5 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts You Can Make in Your Microwave! (WITH RECIPES!)

Last minute gifts from your kitchen? I’ve got you, boo!

Ok, so the holiday season is here and if you’re anything like me, there are still plenty of people for whom I need to get gifts. But I don’t have a lot of time, and don’t want to spend hours in the malls, spending, spending, spending. What to do? Give gifts from your kitchen! After all, who doesn’t love food?

Here are 5 Last Minute Holiday Gifs that YOU can make in the microwave! (just click on the title to be brought to the recipe post)

  1. Personalized Candy Bars – Who wouldn’t love a candy bar made out of their favourite chocolate, and stuffed full of all of the yummy candy that they love? Wrap it nicely, tuck it in a stocking, and be ready for oohs and ahhhs and mmmms!
  2. Chocolate Non-Pareils – So embarrassingly easy, but I’ll give you the recipe below.
  3. Healthier Peanut butter Cups – Got a relative or friend who is a bit more health conscious? Made these for them. They can eat them and feel virtuous, and totally show them off on Instagram!
  4. Choc-Dipped Potato Chips – Got a relative or friend who is a bit of a foodie? Or a couch potato? These hand-dipped chocolate-dipped potato chips will hit the spot. But, fair warning, you can’t eat just one! These are so easy, that you don’t even need a recipe. Just melt 1 c. chocolate chips in the microwave in a bowl, along with a tablespoon of veg oil. Stir til mixed, then dip individual chips in the mixture, and refrigerate dipped chips on parchment-covered cookie trays until set. Bam, done!
  5. Candy Cane Bark – This is a staple at my annual holiday party, and also a staple of the cookie tins that I give to friends each year. Easy, delicious, and a great way to use up last year’s candy canes!

Have I inspired you to made some gifts? I encourage to jump in and try them! They’re really, truly easy to make, they all taste FAN-TAS-TIC and just think how impressed everyone will be when you tell them that you made it yourself!

Oh, and here’s the recipe for 1-Minute Easy-Peasy Non-Pareils

Platter of pareils! Technically, these are non-pareils: little discs of chocolate covered in teeny tiny candy balls. Yummy!

1-MINUTE EASY-PEASY NON-PAREILS

  • 1/2 c. multi-coloured non-pareils (those teeny tiny multi-coloured little candy balls you often find on cakes or cookies)
  • 1/4 c. chocolate wafers (white chocolate, dark choc, milk choc — you do you!)

Take the chocolate wafers and place them on a piece of parchment paper in a small microwave safe glass tray, about an inch apart. Zap for 60 secs, or until the chocolate is slightly soft and melty, but not runny. Remove from microwave and pour the non-pareils over them. They’ll run everywhere, but that’s ok as they’re in a container; you just want to make sure that they stick to the softened wafers. Stick the tray into the fridge until the chocolate is set. Then pop the candy-ball covered chocolates off the parchment paper, and…you’re done! Seriously, they’re that easy. You can pour the leftover little candy balls back into their original container, and use them again for the next batch.  

Isn’t it fun making gifts from your kitchen? I’ve made a whole bunch so far this season, and packed some up in cellophane and fabric bags for gifting. If you make some, let me know in the comments how you package your gifts!

Next Post: Cappuccino Cupcakes! I thought I had previously posted a recipe for them, but can’t seem to find it on the blog, so…either you’re getting the same recipe twice, or it’s a new recipe! Eh, either way, it’s delicious!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Marshmallow Snowman Pops: An Easy Holiday Giftable

Easy, pretty, and waiting to be eaten!

The holidays are approaching, and I LOVE making and giving gifts from my kitchen! I’ve been working on a whole bunch of giftables, and will be posting lists (with recipes) of all those delicious things soon, so that you can also get your kitchen gifting on! This week’s recipe is one of those giftables: Marshmallow Snowman Pops!

Marshmallow Snowman Pops are a simple last-minute gift that you can pull together to hand out to children, or to tie on to a holiday gift. I made several of these last week and gave them to the children who were at a holiday party I was attended. They ate them right away, which flattered me no end!

Want to make some too? Let’s!

MARSHMALLOW SNOWMAN POPS

For each pop, you will need:

  • 3 regular-size marshmallows
  • 1 orange coloured candy-covered sunflower seed (or similar-sized orange candy)
  • 3 silver dragees
  • 1/4 of white chocolate candy wafers
  • 1 cake pop stick (or similar)
  • food colouring markers
  • 1 small candy cane

Take two marshmallows and stick them on the cake pop stick, pushing down, until about 1 cm of stick shows above the top of the top marshmallow. Then stick the third marshmallow on top and remove it (that’s right, take it back off again. We just want to make sure that there’s a hole in it.)

