I think there is something really special and heartwarming in receiving a homemade gift.
For today, I have thought of the easiest, simplest and most delicious recipes that are easy to make and fantastic to receive. These are some of the recipes that I myself used when I started cooking and taught myself how to bake almost 9 years ago.
I’ve chosen these recipes because anyone, anywhere can make, don’t require a specific skill or tool/kitchen gadget and most importantly, don’t feel daunting to try. I love cooking and baking but I also know that for many, it is not something they enjoy or are naturally drawn to. If that is you, I want to encourage and inspire you to try your hand at these since they are so easy to put together.
With these recipes in mind, I also thought about the many among us that are lonely, hurting, isolated, that have lost their jobs or a loved one this year; that are putting their lives at risk every day; the homeless, the postal workers, the sanitation workers, the nurses and doctors, the elderly and vulnerable in our community. This has been such a hard year! and so, when things get hard, one thing that always helps me is baking/cooking something simple yet delicious that is comforting, soothing and brings joy. Then share it with others.
So let’s try a little harder for these people in our community that have done and are doing so much and offer them a gift baked with love, from scratch, that comes from our hearts and hands.
I also truly love the fact that a homemade gift can be a no-waste item, as you will see from my suggestions below.
This is probably one of the simplest and most satisfying things you can make (for yourself and others) and that lasts for weeks on a pantry shelf.
You can customize the following recipe to your liking by adding or taking different things or make it Christmas-y with the addition of some white chocolate chips and dried cherries/cranberries to the oats and nuts mix.
This would be great for someone with a gluten sensitivity. Generally, oats are gluten free but to be on the safe side, read carefully on the back about the processing facility. In US, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Gluten Free Oats is a brand I trust and have used in the past.
2 cups old fashioned/rolled oats
2 cups expanded rice/puffed quinoa
1.5 cups nuts and seeds, any combo you like and have on hand (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pepitas) – skip them if allergic and add one more cup of oats/expanded rice instead
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 TBSP cinnamon
2 cups mixed dried fruits: cherries, blueberries, raisins, plums, peaches, whatever is available to you. Cut the big fruits in smaller pieces.
1 cup dried cranberries/cherries and 1 cup of white chocolate chips (for a Christmas-y variation)
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
1. In a large bowl mix with a large spoon the oats, rice, nuts and seeds
2. add the cinnamon and mix until evenly distributed
3. add the melted oil and maple syrup and mix until evenly coated
4. place on a cookie/baking sheet on a parchment paper and bake at 350F/180C for 15 min
5. take out and mix in the dried fruits and coconut flakes
6. bake for another 5 min then let cool completely (for about 30 min)
(If you are doing the Christmas-y version, add the white chocolate chips after the granola has completely cooled, otherwise they will melt)
The granola will last up to 4 weeks in an airtight container
Gift it: (and store) in an airtight container like a glass jar with a lid (or, better yet! re-purpose and re-use an old one), add a nice ribbon and a sweet message and your gift is ready to be delivered and enjoyed
Great for: breakfast lovers, teachers, postal and sanitation workers
If you have some ripened bananas laying around, some basic ingredients, one bowl and a spoon, this recipe is a fantastic starter recipe.
This is one of the very first recipes I ever baked and then improved on, because it is that easy.
I still love it because you can literally throw everything together in a bowl, mix, bake, and the result is always moist, tender and delicious. It is also incredibly easy to customize and change to your liking.
And did I mention that it’s a ONE bowl affair? you’re welcome!
3 medium/2 large over ripe bananas (the browner, the better!)
1.2 cup to 1 cup sugar (depending how sweet you want your bread to be; can use coconut sugar or other sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup milk of your choice (cow, oat, almond)
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
Toppings and variations
Use 1 cup chopped walnuts/pecans and 1 cup fresh blueberries in the mix instead of just blueberries
use 2 cups of mixed nuts for a “nutty” banana bread
Sprinkle some walnuts or seeds like pepitas on top + some brown sugar for a delicious crust
1. Heat your oven to 350F/180C
2. mash bananas with a fork or a potato masher in the bowl until creamy
3. add the egg and sugar/sweetener and mix until fully incorporated; a spoon/whisk will do the job
4. add milk and mix to combine
5. add flour and cinnamon + spices. Mix to incorporate
6. fold in the blueberries (and/nuts)
Bake it in in a greased bread loaf pan OR in 3 mini loaf pans for about 50 – 60 min (check at the 45 min mark) until deep golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
Gift it: let it cool completely, wrap it in some parchment/wax paper and use a paper bag tied with a ribbon
use one of these bakeable paper loaf pans or gift it in a ceramic container that can be used again and again
Great for: your neighbors, lovers of sweets and baked goods
Dark chocolate covered figs
I have just made this again over the weekend and they are SO. DELICIOUS! and, it takes less than 5 min to put together. Figs are a great choice since they are naturally sweet, high in fiber, calcium and potassium. Cover them in chocolate, and you’ve got yourself the most decadent treat.
For a more accessible/affordable alternative, use dried plums/prunes or dates.
10 dried figs, washed and dried
1 cup semisweet/dark chocolate chips/melting dark chocolate wafers/a block of dark chocolate
sea salt to sprinkle on top
1. cover a tray/plate with wax/parchment paper and set aside
2. microwave the chocolate in a safe bowl for 30 seconds then stir
3. microwave for 30 secs more and stir until chocolate is creamy and completely melted
Use a bain-marie to gradually melt the chocolate on top of the stove
4. dip the figs in chocolate, holding them by their stems then place them on the tray/plate
5. sprinkle some sea salt on top and let them rest until chocolate is fully set and dry
Gift it in a cookie tin/box, lay some wax paper on the bottom and around them
Great for: chocolate lovers, health nuts, nurses, dark chocolate lovers
If it is available to you, a Visa/gift card could accompany each of these treat boxes. I know that some people see gift cards as impersonal but I find them extremely practical and generous since the person for whom they are intended can purchase exactly what they need or want with them.
I really hope you will give these recipes a try! if not for gifting, then try them for yourself and your loved ones.
As always, change and customize the recipes so that they fit your needs, your lifestyle and your taste and preference. And tell me alllllllll about it! :)
What are some of your go-to recipes that you enjoy gifting?
Let us know down below!
Love all of these ideas! Simple and impactful ;)
What about some salty treats? I came across a recipe for cheese crackers (practically same idea as soft cookies but with grated cheese and maybe cumin instead of choc chips). Have you tried these before?
OMG, I have not but they sound awesome! I realize now that with my sweet tooth I’ve chosen only sweet treats but you are absolutely right: something salty-cheesy would be amazing. Mmmmm