Homemade holiday treats from your kitchen

  • A selection of homemade holiday treats. Courtesy photo

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/21/2021 8:26:19 AM
Modified: 12/21/2021 8:26:04 AM

Christmas and food go together like egg and nog. We all have special traditions and memories around food, including the sharing of yummy treats.

A friend of mine’s family only shares gifts of homemade food, which I think is a wonderful idea. My son-in-law gets a bottle of harissa olive oil in his stocking every year, to use on his favorite snack of popcorn. And someone always gets my husband hot sauce to add to his collection. I encourage you to share the gift of food, whether homemade or purchased. And I encourage you to shop local from a food producer, shop or a restaurant gift card and you are giving a gift twice.

Making food gifts is a fun family activity, and the recipes that follow are quick and easy. They make gifts that are prefect for friends, family, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or as hostess gifts. I like to put them in Mason jars as they are reusable and easy to decorate. Be sure and include cooking directions or a copy of the recipe. For Christmas and the New Year, I wish you happiness, health and lots of good eats with those you love.

Cranberry OrangeHoney Butter

This couldn’t be easier. You can also do dried blueberries and lemon zest or dried cherries and lime zest. Add some English muffins, rolls, or a loaf of bread from a local bakery or farmer’s market.

1 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl, beat all ingredients until blended. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks or freeze for up to three months.

Cheese ShortbreadCrackers

These are a perfect hostess gift. Either the baked crackers, or a frozen roll of the dough that they can bake when needed. You can keep a roll in your freezer for a last-minute appetizer or gift. Some local cheese would make a nice add-on to your gift.

8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded (about 2 cups)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon salt

¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, chili powder or smoked paprika

½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gently press into a ball. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 6-inch log about 1 ¾ inches in diameter. Wrap logs individually in plastic wrap; chill at least one hour or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap log and slice into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds, ½ inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Optional flavor twists – Knead in ¼ cup diced, well-drained pimentos and ¼ cup chopped fresh chives, or ½ cup finely chopped, toasted pecans and 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme and bake as directed.

Curried Lentil Soup Mix

Who doesn’t love soup, and a quick and easy dinner this cold and hectic time of year? Add some bread and the canned broth to make your gift a full meal. I use a funnel for adding ingredients to the jar.

3 tablespoons curry powder

¾ teaspoons garlic powder with parsley

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black ground pepper

½ cup dehydrated onion flake

2 tablespoons parsley flakes

1 ½ cups red or green lentils, or some of both

¼ cup coconut flakes, preferably unsweetened

Pour ½ cup lentils into a one-pint jar with a wide mouth and tight-fitting lid. Pack down after each layer. Combine curry, ginger, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour into jar.

In the same bowl, combine onion, parsley and ½ cup lentils. Pour into jar. Pour coconut into jar. Add remaining lentils to jar.

Gift tag instructions

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 jar soup mix

48 ounces vegetable or chicken broth

2 cups water

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add contents of jar, cook and stir for one minute or until spices are fragrant. Add broth and water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Apple CinnamonPancake Mix

What could be better on a frosty winter morning? Add a jug of locally produced maple syrup.

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 ¼ tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

¾ cup diced dried apples

Mix all the ingredients together then add to a wide-mouth, quart-size Mason jar. Cook in a skillet.


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