Presents From the Kitchen

Written by Shannon on December 12th, 2010

Healthy Living, Recipes
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If you like to give handmade presents, or store bought presents for everyone on your list isn’t in the budget this year, the internet is a great resource. There is a lot of information out there, and anything you search for has at least 20 tutorials each with slightly different instructions. I looked through my saved links to offer up some ideas for gifts you can make in your kitchen. Grab some cookie tins and canning jars from the thrift store, and get cooking!

Sweets beyond cookies and bars:

  • Hard Candy or Lollipops Instead of commercial flavoring use crushed herbs, fresh citrus peel, and liquors. Try clove cardamom, lemon ginger, or cinnamon chili.
  • Traditional Marshmallows, or Vegan Marshmallows Flavoring used for marshmallows needs to be liquid. I haven’t experimented much with it yet, but I imagine you could use concentrated fruit juice. You can also coat them in chocolate or use cookie cutters as forms. If you want to dye them, here are some suggestions for making your own food based dyes.
  • Candied Peanuts You can swap out the cinnamon for any spice you want. Candied curry cashews anyone?
  • Peanut Butter Cups This is not as hard as I thought it would be. I would eat these all before I got a chance to give any away.
  • Butterscotch Sauce I could give my Dad this and nothing else for every gift giving occasion and he would be happy.

Fill up a freezer:

  • Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew I made this for dinner with friends where the combined food allergies meant we needed an egg, gluten, dairy and nut free food. It also needed to be vegetarian. This was excellent.
  • Garlic Soup This might be what I make next time I invite that group over. You could easily make it vegan by using veggie stock instead of chicken stock.
  • Butter Chicken A good take on a classic Indian meal.
  • Beef Samosas Food you can eat with one hand is perfect for new mothers. If you skip the baking step, you can freeze these and seal them in a plastic bag with the baking instructions written on it.
  • Chana Masala My favorite Indian dish. Sometimes I add paneer or cheese curds, depending on what I can find at the store, but it’s delicious and filling just served with rice.
  • Green Pepper Chicken This looks horrible, but tastes delicious. It’s one of my favorite meals to keep in the freezer.

Gifts in a jar:

  • Hot Buttered Rum Batter When I was little my mom would serve this in apple juice. I also used to eat it by the spoonful.
  • Vanilla Extract So easy and it seems like such a fancy gift. You can make it non alcoholic by steeping the vanilla bean in citrus juice, but that must kept refrigerated.
  • Fruit cordials Delicious drinks for the whole family.
  • Flavored Vodka This process works with any alcohol or oil.
  • A collection of bread in a jar recipes. I haven’t tried any of these, but it would be easy to tailor these for people with food allergies.

Fun things for kids:

  • Gooey Gunk Cornstarch is an amazing thing, and kids love sticky messy things. This post also has links to recipes for a number of other concoctions like Flubber.
  • Scented Gel Paints These paints will stain, but they sound like so much fun anyway.
  • Cornstarch Playdough A gluten free playdough! I would dye it before gifting.
  • Homemade Watercolors I’m in awe of this idea. I can’t wait to try it.

Last but not least, here is my Grandmother’s Shortbread recipe. It’s not Christmas in our family without these cookies.

Grandma B’s Shortbread

4 cups flour or your favorite gluten free flour mix.
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 lb butter or vegan margarine, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325.

Mix ingredients in a large bowl with your hands until it starts to come together. Turn out on a floured surface and kneed until smooth. Divide in half and roll out to 1″ thick. If your kitchen is very hot you may want to store the extra dough in the fridge so the butter doesn’t melt. We cut these into rectangles 1″x2″, and poke the top with a fork four or five times, no more then halfway through the cookie. This is purely decorative. You can use cookie cutters, shape it by hand, or use an old fashioned shortbread mold.

Lay cookies on an buttered cookie sheet and bake between 20 and 45 minutes. Since there are no eggs, it doesn’t matter if you under cook them. Each of the women in my family like a different level of done; My Grandma likes them dark golden brown and I prefer them raw. I usually cook the rectangles for 15-20 minutes, when they just start turning brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Store in a tin or plastic container. They keep for at least a couple of months, but they never last that long.

Photo Credit: Author

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Thanks Shannon for contributing!

We’re still on the lookout for some nutritious and delicious recipes!  If you’d like your favorite healthy recipe featured, email beth {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com.  Please submit a quality picture with your recipe and refer to contributor guidelines for general directions.

About The Author: Shannon

My NPN Posts

Shannon blogs at Pineapples & Artichokes. She also contributes recipes to Food & Laughter.

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