As we get closer to the holiday season, lots of us are getting anxious about purchasing gifts for our close relatives and friends. So many people are suffering financially from the increase in prices of everyday necessities and surely luxuries are the first items that are eliminated from our limited budgets.
Yet, no one wants to greet a loved one with empty arms at a holiday party or get together. There are, however, ways to keep the holiday spirit alive without spending our last dime on appropriate gifts. I want to enlighten the folks out there about some wonderful ideas with glass jars such as mason jars. Choosing the right jar can be tricky as we are tempted to choose the least expensive ones that we see whether online or in the stores. However, even the best mason jar will not break the bank since this can be one gift that will serve a whole family. Instead of choosing inexpensive gifts for each person a filled mason glass jar can fulfill the needs of a whole family quite nicely.
There are many ways to fill a mason jar including homemade cookies or soups, but I have discovered that giving a glass jar filled with potential really serves a dual purpose. The layering of the ingredients is so beautiful and colorful and makes a beautiful presentation. In addition, the receiver will be able to create and serve a perfectly tasteful array of foods to their guests with pride.
A great idea is to fill the jar several days early and either deliver the gift jar personally or if you are traveling a distance by mailing it safely. There are inexpensive foam wrapping rolls that will ensure that your glass jar arrives intact to the receiver. There are both sweet and savory ideas that will spell happiness with a capital H when a surprised host receives your thought out and delicious gift in advance. I like to give either a jar filled with cookie ingredients with a small card attached at the top of the jar with the baking time and oven temperature clearly written or a layered soup recipe that just needs to be thrown into a pot filled with water. For a last-minute gift give a yummy dark chocolate and cranberry trail mix that's ready to eat in a lovely glass container.
If you choose to go the savory way with soup ingredients, then the instructions can also be on the card of how long to cook the pot of soup. When you get to your destination you will be so gratified to smell the aroma of your favorite soup as you walk into a warm house when it’s so cold outside. If you do decide to go the chocolate chip cookie way you will have to advise the receiver to add two or three extra ingredients to the recipe, such as oil or margarine and eggs but no one will mind as these are staples usually found in any regular kitchen. Here is a good chocolate chip recipe that works.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Sticks Ingredients to Layer in a Glass Jar
This recipe will easily yield 2 dozen cookie sticks and is much quicker to make than cookies. This variation has the taste of chocolate chip cookies and the texture of biscotti. This recipe is also easy to remember because most of the ingredients are ½ cup measurements.
- ½ Cup Brown Sugar (either light or dark is fine, dark has molasses added to it.)
- ½ Cup Regular Sugar (make sure that is not caked together, I strongly recommend using a fresh bag.)
- 1½ Cups Regular Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Chocolate Chips
There are three additional ingredients that you must specify on your recipe card which will be attached to the top of the glass jar with a ribbon or decorative cord.
- ½ Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
- 1 Slightly Beaten Large Egg
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Thanksgiving Note: If you are giving this for the Thanksgiving season, I recommend adding ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice to the jar and a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon is always appealing.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray.
- Mix all the ingredients together either by mixer or by hand.
- Form two logs approximately three to four inches wide and flatten them slightly to your liking.
- Bake for twenty to thirty minutes and check to see that the edges are beginning to brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven and cool for ten minutes. Cut the logs into sticks depending on how thin each stick is will determine how many sticks you get. The sharper the knife the thinner they can be. By the way, these sticks prebaked make a wonderful glass jar stuffer themselves.
You should figure out beforehand what size jar will be right to layer the ingredients so that they hit the top of the jar, otherwise the jar will shake, and the look will be spoiled. If you see that your jar is too big do not fret here are some ideas to make it work. ½ Cup of Quick Oats or finely chopped walnuts are great fillers and use your imagination to come up with others.
Barley & Wild Rice Soup Combo
Here is a savory soup to fill your glass mason jars. The layers are quite dramatic and make a lovely presentation even before the soup is started. Of course, this recipe will have a few additions that the gift receiver will have to add. These soup starters will certainly be appreciated especially by new cooks who might be afraid to make their own soup from scratch.
Layering soups in glass jars is a pretty way to show your love to family and friends. Here a stick-to-the-ribs type of soup perfect to warm up from the cold weather. The wild rice and barley soup mix ingredients fit well in a pint-size jar.
Ingredients: Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, two teaspoons dry Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, ½ teaspoon celery seed and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
Directions: Begin layering with ½ cup medium pearl barley, 2 tablespoons dried parsley, 1 tablespoon dried celery, and 1 tablespoon dried chives. Next layer the above brown sugar mixture. Now use about 3 tablespoons of chicken soup mix, ½ cup wild rice and ½ cup dried minced onion. As you layer, pack each layer as tightly as possible so the different ingredients don’t mix together. Add a recipe card with a ribbon and the following instructions. If you notice that your jar is a bit big then you can wrap some mini croutons in clear cellophane and place them snuggly at the top before closing the jar.
Pour the mix into a large pot and add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and turn the flame to low. Simmer for one hour until the rice is cooked well. The wonderful thing about putting the dry soup ingredients into a reliable airtight glass jar is the contents can last up to four months but usually the person will use it right away. And why not? It’s an easy way to make a savory and delicious completely homemade soup. One trick in making soup that I always rely on is that it’s better to put in less water than called for and see if you need all the water when the soup is finished. In this way you will never have to worry that the soup is too watery. Of course, in ancient times more water was added when people did not have enough food.
Do It Yourself Trail Mix
The cranberry dark chocolate trail mix is ready to serve as soon as you enter the home of your host. All you have to do is throw together 1 ½ cups dried cranberries or cherries, 1½ cups sliced almonds, 1 cup of raisins,1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, ½ cup shelled pistachios and a 10-ounce package of dark chocolate chips. Place them in a pretty mason jar and using a wine glass pen write something appropriate such as the family name, the contents of the jar, happy holiday or all three. Words mean so much so take some time to think of something original to write on the jar.
There is nothing that is appreciated as much as a home cooked present. Even more creative is to give the people you love a way for them to give to the people they love. By preparing cookies or soup ingredients in the right size glass jars, you are giving your loved ones the chance to shine. Giving them specific instructions of dishes that you have made successfully will give them confidence even if they are beginners at cooking and baking. Don’t agonize if for some reason the ingredients get shaken up by unknowing family members or a bump in the road. The results will be exactly the same and by staying calm you will be showing the younger set that things don’t have to be perfect, but I bet that your cookie sticks, your barley and wild rice soup and your do-it-yourself trail mix will be.