pretty container You can use whatever type chocolate chips, or block...dark, milk semi sweet, bittersweet... then add any flavorings you like to the melted chocolate... coffee, hazelnut, vanilla. Also the blocks can be sprinkled with crushed peppermint or cocoa powder. I can't wait to make them!

                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: amazinc

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I saw those too- I think they would be a fabulous gift!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                                                                                                          i'm making them as well! any flavor ideas?

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: amazinc

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you're making many of these, you might want to make your own sweetened condensed milk rather than buying it:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Combine 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk solids, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup boiling water and 3 tablespoons melted butter in container of electric blender. Process until smooth. Store in refrigerator. Makes approximately 1 cup, about the same amount as a can of the commercial type, but at a much lower cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mr99203

                                                                                                                                                                                            When you say "instant nonfat dry milk solids" do you mean powdered milk, or something else? I'e never heard of making your own condensed milk, so I'm intrigued!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yup, powdered milk. Make up a cup and try it in a recipe that you've made before and compare. It's given me the same results as Eagle Brand..

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. My mom and I have decided to do a couple of things:
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Make homemade spinach egg fettucine and freeze. Accompany t his with homemade tomato sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Make and IQF manicotti and canneloni. That way, we can choose however many we want to put in a bag. These peeps get tomato sauce too.
                                                                                                                                                                                          We are going to start the pasta and freezing portion the first weekend of Dec.
                                                                                                                                                                                          We figure it is great for nights when people don't have time to cook or need a change.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: itryalot

                                                                                                                                                                                            Can I be added to your christmas list? Pretty please, with a cherry on top?

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. One of my best friends is gluten intolerant and mentioned how hard it is to get quality cookies. She also loves mint chocolate chip, so I made her a layered jar of Andes mint chunk cookie mix. She was ecstatic.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I found the recipe here: http://www.celiac.com/articles/1110/1...

                                                                                                                                                                                            Basically just layered the dry ingredients in a jar, and stuck in some whole vanilla beans to sub for the vanilla extract. Attached a tag with the cooking directions. (I wasn't able to find Andes chips, so I unwrapped and chopped two boxes of Andes mints).

                                                                                                                                                                                            She says they were delicious :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                              What a great idea, Christina! I think I'll be gifting this to myself. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I MAKE LIMONCELLO. VERY EASY BUT A LITTLE TIME CONSUMING PEELING LEMONS. yOU CAN FIND SO MANY DIFFEENT RECIPES ON INE. MARTHA HAS ONE AS WELL

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Biscotti are so easy to do and you can make loads
                                                                                                                                                                                                Chocolate covered pretzels
                                                                                                                                                                                                One year I did a toffee nut popcorn mix

                                                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: crispysaltysweet

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I make sweet spiced nuts. I found the recipe on epicurious and its so easy. Trader Joes has the best prices on bulk nuts so its affordable also.Then I get either pretty bags or jars. pretty ribbons really help too. These make great hostess gifts as you are invited over for a drink you can nibble on these as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: momoftwo

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cost Plus World Market has lots of great bottles and baskets for this kind of thing, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another good source for bottles you can order by mail is Specialty Bottle.. They have every kind of bottle and you can order in reasonably small quantities. I've ordered bottles with swing tops for flavored oils and vinegars and bottles for herb mixes and for jams and that kind of thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Can the lids and jars you used for jams be waterbathed for a seal? The lids are described as having plastisol and I'm not sure if that's the same or similar compound as on the lids for canning jars. I like the shapes of the jars I saw on the site but would like to know if they stand up to waterbathing and seal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: morwen

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know if you can waterbath the jars. I kind of doubt it. You could call them to ask - I'm sure they would know. I use them for jams and chutneys that will be refrigerated. Some of the jars for spices. Some of the bottles with clamp on lids for vinegars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            How about Weck jars for canning? They have glass tops, rubber rings, and metal clasps. Really neat shapes. You can also get plastic lids for some of them. Here are the shapes they have:


