285 Foodies

Cooking At Home & Shopping => Cooking at Home or with friends => Topic started by: Melomom on December 15, 2009, 01:07:50 PM

Title: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 15, 2009, 01:07:50 PM
Not sure if this topic has another thread on this forum, but thought I would start it.  I have been baking for Christmas as far back as I can remember.  While I was growing up, my mother did not have time to do a lot of baking during the rest of the year, but during the holidays she pulled out the stops.  She always gave away the nicest plates of cookies and treats and now I enjoy doing the same thing. 

I have a few things I almost always make, and I try some new recipes each year just for fun.  I always make the rolled butter cookies from Joy of Cooking cause I can use my fun Christmas shape cutters and sugar sprinkles.  I've never tried the fancy Martha Stewart-esque icing decorations but I might this year.  I love anything with pecans, like the mini pecan tassies or "mothballs," pecan butter cookies rolled in powdered sugar that are simple but addictive.  I have made different kinds of biscotti, and I have a really good and easy English toffee recipe cut from Bon Appetit years ago.  Linzer cookies are good, and last year I bought some of the free-standing large paper muffin cups and made mini poundcakes that went over well.  This year I am going to try fleur de sel caramels, this recipe is one I saved from the Times from a number of months back.

I am also paying more attention, but not more money, to presentation.  In the current spirit of re-use, recycling and thrift, I have haunted the aisles of Goodwill and the like and have assembled a collection of brass and silverplate trays and plates, most at $1-$2 each (cheaper than paper boxes from the craft store).  Clean and polish them really well and package with a beautiful ribbon and I think they will look great.

So what do other folks like to make and give?
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Otto on December 15, 2009, 01:28:43 PM
I love baking cookies the most, but I can't bake cookies without eating lots of dough and the finished products.  With diabetes in my family it's clear I should slow down my sugar pig-outs, which I've done all my life.  So the plan is to stick to items impossible to sample while baking: pumpkin and apple pies, tarts, and the like.  I need to do the baking this week so we'll see how this goes. 


Melo, I like your idea about sending the food off in nice containers.  I'll have to check out my local Salvation Army.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Mike GadgetGeek Stock on December 15, 2009, 01:54:50 PM
Not sure if this topic has another thread on this forum, but thought I would start it.  I have been baking for Christmas as far back as I can remember.  While I was growing up, my mother did not have time to do a lot of baking during the rest of the year, but during the holidays she pulled out the stops.  She always gave away the nicest plates of cookies and treats and now I enjoy doing the same thing.  

I have a few things I almost always make, and I try some new recipes each year just for fun.  I always make the rolled butter cookies from Joy of Cooking cause I can use my fun Christmas shape cutters and sugar sprinkles.  I've never tried the fancy Martha Stewart-esque icing decorations but I might this year.  I love anything with pecans, like the mini pecan tassies or "mothballs," pecan butter cookies rolled in powdered sugar that are simple but addictive.  I have made different kinds of biscotti, and I have a really good and easy English toffee recipe cut from Bon Appetit years ago.  Linzer cookies are good, and last year I bought some of the free-standing large paper muffin cups and made mini poundcakes that went over well.  This year I am going to try fleur de sel caramels, this recipe is one I saved from the Times from a number of months back.

I am also paying more attention, but not more money, to presentation.  In the current spirit of re-use, recycling and thrift, I have haunted the aisles of Goodwill and the like and have assembled a collection of brass and silverplate trays and plates, most at $1-$2 each (cheaper than paper boxes from the craft store).  Clean and polish them really well and package with a beautiful ribbon and I think they will look great.

So what do other folks like to make and give?  

Last year we gave away some of Mickle's Pickles, some on our gift list called and asked for more.. LOL

We also on the last couple years made a HUGE group of those midnight rum balls and gave them as little token gifts to neighbors and the like. I should dig that recipe out again, they are way good and easy.

I did go by Tuesday Morning the other day looking for something in particular and spied a bunch of kitchen related things that were on the discount table.  I am trying to spend less so I didn't buy any, but I might go back?

.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: uOTPia Dweller on December 15, 2009, 02:10:27 PM
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Daki on December 15, 2009, 03:10:28 PM
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: MoT on December 15, 2009, 03:11:24 PM
My Mother also did English Toffee Squares as her gifts to her friends.

