Spice Jars~Holiday Gifts

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE!

How about giving you friends and family a spice jar this holiday season?
  I had a few people over for dinner the other night and they were raving about the shredded Mexican chicken I had prepared. I surprised them all when I gave each one a jar of ‘holiday’ spices. When I fill my spice gift jars, I add enough spice for two meals.
This dry mix of spices will add a unique zing to any chicken dish. Most of these spices you will have in your own cupboard. Try the suggested chili powders for this mix. My spice blend has just the right amount of heat and flavor to make all your guests ask for the ‘secret’ recipe.  In fact you can give them a jar of spices as a gift this holiday season! If you are able to prepare your own fresh ground cumin adds a great dimension to the dish. Fresh is always more fragrant and the taste is sensational. Do you want great flavor without adding a lot of heat? This would be a good mix. THE REAL GIFT IS THE RECIPE!

Combine the spices in the Mexican Chicken recipe and package.  This is the perfect hostess or other gift to give along with the printed recipe!

Combine the spices in the Mexican Chicken recipe and package. This is the perfect hostess or other gift to give along with the printed recipe!

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons ground cumin (grind you own in a mortar and pestle )
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered red chili ~ i.e. Ancho, chile de arbol, New Mexican Chile.
Dash of Cayenne pepper ~ or ~  to taste
1 teaspoon salt  ( use Kosher,  sea salt or Himalayan pink salt )
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

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Mexican Shredded Chicken ( recipe inside ), Chocolate Chili Truffles ( in box )

I like giving my friends and neighbors little treats this time of year, spreading happiness and good wishes.
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didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW? Spices not only  excite your taste buds but are composed of an impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness. Spices have been part part of our food ever since the spice trade began and when salt was a form of currency. Today we value healing spices even more. Thanks to the Arab and European explorers, whose contributions in spreading them from their place of origin to the rest of the planet has immensely broaden their use and popularity all over the world!

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Mortar & Pestle, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Cayenne, Salt, Pepper &  Ancho Chili Powder

Chocolate Chili Truffles ~ Holiday Gifts ~

Deliciously dark (not-decadent) “Chili” Truffles. This recipe hails from  “South Of The Border Down Mexico Way!”  Around Christmas time I start whipping up my holiday truffles.  Add 2-3 truffles into mini boxes. Decorate with festive ribbon or glittery Christmas stickers and you’re ready to spread some cheer! Friends and family like your truffles even more knowing that you made them yourself and added a spoonful of love to each one! 💖

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INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh dates(pitted)
1/2 cup (or more) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Ancho, New Mexican, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cayenne pepper
chocolate (preferably couverture or chips or whatever you have for coating ) optional
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Pulse almonds in food processor until almost like almond butter. This will take several minutes.
2. Add the pitted dates and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract, chili powder and cayenne and process again until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
4. Form mixture into bite sized balls.
5. Optionally coat with chocolate.
To do this, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or Bain Marie. Dip the balls into this mixture and leave to set on a piece of parchment. They can be placed in the refrigerator to set faster. Box these and give away as gifts or enjoy yourself.
Tempered chocolate.. great tips on dipping are marvelous!

didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW?
You will not experience any sugar drop with these little beauties since they are sweetened with dates. The usual ingredient of cream is replaced by almonds along with its multitude of health benefits. These truffles are perfect for vegans and those of you who are lactose intolerant.
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HELPFUL LINKS
My truffle boxes are called a Bow Top Favor Box.  I buy them at the Bulk Barn on the corner. I found a huge supply at McCall’s in Toronto, ON, Canada, ( no bow top boxes ). For their truffle boxes see: cake boxes page 6. online at www.mccalls.ca
Buy  online ( large orders ): boxandwrap.com  [ from the U.S. — All shipping destinations –select ivory bow box– ] Local shops are your best bet. Happy hunting!

White ‘Bow’ Boxes, Truffle Cups & Foil Wrap

How about your dinner party? Each guest will have the chocolate chili truffles right on their plate before seating. I have not set my table yet..but this is what it might look like with golden truffle boxes on each plate. White boxes are very festive too.

At the famous Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge you can buy a box of handmade truffles with flakes of edible 24-carat gold  that will set the buyer back an eye-watering £190 ( $238 U.S. $315 CAN dollars ). Champagne filled and studded by 100’s of Swarovski crystal on the box itself. I have enjoyed edible gold leaf chocolates at home and at restaurants. Decadent, but impressive! (You can buy edible gold leaf online ~ sometimes hard to get).

Harrods Gold Leaf Truffles

Harrods Gold Leaf Truffles

kids32VARIATION: Add any coating you like for the truffles; ground almonds,  chia seeds, shredded coconut  and what ever you have handy in the kitchen. Ask your kids what they would like as a coating and let them roll the truffles in the coatings. Easy and fun!   Raspberry Extract  in the mix adds another dimension to your truffles.  Chocolate, chili and raspberries are a match made in heaven! Kids love them too! No sugar rush!