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just LOVE Weck jars. They're my absolute favorites for both appearance and hygiene. They've gotten very hard to find tho. Originally I bought them at W-S and Sur la Table. They've both discontinued them and I haven't seen them at either for a number of years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You can still order them from Weck's site. They come from Indiana or someplace in the Midwest. So, for someone living in the Midwest, they might not be too expensive in shipping. For me in SoCal shipping was horrendous!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think ordering from them works fine. I think that's the site I linked to above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We've made little pickled beets and put them in the kind of round jars. Prunes in armangnac (sp) also. Am thinking of pickled asparagus in the tall narrow jars. The shapes are so cool. Even though they are more expensive than regular jars, the weck jars really make a gift seem special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Around here, everyone loves Raincoast Crisps. I made these the other night (my own flavour adaptation from another recipe) and I love them. Savoury rather than sweet, which we can get too much of during the holiday seasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wild Rice & Dried Cranberry Crisps


                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                                                                                                      These look like a really unusual kind of biscotti. When do you serve them -- like an appetizer? It looks like it has a fair amount of maple syrup but it sounds like they are not too sweet?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                        They are not a biscotti, but a savoury cracker that you would serve with cheese. They are not sweet. The recipe makes 2 loaves. If you check farther back on my blog there is a recipe for Rosemary Pecan Crisps. Both are nice. Very rustic cracker for a cheese tray. Nice healthy snack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi again, karykat. I just ate another one of these crackers and yes, they are a bit sweet. I substituted maple syrup straight across for the sugar + honey in my other recipe. But maple syrup is sweeter. Thanks for noticing this. I just made these for the first time. Next time I would reduce the maple syrup to maybe, half.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds very nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm thinking about a buttery rich cracker with lemon and rosemary and I think some parmesan that I had at a party recently. It was from Fine Cooking. I did manage to get the recipe before leaving the party. Another really good one for parties or gifts I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hey -- here's that recipe I mentioned a bit ago. I didn't think it would be online but here it is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        These were unbelievable -- little crackers with rosemary, lemon and parmesan. Very rich so they are made kind of small. I think the cook that made them for our party went light on the ground pepper but I think it would be good either way. Abd I think these look pretty easy -- make the dough into logs and slice and bake.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                          These look addictive. They are like a savoury shortbread. I have saved this recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Those do look fantastic--would love one right now!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I absolutely love Chai Tea, Chai cake and Chai Bar Cookies. Here is my recipe for Chai Tea Mix. It goes over well as a gift since I put it in a little gourmet plastic bag and attach it to the cup handle of a tea cup purchased at a novelty shop. It really does taste just like the Chai Tea you get in gourmet coffee shops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chai Tea Mix

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 1/2 cups white sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 teaspoons ground ginger
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 teaspoon ground cloves
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 teaspoon ground cardamom
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pinch ground rosemary


                                                                                                                                                                                                            In a large bowl, combine milk powder, non-dairy creamer, vanilla flavored creamer, sugar and instant tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Stir in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time, until mixture is the consistency of fine powder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            To serve: Stir 2 heaping tablespoons Chai tea mixture into a 6 oz. mug of hot water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I am giving my friends and family apple pie filling (I canned it about a month ago), "Moon Dust" from the Flying Biscuit cookbook (spice), and hot chocolate on a stick (have yet to make this one)!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tashasarena

