Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gifts From the Kitchen--Jar Mixes

The clock is ticking and the days are flying by on the calendar, but there's still time to make last minute gifts from your kitchen--made with common ingredients and with a minimum of fuss and muss.

First in my last-minute series of last-minute gifts and goodies from the kitchen, are these pretty layered mixes in a jar.

Right now everyone is getting inundated with goodies at every party and get-together--these ready-made mixes make a pretty gift, and will be appreciated one cold winter night when those New Years diet resolutions have worn off and the ready-made goodies they got at Christmas or Hanukkah are a dim memory.

All you need are the recipe ingredients and some quart jars with lids--wide mouth work better, but as you'll see, the smaller mouthed ones can work, as well. I got two of my recipes from Heart 4 Home's Gifts in a Jar, and used my own brownie recipe for the other. You can do this with just about any recipe, as long as the total volume doesn't exceed the size of your jar--in this case, a quart.

I gathered everything together this weekend for some major baking and "mixing" I had planned, and spread it all out with arm's length. Luckily I had a canning funnel to help fill the jars, but if you don't have one of these handy, you might want to make a loose funnel out of waxed paper for easy of filling with less spilling.

I started off planning to take pictures at each stage, but soon learned and handling "powdery" ingredients like flour and cocoa, and taking pictures don't really mix, so this is the only "during" picture that I ended up with.

The main thing to remember is that the ingredients need to be added with the finer textured ingredients at the bottom, the chunkier stuff at the top--if you start with chocolate chips and then pour flour over the top, for instance, the flour will sift down in between the chunks and mess your layers up.

Step number two is to try to smooth each layer and pack it as tightly as you can. I used a spice bottle for that--guess what, you can't tamp down flour or cocoa very well, the bottle sinks(!) Recipes with oatmeal pack well--add the flour, then the oatmeal, then tamp it down to your heart's content!

Next add the sugars, and last the chunky stuff.

Don't these look pretty? These are for Homemade Brownies, Cranberry Hootycreeks, and Cowboy Cookies.

I added circles of Christmas fabric cut with pinking shears, tied with ribbon and garnished with a berry spray. My last step will be printing out the recipe directions (add butter, eggs, bake at 350, etc ) on some card stock, cutting with the pinking shears, and tying to the jars with the ribbon.

Change the fabric, or leave it off and tie the recipe card on with some raffia or other decorative ribbon, pair a couple of them with a kitchen gadget or two and a pretty dishtowel, and you have a perfect gift for a kitchen shower or housewarming party.

Cranberry Hootycreeks
  • 1 c plus 2 T self-rising flour
  • 1/2 c oatmeal
  • 1/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans

Layer in the order listed. Recipe instructions:

  • In a medium mixing bowl beat together 1/2 c softened butter, 1 egg and t teaspoon of vanilla. Add the entire contents of the jar, and mix together until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the edges start to brown
  • Cool on baking sheet or wire rack
  • Makes 18 cookies

Easy Homemade Brownies

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 2 c sugar

Layer ingredients in the order listed ( I messed this up by putting the sugar first--when I tried to tamp the cocoa, it started mixing with the sugar. Oops


  • Pour entire contents of jar into a mixing bowl
  • Add 1 stick (1/2 c) of butter or margarine, melted; stir slightly; then add 4 eggs and 1 t vanilla
  • Pour into greased or cooking sprayed 9 x 13 pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

Cowboy Cookies

  • 1 1/3 c self-rising flour
  • 1 1/3 c oatmeal
  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Layer ingredients in order listed--tamp well after the oatmeal layer, and after the brown sugar layer. I made this one first, and did not "pack" everything tight enough, so the first one only held about 1/2 c of chocolate chips. I made another and figured out the best layers to tamp down and everything fit much better.


  • Empty entire contents of jar into a large mixing bowl, and thoroughly blend everything with your hands or a mixing spoon. Add 1 stick (1/2 c) of butter or margarine, melted; 1 slightly beaten egg, and 1 t vanilla. Mix until completely blended. This may require your hands! Shape into balls the size of walnuts, and place on greased or parchment lined cooking sheets.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  • Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then remove cookies to racks to finish cooling.
  • Makes about 30 cookies

I had a lot of fun making these--now that I've gotten the hang of it, I may be doing more of these. Be sure to check out the jar mix "recipes" at Heart 4 Home, or do an internet search for "jar mixes", there are tons of different recipes and sites out there with lots of ideas, from sweet to savory.

What pre-made mixes or jar mixes have you made, or would you like to receive?

This post is linked to:

Three or More at the Gypsy's Corner

Just Something I Whipped Up at the Girl Creative

Tuesday Night Supper Club from Fudge Ripple

Until next time, good cooking, and good gifting!


  1. Jar mixes are great for smaller families also, the recipes usually make about 1 - 1 1/2 dozen cookies. I have a jar mix cookbook, just for that reason. Thanks for sharing, your jars look great.

  2. Your jars are so pretty and the mixes look very good. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Merry Christmas!

  3. i love this kind of is really thoughtful. i stole your idea and put a few together for a hostess gift for tonight. thank you for sharing this wonderful idea with tuesday night supper club!

  4. Cranberry Hootycreeks? The name alone is absolutely priceless! What a wonderful collection of incredible jar recipes. Thank you so much! So glad I saw the link to your post over at Fudge Ripple! Happy New Year! Jenn