How to make cozy treats for your pantry

 
How to make cozy treats for your pantry
 

It's beginning to look a lot like...

It's that time of year again, the warm blankets are out and the candles are lit. It's winter in the Northeast! It's a cozy time of year to become a homebody and dig into warm comfort foods. 

Today I'm sharing a curated selection of pantry items you can make yourself, including a few tips for making them at home and gifting them! Trust me, you'll want to brave the supermarket one last time to pick up the ingredients to make these special cozy treats.

Cozy treats happen to make perfect last-minute holiday gifts as well, so for those looking to impress friends and relatives, here are some ideas to get you started.

Savory

1 / DIY taco seasoning via Fox and Briar 

2 / Picante sauce via Chili Pepper Madness

3 / Chiu Chow chili sauce via The Woks of Life

4 / Yellow curry paste via Pinch of Yum

5 / Ginger pickled carrots via Healthy Seasonal Recipes

6 / Indian makhani gravy (curry) via My Food Story

Sweet

1 / Caramel cardamom pear jam via Lark and Linen

2 / Date paste via Feasting on Fruit

3 / Chai-spiced almond hazelnut butter via Ambitious Kitchen

4 / Yellow cake mix via I Am Baker

5 / Spiced pumpkin apple butter via Kitschen Cat

6 / Two-ingredient Nutella via The Almond Eater

Drink

1 / Orange Bitters via Lovely Indeed

2 / Toasted marshmallow syrup via Crumb Blog

3 / Hot chocolate mix via The Pioneer Woman

4 / Bourbon apple shrub via Nutmeg Nanny

5 / Eggnog mix via Sprinkle Bakes

6 / Ginger syrup via Sugar and Charm

Tips for making cozy treats at home

1 / The longer the shelf life, the better: Especially when you're giving cozy treats as gifts you want to make sure they're shelf-stable or can be refrigerated. Spice mixes are a safe bet, but make sure you read up on canning best practices when giving jams or nut butters!

2 / Think versatile: Create a treat that can be used multiple ways, not just for one use. If you're giving a homemade item to someone as a gift, include recipes so they'll use your gift right up.

3 / Enjoyed warm: It's cold out, so consider making treats that compliment drinks and dishes that can be enjoyed warm! Think hot chocolate mixes, curry pastes, and spice mix-ins for a hot toddy.

Pumpkin pastry puffs

 
Pumpkin pastry puffs
 

Pumpkin pastry puffs (for 16 pastries)

Have you ever tried fresh pumpkin? It's not naturally sweet or spiced, but it's darn delicious. Roasted pumpkin kind of tastes like butternut squash, very earthy and undeniably fibrous. With the help of maple syrup and puff pastry, pumpkin definitely shines. These "pumpkin wedges in a blanket", if you will, are a fun way to make the most of pumpkin season so try them out for your holiday gatherings this year.

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of clove
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 14-oz. sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg
  • Pepitas, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the pumpkin by washing the outer skin, removing the seeds, and slicing the pumpkin into wedges. You’ll want at least 16 wedges to make 16 puffs. Toss the pumpkin wedges in a drizzle of olive oil. Arrange the wedges on a paper-lined baking sheet, and brush the wedges with maple syrup. Sprinkle them with salt.

Roast the pumpkin in the oven for 20 minutes until soft. Once out of the oven, cut the skin off the pumpkin and discard the skin.

To make the filling combine the goat cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ground ginger.

Roll the puff pastry out on a floured surface. Cut the pastry into sixteen even rectangles. Here’s the fun part, evenly divide and spread the goat cheese mixture on each pastry rectangle. Top each pastry with a roasted pumpkin wedge, and roll the puff pastry around the pumpkin. Place the puffs seam-side down and evenly spread them out on a freshly lined baking sheet.

Before baking, brush the surface of each puff with an egg wash by whisking together an egg yolk from the egg with a dash of water. Save the egg whites for a scramble the next morning. Top each puff with a few pepitas.

Bake the pumpkin puffs around 20 minutes, until golden. Combine the white sugar and cinnamon to make cinnamon sugar. Once you remove the puffs from the oven sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the puffs.

Pumpkin pastry puffs

Roasted honey brie turkey burgers

 
Roasted honey brie turkey burgers
 

Roasted honey brie turkey burgers (for 6 burgers)

I'm on a campaign to convince people that turkey burgers can be incredible. And no, not in a passable way, but actually crave-able. With the right ingredients and cooking methods a turkey burger can be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside just like any other burger. This one shines with melted brie cheese (a treat!) and roasted honey pears. Since the burger needs some crunch, I added raw and shredded brussels sprouts as well as raw red onions on top. Trust me, this'll change your opinion of what a turkey burger can be.

  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ~7 oz. brie cheese, sliced
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 3/4 cup shredded brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the sliced pears with the honey and a pinch of salt. Roast them for ~25 minutes until golden. Set aside.

To make the patties, mix together the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, garlic, thyme, paprika, egg and plenty of salt and pepper. Divide the mix into six even sections, and form each of the patties.

Reduce your oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To cook the patties, heat an oven-safe pan on medium-high. Add the burgers to the pan. Cook each burger on one side until browned (not just brown, but like crispy beautiful burger brown). Flip and brown on the other side.

Top the burgers with the brie slices, add the butter to the pan and place the entire pan in the oven. Remove the burgers from the oven once the cheese has melted and the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toss the burger buns in the oven until toasty.

To serve, top each bun with a burger and a few pear slices, shredded brussels sprouts and red onion.