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am getting excited about making these hot chocolates on a stick. Just ordered some little wooden dowels with pointed ends like you use for caramel apples. Thinking of wrapping them in cellophane and putting in a basket with some good marshmallows. And maybe including a nice mug or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Jars of husband's homemade salsa, both red and green, made from our own fresh-from-the-garden produce. Very simple, it makes copious amounts, and much enjoyed. We might give jars of my homemade applesauce/apple butter too. Quite a few of our family and friends have asked us, "If I return the jars, could I please be on 'The List' next year?" We tell them, "Yes!" LOL ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've actually been playing around with the idea of making different middle eastern-themed spreads or random tapanades and arranging them in a small basket. But I feel like people have so many appetizers left over this time of year, they might go to waste... do you think I could freeze things like this so people could have them at a later date, or would they suffer? I'm thinking of things like olive tapanade, artichoke hummus, eggplant spread, red pepper walnut dip, heart-of-palm spread, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: anakalia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think those all sound amazing. You can always add me to your list, and they will NOT go to waste. I think that those are unusual enough and a nice break from the sugar overload of cookies...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just got a quart jar back last night from a friend, it had been filled with peaches. and the best part, she even returned it with the nice white plastic lid that I had sent along!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. We're going a little unorthodox this year and making duck breast prosciutto. It's incredibly simple (although you'd have to start ASAP for it to be ready for Xmas), and you slice it so thinly that a couple of duck breasts makes a LOT of prosciutto. It takes a while to cure, but the actual prep time for it is somewhere around 30 minutes total.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Okay, I don't make anything special. I just wanted to add that my son's girl's mom (the author of B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet) often sends me bread dough in a plastic bag, to put in the oven. I love to cook, but I hate kneading and I hate touching raw ingredients. I know, weird. And I do the Pepin One Pot bread recipe. But her dough, kneaded with her own hands, far surpasses anything I could do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can almost forgive her for being near perfect. : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I was thinking about this post tonight as I use using up the last of my Alice Water's garlic purée. It's not difficult to do and it's incredibly convenient to have at hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The thing is, you'd have to offer it chilled with the advice that it go in the fridge right away. Once refrigerated, I've had and used it for 6-8 weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's from her "The Art of Simple Food" cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I've decided to make my version of Moose Munch. It's a copyrighted name, so I suppose I should come up with a new name! It is so, so good. It really is hard to not eat it all before bagging it up to give away. If you're interested, I can share the recipe, but the main ingredients are popcorn, a brown sugar/butter glaze, chocolate chips, pretzels and nuts. So many good things can be added. I have college aged children, and it always appeals to the younger crowd.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They also make Moose Munch coffee, but I haven't been able to figure that one out yet!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChrissyMc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would love the recipe - college aged people here, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChrissyMc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would love this recipe as well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. This is a great thread. Many good ideas here. I have one too: 6 weeks before Christmas, buy a pound or two of of grade B vanilla beans from an online supplier (B grade beans are less costly.) Get & sanitize a big carboy or a few sun tea jars, depending on how much you want to make. Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise without going all the way through the stem but exposing the channel of precious vanilla caviar. Place sliced beans in the jar and pour gallons of vodka on top. Leave for 4-6 weeks. Bottle and label. We had people tell us as much as a year later, "Oh... I'm so sad... I used up the last of your vanilla today."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Things I'm making this year:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Panettone w/ homemade candied citrus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BBQ Sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bavarian Hot Honey Mustard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeti Mustard (beer mustard)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Garlic and Rosemary Dipping oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cheese Straws
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Trio of Citrus Sugars
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spiced Nuts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: leftinthekitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would love to see some (if not all!) of your recipes! Care to share? I'm particularly interested in your mustard recipes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: leftinthekitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ok, now you've gotten my attention too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      oh please do share :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Christmas is just around the corner you know :( :)))

