Category Archives: Holiday Food and Gifts

Thai Spicy Pickles

These are my spicy refrigerator pickles, and I pray the last of my cucumbers for this season.

2 1/2 pounds cucumbers
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1  cup raw sugar
1  cup white vinegar
1  tablespoon kosher salt
20  fresh Thai chile peppers, halved lengthwise
5  or more cloves garlic, smashed
5  or more stalks lemongrass, peeled, trimmed.



DSC_0005Thoroughly scrub cucumbers. Cut cucumbers lengthwise into spears.
In a 4- to 5-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, white vinegar, and salt. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar.

DSC_0008 2
Pack cucumber spears loosely into five hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Add 4 Thai chile halves, 1 clove garlic, and, if desired, one-fifth of the lemongrass to each jar.


DSC_0010 2Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture, maintaining the 1/2-inch headspace.

DSC_0016 Cool for 30 minutes; seal and label.
Chill for at least 1 week before serving.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Peach Italian Ice

DSC_0002From my little tree that GIVES, and GIVES, and GIVES..

8 ripe  peaches, pitted and and peeled
1 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup water for 2nd blend
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
You can half this recipe, I just have an endless supply of peaches!

DSC_0003 Place your scored peaches and water in a large sauté pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Until your skins start to peel.  They will look like this where you scored them. From here you will place them in a bowl of ice water.

DSC_0006 Removed one at a time from ice water and begin peeling the skins off them.

DSC_0009 After you have removed your peels, cut up your peaches, remove the seed and toss in your blender.

IMG_3550Add the water, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, and process until smooth.

IMG_3553Once blended it will be this gorgeous shade of orange.

IMG_3554Pour the mixture into plastic cups, and freeze overnight.


DSC_0010The following day, break up your peach mixture and blend again in two batches.  Add 1/4 cup water to each batch.This step really softens the ice and prevents any sort of layering.

DSC_0011It will lighten during this second blend.

DSC_0014Pour the softened peach ice slushy into any small freezer safe container  and place back in the freezer. After a few hours, it’s ready when you are!

Spicy Onion and Honeycrisp Relish


2 lbs. sweet onions
1 large Honeycrisp apple
1 c. apple juice
½ c. cider vinegar
3 tsp. fresh, minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 box Low or No Sugar Needed pectin
½ tsp. butter or oil
1 c. honey
½ raw sugar with 1/2 tsp molasses


Prepare waterbath canner

DSC_0029Cut ends off onions and peel; slice in half and then dice length wise.

Add prepared onions, apple juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, mustard and red pepper flakes to an 8-qt. stockpot.

DSC_0033Gradually stir in pectin and then add butter.Bring to a boil that can’t be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly.
DSC_0037Add honey ,raw sugar and molasses return to a full boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.


Remove from heat. Ladle hot marmalade into prepared jars Wipe rims, attach lids, and place in canner.
Place lid on canner and bring boil 15 minutes.


Turn off heat, and remove jars to a towel-lined surface to cool for 24 hours without disturbing.

Lemon Mousse with Strawberry Roses


8 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounce container light cool whip
1/3 cup lemon juice

DSC_0065Beat softened cream cheese and condensed milk in large bowl until smooth and creamy.Then fold in  your cool whip and lemon juice.  Once your mousse is made you can chill for a day or more.

Graham Cracker Crust
10 full sheets graham crackers
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon molasses

DSC_0069Mix melted butter, raw sugar and molasses until incorporated.

DSC_0070Break up 10 sheets of graham crackers.

DSC_0071Blend with butter and sugar mixture until it looks like wet sand.

DSC_0073I placed about 2 heaping tablespoons per canning lid. These are wide size canning lids.

DSC_0072Then I took the bottom of my measuring cup and pressed the crust into each lid making a small indent to place mousse.

DSC_0074This is how they should look going into the oven for 7 to 9 minutes at 350 degrees.  I placed foil over them so they wouldn’t burn.

DSC_0075Once they are baked they won’t look much different.  Now allow them to cool.

DSC_0068I used a large pastry bag to fill the lids but you could easily use a ziploc bag that was cut on the corner.

DSC_0001Then I began to cut the strawberries into flowers.  You will make four initial cuts towards the bottom of the strawberry.  With each cut you will push the sides out to open up into flower petals.

DSC_0006One the second row you will cut in between and above the first rows two sides.  You can see the diagonal cut here. If your strawberries are larger you can get three rows.  Mine were small so I was only able to cut two rows of petals.DSC_0018You want to leave your stem attached so your flowers don’t fall apart but remove the leaves and make candy melt leaves.  I didn’t have time to do anything fancy and just made some basic leaves.

DSC_0008Here’s the final results.  These will be perfect for our February 85 degree days here in Arizona.


Plantable Paper Seed Hearts

DSC_0016My fathers favorite holiday was Valentine’s Day.  He always went out of his way to make it special for my mother and me.  Nearly a decade after he passed away I found out that his mom had passed away on Valentine’s Day during childbirth.  Both her and his baby sister were placed on ice  (over 3 months) until the ice melted in northern Minnesota. He was just 9 years old.   He never shared this sad event with me or sulked during Valentines Day.  Instead he made certain that the people he loved felt loved!

These hearts are so simple to make.  I hope you will give them a try, and when you see the flowers growing think of this story.

What you will need:

Construction paper
Cookie Cutter

DSC_0005Rip up some paper.

DSC_0006I tore up enough to loosely fill this blender then I added 2 cups of water.

DSC_0009I continued to add water until it was pulp like.

DSC_0010Then I laid out some cookie cutters on parchment paper.

DSC_0012I began scooping the pulp into the heart cookie cutters.

DSC_0011I used poppy seeds as we live in the SW and these will propagate easily.

