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Homemade Food Gifts and a Box of Sunshine

The other day when I got home from work, I had a box propped in between my front door and the storm door waiting for me.  Little did I know what awaited! 

SUNSHINE!   See...

Inside were all things yellow.  And funny.  And fun.  Socks, dog treats, cat treats, sticky notes, a Wonder Woman car, gum, candy, whoopee cushion, air freshener, and least we not forget to mention... some yellow unmentionables of the g-string type!  And a princess wand and a bowl of mac and cheese (anyone who knows me knows that the mac and cheese is soooo up my alley!)!  And that's not even everything.  Lots of good stuff!

So a big ol' super sunshiny thank to you to Amy and Ms. Marossie for that special and fun gift that definitely brought a bit of Oklahoma sunshine to my gray and rainy Pacific Northwest winter!  That was awesome.

So, I've been busy making so many different things, I'm not even sure where to start!  I made some Potato and Corn Chowder recently.  It's delicious.  It's really just potato soup with some corn dropped into it for a little different texture and sweetness.  If you're really feeling it, you can sprinkle crisped bacon pieces and shredded cheese on top before consumption for those that like to take things over the top.  Which is probably most of us, right? 

Last night and this morning, I've been busily making some gift baskets for two friends.  I made some Cranberry-Cashew Bark last night.  First I melted 8 oz of dark chocolate and then in a separate bowl I melted 8 oz of white chocolate.  I lined a cookie sheet with wax paper and poured and spread out the white chocolate; then immediately topped it with the dark.  Waste no time here because once the chocolate starts to cool, it's hard to make the toppings stick.  Sprinkle with about 1 cup of dried cranberries and then 1 cup of salted cashew halves/pieces; press the toppings down into the chocolate slightly.  Let it cool for about 2 hours and then cut into pieces.  Store in an airtight container. 

This morning, I made some Caramel Bourbon Vanilla Sauce (original recipe from Martha Stewart's website).  It was actually pretty easy and it turned out to be a cute little Gift, too.  I bought some jars with little flippy-do type lids on them to pour the sauce into. 
Basically, you take 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of water and combine that in a large heavy sauce pan over medium heat.  The original instructions say not to stir it, but just swirl the pan around every once in a while, cooking until the sauce becomes an amber color.  Here's some pictures of the progression:

It takes about 20 minutes to get the nice amber color you need.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly add 1 cup of heavy cream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn off heat and add 2 tsp high quality vanilla, 2 tsp fresh squeezed Lemon Juice, 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp bourbon (I used Maker's Mark).  Stir well to combine. 
Cover and store refrigerated for up to 1 week.  When you are ready to use it, bring it to room temperature first or warm over low heat. 
The tip with this:  While the sugar mixture is browning, get everything else ready because once you add the cream, it seems like everything else moves kinda quickly (hence no actions shots of the final mixing!  And when you're adding the cream, add it as a slow drizzle and stir constantly.  It WILL bubble a lot, a lot, a lot, and that's what it is supposed to do.  Just keep stirring.).  I put the butter, vanilla and bourbon all in a little bowl together. 
I then poured the sauce into a pyrex cup for easy pouring and then poured it into my special containers.

Aren't they cute? 
The last and final thing I made were some Blueberry Scones with a Lemon Glaze.  The recipe came straight from Alton Brown's "Good Eats" show.  I sat and wrote it out as he was making biscuits.  I love him. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.
Anyway, here's what I did: 
Combine in a bowl:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
Cut into the flour mixture 4 Tbsp cold butter and 2 Tbsp shortening until mixture is crumbly in texture.  Then add 3/4 cup of cream and 1 beaten egg, stirring to combine.  Toss in 2/3 cup of blueberries (or whatever fruit you want). 
Sprinkle flour onto a surface and turn dough out onto the floured surface.  Create a round disk and flatten out slightly with hands to about 3/4" thickness or so.  Using a cutter, cut out scones and put slightly apart onto cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with additional sugar.  Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until slightly browned on top. 
Once the scones have mostly cooled, drizzle a glaze made up of about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp lemon juice and a little tiny itsy bit of water.

Now, as a final product for my gifts, here's what I have:
And what post would be complete without pictures of my naughty animals? 
Bender thought the scones smelled good. 

And this is what a guilty kitty looks like.  I recently got new furniture and he was scratching it.  I said his name, Pepper, in what some might would refer to as my "outside voice" as I was rapidly walking his direction.  He darted off into the bathroom and this is where I found him.  Made me laugh.. 

And, at the risk of spoiling my surprise since the gift recipients may see this, I'll post it anyway.
I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

"With the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible."- Julia Child

This post first appeared on Good, Better, Best, please read the originial post: here

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Homemade Food Gifts and a Box of Sunshine


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