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

 

Homemade Caramel Popcorn (aka Cracker Jerks)

By Libbie Summers (from Brown Sugar by Libbie Summers, Shortstack Editions)
Gingham Trimmed Linen Napkins from Yum Yum Smile Shop

Learn the recipe for the perfect POP and up your weekend Netflix viewing game with this perfect sweet meets salty snack! 

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Homemade Caramel Popcorn (aka Cracker Jerks)
makes 10 cups

What you need: 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup Spanish peanuts, husks removed (available in most grocery stores) (OPTIONAL)
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and 2 popcorn kernels. Cook over high heat until the kernels pop, then add the remaining popcorn, cover and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the kernels stop popping, shaking the pan often. Discard any unpopped kernels and spread out the popcorn on a large, deep, nonstick, rectangular cake pan or lasagna casserole dish (I use a 14-by-10-by-4-inch nonstick cake pan). If you use a pan that isn’t nonstick, grease it with butter or nonstick cooking spray first. Toss the popcorn with the peanuts and place the pan in the preheated oven to keep warm.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a medium sauce (or use a Thermapen)- pan over medium heat and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until the temperature of the candy reaches 260° to 275° on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.

Working quickly, remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven and pour the hot syrup mixture in a fine stream over the popcorn to cover
it evenly. Using a nonstick spatula, carefully toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the mixture cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. The Cracker Jerks will keep for up to 10 days.
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Walnut, Apricot and Blue Cheese Pull-Apart Bread

By Libbie Summers
Photography Chia Chong

One easy dough…many delicious recipes.

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Walnut Apricot and Blue Cheese Pull-Apart Bread
makes 1 loaf

What you need: 
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, cubed plus 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots or pears
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 425º F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper until combined. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size pieces. Add the buttermilk and pulse just until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead it gently three times.
3. Roll the dough out into a long thin rectangle (24×8-inches).
4. Brush the top of the dough with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
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5. Spread walnuts, apricots and blue cheese over the dough and press into the dough (slightly) with your hands.
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6. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut the dough widthwise into nine equal-size strips. You will have eighteen equal pieces of dough.
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7. Stack all but one piece of the dough on top of each other with the toppings facing up. Place the final piece on the top with the toppings facing down. The dough is sticky enough that the stack will hold together when pressed a little so don’t worry. This is going to be a bit messy and that’s cool.
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8. Carefully lay the stack on its side in the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle any of the contents that may have fallen out onto the top of the dough. Separate the slices a little with your fingertips and brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
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9. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, until it has risen and is golden brown. Let cool slightly before removing from the pan and serving.
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Try these other topping combinations:
•Seed Pull-Apart Bread (1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds and 1/3 cup pepitas)
•Greek (1 cup chopped Kalamata olives, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, 1 cup crumbled feta cheese)

 

 

Beautiful Candy Bark (VIDEO AND RECIPE)

By Libbie Summers
Assisted By David Dempsey

I LOVE a gift from the kitchen. This past holiday I made 4 pounds of Everything Bagel Topping and before then it was Homemade Mega Marshmallows. This year for Valentine’s Day, I was under the gun and needed to Macgyver something fast…but still with some Libbie Fun and Beauty.

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Beautiful Candy Bark
(makes 24 servings)

What you need:
2 (11 ounce) packages Ghirardelli white chocolate chips, melted (I used a double boiler)
Food coloring gel, I used purple
Sprinkles or colored sanding sugars (I used light and dark purple sanding sugars and gold dragees. NOTE: It will only take a tablespoon of each)
Edible Flowers (I used violas)
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What to do:
1. Prep: Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Have all your toppings ready.
2. Divide: Divide melted chocolate into two bowls. One will have 2/3 of the melted chocolate and the other will have 1/3.
3. Color: Add just enough food coloring into the smaller amount of melted chocolate until tinted the color you would like.
4. Spread: WORKING QUICKLY, spread the white chocolate out on the prepared baking sheet. Next, drop dollops of the tinted chocolate on top of the white. Using an offset spatula, swirl the two together.
5. Decorate: AGAIN, WORKING SUPER QUICKLY. Decorate with your sprinkles, sanding sugars and edible flowers before the chocolate starts to harden.
6. Break: Allow the bark to set until completely hardened (about 20 minutes) then lift off the parchment and break apart into pieces.
NOTE: If using edible flowers, Beautiful Candy Bark is best eaten within 24 hours. If not, bark will be good for up to one week. Honestly, you don’t even have to store in an airtight container. We just leave ours on the kitchen counter for nibbling.

Need more help? Watch the video!

Sprinkle Granola Bars (VIDEO and Recipe)

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

An afterschool or lunch snack with flare!

Sprinkle Granola Bars
makes 1 (8×8 pan full)

What you need: 
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup crunchy almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Box of Crayons Sprinkles (or your favorite sprinkle mix)

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Pour oats and almonds onto a baking sheet and bake (stirring once) until lightly browned (about 15 minutes). You could also toast on the stovetop in a hot sauté pan. Allow to cool and place in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the brown sugar, honey and butter. Cook until the brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in almond butter and vanilla.
4. Stir almond butter mixture into toasted oats and almonds until oats are completely coated.
5. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with sprinkles. Use a spatula to lightly press the mixture in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
6. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into bars or squares.
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