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How to Create the Perfect DIY Stocking Stuffer

Stocking stuffers can be a challenge: items should be small and inexpensive, but you also don’t want to gift people random things they’ll never use (read: ugly, heavy keychains). During the holidays, we love putting together homemade, edible gifts—not only are they a blast to make, they’re simple to customize, and your friends and family will be super impressed.

We’ve consolidated recipes from the Plated cookbook (another fabulous holiday gift!) that are perfect to fill those stockings. Buy some mini mason jars and/or decorative bags, crank up the holiday music, and spend a wintry afternoon in your kitchen whipping up these homemade gift ideas. Pro tip: these also make terrific host and hostess gifts.

Spice Mixes

Spice Mix

Any cook—whether novice, professional, or somewhere in between—will go crazy for a homemade spice mix. Rubbing spices on ingredients creates a dense, flavorful crust and infuses even more flavor when marinating. We love making our own spice mixes and tailoring them to our personal flavor preferences. We’ve included a few favorites here, which all make ¼ cup, but can be easily doubled, tripled, or more!

Simply combine all of the spices and store in airtight jars until using.

Brown Sugar Barbecue Rub

We love this sweet and salty rub on ribs, steak, and chicken.

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

French Herb Rub

This super-versatile herb combo will have you dreaming of Provençe. We’re partial to sprinkling it on chicken, fish, beef, lamb, and veggies.

1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mexican Chili Rub

Spicy and smoky, with a hit of paprika, this Mexican-inspired blend is terrific on chicken, beef, salmon, shrimp, and veggies like corn and squash.

1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Infused Oils

oils_all

Not only do infused oils sound fancy, they are supremely easy to make, and can uplevel any dish or dressing. Whip up a batch of one of these (or all of them, why not?) and pour into small, decorative bottles. Your lucky recipients don’t need to know how easy it is…

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients for the oil infusion. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes. Strain and discard the aromatics. Store the oil in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Garlic Oil

Garlic oil is one of our favorite ways to add more depth to a salad dressing, and works well with any vinegar. Pro tip: use the cooked garlic cloves to mix into salad dressings, smash into softened butter, or spread over bread in sandwiches.
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Chile Oil

Zingy chile oil provides an earthy heat to both dressings and sauces. We love drizzling this infusion over grilled chicken or shrimp.
2 fresh Calabrian chiles or dried red chiles de árbol, sliced into ¼-inch rings
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sage Oil

Fresh sage leaves add an aromatic note to olive oil. Our favorite way to use this one? Tossed into hot spaghetti and finished with plenty of grated Parmesan.
10 Fresh sage leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Infused Honey

5. Infuse Honey

When we first made infused honey, a light bulb went off. How can something so extremely simple be so gloriously delicious and multipurpose! Choose from herby, spicy, and floral varieties below, and spoon into tiny jars. Wrap a ribbon around the lids and you’ll win that office gift exchange hands down.

Rosemary and Thyme Honey

This herbed honey is fabulous on dishes both sweet and savory. Serve it with a mild cheese (goat is our go-to, here) or drizzle over vanilla pound cake.
1 cup honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme

Lavender Honey

The floral notes of lavender are fragrant yet not overpowering when infused into honey. We keep a jar of this around at all times for spooning over yogurt, stirring into tea, or spreading on hot, buttered toast.
1 cup honey
¼ cup lavender buds

Hot Pepper Honey

We’re beyond obsessed with this spicy honey, which goes insanely well with a cheese and charcuterie plate. We love to top crostini with fluffy ricotta and drizzle this on top for the.best.snack.ever. (Oh, and it looks and sounds oh-so-fancy!).
1 cup honey
2 habanero chiles, seeds discarded.

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients for the honey infusion. Simmer over medium heat until the honey is a runny consistency, about 8 minutes. Discard the aromatics and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Dark Chocolate Bark with Crunchy Almonds and Sea Salt

chocolate bark

(makes 4-6 larger servings, or 8-10 smaller gift-sized ones)

Crunchy, sweet, and just slightly salty, our homemade chocolate bark is a fantastic holiday treat that’s as impressive as it is simple. Assemble the bark, then break into pieces, slip into bags, and tie with a ribbon!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup raw almonds
12 ounces couverture dark chocolate (high quality high-cocoa butter content)
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the almonds in a single layer and fry, shaking the pan occasionally, until the almonds are deep golden and fragrant. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool for about 5 minutes, then roughly chop.

Roughly chop or break the chocolate into small pieces. Place in the top of a double boiler. Fill the bottom with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Set the chocolate on top and stir until the chocolate melts.
Immediately pour the melted chocolate out onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth into an even layer. Quickly sprinkle the almonds and sea salt on top. Transfer to the fridge to chill until the chocolate is set, at least 1 hour or overnight. Break into pieces, wrap in plastic bags or sheets, and stick in stockings!

Hot Pepper Jelly

(Makes about 1 mason jar worth, but can be easily multiplied!)

This spicy condiment reminds us of fried chicken, biscuits, and all things tasty. We love to include this red pepper jelly alongside a cheese or charcuterie board, or simply add to a sandwich. A jar of this will make any spice lover very, very happy.

2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4 -inch dice
1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 white onion
1 serrano chiles
2 Fresno or cherry pepper chiles
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
Kosher salt

In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, onion, and chiles. Season generously with salt and toss to combine well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse the vegetables well and transfer to a medium pot. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and mustard seeds and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until the mixture is saucy with the consistency of a relish.

Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Transfer to airtight jars and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Then, wow your friends’ stockings with a saucy, spicy condiment!

Spicy Roasted Nuts

(makes 4 to 6 servings as a snack)

Roasted nuts are one of our favorite, foolproof homemade snacks and they make your kitchen smell fantastic. Whip up a batch or two, store in airtight jars or sealable bags, and you’re good to go!

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 fresh red Thai chiles
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
¾ cup raw almonds
¾ cup raw walnuts
¾ cup raw cashews
½ tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Melt the butter. Thinly slice the Thai chiles. Finely chop the rosemary and thyme leaves. While the butter is still warm, pour it into a large bowl and add the herbs, fresh chiles, nuts, chili powder, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Be sure the nuts are mostly submerged. Allow to soak at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the lined baking sheet and spread into a single layer, discarding any excess butter. Season the nuts lightly with kosher salt and heavily with black pepper, then toss to combine. Roast until golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

Leah Bhabha is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including Food & Wine, Marie-Claire, The Guardian, and Food52. She is a recipe editor at Plated.

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