Last-Minute Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

There always seems to be the need for a last-minute gift around Christmas time. From that impromtu Saturday night dinner to the appy party on Sunday, there’s always a host to give a cute gift to! Check out these easy and inspiring last minute homemade Christmas gift ideas:

Here’s a great recipe for Vanilla Sugar!  (And some other cute ideas)

Kelleigh Ratzlaff shows us how to make a wonderful Sugar Scrub!  She even has instructions on how to make the neat box pictured in the above photo.

I think that this S’mores Kit is just the neatest idea!

Sunset magazine has four different recipes for homemade hot chocolate in a jar!  Great idea!

I know some girlfriends that would love some homemade body oil and body dusting powder!

These crock-pot Sugared Cinnamon Almonds would look great in a glass canning jar!

I’m liking this gift idea for Year Round Yum!  Each time the recipient empties the contents, they’re entitled to a refill!

Now I think this is a genius idea for disguising a gift card you’re giving!

Have you got any great last-minute gift ideas you could share?  Send your idea or post to me here!

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies

rudolph peanut butter cookies

We love peanut butter cookies in this house.  Any time of the year actually!  Since it’s Christmas time and all, I thought I’d jazz up some ordinary cookies and turn them into Rudolph cookies!  Cute right?  They taste especially delicious too.  In fact, I think Santa would love to find some of these Rudolph peanut butter cookies on his travels!  Be sure to leave a plate full :)

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies

Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup Butter
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1⅓ cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 48 Red M&M's
  • 96 mini Chocolate Chips
  • Mini Twist Pretzels
Instructions
  1. Break pretzels into pieces to use as antlers.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Cream together peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, beating until incorporated.
  7. Roll into ½-3/4" balls and place on cookie sheet several inches apart.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar and gently make an indentation slightly off the center of each cookie.
  9. Bake 12-14 minutes.
  10. Place an M&M in the indentation of each cookie.
  11. Insert 2 mini chocolate chips (pointy side down) above the M&M to be the eyes.
  12. Insert 2 pretzel pieces to be the antlers. (If the antlers won't stick, place some chocolate chips in a sandwich bag and microwave 30 seconds and knead until soft. Clip the very tip of the corner and pipe onto cookie to act as glue.)

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do!

Easy Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Now here’s a Christmas fudge recipe that will be great for gift giving!  I think it would pair nicely with this Homemade Peppermint Bark!

I’m afraid I’m getting a reputation for only making easy things, but really, if you have to add extra things to your already full calendar, why spend a lot of time creating?  It’s the thought that counts, right?  Anyways, this recipe is so easy, it only calls for four ingredients. That, my friends, is how you impress on a budget and use minimal effort and time. :)

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 2 packages of 12 oz. Wilton dark chocolate candy melts
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 ½ Cans of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz cans)
  • 6 candy canes, crushed
Instructions
  1. Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pour the candy melts and the sweetened condensed milk into a large microwave safe dish. Add in the 1 tsp of peppermint extract.
  3. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and stir. Heat for another minute and stir again, heat again in 20 second increments stirring if not completely melted.
  4. Immediately pour the melted mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes (see photo).
  5. Allow the chocolate to cool at room temperature. Once it is cool, place the baking dish in the fridge (covered) to allow the fudge to completely set.
  6. Cut into 12 large squares or 24 mini squares.

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge 2

I sure hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Apple Pie in Jars

The idea of having the perfect personal portion of apple pie to pop into the oven is so awesome to me!  I give you...Mini apple pie in jars!

I happen to think that everything made in mini size is really just the best. If you spend any time on Pinterest, I’m sure you’ve read about or heard mention of things baked or served in mason jars. I’ve seen everything from pies, cheesecakes and even quick breads made in mason jars.  The idea of having the perfect personal portion to pop into the oven is so awesome to me! That’s why I decided I needed to give this concept a try.  I give you…Mini apple pie in jars:

Mini Apple Pie in Jars:

  • 6 medium apples, peeled and sliced; I ended up cubing my a bit to make them fit better in my jars.
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 8oz. wide mouth mason jars

Pie Crust Ingredients – You will want to make (2) batches of the crust if making 8 mini pies. You will have some crust left over but it’s better to have more crust than not enough.

  •  1 ½ Cups flour
  • ¼ Cup milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup vegetable oil

Mix all pie crust ingredients and roll out using flour and a rolling pin. You will want to cut the pieces to fit the jars. I actually used the lid ring to cut mine and then pieced them together in the jar. Easy.

ApplePieJar1

Combine the dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add in the apples and stir to coat them well.

Scoop the apple mixture into each pie jar.

ApplePieJar2

Next, cut a few more pieces of pie crust using the lid ring again. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the piece into strips for your lattice top on the pies.

Cris-Cross the crust pieces and gently press down on the edges of the jar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

In no time at all, you’ll have a bunch of little pies ready to go into the oven for yourself or for hostess gifts even.  These little pies can also be place in the freezer unbaked!  All you have to do is create these pies in the jars then screw the lids on and then pop them into the freezer. Next time your sweet tooth strikes, simply take a pie out of the freezer and bake. These would also make a great quick dessert idea to have in your freezer for unexpected dinner guests!

Apple Pie in Jars 2

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

slow cooker spaghetti sauce

Nothing beats a good plate of spaghetti and meat sauce.  It’s a comfort food at it’s finest!  Making a big pot of spaghetti sauce is also a great way to feed a crowd.  Delicious and frugal! While this recipe for slow cooker spaghetti sauce calls for peppers, you could throw in any veggies that you’d like to use up.  Such as a lone carrot or mushrooms.  It’s really flexible.

