gifts from your kitchen

I love sharing homemade things at Christmas — especially those that come from my kitchen. I like the things that are unique, so here are a few of my faves for friends, to hare with you, my readers!

spanish almonds

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound blanched whole almonds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, toss oil, almonds, sage and rosemary. Spread almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper if desired. Roast almonds for about 6 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with cocktails. Store in airtight container.

sweet & hot pecans

  • 2 to 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • 1 pound pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine the salt, cayenne and sugar; set aside. In mixing bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Add hot pepper sauce, then add pecans. Mix well. Pour sugar mixture over and mix to coat. Spread in large baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning pecans occasionally, until pecans are lightly browned.

Makes about 3-1/4 cups.

mango chili vinegar

I love this vinegar in vinaigrette, especially over a salad with sharp cheese. And, a great addition to marinades.

  • 1 large ripe mango
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 cup white wine or Champagne vinegar

Purée mango, sugar and salt in blender. Add vinegar, taste for balance. Strain through a fine sieve. Store in a clean jar or bottle and refrigerate. Makes about 1 cup. This vinegar will keep about 2 weeks.

rosemary citrus salt

Great to sprinkle over veggies, a salad, or top foccaccia before baking!

  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • zest of one to two lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Place about 2 tablespoons of the salt, the rosemary and the zest in food processor with the metal blade. Process until the rosemary is finely chopped. Stir into the remaining salt, and add the pepper flakes if desired. Makes about 1 cup salt. Store in an airtight container.

shimmering sugar scrub

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • oil from one large vitamin E capsule
  • 1 or 2 drops of lavender or orange essential oil
  • 1 16-ounce glass container with lid

 Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Using a spatula, transfer the mix into the container and secure lid. Tie it all up with a pretty holiday ribbon!

then add a tag:

To use: Contents will settle; shake well before using. Scoop a teaspoon or two of the scrub into your hands and gently massage in circular motions onto your skin. Leave on for 3 to 4 minutes; the scrub will tighten on your skin. Thoroughly rinse off the sugar scrub with water.

A note of caution if you lose this scrub in the bathtub: because of the oils in the sugar scrub, your tub may become slippery!

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