Pictured Recipe: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
If cooking was a love language, it would be mine. When I want to tell someone "thank you," "I'm here for you," "congratulations" or just "I think you're great," I invite them over for a meal, drop one off at their house or bring them a homemade baked good.
I think it's fair to say that an easy way to anyone's heart is with food. That's why at the holidays when I'm not sure what to buy for someone (especially for those people who already have everything), I go for an always-favorite: a homemade food gift. Read on for my favorite, easy and affordable ideas.
Pictured Recipe: Maple-Nut Granola
Gifting a giant jar of delicious crunchy granola is the gift that keeps on giving. The lucky recipient can share it with family at the holidays or use a little bit each morning for a healthy breakfast until it's gone. I love the combination of almonds and pecans with dried cranberries and raisins, but feel free to use any combination you prefer to make the gift extra personal.
Try these: Healthy Granola Recipes
Sure, you could buy fancy tea to give to your friends and family—but it means so much more when you make it yourself. Plus, if you have any leftover herbs from your garden, drying them for tea is a great way to use them up. Have fun with the flavor combinations to make mixes you couldn't just buy.
Try this: Make Your Own Herbal Tea Blends
Pictured Recipe: Mug Brownie
Mix together a large batch of the dry ingredients for our Mug Brownie recipe in a jar so your loved ones will have an easy emergency dessert on hand for chocolate cravings.
Simply combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips (optional). Attach a label with instructions for how to make 1 mug brownie with the mix as follows:
Place 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a small microwave-safe coffee mug and microwave on High until melted, 15 to 20 seconds. Cool for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 tablespoons coconut milk (or milk) and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add 1/4 cup of the brownie mix and continue whisking until completely incorporated. Microwave on High until firm to the touch and no longer glossy, 30 to 40 seconds. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes.
Related: Bite-Size Dessert Recipes
Pictured Recipe: Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix
Loved by adults and kids alike, a warm cup of cocoa is always a favorite wintertime treat. Combine the dry ingredients in a beautiful glass jar or vintage-inspired milk bottle. These cute cocoa mixes can be enjoyed from the holidays on. Don't forget to attach directions to each jar:
To serve, shake the container to mix contents. For each serving, place 3 tablespoons of the mix in a 10-ounce mug and add 1 cup boiling water; stir until the mix is well incorporated (crushed candies will dissolve in about 2 minutes as the mixture stands).
Try this: Red-Wine Hot Chocolate
Pictured Recipe: Rosemary-Ginger Honey Simple Syrup
You can buy herb-infused simple syrups at many specialty-food stores, or you can customize a mix to make your famous cocktails and gift it to everyone who loves when you play mixologist at get-togethers. This Rosemary-Ginger Honey Simple Syrup is ideal for winter with its piney, sweet rosemary flavor and invigorating ginger bite. Gift this in a jar or tall glass bottle with a cork stopper. Tie a cocktail recipe to it so guests know exactly how to use it.
Pictured Recipe: Raspberry-Thyme Vinegar
Like homemade simple syrups, infused vinegars are a simple way to add incredible flavor to things the recipient already makes regularly—in this case, homemade vinaigrettes. This Raspberry-Thyme Vinegar is a great option any time of the year, but feel free to mix and match different fruits or herbs to create a vinegar that's suited to your friend's taste or what's growing in your garden. Don't forget: Add a gift tag with an easy vinaigrette recipe using our homemade vinaigrette formula.
Try these: Infused Vinegar Recipes
Picture Recipe: Coconut-Dark Chocolate Truffles
Making homemade chocolate candies is easier than you think, and there are endless options for flavors, textures, shapes and more. Try making simple creamy truffles, crunchy chocolate bark, easy three-ingredient peanut butter balls, chocolate-dipped fruit or chocolate-covered nut clusters. Better yet? Make a combination and pack them up in tins in lieu of cookies.
Your friend will never appreciate your gift more than that chilly night when they remember they can have warm, comforting homemade soup without much effort. Package the dry ingredients for the soup mix in a jar or tin. Then, make your own gift tag with instructions for making the soup as follows:
To turn the soup mix into a pot of soup: Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 diced large onion, 1 diced celery stalk and 1 diced carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 9 cups water, 4 cups broth and the soup mix. Bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 1¾ to 2½ hours (adding more water, ½ cup at a time, if necessary or desired). Season with ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste.
Pictured Recipe: Homemade Hot Sauce
When you show up at your next party, surprise the hostess by offering her a bottle of red-hot sauce instead of red wine. This homemade food gift will stand out among a sea of candles and vino, and it will last long after the wine and chocolates have disappeared. If you're feeling extra creative, print your own special labels with suggestions for ways to use hot sauce.
Related: The Best Way to Preserve Hot Peppers
Pictured Recipe: Blueberry-Pecan Pancake Mix
Take the work out of a weekend brunch by gifting your friends and family a homemade pancake mix they need only stir, pour and cook to fluffy perfection. Package the dry ingredients in a wide-mouth jar, or seal them in a plastic zip-top bag inside an airtight tin. Attach a gift tag with instructions for making your pancakes as follows:
To make pancakes: Whisk 2 large eggs, 2 large egg whites, 1½ cups nonfat buttermilk and 2 tablespoons canola oil in a medium bowl. Put Blueberry-Pecan Pancake Mix in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mix; add wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Use about ¼ cup batter for each pancake.
Related: Healthy Pancake Recipes