A Gluten-Free Holiday—Gifts of Good Taste

This is the third week of A Gluten-Free Holiday. I hope you’ve been enjoying the event; I certainly have. Even when I get a little overwhelmed with all the holiday season can entail, I know I can fall back on all the helpful information (recipes, tips, holiday strategies, etc.) offered in this series! Certainly one of the most stressful areas of the holidays can be gift giving. I know that should not be the case, but it often is. There’s the fact that these are tougher economical times for many, there’s the fact that lots of folks don’t really “need” anything, and there’s the fact that you just don’t know what to buy Aunt Margie, Uncle Frank, or their son, Joey (who you only see once a year and you’re not sure he remembers your name) … just to name a few of the facts that can . In my opinion, the solution can be to go back to basics, back to everyone’s common denominator, so to speak—food.

This week’s hostess for our Gluten-Free Holiday event, Alta (Tasty Eats At Home), is sharing her recipes for gifts that will make everyone happy. Her choices are Macadamia Almond Brittle and Pistachio Coconut Macaroons (photo courtesy of Alta). Oh, to be closer to Alta and be on her gift list! But, no worries, because she tells us all how to make these heavenly delights, so I can enjoy some of these treats and make some for gifts, too. There’s a roundup for everyone to enter their foodie gifts or packaging ideas, as well as another giveaway you won’t want to miss.

This time you can win copies of two more well-loved cookbooks—Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking: More than 250 From Scratch Recipes from Around the World, Perfect for Every Meal and Anyone on a Gluten-Free Diet—and Even Those Who Aren’t by Pete and Kelli Bronski and Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy, Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy by Jules E. Dowler Shepard. I had the ultimate honor of getting to preview Pete and Kelli’s cookbook. I found their wonderful blog, No Gluten, No Problem, long ago. It’s still one of my favorites. You’ll find my review of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking here at gfe and my recommendation right inside the front cover of their book. I consider it a comprehensive resource for gluten-free cooking. Be on the lookout for Pete and Kelli’s new cupcakes cookbook in Spring 2011.

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reviewing Jules’ new book although I plan to soon and the few reviews that are on Amazon are 5-star ones! (FYI–Her first book, The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, is one I often recommend to new support group members.)  Jules is also well known for her gluten-free flour mix that produces amazing results, as well as other products, including helpful e-books. You can check out her site here.

So head on over to Alta’s to check it all out, but please return to read some more gift ideas here and what’s in store for the Gluten-Free Holiday event the next few weeks!

What food gifts can you make that will ensure that the folks on your Christmas list are happy? In my post on gift giving last year, I shared that one of my nephew’s had requested my Crustless Coconut Pie along with all the other cool stuff he requested. I was tickled that he found my pie that worthy and he was thrilled when he received his pie. He made it last for days! Remembering that still makes me smile. This year, another niece and nephew have both requested my Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now they didn’t just say please have your cookies when we get together for Christmas; they specifically asked for those as their gifts—sweet!

My husband’s late aunt and uncle always loved a particular snack mix that I made. A big tin of this treat was truly all they wanted or needed. I plan to share this recipe in another post, well before Christmas, so you can make it for gifts or munching as you decorate your tree or home.

If you know that you have family members who love certain recipes, just make them as a gift for them. They will love your thoughtfulness and not having to share if they don’t want!

How about “homemade” Turtle Treats for someone on your list? Made from Rolos, pretzels, and pecans, these turtles aren’t completely homemade, of course. But, they come together quickly, and, seriously, nobody on your list will complain. Place some tissue paper in a small box or tin, add a few of these turtles, and I guarantee your recipient will be pleased.

I’ve been told by several gfe readers that they’ve made my Pumpkin Butter in a “test run” and will be making more for holiday gifts. Great, easy recipe that only requires a few ingredients and some small, clean jars. (Recycled ones would work just as well as fancy canning jars.)

Last year, I shared how to make Honey Butter and Homemade Vanilla Extract (both shown in top photo). Honey butter is a gift that can made pretty close to last minute and while the vanilla extract takes weeks to be at its full potency, most gift recipients don’t immediately open it and start using it. So it’s still a wonderful homemade gift option if you make it soon.