DSC_0014Next I placed the seeds on top of the pulp and lifted the cutters off of the pulp.

DSC_0016 They didn’t stick at all. Then I simply waited for them to dry over the next couple of days on my kitchen counter.  You could place them outside and speed this process up but we have lost of wind here.


Tropicranberry Granola

DSC_0093I love all things tropical. One of my favorite combinations is pineapple, toasted coconut and pecans.  So I couldn’t help but try this combo in granola.

4 cups old fashion or steel oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried pineapple
3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, pecans, and walnuts, dried pineapple, unsweetened coconut flakes, and cranberries in a large bowl.

DSC_0069Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan.

DSC_0071Once it melts it should look like this.

DSC_0073Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat.

DSC_0076Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.

DSC_0084Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 45 minutes. Stirring every 15 minutes.

DSC_0096Cool, overnight on your counter and you will wake up to a wonderful aroma throughout your house.  Add some vanilla yogurt and enjoy a healthy tropical parfait.

Glitter Sparkling Cider New Years Bottles

DSC_0139I’m sure you have seen these sparkling New Years bottles all over craft blogs this year.  In our neighborhood we have a few people that don’t drink, so I thought why not give them a bottle of sparkling cider vs. a champagne bottle for New Years.

Heres what you will need:

Sparkling Cider
Mod Podge or Medium
Glitter (my glitter is fine you can find it at walmart)
Glossy Paper for note



DSC_0055The first thing I did was soak off the labels.  I noticed that some bloggers skipped this step but I was concerned I would need to much glitter to hide the label.

DSC_0059Once my bottles were somewhat label free and dry I spread my medium on with a paint brush.

DSC_0061Then I placed my wet bottle over a dinner plate to catch the glitter that didn’t stick.

DSC_0063I did the bottom of the bottle first. Doing the bottle in two stages bottom then the top allows you have to a dry part to hang on to during the process.

DSC_0138Once the glitter on the bottom dried I took the bottles outside and sprayed them with a  clear paint.  This helps adhere more of the glitter to your bottles.

DSC_0129Then I came back and did the tops and sprayed them again with the clear spray paint.

DSC_0135Then I simply printed out some tags on glossy paper and added some curling ribbon.  Nothing Fancy just a nice item to leave on your neighbors porch to ring in the new year.

DSC_0147This project was inexpensive and easy to do.


Holiday Wine Bucket

IMG_7438This holiday bucket was super easy to make. I think I will keep some on hand and just throw them in our deep freeze for special occasions.

What you will need:

A plastic tub, bowl or bucket ( this one was a biscotti container from costco)
A bottle of vodka to place in center
Holiday Ornaments

DSC_0117Rosemary twigs from our greenhouse.

DSC_0119The first thing I did was have my husband cut the top of the biscotti container off. Once he did this I places the vodka bottle in the center and added some rosemary and cranberries around the edge.

DSC_0120You will notice the twine around the lid of the bottle this was to prevent the bottle from falling over to the side.  I just twisted the twine around the top of the bottle a few times and taped it to the sides.  Now place it in the freezer for a couple of hours.

DSC_0123Once the bottom portion has frozen your going to repeat your rosemary, cranberry and ornaments and place it back in the freezer.

IMG_7432Once you pull it out of the freezer you will want to remove the vodka bottle.  How we did this was removed the vodka and poured room temperature water in the vodka bottle and the started twisting the bottle.

IMG_7433Now you will fun your frozen ice container under running warm water until it releases.

IMG_7434It helps to roll it around on its sides to help warm all sides of the container.

IMG_7438Here’s your released ice block.  Although it’s sitting a bit high now we know it will melt down.

IMG_7435It really adds to just swinging by with a bottle of wine.  I also look forward to making some with Rosemary and Lemon for summer lemonade or iced tea bottles.

Mesh Ribbon Gift Box

DSC_0084I have some wonderful neighbors.  With Christmas just around the corner and some left over mesh ribbon it was hard to not come up with another creative way of using it as a gift box.


What you will need

Any box of your choosing
Mesh Ribbon
Items to place in your gift box

DSC_0063For my box I used two pieces of mesh that were approximately 3 feet long.

DSC_0068I folded the mesh in half length wise and started stapling it around the sides of the box.

DSC_0070The second 3 foot piece of mesh I simply twisted inside my box.

DSC_0071This is quite simple to do.

DSC_0084Then I loaded it up with some hot cocoa, marshmallows, 2 cups, ginger cookies, dark chocolate almonds, some napkins 2 large snowflake ornaments.  Then I tossed some additional holiday ribbon in the gift box.   This didn’t take more than 10 minutes.  Go Grab your box!

Leah’s Ginger Spice Cookies


DSC_0066These cookies are  a favorite in our house, and neighborhood.  They are just the right amount of spice and although they are thin they remain chewy.

2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
A pinch of cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup raw  sugar w/ 1 tablespoon molasses
½ cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
Several pieces of crystalized ginger cut up
About 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling


1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cracked pepper.

2. Working with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or so to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more.

DSC_0053Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If some of the flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, avoid overbeating the dough and mix in the last of the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. You’ll have a smooth, very soft dough.

3. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and freeze for 30 minutes or chill for at least one hour.
4. Preheat over to  350 degrees.

5. Cut up your crystalized ginger.


6. Take a small cookie scoop and make your balls of cookie dough while adding 2 to 3 pieces of ginger to each scoop.

DSC_00547. One by one, roll the balls around in the bowl of sugar, then place them on the baking stone.

8. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies feel set to the touch. They will appear fluffy but don’t fear once they come out they will look like the photo below.

DSC_0060 29. I place mine on cookie racks to ensure they are dry before placing on plates.  This helps to prevent cookies from sticking.