Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Thrifty Christmas Gift Ideas Part I: FOOD

This year we're on a budget but I have gifts I need to give. I've been looking everywhere for ideas of things I can make at home and give to the people on my list.I have three teachers, two assistant teachers, a priest, a few of my daughter's friends and my son's birthday party bags. Then there are a few friends who have been very good to me since we moved here.

I need to be creative here. I'm breaking the gifts into two sections: FOOD and BEAUTY/HOME. Food consists of several treats I put in jars with directions on how to make: chocolate chip cookie dry mix in a jar with the directions on a sheet, for example. Beauty/Home consists of a homemade sugar body scrub that costs pennies to make but would sell for up to £30 in stores and is JUST as good, lip balm, wine rack/wine, and candles.

Here is the FOOD part (Beauty/Home will follow in another post):

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar:

I received one of these a few years ago and loved it. The jar was just a jam/canning jar with a lovely label on it. It looked lovely and the cookies were fantastic! So I'm duplicating it here.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Combine the flour, baking soda, white sugar, and the chocolate chips. Place 1/2 of the mixture in a clean quart sized glass jar, and pack firmly. Place the brown sugar on top, again packing firmly. Place the remaining flour mixture on top. Cover with a lid.
Packaging: Attach an index card with the following directions: Empty contents of jar into a large bowl. In separate bowl combine 3/4 cup of butter, 1 1/2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add to dry mixture. Drop by tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
Hot Cocoa Mix in a Jar
4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If a finer consistency is desired, you can pour the mix into a blender or food processor and run it through that. Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on your cocoa preference) of the mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water.

Packaging: Pour your drink mixes into a clean and dry jar. Tie with ribbon and attach the recipe so they can restock the mix when they run out. 

Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 cups oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup lite corn syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13” pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips. Stir in chocolate chips. Press into pan, then bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes, and then cut into bars. 

If you find the batter is too crumbly, you can add a little honey or extra corn syrup before baking to hold it together.  These are one of our family’s favorite snacks.   They are great for snacks, for breakfast, or to pop in your children’s lunchboxes. You can make these with any variety of ingredients so you don’t have to limit yourself to chocolate chips. You can them with butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, raisins, dried currants—whatever you happen to have on hand.  They’re easy , go far and can be experimented with. For Christmas I use dried cranberries or red currants for a nice festive look.

Packaging: For gifts I pack them in decorative tins I buy at the pound shop and tie with a bow. Or stack and wrap in cellophane.

Homemade Chai Tea Mix
(This is a great gift as people will love it. It's so tasty and wonderful to just pour a cup and savour on cold nights. Make a batch for yourself too!)
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it is a fine powder.  Place in plain jars with instructions: Add two-three tablespoons of mix to 8 ounces of hot water or milk


Lemon Curd 

6 oz (150g) granulated sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
4 large eggs
4oz (100g) unsalted butter

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl.  Whisk the lemon juice with the eggs and pour over the sugar.  Add the butter cut into small pieces and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Stir frequently until thickened...about 20 minutes.

Pour into glass jars and store in the fridge. Decorate and give as gifts. You might have a few suggestions on what they can use the curd for: lemon meringue pie, on croissants, etc.  The only issue with this recipes is that it must be stored in the fridge and used within a week. It can be frozen but it's not as good - it's best fresh.

Super Simple Shortbread
Double this recipe! One taste and you'll know what I mean. I can't keep this in the house once it's made. And it makes a fantastic gift either stacked and wrapped in celephane or in tins with tissue.

110g melted butter
50g sugar (the original recipe says caster but granulated works just as well)
150g plain flour
25g semolina

Mix the butter and sugar together.  Fold in the semolina and flour.  Mix and form into a dough.  Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of hours, which helps to stop the dough from crumbling too much.
Flatten the dough and form or cut into shapes (I make bars).  Bake on a lined baking tray for approximately 15 to 20 minutes on 200 degrees.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think!