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What food gifts did you make / buy this year ?

I have my usual slew of local wines / port and variety chocolates to give this year, but also some things like lavender, pomegranate and rose jellies, lobster antipasto, as well, as of today, some deer meat for my Dad (thanks to a fellow generous co-worker ! ). I have spices, dip mixes etc etc. I seem to give a lot of food gifts !

As for stuff i've made, gone and going to coworkers and friends in pretty tins and plastics:
-peanut brittle
-coffee walnut toffee with white and dark chocolate
-white chocolate bark with macadamia nuts and cranberries
-chocolate tortoises (basicall peanut butter/butterscotch/nut cluster things)
-rum raisin fudge
-bittersweet chocolate fudge with ginger

How about you !?

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  1. What a great idea for a thread! And how ambitious you are! Sounds delicious!

    Well, we aren't even half as energetic in the kitchen, but we did send out a few things (now, don't laugh!):

    1. Harry & David Pears. OK All of our friends and siblings have reached a 'certain age' and can't eat this or that or the other thing, but these pears are just delicious and they all seem to like/eat them. I know some people get several boxes of the pears from different friends/clients/patients, but they can always re-gift, we think!

    2. Esther Price Candy. The best buy in good chocolates and made right here in Ohio. And these days we send out the bittersweet/semisweet candies (of course for 'health' reasons!)

    3. Now for the homemade~~we had a delightful time baking yeasty 'Christmas wreaths' from a recipe in the Food Processor Bread Book. Everyone loves these (I make them every year), and I don't know why they are always so surprised to find out I made them myself! Oh, well.

    4. The last thing we baked (that I'll mention) are our St. Nicholas Spekulaitus cookies from our German Christmas Baking cookbook. These never fail to impress and are easy to make if you have the right equipment (the wooden molds).. Declicious with Oolong Tea, too.

    I would love to hear what everyone else sends out. Tis the season, and I could use some new ideas!

    1 Reply
    1. re: dumas

      I've sent Harry & David pears/apples/cheddar/nuts this year to my family...they are really great quality. In our office, we've received a multitude of gift baskets from the attorneys we work with but they are ALL trashy carbs--chocolates, cookies, small cakes. Not to sound ungrateful (and they will all receive thank you notes signed by all of us on our estate settlement team) but it is surprising how little fruit seems to be sent. None of us are on restricted diets but we might need to be if this keeps up. Our plan for this coming week is to give lots of it to others in our building who may not have received baskets, which we started to do on Thursday. It's becoming ridiculous. A number of us have volunteered to take unopened items to the local shelter, too, since they are in such need.

    2. Back to basics this year. Starting now on 5 cookies: baklava, a bar version of Linzer torte, meringue puffs w/ crushed candy canes and chocolate bits, pumpkin spice bread, and oatmeal chocolate chip dried cherry. Also attractively piled whole in shell nuts (walnut, pecan, filbert, almond) into mini ceramic Christmas themed loaf pans. Families report the kids thrilled at seeing them for the first time and getting to whack them open.

      2 Replies
      1. re: torty

        oh, I have a box of phyllo that keeps giving me dirty looks every time i open the freezer....

        1. re: geminigirl

          It's amazing how expressive phyllo dough can manage those dirty looks! The venison can manage it too somehow.

      2. A box from Nueske's for good friends with bacon, canadian bacon, ham, and buffalo steaks. For the owners of my local cheese shop and for all the employees of my beauty salon, trays of baklava and galactoboureko(which I made). Harbor sweets and pistachio nuts from California for friends and relatives.

        1. so far...

          maple walnut
          cherry almond
          cinnamon pecan

          granola bars:
          cherry chocolate chip
          apple cinnamon with currants

          chili chai walnuts
          sweet & spicy curried cashews
          tea-glazed almonds with ginger & sesame

          1. boxes of
            small loaves of Gramercy Tavern Ginger Bread(made with orval beer instead of Guinness)
            cream cake (from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Book....easy and Soooooo Delish)
            Nigella Lawsons fudge from Domestic Goddess
            Chocolate Caramel from The Settlement Cookbook
            Bridge Mix Brittle
            Hermit Cake from my MILs famous recipe

            I rearely get to sample any of these, but I hear they are good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jill kibler

              ooh bridge mix brittle, what goes in there?

