Holiday treats from the kitchen – Part 2

As with all homemade items, the few extra minutes you take to prettily package up your gifts from the kitchen will be well worth it. Your treats will look a little more eye-catching and the recipients will surely appreciate the extra effort you took to create something special just for them. Dollar stores and craft stores have lots of great boxes, bags and tins that are perfect for packaging. Thrift shops often have beautiful glass candy jars as well. Be creative – socks, mittens, hats and more could all be used to package up your special treats!

Simmering Scentsations

Oven dried fruit and fragrant spices combine to create a non-edible treat that will fill any home with the delicious aromas of the holiday season. I like to package these up in small, sturdy paper bags found at most craft stores, with instructions on the package.

Dried fruit and aromatic spices make a great mixture to simmer on the back of the stove, making your house smell wonderful throughout the holidays. Pop the fruit and spices in a small plastic bag before putting them in the paper sack and tying it up with a bow.

Ingredients

2 oranges
2 apples
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp whole cloves
¼ cup cardamom seeds

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200F.
  • Slice oranges and apples into ¼” thick slices.
  • Lay the slices on cooling racks placed over baking trays.
  • Cook the slices until they are thoroughly dry, turning at least once during the process.
  • Depending upon the moisture content in the fruit, it may take an hour or more for them to dry thoroughly.
  • Combine 3 orange slices, 1 tsp. whole cloves and 1 tbsp cardamom seeds in a small bag.
  • Combine 3 apple slices and 2 cinnamon sticks in a small bag.
  • Label the packages as follows: To make your home smell delicious, add the simmering seasonings to ½ cup of water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Once boiling, turn to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or longer, adding more water as needed. Discard after use.

Home-packaged Microwave Popcorn and Seasonings

Did you know you can make your own microwave popcorn? Not only is it a lot cheaper, you’ll also avoid all the chemicals in the commercial bags. Just take a clean paper bag (lunch bag size is ideal – to make it a little more festive, look for ones labelled ‘popcorn’ at the dollar store) and add ¼ cup unpopped popcorn.  Fold over the top by about 3/4 of an inch and use a piece of masking tape to secure the flap down.  These bags will need about 2 minutes (maybe a bit more depending on your microwave) on high heat to fully pop- put that as instruction on the bag. Invite the recipient to dress up their hot popped corn with some special seasoning (see below). Several packages of home-packed popcorn and jars of the prepared seasoning make a great gift – you can tuck them into a pair of mittens strung together with a pretty ribbon. The seasonings can even be tailored to the recipient’s favourite foods!

Make your own bags of microwave popcorn and gourmet seasonings, then package them up in a pair of cozy mittens. This is a great gift for kids to make for their friends.

Tex-Mex Popcorn Seasoning 
Put a package of low-sodium, dry taco seasoning mix in a shaker jar. Sprinkle over hot buttered popcorn for a spicy snacking treat.

Sugar & Spice Seasoning 
For a sweet treat, combine 1 teaspoon white sugar and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Drizzle hot cooked popcorn with a bit of melted butter but do not salt it. Shake the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the popcorn and toss gently to combine.

Have fun playing around with your favourite flavour profiles. Enjoy Indian food? Mix ground ginger, curry powder, turmeric and a dash of cayenne. For fans of Cajun cuisine, try a combination of paprika, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper with a little cayenne. The possibilities are endless!

Mocha-Hot Chocolate mixture

Add 1 tsp espresso powder to 4 tbsp prepared hot chocolate powder. Package up in a mug with additional small bags of mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes, or whatever toppings you enjoy in your hot chocolate.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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