holiday gift recipe

Multi Bean Soup Mix

Multi Bean Soup Mix

This is another fun gift to make for the holidays. They are a nice gift for experienced cooks and inexperienced cooks alike. They each make a big pot of soup.

There are three parts to the mix- a bag of assorted dry beans, a packet of herbs and the label with directions. You create a label for the soup mix and include the directions on the back of the label. I package them in cellophane goodie bags I get at a local craft but you can also use pint jars. The herbs are in small plastic lollipop bags and are part of the label. This is a project kids can do, too.

Multi Bean Soup Mix

For 12 gifts you will need

1 case of pint canning jars. With lids and rings or 12 cellophane bags and ribbon

24 cups of assorted dry beans

Labels and directions

Herb packets

Get as many types of beans as you can find at the grocery store. When estimating how many bags you will need to get a 1 pound bag of most beans fills a pint jar with a little extra, however lentils and split peas under fill the same jar. I get 13 lbs. for good measure and if I have some left over I save it for the next batch or for home use. I’ve also found that it usually takes a couple of stores to find a decent assortment of beans. Look for a variety of colors and sizes. Some of the things I try to include are: black beans, large and small lima beans, navy beans, yellow and green split peas, pinto beans, cranberry beans, black-eyed peas, brown and red lentils and kidney beans.

Get a large bowl and add the beans. I usually have an empty pint jar on hand and measure as I go. Counting how many jars of beans I’ve placed in the bowl as I empty them into the jar and then empty the jar into the bowl. Measure a little generously, though. Small legumes tend to fill in spaces when several types are mixed and so 12 jars mysteriously become 11. It’s more of a general guide than a precise measure. Mix the beans well and scoop them into the jars, adding the lids as you go.

Now you have some pretty jars of beans, but not a soup mix. To complete the job, mix up a batch of herbs for the seasoning packets. You will need:

12 lollipop bags

12 labels


3/4 c. parsley flakes

1/2 c. dried diced onion

2 T. dried savory

1 T. dried oregano

1 T. dried marjoram

1 T. dried thyme

1 T. dried minced garlic

1 t. powdered bay leaf

You can adjust the herbs to taste or use what you have on hand. Other herbs or seasonings you could add would be basil, mint, chili powder, cumin or rosemary to name but a few. The blend recipe given is a mix of flavors I happen to like. Savory is sometimes called the “bean herb” because its flavor complements legumes. Thyme is also similar in flavor. Anyway, mix the herbs well and divide the mixture in the 12 bags. Use a couple of slightly rounded tablespoons per bag, depending on how powdered your herbs are. Fold over the labels and staple. Punch a hole in the corner of the label and affix to jar with stretchy loop or raffia or twine or even thin ribbon.

The labels

I make labels that are the same size as 2 business cards. On the front add your own graphic and on the back the directions for the soup. The print on the back will have to be small.

Directions to include with soup mix.

Rinse beans and pick over. Place beans in large kettle of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil 3 minutes and remove from the heat. Let stand 1 hour then drain and rinse beans. Return beans to pot and add enough water to cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 2-3 hours. Meanwhile in large pot in 2-T. oil sauté 1 large onion (chopped) until tender. Add beans with water and 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes. Add seasoning packet, water or broth if needed and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6-8.

Homemade Mustard

Homemade Bavarian Mustard

I love making food gifts for the holidays. I often make cookies or other baked goods. But not everyone wants sweets. For those friends and family, I often make them homemade mustard. I have included recipes for 4 of my favorite mustards.

I wasn’t a big fan of mustard, when I was a kid. I am now. I enjoy using all types of mustard in all sorts of dishes, not just on hot dogs.

Mustard is great on sandwiches and sausages. It is a versatile  ingredient for salads, salad dressings, marinades and all sorts of sauces.  I lean towards spicy brown mustard myself.

I also enjoy making my own mustard. That way, I can tweak the seasonings.

So here are four of my favorite homemade mustard recipes. If you never made mustard before- you might want to try. It is easy, and fun. All of them are stored in the fridge- and will keep for months. For gift-giving, look for decorative jars or crocks to put them in.

Horseradish Mustard

1 c. dry mustard
3/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/3 c. dry white wine or dry sherry
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 T. dried minced onion
2 t. caraway seeds
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. coarse ground mustard
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 T. prepared horseradish

Combine all ingredients, except eggs and horseradish in top of double boiler and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Whisk in eggs and cook over simmering water until mixture has thickened and eggs are cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in horseradish. Pour into sterilized jar, cool and cover. Store in fridge for up to 3 months. Makes 2 cups.

Bavarian Mustard

3/4 c. beer
2/3 c. dry mustard
2 T. sugar
2 T. cider vinegar
2 t. salt
1-t. celery seeds
1/2 t. fresh grated ginger or 1/4 t. dry
1 egg, beaten

Combine all but the egg in the top of a double boiler and let stand 2 hours at room temperature. Stir in egg and cook over simmering water. stirring constantly until mixture thickens and egg is cooked, about 10 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and cool before covering. Store in fridge for up to 2 months. Makes 2 cups.

Spicy Mustard

1 c. dry mustard
2/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. vinegar, flavored with herbs or garlic
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1 t. basil
1 t. chili powder
1 t. dried minced garlic
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. cracked pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix all ingredients, except eggs, in top of double boiler and let stand 2 hours at room temperature. Add eggs and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and eggs are cooked, about 10 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and cool down before covering and refrigerating. Keeps in fridge for up to 2-3 months. Makes 2 cups.

