Joy in a Jar

These Homemade Gifts are Perfect for the Holidays


by Lindsay Gifford and Elizabeth Skenes Millen

Gourmet food gifts made with love are a fun and clever way to bring glad tidings to those you don’t want to forget during the holidays. These fanciful gifts-in-a-jar are both functional and enjoyable and are a perfect gift for party hosts, teachers, co-workers and friends. There are a million ways to get creative and Decemberorate your jars to make them reflect your style and vibe. Change up the décor and these recipes can take you through the year for any season, occasion or holiday. Wouldn’t it be special to take the Alphabet Soup to someone recovering from an illness? Or, change up the color of M&Ms in the Cookies for Santa recipe and voila—it’s a multitasker! Your girlfriend who just had a baby would totally delight in the sugar scrub. Best of all, these jars can be a fun project to share with your children so they can take ownership in sharing their talents. Who knew all this goodness could fit into a jar?

Alphabet Soup
Colorful, hearty and fun!
Makes: 4 quart jars of dry soup mix

4 cups Alphabet pasta (found at Publix)
¾ cup Quick-cooking pearl barley, such as Quaker Quick Pearled Barley
1⅓ cups Dried green split peas
1⅓ cups Dried yellow split peas (found in bulk at Whole Foods)
1⅓ cups Dried green lentils
1 (1.4 or 1.8 oz. pkg.) Lipton or Knorr brand dry vegetable soup mix
8 Cubes low-sodium chicken bouillon crystal
1 (3.5 oz.) Container dried minced onions (about 1 cup), found in 
the spice aisle
1 cup Dried parsley, found in the spice aisle
2 Tbsps Italian seasoning
4 tsps Garlic powder
2 tsps Black pepper, freshly ground
4 cups Dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (found in the bulk section), cut into small pieces with clean scissor

To Fill Jars:
Note: Be sure to use quick-cooking barley, as regular barley takes much longer to cook.
1) Place 1-cup pasta in 4 separate plastic sandwich bags and seal, making sure to squeeze out any extra air. Put aside.
2) Line up 4 (1-quart) glass jars. Be sure jars are dry, then layer ingredients in each jar as follows:
3 Tbsp. barley; ⅓ cup green split peas; 2 Tbsp. vegetable soup mix; 2 cubes low-sodium chicken bouillon crumbled; ⅓ cup lentils; ¼ cup dried minced onions; ¼ cup dried parsley; 1½ tsp. Italian seasoning; 1 tsp. garlic powder; ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1 tsp. celery seeds; ⅓ cup yellow split peas; 1 cup quartered sun-dried tomatoes
3) Place reserved bag of pasta on top and seal each jar with a lid.
Decemberorate jar and attach cooking instructions.

Cooking Instructions
12 cups water
1 jar Alphabet Soup Mix
In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. Remove bag of alphabet pasta from the jar and set aside. Pour remaining contents of the jar into the boiling water. Stir well and cover. Lower heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the split peas and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the alphabet pasta and stir. Cook, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Serve hot.

Cookies for Santa
Versatile and a real timesaver on Christmas Eve!
Makes: 1 quart jar of dry cookie mix

1⅓ cups All purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Salt
1 cup Old-fashioned Oats
¾ cup M&Ms, (we used plain in Christmas colors)
¾ cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips, (we used Ghirardelli)
½cup Brown sugar, packed
½ cup White sugar
½ cup Chopped pecans

To Fill Jars:
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. This is your first layer. You will need to pack, pack, pack each layer down as much as possible, without crushing the candy or chocolate chips. This is a tight fit. Be sure jar is dry, then layer ingredients as follows:
Flour mixture; Oats; M&Ms; chocolate chips; brown sugar; white sugar; chopped pecans.
The ingredients will be all the way to the top. If all of the pecans won’t fit, just add enough to fit.

Cooking Instructions
1 jar Cookies for Santa Mix
1 Egg, slightly beaten
½ cup Butter, melted slightly in the microwave
1 tsp Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°. Pour jar of cookie mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add egg, butter and vanilla into dry ingredients, stirring with a large sturdy spoon until well blended. Roll dough into 1½ inch balls and place about 2-inches apart on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Andes Cookies
Nothing goes better with winter than Andes Chocolate Mints!
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Dark Chocolate Cake Mix (15.25 oz.)
½ cup Vegetable or Canola oil
1 tsp Baking soda
2 Eggs
1 bag Andes Mint Baking Chips (10 oz.)

To Fill Jars:
Fill first layer with Betty Crocker Super Moist Dark Chocolate Cake Mix. Then add Andes Mint Baking Chips on top!
Cooking Instructions
Combine cake mix, eggs and oil in large mixing bowl, and beat well. Stir in Andes mint baking chips. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet in rounded balls. Bake for approximately 8-9 minutes at 350˚.

Coconut Sugar Scrub
A quick trip to the tropics, without leaving your tub!
Makes: 1 pint jar (double recipe

½ cup Coconut oil
1 cup White sugar
10 drops Vanilla essential oil

To Fill Jars:
Place ½ cup coconut oil in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 45 seconds or until completely melted. Transfer melted coconut oil to small mixing bowl and stir in 1 cup White sugar. Mix well. Add 10 drops of Vanilla essential oil (or more for a stronger scent), mix again until well combined. Transfer to jar!