Tag Archives | homemade gifts

Handmade Treats for Family, Friends and Sweethearts

Valentine’s Day is just a week away now and if you haven’t begun to think about a few little gifts, now might be a good time*. I’ve been seeing lots of inspired treats across the internet of late. I’m particularly charmed by these peanut butter and jam thumbprint cookies, where the hollow for the jam has been molding into the shape of a heart.

However, if you don’t have the time to make something up yourself, there’s an organization I want to tell you about. Called Eat Boutique, they are tiny company who is in the business of putting together boxes of artisanally made foods. It’s not a situation in which you can customize the box. They simply have a seasonal box that get’s packed full of whatever lovely things they’ve determined work best for the current season. The box they’re currently offering includes sea salt caramels, snowball cookies and a jar of sweet pickled beets and costs $55 + s/h. Sounds pretty nice to me.

Now, if that box happens to be a bit too spendy for you, consider taking the idea as inspiration and putting something together from your own homemade items. I keep envisioning a few friends teaming up, making a couple of components and then trading, in order to have more variety in less time.

Now, let’s hear how the rest of you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day. Got any special treats or goodies in the works?

*I happened to be married to a man who’s birthday is also on Valentine’s Day, so I’ve been thinking and planning for months, trying to ensure that I cover both bases and make him feel as special as he deserves.

Note: There’s been no pay for play here. I received nothing from Eat Boutique in exchange for this post. I just like what they are doing and their focus small and handmade.

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Holiday Giving: Cranberry Orange Scone Mix in a Jar

cranberry orange scone mix

In my family, we always eat the same breakfast on Christmas morning. It consists of eggs cooked sunny-side up, crispy turkey bacon and a warm bread product. Some years, it’s crusty sourdough bread. Others, we toast slices of panattone. Last year, upon my father’s request, I made a batch of bear claws (they were good but deeply imperfect). Of all our breakfast breads, I think my very favorite was a batch of cranberry orange scones.

jar with funnel

It’s a recipe my mother plucked off the internet some years back and was so easy and good that I asked her to send it to me. I’ve made them many times in the last four years (the recipe print-out is dated 2006) and now, I’ve adapted the recipe to make a gift out of the mix. I’ve managed to get the whole thing into a pint jar, save the 1 egg, 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 a cup of buttermilk that the recipient will have to provide. Gifted with a jar of homemade jam, it becomes a Christmas breakfast kit that I think many a household would be happy to have.

filling the jar

You begin with a pint jar. If you’re preparing a batch for particularly good friends, I recommend using a lovelier than average jar. I’ve pulled a sturdy, vintage one from my collection to use here and I think it adds to the charm of the gift. Layer 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (sea salt is best if you have it) into the jar. Put the lid on and give it a good shake, so that ingredients integrate. Once they are combined, make sure to tap the jar gently on the counter a few times, to better compress the ingredients into the jar.

orange sugar

Measure out 1/4 cup of sugar into a small jar and grate the zest of one orange into it. Use your fingers to work the zest into the sugar. The sugar will act as a preservative and will help the orange zest maintain its fragrance and flavor longer than if you just heaped the zest into the jar on its own (a small jar of orange infused sugar would make a tasty gift all on its own as well).

cranberry orange scone mix

Pack the orange sugar on top of the flour (if your orange sugar is very moist, laying a small piece of plastic wrap between the flour level and the sugar level will extend the shelf life quite a bit. Just make sure to tell your recipient to look out for it) and finish the jar off with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. Should you realize as you’re making up a jar that you’re actually out of dried cranberries, feel free to substitute dried blueberries. Had I not already written up the recipe card, I would have simply called these blueberry orange scones, but that’s what I get for my poor pantry maintenance.

Write the following instructions on a small card (if you’re doing a number of these, feel free to print it up on the computer. Though, the handwritten touch is nice, provided your penmanship is legible).

1. Empty the contents of this jar into a bowl.
2. Cut 1/4 cup of butter into the flour.
3. Beat 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1 egg together. Add them to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
4. Once combined, turn out batter onto a cookie sheet and pat into a circle.
5. Cut into 8 wedges, but do not separate.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden on top.
7. Serve with jam.

One thing to note is that this scone mix doesn’t have the longest shelf life ever, so do try to gift it soon after mixing.

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