              1. re: im_nomad

                Standard peanut brittle recipe using a good bridge mix instead of peanuts. (Our work place is a peanut free environment, so this modification was necessary.) I chop the Brazil nuts so they arent too big compared to the rest of the nuts.

            2. preserved lemons, cheese, bourbon cherries, salmon jerky (variations of all found here although I'm using Bittman mostly with reckless swerves)

              1. Granola and homemade nut butter,,,,sometimes mixed together.

                1. Baked at the Swanky home and put into tins for all my fellow teacher buddies (and hubby's boss!):

                  -white chocolate chip cranberry oatmeal cookies
                  - chocolate chip
                  -raspberry and apricot rugalah

                  Year's not over yet, but I might order ourselves the Zingerman's "Midnight Feeding Box" since our baby is due any day now!! :o)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Sra. Swanky

                    aww, didn't know a Swanky bambino[a] was on the way...congrats!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Thank you, ghg! :o) Looking forward to our little chowpup! :o)

                    2. re: Sra. Swanky

                      So many goodies in the oven! Congrats!

                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                        LOL!! Especially this year! Thanks, Sal! :o)

                    3. I made some delicious Vanilla Bean cookies that taste just like Bryer's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
                      I'm also going to to make homemade ricotta for a few of my more food obsessed friends.

                      1. I would be banished from several circles if I failed to make toffee, so I did. About 25 pounds. Only my neighbors to go!

                        I also made green, red, and white marshmallows and Cook's Illustrated (or Cook's Country--Mom has both) hot cocoa mix. Threw in Kahlua for my REALLY GOOD friends.

                        Chai shortbread for Mom.

                        I'm working on a spicy "white trash" for a good friend of mine whose favorite junk food has been discontinued.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mamaciita

                          What's in the spicy "white trash", if you don't mind? Sounds good!

                          1. re: Sra. Swanky

                            I'm going to expirament with Alton Brown's recipe and make half "regular" and add cinnamon and ground red pepper to the other. I'll let you know how it goes.

                            1. re: mamaciita

                              Expirament accomplished.

                              I didn't get exactly what I had anticipated, but boy, is it yummy.

                              Next time I'll grind some black pepper over the top while it's still tacky, and I'm thinking of expiramenting with Chinese Five Spice powder.

                              For the record, I eliminated the Cheerios in the recipe and added a bit more of everything else to make up for it. To the half-batch that I made "spicy," I added 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the white chocolate. For my taste, I think I could have used 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 3/4-1 teaspoon cinnamon.

                        2. I have put together....

                          - Ingredients to make hummus to go with dip set gift.
                          - Sugar free chocolate covered pretzels for diabetic
                          - Sugar free flavored popcorn
                          - Puppy chow snack mix
                          - Ranch flavored snack mix
                          - Assorted x-mas cookies

                          The fruit is a good idea for the person who has everything! Thanks!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: etoiles

                            Chile Citrus Peanuts
                            Peppermint Bark
                            Instant Mohitos... Just add lime..

                            1. re: rozz01

                              What goes into an instant mojito? Sounds amazing.

                              1. re: Dizzied

                                I made a mint infused simple syrup and addes Bicardi 151 to it. Included two highball glasses w/a lime in each one....

                          2. Could you share your lobster anitpasto?

                            1. Giving lemoncello from meyer lemons. The recipe is on the CH site.

                              I got chocolates, some Polish and booze-filled which will get re-gifted.

                              Also got a "client" gift of steaks and pork chops from Omaha Steaks. Seemed like a foolhardy gift with so many people being vegetarian or Kosher, but we will enjoy them.

                              1. Rendered Duck Fat so far...

                                I am thinking about some Fleur De Sel Caramels...

                                1. Well, I made some little spice bundt cakes, pecan toffee (no where near 25 lbs worth - I submerged my candy thermometer and cursed vividly before I gave up), and iced christmas cookies, but the "gift" project this year was lavender...we got a ton at a "U-pick" lavender farm, dried it, so I made lavender sea salt, lavender sugar, and herbs d'provence (thank goodness for bulk herbs!), and am giving a "Trio of Texas Lavender."

