Editor's Note: This article orginally appeared on Patch in December 2010. Learn more about Chef Laureen here and follow her on Twitter @yellowbandchef. And bless her heart, she's a Jets fan, so it hasn't been the easiest of seasons for her :)
We have been hearing it since St. Patty's Day "Only 279 shopping days left until Christmas"…. and counting.
So as we head into the home stretch this holiday season and the hustle and the bustle of shopping has taken its toll on your wallet and sanity, consider whipping up a few easy and affordable homemade treats from your kitchen.
Herbal vinegars and butters are quick, simple and delicious.
Select a variety of glass jars and bottles that you can personalize with colorful ribbons and handmade gift tags. Unleash your creativity by selecting flavor combinations that you know appeal to each individual recipient.
Once you have completed your culinary creations, select some freshly baked breads to compliment the flavorful gifts from your kitchen.
As you take the time to remember the true spirit of the season, have fun with food and flavor in your kitchen, creating gifts for friends and family truly made with love.
Peace Love Food!
*To make the vinegars, use a good quality white, red or cider vinegar. Lightly bruise the herbs first to allow them to give off their flavors.
Place the herbs in clean jars or decorative bottles. Gently heat the vinegar, but don't boil it. Let it cool down, and pour the warm Vinegar over the herbs in the jars. Place the jars in a dark place, such as a cabinet or shelf away from bright windows. The vinegars can be used in two weeks and will last for up to one year.
A few herb combinations to try:
White wine vinegar goes well with chive, dill, savory, sage, basil, lavender sprigs or flowers, fennel, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and garlic.
Red wine vinegar goes well with basil, garlic, oregano, and thyme.
Cider vinegar is enhanced by orange peel spirals, raspberries, and lavender blossoms.
To make the butters, soften 1 stick of butter. Put the softened butter in a bowl and using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat until soft and creamy. Add flavorings and seasonings and blend well. Place the flavored butter in jars with a tight lid.
Parsley butter: Add 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve over meat, fish, chicken or vegetables.
Herb butter: Prepare as above but use tarragon, chives or cilantro to replace the parsley. Use to top meat, fish, chicken or vegetables or in soups and sauces.
Sweet orange butter: Add 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon grated orange zest and juice. Use for muffins, pancakes and breakfast breads.