Brownie Mix in a Jar
Who doesn't love brownies? Nobody, that's who. That's why a brownie mix in a jar makes a great gift: it looks cool, it's easy and inexpensive to make, and it turns into brownies! I like to keep a couple of these on hand for "emergency" situations, like when someone gives you an unexpected gift and you want to look like you already planned something in return.
Basically, you layer all the dry ingredients in a jar, then add a tag explaining what wet ingredients (like eggs and oil) to add and how to finish the recipe. There are countless variations; this one comes from Allrecipes.com and includes pecans, which have no business in a brownie but can be replaced with chocolate chips or even coconut. In addition to the ingredients themselves, you'll need quart jars and tags for the baking instructions. Buy everything in bulk and you'll have enough lovingly homemade gifts for everyone on your list.
One final note: this doesn't have to be a regular old brownie mix. Search Allrecipes.com for "in a jar" and you'll find loads of brownie varieties as well as cookie recipes. Yet another variation: Family Fun's Hot Chocolate Cones, which rely on cone-shaped bags instead of jars. Whatever mouth-watering mix you choose, don't forget your favorite editors during this special season.The Winter Emergency Car-Kit
Think of a friend or loved one stranded in the ditch while the snow continues to pile up. Not a pretty picture, is it? A homemade emergency kit not only helps ensure their safety, it also says you care.
Start with a large coffee can. Decorate it as you see fit, starting with blank or holiday paper wrapped around the outside. Now, fill it with the following:
- Rock salt, filling roughly half the can. If the car gets stuck in the snow, the salt will help give the tires some traction and, hopefully, get it unstuck.
- A few roadside flares.
- A couple granola bars (stranded people get hungry).
- A pair of stretchy knit gloves (which are very small until you pull them over your hands). Maybe a knit cap, too.
- A small flashlight and a pack of fresh batteries.
- A mini first-aid kit with bandages and aspirin.
- A small bottle of water. Yes, it may get frozen, but it's still worth having.
- A pocket-size book of Sudoku puzzles to pass the time waiting for the tow truck.
- A small, laminated sheet of emergency numbers, like AAA, towing services, etc.
- If you're really ambitious, add a compatible Energizer Energi To Go powerpack for the recipient's cell phone. Because the battery will invariably die the moment the car gets stuck.
Everything but the rock salt should go inside an oversized Ziplock bag to keep it from getting mixed in with the salt. All told, the kit shouldn't cost more than $10-15, unless you add the Energi To Go (which costs around $20).Holiday Peppermint Bark
Spray a large cookie tray with non-stick spray and then line it with a piece of way paper. Take several large candy canes or a bag of peppermint candies and crush them into small pieces. (How much peppermint flavor you like should determine how many you chop up.)
On the stove, melt two bags of white chocolate chips at a low temperature. When melted, add most of the crushed peppermint and stir it in. Pour the mixture onto the cookie tray and spread over the tray until flat and even. Sprinkle the remaining peppermint pieces on top, pressing them in with a spatula.
Let it cool. Peel off wax paper and break into pieces. Enjoy!
|Cocoa in a jar |
Layer the ingredients for homemade cocoa in a jar, add a ribbon and a tag, and you have a simple but stylish gift. Our mixes will fill 1-quart jars (12 servings; see below for sources), but if your containers are different sizes, just keep the ratio of ingredients constant. On the back of the tag, write: "Mix contents in a large bowl. For each serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup boiling water. Store remaining mix in airtight container."
|CLASSIC COCOA |
Layer 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.
Per serving: 142 cal., 20% (29 cal.) from fat; 3.7 g protein; 3.2 g fat (1.9 g sat.); 30 g carbo (2.6 g fiber); 1 mg chol.
Layer 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 3/4 cup chopped Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra). Add a few cinnamon sticks to top of jar. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.
Per serving: 158 cal., 14% (22 cal.) from fat; 3.4 g protein; 2.4 g fat (0.8 g sat.); 33 g carbo (2.1 g fiber); 1 mg chol.
PEPPERMINT STICK COCOA
Layer 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.
Per serving: 172 cal., 17% (29 cal.) from fat; 3.7 g protein; 3.2 g fat (1.9 g sat.); 37 g carbo (2.6 g fiber); 1 mg chol.
Layer 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup espresso powder, 1 cup powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or miniature chocolate chips. Makes 1 quart mix or 12 servings hot cocoa.
Per serving: 141 cal., 23% (32 cal.) from fat; 4.1 g protein; 3.5 g fat (1.9 g sat.); 28 g carbo (2.3 g fiber); 1 mg chol.
Photos by David Prince
Sources: Vintage straight-sided Ball canning jar. Rounded 1-liter French canning jar from the Container Store (www.containerstore.com or 888/266-8246). Vintage metal-clip jar. Glass 1-quart cracker jar with aluminum screw-top lid from the Container Store.
Copyright 2004 Sunset Publishing Corporation