30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts | Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas Week 10

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground CrafterThis is the tenth in a series of 12 weeks of roundups for the handmade holidays! I’m sharing 30 delicious recipes for holiday sweets, including cookies and bars, brownies, scones, no-bake treats, and jar mixes to gift. You’re sure to find something to gift, to have ready for snacking, or to serve as dessert for your holiday meal.

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30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts

Roundup by Underground Crafter

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground CrafterI don’t know about you, but there’s something about cookies and truffles and other yummy sweets that makes the holidays feel special for me. Whether you love baking from scratch or prefer to add ingredients to a boxed mix, you’ll find some tasty treats in this roundup. I’ve included some vegan and gluten-free options, as well as a doggy safe recipe, to satisfy many dietary preferences.

4 Recipes for Scones and Cakes Recipes

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground Crafter - scones and cakes collageIf you’re baking for a crowd or just want to take your baking up a notch, try a cake or a scone! Shown clockwise from top left.

13 Recipes for Cookies, Bars, and Brownies

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground Crafter - cookies, bars, and brownies collageCookies, bars, and brownies can be divided up into individual gifts or left out for munching during the holiday.

Clockwise from top left around border:

6 No-Bake Desserts

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground Crafter - no-bake treats collageThese no-bake desserts make portable and giftable treats. Shown clockwise from top left.

7 Sweet Jar Mixes

30 Delicious Holiday Sweets to Make Great Gifts via Underground Crafter - jar mix gifts collageIf you’re pressed for time, a jar mix makes a great gift! The recipient can bake on their own schedule and you can keep your kitchen relatively clean. Shown clockwise from top left.

Need more baking inspiration? Follow my Fine, I’ll Have a Food Board, Too Board on Pinterest!

Free pattern: Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop

Free crochet pattern: Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy in Wool and the Gang Billie Jean by Underground Crafter | This cozy makes the perfect gift wrap for a jar mix gift. It’s also a great cover for reused mason jars with label remnants. The drawstring allows you to gather it closed for both wide and regular mouth jars. It's just one of 9 crafty projects paired with cookie recipes for the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop!

Back in June, I visited The National NeedleArts Association’s summer trade show.

This post contains affiliate links. Yarn for the sample was generously provided by Wool and the Gang.

Free crochet pattern: Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy in Wool and the Gang Billie Jean by Underground Crafter | This cozy makes the perfect gift wrap for a jar mix gift. It’s also a great cover for reused mason jars with label remnants. The drawstring allows you to gather it closed for both wide and regular mouth jars. It's just one of 9 crafty projects paired with cookie recipes for the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop!

I got to try out all sorts of fun new-to-me yarns, including Wool and the Gang’s Billie Jean, a cotton yarn made from upcycled denim.

Wool and the Gang sent me some yarn after the show to use in an upcoming pattern. I loved the way it was packaged in a cute little bag with the #ShareYourKnits hashtag. When I was getting ready for the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop (where I’m teaming up with 8 other crafters and bakers to share cookie recipes with a coordinating craft project), I started to realize this denim yarn would make the perfect mason jar cozy.

Let’s face it: Cozies are not usually unisex. They tend to be more on the feminine side. But jar mixes make great gifts for anyone and I knew the denim would give it more of a unisex appeal. The denim yarn makes this cozy perfect for your favorite host (or hostess), or pretty much for anyone else who likes cookies, soups, or whatever other exciting mixes you can fit into a quart-sized mason jar! (By the way, you can get my recipe for the Cherry Almond Cookies jar mix here.)

If you make your own Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy, I’d love to see it! Share your progress and questions by tagging me on Facebook as @Underground Crafter, Instragram as @ucrafter, Google+ as +UndergroundCrafter, or Twitter as @ucrafter.

Add the Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy to your Ravelry favorites or queue.