Are you familiar with the 3-Minute Chocolate Cake that is made in the microwave in a mug or a bowl? Give an oversized mug or pretty bowl with the dry ingredients included, all sealed with plastic wrap. Attach the recipe. The recipients will only have to add the liquid ingredients for an instant treat. They’ll think of you fondly every time they make that chocolate cake, and they will make it again, because it’s so easy to make and it’s somewhat addictive–so it’s sort of a gift that keeps on giving!

Speaking of cakes, a favorite gift of many is pound cake. Perfect Pound Cake will please any recipient. The fact that it’s gluten free and dairy free only needs to be mentioned to those who have those intolerances. Others don’t need to know and won’t have any idea; as the name says, it’s perfect.  Make smaller or even super mini-loaves, if you like. Finally, if you have a lemon lover on your gift list, a reader’s question just reminded me that Alta (Tasty Eats At Home) made a lemon version of my pound cake. Check that out here.

This past weekend in the USA Weekend supplement to our newspaper, there was an article on Gifts from the Kitchen. All of the recipes came from well-known chefs. I scanned the recipes and the ingredients: Salsa All’Amatriciana … yes, gluten free … Basil Butter … basil, butter, and salt—gluten free … Honey Walnut Butter … a lovely variation on my honey butter, and, gluten free … Chocolate Bark … chocolate chips, oil, extract, nuts, etc.—gluten free? check! … Spiced Cocoa … just brown sugar, Dutch-processed cocoa, and cayenne pepper—again, gluten free … Pumpkin Seed Dried Cherry Trail Mix … nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and maple syrup—okay, safe! … and finally, Orangecello made using navel oranges, vodka (distilled alcohol is gluten free), water, and sugar—yippee—every single recipe was gluten free! Now how cool is that? A whole section of gift ideas that were naturally gluten free—gfe, baby! Now there was not one mention of them being gluten free, but that’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, because chances are if they were recipes that were identified as gluten free, they’d most likely contain processed foods and gluten-free specialty items. Not everyone wants to eat those or wants to pay what are usually high prices for them. Once you know which basic ingredients are safe, you can scan any recipes in an article or a cookbook and know if you can make them as is or make a simple substitution to make them gluten free. You can get all the recipes from the Gifts from the Kitchen article here.

Here are some other great Christmas gift ideas:

First, from my friends (in addition to Alta) who are participating in A Gluten-Free Holiday, starting with our lovely hostess:

Amy (Simply Sugar & Gluten Free) with No Bake Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. Amy makes hers into two-bite treats. Just from the photo, you can tell these are seriously good.

Diane (The W.H.O.L.E. Gang) with Twisted Chocolate Bark (with a surprise ingredient … one of my favorites!) and rockin’ video to boot.

Carrie (Ginger Lemon Girl) with her sought-after cookies—Double Fudge Walnut Cookies, The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Gingerbread Cookies.

Ricki (Diet, Dessert, and Dogs) with another creation of hers that will astound, Dark “Chocolate” Nut Bark. Why does it astound? Because it’s gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free … but just take a look at the photo and imagine receiving this bark as a gift.

And, here are some more gift-worthy treats from other blogging buddies:

Stephanie’s (A Year of Slow Cooking) Slow Cooker Sugared Cinnamon Almonds—made in the slow cooker.

Heidi’s (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom) Handcrafted Dairy-Free and Casein-Free Caramels … check out the photos. Caramels that you can twist or  sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares.

Tia’s (Glugle Gluten FreeLimoncello Need I say more?

Maggie’s (She Let Them Eat Cake) is packaging her gluten-free flour mix and other homemade mixes so her friends and family can easily bake gluten free and enjoy gluten-free treats. All with with adorable Maggie-styled recipe cards/instructions and packaging I might add!

Cathy (Noble Pig) just made some Nutty Vanilla Granola. I’d be thrilled if someone gave me this homemade granola. (Again, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats.) (Read more here.)

Shelley, a reader at Get Rich Slowly (a personal finance blog I enjoy), shares inexpensive food and non-food gift ideas here. Even if you’ve read some of them before, I think you’ll appreciate the “jog” to your memory.

The Gluten-Free Holiday event will continue on for several more weeks. Check out what else is in store below.

December 2nd –Holiday Entrees & Sides  Dishes at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang

Bring your families favorite entrees and sides.  Diane will be ready for them all.  Although Hanukkah starts on December 2nd, we still hope to see some of your favorite dishes.


