Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Tradition: Food Gifts

Food traditions and holidays go hand in hand. For me, no Christmas is complete without a slice of Toffee Dream Pie! The recipe sounds so strange, but it is oh, so, good. It's one of those desserts that we'd eat the leftovers for breakfast because if you waited for a more "appropriate" time, there wouldn't be any leftover to be had.

Another "holiday food tradition"that I love is to make food gifts for friends, some family members and those special people who do nice things for our family (caregivers, work support staff, etc). Back in high school and in my office days, I liked to make either bags or plates of goodies. Some of my favorites treats to include have been Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies and my once top-secret recipe for Walnut Bars.

However, since we all seem to be beseiged by cookies at this time of year, I find that it's also nice to make gifts of the non-cookie variety. Last year, I bottled up some homemade liqueurs (amaretto & coffee) for my brothers-in-law in Oregon. This year, I purchased some cool bottles at World Market and tested out my own creation for Vanilla Liqueur. I'm still not sure who is going to get those ones yet. The Oregonians won't be headed here, and I don't really want to ship a liquid...that just sounds like a mess. So, someone nearby just might be a lucky recipient!

Along with those glass bottles, I bought some cool little seasoning jars with red ceramic lids. Using this recipe as a guide, I'm going to mix up some dipping oil seasoning to put in these jars. On Sunday, I tried my version out, and it was quite yummy with some toasted sourdough bread. If I have time, I might try out this ciabatta recipe and include a small loaf along with the seasoning mix. I think the dipping oil seasoning is an idea that I just might experiment with in the future.

Hot cocoa mix is also a quick and easy gift idea. Ella's teacher and classroom aide will be the lucky recipients of some of Lynn's Homemade Hot Cocoa mix that the girls and I mixed up on Monday night. Rather than buying jars, I'm repurposing some Bonne Maman jam jars and including a tag with the recipe (and Lynn's website, of course!)

While I enjoy making homemade food gifts, I have purchased food gifts in the past few years to make my life just a bit easier. I imagine that there are others out there who feel the same way. You can easily put together a cute and inexpensive "thank you" gift for those people you want to give a little something to WITHOUT actually having to make anything. I like to buy a few boxes of the Awesome Bars from See's Candies (Awesome Peanut Brittle Bars, Awesome Walnut Square Bars and Awesome Nuts & Chew Bars. Then, I wrap up 2 or 3 bars with some cellophane, ribbon, and a tag that says, "You're awesome!" along with a personal note. It costs less than $3 per gift, and has been just perfect to give to the sweet caregiver who watch my girls at MOPS.

For other recipes of holiday traditions, be sure to stop by Jessica's Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life As Mom. For other homemade gift ideas, check out "Make It Monday."


Jamie said...

love you! Great ideas!!!

Janel said...

Love you too Jamie!