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sour cream coffeecakes are a really nice homemade gift, and I think most anyone would love one! Easy to make and only about $ 5.00-10.00 worth of ingredients (most ingredients you probably already have).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not only are they delicious, but elegant looking too - make it in a bundt or angelfood cake pan. Jewish delis and other bakeries often sell them for $ 35.00-50.00. I always make one for Christmas morning. Mmmmm wish I had a piece right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Homemade mustards, ketchups, BBQ sauces; chutneys, salsas; jams, jellies (both savoury and sweet); caramelized onion marmalade; flavoured vinegars and oils; seasoning blends; vanilla with bourbon or vodka; butterscotch sauce, chocolate sauce; lemongrass (or rosemary)-infused simple syrups; roasted applesauce; marshmallows (lovely in hot chocolate).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't know whether you've noticed but I am a wee bit obsessed with condiments!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Edited to add frozen logs of compound butters with herbs from the garden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Your lemongrass syrup sounds interesting. What do you do with it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our farmers markets have lots of Hmong farmers with lemongrass. I bought some at the end of the season (not sure if it's still good - will check) and am always wondering what I should do with it. (Also always looking for good gift ideas and love condiments for that.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, what oils and vinegars do you make? We like to do that too and are always looking for ideas. I made some with vinegar with lovage leaves at the end of the season and it's smelling very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We use the lemongrass syrup as a simple syrup to make drinks like lemonade or to pour over fresh fruit and mint, and as a glaze for shrimp, pork, etc. It would be great drizzled over Pavlova (have yet to try that one).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We also make pink peppercorn syrup that is good for the same things above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for the oils: annatto, chile, basil, orange rosemary, chipotle/orange, lemon thyme, shiitake, vanilla .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *Note that as most of these oils are perishable they need to be used within two weeks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vinegars: my favourites are blueberry basil, apple sage, peppercorn citrus, lavender, raspberry cinnamon champagne, ginger, juniper berry and peach.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *Note - most vinegars I make should be used within 4 months.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. This year, I made foil pans of twelve parbaked cinnamon rolls to give. I put the cream cheese/creme fraiche frosting in a little baggie the corner of which can be snipped off to drizzle on the hot rolls. I include instructions on how to freeze them or bake them right away, and how best to thaw and bake if frozen. This is a huge hit, particularly with people who have families (i.e. lots of mouths to feed.) There are even some people who I give two pans of rolls. I had in mind that it would take some of the work out of Christmas morning, especially for parents who may be sleep deprived! Of course, there are some people who report that they just baked and ate them right away...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I want to be your friend!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How many of these pans do you make to give away?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How do you do the parbaking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Shape after first rising and then refrigerate?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or bake a bit?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I use Alton's Brown's overnight cinnamon rolls recipe, the one with buttermilk. So, I make the dough, let it rise, then shape the rolls and refrigerate in the pans overnight. The next morning, I take them out early. In our house, this time of year, it takes more than the thirty minutes directed in the recipe for them to rise adequately. Depending on the temperature of the kitchen, it can take anywhere from an hour to two. Your mileage may vary, of course, and the process can be helped along with a barely warm oven. When they are puffy, I bake them in a 325 degree F oven for fifteen minutes. They may barely color, but they won't brown. I include instructions for the recipient to bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That sounds straightforward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And a very welcome gift!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do you put them in round foil pans, or square, or what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks for asking that question, I was wondering exactly the same thing! Also do these have an icing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The recipe fits a half steam tray pan or a 13 by 9 inch foil pan nicely. Yes, there is an icing recipe included with Alton Brown's recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al... I make the icing with half the sugar, and often sub creme fraiche for the milk when I have it on hand. This recipe, it turns out, has been blogged about quite a bit, too, if you google it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and one more rather important detail! If you don't have the INSTANT dry yeast called for in the recipe, you can make it with active dry yeast. The method will just be a little different. You'll want to activate the yeast in the wet ingredients before adding the 2 cups of flour. In fact, I usually do this with just the room temperature buttermilk and a couple teaspoons of the sugar, let it sit five minutes, then add the rest of thesugar and wet ingredients, and proceed. It's worthwhile to search out instant dry yeast for easy, no fail baking, but I don't always have it around since I don't buy it in bulk like I do active dry yeast. Not a big deal, as the dough will eventually rise if you don't adjust the method, but it will take longer for the little buggers to rise and shine...which can be frustrating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I started doing these last year and the recipients couldn't thank me enough. These gifts were indeed a huge hit. I got the idea from Pioneer woman (she uses the round foil pans, like you mentioned above), but I use the recipe from Cafe Beaujolais (Morning Food, without the nuts and raisins/currants). I think this year I'll prepare the icing and store in plastic baggies with instructions to snip corner for glazing; last year I simply instructed to dust with powdered sugar after they cool down a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The pans I give out have frozen rolls, so they must thaw out overnight in the fridge and need to be brought to room temperature (and rise afterwards) before baking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I found these to be my most rewarding food gift, these and the chocolate covered cornflake mounds which I package in cello bags with silk ribbon. I also give cookie platters and biscotti during the holidays but those are less special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wanted to post that while I use the recipe from Morning Food (I love the sweet dough recipe, preferably without the orange zest), I completely changed the filling. Since I don't use the nuts or the raisins/currants, the dark brown sugar in the original recipe is really overwhelming. I'm posting the filling that I love to use (I've had teens here eat 4 to 5 average sized rolls at a time):

