Sunday, November 25, 2012

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

I have been one busy girl lately, but I just had to share these! They are all ready to pack in cute little decorative containers, well, almost.

 One of the things that can be frustrating to me when I'm giving home made gifts, is that the containers can cost as much, or more, than the gift itself. That's where you really have to be creative.

While I haven't been as creative as I like with these, I am happy with the over all cost so far. And, it's quite easy to dress up canning jars! Find some cute ribbon, some cute fabric, and print out a picture, and you are done.

I thought home made extracts would be a great gift for some fellow foodies. The small jars are resealable, the right price, and can easily be reused when the extracts are finished. AND, the extract recipes can be easily expanded. They do have to sit for about 2 weeks for them to be recipe ready, but you can let your creativity soar and give your friends gift baskets full of flavor.

For vanilla extract:

1/3 c. vodka
1 vanilla bean
pinch salt

Place vanilla bean in a cleaned jar (You can fold them up to fit). Pour vodka over vanilla bean, add a pinch of salt, and seal. Let soak for at least 2 weeks. When you are finished with the vanilla extract, you can cut the end off the vanilla bean and use the insides just like a fresh vanilla bean in any recipe. To make a larger amount, add up to 1 c. vodka for each vanilla bean.

For almond extract:

1/3 c. vodka
2 T. chopped almonds
pinch salt

Place almonds in a cleaned jar. Pour vodka over almonds and seal. Let sit for at least 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, remove almonds and add salt.

Other extract ideas involving nuts:

Pistachio (This is great, since it's much cheaper to add 2 T. chopped pistachio meats to vodka than purchase pistachio extract)

Nuts that don't work so well: macadamia, pecan

Unique ideas for the kitchen geek:

Instead of nuts, add 2 T. chopped lemon grass. This adds a great taste to short bread and sugar cookies.

Add rind of 1 lemon to vodka for lemon extract. This works for lime, tangerine, grapefruit, and orange.

Add 1 cinnamon stick for cinnamon extract (works great in recipes where you don't want to see the cinnamon)

Add 2 star anise for a beautiful anise extract

Add a few sprigs of fresh mint for a beautiful mint extract (the leaves stay green!).

Add the contents of one chai tea bag for chai extract. This can also be done with green tea, black tea, etc.

Add 2 T. coffee beans for coffee extract.

Time to brush off those old jars since I know you have already finished that summer jams!

And, stay tuned for my Christmas Baskets! I'm not making all those cookies this year, and have been preparing for almost a month for my upcoming baking!