Holiday Giving

When did the meaning of the holiday season become so commercial and more about price tag of the gift rather than the meaning or intention behind the simple act of giving?  This holiday season I am asking you to consider actually taking the time to create something from the heart to give to a loved one rather than giving something just to give or giving out of obligation.  “But I don’t have any time to make anything!!!!” you say.  Look, I am not proposing some major works of art here, infact, my ideas are quite simple and quite easy to pull together.  More importantly, they are ideas from the heart. With a little extra thought and creativity, you can give a gift with an extra special personal touch that will certainly be appreciated. 

Here are some simple ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  Take into consideration some creative packaging that you can use for these items.  You can find some great things at your local craft store or at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx.  I like using packaging that can be reused such as pretty containers or jars (mason jars), wrapping in cloth rather than wrapping paper that can repurposed or finding a cute satchel or container to decorate.  Remember to attach the recipe or include any other items of sentimental value (pictures, quotes, etc).  

 

 

 

 

 

CHAI Spice Mix:

  •       1 Orange
  •       1/2 cups Cardamom Pods
  •      12 Cinnamon Sticks, crushed
  •       2 tablespoons Whole Cloves
  •       2 tablespoons Black Peppercorns
  •       2 tablespoons Allspice Berries
  •      1 tablespoons Coriander Seeds
  •       1/4 cups Whole Star Anise
  •       1/2 cups Loose Darjeeling Tea

Chai:

  •       1 1/4 cups Milk
  •       2 tablespoons Chai Spices
  •       3/4 cups Water
  •      1 tablespoons Sugar
  •       1 1/2 tablespoons Darjeeling Tea

Directions

  1. Dry the orange: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the orange into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning occasionally, until dry — 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Make spice mix: Combine the dried orange and the rest of the ingredients except the tea in a large bowl and toss to combine. Store the spice blend and the tea in separate airtight containers for up to 6 months.

    Makes 36 two-tablespoon servings of spice mix.

  1. Simmer 2 tablespoons of the chai spices with milk, water, and sugar for 25 minutes. Add Darjeeling tea and steep for 3 minutes. Strain into 2 large mugs and serve immediately.

     

PIZZELLES

These beautiful snowflake-like cookies require a special pizzelle iron which is kind of like a waffle iron but has a really pretty design to it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 T vanilla or anise
  • 1/2 C margarine
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Confectioners sugar (optional)

Beat eggs, add margarine and vanilla.  Add sugar gradually until smooth.  Sift flour and baking powder.  Mix with egg mixture until smooth.  Dough should be sticky enough to drop with a spoon.  Drop 1 heaping teaspoon evenly on center of pizzelle plate.  Check after about 30 seconds or until brown.

Makes about 30 pizzelles

ROSEMARY MIXED NUTS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed nuts, such as cashews, walnuts, and pecans
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Coarse salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast nuts until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat butter, sugar, and rosemary over medium-high. Add nuts; stir until butter mixture is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Spread nuts on prepared baking sheet; season with salt. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 Tb. oil or melted butter
  • 3 Tb. honey
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup golden raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Mix oats, seeds and nuts on the cookie sheet. Pour oil and honey over the mixture and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Toss well. Spread the mixture evenly over the cookie sheet.
  2. Bake for 20-25 minutes—until the coconut is golden-brown. Cool on the cookie sheet.
  3. Once cooled, mix in the dried fruit and store in an air-tight container. Makes 5 ½ cups.

Another idea is to create a family recipe book with photos, quotes or sayings either scrap book style or using an online service like shutterfly or snapfish to create a photo book.  Gather recipes from family members and loved ones and really personalize it.  This is something your loved ones will really treasure.   Good luck and remember to give back this holiday season.  There is plenty to get involved in this year especially with hurricane Sandy’s recent devastation.

Spread the love and good KARMA.

Would love to hear your ideas here as well….

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