Fast, Easy and Inexpensive Home-Made Gifts from the Kitchen

Running a little short on time and holiday cash? You still have time to make some easy and inexpensive homemade gifts for your family and friends.  Whether you have a big family, lots of friends or just a smaller budget this year, these suggestions can help!


Nine Bean Soup (with or without chicken)


1 – Package barley (14 ounce)

1 – Package dried red beans (16 ounce)

1 – Package dried pinto beans (16 ounces)

1 – Package uncooked lentils (16 ounce)

1 – Package dried black beans (16 ounces)

1 – Package dried navy pea beans (16 ounce)  

1 – Package dried great northern beans (16 ounce)

1 – Package dried green split peas (16 ounce)

1 – Package dried black-eyed peas


Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to mix beans thoroughly.  Divide bean mixture in 2 cups per gift.  Now, you can give in a decorative glass container or a decorative paper bag with a clear front, showing your bean mixture with all the colors. Just remember that presentation is everything.   Whichever way you decide is fine, just be sure to include the cooking instructions as follows:


2 cups of the Nine Bean Soup Mix

2 quarts of water

2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped

1 large onion, chopped  

1 garlic clove, minced

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 can diced tomatoes (14 ½ ounce)

1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies (10 ounce)

 Place soup mix in a Dutch oven, add water to cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain.

 Bring soup mix, 2 quarts of water & the next 6 ingredients to a boil in the Dutch oven.  Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1-1 ½ hours. Stir in canned tomatoes return to boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are soft and tender, adding more water if necessary.

 Now what busy family wouldn’t love to have dinner ready-made for them?

 Another easy holiday gift idea: marinated olives. You can make these in 5 minutes but you need to allow them to set at least 8 ½ hours.

 Marinated Olives


Mixed green and black olives

Olive oil, to taste

Lemon zest, to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

2 Rosemary sprigs, crushed

Kosher salt, to taste

Slivered garlic, to taste


 Drain and discard olive brine. Toss all the olives together in a bowl. Toss with generous amounts of olive oil and add all the other ingredients to taste. Let mixture marinate overnight and even up to a couple week in the refrigerator, they will only get more flavorful with time!

And last but not least Cran-Almond Bark. This recipe calls for only 3 ingredients.

 Cran-Almond Bark


1 cup almonds, pecans or walnuts

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup dried fruit, cranberries, raisins or sour cherries.


Preheat oven to 350. Toast nuts on baking sheet for approximately 10 minutes. Chop nuts coarsely and set aside.

 Line baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Place ½ of chocolate in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove sauce pan from the heat and add remaining chocolate, stir until smooth.

 Stir in fruit and nuts into the chocolate and pour mixture onto wax/parchment paper. Spread mixture out until it’s about ¼ or ½ thick. Let mixture cool at room temperature, takes about 2 hours.

 Break bark into large, jagged pieces and wrap in holiday cellophane or pack in decorative boxes.  Enjoy!

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