CANDIED NUTS AND A HOMEMADE GIFT BAG
I chose to share a gift from my kitchen - Candied Pecans and Almonds - for GiBee's Homemade Gift Exchange. These are delicious, easy to make, and I can't even begin to tell you what wonderful cinnamon-y goodness will fill your home while they are baking. I'm not kidding - it is amazing. I have no idea how one teaspoon of cinnamon can invade your whole entire house but trust me - it does. Better than any candle. These make great gifts for neighbors, teachers, friends, mailmen, and don't forget the garbage men! We made these last year for Michelle and Brad's wedding favors. We made up about 400 little guaze bags and placed them at each place setting.
Here are the ingredients you will need for:
2 pounds of almonds or pecans, 1 egg white, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp. water, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. salt.
Separate your egg because you only need the egg white. I will save my yolks to cook up for my dogs - they love them mixed in with their dog food. Don't forget to save the egg shells and add them to your compost pile!
Beat the 1 tsp. water and one egg white until frothy. I love my red Kitchen Aid. My husband tells me I have a better power tool than he does.
After your mixture is all frothy, add your pecans and stir them by hand until they are all coated with the egg white mixture. It's important to be sure they are as well coated as possible.
Pour 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 tsp. salt over to top of the nuts and continue stirring them by hand until they are covered with sugary cinnamon.
Pour into a shallow baking pan in one evenly spread out layer.
Bake for 1 hour in a 225 degree oven. About half way through the baking time, stir the nuts around on the baking sheet.
Take them out of the oven and scoop them on to some foil or waxed paper to cool.
Then I do a second batch and use the almonds this time. I can never decide which I love more!
Make your own Gift Bag
I always love to find creative wrapping ideas for gift giving. While your candied nuts are baking and you are enjoying the cinnamon scent wafting through your house, you can prepare these cute little gift bags for your candied nuts. These are quick, easy, and inexpensive - my favorite combination. They are so easy you can even have your kids help you make them.
Here is what you need:
Lunch bags, ribbons, jingle bells, buttons, pre-made bows, or you can make your own. You will also need a glue gun.
I like to put my candied nuts in cello bags. You can also use zip-lock bags if you want to. Put your filled candy bags inside the paper lunch sack. I place two bags of nuts in each paper bag for my gifts. You need to be sure and put the nuts in the bag before you start to assemble it.
Begin folding the top of the lunch bag in an accordian style. I fold it in 1/2 inch folds about half way down the bag.
Bring the ends of the bag together in the center. Glue together with a dot of hot glue.
Make ribbons and bows - you are limited only by your imagination. I used a pre-made bow for one. For the other I simply tied a ribbon and added a piece of jute with a jingle bell glued on each end. Secure with hot glue to the middle of the accordian.
On one of my lunch bags I decided to make a cut-out on the front. I traced around a star shaped cookie cutter and cut it out of the front of the bag. You should do this before you put the candy in the bag. It would also be cute if you traced around mini cookie cutters and made cutouts all over the bag.
And you now have little gift bags full of sugary sweetness for someone special.