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In the Kitchen: Creative holiday gift ideas
Hot chocolate

Nothing makes me happier than when a friend hands me a homemade gift from the kitchen. Whether it is homemade brownies on a beautiful Christmas platter, or a Mason jar filled with layers of hot chocolate ingredients, homemade gifts are both thoughtful and charming.

A visit to your favorite craft store will help you creatively package the gifts. Look for colorful ribbons, cute tags for labeling, bows, stickers and more. You can also tie a small gift to your kitchen gifts. For example, make some homemade vanilla extract and tie a cute Christmas ornament to the bottle.

One more thing before we get to the recipes, if you are not one to make gifts, seek out locally made gifts — whether they are food gifts, jewelry, soap, or arts and crafts. Let’s all do our part to support those in our community who are selling their crafts.

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This butter is a snap to make and is perfect for spreading on biscuits or toast.

Cinnamon honey butter

1 cup honey

1 cup butter (not margarine), softened

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Half pint canning jars


Using an electric mixer, combine honey, butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon until completely combined. Pack in canning jars.

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This is a cute and fun project you can do with kids or grandchildren. Purchase some holiday cookie cutters and you are ready to begin.


Holiday fudge

Six cookie cutters

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Various candies and sprinkles


Place a metal bowl over simmering water and add chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add peanut butter, stirring until combined. Add butter and stir until smooth. 

Remove from heat and whisk in sugar and vanilla. Cover the bottoms and sides of the cookie cutters with aluminum foil. Pour fudge batter into cookie molds and decorate with candies and sprinkles. 

Cover and refrigerate until needed.

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This hot chocolate mixture looks pretty if you layer the ingredients. If you want to make a bigger batch, just triple the recipe as desired.


Hot chocolate mix

3 tablespoons powdered coffee creamer

3 tablespoons powdered milk

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Handful of mini marshmallows

Handful of candy canes, broken up


Layer ingredients in a clear jar. Add a tag with the instructions, “Combine ½ cup of mixture with 1 cup boiling water.”

Homemade nutella

12 ounce milk chocolate

1 cup Marcona almonds

2 ½ tablespoons avocado oil

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Place a metal bowl over simmering water on the stovetop. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly. 

In a food processor or high powdered blender, add almonds. Process until almonds are completely ground. 

Pour into a bowl and add ground almonds and remaining ingredients. Pour into jar and use within two weeks. 

If you refrigerate it, you will have to microwave it to soften it before using.

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Vanilla extract

5 vanilla beans, split down the middle

3/4 cup vodka


Place vanilla beans in a jar and cover with vodka. Let sit at room temperature for eight weeks before using.

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Best steak rub

4 tablespoons salt

2 ½ tablespoons coarse ground black pepper

4 tablespoons brown sugar

2 ½ tablespoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons smoked paprika


Combine all ingredients. Pour into small jars and add a tag with the directions, “Use 1-2 teaspoons of steak rub per steak before cooking.” The rub is also great on chicken and pork chops.

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These pickled jalapenos take only minutes to make. They are delicious on nachos, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and fajitas.


Pickled jalapenos

1 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup water

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

8 jalapenos, thinly sliced


In a saucepan, combine wine vinegar, water, garlic, sugar and salt. Boil and then add jalapenos. Remove from heat and let jalapenos sit in the brine for 15 minutes. Pour into jars.

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Chai tea mix

2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups unsweetened instant tea

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 cup dry milk powder

1 cup nondairy creamer

1 cup French vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer


Combine all ingredients and pour into a jar. On a tag, write the instructions, “Use 2 tablespoons of chai tea mix per but of hot/boiling water.”