One last helping of kitchen gifts

December 19,2008
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

So here we are at the last weekend of holiday shopping. If you are still looking for more “gifts from the kitchen” ideas, here is a wrap-up of some other gift-giving ideas:

Pancake Mix:  We made this last year and it was a hit. It even began a special pancake-making tradition for R and his Pop. This recipe from allrecipes.com is a good one.

Popcorn Kits:  I think I have mentioned it before, but homemade microwave popcorn is really easy to make. Wrap some up and give it to your favorite NetFlix patron:

 

Glazed Nuts:  I’ve never made these before, but we have a family friend who does, and they are apparently easy to do. I can vouch for their tastiness!

Soup Mix:  This mix is what I used to develop one of my all-time favorite slow-cooker recipes, Italian Bean and Artichoke Soup. 

Italian Bean Soup Mix
 
3 cups of dried beans (pinto, lima, navy, black, great northern, red and kidney all work)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
 
Layer beans in 1-quart food storage jar with tight fitting lid. Slide bay leaves down the side of jar. Put onion, parsley, bouillon, garlic, thyme, oregano, black pepper and red pepper flakes into a small food-storage bag. Close with twist tie; cut off top of bag. Place bag on top of beans. Close jar.

Cover top of jar with fabric; attach tag with raffia or ribbon.

Tag should read:
 
TO MAKE THIS SOUP YOU WILL NEED:
1 jar country 6 bean soup mix
4-5 cups water
1 jar (28 ounces) pasta sauce
8 ounces smoked sausage links, sliced, or 2 smoked ham hocks
Hot pepper sauce or red wine vinegar (optional)

Remove seasoning packet and bay leaves; set aside.
Place beans in large bowl. Cover with water. Soak 6-8 hours, or overnight. (To quick-soak beans, place them in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let soak uncovered for 1 hour.) Drain beans, discard water.
Combine soaked beans, water, tomatoes, sausage, contents of seasoning packet, and reserved bay leaves in Dutch oven or slow cooker (if using, cook on low for 7-10 hours). Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer 1-1/2  to 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce, if desired.
Note: For thicker consistency, mash beans slightly with potato masher.
Makes 8-10 servings

Hot Chocolate Mix:  An oldie, but a goodie.  We add marshmallows and jar them up for a quick and fun gift. 

So there you have it, a list of easy and yummy gifts to share. Now get in your kitchen and start creating. Hey, it's a lot easier than fighting the crowds at the mall!

SPC