Quick and Easy Recipes for Gifts

I love to bake at the holidays. Here are a few of my tried and true recipes that anyone can do. They make great gifts for neighbors, teachers and friends.  Make a batch to give away and maybe another batch for your own family and to share with guests.

Gifts from the Kitchen that anyone can make. Teachers love the toffee!!!

Gifts from the Kitchen that anyone can make. Teachers love the toffee!!!

Almond Butter Toffee

Toffee is a family favorite. I usually make 3 – 4 batches for the holiday season, depending on how much the kids want to give to teachers and friends. The original recipe is from Necessities and Temptations  cookbook by the Junior League of Austin.

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 (12 –ounce) package of chocolate chips – we all seem to prefer milk chocolate with the flavor of the toffee.
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Melt the butter in a pan and add the sugar. Raise heat, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles around the edge. Add cream of tartar and almonds. Stir constantly. Sometimes during the cooking, the butter boils out, keep stirring, it will all come together. Continue stirring until the mixture is a caramel color. Do not let it burn. It will start to smoke just before it burns. Carefully pour into two buttered cookie sheets (that are sitting on hot pads or towels). Use a spatula to spread thin. Pour chocolate chips on top of the toffee and as they melt, spread the chocolate chips across the top of the toffee. Sprinkle with the pecans. Refrigerate until hard. Break in to pieces. I like to serve the toffee in bags tied with ribbons or decorative canisters.

Spicy Pecans

These are delicious and while they are a great gift on their own, if I have extras, I toss them in to a batch of homemade Chex Mix. The recipe is from The Pirate’s House Cook Book, Savannah, Georgia.

  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash of Tabasco

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter and stir in all ingredients except the pecans. Mix well. Add pecans toss until coated. Place in a singer layer in a jellyroll pan. Toast in the oven, stirring frequently for 15-20 minutes or until brown. Watch carefully that the nuts do not burn. The pecans will crisp up as they cool.

Maple Walnut Granola

This granola recipe is based on the granola recipes in The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook Food to Live By by Myra Goodman with Linda Holland and Pamela McKinstry. I’ve combined and adjusted the original granola recipes based on my kids preferences. The one below contains my alterations.

  • 4 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the oats, nuts, seeds and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Place the oil, syrup and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well. Spread the mixture in a baking sheet with a rim or a roasting pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Stir every 4 to 5 minutes thereafter for about another 15 minutes or until golden. The original recipe says it will bake another 30 minutes after the initial 25, but my granola gets too dark in that amount of time, so I’ve shortened it. Let the granola cool and store in in an airtight container for up to 1 month. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

I like to add chia seeds, coconut flakes and occasionally dried fruit to my granola once it has cooled.

Happy Gifting!