I think people love getting homemade gifts from the kitchen. These treats let someone know you’ve taken extra time to create something special just for them. Over the years I’ve shared a number of recipes that are perfect for creating holiday gifts. Some of my past favorites and listed below. But, this year, I’m also adding bacon bourbon banana bread mini loaves and peanut brittle. The latter is an adaptation of one of my aunt’s recipes. It’s a simple recipe with only a few ingredients, but the brittle turns out great. You can even substitute cashews for the peanuts for a tasty variation. For packaging of your homemade goodies, there are a number of craft and housewares stores that feature an assortment of colorful holiday food containers. So, once you’ve created your treats, you can easily pack them up in festive containers.
Bacon Bourbon Banana Bread
makes 4 or 5 mini loaves
2 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cu Brown Sugar
1/2 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 cu Butter
3 lg Eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cu Sour Cream
2 tbl Molasses
2 tbl Bourbon
3 Ripe Bananas, smashed
6 Slices Bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
4 or 5 mini loaf pans, depending on how high you want the loaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Gradually mix in eggs, one at at time. Add sour cream, molasses and bourbon. Add flour mixture, in small batches, until fully incorporated. Add bananas and bacon. Transfer batter to loaf pans, filling each about 2/3 full. This recipe will make 4 loaves with rather high domes or 5 loaves that will be a bit smaller. Place pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Peanut or Cashew Brittle
adapted from my Aunt Minerva’s recipe
1 cu Granulated Sugar
1/4 cu Water
1/2 cu Light Corn Syrup
1 1/2 cu Peanuts (or Cashews), not dry roasted
2 tbl Butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda
Small baking pan, with sides, 9“ x 12“ in size
Rubber Spatula, buttered on both sides
Pre-measure all ingredients and have them all ready before you start. Line the bottom and two sides of the baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Pour sugar, water and corn syrup into a medium to large saucepan over high heat. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan with the tip submerged into the sugar mixture but not touching the bottom of the pan. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves and starts to bubble. Add nuts and stir regularly so that mixture heats evenly. Once thermometer reaches 300 degrees F, remove pan from the heat and immediately stir in butter and vanilla. Quickly stir in baking soda. Mixture will foam a bit, but will soon begin to harden as well. Moving quickly but carefully, pour mixture into sheet pan and immediately spread it as thinly as possible with the buttered spatula. Push it all the way into the corners. Let brittle harden for at least 1 hour and then break it into small pieces and enjoy.
Mama Fannie's Holiday Sand Tarts
wedding cookies way my grandmother made them
2 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of salt
1 cu Pecans Pieces
1 cu Unsalted Butter (2 sticks) plus 2 tbsp, softened
1 cu Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Additional Powdered sugar for coating cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and pecans. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, blend butter with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually mix in powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in small amounts until combined. If dough is too soft to roll in your hands, refrigerate for an hour before using. Spoon one half tablespoon of dough onto a work surface. Roll dough into a small ball and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for about 12 minutes until cookies just start to brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
These cookies are very delicate right out of the oven and can break if you handle them too soon. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for about 5 to 10 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack. Once cookies are completely cooled, drop them in more powdered sugar to fully coat. Shake off excess and serve. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container. Another option to just coating the cookies in powdered sugar is to add a bit of cocoa to the mix (about 1/4 cocoa to 3/4 powdered sugar).
Red Hot Popcorn
couresy of Ann Cook
3 bags Natural Microwave Popcorn, 3.5oz size, popped with all the "old maids" picked out
1 1/2 sticks Butter or Margarine
1/2 cu Karo Corn Syrup
9.5 oz bag Red Hots Candies
Melt butter, corn syrup and red hots on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile put popped popcorn into a large greased roasting pan (I use one of those disposable turkey pans). Pour syrup over the popcorn and stir. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes. When done, pour onto wax paper to cool. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container or bag.
Grilling Spices and BBQ Sauce
from a previous segment