Holiday Hostess Gifts

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Now is when I start thinking about all the holiday get-togethers that will be upon us before too long. This year we are invited to our Pastor’s for Thanksgiving as well as a few other dinner parties and such that I would like to bring a small token gift to the gracious hostess. Typically, gift giving for me consists of something I’ve made. An apron, tee towel and/or some sort of goodie from the kitchen. This year, I’ve collected some old bottles and jars as I’ve antiqued and junked and plan to make Homemade Vanilla, Vanilla Sugar, Cranberry Vinegar and Cranberry-Mustard. These are all very easy to make but some require time to develop their flavor so the time is right to get started.

Homemade Vanilla

1/2-pint Vodka
4 whole vanilla beans
Seal tight bottle or container
Decorative bottle or jar

Using a sharp kitchen knife, cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each vanilla bean. Cut vanilla beans into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces. Pour vodka into your container. Add vanilla beans to container and shake. Wait and shake. It will take 30-days for the vanilla extract to mature. Once each day, vigorously shake the container for 30-seconds. Once the 30-day cycle has finished, strain the liquid through a colander or coffee filter and place in decorative bottle. Makes 8-ounces. Bourbon vanilla can be made by switching out the vodka for bourbon.

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, whole or scraped
2 cups granulated sugar

If vanilla bean is whole, slice down side of bean with back of knife and scrape seeds into airtight container with the sugar. Bury bean in sugar and seal tightly with lid. Let sit for 1 to 2 weeks. Use as you would regular, granulated sugar.

Cranberry Vinegar

2 cups good red wine vinegar
½ cup fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp sugar

Place vinegar, cranberries and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil; immediately lower flame. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until fruit is tender. Cool. Pour into sterilized jar. Store in cool, dark place for at least 4 days.
Pour vinegar through strainer, removing cranberries. Pour gently into decorative glass jar or vinegar cruet for serving. Makes about 2 cups.

Horseradish-Cranberry Mustard

2 16-ounce cans whole cranberry sauce
1/2 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce (or more, to taste)
1 5-ounce jar cream style horseradish
1 2-ounce can Colman’s Mustard
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. (If you prefer a slightly sweeter mixture, use more of the jellied cranberry sauce.) Pulse until thoroughly combined and whole cranberries are slightly crushed. Use as a condiment with turkey or ham. The flavors improve over time, so make this at least one week in advance. There will be plenty to share with friends and family. Keeps in the refrigerator for at least one month.

Cranberry Chutney

1 3/4 pounds tart apples, chopped
2 1/4 pounds cranberries
2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon pepper flakes
1/2 pound dark raisins

Place all ingredients in saucepan and cook 25 to 30 minutes.

Posting to Foodie Friday at Michael's Designs by Gollum. Thanks for hosting, Michael!


  1. I love all these recipes --I should try and make the vanilla -I bet it would taste so much better than the vanilla you tast out of the store. Thanks for all the recipes.

  1. Christa said...:

    These are such great ideas!

    Thanks for sharing your recipes.


  1. Lori E said...:

    These will be very welcome gifts. So thoughtful to make something from home.

  1. I've never heard of anyone making vanilla-cool! My husband loves chutney, I'm going to try your recipe. I love homemade gifts.


  1. What a wonderful idea. I was just out shopping tonight thinking of hostess gifts. I think I should make them - thanks for the inspiration.

  1. Sharon said...:

    Good morning Gail :)

    These are WONDERFUL ideas! Thanks so much for sharing :) I love cranberry and Vanilla so these are perfect for the hostess and me :)

    Have a beautiful weekend!

  1. Kathleen said...:

    Those are lovely gifts! Who wouldn't appreciate those?
    I have made my own vanilla for years.
    I buy the big bottle of vodka, the beans, and leave it in the basement for about 6 months..

    Gail! The mail just came and your package arrived..Have to go open it..
    Thank you!

  1. Wonderful ideas for gifts - all of them! I've never tried making my own vanilla but you've given me inspiration. I love the old bottles!

  1. Charlene said...:

    Where do you buy the vanilla beans? Are they at the regular grocery store and I just haven't noticed them, or do you have to get them from a specialty store? I'd like to try this!

  1. Mary said...:

    Any one of these would be a wonderful hostess gift. Thanks so much for sharing the with us. Have a wonderful day.

  1. Those are all inspiring gifts! And, the cranberry chutney just makes me drool!

  1. Anita said...:

    Great gift ideas. Thanks for sharing...I plan on making the homemade vanilla!

  1. Marcia said...:

    Thanks for the interesting ideas; very fresh!

  1. I just had to comment again -got lucky this morning at an estate sale and got two pretty bottles like yours --now to go get the vodka.

  1. Megan said...:

    Wow, I'm so interested in making the vanilla and hadn't ever thought about that! Thank you for the recipe and creative ideas on how to bottle it.

  1. Mrs P- Thank you for the wonderful ideas. I have wanted to make my own vanilla extract for awhile now- so now I have a great recipe!!!!
    I am so glad I came for a visit.

  1. Anne said...:

    I think it's too late for me to try these as Christmas gifts, but I might have to make some for myself! :)

  1. jenjen said...:

    What wonderful gifts! I have always wanted to make homemade vanilla. Such a great idea!

    Thanks for linkin up!


  1. Sherry said...:

    that chutney looks wonderful! Great hostess gifts!

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