Around the holidays I love to make special “gifts from the kitchen” for friends and family. Most times, I make batches of cookies, breads, candies, or snack mixes. This year, I made brown bread loaves and Sparking Christmas Jam for everyone.
I was doing a major house cleaning and I had stumbled upon a few boxes of cute little jelly jars. I was in the mood for a major cleanup and I was trying to get rid of anything I hadn’t used in a while. This wide mouth batch would work just fine for gift giving jars. I remembered that I had loads of frozen strawberries and cranberries in the freezer that I could use for the intended mix, so I quickly scrubbed the jars in warm soapy water and began to prep the recipe. Here are the instructions that I used.
I must admit, the recipe is not very precise and of course, canning is a precise science. When processing for home preservation where items are to be stored on shelves, I only use tested, reputable recipes. Therefore, I processed the jars as instructed but I asked those receiving a jar to KEEP IT IN THE FRIDGE for safety purposes. I gave them cold, refrigerated jars to remind them where they should be stored. No need to get anyone sick via an oversight when canning!
This is a scrumptious recipe. Great with bread and butter or tea and toast… I’ve already gotten a few requests for another jar next year. The beginning of a tradition…?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let’s make this a good one!
A couple of weeks ago, our local woman’s club held a holiday craft-making session for all of its members. During one of the sessions, I saw a group assembling a dry soup mix in a cone shaped bag. The leader of the session had carefully measured out ingredients for all to use for their individual bags. The layered mix looked colorful and interesting. I complimented her on the clever idea of making such an inexpensive gift packaged in a compact and attractive cellophane bag. Two days later, she left a couple of different soup packages on my desk while she visited my office. She included a little note card explaining how each of the soup mixes should be cooked. I was so appreciative of her gift. What a kind gesture!
Naturally, I made a pot of soup when I returned home that evening. The Italian Curly Soup recipe made just the right amount and tasted delicious poured over a few mini-meatballs. Warm and flavorful with a crisp green salad and some crusty bread…
I’d like to send a big shout out to my dear friend… Thank you for the delicious mixes. Can’t wait to try the Wild Rice Soup recipe. This is a great and inexpensive “anytime” gift to pass along to someone special in your life… A warm and wonderful gift from the kitchen.
I recently remade the soup and I have posted a slightly different recipe below…
Italian Curly Soup In a Cone
Layer in a cake decorating disposable cone (or quart sized-jar) the following ingredients:
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 2 T beef bouillon
- 1/4 C minced dry onions
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 3 cups rotini or curly tri-colored pasta
6 cups water
1 jar of Curly Soup Mix
1 (14 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the Curly Soup Mix and can of tomatoes. Bring back to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Tip: For a full meal pour over Italian sausage pieces or min-meatballs; sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crisp salad and crusty bread.
How about a piping hot bowl of wild rice soup?
Here’s another great soup in a jar recipe…
By popular demand, I am posting one of my all-time favorite snack mix recipes. It never fails, whenever I make this mix, I am always asked for the details of the recipe. During the holidays, I usually pack this lip-smackin’ snack into decorative jars to pass along as a homemade gift from the kitchen. Light, buttery, and full of that scrumptious honey flavor, this sweet treat is a winner. Make a big batch and keep a watchful eye as it cools on the kitchen counter. The mix has a tendency to disappear as the minutes tick by … Irresistible!
Honey Nut Snack Mix
6 cups Chex or Crispix cereal
1 1/4 cups mini pretzels
1 cup nuts (peanuts, lightly chopped pecans, or lightly chopped walnuts)
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coat a 13×9″ pan with cooking spray. Add cereal, pretzels, and nuts; set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and honey. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, DO NOT STIR. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Carefully pour the hot syrup over the cereal mixture, stirring until well coated.
Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour; gently stirring every 15 minutes to distribute the syrup evenly over the mix. Let cool on cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from “The Family Table” by Brenda Hyde
The next time you’re looking for a sweet treat this one will not disappoint. Great for holiday gatherings, this party mix is completely addicting. Make a quick batch, place it out on the counter and BAM, it’s gone in a flash. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this delicious treat! It’s a sinful mix that will satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.