Underground Crafter on Ravelry

This recipe is part of the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop. Get more recipes and projects from participating bloggers here!(Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop! 9 recipes and 9 craft tutorials!Craftsy

Free crochet pattern: Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy in Wool and the Gang Billie Jean by Underground Crafter | This cozy makes the perfect gift wrap for a jar mix gift. It’s also a great cover for reused mason jars with label remnants. The drawstring allows you to gather it closed for both wide and regular mouth jars. It's just one of 9 crafty projects paired with cookie recipes for the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop!

Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy

Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter

02-easy 50US terms 504-medium 50This cozy makes the perfect gift wrap for a jar mix gift. It’s also a great cover for reused mason jars with label remnants. The drawstring allows you to gather it closed for both wide and regular mouth jars.

Finished Size

  • Quart Jar: Approximately 12.5” (32 cm) circumference x 6.25” (16 cm) tall.

Materials

  • Wool and the Gang’s Billie Jean (60% upcycled denim/40% upcycled raw cotton, 3.5 oz/100 g/148 yd/135 m) – 1 skein in Dirty Denim, or approximately 126 yd (115 m) in any medium weight cotton or denim yarn.
  • US Size H-8/5 mm crochet hook, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Yarn needle.
  • Quart mason jar.

Gauge

  • Through Rnd 4 in pattern = 4” (10 cm) diameter. For best fit, always check your gauge.

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern

  • BL – back loop only
  • ch – chain
  • dc – double crochet
  • rep – repeat
  • Rnd(s) – Round(s)
  • sc – single crochet
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • sp – space
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • * Repeat instructions after asterisk as indicated.

Wool and the Gang US

Pattern Instructions

Cozy

  • Starting at base, ch 4, skip 3 ch, join with sl st to first ch to form ring.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc, here and throughout), 9 dc in ring, join with sl st to top of first ch 3. (10 sts)
  • Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, *2 dc in next st; rep from * around, join with sl st to top of first ch 3. (20 sts)
  • Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same st and next st, *2 dc in next st, dc in next st; rep from * around, join with sl st to top of first ch 3. (30 sts)
  • Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 2 sts, *2 dc in next st, dc in next 2 sts; rep from * around, join with sl st to BL of top of first ch 3. (40 sts)
  • Rnd 5: Ch 1, scBL in same st and each st around, join with sl st to first sc.
  • Rnd 6: Ch 3, dc in next st and each st around, join with sl st to top of first ch 3.
  • Rep Rnd 6 – 9 more times, or until cozy measures approximately 6” (15 cm) from Rnd 5.
  • Rnd 7: Ch 1, sc in same st, ch 1, *sc in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st; rep from * around, join with sl st to first sc. Fasten off. (41 sts – 21 sc + 20 ch-1 sp)

Drawstring

  • Make a chain approximately 30” (76 cm) long. Fasten off with long yarn tail for assembly.

Assembly

  • Thread yarn needle with long yarn tail of drawstring. Starting at center front of cozy (opposite of seam), use yarn needle to weave drawstring through ch-1 sp on Rnd 7 of cozy. Alternate between bringing needle from front to back of ch-1 sp and then from back to front of next ch-1 sp. Continue in this fashion until drawstring is woven through Rnd 7.

Finishing

  • With yarn needle, weave in ends of drawstring and cozy.
  • Place cozy on mason jar. Tie drawstring to close.
© 2016 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter). This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the pattern to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from this pattern. Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this pattern or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the pattern, point your friends to this link:  http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2016/10/01/free-pattern-drawstring-mason-jar-cozy. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

Add the Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy to your Ravelry favorites or queue.

Underground Crafter on Ravelry

This recipe is part of the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop. Get more recipes and projects from participating bloggers here!(Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop! 9 recipes and 9 craft tutorials!

 

Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie #recipe by Underground CrafterRecently, MC and I have gotten back into the habit of cooking more regularly. With a small apartment kitchenette, cooking meals from scratch can sometimes be a pain. (I shared tips for making the most of a small kitchen in this post, if you, too, have a tiny kitchen.)

