12+ Homemade Edible Christmas Gifts

The festive season is almost upon us so why not make it even more special by making your own edible gifts to share with loved ones? Special chocolates, biscuits or even a hot sauce… everyone can find something they like.

With Christmas comes the yearly dilemma of what to buy for that special someone who is simply an impossible person to shop for. Their odd taste or the fact that they have everything they need makes this job a really hard one, so why not try something new this year? Instead of yet another reindeer tie or a gift box full of fragrant soaps why not try a homemade edible gift.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
Mother Teresa

Edible gifts can be a statement of love. Pick what the person likes and build on it. Sweet or savoury, soft or crunchy… the choices are endless but I am sure there is that little something which will put a smile on anyone’s face. Once you have made your choice as to the gift itself, think about a nice presentation – a festive box or maybe a nice ribbon and of course the name card. Finally pick a reliable courier company to deliver your creation. With all the festive work overload you need to pick a company you can trust to deliver your gift in one piece and most importantly who can deliver it on time. We speak from experience, last year in the middle of December my Mum decided to send us a last minute gift… according to the nice lady at the local courier company, who took the parcel and a lot of money, “It will be delivered within 3 days, maybe five at most as it December…” we finally received it in the middle of January after the non-delivery claim was already filed…

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
Ben Carson

But back to gifts now.

I’ve put together a selection of edible Christmas gifts which should cater for any taste. Some have a short use by date, others will last for months; some are sweet, others savoury or spicy; some are pure indulgence whilst others fall into the diet friendly category… I hope this round up will give you the answer you were looking for or at the very least spark an idea for what is perfect.

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Candied PecansCashew Chocolate Spread

Cheddar Cheese CoinsChocolate Cranberry Amaretti CookiesCitrus Salts

Coconut and Almond TrufflesCranberry Crunch Dark Chocolate Truffles

Gingerbread Glazed AlmondsHot Chocolate Mix

Hot SauceMaple GranolaSmoked Chocolate Christmas Bark

Swiss Jam Sandwich Cookies

So, what do you think?

Any chance you will be making any of these edible gifts this year?

I know I will.

 

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings

Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.When you type into Google “jerk chicken” you will get hit with thousands of different recipes, they all vary yet they will all have something in common – allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Our version of this popular dish is yet another twist developed to bring back memories of summer and holidays. Did you know that Barbados is one of the hottest December holiday destinations?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to chill on the beach right now, listen to some reggae music, sip tasty cocktails and eat delicious food? Indeed it would. But if you are like us, surrounded by grey clouds and almost freezing temperatures then you can at least get the taste of that wonderful experience right here at home by creating some delicious food. Nothing stopping you adding the music and cocktails as well if you’re so inclined!

Our recipe offers a mix of sweet and spice, moist and crispy with a smoky underlining. I call for an overnight marinating but the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour, so if you plan well in advance you can marinate your chicken for up to 24h.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

Serves: 4 as a starter or 2 as a main

Total Time: 24h

Active cooking time: 20min

 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken wings / 12 wings
  • 75ml red wine vinegar
  • 25ml fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 4tbsp raw organic honey
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger; finely chopped
  • 2 hot red chillies; finely chopped, seeds included
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 spring onions (green part only); finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander; finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh thyme; leaves only

Method:

In a bowl mix the vinegar, olive oil, orange juice and honey; stir well until all ingredients are well combined.

Add the ginger, chillies, thyme leaves, spring onion, coriander plus all the spices stated above (paprika, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper) and mix well.

Pour over the chicken wings, turning them over several times so that they are well coated.

Leave to marinate overnight in the fridge, ideally tossing them over a few times.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

When ready to cook simply barbeque the wings, turning them over every few minutes until cooked through; until the juices at the thickest point will run clear. It should take 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings - crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

 

*Recipe commissioned by Thomas Cook Airlines

Three Hot Meals to Warm That Winter Cold

When you’re down in the dumps, the thought of cooking anything at all can be a daunting prospect. Believe it or not, however, a warm meal will do wonders when compared to dry cereal from the box or leftovers from last night’s takeout. Whether it’s man-flu, a head cold, or a bunged-up nose that plagues your daylight hours, these quick and easy recipes can help you get back on your feet before you know it. So, put away that box of tissues and get out the spatula – we’re cooking away our colds this winter.

Chicken Soup – The Humble Classic

It’s hearty. It’s delicious. It’s the sick man’s go-to meal. Chicken soup can heat you right through to the bone and, whether you’re making it from scratch or warming up a tin, it’s packed with great benefits to bolster the immune system and clear out that cold. The broth steams your nose for clearance, provides much-needed hydration to the body, and soothes even the scratchiest of throats on its way down to a hungry tum. High levels of protein mean chicken soup is great fuel for your system to grow and repair, and a base of noodles provides a yummy foundation for the meal to work on. Any added veg – common ingredients include carrots, onions, and celery – means an additional punch of vitamin and mineral goodness, which is always welcome. Remember to serve with a side of buttered bread, if only to mop up the delicious end result with gusto.

Bolognese – Homemade, Simple and Filling

Spag Bol – pasta, mince, carrots, and onion. Everything you need to make it through the winter in one piece – if eaten in moderation. This hardy recipe is a childhood nostalgia trip for many and can be a great comfort food option when energy is low and hunger is high. It’s simple, really. Follow a recipe if unsure, such as this one from BBC Good Food – otherwise, work from memory. On the one hand, you have your starchy, fork-wrapping pasta noodles and, on the other, a meaty, homemade sauce primed and ready to fill you up. This meal ticks all the food group boxes you could wish for and provides your body with everything it needs to get right as rain again. Serve spaghetti bolognese as artistically (or messily) as you like on a big plate, grate over parmesan cheese, and then get yourself stuck in. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for later and enjoy the fruits of a short thirty-minute labour at the stove. Dig out Grandma’s old cookbook for some old-time tips or, for a more modern take, Deliveroo has tips from restaurant chefs if you feel your end result is lacking.