Take the white chocolate wafers and melt them in a bowl in the microwave. Dip the stick (with the two marshmallows on it) in the melted chocolate, turning to coat, until the marshmallows are all covered in chocolate. Then dip the top of the stick in the melted chocolate, and stick the third marshmallow on top. (The chocolate functions as a sort of glue to keep the top marshmallow on.) FYI, it’s easier to cover the marshmallows in chocolate when you’re melting the wafers for several marshmallows. Take another cake pop stick (or chopstick, which is what I used), and push it through the centre marshmallow where you want the snowman’s arms to be, then remove it.

Place the marshmallow and chocolate stick on a plate and stick it in the fridge until the chocolate is mostly set. Take the candy cane, and snap off the curved part, so that you’re only left with a straight stick of candy cane. Push this straight stick through the hole that you previously made for the arms. Place the silver dragees on the centre marshmallow where you want the buttons to be. Place snowman in fridge until chocolate is completely set.

Using another cake pop stick, pop a hole in the top marshmallow, where you want the nose to be. Stick the orange candy-covered sunflower seed (or other orange candy resembling a carrot) in the hole. Using your food colouring markers, draw on eyes and a mouth.

And voila! An adorable and easy gift! I wrapped mine up in cellophane bags and used curling ribbon to tie them shut. Gift them to others and wait for the oohs and aaahs!

Next Post: I know I promised last time to give you a recipe for Super-Easy Strawberry Cranberry Jam, but that’ll have to wait a bit, because the next post is Five Easy Holiday Gifts that You Can Make in the Kitchen!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and Happiness is Homemade!

Super-Easy Cream Cheese Icing When You Don’t Have Any Cream Cheese

Layers of cream cheese icing goodness! Except that there’s no cream cheese in it. Um, say what?

Cream Cheese Icing is a MUST when making carrot cake, and a HIGHLY RECOMMEND when making pumpkin cake. Last week I baked a pumpkin cake, and went to make the cream cheese icing; however, after looking in the fridge, I realized…there was no cream cheese! Egads! What to do? Well, this was a case for…THE QUEEN OF SUBSTITUTIONS!

The solution? Lebneh, also known as yoghurt cheese! I make my own yoghurt, and grew up eating homemade lebneh (drained yoghurt so thick it functions as cream cheese), so it was an easy thing to pull out some yoghurt cheese as a cream cheese substitute.

The verdict? Yum-city! I was trying to take a photo of the finished cake and the DH was hovering impatiently so that he could have a slice. I asked him just now for his opinion. He said, and this is a direct quote, “It’s very bad; don’t eat it, leave it all for me!” So yeah, it was a hit.

The tanginess of the yoghurt subs in perfectly for the tanginess of cream cheese, and the maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness without being cloying. The cinnamon is a perfect foil to carrot OR pumpkin cake, or frankly, anything you want to serve it with.

And since it’s the holidays, you can feel better about eating this icing, since you know it has the calcium-rich goodness of yoghurt in it!

Let’s get to making some!

SUPER-EASY CREAM CHEESE ICING without CREAM CHEESE

(adapted from The Novice Chef)

  • 8 oz. lebneh/yoghurt cheese (about the size of a standard cream cheese packet) (recipe in this post)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 1/3 c. icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together until fully blended. Spread on a cooled slab cake, or serve as a dip with cookies. Enjoy the compliments coming your way!

The only downside to this icing? This is more of a slab cake icing than a traditional round layer cake icing. This is due to the yoghurt cheese — if left for several days, some of the whey will continue to drain and cause the icing to be a bit weepy.  So bake your cake in a lasagna pan, and ice it once cool. Serve and enjoy!

Or, use it as a dip. I’m planning on bringing a bowl of this icing to a dinner party tonight, along with some homemade graham crackers. How’s that for an appetizer? Naturally, I’ve done some taste-testing with this combo. *can’t talk, mouth too full* *shouldn’t be typing, fingers too sticky*

Next Post: Five Holidays Gifts from the Kitchen and Four Ingredient Strawberry Cranberry Jam

Linking Up at Full Plate Thursday!

Maple-Glazed Roast Pumpkin: Veggies are Yum!

Delicious maple-y goodness!

It’s pumpkin time! Actually, it’s fall, and October is past and I didn’t have a chance to carve a pumpkin for Halloween. So, I served my Halloween pumpkin up for dinner! With maple syrup, because I’m Canadian like that.

Ever eaten oven-baked sweet potatoes? That have been baking on a low heat for a long time? They get all sweet and caramelized and oh so delicious. I thought I’d try something similar with pumpkin slices, except I also treated them to my acorn squash treatment — a brown sugar dip before roasting. And then the roasting. And then the maple syrup glazing!

