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Homemade holiday treats convey ‘love in a jar’

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

 

Big things come in little packages.

I’m thrilled to receive a glass jar of cocoa or spiced tea mix at the holidays. The gift is like getting a big, warm hug.

Instant love.

There’s something cool about these old retro tea and cocoa mixes – I adore both. While I enjoy current food trends – my heart savors vintage recipes more.

Knowing a friend has lovingly prepared and packaged something special with me in mind – instantly warms my heart.

Who wouldn’t enjoy a pretty tin of delicious, spicy holiday nuts delivered directly to your door? Just knowing the gift came straight from someone’s home kitchen makes the taste even sweeter.

The cookie mix gift is a fun holiday project to organize with kids who can measure and layer ingredients – while feeling a sense of pride. Have them decorate the jars with festive holiday decor. Both children and adults enjoy the mixing and assembling of these gifts. Ask them to help you with personal deliveries – and you engage them in the spirit of giving.

Love.

Say it with food.

MAKE AHEAD COCOA MIX

4 cups instant non-fat dry milk

1 cup sugar

¾ cup cocoa

¼ tsp. salt

Mix well the above ingredients. Store in airtight container. Package for gift giving with instructions. For 1 serving, use 1/3 cup of mix to 1 cup of hot water.

SPICED 3-NUT MIX

3 cups pecans

2 cup shelled pistachios

2 cups almonds

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cumin

3 Tbsp. salted butter

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Place nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven, shaking the sheet several times during baking, about 15 minutes. In a small skillet over low heat, add coriander, cumin, butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire, cayenne, and salt. Stir until the butter melts, and sugar is dissolved. Place nuts in a bowl and drizzle with the warm, spiced butter. Stir until well coated. Let the nuts cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups.

FRIENDSHIP TEA MIX

1 ¼ cups instant tea

½ cup lemonade flavor drink mix

½ cup orange flavor drink powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

1/3 cup red cinnamon candies

Combine ingredients as listed. Package for gift giving. For 1 serving, combine 1 Tbsp. of mix and 1 cup of hot water in a mug. Add sweetener, if desired.

COCKTAIL PECANS

1/3 cup melted, salted butter

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. Tabasco

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. pecan halves

Mix all ingredients and add to the pecans. Spread in a buttered baking dish. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 25 minutes. Cool on paper towels. Makes 1 pound.

HOT ‘N SPICY PECANS

1 large egg white

1/ cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. chile powder

¼ tsp ground cumin

1 ¾ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 ½ cups pecan halves

Beat egg whites until soft and foamy, and no liquid is on bottom of bowl. Combine all other ingredients except nuts. Whisk into the egg whites. Stir in nuts until well coated. Spread in a single layer onto an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove, stir and toss. Reduce heat to 250-degrees. Return nuts to bake for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove and stir again. Place baking sheet on wire rack to cool. Break apart and store in airtight container.

NUTS AND BOLTS

6 Tbsp. butter

4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. garlic salt

2 cups Corn Chex

2 cups Wheat Chex

2 cups Rice Chex

Handful of pretzel sticks

Small can of mixed nuts

Melt butter and add Worcestershire and garlic.  Mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels. Pour butter mixture over cereal mix. Mix well. Bake in a 250-degree oven for 1 ½ hours. Stir every 15 minutes. Makes 6 cups.

QUICK SPICED HOLIDAY NUTS

1 egg white

2 Tbsp. cold water

2/3 cup each, walnuts, pecans, almonds

½ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. each, ground ginger and nutmeg

Beat egg white and water until frothy. Stir nuts into mixture to coat and then drain. Mix sugar and spices in a plastic bag. Add nuts and shake to coat. Spread wet nut mixture in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 1 ½ minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Stir. Microwave another 1 ½ minutes. Remove from oven and stir to separate. Cool. Store in a sealed container. Makes 2 cups.

INSTANT HOT CHOCOLATE

1 lb. instant chocolate mix

9 oz. dried milk

½ box confectioners sugar

3 oz. powdered cream substitute

Mix thoroughly. Store in tightly closed jar. Package with instructions for gift giving. Mix 2-4 Tbsp. in 1 cup of boiling water. Add miniature marshmallows if desired.

MEXI-SPICED NUTS

2 cups pecan halves

2 cups peanuts

¼ cup melted salted butter

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 beaten egg white

Place all nuts in a 13 x 9 baking pan. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over nuts and toss to coat. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool and package in airtight container. Makes 4 cups.

COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

1 1/3 old fashioned oats

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1/3 cup chopped pecans

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart, wide-mouth canning jar in the order given. Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredients. Attach a gift tag with these mixing and baking directions: In a bowl, cream butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the cookie mix and mix well using hands if necessary. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 11-13 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

OLD RECIPE HOT TEA MIX

1 lb. 2 oz. of Tang or other orange drink mix

10 oz. of dry lemonade mix

1 cup instant tea

2 ½ cups sugar

1 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix well and store in a tightly closed container.