Homemade Food Gifts for the Holidays
We love the maple-nut flavor combination of this heart-healthy granola, but feel free to substitute your favorite nuts or dried fruit for your own custom blend.
These curried cashews are impossibly addictive--every time we made them in the Test Kitchen they disappeared in a flash. If you use salted cashews, omit the added salt.
Cook the figs in this compote down until they can be spread with a knife or spoon. The compote is equally delicious as a condiment on a cheese plate, as an accompaniment for roast pork or as a spread on toast. If you're giving this as a gift, include a card with serving suggestions.
Chinese five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns; it adds subtle flavor to these pistachios. Look for it in the spice section at the market or with other Asian ingredients. Omit the added salt if you use salted pistachios.
These spicy nuts were inspired by ones sold by street vendors across Mexico. If you can only find salted peanuts, omit the added salt. Add the maximum amount of cayenne pepper if you want an extra hit of spice.
Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup Mix
Making your own dry soup mix from beans and spices couldn't be easier. Layered in a jar, it makes a very pretty gift.
If you've never made your own granola, you'll be amazed at the difference in freshness and flavor--and at how easy it is. Use this recipe as a starting point for your own creativity: substitute dried blueberries or chopped dried apricots for the cranberries, or walnuts or hazelnuts for the almonds.
Blueberry-Pecan Pancake Mix
Say goodbye to frozen pancakes or box mixes: dried blueberries give this pancake mix rich blueberry flavor and the pecans liven up the texture with a bit of crunch.
Mango-Pecan Quick Bread
Mangos give a standard quick bread a lively flavor jolt.
Bittersweet Chocolate-Orange Truffles
While orange adds an exotic note, much of the flavor of these simple yet sophisticated candies comes from the chocolate, so choose a semisweet or bittersweet with a flavor and level of sweetness you enjoy. The recipe makes a big batch of truffles--plenty for gift-giving. Although they should be stored in the refrigerator, they're best served after sitting at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.
Indian Spice Rub
Curry, cumin, coriander, mint, turmeric and ginger make a delicious Indian-inspired rub for tofu, chicken breast or with sautéed potatoes.
The oaky taste of Armagnac, a French brandy made in Gascony, has long been paired with prunes. While Armagnac is available in vintage bottlings, nothing so extravagant is needed for this recipe. Use waterproof markers to decorate the outside of glass jars with flowers, abstract designs or a favorite line from a poem.
Burnt Sugar Lollipops
No special equipment or fancy molds are needed for these gorgeous jewels--just a little patience and steady hand to pour out the hot sugar syrup. Wrap the lollipops individually in large, clear lollipop bags and seal with a silver twist-tie or a piece of ribbon. Affix them individually to the bows of your holiday presents or hang them on your tree and offer them to guests as they leave.
Chocolate Bark with Pistachios & Dried Cherries
With the news that dark chocolate contains some healthful properties, there is a better excuse than ever to indulge during the holiday season. Specks of green pistachios and red dried cherries in this chocolate confection make for a festive holiday gift.
Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Quick Bread
This banana quick bread is full of chocolate chips and toasted heart-healthy walnuts so you get a taste of nuts and chocolate in each bite. This version reduces the fat substantially and uses nonfat buttermilk to make the results extremely moist and tender.
Chocolate-Covered Berry Marshmallows
Chocolate-and-berry-flavored marshmallows are delectable--even addictive--and these surprisingly easy candies make a great gift or special treat. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.
Mississippi Spiced Pecans
Make plenty of these mildly sweet and salty nuts--they are great to have on hand over the holidays.
Salsa alla Capricciosa
This is a beautifully simple, but full-flavored tomato sauce from Lidia Bastianich. Serve over spaghetti or linguine, tossing the cooked pasta with half the sauce and some Grana Padano cheese, serving the rest of the sauce on top and passing more cheese.
Dark Chocolate Sauce
Rich and chocolaty, this sauce is perfect for topping frozen yogurt, pancakes or waffles.
Festive Fruit & Nut Balls
A no-bake, make-ahead treat, this perfect combination of fruit and nuts is a nutritious and delicious mouthful. Rolling them in shredded coconut gives them their festive look.
Crunchy wheat cereal, pretzels and almonds coated in bittersweet chocolate makes an addictive sweet-salty snack.
Cranberry-Walnut Quick Bread
The perennial bakery favorite gets a healthy makeover.
Everyone Loves This Fruitcake
Ah, the maligned fruitcake. Many store-bought varieties, stuffed with unrecognizable candied bits, deserve their bad reputation--but not these wonderful cakes, made with a generous serving of dried fruit and candied orange peel in a light batter. There's only one trick: buy the best-quality, moist dried and candied fruit you can afford.
Pear-Hazelnut Quick Bread
Toasted hazelnuts and ripe pears add a sophisticated note to a homey quick bread.
Berry-Almond Quick Bread
This wholesome quick-bread recipe is just what you need; whatever berries you have on hand go into a versatile, whole-grain buttermilk batter that can be baked into muffins, loaves or even doughnutlike mini Bundts.
Roasted Tomato & Almond Pesto
The delightful richness of Ellie Krieger's sundried tomato and almond pesto is a perfect partner for nutty whole-wheat pasta. It's also delicious spread on grilled chicken.
Two kinds of paprika, cilantro and lemon give Spanish flair to pork chops, tenderloin or shrimp.
A medley of warm spices tempered with a touch of brown sugar is a great match for rich, nutritious pecans. They make a perfect nibble with a drink before dinner or afterward with a cup of espresso.
Tuscan Spice Rub
Take a trip to Italy with this Tuscan-inspired rub, aromatic with fennel, basil, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Try it on boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salmon steaks or lamb chops.
Chocolate Nut Bark
Use your favorite combination of nuts to make this quick and easy chocolate nut bark.
Oregano, Rosemary & Marjoram Vinegar
Try this oregano-, rosemary-and marjoram-infused vinegar drizzled over tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or combine with olive oil and a little Dijon mustard to make a quick dressing for pasta salad. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.
Shallot, Tarragon & Lemon Vinegar
Stir a little of this shallot-, tarragon- and lemon-infused vinegar and some fresh chopped tarragon into reduced-fat cream cheese and try it as a spread for crackers. Top with a piece of smoked salmon for an instant appetizer. Or combine the vinegar with a little olive oil, low-fat mayonnaise and chopped celery and use as a dressing for tuna salad. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have enough extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.
Chile, Cilantro & Garlic Vinegar
Stir this chile-, cilantro- and garlic-infused vinegar into a mixture of chopped fresh tomatoes, onions and fresh cilantro for an instant salsa. Or combine with an equal portion of canola oil and a generous pinch of salt and use as a marinade for steak or chicken. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.
Fennel, Orange & Star Anise Vinegar
Try this vinegar infused with fennel, orange and star anise in Asian-inspired dishes. Combine with soy sauce, chopped scallions, ginger and a pinch of sugar and use it as a sauce for a chicken-broccoli stir-fry. Or try it drizzled over hot-and-sour soup. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.
Pearl Onion, Celery & Pickling Spice Vinegar
Try this vinegar infused with onion, celery and pickling spice as a quick seasoning for steamed potatoes or roasted cauliflower or combine with an equal portion of olive oil and use as a marinade for steamed beets. The recipe makes enough vinegar so you'll have extra to decant into a decorative bottle or two to give away as a simple homemade gift.