Sweet and Salty White Chocolate Snack Mix
1 (10 oz) package mini twist pretzels
5 cups toasted oat cereal rounds
5 cups crispy rice or corn cereal squares
2 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 (14 oz) package peanut M&M candies
2 (11 oz) packages white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons canola oil
Line a few (3) jelly roll pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
In a very large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chips and oil for 2 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring once. Microwave on high for 10 seconds and stir until smooth. Pour over cereal mixture and combine well. Spread into prepared pans, cool and break apart. Store in an airtight container.
As the cool winds blow down the length of Lake Michigan, they usher in autumn showers and chilly temperatures. This weekend we are experiencing “lake effect rains” and the cooler temperatures have me searching through my files for all of my favorite “comfort food” recipes.
This irresistible snack is great for a fall tailgate party or family get-together. Roasted cashews mixed with a blend of sweet and spicy ingredients make this crunchy finger-food hard to resist. Nearly everyone that has tried these spiced nuts find them irresistible. Make a couple of batches because they’re usually gobbled up rather quickly.
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts
1 1/2 lbs. cashew nuts
1½ tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cashews in a single layer on a jelly roll pan. Roast the cashews for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly toasted and golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine fresh rosemary, brown sugar, cayenne, and salt; add melted butter, mixing well.Remove the nuts from the oven and carefully add hot cashews to the spice mixture. With a large spoon or spatula fold in the nuts to completely coat with the spice mixture. Cool cashews in a single layer on a piece of foil or parchment. Serve warm or transfer to an airtight container and keep at room temperature for a few days.
(adapted from the Food Network)
While I have always been a traditional jam and jelly maker, I’m thrilled to find so many new products on the market that are meant to make jelly making so much easier and less time consuming. One such product is the instant pectin that Ball has developed specifically for freezer jam. I’ve made several jars in as little as 30 minutes. Those of you with young children can let them take a bigger role in the jelly making as there is no cooking involved. And the process is quick and simple. I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for home made goodness that is quick and simple.
I have included several screen shots of the peach freezer jam recipe calculator from the Ball/Fresh Preserving website so that you can see just how easy this is.
First, go to the Fresh Preserving website…
Here you will find a pectin calculator for your chosen jam or jelly flavor.
Now, find the fruit that you wish to use for your jam or jelly.
Once you have chosen a fruit, choose whether you would like to make jam or jelly.
Next, choose the type of pectin you will be using.
The calculator will then calculate a recipe for you to follow. Super simple!
Remember, you’ll want to use Instant Pectin…
Also, this process is only meant for freezer jam. Store these jars in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Store them in the fridge after opening.
I bumped into an old friend the other day. She and I used to work together. Our paths would often cross as we headed in and out of the office. Most of our work was done in the field so we weren’t able to see one another on a regular basis. Whenever we had the opportunity to stop and catch up for a bit, she would always share her latest recipe find. The recipes that she enjoyed most, were those that were simple, healthy, and inexpensive.
Well, I have since moved up in rank and our paths really don’t cross any longer. But to my delight, she sent an email the other day, with an invitation to lunch. I was thrilled to hear from her so we met for a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant. The minutes passed as we shared stories of kids, husbands, work, and the daily grind. It was so great to see her. Without fail, she slipped me a piece of paper as we parted ways. On it was printed her latest recipe find. She calls it Peanut Butter Granola but after making it this morning, I’m calling it Rita’s Oat and Raisin Breakfast Cereal. The texture is softer and less crunchy as compared to a traditional granola. My daughter, M ate it as a breakfast cereal this morning and raved about the texture and taste. I hope you enjoy it…Thanks, Rita!
Rita’s Oat and Raisin Breakfast Cereal
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/2 cup rice cereal
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
Stir together in a mixing bowl, whole oats, rice cereal, and raisins. In a saucepan, bring to a boil the apple juice and brown sugar. Remove from the stove and suit in vanilla and peanut butter. When peanut butter has dissolved, pour over cereal mixture in the bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour mixture onto a jelly roll pan and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.