The holidays are upon us and the gift-giving season is here. What can you give the person who seems to have everything? Food, of course.
Food never goes out of style, it’s always needed and you don’t have to worry if it will fit. Food is the answer for any gift giving occasion. Here are some of my favorite foods to give as gifts. Remember, it’s the thought that counts and as long as the thought is food, you can never go wrong!
I have a vivid memory of Christmas 1989. I was 10 years old and my parents were hosting Christmas at our house. My aunt Kathy brought us a tin containing the best crackers I had ever had. I can still remember the enjoyment I had consuming those delicious crackers. I’ve made them many times since that fateful Christmas and still love these things as much as I did 29 years ago.
Ranch Oyster Crackers
1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 cups oyster crackers
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine the dressing mix, dill weed, vegetable oil, lemon pepper and garlic powder. Add oyster crackers and toss to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring gently after 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to cool before serving.
A tasty treat, especially around Christmas, is the gift of toffee. This isn’t any ordinary toffee. The name truly says it all. There may be a lot of steps in this recipe, but it’s worth it and would be an awesome gift for anyone you know that has a sweet tooth!
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans in a single layer on top of the parchment. Add butter, sugar and salt to a heavy-bottomed three quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Once the candy is boiling, stir occasionally, slowly and evenly, until the candy has reached 290 F to 300 F, or "hard crack" on a candy thermometer. Once the candy has reached 290 F to 300 F, remove from heat and gently stir in the vanilla extract. Carefully pour the mixture over the chopped pecans. Let the candy sit for a few minutes, undisturbed, before sprinkling the chocolate chips over the top. Cover the baking dish with foil and let sit for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has softened. Remove the foil and gently spread the softened chocolate into an even layer. An offset spatula works best for this. Place the candy in the refrigerator and let cool completely. Give it at least two hours. Lift the parchment out of the baking dish and place the toffee on a cutting board or solid surface. Use a knife to gently break it into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
When the holiday season rolls around, nuts seem to be in great abundance at the grocery store. Time to stock up on almonds and give this wonderful recipe a try.
Cinnamon Vanilla Toasted Almonds
2 egg whites
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (light is fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl beat egg whites until frothy; beat in vanilla. Add almonds; stir gently to coat. Combine the sugars, salt and cinnamon; add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat. Spread evenly, in one layer, onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 F for 25 to 30 minutes or until almonds are crisp, stirring once halfway through. Cool and serve. Store in an airtight container.
Here’s something that’s a little salty and a lot sweet, the perfect combination for anyone on your gift giving list this season.
3 cups bite-size rice square cereal
3 cups bite-size corn square cereal
1 cup small pretzel twists or pretzel sticks
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
2 - 12 ounce packages white baking pieces
1 - 12 ounce package mint-flavored candy-coated milk chocolate pieces
In a very large bowl combine cereals, pretzels and peanuts; set aside. Melt baking pieces according to package directions. Pour melted chocolate over cereal mixture. Stir gently to coat. Spread on a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to one week or in the freezer for one month. Makes 16 cups.
May your holiday season be filled scrumptious food to eat and lots of family and friends to share it with. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!
Kristin Kveno scours the internet, pours over old family recipes and searches everywhere in between to find interesting food ideas for feeding your crew. Do you have a recipe you want to share? You can reach Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.