~1 copy of Gluten-Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern

~1 copy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern

~1 copy of Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller

~3 copies of Sweet Freedom, the e-book, by Ricki Heller

December 9th – Holiday Breakfast & Brunch at Ginger Lemon Girl

A warm, cozy breakfast or brunch is a wonderful way to start off your holiday (or any day!).  This is a great time to help someone else to whip up your fabulous gluten-free cinnamon rolls or a crumb-topped coffee cake by sharing your favorite recipe.


~4 copies of The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

~4 Elana’s Pantry eco-friendly totes

~2 copies of Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone

~3 copies of The Gluten-Free Diner e-book by Diane Eblin

December 16th – Holiday Desserts at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

Just like it sounds – bring your favorite gluten-free Christmas desserts for all to share.  Cookies, pies, truffles, cakes, and candies….we want to try them all. Desserts are always the most popular blog posts … no surprise there!

Giveaways: You’ll get these books hot off the press before anyone else!!

~3 copies of More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O’Dea (release date Dec. 28)

~3 copies of Simply Sugar- and Gluten-Free (release date January 1)

So, get your recipe box out and start browsing…then get in the kitchen and start cooking for the best ever gluten-free holiday!

There’s clearly a lot of fun still to be had! I hope to catch up with all of you at these events!

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


22 Responses to “A Gluten-Free Holiday—Gifts of Good Taste”

  1. Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com on November 20th, 2010 5:15 pm

    I love it Shirley! I’ve got 6 bottles of your vanilla just about ready to go and I have been meaning to make your poundcake for some time now, they will look cute baked in a mini loaf pan.

    And I will definitely be making some dairy-free turtles (btw, thanks for the link love).


    • Shirley on November 20th, 2010 11:34 pm

      Hey Heidi–I can’t wait to see what you think of the pound cake! I got another rave testimonial on it just today. And, Son was bummed that I didn’t have on waiting for him when he popped home today. LOL (Bad mom.)

      I’m so glad you made the vanilla … it just couldn’t be easier and it so much cheaper and better quality. Did you know that McCormick’s now adds corn syrup to their vanilla? A friend shared that info on FB the other day. :-(

      Those turtles are divine! Can’t wait to see you dairy-free version. Those caramels you made are just so amazing, Heidi!


  2. Ricki on November 20th, 2010 5:58 pm

    How fabulous–a surfeit of amazing gift ideas! Thanks so much for all of these. And how great to know that GF gifts abound in general (whether acknowledged as such or not!). I’m leaning toward the pumpkin butter and homemade vanilla, but I love the idea of the cake-in-a-mug kit–as I said, fabulous! :D

    • Shirley on November 21st, 2010 12:40 am

      Hi Ricki–Ah, thanks so much, dear! :-) Wasn’t that article with gifts of food that were naturally gluten free, amazing? I forgot to note it in my post, but many were also dairy free and/or refined sugar free, or adaptable.

      I haven’t made one of those 3-min cakes in a while, but I’ve had fun with them in the past! One can go basic or upscale with them and the containers used to “gift” them. ;-) But pumpkin butter and vanilla are great choices, too.


  3. Kim @ Cook It Allergy Free on November 20th, 2010 6:22 pm

    What a great conglomeration of holiday gift ideas. I have had the vanilla going for about 4 weeks now, and now I just need to find some time to work on all of these other great ideas! What an awesome post, Shirley. So so many thought going through my head now on what to do. (Just. Need. More. Time.) ;)

    • Shirley on November 21st, 2010 12:50 am

      Hey Kim–Thank you! So happy you’re well on your way on the vanilla extract path. :-) Four weeks in at this point means you’ll have some beautiful, fragrant vanilla come Christmas!

      If you’re looking at some of the gift that could be made well in advance, just spend 15 to 30 minutes here and there on them. For example, the 3-min chocolate cake mixes in mugs could be made that way. Pumpkin butter can be made and stashed at the back of the fridge. Of course, the hardest part can be deciding what to make and who will get what. ;-)

      I usually feel pretty good about gifts, doing some here and there, noting them on my list, etc. … and then I end up having a big panic attack at the end. LOL So I totally sympathize!


