Category Archives: Holiday Gifts
I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…
These are pretty and very tasty. They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- dash of salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped
mixing bowl and cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.
Originally posted Nov 2011
I love popcorn. So much so, I actually have an electric stirring popcorn popper. It must be a family thing, because my brother, Paul, has all the ingredients to make movie popcorn – and he did serious research on how to get that flavor. I’m good with butter and salt, myself. But my true weakness is caramel corn, so one year when I was trying to think of something fun to give for those neighbor Christmas treat boxes, I decided to try my hand at caramel corn.
And to take it up a notch I decided to make Bacon Caramel Corn. The featured recipe tonight.
But let’s begin with some other salty-sweet ideas for the holiday gift box.
Tex-Mex Popcorn Mix, recipe here.
White Cheddar Popcorn and Chili-Cheese Popcorn, recipes here.
And if popcorn is not your thing, how about some Cajun Spiced Nuts or Indian Spiced Nuts, recipes here.
Finally, the dinner menu this week is all about improving Oven Fried Chicken and amazing Baked Garlic Potatoes, complete menu, recipes, shopping list are here.
What favorite recipes are in your gift box this year? If you give food gifts for the holidays, do you include copies of the recipes? I’m always torn. Either way, go ahead and share some of your favorite recipes in the comments. Next week we’ll tackle sweet treats for gift giving.
Tonight’s featured recipe actually came about because I read this comment at Balloon-Juice, I was intrigued enough to search out a recipe. If bacon isn’t your thing, just omit it from the recipe below to make regular caramel corn, or caramel corn with nuts.
Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn
- 8 oz maple smoked bacon, cut into eight pieces per strip
- 12 cups (3 quarts) of popped corn
- 10 tbsp butter
- 1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups salted cashews (or peanuts, or peanut/cashew mix)
In skillet, cook bacon until mostly crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Reduce to 200 degrees after 15 minutes of baking.
Place popcorn onto a well-greased baking sheets.
In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda (yes, it will foam up so be prepared). Gently stir nuts and bacon into sugar mixture and pour over popcorn, toss, coating popcorn evenly. Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is a deep golden brown, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours – mine was done at the 1 hour mark. Cool and break apart.
*most recipes call for a roasting pan, I had better luck on my second batch using baking sheets – the popcorn cooked more evenly and was very crisp.
That’s if for this week. Bixby is 6 months old today which doesn’t seem possible and I may have an update on him later, depending on how work goes today – TaMara
This week I’m focusing on recipes you can give as gifts (and you thought I was just going to annoy you with Christmas Carols). This week is about sweet and salty. A change from the traditional sweet treats. Here are two spicy nut recipes that are sure to be welcome gifts:
Cajun Spiced Nuts
- 1 tsp teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tsp teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 cups unsalted deluxe mixed nuts
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 brown sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
Mix spices together and set aside. Heat the nuts in a dry skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to toast, about 4 minutes. Add the butter, stirring, until the nuts begin to darken, about 1 minute. Add the spices, the sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and the salt, stirring until the sauce thickens and the nuts are glazed, about 5 minutes.
Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are all separated. Let the nuts stand until cooled and the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups
Indian Spiced Nuts
- 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (or cashews)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 4 tablespoons shredded coconut (either fresh or unsweetened)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the nuts coconut, butter, sugar, coriander cumin, garam masala and salt together and pour onto the baking sheet. Toast for 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through for even baking. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 cups
Now once you have these recipes completed, how about some creative ways to wrap them? Colored plastic wrap and ribbons, holiday Chinese take out containers are always fun, glass canning cars with fabric inserts between the rim and the seal, or even more fun, wrap the nuts in decorative paper cones, tied with ribbon. These are all creative ways to present your gifts and you make personalized labels to enhance the presentation.
Originally Posted December 2011
I’m repeating the holiday gift series this week. We’ll start with flavored popcorn:
One of my favorite things is the mixed can of flavored popcorn. Unfortunately they can vary in quality and price. And if you’re paying a premium, well let’s face it, it all hype, because popcorn is cheap, as are most of the ingredients that go in flavored popcorn. So I thought I’d pull a few recipes together this week so you could make your own variety tin of flavored popcorn. I actually have a tower of gift boxes that I’m thinking of filling with different flavors. You can use decorative plastic and ribbon, or holiday tins, or zip-lock bags placed in pretty gift bags.
For the first recipes, I thought something cheesy.
White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
- 8 cups popped corn
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese powder
- 1/4 tsp dried mustard
- dash of cayenne
- salt to taste
It might be easiest to do this in two batches. In a large bag, toss popcorn thoroughly with butter to coat completely. Mix together cheese and spices, toss with popcorn in the bag until everything is well coated. Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging (this keeps it from becoming soggy).
- 8 cups popped corn
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tsp chili powder
- dash of garlic
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan (I’d use the Kraft style for ease)
- salt to taste (the Parmesan may make it salty enough)
Again, you may want to make this in batches. Mix together butter and spices and toss with popcorn in a large bag. Add cheese and toss again until well coated. Spread out on to baking sheet for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging.
Additional flavor ideas:
White cheddar cheese powder and taco seasoning. Parmesan and dry packaged buttermilk ranch dressing seasoning.
Originally posted Dec 2011