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Gifts From The Kitchen

This year for the holidays, consider making a gift that will warm your family and friends into the new year. Maybe Grandma would enjoy the hot pepper jelly or caramel nut cake, and Uncle Bill would like the split pea soup. Your neighbors would love the white hot chocolate mix or fudge. Remember, homemade gifts are best.

HOT PEPPER PECAN JELLY
1 cup water
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
Red food coloring
1/2 cup crushed toasted pecans

In a large saucepan, combine water, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Add pectin and a few drops of red food coloring. Let mixture come to a full rolling boil and continue boiling for 30 seconds. Add pecans. Remove from heat and skim off all the foam. Pour into three 8-oz. canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace in each one. Wipe rims of jars and put lids on. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Tighten lids. Makes 3 jars.

WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla powder
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
1/2 cup grated white chocolate

Combine and blend ingredients in a small bowl. (Note: vanilla powder can be found in food specialty or cake decorating stores or ordered online from the Web.) Store in an airtight container. Include the following directions on a small card: In a small saucepan, heat 1-1/2 cups milk until bubbles form around the edge. Add White Hot Chocolate mix and whisk until the white chocolate is melted. Continue whisking until mixture is hot. Serves 2.

SPLIT PEA SOUP MIX
1 wide-mouth pint jar, lid, and ring
1/2 cup dried split peas
1/4 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 dried bay leaf, crushed
1/2 cup uncooked tiny pasta, such as alphabet pasta or star pasta

Layer all ingredients, except pasta, in a pint jar and seal tightly. Put pasta in a snack-size zip bag. Add the following instructions to the jar: Add 1 pound ground beef, garlic powder and black pepper to taste, one 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes, one 6-oz. can tomato paste, and 2-1/2 quarts of water. In a large heavy pot, over medium heat, brown ground beef with garlic and pepper. Drain off excess fat and add all other ingredients except pasta. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add pasta, cover, and continue simmering an additional 15-20 minutes or until lentils, barley, and dried split peas are tender. Add salt to taste. Serves 16.

QUICK MICROWAVE FUDGE
1/2 cup butter
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Place ingredients, except nuts, in bowl; do not mix. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour mixture into buttered 8×8 dish. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes until set. Cut into squares. Place in box or tin and include recipe card.

CARAMEL NUT CAKE IN A JAR
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Wash and sterilize 6 wide-mouth pint canning jars, lids, and rings in boiling water for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°. Dry jars and cool to room temperature. Grease insides of jars well with Crisco shortening. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. Cream sugars and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Add to flour mixture and blend well. Gently fold in walnuts.

Place one cup of batter in each of the sterilized jars. Wipe rims clean and bake in preheated oven on a cookie sheet for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Take from the oven immediately and wipe rims once again. Place lids and rings on each jar and screw on tightly. Set on counter and allow to seal. After jars are completely cooled, press on top to make sure they sealed. If the lid stays down and doesn’t move, it is sealed. Give away as gifts within a few days. Include the recipe on a card. Makes 6.

Coming Next Month: Cooking 911

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