Back to the Kitchen: Homemade Gifts From The Heart

Print This Post Print This Post

gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

While still feeling the effects of a very wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, it seems like Christmas is a long way away.  However, it is a good time before the madness begins to start thinking about homemade holiday gifts. Nothing makes me happier than receiving a culinary delight from someone’s kitchen. What a better way to express creativity in both the preparation of the gift as well as the packaging. What could be better than a big basket of muffins or scones with homemade preserves? How about some cute coffee mugs with some amazing liqueurs? Some free label downloads can be found at Some nice handmade vintage lables can be found at Some amazing jars and bottles can be found at You can also find them at yard sales or antique shops just make sure that they are safe for food.  The possibilities are unlimited. Create together with your children to make it a family gift!

Pear and Ginger Jam

Food gifts can be as simple and as creative as you want them to be.

Food gifts can be as simple and as creative as you want them to be.

10 cups Bartlett pears, peeled, chopped

1/4 c. lemon juice

1 tbsp. lemon zest

2 inches ginger, peeled and minced

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 box powdered light fruit pectin

1/4 c. crystallized ginger, minced

In a large saucepan, place fruit and lemon juice over high heat. Stir in light fruit pectin and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a full boil over high heat and add remaining sugar. Bring back to a full, rolling boil and stir constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off any foam. Ladle into hot, 8 (8 ounce) jars, sterilized jars and seal at once.

Fig and Hazelnut Jam

4 tablespoons brandy

1/2-cup water

1-cup sugar

12 dried figs, halved (or 20 fresh figs, halved)

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

In a medium saucepan combine water and sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves about 5 minutes. Add the brandy. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the figs and hazelnuts until well mixed. Add the brandy sugar mixture and plus until wall combined. Spoon into jars, and let cool.  Cover and refrigerate.

Homemade Pub Mustard

1-cup Colman’s Mustard Powder

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 cup white wine

3 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

6 egg yolks

In the top of a double broiler whisk together mustard, white wine, vinegar, white wine, salt and sugar. Let set for 3 hours. Place pan over the bottom ½ way full of boiling water. Whisk for two minutes. Add the yolks two at a time whisking constantly. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes really thick. Spoon into glass jars and let cool. Cover and refrigerate.

Apple Butter

7 pounds Granny Smith or Gravenstein Apples

1-cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

1 cup Sugar


2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon ground cloves

1/2-teaspoon allspice

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Wide 8-quart Stainless steel pan

Straining sieve

A large (8 cup) measuring cup pourer

6-8 8-ounce canning jars

Cut the apples into quarters, without peeling or coring them (much of the pectin is in the cores and flavor in the peels), cut out damaged parts. Put them into large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Measure out the purée and add the sugar and spices Ladle apple mixture into a sieve and using a pestle force pulp from the sieve into a large bowl below. Measure resulting puree. Add 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Cook uncovered in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth when a bit is spooned onto a cold plate and allowed to cool for 2 hours. To sterilize jars run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher.  Pour apple butter into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Wipe down and seal. Makes 3 pints.

Pear Brandy

1-pound pears (find sweet and juicy ripe pears)

3 apples

3 cups brandy

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon ginger

1-teaspoon nutmeg

3 cloves

1-cup simple syrup

Slice pears and apples ad mix with brandy and spices. Stir gently and let steep in a cool dry place for 3 weeks. Strain and filter. The purpose of these two steps is that you get the cleanest finish. So you can strain by using a regular strainer lined with cheesecloth. Filter by putting a coffee filter in a funnel and pour brandy through it. Let steep for 3 more weeks and strain and filter one more time. Pour into bottles and it is ready to give away.

Simple syrup

1-cup sugar

1 /2 cup water

In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the sugar completely dissolves. Remember that if you do not let it cool completely the heat will evaporate the alcohol.

Kenneally’s Irish Cream

6 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 cup chocolate syrup

2 cans (14 ounce each) condensed milk

4 cups Irish whiskey

In batches combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Let stand for a month in the refrigerator. Pour into bottles as gifts

Kuhluaha Ha

This coffee liqueur is sweeter than the commercial brand, but is amazing in coffee with real whipped cream!

2 cups water

1-cup instant coffee

4 cups sugar

3 cups brandy

3 cups vodka

1 vanilla bean

10 coffee beans

In a large saucepan combine water, sugar and coffee over medium heat and bring to a full boil. Skim off the foam and let cool completely. Add vodka, brandy coffee and vanilla beans. Steep in a cool dark place for 1 month. Strain and filter. Ready to bottle and give away.


Ginger Scones

By far my most requested scone. At the end of the recipe I’ll give you variations, but be creative! I also like to make mini scones and package a combination of flavors together with a homemade jam!

2 1/4 cups flour

1/3-cup sugar

1-tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into fine pieces and frozen*

1 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

1-cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix on low. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inches thick. Using a three-inch cookie cutter (or smaller if doing minis) cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream. Bake in a pre heated 400-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are pale browned. Let cool on a rack

Note* If you take your butter and grate it with the large wholes of a cheese grater before freezing, you will get the butter more evenly distributed. This works really well with pies as well


Replace the ginger and the lemon zest with:

Cranberry orange scones- juice of one small orange, 2 teaspoons orange zest and one cup dried cranberries.

Rosemary garlic scones- 5 cloves garlic chopped fine and sauté until golden. Add with the flour with 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary.

Chocolate chip scones-add with the flour one and a half cups mini chocolate chips.

Zucchini-Nut Bread

1-cup vegetable oil

1-cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

3 cups flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1-cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325Oil 2 5 x 9 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after every addition. Stir in the vanilla and zucchini. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the oil and the egg mixture until just moistened. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pans.

Bake for about one hour, until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Strawberry Bread

4 cups flour

2-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

2-teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

3 eggs

3 cups fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

3/4-cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 loaf pans with Baker’s Joy. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Gently stir in the strawberries using a wooden spoon. Stir in one third of flour. Add 1/4-cup sour cream. Repeat twice mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter into the two loaf pans. Smooth the top. Bake for one hour until a toothpick inserted in to the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool for 1/2 hour in pan and then remove and complete cooling on racks.

Lemon Rosemary Pound cake

1-cup butter

2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped

3 teaspoons lemon zest

4 eggs

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup lemon juice

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, zest, and rosemary and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla. On low speed add flour baking powder and salt until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1-cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

3 cups pumpkin, cooked and purred

Or 1 16-ounce can.

3 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon ground cloves

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon ground ginger

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon baking powder


4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons pepites or roasted pumpkin seeds

1-teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Whisk flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Mix the topping ingredients together. Sprinkle over loaves. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Eggnog Bread

2 eggs, beaten

1-cup eggnog

2-table spoons rum extract

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1stick butter, softened

2 ¼ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan. Whisk together the eggs, eggnog, rum and vanilla extracts sugar, vanilla and butter. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add to the eggnog mixture and stir until just moisten and pour into prepared pan. Bake bread for 50 – 60 minutes until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Cool completely.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.