It is that time of year again, when we start getting all of our goodies together to fill our Christmas baskets. The months of October and November, are filled with
sewing, and this year,
crocheting. I’m not sure where this year has gone, but the closer we get to the holidays, the faster it is going!
(and since it has taken me so long to finish this post, it is REALLY going fast now)!
Last year, I decided to start adding a blog post to include the contents and recipes of what goes into our Christmas Baskets each year. While some goodies will stay the same (certain items seem to get special requests each year), we try to change a few items up, to keep it interesting 🙂 .
For the recipes that have stayed the same, I will include the link to the post where the recipe can be found. New recipes will be included in this post!
Along with some of the goodies, we also like to change the basket each year. This year, we visited a lot of Farmer Markets to get local fruits and veggies to include in our recipes.
Keeping with the Farmer Market theme, we decided to go with canvas market tote bags. This not only provides a “basket” for packing all of the goodies, it is useful afterwards – who can’t use a canvas tote?! They are super handy for use as a reusable shopping bag, a book bag, carrying beach items, storing items in your car, and lets not forget – use it for shopping at your local Farmer Market! The uses are endless!
The bags themselves, can hold about 50 pounds. We reinforced the bottoms and sides (easily removable) to accommodate all of the jars without collapsing in on itself.
As in years past, the basket contents are mostly all shippable. We do ship out about as many as we hand out, and for any recipe that does not ship so well, I will include a notation with the recipe.
This years baskets include the following goodies-
New for 2021 Baskets:
Pickled Watermelon Rind ?
My grandmother was from the south, and I credit her with my love for Pickled Watermelon Rind. Every year, her and my mother would slice, freeze , cook and can these delicious little pickles. This year, they have made their way into our Christmas Baskets!
All Summer Long:
As you eat and enjoy your watermelon throughout the season, don’t throw out your rinds! Instead, slice them into strips. Peel the skin off of the strips. Cut the strips into chunks – about 1 inch square (they do not have to be exact). Lay them out on a cookie sheet, single layer, and freeze. Once they are frozen, you can remove them and place them in a Ziploc freezer bag. Return to freezer. Do this all summer long, and you will have plenty to make pickles with!
The Night Before:
In a crock (a stainless steel pot will work also), place all of the cubed rinds. Add 1 gallon of cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover the crock and let soak overnight.
The Day Of:
Pour the watermelon rind into a large colander and rinse in cold water.
2 Cups Vinegar
7 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Whole Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Tablespoon Ginger
In a large pot, add the vinegar and sugar.
In a cheesecloth bag, add all of the spices. Drop the cheesecloth bag into the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling, add all of the watermelon rind. Cook until the watermelon becomes almost transparent (about 30 minutes).
While the watermelon is cooking, get your canning supplies ready.
Fill the canner with water and bring to a boil.
Sanitize and soak your jars in hot water.
Once your watermelon is ready (you should be able to almost see through the rind), fill the jars.
Wipe your rims and place the lids and bands on.
Place in canner and process for 15 minutes for half pints, 20 minutes for pints.
Carefully remove from canner and let sit until sealed.
Serve chilled. These are a sweet pickle unlike any other pickle! They go great with bar-b-ques and sandwiches, or even straight out of the jar for a snack.
Cinnamon Applesauce ?
Homemade applesauce is a favorite of mine! This year we bought some awesome Honeycrisp Apples at the produce stands. These apples made some of the best applesauce ever!
*This recipe is for a single batch.
6 Large Honeycrisp Apples, peeled, cored and chunked (bigger chunks if you like chunky applesauce, smaller chunks if you prefer smoother applesauce).
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup water
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Mix together well. Over medium low heat, cook applesauce at a low simmer until thickened. This takes about an hour and a half once it starts simmering.
In the meantime, prepare your canning supplies. Fill the canner with water and bring to a boil. Sanitize jars and soak in hot water.
When applesauce is ready, fill the jars. Wipe the rims and place lids and bands on them. Process in the canner for 15 minutes for half pint jars, 20 minutes for pint jars.
Remove from canner, let cool until sealed.
Most people either love, or hate, cranberry relish. While the store bought version is good in a pinch, nothing comes close to homemade! The variations are endless, depending on what you like. I have always added oranges to my cranberry relish – I believe orange and cranberry were just meant to go together!
*This recipe makes a single batch.
1 Bag Fresh Cranberries
1 Large Naval Orange – zested and quartered
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Apple Cider
In a large pot, over medium heat, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cranberries have popped, and the relish has become thickened.
Ladle cranberry relish into prepared hot jars. Wipe the rims, and place lids and bands on jars. Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove from canner and let cool. Lids will pop as they seal.
We were able to get a LOT of really good strawberries this summer at the Farmer Markets. We decided in addition to our Strawberry- Lemonade Jam this year, we would also do a plain Strawberry Jam (though there is nothing plain at all about the taste of this jam)!
*Recipe makes 1 batch
You will need:
4 Cups Strawberries – hulled and quartered
6 Cups Sugar
6 Tablespoons Pectin (or 1 box)
In a large pot, over medium heat, add the strawberries and the pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, and continue to stir. When mixture comes to a rolling boil (the boiling does not stop when stirred), continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Ladle into prepared jars, wipe rims, attach lids and bands. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from canner and let cool. Jars will seal as they cool.
Turtle Pretzel Rods ?
This year, we wanted to do our Turtles a little different. What we ended up with, was a gourmet pretzel that is melt in your mouth delicious! Double dipped in homemade caramel, then twice dipped in dark chocolate, does it even get any better?!
