The following DIY ‘Gifts From The Pantry’ as fun-to-make: teacher/coach/neighbour/grandparent gifts/hostess gifts and/or stocking stuffers. These festive recipes are simple to prepare, use ingredients you likely already have on hand, and will not have you regretting gift giving come January. This year more than ever – gifts from the kitchen (and heart) will be much appreciated.

Grab the kids, roll up your sleeves, crank up the holiday hits and get busy in the kitchen!

Double Decker Peanut Butter Fudge ~ click here for the recipe

Peanut Butter Swirled Chocolate Bark ~ click here for the recipe

California Gold Bars ~ click here for the recipe

Char’s Clustery Spiced Granola with California Raisins

A delicious and nutritious homemade breakfast ~ perfect excuse to use up all those pantry staple ingredients.

Note: you can easily halve this recipe as I often do. Why? Because it’s so darn good that I tend to eat it all in one sitting…..the more I make, the more I eat…..hahaha!!

4 cups (1 L) large flake rolled oats

1 cup (250 mL) nuts (*I use peanuts but you can use: almonds, pecans or cashews)

1 cup (250 mL) pumpkin seeds (*or shelled sunflower seeds *or 1/2 cup (125 mL) of each)

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground ginger 

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg and ground cardamom (*optional)

pinch cloves

⅔ cup (150 mL) melted coconut oil (*or vegetable oil)

½ cup (125 mL) Muskoka Maple Syrup (*or honey)

1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract


1 cup (250 mL) California Raisins *click here for more recipes using California Raisins

1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted organic coconut flakes (*I purchase the extra large pieces (about 1-inch pieces) from bulk food store

3 tbsp (45 mL) Char’s Magic Seed Mix (ground flax, chia seeds and hemp seeds)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Stir together all ingredients (except for garnishes) until well combined. Place mixture on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or between two smaller baking sheets). Press mixture down into a large rectangle ‘cookie’ (approx ¼ inch thick). Place in centre of pre-heated oven and bake for approx 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Using a thin spatula flip granola (*you will likely have to flip in sections). Using your hands press granola back to reform ‘cookie’. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes (approx) or until granola is lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool completely on baking sheet. **TIP: For a super clustery granola ~ let granola sit on baking sheet for at least 2 hours (ideally overnight) before touching it** Once granola has set – break into clusters. Add California Raisins, coconut and Char’s Magic Seed Mix. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (but it won’t last that long!!). Makes approx 8 cups (2 L).

Salted Dark Chocolate Spiced Cocoa

A sophisticated & festive sip

1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa powder

1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped dark chocolate

3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar

1 1/4 tsp (6 mL) sea salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper

Stir together all ingredtents and place into a 1 cup (250 mL) mason jar with lid.

Recipe Card Instructions: Whisk 2 tbsp (30 mL) of prepared cocoa mix with 1 cup (250 ML) milk in a small sauce pot over medium heat until the desired temperature. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Makes one, 1 cup (250 mL) serving. (cocoa mix recipes yields: eight, 1 cup (250 mL) servings).

Char’s Holiday Spice Rice Pudding

1/4 cup (60 mL) arborio rice

1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar

1 small cinnamon stick (*or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each: ground cardamom, ground ginger and ground nutmeg

pinch salt

1 inch (approx) piece of vanilla bean

Stir together all ingredients and place in a small (125 mL) glass mason jar (*or candy bag – found at bulk food stores). Tie with decorative ribbon.

Recipe card instructions: Place 1 cup (250 mL) milk and 3/4 cup (175 mL) heavy cream in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat with rice/spice mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low – simmer for about 20 minutes stirring often until rice is tender. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean from cooked pudding. Dived warm rice pudding between two bowls. Garnish with dried fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. Makes two servings.

Charmaine is the host of “In Char’s Kitchen” on YourTV Muskoka and regular guest on: Rogers IN StudioRogers Daytime OttawaCTV Morning Live OttawaCHCH Morning Live and Breakfast Television sharing her love and enthusiasm for all things food, cooking and fitness.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys; Tyler & Colgan.

Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

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Charmaine’s Kitchen Built By: All About Kitchens 705-646-0347 or visit