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Gifts from your Kitchen

CLS's picture

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I know some of you will think I'm insane, but seriously, it's almost October 1, and that's the time I start doing some planning/shopping/working for the holidays.

Each year there are at least a dozen neighbors and friends I like to give holiday gifts to, not to mention the inevitable hostess gifts, and these are always "kitchen" gifts - you know, a bottle of homemade raspberry cordial with some butter cookies, spiced-tea mix with a pretty parcel of homemade biscotti, truffles, homemade compound butters, etc.

I am a little bored with the things I have given over the past few years and have decided to try some new things. I was wondering what you all make as "kitchen gifts" and thought we could all share our ideas and recipes. Believe it or not, Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know it.

Nancy_G.'s picture

(post #57545, reply #1 of 59)

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I would welcome some new ideas, too. I usually make a cream cheese filled coffee cake that presents beautifully and people love, but I'm getting a little bored with doing it. Sometimes, when I receive things like mixes or cordials or jellies I don't ever end up using them because I just don't take the time to think up what to do with them and we aren't big jelly eaters. I want instructions and suggestions. By the end of the holidays I am brain dead when it comes to thinking up creative things to do with food.

One year, I saw in a magazine some recipes for appetizers you can prepare ahead and freeze. One of the recipes was for phyllo squares with spinach/cheese filling. They froze well and tasted great. I made some for gifts along with frozen rolls of cookie dough but never got any feedback from anyone who received them.

aussiechef's picture

(post #57545, reply #2 of 59)

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Oh that must be awful not to get feedback! I make Almond Bark every year, but it's so easy to do that it's quite boring. I'm in this trap where everyone expects it now.

Cooking_Monster's picture

(post #57545, reply #3 of 59)

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I just do an assortment of cookies. I have been since I was 11. It's just become one of those expected traditions, like Aussie's almond bark. I vary exactly whoch types I make each year, to keep it from getting boring.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #4 of 59)

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i I made some for gifts along with frozen rolls of cookie dough

This is what I am thinking of doing for my daugter's teacher. She had three boys at home and I think she'd appreciate something like this (I plan to do about 3 different variaties). What cookie dough's work well for this besides sugar? I've tried it with my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and it doesn't work too well. Any T&T recipes/ideas would be appreciated.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #5 of 59)

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New ideas.....what about...

*curd
*oven roasted tomaotes
*flavored vinegar
*homemade mustard
*tuna in olive oil

This is all I can think of right now. I'll keep thinking.

Jean_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #6 of 59)

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Any variety of Refrigerator (IceBox) cookie should work well. I have a couple of recipes from my mom that I still make once in a while. These are
b old
recipes. I'll dig them out and post them if you'd like, but I won't be able to get at it until early next week.

Catering_Chef's picture

(post #57545, reply #7 of 59)

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How about some interesting dry rubs, dried fruit/nut mixtures, chocolate or butterscotch sauces, special made up dry muffin mix, brownie, cookie, waffle or pancake mix in an attractive sac of some sort with instructions to just add whatever (ie. eggs/milk etc.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #8 of 59)

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Thank you, Jean. There is no rush.

Cissy_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #9 of 59)

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I make 10 different slice and bake cookies at Christmas. Let me know if you'd like recipes for any of the following:

Tennessee Icebox Cookies (by Nick Malgieri), Pistachio Buttons (green pistachio centers with a chocolate surround), Orange-Poppy Seed Cookies (you coat the rolls in colored sugar), Anise Cookies, Cherry Nut Slices (with candied cherries -- they look like stained glass), Neapolitans (chocolate, vanilla and almond layers), Crystallized Ginger Cookies, Almond Butter Fingers and Sage Cookies (sorry, Jean).

The best part of slice and bake cookies is that you can do all the dough ahead, freeze it and then go on a baking marathon.

Cleaver's picture

(post #57545, reply #10 of 59)

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Pickled carrots

Antipasta (is that the
i correct
name for it?)

Caramels

Divinity

Fudge w/ dried cranberries

That is all I can think of right now. However, the lemon curd and oven roasted tomatoes sound like glorious ideas!

