Homemade Gifts from the Kitchen

By Libbie Summers for Better Homes and Gardens
Photography by Andy Lyons

With the holiday season approaching, here are some homemade gift ideas to create from your kitchen quarantine. 

In a large mixing bowl combine both flours, salt, and baking powder. Stir in seed mixture. Add oil and stir until combined. Add water and stir until a loose dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 times until smooth. Divide into 8 portions; cover with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough into a very thin rectangle, about 11×5-inches. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Bake each for 4 minutes; turn. Bake for 4 minutes more or until browned and crisp. Cool completely. Break into irregular shapes. Store an airtight container up to 5 days.

 

Herbed Nuts and Honey
Inspired by a Middle Eastern sweet snack, this jarred recipe makes for a fantastic party appetizer or holiday gift!
Spoon some over your favorite soft cheese. 


What you need:
1 cup salted mixed nuts (cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and/or walnuts)
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer warm nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub to remove any loose skins from hazelnuts. Cool.

Rinse marjoram sprigs well. Pat with paper towels until completely dry. In a small saucepan combine the honey, marjoram, and black pepper. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Divide nuts between four clean 4-ounce jars. Pour the honey mixture evenly between the jars atop the nuts. Gently tap jars to remove air bubbles. Seal jars. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Candied Ginger
Homemade ginger candy is the perfect hostess gift or cocktail addition. With just 4 ingredients, this Candied Ginger recipe is as easy to make as it is to enjoy.

What you need:
2 cups water
2½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 large ginger root (8 ounces), peeled and very thinly sliced

What to do:
In a large saucepan stir together the water, 2 cups of the sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat until just boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add ginger to sugar mixture. Boil gently, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until syrupy.

Strain, reserving syrup (place in clean bottles for gift-giving*). Arrange ginger slices on a wire rack set over a shallow baking pan. Allow to dry overnight (ginger will still be sticky).

Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Add ginger and toss to coat. Divide into four 4-oz. jars. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Spiced Bourbon Cherries
Spiced Bourbon Cherries are one of the best ways to add boozy fruit to your favorite cocktail. (Hint: They taste especially amazing in whiskey drinks!) Sweeten up your next cocktail hour with a batch of bourbon-soaked cherries. Not a drinker? Spoon some over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and thank me later. 

What you need:
1¼ cups water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ cups bourbon
1 pound fresh or frozen pitted dark sweet cherries

What to do:
In a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean paste, cayenne, and cinnamon. Bring just to boiling over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Divide into four 8-oz. jars. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks.

Toasted Seasoning Salts
Whip up a big batch of these savory seasoning blends and give them to the meat-lovers in your life to season their steaks. Vegetarians can toss this no-cook food gift with popcorn, nuts, or roasted chickpeas.

What you need: 
Regular:
1/2 cup flaked sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup garlic powder
Smoky Hot: 
1/2 cup flaked sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder

What to do:
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients…yep. That’s it.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Use to season meats before grilling or roasting or combine with flour to coat chicken before frying.

More Gifts From the Kitchen Ideas:
Candied Ginger Syrup
Sweet Maple Mustard
Spiced Ketchup
Everything Bagel Topping Mix

 

Vegan Spinach Soup

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Chamber Apron in Green Linen from Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop

You know you’ve made a great soup when the guests get up from the table and help themselves to another helping. This happened two weeks ago when I made this for a group of health conscious, discerning and voracious professional sailors. It could have been my finest vegan moment to date. 

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Spinach Soup with Basil Cream and Torn Lemon Croutons (VEGAN)
(serves 4)

What you need: For Lemon Croutons
1 baguette, torn into large pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest from 1 lemon

For Basil Cream
1/2 cup basil leaves, packed (plus more for garnish)
1 cup plain coconut milk yogurt
Juice from 1 lemon
Flake sea salt

For Soup
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
10 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup plain coconut milk yogurt
1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt (can substitute 1 tablespoon honey for a vegetarian version)
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

What To Do:
1. Make Lemon Croutons: Preheat oven to 375º F. On a baking sheet, add bread, olive oil and lemon zest. Toss to coat. Bake just until golden brown (about 5-10 minutes). Set aside to cool.

2. Start Soup: In a large sauce pan over high heat, add onion, garlic and stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer just until onions are tender and translucent (about 10 minutes).

3. Make Basil Cream: While onions are cooking, make the Basil Cream. In a blender, add yogurt, basil leaves and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Season with salt. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

4. Finish Soup: Once the onions have cooked through, add the parsley, spinach and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook just until spinach has wilted. Stir in yogurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add soup to a blender and puree until smooth (or use and immersion blender).

