Most people do a lot of wrapping and buying for Purim Mishloach Manot. After all, it's hard to make something homemade to give out to a large number of people, and still run around and get to all of your children’s friends houses. I’m still an advocate for doing something homemade and fun and skipping the impressive but expensive store-bought baskets. Trust me, these will be much more memorable.

Below are a few homemade gift ideas that are delicious and not too time-consuming to complete. Wrap them in clear cello, jars, and cute ribbons, add a bottle of wine or sparkling juice and a terrific customized sticker and your Mishloach Manot will be sensational!

Super Easy Dairy Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge 
Makes 8 dozen pieces



12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups toasted walnut, pecan, macadamia, or other nuts, chopped, optional
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
20 large marshmallows
4 cups sugar
2 (5-ounce) cans evaporated milk

Combine the chocolate pieces, nuts (if using), butter, and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Place the marshmallows, sugar, and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour the marshmallow mixture into the chocolate mixture; beat constantly until creamy. Quickly pour into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into pieces. Serve at room temperature.

Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn
Makes 8 servings



3 quarts freshly popped popcorn
1 cup cashews (or other nut of choice), unsalted and roasted
1 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts
1 cup whole almonds or pecans
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup margarine
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the popped corn and nuts in the pan, mixing well. Place in the heating oven while preparing the glaze.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, orange zest and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and baking soda. Gradually pour the glaze over the popped corn mixture, stirring to coat well.

Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Using a metal spatula, free the popcorn from the bottom of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan.

Break into clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Lemon Garlic Olives
Makes 6 servings



1 pound good quality green olives (preferably cracked)
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, cut in ½ inch chunks
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large bowl, mix olives with oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cilantro, mint, lemon and crushed red pepper (if using).

Stir well to combine. Cover olives with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 month. Bring the olives to room temperature before serving.

Carrot Dip
Makes 9 ½ pint jars

This is a great alternative to traditional tomato or eggplant dip. I serve it with crackers, salmon, or aside grilled chicken. It has great color and flavor and is a great surprise for guests. It's also great on toasted bread.

4 pounds carrots, coarsely shredded (about 18 cups)
6 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice (8 lemons)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
Big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or heavy pot, combine the carrots, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt; mix well. Wrap the cinnamon sticks and cloves in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle. Tuck the bundle into the carrots. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Add the nutmeg and 1/2 cup of water to the carrots and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are shiny and the liquid is syrupy, about 40 minutes. Discard the spice bundle. Let the carrot jam cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Make ahead; the carrot dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

These recipes were brought to you by www.gourmetkoshercooking.com

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