Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gifts From the Kitchen--Jar Mixes

A couple of years ago, I made several different homemade "jar mixes" to give as Christmas and "just because" gifts. I had forgotten how much fun I had making these until I was rimiscing over some old holiday posts. So as the first in my series on gifts from the kitchen (some oldies-but-goodies as well as a few new ones), I'm starting with this post on jar mixes.

These examples are made with common ingredients and go together with a minimum of fuss and muss, but they can be a simple or as complicated as you'd like to make them, and can be put together at the last minute or well-thought out in advance.

One of the reasons I loved these jar mixes is because right now everyone is getting inundated with goodies at every party and get-together--but these ready-made mixes make a pretty gift, and can be put away and brought back out to be appreciated one cold winter night when those New Years diet resolutions have worn off and the ready-made goodies everyone 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 that 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:

  1. 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.

  2. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the edges start to brown

  3. Cool on baking sheet or wire rack

  4. 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. Oops0

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Pour entire contents of jar into a mixing bowl

  2. Add 1 stick (1/2 c) of butter or margarine, melted; stir slightly; then add 4 eggs and 1 t vanilla

  3. Pour into greased or cooking sprayed 9 x 13 pan.

  4. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

  5. Makes about 20 brownies

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.

Recipe Instructions:

  1. 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.

  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

  3. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then remove cookies to racks to finish cooling.

  4. 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?

Until next time, good cooking, and good gifting!

1 comment:

  1. Who wouldn't want to receive one of these. What a wonderful gift.