Saturday, December 17, 2011

the giving season

hot chocolate | photo: Itizdacuriz
Every year around the holiday season I always find that I need a few small gifts.  Not willing to brave the shopping frenzy at this time of year I turn to the idea of making gifts at home.  I find many people truly enjoy receiving these more personal gifts.

Confession time.  I'm a fairly decent knitter but rather slow at it so whipping out a bunch of hand knitted gifts just isn't going to happen.  (I'm still working on a gift for someone that was supposed to be last year's present.)  I have visions of all of the fabulous crafty gifts that abound on the internet that look so easy.  Following directions closely my version comes out "nice" but certainly not as full of wow factor as the originals; so that's not gonna happen either. love food.  And I love giving food.  And most people I know like getting food.  That makes it a perfect gift in my book.  The best part is that you still have time to put it all together, wrap it up in a pretty ribbon and gift it to that someone special without braving the crowds. the carols, and the olfactory assault that is commercialized holiday shopping.

  1. Chocolate Granola - This recipe is from my friend Christine and is always a huge hit.  Made in the crockpot it's super easy; set it to cook all day (stirring when you remember) while you are doing other things.
  2. Crockpot Snack Mix - There are four recipes on this post Tropical, Tex-Mex, Asian, and Curried; they're all delicious.  Another fabulous use for your crockpot.
  3. Crockpot Nuts - Okay, by now you've figured out that I love my crockpot.  These snack nuts are so tasty that I always have to make extras because they're just that good.
  4. Vanilla Sugar - This is a fabulous gift to give, especially to someone who is a baker.  One vanilla bean pod split and shoved, seeds and all, into a wide mouth pint jar full of evaporated cane juice crystals.  Tie a pretty ribbon on it and you're good to go.  It does need to sit for 2-3 weeks to allow the aroma to infuse so stick a note on it if necessary.
  5. Hot Cocoa Mix - This is based on a recipe from a major food manufacturer.  I've changed it by substituting better ingredient options and removing the requirement for name brand products. 
    • 1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
    • 1/3 Cup evaporated cane juice crystals (optional - made into vanilla sugar. yum)
    • 1 1/2 Cups organic milk powder 
    • 1/2 Cup chopped good quality chocolate (I prefer Belgian chocolate)
    • Layer ingredients in order given into a wide mouth pint jar, close and decorate with ribbon
    • Instructions for preparation:  Gently heat 4 cups of organic milk to just below boiling, add contents of the jar, whisking well until fully combined.  note:  if not using vanilla sugar include instructions to use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  
    • Garnish with organic whipped cream and shaved chocolate.  Makes 4 servings  
Whatever your holiday of choice, I hope it's a happy and healthy one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yummy cocoa mix -- Thanks Mira!