Everyone I know seems so stressed this holiday season, complaining that none of the tasks that this time of year brings are done. I am more or less on top of it: cookies baked, cards mailed, presents (mostly) bought. But with a move planned just three days after Christmas, I am run ragged and I know that I must have forgotten something or someone on my list.
(Photo: Meadowbrook Farm)
Nothing is worse than having to scramble for a last-minute gift. So before you grab that bottle of wine from your shelf or think about re-gifting the box of chocolates you received last week, here is my present to you: simple recipes that take only a few ingredients and require minimal prep time but produce spectacular results.
(Photo: Savory Sweet Life)
Peppermint bark is a holiday favourite and you can make it in less time than it takes to drive to the mall to buy a tin. There are several recipes for this but the best one I have tried comes from my old friend Jennifer Hamilton at Sweetspot. I made a batch the other night and wrapped presents while the chocolate layers cooled.
(Photo: Little Birdie Secrets)
You could package it up in a dollar-store tin but I think the bark is so pretty that all it needs is a cellophane bag, some ribbon, and a gift tag like Little Birdie Secrets used for their equally simple Holiday Pretzel Kisses. I also love the idea of molding the bark in cookie cutters, like they did at peas & crayons.
(Photo: peas & crayons)
(Photo: One Charming Party)
One of my other go-to recipes this time of year is Sweet and Spicy Nuts, which beats a tin of Planter’s any day. You can adjust the spices to your taste or based on what you have on hand.
Sweet and Spicy Nuts
2 cups pecans
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the nuts on a foil-lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave.
Mix together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and add butter. Stir to mix.
Add the warm nuts and toss to coat.
Spread the nuts back on the baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and break apart any clusters.
(Photo: Martha Stewart)
A cupful of these nuts wrapped up in a simple paper cone, the instructions for which are available from Martha Stewart, makes the perfect hostess gift!
Everyday items can be upcycled into wonderful packaging for homemade gifts. Jen at A Thousand Words wrapped empty Pringles cans with leftover paper to create a festive container for Christmas cookies. So don’t panic. Take a few minutes to put together these simple sweet and savory treats and you will be all set for a last-minute gift.
(Photo: A Thousand Words)
And if it turns out you don’t need them, you will have something special to serve family and friends when they come over for the holidays. Or you will have a little treat for yourself for when you finally cross the last thing off your holiday to-do list.