Gifts given from the heart and from the kitchen are always so appreciated, especially during the holiday season. They don’t have to be particularly complicated, unhealthy, or costly either. DIY gifts are good fun to make, and I don’t know about you, but they really help to put me in a festive frame of mind!
Spoiler Alert: Two of this year’s actual gifts from Sam and me are listed below!
Just trace around a snap lid onto the wrong side of some wrapping paper with a pencil (such a great way to use up scraps), and then cut out the shape with a sharp pair of scissors. Both the circle of wrapping paper and the snap lid will be held in place by the ring – no glue or tape required. Finish off your jar with an instruction tag (see photo below), an expiry date sticker, and a nice length of ribbon (or decorative string) for a pretty and practical gift!
The first homemade item we are gifting this Christmas is a dry Ranch Seasoning Mix — which can later be made into either salad dressing or dip by the recipient. The dry mix lasts for 3 months in the fridge and honestly tastes awesome!
Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix
1/3 cup dry buttermilk
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until blended. If you want a more finely-ground seasoning mix, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor until it reaches your desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
3 tablespoons of this mix = 1 packet of the store-bought stuff
To Make Ranch Dressing:
Combine 1-2 Tbsp. seasoning mix with 1/3 cup mayo and 1/3 cup milk of your choice. Whisk to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container or glass jar for up to 3 days.
To Make Ranch Dip:
Combine 2-3 Tbsp. Seasoning mix with 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Whisk to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container or glass jar for up to 3 days.
A big holiday shout-out and many thanks
to Ali of Gimme Some Oven,
the source of this great edible gift!
Another DIY item we are gifting to friends, co-workers, and loved ones this Christmas is homemade pickles! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to do my usual batch of beet pickles in October (thanks to that whole foot-in-cast thing), but I did decide to try my hand at some Dill Pickles a few weeks ago. The pickle recipe I used is actually a bit of a cheater – which is fabulous when you are totally slammed for time, but still want to produce something homemade! Please note that these pickles are not processed* and that I used a commercially-made Bernardin spice mix – both major time savers! What’s even nicer is that this project can be split over three different days. (I waited for a period of two weeks before even thinking about moving on to Day 3!)
For every 2 litres of pickles (a batch), you will need about 3 1/2 pounds of pickling cucumbers (about 14 small to medium), water, vinegar, Bernardin’s Dill Pickle Mix (I got ours at Canadian Tire, believe it or not), and Mason jars with lids and rings. That’s it — plus a pot, a stove, something to stir with, and a few measuring cups. Bernardin’s recipes for both “Enjoy Now” (refrigerator pickles) and the traditional processed pickles are even right there on the side of the pickle mix container! It’s seriously the easiest pickling experience I have had to date. One batch fills approximately six (250 mL) jars.
Cut 3 trays of mini-cucumbers (per batch) into slices or spears – I went with four spears per cucumber. Put cut cucumbers into a large re-sealable bag, remove most of the air, and close. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
Sterilize** several large Mason jars and their snap lids – I needed 5 large jars for two batches. Follow the recipe on the Bernardin container for Enjoy Now pickles. Again, it is important to note that you will not be processing* the jars. I stored the completed pickles (in their brine) in the large jars at the back of our fridge to deal with on a different day.
Sterilize several 250 mL (Mason) gift jars – they’re usually sold in packages of 8 or 12. Portion out completed pickles and brine (to cover) into gift jars. Again, you will not be processing* these pickles, so they must be stored in the refrigerator.
Enjoy Now pickles are good for up to three months – if they last that long!
*processing – refers to boiling contents in a canning jar (Mason jar) in order to create a heat seal which will preserve the contents for the minimum of a year at room temperature.
**sterilize – refers to either boiling your jars and snap lids in a large pot of water, or running them through the dishwasher on the hottest wash/dry cycle.