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: saticoy

                                    The Texas Lavender Trio sounds especially interesting.

                                    And now I'm wondering if you are including recipes to complement your mixes? I received Lavender sea salt as a gift and I'm trying to be creative, but can't think of how best to use it...

                                    ...but, maybe in those Fleur De Sel Caramels that Jan mentioned just above?

                                    1. re: dumas

                                      You know, I didn't include recipes, but toyed with the idea....Lavender salt caramels sound amazing, and I think this salt is excellent sprinkled on plain grilled, steamed or roasted veggies (esp zucchini) and it is also great with lamb. I use the lavender sugar for scones and icing, herbs for lots of different things...NEXT year I'll do recipes!!

                                  2. Oh my...everything sounds so good, what lucky recipients !

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                      yours too! particularly the coffee toffee, tortoises, and ginger fudge. mmmm....

                                    2. Cranberry cheese pie
                                      Cranberry walnut pie
                                      Niter kibbeh - Ethiopian spiced butter

                                      1. miniature chewy gooey gingerbread loaves - very well received

                                        flavored olive oils

                                        flavored vodkas

                                        pumpkin butter, persimmon butter, and pear butter

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Emme

                                          Flavored butters - What a good idea! Did you special mold them??

                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            no not butter flavored with those... persimmon, pear, and pumpkin as in similar to apple butter... stew the fruit til very soft with spices and a little sugar if desired, then puree and jar...

                                        2. Today I'm giving away a quart of homemade eggnog that I've been aging for the past couple weeks in the back of my fridge and a cardamom-lemon cake decorated in white rose-scented whipped cream with pistachios and candied red rose petals. I gave away a similar cake last week but the saffron frosting didn't quite have the White Christmas look I wanted.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            that sounds stunning! i hope that the recipient appreciates your gift.

                                          2. This past weekend, I baked twenty dozen butter cookies (a la Poilane - used a shot of them as my avatar here) and about 100 plain vanilla meringues. Minus the few that got slightly burnt and were scarfed up at home by my DH and me, I brought them to my office. I'm a receptionist at an ad agency with about 85 people on my floor. I got in early yesterday and arranged them on platters around my desk. They were all gone by the time I left for lunch at 12:30.

                                            1. I do a lot of food things, but not necessarily what others would think of as gift items always.

                                              Gift purchases
                                              Apricot Jam from Ilovejam.com which I learned about on this board
                                              dried rambutan
                                              White fudge covered oreos
                                              Chocolate covered Macadamias
                                              Sparkling blueberry juice
                                              Sparkling pomegranate juice

                                              food gifts made
                                              buckeyes (w/dark chocolate)
                                              cream cheese christmas tree appetizers (w/pesto and red peppers)

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  Rambutan fruit

                                                  The rambutan (IPA: [ramˈbu.t̪ɑn], Nephelium lappaceum) is a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae, and the fruit of this tree. It is native to Indonesia and Southeast Asia, although its precise natural distribution is unknown. It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the Lychee, Longan and Mamoncillo. It is believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago.[1]. Rambutan in Indonesian or Malay literally means hairy caused by the 'hair' that covers this fruit. In Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, it is known as mamón chino. There is a second species regularly for sale at Malay markets which is known as "wild" rambutan. It is a little smaller than the usual red variety and is colored yellow.

                                                  Buckeyes are a confection ~~ a peanut butter filling dipped in chocolate

                                                  I have a BIL from Ohio (the Buckeye State) whose mother used to make buckeyes for him, so I do it for him and his son now that she is gone.

                                                  I had a BIL (now deceased) who was born in Bangkok. His DS has traveled to Thailand and enjoys all things Thai. He is my Secret Santa giftee this year, so. . . Rambutans

                                              1. All the stuff I'm going to list below I've made. Some of it's gone to friends and co-workers but I'm flying in a few hours with great gobs of it for family. In fact, I've got more goodies packed than clothes :-D

                                                - Almond Crunch Candy - which is basically Almond Rocha (10+ lbs. are packed in my suitcase <gg>)
                                                - Iced Nuts - a deceptively easy brittle, used mac nuts this year.
                                                - Jamoncillo de Frutas y Nueces - from a recipe in the current issue of Saeuver Magazine. This translates (more or less) as milk fudge with (candied) fruit and nuts. The method for making the jamoncillo was rather strange, but easy to follow and oh...my...god... is this stuff ever good. Think rich caramely fudge with a hint of cinnamon, 3 kinds of nuts and good quality candied fruit (not the day-glo stuff that comes in tubs in the grocery store)

