December 19, 2017

my favorite food gifts for the holiday season

Tis the season for food and for gifts! So what's better than combining the two and making FOOD GIFTS?! Holiday food gifts are one of my favorite things to share with friends and family because they're thoughtful, they ooze charm, and they're made by hand which equals l-o-v-e in my book! Many of these gifts can be made in advance and at-the-ready for quick giving or last minute sharing or giving to the masses! 

One rule of thumb I go by when giving gifts is this: Something to eat and something to keep! 

Yep, that's my motto when I'm giving gifts. Rather than just giving a beautiful, gourmet jar of preserves, I tie on a hand-carved wooden serving spoon or vintage spreader. When giving seasoning blends, tie on a thrifted set of aluminum measuring spoons. When giving an infused olive oil, use a recycled heirloom bottle and hang a neat natural brush on the neck so guests can brush the oil onto breads or meats. So with that said, I spend much of the year gathering and buying and stockpiling wonderful little add-ons from the sale rack or at my favorite flea market. Including an extra little treasure in the bow or using repurposed containers takes a food gift from lovely to magical!

Because I'm a food-lovin'-food-makin' girl, there are about a gazillion food gifts that I adore! But here are several of my favorites! All are simple, all are beautiful, and all will be received with delight! Remember to include serving instructions on a tag or card!

makes 8 ounces

4 plump vanilla beans, split lengthwise then cut into 8 halves
3/4 cup bourbon or vodka
1/4 cup distilled water

Put the split and halved beans inside an 8 ounce bottle. Use a funnel to pour in the alcohol and water. Seal tightly with a lid or cork. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks, shaking regularly as it cures.

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makes 1 gift

1 cup fresh cranberries
1 small orange
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks

Combine the cranberries, orange, cloves, and star anise in a sandwich baggie. Tuck all inside a small, cotton-muslin bag. Cinch closed and tie cinnamon sticks in the bow along with seasonal sprigs. Include instructions:
Slice the orange into quarters. Place cranberries, orange, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan; cover with water and simmer over low heat on your stove's smallest burner. Enjoy the scents of the season!

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makes about 1 cup

1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
20-30 drop peppermint essential oil
10 drops Christmas Spirit essential oil or other seasonal scent

Combine the ingredients together and package in glass jars with little wooden spoons. Perfect for hard-working hospitality hands and feet! Include instructions with the scrub:
Rub a generous spoonful of the sugar scrub into your hands or feet, gently massaging into skin to exfoliate. Rinse with warm water!

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makes approximately 4 (1-cup) servings

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup whiskey
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup, optional
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 large eggs

Combine all ingredients in a battle bowl with a pour spout. Whisk together for several minutes until the eggs are incorporated well. Carefully divide among festive glass bottles with lids for giving. Ribbon with jingle bells and a include a tag that says:
"Making spirits bright!" Drink a little sip on the rocks or pour into your after-dinner coffee! Shake well before serving. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

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makes one gift (approximately 16 servings per gift)

1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup dried italian seasoning
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Stir together and pour into small glass jars or spoon into seal-able, food safe kraft bags. Tie with measuring spoons and include instructions for serving:
Melt one stick of unsalted butter. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the seasoning blend, and brush onto grilled steaks, chicken, over roasted vegetables, or brush on bread before toasting in the oven or grill.