Is there anything nicer than receiving a homemade gift? Whether it is a card lovingly drawn by a child or the fanciest wrapped basket, homemade items are always met with warm smiles and sincere thanks. I have many of the cards and letters sent over the years from my nieces and nephews tucked away in a keepsakes box. Memories of loving gestures are always the sweetest.
When I started thinking about today’s post, I began pouring through my many cookbooks and craft books for ideas. And then it dawned on me that I should go to the Queen of Gifts, Martha herself. Who better to combine great recipes with beautiful gift wrapping ideas.
I wanted a nice selection that spanned a number of personal tastes and came up with these eight recipes. There are plenty more to choose from and detailed instructions for some of the wrapping ideas on her website .
Today’s Recipes are: All-Purpose Spice Rub, Candied Citrus Peels, Caramel Bourbon Vanilla Sauce, Gingerbread Caramels, Gingersnap Palmiers, Mixed Citrus Marmalade, Olives with Fennel and Orange, and Spiced Cider Sachets.
I have many recipes on the blog that make wonderful gifts as well. Just think about making a bigger batch of a sauce, salsa, dry rub or other component of a recipe and placing them in beautiful jars or tins. Even something as simple as a homemade vinaigrette or a crock of compound butter makes a fabulous gift. Then all you have to do is add a colorful ribbon and a tag letting the recipients know how to use the gift or serving suggestions. Always include an expiration date if appropriate and storage instructions. Note: when increasing recipes, cut back slightly on the salt.
I would suggest you bookmark this page because the gifts can be made anytime of the year and given for birthdays, anniversaries, as hostess gifts, or for friend who is going through a difficult time.
Here are some of my favorites from earlier posts:
- Rum Caramel Sauce
- Aztec Black Bean Salsa
- Tuscan Espresso BBQ Sauce
- Balsamic Onions
- Cornell Barbecue Sauce
- Almond Granola
- Blood Orange Dipping Sauce
- Blueberry Sauce
- Caramel Sauce
- Hot Fudge Sauce
- Chunky Raspberry Sauce
- Orange Relish
- Root Beer BBQ Sauce
- Compound Herb Butter
- Creamy Italian Dressing
- Pico de Gallo
- Ginger-Infused Simple Syrup
- Green Harissa Sauce
- North African Spice Rub
- Smoky Two-Chile Salsa
- French Vinaigrette
I hope you have the opportunity to make some of your gifts for this joyous season. They mean so much more than anything you can buy and may start a new tradition in your home.
Happy Festive Friday!
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dark unsulfured molasses
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 14 ounces good-quality thawed frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour
- Bring brown sugar, molasses, ginger, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Simmer until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour syrup into a bowl; let cool.
- Whisk granulated sugar, salt, and spices in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle sugar mixture over a clean work surface; place puff pastry on top. Cut into two 10 1/2-by-7-inch pieces. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture; press into pastry with a rolling pin. Brush generously with syrup.
- Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll in from both long sides, meeting in the center; brush with syrup to seal. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture. Wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours (up to overnight).
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip slices in sugar mixture. Space 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten with your palm. Freeze 30 minutes.
- Bake 10 minutes. Flip, and brush with syrup. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until darkened, 10 minutes more. Transfer palmiers to a wire rack; let cool completely. Palmiers can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.
- Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen
- HOW TO FORM PALMIERS
- -After rolling out the puff pastry to a rectangle and topping with sugar filling, roll up one side of pastry along the edges lengthwise, halfway to center; repeat with the other side.
- -Use a sharp knife to slice the dough.
- 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges, or 4 lemons
- 4 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
- 4 cups water
- Using a paring knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each citrus fruit, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Reserve fruit for another use. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Using a paring knife, remove excess pith (white part) from each strip and discard.
- Place strips in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat twice.
- Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring. Wash the sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add strips to boiling syrup, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until strips are translucent, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, and let strips cool in syrup. (Strips in syrup will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.)
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, then roll strips in sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a wire rack, and let dry for at least 30 minutes.
- Yield: 2-1/2 cups
- 2 cups assorted brined olives, such as Gaeta, Kalamata, and Nicoise, rinsed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for filling jars
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- Four strips (4 inches) orange zest
- 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to jars. Fill jars with remaining oil. Refrigerate immediately for at least 8 hours and up to 2 weeks. Drain before serving.
- Yield: about 2 cups
- 4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream
- 2 cups light corn syrup
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- Lightly coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides; spray paper.
- In a large pot over high heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and molasses to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches 248°F (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla, salt, and spices. Immediately pour onto prepared sheet, without scraping pot. Let stand, uncovered, 24 hours at room temperature (do not move pan).
- Generously coat a large cutting board with cooking spray or use a large Silpat. Lifting it by the parchment overhang, invert caramel onto the cutting board; use a sharp knife to loosen parchment, and remove. Cut into 1 by 1-1/4 inch pieces. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper.
- Caramels can be stored up to 1 month in airtight containers.
- Yield: about 12-1/2 dozen
- 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2 cardamom pods
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp whole cloves
- Cut cheesecloth into two 6-inch rounds; layer one on top of the other for a double layer of cheesecloth.
- In center, place spices. Gather cheesecloth and tie with twine.
- Set several in tin, and tie with bow and holly sprig. Attach a note with the following directions: "Place one sachet in mug, fill with hot cider, and steep 3 to 5 minutes."
- Yield: 1 sachet per mug of cider
- 1/3 cup coarse salt
- 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, using your hands to break up the sugar. Transfer to an airtight container.
- To give as gifts, whisk together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Transfer to small glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Label jars with suggestions for use.
- Yield: 1-1/4 cups (enough to season 5 to 10 pounds of meat, poultry, or seafood)
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 orange
- 2 lemons
- 2 quarts water
- 6-3/4 cups sugar
- Scrub fruit, place in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let stand 2 minutes, then drain. Remove peel in thin slices with a zester, or cut off with a sharp knife into thicker pieces, as desired. Tie peel in a piece of cheesecloth; set aside.
- Chop remaining pith and fruit into small pieces. You can do this with a food processor, but do not puree.
- Combine chopped fruit, cheesecloth bag, and water in a 4-quart stainless-steel pan. Cover, and simmer 1-1/2 hours over low heat, until reduced by almost half. Remove cheesecloth bag, and set aside.
- Strain contents of pan, pressing to extract liquid. Discard solids, and return liquid to pan. Add sugar and dissolve over low heat. Bring to a boil. Add peel from cheesecloth, and simmer over medium heat, until mixture reaches 221°F on a candy thermometer or falls in sheets from a spoon, 10 to 30 minutes.
- Store the marmalade in jars in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
- Yield: 5 (8 oz) jars
Forget gifts! I am obsessed with this All Purpose Rub. The name does not overstate it’s usefulness. I used it all summer on virtually everything that went on the barbecue. I loved it on the hamburgers! I just now used it on a pork roast and it was SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Delicious and so easy!!!
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
This is so fun to hear Karen! Thanks for letting me know. I love adding dry rubs to all my proteins because they add so much flavor!!
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
The Healthy Apple
These all look fabulous! Yummy and delish. Great list!
What a terrific list of ideas – love food gifts!