                                                - Mudslide Cookies with Dried Cranberries, Pecans and Pistachios (Jacques Torres recipe from Dec. Food & Wine mag...phenomenally good, recipes definitely a keeper)
                                                - Coconut Pistachio Meringue Cookies (from a Nick Malgeri recipe)
                                                - Orange Butter Cookies (NYT recipe)
                                                - Choco Mint Thumb Print Cookies filled with Minty White Chocolate
                                                - Lime Fire Cookies - basically a Spritz cookie flavored with fresh lime juice, rind and cayenne pepper. I used a new/fresh batch of cayenne this year and they came out a little too spicy, so I dipped the flat side of the cookies in melted chocolate and made them into sandwich cookies and gave them a new name. They're now Mexican Milanos <gg> and still spicy but, thankfully, the chocolate took the edge off.

                                                The humidity in SoCal this year made candy making a challenge. Had one batch of toffee crystallize this year, and in 40 years of candy making, that's never happened with this recipe.

                                                Happy Solstice, Happy Chanukah, Merry Kwanzaa and Merry Christmas to all...

                                                1. Candied pecans for all my friends.

                                                  Makes 2 pounds candy, or enough for 5 mason jars

                                                  1¼ pounds pecans
                                                  3 egg whites
                                                  ¼ cup water
                                                  2 cups sugar
                                                  ½ teaspoon salt
                                                  2 tablespoons cinnamon
                                                  2 teaspoons allspice
                                                  1 teaspoon ginger
                                                  1 teaspoon nutmeg

                                                  Whisk egg whites until frothy. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Toss pecans in frothy egg whites. Stir until they are all wet. Add dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. Bake on a jelly roll pan in a 300° oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until dry. Let cool on pan.

                                                  1. We were gifted with 25 pounds of California walnuts (!) so we gave one and two pound packages to several friends. Also made brandied candied walnuts (walnut.org recipe) and gave some of them. Each year we traditionally send Harry and David Royal Riviera pears and Collin Street Bakery fruitcakes to a few friends... and to us. Merry Christmas, all!

                                                    1. Wine - all purchased. Same for the last 30 years.


                                                      1. I sent my father orange cookies about two weeks before Christmas, using the recipe that his deceased mother always used. She would always make them when we came to visit. When she was alive, I used to make her candied grapefruit peel - her favorite - and send them to her.

                                                        1. Every year I bake about 6 different cookies and make packages for friends and family. I was escpecially pressed fo time this year because of the huge ice storm we had. We had to go live with friends for a week until we got electricity back.

                                                          But I did make the cookies!
                                                          Santa's Whiskers (pecan, dried cherries, coconut)
                                                          chocolate mint drops
                                                          gingerbread cookies
                                                          2 different types of butter cookies
                                                          pecan sables
                                                          danish butter cardamom cookies

                                                          On Christmas eve I was getting ready to decorate the gingerbread and butter cookies. I had already make the royal icing (though I hadn't colored any of it) and then we had a windstorm and the lights went out till 2 am. So I decorated in the dark. I ended up not finishing till 3 am. But I got it done and had 15 gift bags on Christmas day!


                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: puppymomma

                                                            Those are lovely - I'd love your recipe for the butter cardamom cookies over on the Home Cooking board when you have a chance. Congratulations on getting so much done despite the obstacles!

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              The recipe came from Recipezarr. You can find the recipe here with my pictures: http://inspiredbites.blogspot.com/200...


                                                          2. I made salted caramels. And more salted caramels. And then a few more batches. I can now make caramels in my sleep.

                                                            A certain significant other was given a (purchased) bottle of lovely Walla Walla cab sauv.

                                                            1. Didn't really get around to make home-made food gifts this year, so I gave away restaurant gift cards instead. However, hubby and I did manage to get ourselves some food-related gifts, including a super duper juicer, SousVideMagic, as well as some delish Jamon Iberico and Spanish cured meat from La Tienda.