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Gifts from the Kitchen

What do you give to the person who has everything? How about a gift from the heart made in your kitchen. Handmade gifts are a very thoughtful way to spread cheer during the holiday season and these recipes are a simple, yet special way to show your appreciation.

Vanilla Cinnamon Nut Butter (makes 2 cups)
Perfect spread on toast or use as a dip for slice apples. Add it to yogurt or drizzle on top of oatmeal.

– 2 cups nuts of your choice, chopped (pecans and walnuts work very well)
– 1/8 tsp salt
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 Tbsp canola oil, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Place chopped nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes until nuts are toasted. Allow to cool. In a food processor, add nuts, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Process until nuts are smooth, about 5 minutes. If mixture is too thick for your liking, drizzle in oil and process until desired consistency is reached. Transfer to airtight jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Spiced Nuts (makes 1 1/2 cups)
These nuts are great for a snack, or as an appetizer. Serve on their own or as part of a charcuterie board.

– 1 1/2 cups nuts, (such as whole almonds, walnut halves, or pecan halves)
– 1 tsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin
– 1/2 tsp curry powder
– 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
– Dash of ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, toss the nuts with olive oil. In a separate bowl, combine the spices. Add the spices to the nuts, stirring until nuts are covered with spice mix. Spread nuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the nuts until lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Store nuts in a tightly covered container.

Hot Chocolate Cones (makes 1 cone)
A great gift for teachers, babysitters, and neighbors! Give it on its own, or add it to a wrapped gift for more charm.

– 3/4 cup cocoa mix
– 2 (6 x 12 inch) cone shaped cellophane bags (like the kind at party stores)
– 2 clear rubber bands
– 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
– 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
– 1 large red gum drop

Pour the cocoa mix into one of the bags. Close the bag with a clear band, then trim the end of the bag 1 inch above the band. Place the cocoa filled bag into the second bag and flatten the top so the end of the bag does not stick up. Layer the chocolate chips and the marshmallows on top of the first bag, then top with a gumdrop. Secure the bag with the other rubber band.

Apple Butter (makes 2 cups)
This apple butter is great spread on toast or drizzled into yogurt. Use as a topping on cooked oatmeal as well.

– 5 medium apples, cored and roughly chopped (granny smith, fuji, red delicious or honey crisp)
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground cloves
– 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/4 cup maple syrup

Put all the ingredients in a large pot and stir well. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 1-2 hours until apples have softened. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let apples cool slightly. Blend apple mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. To thicken apple butter, return blended mixture to the stove on low heat and let it cook down until reaching desired consistency. Can be served warm or stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week.

Homemade Mustard (makes 1 ½ cups)
Can be used in vinaigrettes, in marinades, with sandwiches, potatoes or added at the end of cooking meaty soups and stews to add more flavor.

– 1/2 cup mix of brown and yellow whole mustard seeds
– 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 2 tsp honey or maple syrup, optional

Place the mustard seeds in a jar or bowl and cover water 3 inches higher than the seeds. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. Do not let the seed sit longer than 12 hours or they will sprout. Drain water from seeds and add the rest of the ingredients, through honey/maple syrup, if using. Place the mixture in a blender until the mustard is at your preferred consistency. You may use an immersion blender. Store in refrigerator for 6-12 months.

Content submitted by Janyce Gately – MS, RD, LDN, CHWC