What you will need:
20 Pretzel Rods (We used Snyders – they are nice and sturdy)
1 Bag Ghirardelli Dark Melting Chocolates (you can use Milk Chocolate as well)
*Half Batch Homemade Caramel – Click on the link below for Requests from Christmas Past. Recipe is for Homemade Caramel. Simply halve the recipe, omitting the Sea Salt and Espresso.
Before starting, prepare your pans. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly spray with non stick spray. Lay your pretzels on a separate plate.
Once you have your caramel made, while it is still hot and soft, dip one pretzel into the caramel. Cover the pretzel about 1/3 of the way up. Let excess drip off. Lay pretzel on baking sheet. Repeat with the other 19 pretzels.
When the caramel has cooled on the pretzels, and is firm, re-dip in caramel, repeating the first step.
While pretzels are drying with the caramel, melt your dipping chocolate in a separate bowl, in the microwave. Setting the bowl of melted chocolate inside another bowl of very hot water, will keep your chocolate melted.
Dip one pretzel in the melted chocolate, covering all of the caramel. Let excess chocolate drip off. Lay pretzel on baking sheet. Repeat with the other 19 pretzels.
Once the chocolate has dried on the pretzels, re-dip in chocolate, repeating step 2. (After the 2nd dip, while the chocolate is still wet, you can sprinkle with sprinkles of your choice, if you want to add decoration to it).
Let pretzels dry completely before wrapping or storing.
Chocolate Pretzel Rods
Follow the same instructions for the Turtle Pretzel Rods, omitting the caramel. These are simply dipped twice in chocolate.
Peppermint White Chocolate Pretzel Rods
Following the same instructions as the Chocolate Pretzel Rods, simply use White Chocolate instead of Dark Chocolate. Once you have dipped the pretzel in the white chocolate for the 2nd time, Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Let dry completely.
This year we added a couple of new cookies to the baskets, in addition to a couple that were brought back by request. This years new cookies are White Chocolate Macadamia Nut and a Peppermint Crunch cookie.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut?
These are a melt-in-your-mouth, with just the right amount of crunch, cookie, that is sure to satisfy a sweet craving!
1 Package of White Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli, but you can use any brand of choice)
1 Cup of butter – softened
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup Macadamia Nuts – slightly chopped
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, mix well. Add the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix well after each addition. Stir in nuts and chips.
On a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, drop cookies using a 1/4 measuring cup.
Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies have flattened and are golden brown along the edges.
Cool on cooling rack.
Peppermint Crunch Cookies
A candy cane, in cookie form 🙂
1 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 3/4 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Crushed Candy Canes – Plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
In a mixing bowl, mix together butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, mix until well combined. Beat in Vanilla. Combine all of the dry ingredients, and mix into the butter mixture. Stir in the crushed candies. Shape dough into a roll about 18 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours until dough is firm.
Unwrap dough and slice into 1/4 discs. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle tops with extra crushed candy cane. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or just until edges turn brown.
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool.
Biscotti – 3 ways
Biscotti is one of those things that I could just never get right. A couple of years ago, I decided to give it one more try, and it turned out pretty darn good! This year, I decided to try it again, and I think I finally got the recipe to how I want it! I was even able to make it in a few different varieties! Here are my recipes for Pumpkin Spice Biscotti, Lemon-White Chocolate Biscotti and Almond-Dark Chocolate Biscotti.
1/2 Cup Butter – slightly melted
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs – room temperature
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
For Pumpkin Spice Biscotti add:
1/2 Cup Pumpkin (pureed)
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
Topping – White Chocolate for Melting, Allspice, Spiced-candied Pecans
For Lemon-White Chocolate Biscotti add:
Lemon Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
Topping – White Chocolate for Melting, Lemon Zest
For Almond-Dark Chocolate Biscotti add:
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 Cup Shaved Almonds (chopped)
1/2 Cup Mini Dark Chocolate Chips
Topping – Dark Chocolate for Melting, Shaved Almonds
In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients (except for any chips or nuts) together and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining (wet) ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until well combined. It will become very heavy and dense – you may need to mix by hand. Once it is well combined, add nuts and chips.
Pat dough out onto parchment paper forming an oblong disc about 1-1 1/2 inches thick, 10 inches long and 4-6 inches wide.
Bake the disc in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool about 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place slices on baking sheet and return to oven.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, turn slices over, bake another 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on baking rack.
Once Biscotti is completely cooled, melt chocolate and drizzle over biscotti. Sprinkle nuts (Sliced Almonds or Spiced Pecans) or Lemon Zest over chocolate drizzle while it is still wet. Let dry completely.
Requests from Christmas Past
We are including in this years baskets, some repeat recipes from last year, that we received special requests for. Rather than re-type the recipes, for these items, you can click here to be brought to last years blog post, where you will find the recipes for:
Carrot Cake Jam
Caramels – Sea Salt Caramels and Espresso Caramels
Roca – Almond and Pecan
Giant Peanut Butter Cookies
Giant Molasses Cookies
Fruitcake – This recipe is actually a blog post all its own- from 2019. For the recipe (and an entertaining read), click here. In addition to the boozy fruitcake, we added a non-boozy version as well. Same recipe, just replace the booze in the recipe with apple cider. Also, omit the weekly booze basting as well. 🙂
Making our Christmas Baskets is one of the things I really enjoy doing in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While it is something we really enjoy, I am always amazed at the numbers when we are finished! This years numbers are:
101 jars of jam/pickles/relish
12 almond and pecan roca
and 125 cookies!
Happy Holiday Baking!