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Rachael has been sharing food with loved ones by leaving it outside of her house for pick-up throughout the entire pandemic. Well, there's arguably no better time to give the gift of food than the holiday season (especially if you're in the market for last-minute Christmas gifts!) — and Chef Ryan Scott is sharing all the ways he makes DIY food gift baskets extra special and festive before he drops them off on friends' and neighbors' doorsteps.
"I found myself during quarantine doing a lot of this, and I know you and John are doing the same," Ryan tells Rach. "You're gifting a lot of food to people by putting it on your porch. We can't all be together, but it's all about sharing meals, and I wanted to show you really cool, inventive ways to put together some really cool packages that you can gift during the holidays that come from the heart. And if you know [me and Rach], food is where the heart's at."
1. Cocktail Kit With Handwritten Recipe Card
This one's for adults 21 and over, of course! Ryan likes to send ingredients for festive cocktails, like his Spiced Hot Toddy, as a gift.
Ingredients to include in your Hot Toddy Cocktail Kit:
- Small bottles of vodka
- Baking spice syrup (recipe below)
- Angostura bitters
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Cinnamon sticks
- Dehydrated apple chips
To make the Baking Spice Syrup:
To make the syrup, combine 1 c water, 1 c sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice, ½ tsp ground clove and 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat off and let the syrup steep for at least 20 minutes to maximize the spice extraction. Pour the syrup through a strainer into a jar with an airtight lid and store in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.
And for the kit, he doesn't stop at the ingredients. He also likes to add anything else the giftee might need to make the cocktail — like a cocktail shaker, juicer, stirring spoon, Hot Toddy glass + a handwritten recipe card.
Instructions for the recipe card to include (makes one Spiced Hot Toddy):
In a warmed mug or hot toddy glass, combine 1 oz baking spice syrup with 1 oz (2 Tbsp) applesauce, 2 oz vodka and 2 dashes of bitters; stir in 4 ounces of hot water with a cinnamon stick and garnish with apple chips.
(Watch Ryan make his Hot Toddy in the video above.)
Pro Tip: Use What You Have!
Instead of buying cards, Ryan recycles by cutting square-sized cards out of empty cereal boxes, covers them with stickers and writes notes or recipes on them.
2. Chicken Pot Pie Muffins Wrapped In Personalized Wrapping Paper
You can do this with any food you're gifting, really, but to wrap his Chicken Pot Pie Muffins, Ryan wraps them in personalized wrapping paper and a festive tablecloth. For the DIY wrapping paper, he decorated parchment paper (or plain brown gift wrap) with "I love you" stamps (but you can also decorate with holiday stamps!) — and he even outlined his daughter Harper's hand with markers for a personalized touch. So cute!
3. Gingerbread Trifle Kit With Handwritten Recipe Card
To assemble the gift basket, transfer the simple syrup, whipped cream + eggnog pastry cream separately to their own glass bottle or jar. Fill a few piping bags or another container with the Royal Icing, along with a package of sprinkles for decorating. (So kiddos can decorate gingerbread men cookies while adults assemble and enjoy the trifle!) Wrap the Gingerbread Loaf tightly in plastic wrap. Pack the Gingerbread Men Cookies in a cellophane bag or box.
Ryan sticks the jar into a gift basket with small bottles of rum or whiskey and adds even more goodies — like a festive spatula. Then, he uses his cardboard card trick to write out the recipe.
4. Snowflake Marshmallow Bars
Kids will LOVE this. Ryan makes Marshmallow Crispy Treats (with red, green & white mix-ins!) and cuts them in the shape of snowflakes with a cookie cutter. He likes to package them in a bag with a festive tie and a note using his cardboard card trick and also gifts everything they need to make a batch of the bars on their own (marshmallows, crushed candy canes & more holiday candy packaged in recycled plastic candy cane containers). Plus, you can include all sorts of fun & festive cookie cutters in the gift basket — you don't have to limit it to snowflakes!