Gifts of good cheer: Christmas giving, from your kitchen to theirs

November 28, 2012 10:21:11 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


As the days inch closer to Christmas each December, my husband and I know we're going to hear a knock on the door one evening. It will be a neighboring family, from down the road. They'll bring us gifts of Christmas carols and a delicious assortment of homemade goodies from their kitchen. It's one of the most heart-warming gestures we experience during the holidays. And for that family that has made it a tradition through all the formative years of their children's lives, the bond of baking together, singing together, giving together is surely something those sons and daughters will remember forever.  


Perhaps this is the year to give a gift from your kitchen, a gift wrapped in your own time and effort. On the practical side, homemade goodies can help stretch the budget for families with multiple teachers, co-workers or neighbors they'd like to remember. And something made with your own hands conveys a personal wish for holiday cheer. 


Homemade specialties can range from chocolate-coated candies to cheesy snacks, from homemade salsa to elegant toffees. How you say "Merry Christmas" from your kitchen is up to you. 


Today, we share several recipes from contributors to "Country Woman," a holiday guide of food, decorations and crafts. They include a tongue-tingling, crimson jalapeno cranberry chutney that makes a great appetizer, or can be served as a condiment with turkey or chicken. There's also a mouth-watering recipe for moist mini-loaves dotted with raspberries and pecans.  


For snack fans on your list, cheesy coated pretzels flavored with garlic powder, oregano and cayenne make a welcome gift. There's also a recipe for spiced tea mix.  


Visit any dollar-type store for inexpensive containers to package your homemade treats in. Add a festive ribbon or raffia, and you've got a counter full of holiday happies ready to go. You might even consider delivering them with a knock on the door and a few Christmas carols. 






Makes 6 loaves 




2 cups all-purpose flour 


1/2 cup sugar 


2 teaspoons baking powder 


1/2 teaspoon salt 


1/4 teaspoon baking soda 


2 eggs 


1/2 cup vanilla yogurt 


1/3 cup orange juice 


1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 


1/4 cup vegetable oil 


1/2 teaspoon orange extract 


1 cup chopped pecans, toasted 


1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 




For the glaze: 


1 cup confectioners' sugar 


4 to 5 teaspoons orange juice 




  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  


  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, orange juice, applesauce, oil and extract. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in pecans and raspberries. 


  • Transfer to six greased 4 1/2-by-2 1/2-by 1 1/2-inch loaf pans. 


  • Bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  


  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. 


  • For glaze, combine confectioners' sugar and enough orange juice to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over loaves. 


    Note: If using frozen raspberries, do not thaw before adding to batter. 


    (Source: Kathleen Showalter, Shoreline, Wash.) 






    Makes 4 pints 




    2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar 


    1 1/2 cups water 


    1/2 cup white vinegar 


    3/4 teaspoon curry powder 


    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 


    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 


    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 


    2 medium navel oranges 


    2 medium lemons 


    1 medium tart apple, peeled and chopped  


    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 


    6 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, divided 


    1/2 cup golden raisins 


    1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped 


    1/2 cup chopped walnuts 




  • In a large saucepan combine the first eight ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Grate the peel from the oranges and lemons; add to sugar mixture. Peel off and discard pith from oranges and lemons: chop pulp and add to sugar mixture. 


  • Stir in apple and jalapeno. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. 


  • Add 3 cups cranberries, raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cranberries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 15 minutes longer.  


  • Stir in walnuts. Serve warm or chilled. Pour into refrigerator or freezer containers. Refrigerate for up to three weeks or free for up to 12 months. 


    (Source: Country Woman Test Kitchen) 






    Makes 10 cups 




    2 jars (21.1 ounces each) orange breakfast drink mix 


    1 cup sugar 


    1 envelope (5 ounces) sweetened lemonade drink mix 


    1 jar (3 ounces) unsweetened instant tea 


    2 1/4 cups red-hot candies 


    2 teaspoons each ground allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg 




  • In an airtight container, combine all ingredients. Store in a cool, dry place up to six months. 


  • To prepare tea, dissolve four teaspoons mix in 1 cup coiling water; stir well. 


    (Source: Deanie Milligan, Carrollton, Texas) 








    Makes about 2 1/2 dozen 




    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 


    1 teaspoon garlic powder 


    1 teaspoon dried oregano 


    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 


    6 tablespoons butter 


    1/4 cup olive oil 


    1 package (10 ounces) pretzel rods 




  • In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne; set aside. 


  • In a small saucepan, heat butter and oil until butter is melted. Coat two-thirds of each pretzel rod with butter mixture, then roll in cheese mixture. Reheat butter mixture if needed. 


  • Place in an ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Cool. Store in an airtight container. 


    (Source: Cindy Winter-Hartley, Cary, North Carolina)

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.