If you are pondering making holiday gift ideas for friends or coworkers, you might not have to go any further than your own kitchen for inspiration. Ingredients like dried fruits and nuts are plentiful at the farmers markets, just in time for making some delectable confections or savory snacks.
Late fall and winter fruits make excellent fruit butters and chutneys. When elegantly wrapped or bottled, homemade products from your kitchen make memorable gifts. Here are some of our favorite recipes and gift ideas —
Make three or four batches of roasted savory, sweet, and spicy nuts. Use small matching jars or cellophane bags for packaging. Assemble an assortment for a great snack gift! Here are a few suggestions:
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Almonds
Chipotle Roasted Almonds
Honey Orange Glazed Almonds
Moroccan Almonds With Golden Raisins
Honey Crystal Almonds
For those special foodies in your life, here are some vegetarian appetizers made with nuts that make great gifts when packed into small crocks or terrines and presented with a box of artisan crackers:
Edamame Walnut Dip
Rosemary, Garlic, Walnut Kefir Cheese
Walnut Duxelle Pâté
For those with a sweet tooth, here are some classic confections with nuts:
Almond Butter Crunch
Vanilla Almond Caramels with Fleur de Sel
Caramel Almond Popcorn Clusters
Cherry Almond Fudge
Apricot Walnut Divinity
SOURCES: Raw and/or roasted flavored nuts can be found at Stackhouse Brothers, Kashiwase Farms, Minazzoli Farms, The Walnut Farm
Cookies, energy bars, and confections are easy holiday gifts to make. Add a few cookie cutters, include a few of your favorite cookie recipes printed on holiday paper, and assemble cookies in clear jar canister or place in a basket and wrap with cellophane. Quick breads studded with nuts and dried fruit also make wonderful gifts and are great to keep on hand for holiday visits with friends.
Coconut Cherry Chews
Festive Fruit and Pistachio Snowballs
Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
Fresh Orange Cookies
Apricot Walnut Divinity
Dried Cherry Truffles
Fruit Nut and Seed Bars
Fruit-Nut Energy Bars
Apricot Pumpkin Bread
Apricot Crumb Bars
SOURCES: Dried fruit can be found at Del Real Dates, B & R Farms, and Minazzoli Farms. Nuts can be found at Stackhouse Brothers, Minazzoli Farms, The Walnut Farm
CHUTNEYS, FRUIT BUTTERS, PRESERVES, AND SAUCES
Late fall is ideal for canning and makes the kitchen a cozy place to be during cool, rainy weather. What could be better than the delightful fragrance of jam or the tantalizing smell of a sweet-tangy chutney simmering on the stove? If you were able to freeze some of the summer bounty of berries, all the better to make jam now when it’s cooler. However, many late fall and early winter fruits make delicious preserves. We especially like to make slow cooked fruit butters — some are as easy as placing fruit in a crock pot and cooking overnight!
Crock Pot Apple Butter
Apricot Almond Chutney
Spicy Persimmon Butter
Farmhouse Apple Chutney
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Pear Ginger Jam
Balsamic Vinegar, Vanilla, Port Wine Finishing Sauce
Ginger Persimmon Sauce
Love these quick pickles! Our market chef, Andrew Cohen, is a huge fan and has created some delicious versions of these easy-to-make pickles.
Quick Pickled Carrots Scented with Lavender and Fennel
Quick Pickled Fennel
Easy Pickled Beets
Spices do not grow locally — most spices grow in subtropic to tropical regions, like chocolate and coffee. Spices can be purchased in bulk from a number of local sources, including Whole Foods, New Leaf Market and The Herb Room. However, we do have an abundance of Mediterranean herbs that grow beautifully in our area and many of our farmers offer herbs almost year round, either cut or available as plants to grow in your own garden. Making your own fresh spice and herbal blends gives you an opportunity to use your spice alchemy and create signature blends.
Here are a few of our favorite spice and herb blend formulations.
Pack your spice blends into metal tins or small jars with tight fitting lids which can be found at the local Cost Plus or online at Specialty Bottle.
DOG TREATS FOR FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS
Whether it’s your friend whose pampered pooch is dressed in the latest cheetah print coat (and comfortably tucked into an over-sized purse), or a friend with a happy-go-lucky Bob-Dog that likes to play frisbee and chase balls at the beach, you know they’ll appreciate healthy homemade dog treats.
Most of all, have fun in your kitchen — invite a friend over and cook together, or enlist your kids to help chop and mix. They love being a part of the holiday preparations!