Feel like getting a little crafty in the kitchen this holiday season? Consider creating some gifts from the kitchen for a few of the folks on your list.

Here are our favorite – and easy! – gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.homemade caramels 300x225 Gift ideas straight from the kitchen

Sea Salt Caramels

Makes 8 dozen

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Oil

Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Oil lightly.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the sugar, evaporated milk and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add the corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Add the butter and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool at least 1 hour.

Invert onto a cutting board covered with parchment paper. Cut the slab into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and twist the ends to secure) Store airtight at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator. Caramels will keep up to 3 weeks.

Lemon Olive Oil

Makes 2 cups

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium saucepan, heat the zest and the olive oil over low heat until the zest begins to sizzle. Be sure it stays less than 220 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat. When the zest stopped sizzling, cover the pan with its lid and let sit at room temperature for 48 hours. Strain oil into clean bottles.

Vegetable Soup Mix

Makes 1 jar

1/4 cup red lentils
1/4 cup split yellow peas
1/4 cup whole grain barley (not pearl)
1/3 cup beef bouillon mixture
3 tablespoons onion flakes
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dried small pasta

In a two-cup jar, layer the ingredients in the order listed. Seal the jar.

Include these instructions:

In a large saucepan, combine 8 cups of water, a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, and the soup mix. Add 2 chopped and peeled carrots, 4 chopped potatoes, and 2 cups chopped green cabbage. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Let simmer at least one hour until the peas, lentils, and barley are tender.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Raisin Cookies in a Jar

Makes 1 batch of cookies

1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Layer the ingredients in a glass jar, pressing each layer firmly in place before topping with the next.

Include these instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease two baking sheets with oil or line with parchment paper.

Melt 1/2 cup butter or nondairy margarine. Whisk in 1 egg or egg replacer and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Add the entire jar to the melted butter mixture, mixing until combined. The mixture will be very stiff.

Shape the mixture into small balls, and place each one two-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool directly on the pan for 5 to 7 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

Peanut Caramel Corn

300 grams plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (or try agave nectar or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, margarine, or nondairy margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the popcorn in two shallow, well-greased baking pans. Mix in the peanuts.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, margarine, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to mix well. Once it is boiling, boil for 5 more minutes while stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will look foamy. Immediately pour it over the popcorn in the pans. Stir to coat.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Line the counter top with waxed paper. Scrape the popcorn mixture out onto the waxed paper and separate into pieces. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container or resealable bags.


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