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cinnamon Rolls Filling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Note: Double the ingredients if using entire sweet roll dough recipe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Tablespoons melted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Tablespoons cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PW uses maple flavoring and strong coffee to make her powdered sugar glaze. It's delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't care for it because of the maple flavoring and I don't particularly go for those flavors in a glaze (put me down as a 'less is more' type of gal ;) but I know that she does have a following of people who love that glaze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've made PW's cinnamon rolls and I think I'll be putting them in the Christmas gift rotation this year. Last time I made them I was giving them to families with kids so I've subbed vanilla for the maple flavoring she calls for in the glaze, and used milk/water in place of the coffee with good results. The other half I made with Smitten Kitchen's cream cheese frosting http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/04/cin... with good results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your recipients will not forget who brings the cinnamon rolls! I haven't tried making a cream cheese frosting yet, will try soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I made chili jelly and cowboy candy (jalapeños) but after reading this thread, I would like to give some friends soup mix. These are old folks that don't cook. I didn't notice a special recipe here, but would like one. Most of them seem to be beans, which is fine. But I wonder, are there mixes with rice and chicken powder and so on, that a non cook would like? (I am thinking "Dump this in a pan with X amount of water. Add a package of X frozen veggies. Cook X minutes and serve."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Among the many favourites, I always have to make the shortbread recipe from Baking illustrated. Its method is time-consuming but definitely worth it!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sugarcube

