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Friday, December 17, 2010

Quiet & Blanket + Coffee & Weekly Paper = DYI Inspiration


While sadly a rarity, one of my favorite things to do is wake up before Mr. Man and Bean, cuddle under a blanket with a cup of coffee, and read the paper. Fortunately for your sake, this phenomenon happened recently. Specifically one rainy morning.                                                                                                               Smile

Christmas is almost a week away and I will safely assume many of you, still need some last-minute gift ideas. If it is for your child’s babysitter, a teacher, or even a co-worker there must be someone on your list you have NO idea what to get them. That takes me to the paper and my rare moment to enjoy some peace and quiet.

In the Life&Style section of our daily paper there was a syndicated article by Sharon Ghag (of McClatchy Newspapers) that immediately peeked my interest. As a foodie, which many of you know by reading my blog, the title of “Try sweet gifts from the kitchen” would be something that excited me. This article not only talks about how jarred ingredients can be a personal gift, one easy on your wallet, but it goes one step further and gives you a method on HOW to make them. Over the years I have come across many DIY holiday projects that have sparked my interest, but after reading the steps I was unmotivated to make the effort. Trust me, this article is worth the effort and serves as a tutorial. To read the entire article please click here.

Here is an except of the directions as well as instructions for the Truly Gooey Chocolate and Walnut Cookies. Sharon’s article details other recipes you can use.

Getting started

Here are a few things to keep in mind when putting together dry mixes:

• Any kind of jar will do, but wide-mouth canning jars work best.

• Blend the flour, baking powder and soda or salt in a bowl before adding to the jar.

• Pack ingredients in as tightly as possible. Place the ingredients in the jar and press down wit a utensil with a fairly wide, flat bottom so the ingredients lose some volume and the ingredients fit in the jar.

• Careful packing is key, but if you can't get all the ingredients into the jar, put them in a zip-close bag and attach them to the jar as if they're part of the decoration.

• The layers will stand out most if you pack the highly contrasting items next to each other.

• White sugar will seep down, so it is better to put white sugar below other ingredients. All-purpose flour and cocoa also have the same seeping problem.

• Include a card listing the recipe's ingredients and baking/cooking instructions, and another card with the entire recipe.

• Start with fresh ingredients. That way, the person receiving the gift can wait a few months to use them. These mixes, if stored in a dry and dark place, should last six months or longer.

• If the mix contains nuts, it should be used sooner, ideally within three months.


Following instructions

We've assembled the recipes, and each has two sets of instructions. The "Jar" instructions are for the giver, and the "Card" instructions are for the recipient and should be attached to the gift jar.

Clip the entire recipe and include it with your filled gift jar.

Use the "For jar" ingredient list to fill the jar.

Write the name of the recipe, the "For card" ingredients and the "Card instructions" on a card and attach it to the jar neck with ribbon or to the body of the jar with colored string.

Use the "Jar instructions" to layer the ingredients.

To decorate, use scissors to cut a 9-inch-diameter circle from calico. Place over lid and secure with a rubber band. Tie on a raffia or ribbon bow to cover the rubber band.


Truley Gooey Chocolate and Walnut Cookies

This recipe is adapted from "Green & Blacks Organic Ultimate Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection," edited by Micah Carr-Hill (Kyle Books, $24.95). We substituted walnuts for the hazelnuts and used whatever chocolate was handy in the pantry. The cookies were delicious, leading us to conclude that you just can't go wrong with this recipe.

Makes 16 cookies

For jar:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

3 1/2 ounces walnuts

9 ounces (70 percent cocoa solids) chocolate

For card:

2 large free-range eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk

Jar instructions: In pint jar, layer flour, baking powder, sugar, milk and white chocolates and walnuts. Attach the 9 ounces of chocolate to jar.

Card instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put contents of jar into a medium bowl. Melt the 9 ounces of chocolate and set aside. Whisk the eggs and yolk. Add to the dry ingredients. Add melted chocolate a little at a time. Stir to combine. Spoon heaping tablespoons of mixture onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. No longer.

I would LOVE to see what you come up with. Please share with us your recipes and who you gave them to. Please include a picture. Once you have sent them I will do a post including your recipes and a picture of the gift. Also, don’t forget to visit


to buy some great gift tags.

Have a wonderful weekend blog friends!!!!!!!

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