Jean_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #11 of 59)

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I'd better post them before I forget.

Sand Cookies (Ice box)

1 cup of margerine (2 sticks)
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 cup nuts

Cream together the first three ingredients. (I suppose you could use butter instead of the margerine. It wasn't available to us during the war)
Mix salt and soda with flour and add with the rest of the ingredients.
Roll into a log and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate or freeze.
When ready to bake, slice about 1/4" thick and bake 20 minutes at 325°.

Grandma's Clifford Cookies (Ice Box)

Cream together:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup margerine (or butter)
2 eggs
Add 2 tsp of vanilla
sift tog and add
3 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts.

Roll into log in waxed paper. Refrigerate or freeze.
When ready slice about 1/4" thick and bake at 350° for 12 - 15 minutes.

Mom made these back in the 40s for us, she probably got the recipe from her mom. They still go fast when I bring them to church to serve with coffee.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #57545, reply #12 of 59)

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I am giving exactly the same thing this year as last year.

MadMom_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #13 of 59)

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i I am giving exactly the same thing this year as last year.

...and that would be? Perhaps a hearty "Bah Humbug?"

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #57545, reply #14 of 59)

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i and that would be?

Nothing.

Cleaver's picture

(post #57545, reply #15 of 59)

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Meanie, I don't believe you. I'll bet you are already stocking up on different wrapping paper and practicing your wrapping techique. Heck, I'll bet you start giving out Christmas presents right after Thanksgiving. I'll even bet that you have all the past Martha Stewart Christmas magazines beside your bed and you have already started reading them before you fall asleep for inspiration. (of course, I bet your ideas are much better...you just look for inspiration!) Meanie aint no Humbug man, he is getting ready to go wasoling and handing out homemade gifts to all his neighbors and more!

MadMom_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #16 of 59)

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Right, Cleaver - I want to be there when Meanie goes caroling! Actually, I don't think he's half as grumpy as he tries to be. You see, I'm married to an old grumpus who growls and snarls but is really a push-over, so I know his type!

CLS's picture

(post #57545, reply #17 of 59)

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Butter cookies are one of my favorite slice-and-bake. Also ginger snaps. The butter cookie recipe I like best is Alice Medrichs. Do you have that book? If not I'll be happy to post the recipe. It's the egg-variation. Fantastic. And my favorite ginger-snap recipe is Emily Luchetti's. I can post that one for you, too.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #18 of 59)

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What ingredients are in Tennessee Icebox Cookies?

I'd like the recipes for:
*Pistachio Buttons
*Orange-Poppy Seed Cookies
*Almond Butter Fingers

The Neapolitans sound interesting but last year I tried a checkerboard cookie (from someone who appeared on Martha's show) and I found they were a pain in the @$$ to put together and then the taste wasn't all that great. It looked cool though but that's not enough.

Thank you, Cissy!

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #19 of 59)

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No I don't have Alice Medrichs book. I would love to try her butter cookies and ginger snaps (one of DH's favorites). Thanks, CLS.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #20 of 59)

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Thank you, Jean.

It looks as if I'll be having a baking marathon, myself.

Jen_M.'s picture

(post #57545, reply #21 of 59)

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This is a great thread! M has an immense Polish family, so we always give gifts from the kitchen. The year before last we had great success with small loaves of cranberry-orange bread. This year we may try apple butter, which is easy to make in a huge VAT. Plus, it's delicious and nonfat. If you want, I'll bring the recipe. I was also tempted by a tangerine-vanilla marmalade recipe from epicurious.

I have run into a couple of problems with food gifts:
1. I suggest omitting nuts unless you know the recipient well-- many people don't like them and some are allergic.
2. The holidays are so full of rich food that people don't want to eat more rich snacks. The icebox cookie thread is great because those are compact and can be whipped out of the freezer around February!
3. Beware giving gifts that require food preparation unless you know the recipient likes to cook-- it's amazing how few people actually know how to cook.

Still, I think it's great to give homemade gifts-- it shows a great deal of caring and gets around the overcommercialization of a great holiday.

