Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun Food Gifts

If you haven't noticed, I like to give food gifts. It seems to me that almost everyone likes good food, and it's fun for me to give them things that they might not have on a regular basis. I've not had any complaints yet...

I made these a few years ago. They were soooo good, they make store bought caramels hang their heads in shame! Wrap each caramel in a little piece of wax paper and pile them into a painted clay flowerpot...just use some craft paint and a few stencils or rubber stamps to jazz up a terra cotta pot and saucer, pile in these caramels and wrap the whole thing in cellophane or tulle...tie a big foofie bow on top and VIOLA! A Fun Food Gift!

Ooey-Gooey Homemade Caramels

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. margarine
3 c. brown sugar, packed
2 c. corn syrup
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Combine first 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage or 234-243 degrees on a candy thermometer (I highly recommend investing in one of these..they are inexpensive and very, very handy to have!). Stir in vanilla and heat for 2-3 additional minutes. Pour mixture into a buttered jelly roll pan and let set. Cut into one-inch squares; wrap each in wax paper. Makes 4-5 dozen.

Biscotti is a traditional Italian cookie...known for it's crispness and yumminess! They are just right for dunking into a cup of coffee or tea...don't tell me you don't dunk. Seriously..if you don't dunk, don't tell me. I think it's wrong not to, and I don't want to think badly of you!

This is nice to give with a baking sheet and holiday pot holders, as suggested by Ellie Brandel of Clackamas, OR, who contributed this recipe to Gooseberry Patch for their Merry Christmas cookbook!

Christmas Biscotti Mix

3/4 c. dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 c. shelled green pistachios
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. cardamom
2 t. baking powder
*2/3 c. vanilla sugar

Layer all ingredients in a one-quart wide-mouth canning jar, packing down tightly after each addition. Secure lid and attach a gift tag with baking instructions.

Beat 1/3 cup butter in a large mixing bowl on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 2 eggs and beat on medium until well combined. Stir in jar mix until well blended. Form dough into two 9"x12" loaves on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes; cool on sheet for one hour. Cut each loaf into slices 1/2 inch thick. Arrange slices on baking sheets and bake at 325 degrees for 8 minutes; turn each over and bake 8-10 minutes or until dry and crisp. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2-3 dozen.

*Vanilla sugar is easy to make, and makes a great Fun Food Gift all on it's own. Just pour 4 cups sugar into a one-quart jar. Slice one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and add both halves to the sugar. Secure jar lid and allow to sit for 2-3 weeks. Makes 4 cups.

For giving vanilla sugar: Pour desired amount into a pretty crystal sugar bowl, picked up at a flea market or yard sale for a song; place the sugar bowl in the center of a square of tulle, pull the corners up and tie a bow with a satin ribbon. Pretty and elegant. For a more casual gift, or to include in a basket or bag with other Fun Food Gifts, pour the sugar into an old fashioned sugar shaker jar. Wal-Mart carries them for a couple of bucks. Fun!!

And, for a Really Fun Food Gift, how about

Rudolph's Popcorn Balls

12-14 quarts of popped popcorn
1/2 c. butter
16 oz. bag mini marshmallows
red food coloring

Place popcorn in a large roaster pan; set aside. Melt butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in red food coloring to desired shade. Pour mixture over popcorn, stir well. Coat hands with butter and shape mixture into softball sized balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Makes 4-5 dozen.

For giving, pile popcorn balls into a basket and give the whole batch to a family with a bunch of kids...make sure they have a good dental policy first!

You could use any color of food coloring for these, of course...can't you just see a big bowl of orange popcorn balls at a Halloween party? Or how about a basket of pastel colored ones on an Easter dessert buffet? Cute, yes?

Remember, everything you do to prepare for Christmas in July is one less thing you have to do in December!

Merry, Merry!


  1. I love caramels and biscotti, but would have never thought of making my own. Thanks to you I have some new things to tryout on my family and then wow my friends with a new surprise.

  2. Everything sounds wonderful. I started my cards, stop by if you have the time to peek.

    Enjoy your weekend!


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About Me

I love to cook, decorate, entertain and plan the holidays. I'm wife to one handsome man and mom to three handsome boys, I love God, my family and my country. I'm the one at the small town parade waving the American flag!! Almost all the holidays are celebrated at our house, and we like it that way!!