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Hip2Save This Holiday: Homemade Christmas Gifts (Fudge, Christmas Salsa, Apple Butter & More)

Hip2Save This Holiday Guest Post Submitted By Reader Katie…
Probably the BEST way that I save money during the Holidays, is by MAKING the majority of our Christmas gifts.  Each year I make all our teacher’s gifts, extended family gifts, and neighbor gifts.  I wanted to share with a few of my “frugal faves”!  The fudge is the easiest, most crowd-pleasing treat I’ve ever given, and the apple butter is a close second.  Even if you aren’t very comfortable in the kitchen, the three recipes below will turn out amazing!  And at the very bottom you’ll find a “recipe” for homemade hand warmers.
5 Minute Fudge:
This is hands-down the simplest, CREAMIEST fudge I have ever found…

Ingredients:

*12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
*14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
*1 Tbs butter
*1 Tbs cream
*1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, if desired

Directions:

*Place chips and milk in microwave safe bowl.  (You can just use the semisweet for a “darker” flavor, or add the milk choc. chips for a sweeter flavor.)
*Microwave on medium power for 2 minutes and stir.
*Microwave and stir at 1 minute intervals until all chips are melted and mixture is thick & smooth.
*Stir in butter and cream until combined.
*Pour into greased 8″ square pan and cool completely before cutting and gifting!

(Photo credit)

Christmas Salsa:
I love gifting savory treats at Christmas when I can because so many people are overrun by sweets.  I typically give this out in inexpensive tupperware type containers from the Dollar Tree.  It will stay good refrigerated for up to three weeks (but it’ll never remain un-eaten for that long!).

In a bowl combine:

*1 large can diced tomatoes, drained
*2 fresh seeded jalapenos, chopped
*2 fresh seeded long green chili peppers, chopped
*1/4 – 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
*1 clove minced garlic
*1 teaspoon lemon juice
*1/4 cup cilantro leaves, freshly chopped
(Collin, the salt addict, thought she’d also mention – “Add in Salt too!” ;) )

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender to desired consistency and ENJOY!

Homemade Crock Pot Apple Butter:
This recipe is so easy and will make you feel like a ROCK STAR!

Ingredients:

*5 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped
(I use Rome apples, but really any type of sweet, mealy apple will work great!)
*3 cups sugar
*2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
*1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

*Place apples in large bowl of Crock Pot.
*Combine sugar and spices and pour over apples in Crock.  Mix well.
*Cook on high for 1 hour, then decrease heat to low and cook for 9 – 11 hours or until thick and dark brown.
*Stir occasionally.
*Uncover and cook on low for one more hour
*To reach desired consistency, either whisk (if you want it lumpy) or blend (if you want it smooth).
*Either can in Ball jars, OR can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
*All done and ready to go into the jars to be canned and gifted (top right picture)!  One batch makes about 10 8oz jars.

Homemade Hand Warmers:
I just love these little cuties!  I used fleece fabric scraps (most of which were purchased with 40% off coupons!) to make little heart shaped, rice-filled hand warmers. This year I’m gifting these along with gloves I bought on after Christmas clearance from last year for $1.45/pair!

Directions:

*Take two pieces of felt or fleece (these are nice and soft and will not fray)
*Cut them into your desired shapes
*Line them up and begin to sew around the edges
*Use a sewing machine or by hand with needle and thread.
*Leave a small space open to pour the rice into.
*Using a small funnel or measuring spoon, fill about 2/3 full with whatever rice you find on sale!  ;)
*Sew the opening closed and admire your “handy” work!

TO USE – Heat these in the microwave for 30 – 45 seconds and pop them in your pockets.  They’ll stay warm for about 30 minutes!

For more information on my Hip2Save This Holiday series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!