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am making biscotti for some and Spicy Bean soup in a Weck jar for others. [Recipe here: http://www.midwestliving.com/recipe/s...] I make Key LIme Pie for two men in our family whose wives do not cook and who love it - but that is unusual since it has to be delivered and eaten quite soon after it is made.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. This year there are couple people that will be getting a hot buttered rum batter in a jar with a cute spoon, a couple of holiday cheer mugs and a bottle of rum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          White peach jam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Figgy raspberry jam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          strawberry pineapple jam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          People love to get homemade jam.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'll be making savory scones, as well my special scones as gifts with some homemade lemon curd and orange ginger marmalade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree about the jam - great idea for next year when fruit is in season. I could do it long before Christmas rush. Plus you can do great things with containers, spoons, go withs. The hot buttered rum batter sounds delicious. Can you share the recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bethcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Certainly! Hot buttered rum is a favorite of ours during the holidays and I've used two products in the past which are fine. These were good, but this is better because you can use either dark or light brown sugar, less or more nutmeg, add clove or don't, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hot Buttered Rum Batter-3 cups/recipe doubles nicely
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Use a jar, or airtight container that will keep the batter fresh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 pound salted butter softened
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1lb light brown sugar -dark is okay
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 T ground cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 tsp vanilla or vanilla extract rum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/8 tsp ground clove - adjust to your taste or leave it out
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mix the sugar and butter with the spices and vanilla. Refrigerate once made.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To serve 1 T batter to each mug, the add 1 oz rum, and 6oz of boiling hot water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for the recipe - I plan to make it tomorrow. Thanks also for the suggestion about World Market - and I have a $10 off $30 coupon I can use!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These are rich, 2 drinks at the most is about it for me but its really delicious. I love clove, I added more and didn't measure. This should set up in the fridge for awhile too. The flavors really become intense, much more so than the store stuff. I'll never buy premade again, this is as delcious as eating fresh baked cookies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Let the batter melt completely before adding more to you mug of hot water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my recipe is from the 60's and uses a qt of softened premium vanilla ice cream, to be beat into the butter & spice mixture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This recipe looks delicious! I definitely must make this, it looks so good, and your recipe looks fairly simple which is a plus. Love the idea that it can be doubled easily. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Bethcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, World Market has cute ceramic or wooden spoons, containers such as jars and canisters. Lots of ideas for storing the rum batter and go withs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      White peach jam. Throw in a few rose petals...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, great idea! Been studying the use of rose petals in food since Caroline1 wrote about a recipe she tried. Others hounds piped in sharing a few recipes, it all sounds so delicate. The use of these would enhance the white peach jam and I'm all for it. Are you suggesting in addition to the ginger, add the rose petals, or leave the ginger out.? The ginger does come through in the jam I make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rose or ginger, I think. They don't seem complimentary to me. I think they'd look beautiful too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            thanks I couldn't imagine the combination of the two, but that doesn't mean anything anymore! For instance the combination of white choclate on fish? The very thought grosses me out, but professionals with educated palates claim its wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The petals would be very beautiful in the jam, as long as they stay the color they're supposed to be. Perhaps a darker wine colored rose. Nice thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Ooh! Rose petals. I do yellow peach jam with something. Usually tart cherries, but this year strawberries, along with the peaches. I think I prefer the cherries, however -- the tartness goes well with the sweetness of the peaches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rose with raspberry is beyond delicious. I'd love the peach and cherry one too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I like this idea of tart cherries, thanks for that idea!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I forgot to mention fruit butters - my favourite is pear vanilla bean. Lovely on warm scones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Herb and/or spice infused honeys are fun and simple to make but impressive. Lavender is nice but another favourite is a hot and spicy honey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hot & spicy sounds great! I need to make some of that. Cinnamon honey is a yearly must-have that's on my DIL's list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mmmmmm. . . . pear vanilla bean butter . . . . mmmmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I've had great success with homemade marshmallows coated in chocolate and pecans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I made personalized ice creams for my in-laws this year. My father-in-law's favorite drink is a Tumbleweed, so I made a base of creme de cacao and kahlua ice cream, and added chopped up chocolate-covered espresso beans and a fudge ripple. The one lick I took off the spoon tasted pretty successful! For my mother-in-law, I used David Lebovitz's Butterscotch Pecan ice cream. I'm making personalized labels for them too. Should be a fun and different gift, I think!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. If it's fall/winter, I like to bake pumpkin bread. I double the spices, which makes it so...spicy and festive! plus it stays good for a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This one is truly excellent: http://oneperfectbite.blogspot.com/20...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've been using it for years. Note in the pic on that blog site that the apple really stands out of the dark batter. That's why I chop my apples up a bit more. What you don't see is the lovely streusel topping. Yummy and generous. Try it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I bet annietheking's recipe is also wonderful but you won't be sorry if you try Reichl's. I've never been sorry that I tried any of her stuff. ;>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      God! how I *still* miss Gourmet...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        just looked this recipe up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        our DD had TG and they ordered pecan, pumpkin and apple pie.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        we froze the pecan cause it wasn't touched, just reminded me of that recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lgss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      kale chips? what? share please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I made them for the first time recently, just so I would choke down a good bunch of kale, and in fact it was pretty painless. I cut the bigger stems out, tossed the remaining leaves with a little olive oil and salt, spread them out on two baking sheets and put them in a 400 oven for about 15 minutes, turning once. Whole family liked them well enough -- we felt virtuous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yay you're back, I was wondering where you were, somervilleoldtimer. I first saw those chips on a Jacques Pépin Fast Food My Way and my husband, who is usually Mr. Dark Green Cruciferous Vegetable, said they didn't appeal. Are they really tasty? Or just make you feel virtuous?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I find them hard to stop eating, in that potato chip, etc. kind of way. Crunchy and crisp, a little salty. But no guilt necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey, there, buttertart! I was extremely busy for a couple of months and then on vacation for a couple of weeks, so no time for CH, but things have eased off a bit, thank goodness. Hope all is well with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Hi all! I see a few cooks here were making homemade dog biscuits, but no recipes on this [old] thread. I would be grateful for any tried and true dog biscuit recipes and any safe decorating tips for them! Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tehama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These are super easy and my dogs love 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When you bake 'em make sure they're thoroughly dry so they'll store for a long time. If you don't feel they've dried enough just leave them in the oven with the door opened and the heat turned off. When they're fully dry they'll keep forever and that's good because this recipe makes a lot and it will take a while to go through them. ...especially if you don't have lab chowhounds like I do. ;>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you want smaller sized treats you can halve or quarter each slice but watch the cooking time and adjust it accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a cute little cookie stamp with a paw print impression that I stamp into these before baking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Peanut Butter Treats
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yield: 3-4 dozen treats 1 3/4-2" in diameter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • 1 1/4 cup oatmeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • 1/4 cup peanut butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • 1 cup warm water

