Christmas is a time when budgets are stretched, people are busier than usual, and we're all looking for some type of unique gift idea that will be a hit. In my cooking adventures, I often mix up spice blends to use for certain recipes. A few years ago I hit on the idea of making large quantities of one of my favorite spice blends from that year and giving it as Christmas gifts for neighbors, co-workers and friends.
Jerry's Texas Barbecue Rub from Cooking By the Seat of My Pants
Even if you can't cook, if you have a recipe it's easy to mix together quantities of ground spices into a mixture where the sum becomes greater than the parts. If you want to make the gift a little more special, you can include a recipe using that mixture. (Try searching the BlogHer network or use Food Blog Search to find recipes.) You can buy small jars to hold the spice mixtures, but many years I just use mini Ziploc bags, with the spice mix recipe printed out on colorful paper and stapled on to the bag.
The most important thing about the success of this as a gift idea is probably matching the spice mix to the cooking style of the recipient. Some cooks will love getting an adventurous mixture like Dukkah or Vadouvaun, while taco seasoning will be just the thing for others. Here are some ideas for spice mixtures for every cook on your list.
One of my first ventures into making spice blends was Rosemary Salt, which I made to re-create a salt blend I'd purchased in San Francisco. Then I started noticing there are endless ways to make salt more interesting by mixing in other herbs or spices. At Steamy Kitchen, Jaden makes Asian-Flavored Sea Salt Blends that I'd love to get for a gift. I also love the sound of Tuscan Spiced Salt from FamilyStyle Food or Pink Himalayan Herb Salt from Christine Cooks.
There are so many combinations of herbs you can blend together to make a unique mixture, and The Leftover Queen has a post with Five Ethnic Spice Blends containing herbs that sound great. At Talk of Tomatoes there's a blend called Default Herb Mix that's a go-to dried herb mix for many recipes and it sounds like a mixture that would make a wonderful gift.
Indian Spice Blends
Indian cooking probably has more spice blends than any other type of cuisine, and many Indian cooks grind the spices right when they make the dish. You can still score some major points with an unusual spice mix like the Homemade Garam Masala from Arabic Bites, or Homemade Sambhar Powder from Spicy Chilly.
Steak Rub, Chicken Rub, or Barbecue Rub
Rubs are spice mixtures that are rubbed on food before it's cooked, and they'd make a great gift for anyone who likes to fire up the grill. The Perfect Pantry has a Spice Rub for Chicken that sounds like it would really be good, or for steak try the Copycat Montreal Steak Seasoning from Coffee and Cornbread. I also love the sound of Jerry's Texas Barbecue Rub from Cooking By the Seat of Our Pants.
Cajun Spice or Creole Spice Blends
Pille at Nami Nami makes Blackened Salmon, and the Cajun Blackening Spices that she uses look like they would make a great gift mixture. Other mixes that sound great are the Creole Spice Mix that Anna from Morsels and Musings uses on chicken or the Cajun Spice Mix that Sweet Savory Southern uses on grouper.
Photo of Default Herb Mix from Talk of Tomatoes
Mixes from Africa Like Moroccan Spice Mix or Dukkah
Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix that's a favorite of many people. The Dukkah Recipe at Flavors of the Sun looks like a good one. I also like the looks of Dukkah from Closet Cooking. I have my favorite Moroccan Spice Mix I use on everything from chickpeas to vegetables.
Taco seasoning is probably a safe gift for most families and I don't think there's any doubt that the homemade blends are going to be better than the packaged mix. The Taco Seasoning mixture at Green Lite Bites is one that sounds good to me. I also love the Homemade Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Taco Seasoning at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
Photo of Speculaas Spice Mix from Kayotic Kitchen
Spice Mixes for Baking
Speculaas are a type of Dutch or Belgian Christmas cookie, and the Speculaas Spice Mix from Kayotic Kitchen in the Netherlands is a recipe that readers begged for until Kay finally posted it. There's also an authentic recipe for Speculaas Spices at Sophie's Food Files in Belgium, and Baking Bites shares recipes for Homemade Apple Pie Spice or Pumpkin Pie Spice.
Hot or Spicy Drink Mixes
If there are people on your list who don't do much cooking, how about something like the Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate Mix from Serious Eats or Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix from Phe/MOM/enon.
More Kitchen Gift Ideas:
From BlogHer ~ Find more ideas for homemade gifts from the kitchen in Ten Homemade Food Gifts, and No Cooking Required for Some.
From Cheap Healthy Good ~ There is a wonderful list of links to more spice mixes in Save Money on Seasonings - Make Your Own Mixes
BlogHer Contributing Editor Kalyn Denny also blogs at Kalyn's Kitchen where she's committed to low-glycemic cooking, and at Slow Cooker From Scratch, where she features "from scratch" slow cooker recipes.
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