Are you still looking for a simple gift idea? Perhaps you plan to be entertaining and want your house to smell wonderful. Here is a simple recipe for a delightful smelling potpourri. In preparation for this recipe I have been drying orange peels for the last week, our counter has a rather large pile of dried orange peels waiting to be put to use! With our wood stove going they dry out in just a matter of days. I think my husband will be glad that I’m finally going to put them to good use!
Dried orange peels.
In a large bowl mix about 1 cup of dried orange peels, 6-8 cinnamon sticks, 2 Tbsp whole cloves and 2 Tbsp whole allspice. Store the ingredients in an airtight container or if you are planning on giving it away, place it in a colorful holiday plastic bag.
Buy your cinnamon sticks in bulk.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Be sure to include a tag with instructions: Simmer one tablespoon potpourri plus 1/2 cup water in a small pot or potpourri warmer. I found a very small crock pot at a yard sale that is perfect for simmering the ingredients. As the water heats your house will be filled with the smell of the holidays.
Funny the things you grow up with and the things you don’t. In my house growing up I don’t ever remember my mother making any sort of Chex Mix at Christmas, she made other things such as delicious Christmas cookies which we loved to decorate. In the collection of recipes my mother-in-law gave me when I was to be married was a recipe for “Snax Mix” which I think I have made every year since I received it! It is so much a tradition in our family that my daughter says it isn’t Christmas without the Snax Mix! I usually make several batches and give them away to friends and neighbors.
One of the containers I use to package up this Snax Mix is coffee cans. I collect them over the year and even have my mom saving them for me. I wrap a piece of wrapping paper around the can, put a bow on the top and it’s an instant Christmassy package. Very easy and very inexpensive!
Coffee cans transformed!
Wrapping paper can transform an ordinary coffee can.
Here is the recipe for Snax Mix. I’ve changed it ever so slightly to add more cereal, I figure adding more cereal without increasing the butter mix means it’s less fattening!
Cereals are placed in a large roasting pan.
All ingredients combined.
½ lb butter (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp garlic salt
4 cups popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped popcorn)
2 cups unsalted nuts
4 cups cheerios
3 cups rice chex
3 cups corn chex
2 cups wheat chex
2 cups bite size-shredded wheat
Mini bagel chips (optional)
Melt butter over low heat and add Worcestershire, celery salt, onion salt and garlic salt. Stir until combined. Place the popcorn, nuts, cereals, pretzels and mini bagel chips in a large roasting pan and pour the butter mix over; stir to make sure everything is coated. Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees, stirring every so often. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. I insert a plastic bag in the cleaned coffee can and then fill with the snax mix.
Candied nuts make a great DIY gift, are a delicious, portable snack and are wonderful on salads! Here are a few recipes for a no-fail method for a crunchy, toothsome treat but secretly cost you only minutes in the kitchen! If you have a membership to a food club like Costco or BJ’s I would suggest stocking up on a large bag of nuts. My favorites are peanuts or pecans. Almonds and cashews also work well. You can make spiced nuts or sweetened nuts depending on whether you are using cinnamon and sugar or other spices such as cayenne pepper and garlic salt. Try a few this holiday season, make them to enjoy as a family or give away as gifts! Friday I will be giving you another recipe using candied nuts, a delicious pear and blue cheese salad!
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water
1 pound of pecans or walnut halves or pieces
⅓ – ½ cup sweetened (I used ⅓ cup maple syrup)
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg white together with water until it becomes stiff and fluffy. Fold in sweetener, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Add pecans and toss to coat. Spread out on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, rotating every 15 minutes.
4 cups roasted cashews
¼ cup butter
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ Tbsp. cayenne pepper
½ Tbsp. garlic salt
½ Tbsp. red pepper (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Set nuts aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the remaining ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the nuts and butter mixture. Toss until the nuts are thoroughly coated. Spread the nuts onto the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Serve warm or let cool and store in an airtight container.
4 cups peanuts
2 Tbsp. butter
⅓ cup honey
½ tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. salt
⅓ cup superfine or baking sugar
Preheat an oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the honey, vanilla and 1 tsp. salt and stir until combined. In a large bowl, combine the nuts and honey-butter mixture. Toss thoroughly to coat the nuts. Spread the nuts onto the baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes or until browned, stirring every 5 minutes.
Remove the nuts from the oven and stir and sprinkle generously and evenly with the sugar and remaining salt, shaking pan as you go to coat the nuts completely. Let cool, then stir once more, breaking up any large chunks. Store in an airtight container.
This time of year I am always trying to think of things I can make to give as presents. One idea is a good homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix. This can be made up and placed into a jar. Include a recipe for salad dressing and for a marinade and the gift recipient will have two ways to enjoy your gift! Here is my homemade alternative to packaged store-bought Italian dressing mixes, it makes about 2/3 cup:
1 ½ Tbsp dried oregano
1 ½ Tbsp dried basil
1 ½ Tbsp garlic salt
1 ½ Tbsp onion powder
1 ½ Tbsp salt
¾ Tbsp paprika
¾ Tbsp dried dillweed
¾ Tbsp dried rosemary
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Combine all herbs and spices thoroughly.
To make an Italian salad dressing, combine 1 ½ Tbsp of the herb mix with ¼ cup vinegar, 2 ½ Tbsp water, and ¾ cup oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well. Let stand for at least one hour to blend flavors.
To make a marinade, combine 1 ½ Tbsp of the herb mix with ½ cup red wine, 2 tsp thyme, ½ pound sliced fresh mushrooms and l large onion, sliced. Delicious on steak!
Making your own laundry detergent is one way to save money on an ongoing basis. The recipe basically uses three items: a soap of some sort, washing soda and borax.
The most typical type of soap used is Fels Naptha. This is an old fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle. You can also use Ivory.
Washing soda is not to be confused with baking soda; they are not the same thing! It is a white powder and its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors. The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. You can usually find it in the laundry section at the grocery store.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, used as a whitener and deodorizer. The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team, this should also be found in the laundry section. That’s it! Mixed with water you can make a liquid laundry detergent or don’t add water and just have a powder form, whatever your preference. The recipe I used also called for baking soda, which is also used as a deodorizer.
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap, shaved
4 cups of hot water to melt the soap
3 gallons of hot water
1 cup of borax
2 cups of washing soda
1 cup of baking soda
1 large container about 4-5 gallons size
Here’s what you do: Grate the soap into a saucepan. Add 4 cups of hot water to the pan. Simmer on low until the soap melts completely into the water. Add borax, washing soda and baking soda to the hot water. Simmer on low until it dissolves with the soap. If the mixture is not melting, add more water if needed. Add 3 gallons of hot water to your large container. I used a large 5-gallon bucket. Add the mixture to the hot water. Mix with a large spoon until it completely dissolves, let cool overnight. You will notice that it turns into a thick gel.
I do have an HE washing machine so after reading numerous recommendations I will only use a small amount. This is a low sudsing detergent and should work fine! Due to the gel like consistency I read that the mixture should be stirred well each time before using. I will fill a large Mason jar or old laundry detergent bottle with 1/2 – 3/4 of the liquid mixture and the rest with water. I will shake it really well before each use and should not have any problems with my HE washer doing it this way. It smells wonderful!