If you're like I am, there's always people you'd like to give a little token of friendship to at Christmas, but money is tight, so here's some little gifts that are quick to make and don't break the budget.
Combine 2 cups of sugar with 1/4 C. of coconut oil and if you want, 1/2 tsp. of your favorite essence oil. Put into a pretty jar that you have either saved throughout the year or one like this little apothecary one that I purchased at the dollar store. Tie it with a ribbon and a label telling what it is. These cute little chalkboard labels are from Dollar General. (I couldn't find any chalk to write with). This is used for hands and body, but for a nice foot scrub use oil of peppermint, it's invigorating.
1 egg white
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. nuts of your choice
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease it.
Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, then add the water and vanilla and beat again. Add the nuts and coat them with the egg whites.
In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix into the nuts. Spread the nuts onto your jelly roll pan and bake at 250 degrees, turning every 15 minutes for an hour or until the nuts feel dry. You can experiment by using different extracts in place of the vanilla and by omitting the cinnamon. Maple extract would be good with pecans and so would butter and rum extract.
I put mine in those little goodie bags that you can find at dollar stores and tie them with a piece of jute or raffia and tuck a piece of greenery in. Another idea would be to put some in a cute Christmas mug.
You don't have to bake dozens upon dozens of cookies, just a small amount, say half a dozen, makes a sweet gift if they are presented in a cute little box or tin. Use those adorable mini cupcake papers to hold each cookie and fill the box with plain white tissue paper. I like to keep these on hands for unexpected guests. Here's my new go-to Christmas cookie recipe, it's so versatile:
Simple Butter Cookies
1 C. butter
1/2 C. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. butter extract
1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 C. cornstarch
Cream butter and sugar together. Stir in extract. Stir in remaining ingredients. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool. Frost with:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. milk or cream
1 1/2 C. confectioners' sugar.
Beat together until smooth
By changing the extract and the flavor of the frosting you can make several different types of cookies from this recipe. I made eggnog cookies by using rum extract and adding a pinch of nutmeg. I rolled these in confectioners' sugar while they were warm rather than frosting them. Peppermint extract and peppermint frosting is dandy too. Or maybe maple and brown sugar frosting.
Old-fashioned fudge is another perennial favorite, a little goes a long way, presented in the same way as the cookies. BTW, if any of you are unmarried this is fantastic boy bait! Ha!
I packaged the coffee cake soaps that I wrote about in November in little cellophane bags and tied them with some Alpine-type ribbon trim. Make sure you label them as soap! There's still time to make some and have them cured if you start today.