MadMom_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #22 of 59)

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My DD and eldest granddaughter made homemade Christmas cookies one year...and this is the daughter I lovingly refer to as
i "The Anticook."
I thought it was a great way to get the DGD into the spirit of giving. DGD decorated one-pound coffee tins to look like Santa Clauses and helped with the cookie decorating. Another year, they made a sugar cookie mix, typed up recipes, and put it into bags tied with ribbon and a cookie cutter. How many of you involve your children/grandchildren in your Christmas baking?

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #57545, reply #23 of 59)

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Here are my two favorite slice and bake cookies. You can cut back the recipes if you don't want a few hundred - but the logs freeze well.



Orange-Poppyseed Cookies

2 lbs unsalted butter
12 tbl orange zest -- grated
2 c sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tsps vanilla
7 1/2 c all-purpose flour -- sifted
1 c poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 325.

Beat butter with orange zest until it whitens and holds soft peaks.

Beat in sugar until well blended.

Whisk together yolks and vanilla. Add to butter mixture and mix scraping down sides as necessary.

Add flour and poppyseeds mixing only to combine

Form logs. Cut into 3/8 inch rounds and bake until lightly and evenly browned.



Maple Pecan Cookies

2 lbs unsalted butter
2 c sugar
4 egg yolks
8 tbl maple syrup
2 tsps vanilla
7 1/2 c all-purpose flour -- sifted
5 c pecans -- pieces

Preheat oven to 325.

Beat butter with paddle until it whitens and holds soft peaks. 3-5 minutes

Beat in sugar until well blended

Whisk together yolks and maple syrup. Beat into butter, scraping down as necessary.

Add flour and mix until just combined. Stir in pecans.

Roll into logs. Slice 3/8 inch rounds. Bake until lightly and evenly browned.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #24 of 59)

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Thanks MC.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #25 of 59)

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i How many of you involve your children/grandchildren in your Christmas baking?

I do. And on a daily basis too. They pull up their chairs to the counter and help out. Sometimes when I have to get something done, I'll distract them with a video or PBS so I can finish cooking within a reasonable amount of time. LOL

kai_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #26 of 59)

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Those orange-poppyseed ones sound great to me, MC, and so easy. Thanks!

Please answer me this (I have no poppy seeds on hand): don't they just sort of add a great crunch and color, but no apparent taste? Or have I fried my tastebuds w/hot stuff?

Candygirl_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #27 of 59)

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I'm amazed at how you do your baking marathons. I've always wondered how you guys do it. When I try to plan what to give/bake I get all excited but come baking time I get overwhelmed and bake only a couple of the cookies. I was more successful last year with 5 kinds of cookies the recipes of which were multiplied only twice or thrice. But I was drained when it was done (my small oven can only bake two sheets of cookies at a time and could not fit a 15x10x1 pan). This year I want to be more productive. Would you guys tell me how you do it - from planning, mixing dough, to baking? Thanks

kai_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #28 of 59)

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Back in the dark ages when I used to bake frequently, a group of us would get together for a cookie exchange--1 dozen for each guest of each variety we brought. I got some good recipes back then, but most were so-so to my tastes--usu too sweet. Who knows where those keeper recipes are now.

I used to make a simple pressure cooker bread for gifts that was a bit hit. Easy too. Another recipe lost. That plus some Irish butter, preserves, and the recipes in a basket lined w/a remnant, hemmed, (or store-bought napkins/tea towels/silk scarf/what have you) is a nice presentation. Baskets at my local thrift stores are rarely more than $2.00 ea.

Pomona_'s picture

(post #57545, reply #29 of 59)

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I'm always surprised at how universally bad the cookies are at those exchanges. That's the preamble to Alice Medrich's book, too. She thought most recipes were just so-so. Everything I've tried in her book is outstanding. I also really love Maida Heater's books. She has a lemon cheesecake bar in her first book that's TDF.

Full-fledged's picture

(post #57545, reply #30 of 59)

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Spiced pecans in a bag. Think Jean or EM has the winner recipe.