Easy Kitchen Gift: Seasoned Salt

Home made seasoned salt

When you are maxed out on fudge and brittle and candy canes – it is a real treat to get a jar of home made seasoned salt.

No! It’s not too late to whip up little jars full of one of your kitchen go-to seasoning mixes! Just think of the seasonings you use most: some of my favorites are cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder. Then, whip up a batch and hand it out to friends and family.

I use 3 parts salt, one part pepper (use the fresh-ground, multi-colored peppercorn good stuff here), 1/2 part garlic powder, 1/2 part onion powder – and nothing else.

I use this seasoning most every time I cook, and it is magic, I tell you. You can use it in most any savory dish – meats and vegetables alike. I like to use it on meats and let them sit for awhile at room temperature before cooking – and then saute the meat in cooking fat. The outsides of the meats turn out crispy and the insides are still moist.

Just get some pretty little jars at a local kitchen or container store and fill them up with this magical mixture. I put labels on mine that say “Kelly Family Kitchen Magic Dust.”

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Last Minute Kitchen Gift: Seasoned Salt
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 1½ cups
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup freshly ground pepper (I like to use multicolored peppercorns)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  1. MIx up and bottle!


DIY Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix for a Gift from Your Kitchen

Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix

Give a Savory Food Gift this Holiday Season

Persian Jeweled rice is a dish that is made for special occasions, I am guessing because it looks so festive, and the taste is exotic and unexpected. It’s not just plain old rice pilaf.

I love to give gifts from my kitchen for holiday gifts, but I wanted to make something that isn’t just the usual cookie or brownie mix in a jar. I wanted something savory that will require minimum fuss to go from jar to table.

This jeweled rice pilaf mix fits the bill perfectly. It only takes a few  minutes of prep time, and then your friends and family will think you have been slaving for hours.

I did substitute a few things to keep the cost down. Traditionally, saffron would be used, but I added a little curry powder for taste and color. And, the traditional nut is pistachios, but I like pecans. You can use whatever spice and whatever nut you like.

The flavors and textures are such an unexpected treat – sweet and salty, soft and crunchy – a party in your mouth!

Just put this mix in layers in a pretty jar and attach the directions and there you have it – the perfect food gift!

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Home Made Vanilla Extract – A Perfect Gift for the Bakers on Your list

Vanilla Extract

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Bakers: Home made Vanilla Extract

As I handed this to a dear friend a few days ago her face lit up and she hugged me and said: “I will think of you each and every time I use this!”

THAT is what I was going for in making this gift from my kitchen this year: adding a little something special for my friends and family who bake at this time of year.

I used Beanilla and ordered their Madagasgar pods, which are about $1.00 each. You can go cheaper, but these are the most pungent beans, a plus if you’re making this late in the season – because they infuse their flavor quickly. You can choose another style – Tahiti beans are more floral; Mexican beans are more cinnamon-y.

Every site recommends a different amount of time for letting your beans steep – but most folks recommend 6 to 8 weeks minimum. But, don’t panic if you want to give these for Christmas – just attach a cut tag detailing when your extract will be most flavorful. I filled my jars at the beginning of November and the liquid is already getting dark and very potently vanilla.

Food bloggers are all over this fabulous idea. I was inspired by Food in Jars to make this gift. Pennies on a Platter has instructions as well as cute labels to print out. Alexandra of Alexandra’s Kitchen made her extract in the summer so it would steep until the holidays. Joy the Baker stashes her extract for eight weeks before using.

General ratio: 1 cup vodka for 2 beans. Slice your pods open lengthwise, stuff into your jars and fill with vodka. Then, be a hero to your favorite bakers!

Vanilla Extract

Gifts from Your Kitchen: Home made Vanilla Extract

— posted by Donna

Garden Gazpacho Recipe in a Jar – A Gift of Love from Your Garden

Gazpacho in a Jar – A gift from the Garden

I still remember the first time I got a gift from a garden. It was when I had a newborn baby and was in a new town and didn’t know a soul. I was feeling that overwhelming Oh-My-Gosh-I-am-Responsible-for-This-Tiny-Creature! feeling, and very isolated. One day I opened up my front door to a huge pile of produce – blackberries included! – with a sweet note from the gardener. Naturally, I cried. And that gardener became one of my very best friends – of all time. To this day, we talk regularly and laugh and cry together as only old friends can do together.

This year, we at the Kellys have an over-abundance of produce this year – including cherry tomatoes – those little globes of Mother-Nature made candy. So nice of her to create tomatoes in a travel-friendly form.

So, I decided to depart from my usual Salsa Fairy duties ((I am known throughout the neighborhood for leaving jars of spicy smoky goodness on doorsteps)) and spread Gazpacho Love through my little corner of the world.

BTW, did you know that gazpacho was a soup that originally had no tomatoes? Because there were none in Spain until the conquest of the new world. At least that’s what food geek Alton Brown explains in his 1 minute gazpacho production video – worth a look if you’re an AB addict like me.

I decided to make it pretty and layer the veggies in a jar and let the blending be done just before eating.

So,  just attach a note proclaiming Gazpacho Love – with instructions to blend and add tomato juice and seasonings at will.

Even my neighbor kids ask about my garden gifts in anticipation now, so – Be forewarned: You will have a reputation to uphold for generations to come!

— posted by Donna

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Cranberry Orange Jam Recipe – for You and The Neighbors!

Cranberry Orange Jam recipe - with Cream Cheese Toasts

Cranberry Orange Jam on Cream Cheese Toasts

Why don’t we use cranberries more often? They’re healthy (some call them Nature’s Antibiotics!), cheap, easy to use and pack a flavor punch.

If spring time brings strawberry jam, why not Cranberry Jam at Christmas time??? This is a super easy and flavor-packed jam – good enough to give out to the neighbors for gifts.

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Fire and Ice and Everything Nice Spiced Nuts Recipe

Fire and Ice Spiced Nuts - with gift packaging!

Fire and Ice Spiced Nuts – with gift packaging!

I always look forward to spicy nuts during the holidays – such a nice change from sugary treats. These are Anne’s creation, a variation from an Epicurious recipe – so good that I have been craving them all year and I couldn’t wait to make them for Christmas this year. The spiciness is balanced by the coolness of the crystallized ginger and craisins. Yum.

Make up a couple of big batches to give to all the neighbors, and be sure to make plenty extra – – they’re very addicting!


2 teaspoons of each of the following spices:
Chinese Five Spice, Cinnamon, Ginger, cumin
1 teaspoon of each of the following:
chipotle chile powder (or smoked paprika),
garlic powder, kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon molasses
2 large egg whites, beaten until frothy
6 cup total mixed nuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced
1/2 cup craisins, diced

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Stir all spices together with molasses and egg whites. Toss with nuts. Spread on baking sheets so that nuts are in a single layer.

Roast for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with crystallized ginger and craisins. Spread out to cool completely.

— posted by Donna

Basic English Scone Mix Recipe and Two Variations: Orange Cranberry Scones Recipe and Herb Cheddar Scones Recipe

Savory Cheddar Scones using Basic Scone Mix

Savory Cheddar Scones using Basic Scone Mix

I love to give gifts from my kitchen!

This English scone mix recipe is one of my new favorites – so easy for a gift recipe mix or just a recipe mix to have on hand to save time and stress during the holidays. I made these scones in the Brittish style, with NO eggs. My inspiration for making a pantry scone mix was Ina Garten’s Cream Scones. The texture is light and fluffy but still rich. Amazing. You can make dozens of variations from this basic mix.

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