Friday, November 28, 2014

jarred gifts ¦ homemade for the holidays

my apologies on this being a day late! we've had some crazy amounts of snow and it's been a bit distracting! but here we are, day 4 and jarred gifts are up! the possibilities of jarred gifts are endless...mason jars are such a great gift giving vessel. and they can be dressed up and added to packages in many charming ways. today we are talking flavoured cocoas, cookie mixes and freezer jams or syrups. i love gifting's such an easy and inexpensive way to gift that speaks volumes of love and caring.

first up, cocoas...who doesn't love a warm mug of cocoa? it's a hug of warmth and coziness. my daughter was home with me tuesday and was super excited to gt to help with the making of these gifts.
making cocoa is super easy and by making it at home allows you to keep out all the unnecessary and harmful ingredients found in so many commercially made cocoas.

homemade cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar (will depend on taste :) )
1 cup cocoa, dutch processed cocoa works the best!
1 cup chocolate chips
1/8 tsp salt

-mix all the ingredients but chocolate chips, together with a whisk, we also used a fine sifter to sift he ingredients further to really make sure everything was incorporated perfectly. stir in chocolate chips and using a wide mouth funnel, pour chocolate mix into mason jars.

- include a card with mixing directions: add 4-5 tbsp to a mug and pour 1 cup of hot water over and mix. for creamier cocoa, add 3-4 tbsp of cocoa to a mug and pour 1 cup hot milk over and mix
you can easily swap out the chocolate chips for butterscotch, mint, dark chocolate, etc. you can also add to the cocoa mix cinnamon and chili pepper.
once you have your cocoa jars, you can package up the cocoa with some mugs, marshmallows, candy canes, etc and you're ready to give baskets filled with warm hugs!

and i have a gift for you! you can download the labels i created here, simply print on cardstock and cut out :)
We also made coconut walnut & chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in a jar. the ingredients for cookies in a jar always look so pretty layered and there are so many options for recipes online and you can easily turn any of your own cookie recipes into a gift.
and the last jarred gift we tackled was freezer jam or syrup. we never buy commercially made jams anymore because it is so easy to grab some frozen berries and sugar and make your own, no canning involved! my kids also love berry syrup on their pancakes. so this year we thought we'd gift one of our favourite family breakfasts...pancakes and homemade jam.
so the how to on making this jam or syrup. this batch was 3 cups frozen mixed berries, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and about 1 tbsp lemon juice. all the ingredients go into a pot on medium/high heat and let it come to a boil, thawing and softening the berries while melting the sugar.

once the berries are soft, i pour the works into a blender to puree, then return back to the pot to let it cook down a bit more.
if you add more sugar then 1 1/2 cups, the jam will thicken even more once it cools. add less sugar will allow the jam to stay as more of syrup. it will also depend on your sweet tooth...because more or less sugar will change how sweet the jam is. i find the above recipe a great thickens enough (once cooled) to use for jam on toast and if we reheat it, it's a great syrup for over our pancakes. we haven't made the pancake jars yet, but those are easy! simply mix all your dry ingredients together, pour into a jar and include a card that instructs the recipient on what wet ingredients to add, how much, and how to cook.
now i mentioned this was a freezer jam and no canning required...there is no need to transfer the jam from the mason jars to a plastic bag. you can freeze canning jars...yup! you really can! canning jars have a freeze line on them that sits about a 1/4 inch below the lid lip, check it out!
so for freezing jam (or homemade stocks like chicken or beef or vegetable), fill to the freeze line, stick in the freezer and all will be good! you can make a huge batch of freezer jam to have on hand for yourself and for gifts!
i hope this has inspired you to tackle some jarred gifts for christmas this year!
happy friday!

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