Almost all of us have our tough financial years at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to give our friends and family a great gift for the holidays. Here are some great ideas for food items that can be prepared, or partially prepared, to give as gifts.
Pre-Mixed and Ready to Cook
Take some simple recipes for cookies, cakes, or even pancakes, and mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Put them in a bag and tie them with a ribbon, or place them in a mason jar and put a label on them.
On a card, list all of the wet ingredients that need to be added to the mixture, and write down cooking instructions.
You can use just about any simple recipe in which dry ingredients are introduced to wet ones.
Sample Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mix the following ingredients and package them:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups of white sugar
3/4 cups of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 12 oz package of chocolate chips
Card should read:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Blend ½ pound of softened butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 eggs in a bowl with a mixer. Add contents of jar and mix thoroughly. Drop teaspoons of cookie mix on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until brown.
These make great gifts, but note- they have a shelf life of about three weeks. These are probably best reserved for people who enjoy cooking a lot and will use them up fairly quickly.
Make these in mason jars or jars with tight-fitting caps. You will need to sterilize the jar before filling it by allowing it to boil in water for at least ten minutes. Make sure the jar is dry inside before adding any oil.
Place your cleaned, fresh herbs (make sure they are thoroughly dry after washing) into the jar in any combination you enjoy, such as:
Rosemary and garlic
lemon peel and black peppercorns
parsley, sage and thyme
roasted red pepper and garlic
sun dried tomatoes and basil
Pour in olive oil almost to the top. Cover, and label the mixture with the shelf life.
Mulled Wine or Cider
Always a nice treat for toasting the holidays, you can make an alcoholic mulled wine, or a non-alcoholic mulled cider. Here is a basic recipe:
1 bottle of inexpensive wine or four cups of cider
3/4 cups of sugar or 1/3 cup of honey
2 cinnamon sticks
6 allspice berries
1 small piece of ginger
In a glass or enamel pot, add all the ingredients except for the orange. Grate the zest off of the orange and add it to the pot. Stir. Do not let the mixture simmer or boil- just heat it until it begins to steam.
Remove it from the heat and strain it. Discard the solid ingredients. Pour the mulled liquid it into a sanitized jar or bottle with a tight-fitting cap. Put a label on it and instruct your friends to refrigerate it, but heat before drinking.
Delectable, Decadent Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate covered strawberries are so easy to make, and so delicious.
Wash off your strawberries and allow them to dry thoroughly.
Melt a package of semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 15 to 30 second intervals. Stir in between intervals, and do this until the chips are melted.
Hold the strawberries by their leaves and dip them one at a time into the bowl of chocolate. Place them on a cookie sheet or dish lined with parchment paper. Place them in the fridge to cool or set.
These can be placed in a decorative tin, or fill a large wine glass or champaign flute with them, and cover with colored plastic wrap and a rubber band or ribbon. Keep refrigerated.
These won’t last long enough to go bad.
A Cup Full of Love
Get your friend a nice personal mug. In the mug, place a bag of their favorite coffee, tea, or even small candies. Cover it with colorful plastic wrap and a rubber band or ribbon to hold it.
This is a great gift to make for several people at one time. Purchase the spices at the grocery store in the bulk section, make a big mixed batch, and then put them in inexpensive dollar store spice shakers with a label on them. Use some of these, or make your own:
Spicy Barbecue Rub:
8 oz black ground pepper
8 oz paprika
5 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
All-Purpose Food Seasoning:
8 oz paprika
4 oz garlic powder
2 oz onion powder
1/4 cup of salt
4 tbsp black pepper
4 tbsp dried ground thyme
Asian Spice Blend:
4 oz ground fennel seeds
3 oz ground star anise
3 oz ground szechwan or black pepper
2 oz ground ginger
1 oz ground cinnamon
1 oz ground cloves