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Handmade Holidays
Affordable ways to give from the heart

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Shelled Walnuts With Brie and Pears Crostini
Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Sour Cherry Brittle

(Family Features) - Holiday giving does not have to be elaborate or expensive. More and more, people are finding that not only are handmade gifts easy on the wallet, they tend to have more meaning, too.

This year, take a little time to put together some handmade gifts. Let these ideas serve as inspiration for you to get creative about gift giving this holiday season.

Gifts Made Simple

Food can play an important role in holiday gift giving. "The warmth of sharing good food with family and friends contributes to some of the best memories around the holidays," said chef and cookbook author Tina Salter, who develops recipes for Diamond Foods. "Favorite holiday foods help keep the festivity in holiday traditions."

Homemade cookies and snacks - packaged with the recipe in decorative tins, tucked into a coffee mug wrapped with cellophane or displayed on holiday plates - make an ideal gift for colleagues, a favorite babysitter or delivery person. Consider hosting a cookie and snack exchange with friends, where everyone brings enough of one recipe to serve several dozen, and the group exchanges so all leave with a delicious assortment of treats that can be gifted, or kept and enjoyed!

As your calendar fills up with holiday get-togethers, consider thanking a hostess by offering to help with appetizers or a side dish for the meal. You will find savory recipes like Emerald Sea Salt and Pepper Cashews, White Beans, and Spinach Bruschetta or Diamond Pecans and Citrus on Sweet Potato Rounds at feedyourfingers.com.

Or, if you do not have time to make anything yourself, take advantage of savory mixes such as Original Glazed Walnuts or Pecan Pie Glazed Pecans from Emerald Nuts. Put them in a fun container and no one will know you did not make them yourself!

For more delicious ideas, Diamond Foods offers a variety of free downloadable recipes to feed your fingers this holiday season at feedyourfingers.com. You will find recipes for the whole family, like Emerald Deluxe Mixed Nuts and Pop Secret Popcorn Sour Cherry Brittle, and recipes that are sure to impress a crowd, like Diamond Shelled Walnuts With Brie and Pears Crostini.

Give Back

There is no better time than the holidays to give back to your community, and food plays a role there, too.

  • Deliver a batch of cookies or a tin of spiced popcorn and nuts to the local fire station on Christmas Eve.
  • Volunteer your time to help serve a holiday meal at a local shelter or food pantry.
  • Join with some neighbors and hold a bake sale to raise money for a local charity.

Shelled Walnuts With Brie and Pears Crostini

  • 1 cup Diamond Shelled Walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons oil, from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 25 1/3-inch-thick slices of fresh baguette, lightly oiled and toasted
  • 1 pound Brie cheese
  • 2 ripe, red-skinned pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish, optional
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    1. In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, green onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sun-dried tomato oil, parsley, thyme, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper; mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
    2. To assemble the crostini: Spread a heaping tablespoon of Brie on each crostini, top with 1 teaspoon of the walnut relish, and tuck 1 to 2 pear slices diagonally into the relish. Garnish with a sprig of thyme; serve immediately.
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Makes 25 crostini
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Mixed Nuts and Popcorn Sour Cherry Brittle

  • 1 10-ounce container Emerald Deluxe Mixed Nuts
  • 4 to 5 cups Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn, popped
  • 8 ounces dried sour cherries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2teaspoon large sea salt crystals, for sprinkling
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    1. Lightly oil a large baking sheet; set aside. In a large bowl, combine nuts, popcorn and sour cherries; mix well.
    2. In a large (4-quart) saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water; bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat. Add butter; cook, without stirring, until caramel reaches a temperature of 300°F, about 8 minutes.
    3. Carefully remove from heat; immediately pour over popcorn mixture. Wearing an oven mitt, and using a wooden spoon, stir well to make sure that each nut and popcorn kernel is coated. Quickly pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; press, with back of wooden spoon, to make it as even as possible; sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool slightly.
    4. Using a heavy sharp knife, score brittle into squares, or let brittle sit and use a small hammer to break into pieces.
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Makes about 8 cups
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SOURCE: Diamond Foods

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