Gifts Worth Giving

By Michelle Plummer

Receiving gifts during the holidays is an exciting time!  Homemade gifts are even more anticipated.  Over the past year I have shared many of my personal recipes and this month I provided a few more to make your table shine or your gifts relished.  I always want to make my gifts the ones that will be the envy of my friends.  This year I have hit the jackpot!

The Cherry Relish is divine on everything from pork to oatmeal and the Boursin cheese while the original is luscious, this is one that will rival it and at a portion of the cost.

May all of your holidays be warm and delightful with great friends and good food!

Tomato Onion Jam

14 oz tomatoes, canned

1/2  cup  onion, diced

1/4  cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons  balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons orange juice concentrate

1/4 teaspoon  cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer until thick for 30 minutes.

Serve with toasted slice bread.

Per Serving: 20 Calories; 1g Fat (2.2% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium.

Gift Notes:

  • Great with pork tenderloin rounds
  • Serve as a ‘sauce’ over rice or couscous

White Christmas Soup in Jar

1 package white gravy mix

2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

2 tablespoons dry onion, minced

2 tablespoons celery flakes

2 teaspoons  parsley, freeze-dried

3 cups  pasta shell

12 oz chicken, canned

Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth quart jar. In small bowl, stir together bouillon granules, onion, celery and parsley. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add noodles. Close with lid; attach gift tag and decorate.

Gift tag directions: Empty contents of jar into a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 8 cups water; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium; add one 10-ounce or two 6-ounce cans cooked and chopped chicken. Cover and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.   Yield: 1 cup

Per Serving: 220 Calories; 4g Fat; 15g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 496mg Sodium.

Gift Notes:

  • While delicious and warming on a cold evening—be careful!
  • Some soups can be high calorie and high in ‘secret ingredients’ such as sodium, sugars, fat
  • How to make a not so wonderful soup GREAT?  Have the soup be a side dish and add star power!  Add a scooper star like hummus for the veggie dipper, add a lush salad after the soup course, yes there are courses in dining!  Add a warm fruit dish like a gingered applesauce or cinnamon peaches and serve over a small chicken breast—replay one of the ‘characters in the soup’.
  • Still want soup to be the center of attention?  Bring in the supporting actors…drained and rinsed white beans,  a cup of diced peas and carrots, 1 cup chopped drained and thawed spinach, chopped roasted red peppers.  Add a hearty grain bread to the side, smaller bowls of soup and have big crusty portions of bread with olive oil and dipping herbs.

Homemade Boursin Cheese

2 cloves garlic

8 oz butter

16 oz Neufchatel cheese

3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dill weed, onion powder

1/2 teaspoon each: marjoram, basil

2 tablespoons  parsley, freeze-dried

chives, thyme and black pepper

Have cheeses and butter at room temperature.  Using a micro-plane, grate garlic, mix cheeses, butter and garlic well.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well.  Pack into a container just large enough to hold the Boursin and store in refrigerator.  To serve, bring to room temperature.  Serve with crackers and fresh vegetables.  2 tablespoons per serving.

Per Serving: 121 Calories; 12g Fat; 2g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 36mg Cholesterol; 166mg Sodium.

Gift Notes:

  • Again, choose the star!  Add lots of interesting vegetables, cut in different shapes, hearty whole grain breads and use a smaller but beautiful bowl.  People will take less if it appears you may not have a lot of something…
  • Jicama sliced into rounds and spread with the Boursin and topped with a tapenade of olives, sundried tomatoes and caramelized onions is a delicious treat using a thin layer of the star and supporting actors.

Crostini with Brie and Cherry Relish

1/4  cup sugar

2  tablespoons water

2  tablespoons brandy

1  cup cherries, dried

1/4  cup pecans, chopped

1 Tablespoon orange marmalade

18  slices cocktail bread

6  oz  brie — cut in 18 slices

Make relish:

In small saucepan, add sugar, water and brandy.  Cook until sugar is dissolved.  add cherries and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in pecans and marmalade.  Set aside and cool.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place bread on baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes.  Top with cheese and a bit of relish.  Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted.

Per Serving: 49 Calories; 3g Fat; 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 60mg Sodium

Gift Notes:

  • This is a super star!
  • Easy to make, can be used for an appetizer, a sauce, a breakfast stir-in, a condiment and a dessert!  The perfect all-star!
  • Not a brie fan? Try havarti, white cheddar, cream cheese, or mascarpone


4 cups oats, rolled (raw)

1 1/2 cups nuts, chopped

1/2  cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1  teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients beginning with dry then adding wet.  Do NOT ADD DRIED FRUIT.

Combine well; spread over large baking sheet.

Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Transfer pan to rack and cool completely.   Add dried fruit.

Package into resealable plastic bags and remove as much air as possible.  Will keep for 3 months; store in freezer for 6 months.  Description:    “Great for breakfast, yogurt or snacking” Yield:  2 tablespoons

Per Serving: 50 Calories; 1g Fat; 1g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 17mg Sodium

Gift Notes:

  • Use any nut or fruit of choice
  • Use walnut oil or other ‘fancy oil’ for this dish!  Almond, pecan, etc.
  • If you want to have a more intense nutty flavor- bake about 15 minutes longer
  • 1/4 cup granola mixed in an 8 ounce cup; add hot water to about 1/4th from the top will make a great entrance for breakfast.
  • 1/4 cup is a serving, use it as a snack, or use it as a topper on a peanut butter smeared bagel

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