Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Homemade Gifts: "In a Jar" mixes

One thing that I am probably notoriously famous for in my family is my use/love of home made gifts. I have a close family, therefore all of my extended family likes to give gifts to each other (aunts, uncles, cousins). I love my family and love giving them gifts, but often it is hard to decipher what they want or what they already have.

Because of this I started making some home made gifts, reasoning that whatever I made would be unique and surely they wouldn't already have it!

Of course this philosophy also translated into some savings as well. That being said, leading up to Christmas I will post several home made gift ideas with instructions and how-tos.

Gifts In A Jar

Gifts in a jar are always fun. You can get very creative in the presentation and make it very personal to the recipient. And of course they are extremely useful.

I actually recently prepared one that I received that was sitting in my cabinet and adored it!

Rainbow Bean Soup In A Jar

3/4 cup dried red beans
3/4 cup dried great northern beans
3/4 cup dried split peas
3/4 cup lentils
3/4 cup dried black beans
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules (sold in soup section)
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons sweetened lemonade drink mix
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Lookfor red lentils or yellow split peas for a real rainbow of colors in this mix, if you can't find use regular brown lentils or pick a colorful dried bean of your choice for this layer.
2. Mix and place in a thin zipper sandwich bag.
3. Use a Quart Jar that has a wide mouth,but if you can't find one you can use a regular Quart jar.
4. Place each type of bean in jar in order listed above. Try to "settle" the beans by wiggling the jar around so that each layer is flat.
5. Put a lid on the jar and close tightly.
6. Decorate the jar.
7. Affix with ribbon, string, etc. the seasoning bag.
8. Either use a peel and stick label to attach the recipe, or affix the recipe card to the jar itself using the ribbon.

What to put on recipe card:

Additional ingredients needed: Water, 1 can crushed tomatos

Remove seasoning packet. Set aside. Rinse beans place beans in larg microsafe dish. Cover with water 1" to 2" over top of beans. Cover dish loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, rotating after 7 minutes. Drain and rinse beans very well. Place beans in very larg pan. Add 8 cups water and 1 can crushed tomatos and seasonings from packet. Cover, bring to boil.
Lower heat, cover pan and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender. STIR OCCASIONALLY.

I also like to personalize the gift with a serving suggestion. Handwrite in to make it special. Something like "Mac and I really enjoyed this with a dollop of sour cream mixed in to each bowl! Hope you and Henry enjoy this on a cold winter night!"

For more ideas for gifts "in a jar", visit and just type in "in a jar" in the search field.

Here are some other tips that I'd like to provide:
  • As much as people like sweets, I've been tending to stay clear of them as gifts lately. You never know who is dieting or watching their weight. Soups and dips are great ideas.
  • If you want to "enhance" the gift, why not add another item to the gift? Giving a soup mix? Add on some cute soup spoons. Brownie mix? Add a small wisk. Cookie mix? Add a cookie cutter. Or include a nice bottle of wine to go with it.
  • Keep the recipient in mind when you are selecting which item to give and the ingredients. Obviously if the recipient is a vegetarian, don't use anything that even remotely resembles meat (ie, leave out the beef boullion - use veggie boullion instead!). If the recipient is lactose intolerant, make sure your recipe doesn't call for milk or cream to be added.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE these gift ideas in a jar. LOVE. The colors of the beans would look so pretty too. My brain is racing with creativity. I will do this for sure this year. :D