  4. Maggie on November 21st, 2010 10:52 am

    Shirley! As always your post is full of information! And thank you so much for linking to my post – you’re so sweet and supportive. Also, thank you for linking to your vanilla. I bought some beans this week so I Could make it. Here I go!

    • Shirley on November 22nd, 2010 4:46 pm

      Hey there, Maggie–Thank so much! And you’re welcome … I’m always delighted to link to all your good stuff over at She Lets Them Eat Cake. ;-)

      Woohoo on making vanilla extract! So easy to do, but makes you feel brilliant. Truly!


  5. Zoe on November 21st, 2010 2:41 pm

    I’ve yet to make my own vanilla extract but I intend to one day. The vanilla extracts I’ve used over the years has either glycerin or alcohol, depending on the brand. No added sugar or other additives, my family’s always been careful about that – we go for the real stuff. (That’s shocking that corn syrup would be used in vanilla!) Right now I’m using either Simply Organic or Whole Foods’ 365 organic brand, whichever is available or has the better price, and both use alcohol.

    • Shirley on November 22nd, 2010 4:49 pm

      Hi Zoe–When you eventually make vanilla extract, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. You’re quite the baker so I imagine you go through some vanilla in a year. Can’t wait until one day when you make it to see what you think. ;-)

      I know … shocking and disappointing on the corn syrup added to vanilla for sure. Corn syrup is everywhere these days. All the more reason to read those labels …


  6. Neva on November 21st, 2010 3:00 pm

    Thanks for all of the excellent gift ideas, several will be going under our tree to give to others

    • Shirley on November 22nd, 2010 4:52 pm

      Neva–Thank you! I hope you and the recipients will enjoy these gifts. I think I enjoy making them as much as those on my list enjoy receiving them. :-) So, I hope it works out that way for you, too. ;-)

      Have a wonderful holiday season!

  7. Lael Hazan @educatedpalate on November 21st, 2010 3:35 pm

    Great ideas! You are always a font of information. Thank you for posting all of the great links, the cake in the cup concept is BRILLIANT! I think I’m going to do that for the teacher gifts this year.

    • Shirley on November 22nd, 2010 4:55 pm

      Hey Lael–Thanks! I can’t take credit for those cakes in the cup, but I certainly have enjoyed creating them from time to time. ;-) Stacy Miller who commented has two books out of Microwaveable Mug Cakes, one that’s gluten free and one that’s not. I think your girls’ teachers will enjoy receiving the cakes in a cup as gifts. I know I would have as a teacher. After a long day, adding a few ingredients, popping the mug in the microwave for 3 minutes, and ending up with a delightful chocolate cake would have been wonderful!


  8. Rachel @ The Crispy Cook on November 21st, 2010 8:47 pm

    Terrific ideas. I know the older folks on my gift-giving list don’t want “stuff” so much as food gifts or other practical gifts (books, postage stamps, bird seed) and this list is great. I love Alta’s wealth of GF gift ideas too. Those easy turtles sound like fantastic last-minute gift ideas.

    Hugs from upstate New York!

    • Shirley on November 22nd, 2010 5:00 pm

      Hi Rachel–Thanks! I liked your gift ideas on your site, too. :-) I don’t think you have to be too old to not want “stuff” any more. I’m so over clutter and want gifts like you mentioned. Ones that I don’t have to dust for one thing, or hide away and bring out when Aunt Mary drops by. ;-) There are sooo many options and usually they aren’t in the sales flyers.

      Alta’s recipes for gifts were so scrumptious, weren’t they? I wanted to reach through the screen to grab some of her bark or those cookies! Yes, the turtles are super quick and easy. They’re fun for kids to help make and package, too. :-)

      Hugs back!

  9. Linda on November 22nd, 2010 8:12 pm

    I really want to make some food gifts this year and will be going over all the ideas after Thanksgiving.

    • Shirley on November 24th, 2010 10:21 pm

      Hi Linda–Those few days after Thanksgiving are perfect to plan some food gifts IMHO. Have fun with it!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Alta on November 26th, 2010 3:46 pm

    Great round-up, Shirley! I’m ready for everyone to send ME these edible gifts! Haha. :)

    • Shirley on November 28th, 2010 5:54 pm

      Hi Alta–Oh, what fun to just receive all these gifts—you are right! LOL, but remember the joy is in giving. ;-) A little of both will be good though. :-)


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