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A Kitchen Inspired by Gifts From the Kitchen

 Megan Myers A Kitchen Inspired by Gifts From the KitchenThere's still time! Give a homemade gift from your kitchen this holiday season.
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When it comes to gift-giving, sometimes I can get stumped about what to give my friends and family. Given my prowess in the kitchen, however, it’s a natural solution to base my gifts in that area too.

From cookie mix, to the friends with kids, to dog treats for the pet owners, homemade gifts from the kitchen are a wonderful way to personalize the holiday long after the presents have been exchanged.

Packaging Perfection

Make homemade gifts even more special with these tips.

  • Tie up bundles of baked goods with holiday ribbon, colorful kitchen twine, or cut strips of pretty fabric.
  • Keep a stash of gifts handy for unexpected guests or last-minute party invitations.
  • Be sure to list ingredients and note if the gift is appropriate for those who are vegan, gluten free or follow other special diets. Keeping those gifts separate will help when it’s time to dole out the love!
  • Let your recipient know if there is a “best by” date. Homemade vanilla sugar lasts forever, but chocolate-covered fruits do not.

Here are my favorite recipes for do-it-yourself present perfection.

Treats in Jars

Gingersnap Cookies

gingersnap cookiesIngredients
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg

Spoon brown sugar into a 1-quart jar and press down until you have an even layer. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl; spoon into jar over brown sugar. Sprinkle ginger, cinnamon and cloves over the top. Seal jar until ready to use.

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour cookie mix into a large bowl and stir in butter and egg. Roll dough into balls the size of large marbles and place an inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in the middle of the oven until firm and lightly browned on edges, about 14 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

2 cups evaporated cane juice sugar
2 vanilla bean, cut into small pieces
1 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Put sugar and vanilla bean into a food processor and pulse until vanilla bean is very finely chopped and well incorporated. Strain vanilla sugar through a fine sieve, discarding any large pieces of vanilla bean that remain; transfer 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar to a large bowl. (Save remaining vanilla sugar for another use.) Add milk, cocoa and salt to bowl with sugar, stir well and then transfer to an airtight container.

To make hot chocolate, put 1/4 cup of the mix and 1 cup boiling water into a mug and stir well.

Recipe Boosters

citrussaltCitrus Salt

2 cups sea salt, grey salt or fleur de sel
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

Preheat oven to 225°F. Mix salt with zest and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake 2 hours, until zest is dry. Place in a food processor or blender and pulse until evenly mixed. Divide evenly and package in decorative containers for gift giving.

Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add sugar, tomato paste, mustard and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly until darkened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar and cranberries and continue to cook, stirring often, until cranberries begin to pop, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool slightly.

Transfer contents of the pot to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer to a jar, seal tightly and refrigerate.

For Furry Friends

spicedpumpkindogtreatsSpiced Pumpkin Dog Treats

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
2 cups brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise or cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water, stir the mixture and let sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, star anise and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add flaxseed mixture, pumpkin and peanut butter and mix well with a wooden spoon until dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12×4-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch strips and give each piece a little pinch in the middle to mimic the shape of dog bones or use a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until treats are completely hard, about 1 hour. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Sweet Potato Apple Dog Treats

3/4 cup cooked plain mashed sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons chicken or beef broth (or water)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sweet potatoes and broth. Add flour, cornmeal, mint and apples and stir until combined. Knead the dough a few times until it holds together. Roll out half of the dough on a generously floured surface until about 1/4-inch thick. Use (2- to 4-inch) cookie cutters to cut out treats. Transfer to baking sheets; reroll and cut the remaining dough.

Bake until dried and just slightly golden on the bottoms, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave oven door ajar and let the treats cool and dry out in the oven for 1 to 2 hours. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Find more gift ideas here. What holiday gifts do you create in your kitchen? Send us an email.

With “A Kitchen Inspired” we will share with you the current and up and coming ingredients, products and cooking methods that inspire our team members, chefs and the kitchen at Whole Foods Market Dublin.

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement.

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