Gifts in a Jar
Need a gift in a hurry? Go to your stash of jars then head to the pantry and start packing that jar with all the ingredients to make Simple Shortbread or Snickerdoodles and voila you have a gorgeous, very useful, very inexpensive gift in a jar!
FROM THE MEMBERS CENTRE: GIFTS IN A JAR
Gifts in a jar can be as simple or as complex as you like. They can be in jars or boxes or buckets or any other container suitable for the contents of your gift. They can be for eating or gardening or sewing or relaxing in the tub. Gifts in a jar are only limited by your imagination. Here are two of my favourites:
Simple Shortbread Mix
1 cup SR flour
1/2 cup ground rice
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup castor sugar
Combine ingredients and pack into a jar. Attach label with instructions as below.
1 jar Simple Shortbread mix
1 cup butter
Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Cut cold butter into flour with a knife. Using fingertips knead shortbread mix and butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Use a knife to mix into a dough. Press mixture into a shortbread mould (if you have one) and cook on a baking sheet or press and cook in a greased, 20cm round cake tin. With a butter knife mark out wedges (you should get 12). Bake for approximately one hour, or until light golden on top. Do not brown. Cut into wedges while still warm.
2 3/4 cups SR flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Combine ingredients and pack into a jar. Attach label with instructions below.
1 jar Snickerdoodle mix
1 cup butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. On low speed, add Snickerdoodle mix and beat until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about the size of a 20 cent coin. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar and then place on ungreased cookie sheets, about 5cm apart to allow room for spreading. Bake 8 - 10 minutes until light brown. Cool on wire racks.
500g chocolate cream biscuits
250g cream cheese
1 bag choc melts
2 tsp copha
Crush the biscuits to a fine crumb. I use my food processor to do this, so the crumbs are very fine. Using either the food processor or your hands, add the cream cheese and combine until the crumbs form a ball.
Using a teaspoon, shape mixture into balls. Chill.
Melt chocolate. Dip balls in chocolate then roll in sprinkles. Put on a plate to set.
Store in the fridge in an air tight container. Can be frozen.
Microwave Christmas Cake
Not long after we were married, Wayne's Aunty and I went to a microwave cooking demonstration. It was mind-blowing to me. I'd always thought the microwave was for reheating; I'd never tried to cook in it.
One of the best things I learned at that demonstration was this recipe for a fruit cake - cooked entirely in the microwave oven, and in a quarter of the time it takes in a conventional oven!
1kg mixed fruit
1cup brown sugar
2tbsp liquid (orange juice, brandy or water)
1 cup SR flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp Parisienne Essence - see note
Place the fruit, butter, brown sugar and orange juice in a microwave safe container and cook on high for five minutes. Let go completely cold. When cold, add the flour, mixed spice and Parisienne essence. Beat the eggs and add to the mixture. Stir well. Cook in a 20cm microwave safe round cake pan. Line base of pan with baking paper. Wrap outside with foil, extending 2cm above top of pan. Secure with a rubber band. Cook 25 minutes on medium. Let cool in pan.
Note: As this cake is cooked in the microwave, it doesn’t brown like a traditional fruit cake. The Parisienne Essence darkens the cake, giving it a more traditional look.If you don't have it, leave it out - just remember your cake won't darken like a traditional fruit cake.
Yummy Ways to Use Christmas Leftovers
Don't you just love Christmas food? It's the one day of the year you don't have to watch what you eat and you don't need to feel guilty for eating lots of yummy things. Unfortunately, even when we eat to bursting point we still seem to end up with a fridge full of leftovers (because it's wasteful to throw them out), even though we are sick of the sight of turkey, ham, chicken, seafood, Christmas pudding and baked veggies.
So what are you going to do with them? Turn them into delicious and appetizing meals, meals so good no one will know you made them from leftovers!
Turkey Toastie Tasties
Slices of bread
Slices of cooked turkey (or chicken)
Cream cheese spread
Butter the bread slices on one side as you do for toasted sandwiches. Spread cream cheese on one side of the sandwich, then spread the cranberry sauce and top with the sliced turkey. Cook in a sandwich press or hot fry pan until toasted and golden.
Real Ham Steaks and Pineapple
1cm thick slices of ham
Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Melt the butter and cook the ham slices until browned on both sides. Remove from frying pan and keep warm. Drain the pineapple slices and add to the frypan, cooking until golden on both sides. Place a ham steak on each plate and top with a pineapple ring (or two). Serve with hot toast for breakfast or lunch or with a tossed salad for dinner.
Chicken Roll Ups
These are so good, it's easy to eat four of these without hesitating. Double, triple or quadruple all the ingredients except for the extra butter to suit your family. You can double the extra butter and then melt more if you need to, just remember not to scrimp with it or your roll ups won't be golden and crisp.
8 slices fresh bread, crusts removed (put them in the freezer for crumbs later on)
1/2 cup chopped spring onion
1 tbsp oil
1 cup finely shredded, cooked chicken
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper to taste
125 -150g butter, extra
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Using a rolling pin, roll the bread slices until they are thin and flat. Combine oil and 30g butter over a low heat and cook spring onion for 1 minute. Add the chicken, cheese, egg yolk and seasonings and mix well. Spread a layer onto each piece of bread. Roll bread up. Line a lamington tray with baking paper. Melt the extra butter. With a pastry brush, dip in the melted butter and brush the outside of each bread roll up generously. Place on baking tray, join side down. Dip the outside of the rolls lightly into the butter on all sides and also on the base and put each one onto the tray, join side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp.
This is the best way to reserve leftover roast potatoes. I usually deliberately over cater on the roast spuds, just so we can have smashed potatoes on Boxing Day.
