Now that my children are school-aged, they are very involved in our Holiday preparations. They help me decorate our fireplace mantle, they help my husband hang up the lights on the bushes outside, and they make up Christmas lists for all our family members. In the past, we used to take them to the store, with a budget in mind, and allow them to purchase small, heartfelt gifts for everyone on their last. They always enjoyed picking out something special, but after a few years of doing this, they started thinking about making homemade gifts instead.
One afternoon, I came down the basement stairs and found my daughter gluing together tons of itty bitty pieces of chopped up socks together. I had no idea what she was making, but she was working diligently on “lots of somethings.” I sat down on the floor and she explained to me that she wanted to “make stuff” for everyone in the family. Apparently, she was trying to make a dog toy at that moment.
We chatted some more about what she felt she was good at and she said “cooking,” so we decided to pursue this avenue instead. She made a rather lengthy list of all the things she thought people would like to eat and drink, and we narrowed it down to a few special items. My son wanted to get in on the action too, so they’ll be working on the kid-friendly gifts — the Holiday Jam and White Chocolate Cranberry Bark — and I’ll be tackling the Cranberry Infused Vodka!
These three recipes use simple ingredients that you can find in any local market. They make magnificent presents when packaged all together in a basket, though they shine as standalone gifts too. I love including cute little recipe cards with each edible gift so that the recipient can make their specialty food item again and again.
I think that the best gifts in life are those that come right from the heart…and straight out of the kitchen. Don’t you?
Yields approximately 5 (8-ounce) jars
This cranberry apple jam has a delicate citrus vibe and can be made with just a few simple ingredients. Since this is a freezer jam, there is no need to batch process it, which makes it ideal for novice jam makers. This jam goes brilliantly with Baked Brie or slathered on pancakes instead of syrup.
- 8 apples (7 cups) – peeled, cored, diced
- 2 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Step 1: Using a large pot, heat apples, cranberries, orange juice and sugar over medium high heat. Stirring often, cook for approximately 15 minutes, then smash fruit with a potato masher.
Step 2: Cook for 10 more minutes. While you wait, place a small plate in the freezer.
Step 3: At the 10-minute mark, place a small dollop of hot jam onto the frozen plate and return it back to the freezer for 2 minutes. Remove the plate and run your finger through the jam. If the line “holds,” your jam is good to go. If it is still a bit too runny, let it cook for a few more minutes.
Step 4: You can store the jam in any kind of clean, sterilized, freezer-safe container, but wide mouth canning jars work best. When filling, make sure to leave ½-inch of room at the top for expansion upon freezing. Leave jam sitting out at room temperature for 1-2 hours to let it cool down before putting it in the freezer – or refrigerator if you plan on eating or gifting it right away.
For the over 21 and over crowd, this Cranberry-Infused Vodka makes a fantastic gift for friends and family that love entertaining. This edible gift can be used to make a variety of holiday cocktails or simply enjoyed alone with some tonic water and lime. Support a local business and pick up some bottles of LiV Vodka for this recipe.
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 oranges, peels cut into strips
- 1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
Step 1: In a large saucepan, heat cranberries, sugar, and vanilla together over medium heat. Simmer mixture for approximately 5 minutes until the cranberries burst. Allow the cranberry mixture to cool.
Step 2: Place orange peels in large mason jars with lids. Pour vodka over the orange peels. Once cranberry mixture is cooled, pour equal amounts into the glass containers. Cover tightly and set aside for 1 week.
Step 3: After 1 week, strain out the cranberries and orange peels. Using a funnel, pour mixture into a clean bottle for gifting. Store vodka in the refrigerator.
White Chocolate Cranberry Bark
This holiday treat is by far one of the simplest edible gifts to make. With just a few simple ingredients, your kids can help you make a variety of chocolate barks to gift to everyone on your list. The festive colors of this white chocolate cranberry bark look wonderful when packaged up in small gift boxes.
- 16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup nuts (pistachios, peanuts or almonds will do just fine)
- 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 2: Place approximately three-quarters of the white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir again and repeat this process until chocolate is fully melted. Add the remaining chocolate to the melted chocolate and stir.
Step 3: Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it with the spatula to form an even layer. Quickly sprinkle the top of the chocolate evenly with the cranberries and press the fruit down lightly to set it in the chocolate.
Step 4: Set aside for at least 2 hours until firm or refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cut or break the bark in pieces.