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then mix the wet ingredients together. Combine both mixtures until a firm dough is achieved. This could involve some kneading. Shape dough into an oblong roll, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease sheet pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Slice roll into 1/4-inch slices, place on sheet pan and bake for about 1 hour or until treats are done, checking after 45 minutes, and then every 5 minutes thereafter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Let them cool before giving to your best friend.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • For Cheese Treats substitute 1/3 cup grated cheese + 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil for the peanut butter. Add cheese to the flour and oats and combine. Add oil to the water. Mix liquid and dry ingredients together. Continue as for Peanut Butter Treats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You are totally awesome! Thank you!! That is exactly what we (Viego Fidel and I!) were looking for. Have a great day from the 2 and 4-legged Chowhounds!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tehama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Happy to be able to help. I bet these are a lot cheaper than commercial treats. ...tho I've never done the math. Certainly, there's nothing in there that is unnecessary or unhealthy. Plus, I bet you've got all the ingredients on hand right now. ;>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Referencing the OP on gift giving, I have put these in little cello bags wrapped with bows and taken them to pass out on "graduation day" at obedience training. They are cute as gifts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How about homemade jam or apple/pear butter? You have to make it in big batches, and one family can only eat so much jam. I'm making some right now and plan on giving it as gifts on Thanksgiving to the in-laws and my mother. Annietheking had a good one too. Pumpkin bread (or apple bread) is PERFECT for fall. If you freeze the loaves, you can save them to give away for the holidays!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. For Christmas 2011, I am making Caramel Corn for the village staff (I am the Deputy Mayor) and almond biscotti dipping in almond flavored white chocolate for friends. I'm also thinking about some wonderful home made and canned spicy hamburger/hot dog relish for family. Does anyone have a recipe they like for chocolate bark candy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mzsnowhite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have no recipe for you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wondered if you'd share the caramel corn recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's always a winner with everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mzsnowhite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              From the Queen of Bad For You Desserts, my lady Paula Deen has two yummy chocolate bark recipes I like: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa... and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. ...continuing on in my quest for ridding myself of old never viewed cookbooks from yesteryear......and came upon this one ready for discard from 1980.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                suggestions offered are:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Granola Mix.......with it you can make Fruit Bars/Sweet vs. Savory stuffing/Energy Bars/Trail Mix
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Basic Baking Mix.....with it you can make Pancakes/Waffles/Biscuits/Muffins/Aebleshivers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweet Bread Mix.......with it you can make Pumpkin bread/Carrot bread/Applespice bread/Date
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Crispy Frying Mix.....with it you can make Fried chicken/Fried fish/Country Fried steak/Shaker Pork chops

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. We moved away from the greater NY area two years ago and have a 125 acre homestead in rural North Carolina. Last year for the holidays we gave two themed gifts based on what we have harvested from our farm and land. I plan to expand on these this year:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Box one, holiday snacks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Venison Summer Sausage (harvested, processed and smoked by us)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Homemade Goat Milk Cheese (we have a small herd of goats)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Homemade crackers (recipe from the Irish butter website).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Sweet/salty roasted pecans (our friends have a pecan grove.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Box two, a Holiday breakfast:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Home processed Venison breakfast sausage patties
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -A dozen farm fresh eggs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -A loaf of homemade English
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Toasting Bread
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -small jar of homemade Strawberry or Blueberry jam
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -A bag of homemade Pecan/dried apple granola.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope your friends and family know how lucky they are! That's an incredible effort on your part as well as wonderful sounding items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My husband harvested another deer last night (the third this season) So this one is going to be sausages and cured meats. I have some recipes for salami and bratwurst that I want to try. It's fun to experiment with techniques and yes, our friends love receiving those gifts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow, what amazing gifts! Sign me up to be your friend!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. This year I'm giving a peach mostarda that I canned this fall, preserved lemons (currently preserving themselves) and homemade vanilla (http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade...).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Well, crap...this year I was going to make a huge batch of bread and butter pickles to give out, but I waited too long, and can't find decent pickling cukes any more! The only ones I could find are all huge, and not that great looking, either. Bummer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If your heart is set on pickles, you can pickle lots of different things. Maybe make an Italian giardieniera. Otherwise, many alternative ideas up thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Carrot cake jam is lovely. Lots of recipes on line. One neighbor I gave a jar to said I should sell the stuff. Laf!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nemo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, but I was really looking forward to some good ol' bread and butter pickles. Maybe I'll have to do green tomatoes again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. These are baked not presented as mixes but they're incredibly delicious and guaranteed to make you a superstar among gifters.