Sunday 17 November 2019
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DIY ‘Gifts From The Pantry’ by Charmaine Broughton

‘Tis the season to give your debit and/or credit card….a break?? YES!!  How you ask?  With thoughtful, homemade gifts from your pantry.  I developed the following DIY ‘Gifts From The Pantry’ as fun-to-make: teacher/coach/neighbour/grandparent gifts/hostess gifts/stocking stuffers and/or little party favours placed at each table setting. These festive recipes are simple to prepare, use ingredients you likely already have on hand, and will not have you regretting gift giving come January.

Grab the kids, roll up your sleeves, crank up the holiday hits and get busy in the kitchen!

Peanut, Dried Cherry and Rosemary Bark

No matter what you’re craving, this DIY bark will hit the spot. Sweet, salty, savoury and spicy – this bark makes an elegant homemade holiday  gift-from-the-kitchen, or after dinner indulgence.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) peanuts
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp. (15 mL) roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300g (10 oz) 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) coarse sea salt

Toss together peanuts, dried cherries, rosemary and cayenne pepper.  Measure out ⅓ cup (75 mL) nut/fruit mixture and set aside. Stir chocolate with remaining nut/fruit mixture until evenly combined. Using a rubber spatula, spread chocolate mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet to form (approx) 10-inch square.  Sprinkle evenly with reserved ⅓ cup (75 mL) nut/fruit mixture and sea salt. Chill for 30 minutes or until hard.  Break into 16 pieces.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one month.

Double Decker Peanut Butter Fudge

Only seven ingredients and only 15 minutes to prepare – this DIY fudge recipe with be a family, and gift giving favourite.  Visit for more tasty recipes made with peanuts and peanut butter.

  • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (each 1¼ cup/300 mL)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) peanut butter, preferably smooth
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
  • 10 oz (300 g) milk chocolate chips
  • 10 oz (300 g) peanut butter chips
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) peanuts, coarsely chopped

Line an 8×8-inch (2-L) square baking pan with aluminum foil so the edges overhang the sides. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1 can of condensed milk, ½ cup (125 mL) peanut butter and ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt, stirring continuously just until bubbly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in chocolate chips and 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla. Scrape into prepared pan and spread evenly. Refrigerate while making peanut butter layer.

In a clean medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the remaining can of condensed milk, ½ cup (125 mL) peanut butter and ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt, stirring continuously just until bubbly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in peanut butter chips and remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla. Scrape onto chocolate layer, spreading to cover. Sprinkle with peanuts, pressing gently into fudge.

Refrigerate for 3 hours, or until firm. Lift the fudge out of the pan and cut into small squares.


You might just wrap up these tasty treats and gift them to yourself!  Yes, they are that good.  Pictured above: Peanut, Dried Cherry & Rosemary Bark and Double Decker Peanut Butter Fudge.  I picked up candy tins and holiday take-out containers from the dollar store and bulk food store.

Club House Cheese Ball Mix

I know it’s the year 2016, but cheese ball mixes are still a popular hostess gift, and retail for $5 to over $10!  This recipe costs literally pennies to prepare, therefore makes a perfect homemade treat to give with a bottle of wine or craft beer.  For more flavour inspiration featuring Club House Spices visit

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Parsley Flakes
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Dried Basil Leaves
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Dried Oregano Leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Club House Dried Garlic Minced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Club House Dried Onion Minced

Stir together all ingredients and place in a small candy bag (found at craft/bulk food stores). Tie with decorative ribbon and attach recipe card with instructions.  Tie to neck of wine bottle.

Recipe Card Instructions:

Pistachio Fig Cheese Ball  

What you will need:

  • ½ lb./8 oz. softened goat cheese
  • 1/4 lb./4 oz.  mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely diced Black Mission Figs (*or dried fruit of choice)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Billy Bee Honey
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
  • prepared cheese ball mix
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) roughly chopped pistachios

Place cheeses, figs, honey and orange zest in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Heat oil in a medium fry pan over medium high heat.  Cook onion for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly brown.  Add prepared ‘cheese ball mix’.  Cook, while stirring, until herbs are fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Add onion/herb mix to cheese. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix ingredients until evenly combined.  Form into a ball.  Roll ball in pistachios.   Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  Serve with crackers, pickled veggies, cured meats and dried fruit.  Visit for more festive recipes.


Vanilla Brandy Canned Cold Snap Pears

Cold Snap Pears ™ is Canada’s newest pear variety and is proudly grown by Canadian farmers.  They are crisp, juicy and flavourful ~ they are fabulous straight up (*only 80 calories and contain 5 g fiber per pear!!) for a quick snack, or sliced up and added to your favourite festive salad.  But, to me, there is nothing more elegant than canned pears.  This recipe makes a ‘pear’fect gift from the kitchen that can be enjoyed months later, over vanilla ice cream or yogurt.  Visit for more information about Canada’s newest pear variety.

  • 8 Cold Snap Pears (about 3 lbs.) firm, but ripe
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) brandy
  • 4 – 500 mL) Mason jars and lids (sterilized)

Peel pears and cut in quarters.  Using a small paring knife, remove seeds and core.  Cut vanilla bean in half length wise and scrape out seeds.  Cut bean in half again (to make 4 even pieces).  Set seeds and bean aside with pears.  Boil water with sugar. Add pears, vanilla beans and seeds.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes until pears are just heated through.  Remove from heat.  Divide brandy (2 tbsp/30 mL) evenly between hot, sterilized jars.  Divide pears and vanilla beans evenly between jars and cover evenly with hot syrup (*there may be approx. ¼ cup (60 mL) syrup left) leaving about ½ inch headspace at the top of each jar.  Wipe rims with clean damp cloth.  Cover with lids.  Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Store in refrigerator.  Tie with decorative ribbon.



Watch Charmaine Broughton on What She Said…

Charmaine Broughton is a food media specialist and recipe developer.  Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active teenage boys, Tyler & Colgan.  Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.


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