Roasted honey brie turkey burgers

Coconut milk mac and cheese with butternut squash and sage

 
Butternut squash coconut milk mac and cheese
 

Coconut mac and cheese with butternut squash and sage (for ~6 generous servings)

One of the most popular recipes on my site is my original coconut milk mac and cheese recipe, and I'm tickled that it is! I absolutely love mac and cheese, it's my favorite food, so it seems fitting that all of you like it too. This version switches my original recipe up a bit with the addition for roasted butternut squash and plenty of fresh sage. Dried sage would do as well, of course! Any mac and cheese is a good one to me.

  • 18 oz. (approx. 4 cups) butternut squash
  • 1 lb. dried medium shells
  • 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop the butternut squash into large chunks. Toss the chunks in a generous drizzle of olive oil and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking pan. Roast the butternut squash in the oven for around 40 minutes until soft and golden. Transfer the butternut squash to a plate and mash the chunks until smooth using a fork.
  3. Meanwhile boil the shells to al dente with plenty of salt according to your package's instructions. Drain the pasta and return the pot to the burner.
  4. Heat the pot on medium heat. Add the coconut milk and three of the fresh sage leaves to the pot. Bring the coconut milk with the sage to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until the milk slightly thickens.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and a few tablespoons of water. Add this mixture to the pot, and stir it in until completely combined. Remove the sage leaves from the pot.
  6. Add the turmeric, smoked paprika and cheddar cheese. Allow the cheese to melt, then add the butternut squash and the shells to the pot. Stir to make sure the sauce coats the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the mac and cheese to a shallow baking dish and set aside.
  8. Finely chop the rest of the sage leaves. To make the topping, combine the breadcrumbs, melted butter, and the chopped sage. Evenly top the mac and cheese with the breadcrumb mixture.
  9. Bake the mac and cheese in the oven until the breadcrumbs brown, around 20 minutes. Enjoy right away, but re-heated mac and cheese is always good too.
Butternut squash coconut milk mac and cheese

Kale cobb salad

 
Kale cobb salad
 

Kale cobb salad (for 4 servings)

I love cobb salads, and this one doesn't disappoint. This is like a polish your fine china sort of cobb salad because it has it all. There's crispy bacon, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled eggs, crispy croutons, and a lemon dijon dressing. Everything comes together with kale, lacinato kale to be specific. It's not rough like curly kale, and when you let it sit in the dressing for a bit it softens into a craveable green. And yes I mean it, you'll crave these greens!

  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz. bacon
  • 1 cup cubed baguette
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cubed
  • 6-7 packed cups lacinato kale
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by cooking the eggs. Place the eggs in a medium-sized pot. Add a pinch of salt and fill the pot with water until the eggs are covered by an inch or two. Bring the eggs to a boil, then turn off the heat (keeping the pot on the burner) and keep the pot covered for ~15 minutes to hard boil the eggs. Before assembling the salad chop up the eggs. Set aside.

Meanwhile, fry up the bacon until crispy in an un-greased pan on medium head. Remove the bacon from the pan onto a paper-towel lined plate, reserving that bacon fat.

To make the baguette croutons, add the cubed baguette into the hot pan of bacon fat, frying them up until golden.

Make the lemon dijon dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, crushed garlic cloves, dijon mustard, and honey. Drizzle the olive oil in slowly, whisking to combine all the ingredients.

Add the dressing to the kale, tossing to combine. Allow the kale to rest in the dressing for at least 10 minutes so the kale softens slightly.

Assemble the salad by combining the dressed kale with the chopped eggs, bacon, baguette croutons, avocado, and tomatoes. Dig in.

Kale cobb salad

Fried cauliflower rice with a fried egg

This fried cauliflower rice recipe is just like your favorite takeout but without all carbs! With garlic, ginger and sesame oil, it has everything going on for that classic fried rice flavor. And since fried rice isn't necessarily a full meal, we're going to top it all off with a fried egg.

 
Fried cauliflower rice with a fried egg
 

Did I tell you about that time when I sent in a question for Cherry Bombe magazine to ask Martha Stewart during Cherry Jubilee? Ok so that's a thing I did, and they asked her it. A freakin' question of mine somehow made it's way to Martha Stewart to answer. I never get picked for things like this! This was major.

So now you want to know, so...what was the question? It's kind of lame, but I wanted to know what Martha's favorite thing to cook is when she doesn't feel like cooking.

That's it! It's a simple question for a big problem most of us have. You get back from work and you're hungry and you definitely don't have it in you to cook a full meal. Her answer? Eggs. She cooks eggs.

So here's a quick idea for those times when you don't feel like cooking, and the answer is eggs. I love fried rice, borderline addicted, but it's not that good for you. So this is dish has all of those flavors, but instead of rice, we're using finely grated cauliflower. There's no right or wrong way to make this recipe either, so feel free to add the vegetables you have living in your fridge. The recipe is below!

Fried cauliflower rice with a fried egg (for 4 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup kale, packed and shredded
  • 1 ear of fresh corn, kernels removed
  • 3 tablespoons frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 eggs

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, green onion and ginger. Stir until fragrant. Add the cubed zucchini, stirring the vegetables until they're softened.

Prepare the cauliflower by removing the florets and blitzing them in a food processor until they’re crumbs. You should have around 3 cups of cauliflower crumbs. Stir the cauliflower into the vegetables, then add the kale, corn kernels, and the peas. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, and keep on sautéing everything until evenly combined and tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Set the fried cauliflower rice aside to fry up a few eggs to put on top. You can do this in one giant pan. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with butter. Crack the eggs in a different quadrant of the pan and since it’s hot it’ll go quick. Fry the eggs on one side, flip and cook on the other. 

Serve each portion of the fried cauliflower rice with a fried egg on top. Add some more green onions on top to garnish.

Fried cauliflower rice with a fried egg