Prepare gifts in your kitchen this year

A few easy gift ideas straight from the kitchen!

“Holidays come but once a year, bright and fun and full of cheer.
With festive trees and trimmings bright, lots of goodies to our delight.
In this article, ideas will unfold for fun and merriment in your household.
Recipes, directions – what’s our reason? A way of wishing you a Happy Holiday Season!”

-Author Unknown 

Do the holidays sneak up on you every year? When money is tight, or you don’t have enough time to go shopping, you can find ways to prepare thoughtful gifts for almost all on your list – in your kitchen! To keep everything safe for your gift, you will need to prepare your counter surfaces and equipment by cleaning and sanitizing.

Cleaning is the removal of dirt and grime from a surface. Sanitizing is getting the levels of pathogens (germs) down to a safe level. An easy, and inexpensive, way to sanitize is to mix one tsp. household bleach, not concentrated or scented, per quart of water. Rinse or spray the solution on a surface, and let it air dry. Sanitizing cloths that are not made for food surfaces may leave a chemical hazard on the surface, so be careful not to use any not meant for kitchen and/or food surfaces. 

After you decide what to make, and your kitchen is cleaned and sanitized, think about containers to put your gifts in. Old Mason jars, spice containers or even vases could be used. Clean and polish, find a few ribbons or cords to tie on the recipe and voilà! You have a gift. 

Recipes for you to try, along with the instructions for you to include with your gift: 

Spiced Tea Mix - Creator unknown

  • ¼ cup instant tea
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup instant orange drink powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 cup sugar 

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Store in a cool, dry place.

To Make Tea: Mix 2 tsp. to a cup of hot water.

Italian Mocha Mix - Creator unknown

  • 1 cup instant coffee granules
  • 4½ cups nonfat dry milk
  • 1 cup sugar  
  • ½ cup cocoa

Mix ingredients well and store in an airtight container.

To Make Italian Mocha: Place 2 Tbsp. mocha mix into a cup and add 1 cup boiling water. Stir well. Garnish with a rounded spoonful of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

Calico Bean Soup Mix adapted from Eating Right is Basic, MSU Extension

One pound each* of: 

Dried black beans                   Great Northern beans                         Barley pearls

Dried lentils                             Red beans                                           Split peas

Pinto beans                             Black-eyed peas                                 Navy beans                                        

Combine all beans. Divide into 10 2-cup packages with the following recipe for Calico Bean Soup. Makes 10 2-cup packages (pint jars work great) that you can decorate with festive paper or cloth under the lids, and the recipe (below) attached with ribbon.

* If you can’t find one of these types of beans, substitute another kind.



            2 cups Calico Bean Soup mix                            1 clove garlic, minced

            2 quarts water                                                   ½ to ¾ tsp. salt (optional)

            1 ham bone                                                       1 pint tomatoes, un-drained & chopped

            1 pound diced ham                                           1 (10 oz.) can tomatoes & green chilies

            1 large onion, chopped                                      un-drained (optional)


Sort and wash 2 cups bean mix; place in a large pot. Cover with water 2 inches about the beans and soak overnight. Drain beans; add 2 quarts water and the next five ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat

and simmer 1½ hours or until beans are tender. Add tomato products and simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


TAll ingredients may be combined and cooked in a slow cooker, 4 to 6 hours on high or 8 to

 10 hours on low.

TIn place of ham, you can substitute 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained, with 2 Tbsp. beef bouillon.

Michigan State University Extension advises us to be educated on what we can do to keep our food safe. If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3463). 

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