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe could be made in a big pot, but I prefer the set it and forget it feature of the slow cooker. :) But, you’ll still want to cook up the garlic, onions, beef and sausage before you throw it into the slow cooker. I use this Cuisinart programmable slow cooker, but any slow cooker will do.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • Red and Yellow Peppers (stems and seeds removed)
  • 1 Carrot (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • 45 oz Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 24 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium.
  2. Crumble and brown ground beef and sausage, along with onion and garlic.
  3. Drain excess fat.
  4. Place meat mixture into slow cooker.
  5. Add remaining ingredients.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

This recipe could possibly make enough for leftovers that you can freeze!  I love grabbing a “pre-made” meal out of the freezer on busy days.  Simply reheat on the stove.

DIY: Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy

Unfortunately, as the weather gets cooler, cold &  flu season also approaches :( But, I’m going to try to be prepared by keeping this recipe on file!

Visit Nifty Thrifty Things for her recipe for a Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy!

Thanks, Mom :)

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce and Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are here for a visit this week with our two nieces.  In honour of the occasion, I fully intend on having them over for an ice cream sundae party!  At least once, probably twice because I love ice cream.  A lot.  Also because ice cream sundae parties are so much fun with all the topping selections available!  I stopped in at Bulk Barn and picked up a bunch of fun toppings.  Along with the candies and nuts I purchased, I’m going to whip up some slow cooker caramel sauce and homemade hot fudge sauce.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce

You’re not going to believe this one, but this slow cooker caramel sauce (or Dulce de Leche) uses only one ingredient! (Two if you add the vanilla)  It’s so so easy to make AND eat :)  Here’s how to make slow cooker caramel sauce:

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla (optional)
Instructions
  1. Transfer condensed milk to three ½ pint mason jars and put on the lids and rings.
  2. Place in slow cooker and cover with water. (About an inch above the jars)
  3. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
  4. Remove from water and allow to cool until the jars are room temperature.
  5. Carefully remove rings and lids.
  6. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla to each jar (optional).
  7. Stir well until sauce is smooth.
  8. To store, replace, lid and ring and store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

This recipe is my husband’s personal favorite. He loves hot fudge sauce!  He’s even convinced me on several occasions to get hot fudge instead of my usual caramel when we stop at Dairy Queen.  Here’s how to make homemade hot fudge sauce:

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate chips by heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds then stirring and microwaving again until chocolate is melted.
  2. Transfer to a sauce pan over low heat and add butter, salt and sugar.
  3. Add cream in small amounts until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Stir frequently until heated, but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

I’ll be sure to post pictures of our ice cream sundae party later on.  I even found some cute ice cream bowls from the dollar store!  Which sauce is going to be your favourite?

Prep 16 Freezer Meals in an Hour

freezer-slow cooker meals

Freezer cooking is a great way to save if you’re on a budget and short on time! Head on over to Midget Momma to see how she prepped 16 freezer slow cooker meals with fresh ingredients in about an hour!

DIY: Italian Seasoning Mix

Italian Seasoning Mix

If your household is a fan of Italian dressing, this Italian Seasoning Mix is going to save you a lot of money over time!  It’s perfect if you’re on a budget and you keep finding yourself buying the expensive bottles at the grocery store.

While this recipe is meant to be mixed up as a liquid dressing, I’m sure sprinkling the spice mix over veggies or meat would be just as wonderful.  We like to use Italian dressing as salad dressing (of course) and even as a marinade for chicken!  Hint: throw some chicken breast into a freezer bag, pour this Italian dressing over top, then seal the bag and toss it into the freezer for a really quick freezer meal! It cooks up well in the slow cooker.

Italian Seasoning Mix
 
Ingredients
  • Dry Mix:
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • ¼ tsp Ground Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • ¼ tsp Celery Salt
  • 1½ tbsp Salt
  • For dressing:
  • 2 tbsp Dry Mix (above)
  • ¼ cup Cider Vinegar
  • ⅔ cup Oil
  • 2 tbsp Water
Instructions
  1. Combine Dry Mix ingredients and store in airtight container.
  2. To make dressing, combine ingredients in a bottle and shake well.

 

Check out my easy recipe for homemade Ranch mix. Do you have any creative uses for Italian seasoning/dressing?
DIY Italian Seasoning Mix

Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles

iced coffee pops

If you are as much of a coffee fan as I am, you’re going to want to try these Vietnamese coffee popsicles!  I’ve been making a ton of popsicles for Sienna lately, but sometimes I just want an afternoon pick-me-up that appeals to my taste buds.  That’s why these coffee pops are perfect because I gain a bit of energy and I treat myself to a another “cup” of coffee.  Also, these Vietnamese coffee popsicles are the perfect combination of coffee, cream and sugar!

When my brother was visiting over Christmas, he kept raving about his Aeropress coffee maker that he had purchased.  I finally, not too long ago, broke down and bought one for myself.  It really does make great coffee!  I used the Aeropress for this recipe, but you could also use a French press or brew a really strong pot in your regular coffee maker.

Iced Coffee Pops
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 300ml of cooled strong Coffee
Instructions
  1. If you want to make this using the Aeropress, use 3 scoops of ground coffee and fill up to the 3 line before pressing. Then add water to raise to 10 oz.
  2. Combine the coffee with the sweetened condensed milk and mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly into the molds and insert sticks.
  4. Place in freezer for 3-5 hours.

As for the Popsicle molds, I’ve been loving some I picked up from the dollar store.  But I also am starting to love these silicon ice pop molds for a less messy alternative for Sienna. I also have this freezer pop maker that’s great for making bigger popsicles.

I hop you enjoy these Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles as much as I do!