‘Tis the season to give your debit and/or credit card….a break?? YES!! How you ask? With thoughtful, homemade gifts from your pantry. I developed the following DIY ‘Gifts From The Pantry’ as fun-to-make: teacher/coach/neighbour/grandparent gifts/hostess gifts/stocking stuffers and/or little party favours placed at each table setting. 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.
Grab the kids, roll up your sleeves, crank up the holiday hits and get busy in the kitchen!
Club House Cheese Ball Mix
I know it’s the year 2016, but cheese ball mixes are still a popular hostess gift, and retail for $5 to over $10! This recipe costs literally pennies to prepare, therefore makes a perfect homemade treat to give with a bottle of wine or craft beer. Click here for more flavour inspiration featuring Club House Spices.
2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Parsley Flakes
2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Dried Basil Leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Dried Oregano Leaves
1 tsp (5 mL) Club House Dried Garlic Minced
1 tsp (5 mL) Club House Dried Onion Minced
Stir together all ingredients and place in a small candy bag (found at craft/bulk food stores). Tie with decorative ribbon and attach recipe card with instructions. Tie to neck of wine bottle.
Recipe Card Instructions:
Pistachio Fig Cheese Ball
What you will need:
½ lb./8 oz. softened goat cheese
1/4 lb./4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced Black Mission Figs (*or dried fruit of choice)
2 tsp (10 mL) Billy Bee Honey
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
prepared cheese ball mix
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup (125 mL) roughly chopped pistachios
Place cheeses, figs, honey and orange zest in a mixing bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a medium fry pan over medium high heat. Cook onion for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly brown. Add prepared ‘cheese ball mix’. Cook, while stirring, until herbs are fragrant (about 30 seconds). Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add onion/herb mix to cheese. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix ingredients until evenly combined. Form into a ball. Roll ball in pistachios. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Serve with crackers, pickled veggies, cured meats and dried fruit.
Salted Dark Chocolate Cocoa
A sophisticated, festive sip.
½ cup (125 mL) quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely grated (or very finely chopped) quality dark chocolate
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
Stir together all ingredients and place into a 1 cup (250 mL) mason jar with lid. Tie with decorative ribbon and attach recipe card with instructions.
Recipe card instructions:
Whisk 2 tbsp (30 mL) of prepared cocoa mix with 1 cup (250 mL) milk in a small pot over medium heat until desired temperature. Garnish with Gay Lea Real Dark Chocolate Caramel Whipped Cream. Sip, relax and enjoy the holidays. Makes one, 1 cup (250 mL) serving. *cocoa mix recipe will make eight, 1 cup (250 mL) servings.*
Brandy Vanilla Canned Cold Snap Pears
Cold Snap Pears ™ is Canada’s newest pear variety and is proudly grown by Canadian farmers. They are crisp, juicy and flavourful ~ they are fabulous straight up (*only 80 calories and contain 5 g fiber per pear!!) for a quick snack, or sliced up and added to your favourite festive salad. But, to me, there is nothing more elegant than canned pears. This recipe makes a ‘pear’fect gift from the kitchen that can be enjoyed months later, over vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Click here for more information on Cold Snap Pears.
8 Cold Snap Pears (about 3 lbs.) firm, but ripe
1 vanilla bean
2 cups water
1 ½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) brandy
4 – 500 mL) Mason jars and lids (sterilized)
Peel pears and cut in quarters. Using a small paring knife, remove seeds and core. Cut vanilla bean in half length wise and scrape out seeds. Cut bean in half again (to make 4 even pieces). Set seeds and bean aside with pears. Boil water with sugar. Add pears, vanilla beans and seeds. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes until pears are just heated through. Remove from heat. Divide brandy (2 tbsp/30 mL) evenly between hot, sterilized jars. Divide pears and vanilla beans evenly between jars and cover evenly with hot syrup (*there may be approx. ¼ cup (60 mL) syrup left) leaving about ½ inch headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with lids. Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Store in refrigerator. Tie with decorative ribbon.
Charmaine is a regular guest on Rogers Daytime York Region, CHCH Morning Live, Canada AM & Breakfast Television and food writer for Running Room Magazine sharing her love and enthusiasm for all things food, cooking and running.
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. For more tasty recipes visit www.charmainebroughton.com
Follow Charmaine on Twitter @runnercharb