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Lately, I’ve been coping by using the toaster oven for most of my baking. Using the oven to store pots and pans allows us to maximize our counter space.

This recipe has its roots back in 2003 when I was a member of a cooking club. Each month, a group of friends (and friends of friends) would gather at one of our apartments and bring food prepared according to the theme. Since I was (even then) ridiculously organized about lists and the like, I was in charge of making the “recipe book” after each month’s meeting. This recipe started as an Oreida Chicken Tot Pie (the original recipe is no longer online) for our “Budget Americana” theme.

Over the years, the recipe has undergone quite a few revisions. The tots were abandoned long ago and a pie crust was added. It has since turned into the perfect use for leftover chicken. I also make an annual Thanksgiving leftover version (because who doesn’t love turkey pot pie?). Now, we usually make this using chicken we’ve prepared in the slow cooker.

I’ve included some suggestions for customizing the recipe to make it your own, too. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe by Underground Crafter

Chicken Pot Pie #recipe by Underground CrafterIngredients

  • 2 frozen 9-inch pie crusts
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy soup (like creamy potato leek soup), or 10.5 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup and 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions

  • Take pie crusts out of freezer and set aside to bring to room temperature. (If using homemade pie crusts, add one crust to 9-inch pie pan. Set other crust aside.)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. (If cooking in the toaster over, preheating isn’t necessary.)
  • In a large frying pan, melt butter.
  • Add the potatoes and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes, or until slightly translucent.
  • Add carrots and stir to combine. Sauté for another 2 minutes, or until carrots are slightly browned.
  • Stir in shallots and garlic and heat for 5 minutes, or until both are softened and tender.
  • Add chicken, peas, creamy soup or condensed soup and light cream, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour mixture into pie crust in pan.
  • Top with other pie crust. Adjust the top crust and crimp together the edges to seal.
  • With sharp knife, cut several slices into the top crust to allow venting.
  • Bake pie about 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and you can hear liquid bubbling.

Variations

  • Skip the pie crust, ditch the fingerling potatoes, and use an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking dish to make a casserole version. Top with your favorite recipe for mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Substitute your favorite veggies for the carrots and peas. You can also use a frozen vegetable medley instead of fresh veggies.
  • If using 9-inch deep dish pie crusts, you can add about 3 cups of cooked chicken or turkey. You may need to adjust your liquids, too.
  • Use themed seasonings and veggies. For example, add cayenne pepper and corn instead of peas for a Southwestern theme.
  • If you don’t use dairy, we’ve also substituted water, coconut milk or coconut creamer, and almond milk for the light cream with good results.

Do you have favorite Chicken Pot Pie variations?

Book review: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Back in July, I went to #BlogHer15, a blogging conference which just happened to be right here in New York City.

Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I’m a sucker for freebies. (It’s actually a pretty bad habit, especially when you live in a New York City apartment.) While I was in the vendor expo, I came across the Best Buy Wedding Registry booth. There was line to take a photo with someone I wasn’t all that familiar with in exchange for a free cookbook. Since I love to bake, it seemed worthwhile to spend a few minutes in line.

Sally McKenney and Marie Segares at #BlogHer15. Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterSally McKenney even autographed my book.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterShe seemed nice enough so I looked her up when I got home, and found out that her blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction, is filled with some incredible yumminess.

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Since then, I’ve read through the book, also called Sally’s Baking Addiction, and today I’m sharing my review.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafterSally’s Baking Addiction is a visual delight. In the opening section, Sally shares her list of kitchen essentials and provides more details about the ingredients (such as which brands and types of peanut butters she used).

The book primarily consists of recipes – 76 in total. In each recipe, there’s a “Sally Says” section that includes tips or more details.The book also includes vibrant photographs (usually two or three for each recipe), and it’s organized into eight chapters:

  • Breads & Muffins includes 9 recipes,
  • Breakfast includes 8 recipes,
  • Brownies & Bars includes 10 recipes,
  • Cakes, Pies, & Crisps includes 10 recipes,
  • Candy & Sweet Snacks includes 10 recipes,
  • Cookies includes 10 recipes,
  • Cupcakes includes 8 recipes, and
  • Healthier Chocies includes 11 recipes.

