NEWS

Tasty gift: Fill canning jars with homemade mixes

Lainie Steelman

The holidays are a time for whipping up tasty treats to give to family and friends. Putting together cookie, bread, soup or beverage mixes in jars is not only easy and economical, its a fun way to get in the Christmas giving spirit.

All you need to put the mixes together are some basic baking supplies, canning jars, craft items like ribbon for jazzing up the jars, and a computer printer for making instruction tags. The printer isn’t a necessity. If you have nice penmanship, you can write out the instructions by hand. But using publishing software along with your computer’s printer will produce tags that you just print and cut out.

To add something extra to your gift-in-jar, include a cookie sheet -- another inexpensive item and something no kitchen can have too many of -- with a cookie mix, or a wooden spoon with a bread or soup mix. For a beverage mix, add a pretty mug. If you’re giving a beer bread mix, include a six-pack of the recipient’s favorite brew.

As for the jars, hopefully you’ll have some left over from the garden canning season. If not, plenty of local department stores still have jars in stock.

In all of the following recipes, be careful not to shake the jars after they are complete-the layered ingredients add visual interest.

White chocolate cherry cookie mix

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts

1/2 of a 10-ounce package white chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel

In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour into a quart jar, then add remaining ingredients in layers, tapping gently after each addition to settle before adding the next layer. The nuts can be replaced with additional white chocolate chips and/or cherries. Seal jar with lid and ring.

Gift tag instructions: Beat 1/2 cup butter in a large mixing bowl for 30 seconds. Add in one egg and beat until combined. Stir in contents of jar. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Just about any cookie or baked good recipe can be used as a jar gift. Just layer all the dry ingredients, and on the instruction tag include directions for adding the wet ingredients.

Viennese coffee balls mix

2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs

1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 cup chopped toasted almonds

2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or coffee, if you can’t find espresso powder)

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Layer ingredients in a quart jar, tapping gently to settle each layer before adding the next. Seal jar with lid and ring.

Gift tag instructions: Place contents in a large mixing bowl. Add four to five tablespoons espresso, coffee or water, using just enough to moisten. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and let stand until dry, about one hour. Before serving, roll again in powdered sugar. Store in airtight container.

Potato soup mix

1 3/4 cups instant mashed potatoes

1 1/2 cups dry milk

2 tablespoons instant chicken bullion

2 teaspoons dried minced onion

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt

In a bowl, mix together the instant mashed potatoes, dry milk, bullion and onion. Pour into a quart jar. Sprinkle remaining ingredients on top of instant mashed potato mixture. Seal jar with lid and ring.

Gift tag instructions: Place 1/2 cup mix in bowl and add one cup boiling water. Stir until smooth.

Creamy wild rice and mushroom soup mix

1 package country gravy mix

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules

2 teaspoons dried minced onion

2 teaspoons dried celery flakes

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 cup uncooked wild rice

1 cup uncooked white rice

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried mushrooms (shiitake, chanterelle or oyster)

Pour gravy mix into a pint jar. In small bowl, stir together bouillon granules, onion, celery and parsley. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add layers of wild rice, white rice and mushrooms. Seal jar with lid and ring. 

Gift tag instructions: Empty contents of jar into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add seven cups water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Makes 6 servings.

Beer bread mix

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 teaspoons dried minced onion

In a bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and baking powder. Carefully pour into a quart jar. Add Parmesan, then top with crushed red pepper and dried onion. Seal jar with lid and ring.

Gift tag instructions: Place contents of jar in a mixing bowl. Add 12 ounces of beer and stir until combined. Pour into a greased 8x4x2 loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover with foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overgrowing. Cool in pan 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Can also be served warm.

Beer pretzel mix

3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the oregano, basil, garlic, onion and cheese.

Divide the flour mixture equally between two pint jars. Divide the herb mixture equally over the flour mixture in each jar. Seal jars with lids and rings.

Gift tag instructions: Empty jar into mixing bowl. Add half of a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer (3/4 cup). Stir to combine. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes. Roll out on floured surface into a 10x6 rectangle and cut lengthwise into six strips. Shape strips if desired or leave them as is. Cover and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Coffee mixes

Swiss mocha

3/4 powdered creamer

1/2 cup Nestle’s Quick

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup instant coffee

Cafe au lait

1/3 cup instant coffee

1 cup nonfat powdered milk

2 tablespoons powdered creamer

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cappuccino

Add 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg to the cafe au lait recipe.

Cafe Vienna

Add 1/4 cup Nestle’s Quick and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the cafe au lait recipe.

For each of the above recipes, layer all ingredients in a pint jar. Seal jar with lid and ring.

Gift tag instructions for each recipe: Add two to three heaping teaspoons of mix to one cup of boiling water, stir.

Lainie Steelman writes for The McDonough County Voice in Macomb, Ill. Got a favorite holiday recipe you would like to share? Send it to news2@McDonoughVoice.com or mail to 203 N. Randolph St., Macomb, IL?61455.