Have been invited by another family to join them at the Ritz this year. Weird going to a hotel for Christmas dining, but I have no complaints. I didn't even think of the Santa being there. He should be finished by then and back to the North Pole. I'm very confused.

I was thinking about making these little mini cake loaves I've had a recipe for, that has praline icing on them. We shall see.

It seems we get a lot of nuts (the eating kind) for holiday gifts. Glad to hear nowadays they are good for you because I sure do get sick of eating them.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 15, 2009, 06:17:47 PM
my paternal grandfather used to bake tons of cookies, kolaches, and caramels as gifts.

Daki, do you have the caramel recipe?  I have never been much of a candy maker, but I'd like to try it this year. 

Otto, yes, definitely check out Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.  Lots and lots of baskets, cut glass dishes, platters, what have you - the recipient can use it or pass it on. 
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 16, 2009, 06:14:37 AM
Speaking of cookies:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/dining/16cookies.html?_r=1&8dpc
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Otto on December 16, 2009, 09:52:10 AM
Speaking of cookies:

Cruel, cruel I say!!!

Questions about chocolate: 
1/ I need semisweet chocolate chips.  What brands should I consider?  
2/ Can I use chocolate that's been in a zip-lock back for two years?
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 16, 2009, 12:46:20 PM
I like Ghiradelli chips, you can find them at Publix and, I think, at YDFM.  Re the bagged chocolate, if it smells and tastes good I think you are OK.  It doesn't usually last that long at my house.   ;)

Another article, about many-layered chocolate cake.  I had a slice of this cake at a funeral luncheon a little while back and never did get the recipe (it was not from the dear departed, smarty pantses):

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/dining/16Bake.html?em
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: LizR on December 16, 2009, 01:34:29 PM
DH whipped up several batches of a Bailey's knock-off that is very yummy and easy. Should make good, if not really inexpensive, gifts.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Mike GadgetGeek Stock on December 16, 2009, 01:42:45 PM
I like Ghiradelli chips, you can find them at Publix and, I think, at YDFM.  Re the bagged chocolate, if it smells and tastes good I think you are OK.  It doesn't usually last that long at my house.   ;)

Another article, about many-layered chocolate cake.  I had a slice of this cake at a funeral luncheon a little while back and never did get the recipe (it was not from the dear departed, smarty pantses):

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/dining/16Bake.html?em 

Again Quoting from Cooks Illustrated that does real tastings every couple years the Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips were the best.. You are right again Melomom.  For $.10 less an ounce the Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate Chips were #2...

.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Jmolinari on December 16, 2009, 02:16:11 PM
I like the nestle semi sweet CHUNKS. They must be different chocolate than the chips, b/c they taste much better and higher quality.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: foodnearsnellville on December 16, 2009, 03:27:14 PM
I have, at times, sent relatives tupelo honey from Georgia. I have a sweet spot for orange honey, though, which is best purchased from Florida.

This url has sources of Georgia honey:

http://www.honeylocator.com/location_results.asp?Location_ID=11 (http://www.honeylocator.com/location_results.asp?Location_ID=11)

Jellies, jams, and marmalades I've sent. Cookbooks are pretty common gifts from me. I'd be giving Thomas Keller's new cookbook, but Amazon ran out of copies.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Daki on December 17, 2009, 06:20:57 AM

Daki, do you have the caramel recipe?  I have never been much of a candy maker, but I'd like to try it this year. 


Unfortunately I don't :(.  The last time I made them, I believe I used a recipe from my BHG cookbook (1980's red checkered edition).
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Barnum on December 17, 2009, 06:41:56 AM
My wife just finished the usual suspects for Christmas cookies with some new additions:  fig meringue cookies (very nicely light with a sweet chewy center), marshmallow's (topped with a little toasted coconut), and popcorn brittle.  All good to great but the surprising standout was the cooking light recipe for popcorn brittle.  Really easy to make (I was told) and a very nice change from peanut brittle.  She did add some almonds which certainly didn't hurt.  Truthfully, this one is tough to stop eating.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Otto on December 17, 2009, 07:51:36 AM
All good to great but the surprising standout was the cooking light recipe for popcorn brittle. 