To Serve: Divide soup between bowls and add an ample swirl of Basil Cream over the top. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with Lemon Croutons.

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THE BEST Fried Oyster Sandwich

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Shopkeep Apron in Indigo Denim from Yum Yum Smile Shop

Fresh local oysters fried to the perfect crispness, stuffed inside a sweet slit-top brioche bun and slathered in a magical spicy remoulade sauce. BOOM! Heaven on a lunch plate. 
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The Best Fried Oyster Sandwich with Cool Smoke Remoulade
(makes 4 sandwiches)

What you need: 
For Oysters
1 pint shucked oysters (about 36 small oysters)
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons Cool Smoke Everything Rub (can substitute Old Bay Seasoning or your favorite rub)
Canola oil for frying
Flake Sea Salt
4 split-top brioche buns (toasting optional)
4 lemon wedges for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
For Cool Smoke Remoulade
1 1/2 cups Duke’s Mayonnaise
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon hot sauce (your fave)
1 tablespoon Cool Smoke Everything Rub (can substitute Old Bay Seasoning or your favorite rub)
1 minced garlic

What to do: 
1. Soak Oysters: In a medium bowl add buttermilk and drained oysters. Set aside.
2. Make Dry Coating: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs, corn meal and 2 tablespoons Cool Smoke Everything Rub. Set aside.
3. Make Cool Smoke Remoulade: In a medium bowl, stir together all remoulade ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Fry Oysters: Pour 3-4 inches of oil into a deep heavy-bottomed pot and heat to 350°F. Remove oysters one at a time from buttermilk and shake off, then dredge in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Working in batches, carefully add the oysters to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp (about 2 minutes), drain on paper towels and sprinkle immediately with flake sea salt. Continue with the rest of the oysters.
5. Make Sandwiches: Slather the inside of the rolls with Cool Smoke Remoulade. Stuff hot oysters into the roll and top with another spoonful of sauce. Squeeze lemon over each sandwich and garnish with chopped parsley. BOOM! Serve immediately.

*Watch the IGTV making this sandwich!
*Make sure to check out my friend Ashley Strickland Freeman’s new book The Duke’s Mayonnaise Cookbook -75 Recipes Celebrating the Perfect Condiment 
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Two Last Minute Gifts From The Kitchen

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Two fun gifts that require very little time, but pack a big punch! Don’t forget to package them in reuseable containers!

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Everything Bagel Topping Mix
makes 2 cups

What you need:
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup onion flake
1/3 cup garlic flake
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup flake salt

What to do:
In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add all the ingredients and stir together. Cook, stirring constantly until spices start to become fragrant. Remove from heat to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Sprinkle over a poke bowl •Top a fried egg •Mix into coleslaw •Sprinkle on a salad •Season roasted vegetables
•Make a compound butter •Sprinkle on a bloody mary •Sprinkle on avocado toast •Season popcorn •Sprinkle on mac and cheese.
•Sprinkle on fried rice •Sprinkle over white rice •Sprinkle over a hot dog •Season grilled vegetables
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Tipsy-Spiced Cherries

What you need:
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 stem fresh rosemary (optional)
1 ¼ cups Gosling’s Black Seal® Rum
12 ounces frozen Sweet Black Cherries, thawed

What to do:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and 1 ¼ cups water. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cayenne pepper, cinnamon sticks, rosemary (optional) and rum. Cool slightly. Add cherries and let stand 30 minutes. Remove rosemary stem. Store in airtight jars and refrigerate for 3 days before using. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.

Uses:
•Spoon over ice cream •Make a Rum Old Fashioned •Use cherries for a Tipsy Black Forest Cake •Spoon onto chocolate mousse.

 

Hot Guava Dipping Sauce

by Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

I tasted more than my share of delish BBQ this weekend in Memphis #wcbcc18 , but what I didn’t taste was a dipping sauce this unique and CRAZY GOOD!!!! I love it with ribs or even as a sandwich spread. Made in under 5 minutes in a blender!! 🧡Hot Guava Dipping Sauce. Just in time for your Memorial Day cookout. “Honey, come and get a rib!”

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Hot Guava Dipping Sauce
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients
1 C Fresh Orange Juice
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of 2 Limes
1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
1 C Coconut Flakes
8 oz Guava Paste

Add ingredients to blender and blend for 5 minutes.

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