Cold, leftover roast potatoes
Herbs - I use rosemary and garlic
Pre-heat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius.
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, or lightly oil it.
Put the potatoes in rows on the baking sheet.
Taking a potato masher, squash each potato until it breaks open and spreads a little.
Gently brush with the oil - olive oil gives a gorgeous flavour.
Sprinkle with the salt and herbs.
Cook until the edges are crispy and golden and the potatoes are heated through - 20 - 25 minutes.
500g Nutrigrain (generic equivalent works just as well)
375g salted peanuts
375g pretzels (broken into small pieces)
100g pumpkin seeds
1 packet Cream of Chicken soup mix
1 packet French Onion soup mix (generic works just as well)
3 tsp curry powder
Pinch chilli powder
1/2 cup currants (or sultanas)
3/4 cup olive oil, heated
Combine all ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Mix well to make sure everything is coated with the seasonings. Warm the oil and stir through the dry ingredients, making sure they are all coated completely. Store in a large, air tight bowl. If you are going to jar it up for gifts, wait two days. Stir the mix completely each day then on the third day pour into jars and label. This mix looks great in nut dishes on the Christmas table too.
If you don't have all the ingredients, don't stress. Add what you have, and substitute the rest.
This makes a HUGE batch, so great for a few gifts, with plenty leftover for your Christmas snacks.
Package it in jars or cellophane bags to give.
Boxing Day Shopping Tips
It's the best day of the year for shopping. Whether you get to line up early on the 26th or you have to wait until the 27th, hitting the Boxing Day sales is great fun and a great opportunity to pick up some fantastic bargains....and get a head start on next Christmas!
*Check to see what you already have.
*Make a list of the things you want to buy. Prepare your list around what you already have, what's on sale, and what gifts you'll need in the coming year (birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 21sts, engagements, weddings, special anniversaries, new babies and of course next Christmas!).
*Plan your spending to avoid impulse buys. Don't spend money on things you don't need.
*Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, take a bottle of water and remember to have fun.
Easy Rocky Road
1 x 250 gm packet snakes
2 x 200 gm blocks milk chocolate, melted
1 x 100gm packet mallow bakes (mini marshmallows)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, toasted
1 cup desiccated coconut
Grease an 8 cm x 26 cm bar cake pan; line base and two long opposite sides with baking paper, extending paper 5 cm above edges of pan. Using scissors, snip snakes into 2-cm lengths. Combine snakes with remaining ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared pan, pressing mixture firmly with back of spoon. Cover refrigerate several hours or until set. To serve, stand for 10 minutes at room temperature before cutting into slices. I have also put some mixture into patty pans and once set turned them out and placed them upside down on a plate put some ice cream on the top for children who would not eat plum pudding at Christmas time.
We call this Almost Instant Fudge because it's really quick to make and has just two ingredients - yes, just two ingredients.
To present this as a gift I like to repurpose a gift box or a pretty jar. Just recently I picked up Moccona jars for 50 cents each from the op shop, and they are perfect for packaging treats, including fudge and even Grandma's Shortbread
Almost Instant Fudge
2 packets choc melts
1 tin condensed milk
Combine the choc melts and the condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl.
Cook on HIGH in 30 second bursts, stirring between each burst, until the chocolate has melted and is completely mixed into the condensed milk.
Pour into a well buttered 20cm square pan. Let set about 10 minutes, then carefully mark into squares. Place in the fridge to set completely.
You can add chopped nuts or dried fruit to the fudge after cooking.
You can also trim the cost by using MOO Condensed Milk.
I buy choc melts on sale all year round and keep them in the freezer ready to use.
This hamper comes complete with the ingredients for MOO Pancake Syrup, MOO Hotcakes and the tip sheets with full recipes in a neat gift hamper making it portable, the ideal gift for the family heading off on holidays.
Cheapskates Hotcakes Hamper
You will need:
Mum's Secret Hotcakes & Moo Pancake Syrup Tip Sheet
Large paper lunch bags
2 x ziplock sandwich bags
1 x 250ml glass bottle with a leak-proof stopper (an old mint sauce bottle is good)
2 cups SR flour
1/4 cup milk powder (skim or full cream)
2 tsp sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
Optional - cast iron pancake pan - from specialty stores, around $5
Print the tip sheets.
Mix the SR flour, powdered milk and sugar together and put into a ziplock bag and label "Hotcake Mix".
Place the brown sugar and vanilla sugar into another ziplock bag and label "Pancake Syrup Mix".
Decorate the front of one paper bag with "Hotcake Mix" and another with "Pancake Syrup".
Decorate a third paper bag with the words "Cheapskates Hotcakes Hamper".
Place the hotcake mix and the pancake mix into this bag along with the small glass bottle.
Fold the tip sheet and slip into the paper bag.
Fold the top of the bag over and staple shut.
Attach a gift tag.
This shortbread makes a wonderful gift, on its own in a pretty box or on a nice plate, or teamed with a special tea or coffee and a nice cup and saucer. It's also gender neutral - anyone can enjoy homemade shortbread.
Grandma's Shortbread - $3.55
250g butter $2.50
1/2 cup castor sugar 25c
1-1/2 cups plain flour 30c
2/3 cup rice flour 50c
Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift flours together.
Using fingertips gradually work flours into butter mixture until combined.
Knead on a floured surface until smooth.
Roll out to about 2cm thick.
Cut into circles or fingers.
Put on buttered trays. Sprinkle with castor sugar if wanted. Prick top of biscuits with a fork.
Bake until firm and light golden around edges, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Cool on cake rack.
Store in airtight container.