Mmm.  Would she mind sharing her recipe?
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Beerbitch on December 17, 2009, 08:54:18 AM
Next year, we should do a group swap....
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Mike GadgetGeek Stock on December 17, 2009, 10:25:24 AM
Next year, we should do a group swap....

I love that idea...

I also want us (those that wish to) to do some sortofa  charitable event or contribution in this coming year.

.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: KoPP on December 17, 2009, 10:37:21 AM
Bah! Humbug!
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Barnum on December 17, 2009, 12:43:36 PM
All good to great but the surprising standout was the cooking light recipe for popcorn brittle. 

Mmm.  Would she mind sharing her recipe?

Popcorn Brittle, modified from Cooking Light Recipe

Cooking Spray
5 1/2 cups popcorn, popped without salt or fat
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup whole almonds
6 Tbl light-colored corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3 Tbl molasses
1 Tbl butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


- prepare cookie sheet w/ foil and cooking spray.
- Add popcorn to large plastic bag, crush using rolling pin.
- add sugar, syrup, and water over medium heat and cook for 1 minute (while stirring) until sugar dissolves.
- Once sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and watch until it reaches 270 degrees (probably 7-8 minutes).
- Stir in butter and molasses and cook until it reaches 290 degrees (probably 5 minutes).
- Stir in baking soda, vanilla and salt.
- Finally, stir in popcorn and almonds.
- spread 1/4 in thick across foil covered cookie sheet and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Lasts for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Mike GadgetGeek Stock on December 17, 2009, 12:59:29 PM
All good to great but the surprising standout was the cooking light recipe for popcorn brittle. 

Mmm.  Would she mind sharing her recipe?

Popcorn Brittle, modified from Cooking Light Recipe

Thanks, looks good.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Roxro on December 20, 2009, 10:13:27 AM
While my husband is outside shoveling snow (about a 8 inches worth), I have been making "hot chocolate on a stick" and homemade marshmallows for my son to bring to school tomorrow for teachers' gifts.  Bought cute little monogramed mugs on sale at Macy's yesterday before the snow started falling.

These will also go along with the boxes of homemade cookies I'm bringing to his family on Christmas day, along with bottles of Kaluha.  (yeah, I know this isn't spelled right but spell checker isn't helping).
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Otto on December 20, 2009, 09:28:38 PM
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 21, 2009, 10:08:10 AM
That shortbread looks great!  Last night I made coffee-walnut toffee with a dark and white chocolate swirled coating (Bon Appetit from years ago) and, from the Joy of Cooking, rolled butter cookies with sugar sprinkles and a variation of the fourteen-in-one master recipe with chopped dried cranberries and orange zest. 

I attempted fleur de sel caramels but failed miserably - the temperature went too high in a mere instant and instead of nicely chewy caramels they are as hard as a brick!  I could use it to knock some sense into someone but not for much else.  I'll give it another try today.  Last on the list - mini poundcakes, trying to decide between a sour cream poundcake and the mocha hazelnut recipe I tried a few weeks ago.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: AndyBoy on December 21, 2009, 02:09:36 PM
Melomom can we have your toffee recipe? I had some homemade toffee yesterday with pecan and chocolate icing that was killer. Yours sounds good also.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 21, 2009, 05:54:50 PM
This is a link to the recipe as posted on the Orangette blog:

http://orangette.blogspot.com/2004/12/with-my-own-two-hands.html

It is really easy, looks great and tastes divine - a perfect combination.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: AndyBoy on December 22, 2009, 08:39:04 AM
Thanks Melomom, now if I can just find time to make it.
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: mikeamor on December 22, 2009, 09:49:18 AM
This is always a must do.
We'll choose several "classic" Christmas goodies to make and then package some up as host gifts when we are invited to a holiday gathering.
This year, thanks to my company's generous decision to outsource my department to foreign companies, I've had extra time and had a great time with it.
The packages this year have had a mix of:
- Dark chocolate fudge with pecans.
- Stollen
- Spritz cookies
- Thumbprint cookies filled with peppermint frosting, chocolate frosting or apricot jam
- Santa's whiskers cookies
- Small loaves of artisan bread
- Home made limoncello
- Home made vanilla
Title: Re: Christmas Food Gifts
Post by: Melomom on December 22, 2009, 08:06:43 PM
Photo gallery of NYT readers' holiday cookies:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/12/21/dining/20091221-reader-holiday-cookie-recipes.html?em