This year I am probably going to do more baking and cooking than I have done in a long time. I decided to make only Food Gifts for anyone I have to give a gift to this year for the HOLIDAYS.
I am trying to get creative with a few different things.
I don't have family gifts to deal with so it's only for friends. My friends are very busy people so I have been just giving them little food gifts as I see them and whatever is left will be for my Annual Post Christmas Party.
So far this year I have made these things and so far they have all gone over well with friends.
My favourite Brownie Recipe with a bit of marshmallow fluff mixed in for extra moist brownies. I just used the Fry's Cocoa recipe. It's easy and it always works.
I then made some Popcorn and made so much that I decided to make little popcorn packages and I wanted it to be a little more interesting so I crushed up some roasted seaweed sheets and tossed in some black sesame seeds and sea salt. I just used a little bit so it had a nice subtle flavour. This was so easy and quick that I will probably do this again next year.
I tried a new thing this year after seeing a trend on food network shows of making roasted and spiced mixed nuts. My version was a bit of a mix of different recipes that I saw. The nuts I used were Cashews, Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Brazil nuts. I added Cinnamon, Cayenne, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper and a bit of All Spice. I went pretty easy on the spices for the first time to see how it would work out. I added a beaten egg white to coat the nuts before I mixed it into the spice mix so it would stick better.
The next thing I made was Gingerbread Men. I don't think I ever made Gingerbread Men before that I can remember. I attempted to make a Gingerbread House many years ago though and decided that I don't have the patience to do that well. I just searched online for a Gingerbread recipe for this one and mixed up the dough and it was supposed to rest for a bit but I decided to make it a few days later so it would be freshly baked just before I had to give it out. But I got lazy and didn't bother making the royal icing to frost it. I still have some and maybe I will decorate them.
The dough was fairly dry and I think I may have left it in the fridge a bit too long because when it was rolled out it cracked and didn't roll smoothly. I will try another recipe or make adjustments next time. It did taste great though.
A really easy thing to make is jars of Gourmet Hot Cocoa ready to add to some hot milk. I added some Camino Cocoa to icing sugar and a little bit of cinnamon, a tiny bit of cornstarch to thicken and a pinch of salt to bring out the chocolate flavour. I also added some Shaved Green & Black's Dark Chocolate. I topped up the jar with some mini marshmallows. My friend loves Hot Chocolate so all she needs to do is dump the contents into a pot of heated milk, mix and pour into a nice big Mug.
And finally the last thing I made was something I prepped and put in the freezer and just baked off today. I made a couple of batches of Sugar Cookies and in one recipe I added Cocoa and Espresso powder and the other recipe I added chopped Peppermint Bark that I had. You can freeze the dough for up to a month so I still have the Cocoa batch in the freezer to bake off another day. It's a great thing to make ahead of the holidays and then you can just slice up a round of cookie dough and bake it quickly in case you have any drop in guests or you have a last minute gift you didn't have time to get.
I still want to make a few things like meringues and biscotti because they keep a little longer and nice to have around the house for any drop in guests. Because I live in a building attached to a mall, I never know when someone is going to say they are in the area and want to drop in. It's nice to have some treats and some nice teas on hand just in case.
I don't know if I actually saved any money this year making all the food gifts but they have been really appreciated so far. I think it goes back to the thought and the effort that counts. I would much rather stay home and bake than spend an hour looking for a parking spot at a mall and wander around for hours trying to find the perfect gift. Gifts of Food can never go wrong if you know what your friends and family like. If they are on a diet or have dietary restrictions you can always accommodate that with things like popcorn or meringues or even the mixed nuts. I made a variety of things to cover all the options. Maybe this will be my new tradition. It is a lot more work but at the same time it's a lot less stressful than shopping in a crowded mall.
I didn't include recipes because most of these are recipes online with my little tweaks added. Get Creative and start cooking.
Give some FOOD LOVE this year for your Holiday Gifts.