The result? Um, yum! I love maple syrup glazed anything, and adding maple syrup to my beloved veggies just makes them better!

Want to make some yourself? Let’s!

MAPLE-GLAZED ROAST PUMPKIN

  • 1/4 medium pumpkin, peeled
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (I think butter would actually taste even better)
  • 1/8 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup

Slice peeled pumpkin into 1 inch thick slabs.  Mix vegetable oil and brown sugar and coat pumpkin slices in the mixture. Place on a cookie sheet and baked at 400 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes or until the bottom of the slices are golden and caramelized, and the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Removed from oven and brush with maple syrup twice. Serve warm and enjoy your maple-enhanced veggies! 

By the way, thinner slices of pumpkin caramelize more quickly in the oven. Oh, and you could substitute in many other sorts of squash for the pumpkin in this recipe. I mean, really, you can’t go wrong by roasting a squash and then glazing it with maple syrup, amirite?

Next Post: Pumpkin Gnocchi? Best Ever Almond Bundt Cake? Or perhaps my incredibly delicious Faux Cream Cheese Icing? So many delicious things, so little time to blog about them!

Linking Up at Full Plate Thursday!

Drunken Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream: An Easy Showstopper Dessert!

They taste even better than they look!

It’s no secret that I love chocolate, and these cupcakes are a grown-up’s version of chocolate cupcakes, all fluffy cake, pillowy buttercream with a hint of something stronger, and then the actual secret sauce…a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream. That’s right, these are Drunken Cupcakes! Just pure deliciousness with a kick of something to open up your eyes and make your mouth go “um, yum!”

I cannot stress the deliciousness of these cupcakes enough. I baked a batch of Drunken Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream last week and gave one to the DH, who is notorious for not being fond of chocolate. He ate the entire cupcake in three bites. Then I brought in a batch to my workplace. My co-worker’s reaction: “I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE THE BEST!!!” (And yes, it was an ALL-CAPS type reaction.) So, I feel pretty confident that these Drunken Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream will be a hit with your family and friends too!

Aside from being super-delicious, these Drunken Cupcakes are great to look at too! They’re a bit of a conversation piece, and would be a hit at any dinner party, birthday party, drinks party, basically any time to be honest. (Like now. It’s 2 am in the morning, I’m sitting on the sofa with my laptop and some fuzzy socks, and my insomnia is wide awake and partying. Some Drunken Cupcakes would really hit the spot.)

They’re super-easy to make, as long as you can lay your hands on some plastic pipettes. I ordered mine online and got something like 50 of them for $5, so they’re not terribly expensive, as baking accessories go. Got your plastic pipettes? Got some Baileys? Then you’re good to go!

So, let’s get baking!

DRUNKEN CUPCAKES WITH BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM

  • 1 batch of my favourite chocolate cake batter
  • 1 batch of Bailey’s Irish Buttercream (recipe below)
  • 12 pipettes
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Bake cupcakes according to directions, and set aside to cool. Mix up Bailey’s Irish Buttercream, and fit into piping bag with a 1M piping tip. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in a swirl, starting at the outside and ending on the inside. Set aside, while you prepare the garnish.

Mix chocolate chips and oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smoothly melted and mixed. (You can also do the same thing on the stove, preferably in a double-boiler, but a microwave is easier.) Let cool slightly. Pour into a plastic baggie and snip a small corner of the baggie off. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the frosted cupcakes.

Using the leftover Bailey’s Irish Cream (it will be 3/4 c. less two tbsp.), fill the pipettes. I found the best way to fill them up all the way was to pinch the top (as you would when sucking up basting juices with a turkey baster) and let it fill up, then turn it upside down so that the air rises to the top of the pipette, squeeze out the air, and suck up some more liqueur. Then stick one full pipette into every cupcake. And bam, a delicious conversation-starter!

BAILEY’S IRISH BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. shortening
  • 3 1/2 c. icing sugar (add more icing sugar if you like a stiffer icing)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsps. Bailey’s Irish Cream (you can add more if you want a stronger flavour)

Whip butter and shortening together until thoroughly mixed. Add in icing sugar, vanilla, and Baileys, and mix until combined. Beat on high for at least 10 minutes.

See? Wasn’t that easy? Bake the cupcakes, pipe the icing on, drizzle some melted chocolate over it, and stick in a pipette of liqueur. Much easier to make than you’d think! And wouldn’t it be fun to do with different liqueurs? Maybe a Chambord? With a raspberry garnish? In terms of recipe experimentation, there’s as many combinations as there are liqueurs! What would be your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: I’m thinking Pumpkin Gnocchi. Or Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Slices. Either or, really. Any preferences?  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and at Happiness is Homemade!