"Are we doing gifts this year?"
This question is usually thrown around our house in early February. It's not that my husband and I don't enjoy picking out gifts for each other, or that we want to ignore Valentine's Day, but those gifts can be tough. We just had Christmas and definitely don't want to add to the clutter. We usually opt for a nice dinner out.
But what if you'd like to do something for a friend, sibling or teacher? A homemade gift can be the perfect fit – it's reasonably priced, fun to make with the kids and is always nice to receive.
And if you can eat it, even better! Here are four of our favorite DIY food gifts. All you'll need are some mason jars, the ingredients and beautiful tags or ribbons.
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)
1 – ½ cup rolled oats
Red and pink candies for topping
In a small bowl, combine the flour, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Layer the ingredients in your quart-sized mason jar as follows: brown sugar, white sugar, flour mixture, chocolate chips, cranberries, almonds and oats mixture. Top with red and pink m&m's for decoration.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine ½ cup melted butter (cooled), 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla. Add the contents of this jar to the bowl and mix well.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Whole Wheat Pancake Mix
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white flour)
¼ cup sugar
1 – ½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tbsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, then pour into a quart-sized mason jar.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. In a large bowl, combine pancake mix with 3 cups buttermilk, 2 eggs, 4 tbsp. melted butter (or vegan butter substitute) and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Yields 2 dozen pancakes.
Chili-Infused Olive Oil
4 tbsp red chili flakes
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Place the red chili flakes in a sterilized mason jar.
Pour olive oil into a sauce pan and heat over low heat until bubbles start to form. Allow to cool slightly, then pour warm olive oil over chili flakes. Store in the refrigerator.
Serve with bread or over salads.
Pasta Soup Mix
½ cup whole wheat macaroni
¼ cup dried red lentils
¼ cup dried, chopped mushrooms
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp onion flakes
1 tbsp chicken soup base
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
In a small bowl, combine parmesan cheese, onion flakes, chicken soup base, Italian seasoning, parsley, basil and garlic powder. Pour into a pint-sized mason jar.
Add pasta, lentils and mushrooms.
Combine this soup mix with 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Makes 4 servings.
Carrie Madormo takes Midwest confort food and turns it into healthy, family-friendly dishes. She lives in Shorewood.