French Herb Mustard

1/4 c. dry mustard
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. white wine or dry sherry
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. tarragon
1/4 t. dill seed
1/4 t. celery seed
1/4 t. ground cloves
3 egg yolks or 1 whole egg

Combine all ingredients, except eggs, in top of double boiler and let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Whisk in eggs and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until mustard thickens and eggs are cooked, about 5 minutes. Store in crock or jar in fridge for up to 1 month. Makes 1 cup, recipe can be doubled.

Cranberry Rosemary Vinegar

Cranberry-Rosemary Vinegar

This is a favorite food gift of mine. It is so festive and it tastes good, too.

I happen to love cranberries. I buy a lot of them this time of year. They are in season, so the price is good. I buy extra, and throw a few bags in the freezer to enjoy all year long

I also preserve some by using cranberries to flavor vinegar. By adding rosemary, the end result is a great tasting vinegar that is perfect for winter salads. It is also a lovely gift.

I love to give homemade gifts. Time isn’t always on my side, though. I doubt my niece will be getting that scarf I was going to crochet for her. But I can get several bottles of this vinegar made in no time.

All you need are bottles with corks or screw top lids. If using corks, be sure they are food grade. You’ll also need cranberries, bamboo skewers, fresh rosemary and vinegar- 5% acidity. I use red wine vinegar. Other vinegar will work, too. If you use white vinegar or cider vinegar they will pick up color from the cranberries and turn a pretty reddish shade. Not as red as with the wine vinegar, but still very pretty.

Since I bring my rosemary plants inside for the winter, I have access to fresh rosemary. Your local grocery store probably has some in the produce department. You can use other herbs, if you can’t find rosemary.

Make sure the skewers will fit in the bottles. Cut them down to fit, if needed. Skewer the berries on the skewers leaving a little room on the top of the skewer. If your cranberries are really big, test to make sure they will fit the neck of the bottle. The skewers keep the berries from floating around.

Place a few sprigs of rosemary in each bottle and then add the berry- filled skewers. Pour in the vinegar, leaving a little room for the cork. Sometimes you need to add a little more vinegar the next day as some will absorb into the cranberries and the skewers. I make decorative labels and give them as gifts. Ready to use in a week.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa “Ice Cream Cone”

I am always looking for homemade gift ideas for the holidays. I really like gifts that both adults and kids can make. This one is just a simple way to package homemade hot cocoa mix to make it special.

You start with hot cocoa mix- recipe follows. Then you get these cone-shaped bags. I use a 12-inch size and a 17-inch size. I buy my online, but they are available in some craft and candy making stores. Put about 1 cup of the hot cocoa mix in the smaller cone-shaped bag. Fold the top down and tape it shut. Now place the smaller bag inside the larger bag. Top with about a cup of mini marshmallows mixed with some chocolate chips. The chips are optional. Tie shut with a ribbon. It ends up looking (sort of) like an ice cream cone.  I add a label that says “Hot Cocoa for Two” with directions that say, “Divide hot cocoa mix between two large mugs. Fill with a cup of boiling water in each. Stir and top with the marshmallows”. You can make whatever label you like. A quick and simple gift. You could also include mugs with the gift. This is a great idea for kids to make for grandparents, teachers, etc.

Here is the recipe for the hot cocoa mix.

Hot Cocoa Mix

3 c. nonfat dry milk
1 c. cocoa
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 c. mini marshmallows (optional)

In large bowl, mix all ingredients well. I like to sift the ingredients in because it powders the milk even finer than the way it comes. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6 months. To use add 5 tablespoonfuls to 8 ounces boiling water. Variation, flavor with cinnamon, instant coffee, cayenne pepper or even dried orange peel.

Homemade Cranberry Liqueur

Cranberry Liqueur

You can do more with cranberries than make sauce. Not that I don’t like cranberry sauce, I do. I love cranberry season and find myself using them in all sorts of recipes.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be posting homemade gift ideas. This is one of my favorites!!

I got the recipe from my sister Cindy, many years ago. It is also called Cranberry Bounce. If you start a batch now, it will be ready to drink, and for gifting, in just a couple of weeks.

Cranberries, sugar and vodka. What a great combination. It’s simple to make and it makes a nice gift, too.

The color is absolutely beautiful. The sweet/tart finished product can be enjoyed by just sipping, on the rocks, or mixed with club soda. It can also be a nice addition to all sorts of cocktails.

Often after Thanksgiving, the price of cranberries goes down. I stock up on them, freeze some and make a batch, or two of cranberry liqueur. This year, even before Thanksgiving, prices have been good.

I hope you give it a try. I am sure you will be pleased with the results.

Cranberry Liqueur

1 lb. fresh cranberries (most bags are 12 oz.)

2 c. sugar

4 c. vodka- at least 80 proof

Grind berries fine in food mill or food processor. Place in large jar and combine with the sugar. Let stand, covered until sugar is dissolved completely, several hours or overnight. Add vodka and let steep 1-3 weeks, stirring occasionally. Strain and filter. Makes 5 cups.

Note: Drained cranberries can be saved in fridge and used, sparingly, in desserts, fruit salads and on cake or ice cream. They do pack a punch.

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