Oatmeal – Crunchy, Fruity, Delicious

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. A stovetop breakfast; oats, milk, water and fruit. Optional toppings of sugar and cinnamon can add a dash of flavour and variable bowl sizes are available. Homemade oatmeal will take all of 5 minutes to prepare and you’ll be thanking yourself for it all day thereafter. Slow-burn carbs to keep you going and a selection of your favourite chopped fruit to keep Vitamin C levels high – which is vital! Soothe your throat, please your appetite, and push through that cold.

So there we have it. Three cold-busting recipes to get you back in shape. Mix and match, alternate, and be sure to vary your diet as much as your appetite will allow for the best results.

* Creamy Chicken Soup picture courtesy of Myra from Delicious On a Dime

Rich Chocolate and Pear Cake

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

This recipe came to be as an experiment after trying a simple apple and walnut cake at my friend’s house a few weeks back. The cake was perfect but as we have 100s of pears from our tree at this moment I wanted to create a pear version of it. Simple swapping the apples for pears and losing the nuts wasn’t going to cut it as the pears are so juicy, so I baked and baked until I achieved the perfect chocolate and pear cake, which is quick and super easy to make.

The cake is very chocolaty and indulgent. I used both dark chocolate and raw unsweetened cocoa powder. The taste of your cake will depend on the quality of these two ingredients, so please have it in mind whilst out shopping. I have found through my baking that some cakes are much more forgiving about swaps than others are. I tried to bake it with drinking chocolate instead of the raw cocoa but it simply doesn’t work, you can taste that something is off… also, I found using milk chocolate instead of a dark one is also a no go… the cake really becomes way too sweet.

Total time: 1h

Baking time: 35min

Serves: arguably 9 large portions

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 3 medium-size ripe pears
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tbsp raw unsweetened cocoa
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line with baking paper one 8”x8” brownie baking tray.

In a small saucepan over very low heat melt the butter. Once melted add the chocolate and stir making sure it is totally melted and combined then set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add a pinch of salt and mix well.

Wash, peel, core and then chop the pears into 1cm x 1cm cubes, then pop them into the bowl of dry ingredients mix and gently stir so that all the pear pieces are coated evenly.

In another small bowl beat the eggs; then add the vanilla essence and beat some more. Add this mixture to the cooled down butter and chocolate mixture and stir well until fully combined.

Finally, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and with a silicone spatula gently mix until everything is combined and forms an even mass. You are after the texture of your cake being similar to a cookie dough – firm and pliable.

Move your mixture into the earlier prepared baking tray and again using a silicon spatula spread out the mix till it is even and flat then pop into the oven.

Bake at 180C for around 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tray to cool completely.

Enjoy!

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

Elderly and Pets

Some studies have shown the benefits of owning a pet as a senior. The findings indicate that the relationship is a match made in heaven. Love is the ideal prescription for solitude, and there’s no better way to get that love than by having a happy bundle of fur also called a pet. Many live-in carers can testify to seeing benefits associated with owning a pet as an older adult, they really can benefit our lives.

“Anyone who thinks money can’t buy happiness has never owned a cat [or any pet].”
Arya Riverdale

So what are the main positive benefits that come from a relationship between the elderly and pets?

  1. Health

From a purely medical perspective, having a pet will decrease blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. After a heart attack, there is normally reduced rehabilitation time for seniors who own pets. They visit the doctors less often and have better muscle strength and endurance.  A number of these physical advantages are traced back to an increase in activity such as walking with the pets. Walking provides a restoration effect, thanks to the nature surrounding the neighbourhood.

  1. Stress

As an elderly person, sometimes you might be going through a tough time and need someone to talk to. Your children could be grown up and too busy living their own lives to be there for you when you need them. Owning a pet can distract you and get your mind off overthinking.  Stroking animals alleviates stress. Because pets are non-judgmental, they are a good companion when it comes to getting rid of loneliness. Pets reduce depression, which can be caused by isolation or loss of a loved one.

  1. Having a Routine

Older people also get a feeling of self-worth and self-confidence when they’re responsible for the feeding and care of another life. When you know that you have to give care to another living being, it automatically makes you want to take good care of yourself. A visit to the supermarket to stock up on essentials or planning a meal might appear problematic to some elderly folks. However, once they get into the habit of preparing a meal for their cat or dog, it becomes routine, and they do it without complaining. That constant activity is good for their bodies as a way of exercising, as opposed to sitting back and doing nothing.

  1. Mental Alertness

Pets excite the mind because they are so playful, relieve boredom, and improve mental alertness. When a senior owns a pet, they somehow feel like they are not alone and feel more secure in their homes.  Human beings like it when their egos are boosted.  And owning a pet is one way of doing this. Imagine receiving all the love and adoration from a pet; it sure feels great and makes you feel loved and appreciated!

  1. Making New Friends

Meeting new people is hard especially as an older person if you spend most of your time indoors. Many pet events and organizations deal with catering to animals. These are a good place to meet people who have the same shared interests as yours. Plus, pets are a good way to break the ice.

 

As a pet owner, I can’t imagine not having fur babies in the house. Yes, I do moan sometimes… yes, I get cross with them from time to time but at the end of the day, they give more than they take and this is why we love them so much.