Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's the thought that counts

I have always been pretty big on making gifts for people in my life for the holidays and I hope people enjoy receiving them. I put time, effort and lots of thought into every gift because I think that the homemade touch is just so much more personal. That's the whole point of gift giving anyway right? I am thinking of you, love you or thought you would enjoy this. Well at least that is what I think it should be.

Throughout the year I am constantly on the look out for great ideas that look like they would be fun to do and receive. This year these are the items that have caught my eye and have been tested for approval.

Sweet Tea Vodka
I know this is more of a summer type booze, but I say sweet tea is all year round. When it's 15 degrees out and you're desperately wanting to be anywhere but there, you can turn up the thermostat and party like you are on the beach with this easy and yummy concoction. It's all in the imagination. This is easy to whip up and people love it when you infuse your own booze. It's like they think you know magic or are Susie homemaker and they will thank you. Only you will know that it takes very little effort and time.
1 bottle (750ml) of decent, but not expensive vodka 
4  tea bags
1 cup water & 1 cup of sugar to make a simple syrup

Pour vodka into a pitcher or jar and add tea bags. Steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until it is nice caramel brown.

While vodka is doing its thing with the tea make the simple syrup by heating water to a boil. Add sugar and stir until fully dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Once vodka and tea are properly mixes add simple syrup to vodka to taste. If you want you can always make more simple syrup to make it sweeter!

You can even get a little crazy and add
some hazelnut syrup to it. YUM!

Irish Cream Liqueur 
I think alcohol is a great gift (for those that do drink) and this one is absolutely so yummy you may not even get around to giving it away. The recipe and directions are so incredibly easy it's ridiculous not to try it. The recipe can be found here, but after trying it a few times I have come to add a little more whiskey and only use really good dark chocolate syrup to give it that rich and decadent taste. It blows the commercial liqueurs out of the water. You will not regret whipping this up.

Peppermint Candy Sugar Scrub
I am a sucker for scrubs. I have made my own in the past and really love them. I found the idea and recipe here and it is an excellent one if I do say so myself. I used coconut oil since I had it in the house and I love it. I think I may like it better than almond oil. Next time I am going to try a coconut lime scrub. I am sure it will smell heavenly!

Rosemary infused Olive Oil
I have done this one for the last few years and always make sure I have enough left over for me. This is a great oil to use in everyday cooking to give it just a little added hint of rosemary to your dinner table. Plus it looks pretty when presented as a gift.

Heat olive oil over medium heat with the ratio of 5 sprigs of rosemary to each cup of oil until warm (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and cool. Add sprigs to bottle and pour olive oil in. Keeps up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

I would show you what they look like, but
they are gone.

Fluer de Sel Caramels
While I suggest every single one of the items above, if you only do one, do this. Holy cow, these are the best caramels that I have ever made. They are so good that when my mother and I first did them we went back out to the store to get more supplies to make another batch. I don't even think that first year I actually gave anyone more than one or two. They are addictive in the best way possible. Recipe is courtesy of Ina Garten and can be found here. I suggest doing this with two people, because things can go wrong if you aren't paying attention. There is one crucial step where you have to do two things at once and if you are busy tending to one the other will burn.

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