One of my favorite details about the book is that Sally includes information about how (and how long) to store each item after baking at the end of the recipe.

Like me, Sally has a fondness for peanut butter and chocolate, Nutella, and bananas. The recipes lean heavily towards the sweet side of things. (The book’s subtitle is Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix.) I would say the title of the “Healthier Choices” section is a bit dubious, but that’s ok. I don’t think any one is picking up this book with the expectation of finding anything remotely healthy inside!

Other than the tendency towards super sweet (which may or may not be your baking preference), there isn’t much I didn’t like about this book.

Sally's #Baking Addiction by @sallysbakeblog, book review by @ucrafter

I made the Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Bread, and it was a hit. I actually skipped the glaze because I thought we might go into sugar shock, but in my younger years, I probably would have added it.

One thing I didn’t like about the book is that when ingredients are divided, it wasn’t noted on the ingredients list. So, when making the extremely delicious apple bread, I actually added all my chopped pecans into the batter because when I glanced over to the ingredients list to check the amount, it didn’t indicate they would be divided. That’s a relatively minor flaw.

I would highly recommend Sally’s Baking Addiction if you enjoy baking sweet treats – especially over-the-top sweet treats! It has great pictures, recipes that cover a range of goodies, and helpful storage hints. If you aren’t into super sweet desserts, you should skip it as there won’t be much for you inside.

Canning BasicsFull disclosure: A free copy of Sally’s Baking Addiction was provided by the Best Buy Wedding Registry. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book review: Meet Me At Mike’s Crafty Journal by Pip Lincolne

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If you’re looking for the right journal for yourself or another crafty journaler in your life, you may want to check out Meet Me At Mike’s Crafty Journal by Pip Lincolne.  I recently received a review copy from the Independent Publishers Group.

Pip Lincolne is an Australian crafter, blogger, writer, and former shopkeeper at Meet Me at Mike’s.  This is just the type of fun journal you would expect from another crafter.  The journal opens with a welcoming note from Pip, and then jumps right into the first project: beginner instructions for a granny square.  The instructions are written very conversationally, and you have the feeling that you’re sitting next to Pip on a couch while she’s talking you through your first granny.  (The instructions use Australian/UK terminology.)   The book also includes instructions for three other projects: a felt brooch by Anna Laura Blandford, an amigurumi panda crochet pattern by Jess McCaughey (Teddy Bear’s Wednesday), and a recipe for pink lamingtons.  The projects are geared towards a beginner, because while the journal is set up for a crafter, it doesn’t assume you have knowledge of any particular craft.  In the back of the book, there are cute illustrated instructions for basic embroidery, crochet, and knitting stitches.

The book also includes about 150 pages of journal paper, organized into sections with lined paper, pattern making paper, graph paper, and grid paper.

The pages have cute edgings which appear hand drawn, as well as occasional photographs of crafty supplies like buttons, or suggestions like “make greeting cards!”

This would definitely be a fun book to use for keeping track of your creative ideas or for a “regular” journal as well.

The journal ends with a list of crafty website and other “ace places to visit” on the web for creative inspiration and tutorials.  In the back, there is a pocket called Bits and Bobs which includes a poster-sized foldout printed on sturdy paper.  One side is basically a poster of the various illustrations and photographs included in the journal.  The other side, called the Organise My Life Chart, includes sections for important things to do, things to make, books to read, movies to see, places to go, and recipes to try.

Overall, this is a really fun journal for any crafter who likes to have a book for writing down notes, ideas, and sketches.  The range of paper types and the elastic closure make it especially helpful.  The hard cover binding makes it durable enough to survive journeys to your craft group or guild meetings, and, for those of you who need a big visual “to do” list, the Organise My Life Chart would be a big help.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.