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Canned Kindness: The Top 5 Food Gifts in a Jar

Anything that makes things easier around the holidays is always wonderful. So when you're giving gifts to friends and family this year, give them something that will ease their stress by packaging food gifts in a jar.

Packaging a recipe in a jar not only reduces the amount of time you'll spend on making a food gift, but it will make life a whole lot easier for the recipients. Simply measure the ingredients, stack them in a jar and attach the recipe.

Here is my top-five list of food gifts in a jar to give this Christmas.

See also: - 5 Useful Gifts Under $30 - Top 5 Cookbooks for Christmas - Top 5 Gifts for Wine Lovers - Top 5 Gifts for the Baker - 5 Gifts for the Coffee Snob - Keeping It Kosher: Top 5 Hanukkah Gifts

5. Tortilla Soup

One of my favorite soups to have during the winter season is tortilla soup. Making this dry mixture for friends and family is so easy. Just mix your favorite seasonings and place in a plastic sandwich bag, then place the dry soup ingredients in a quart-sized jar starting with rice, or whatever starch you like, then place the seasoning package on top and finish with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips. Decorate the lid with a piece of fabric and a ribbon, then attach the recipe that includes the rest of the ingredients (i.e., chicken, tomatoes, chiles and water).

4. Blueberry Scones

Scones and a cup of coffee or tea always make me feel relaxed and comforted during the holidays. Give your friends and family a simple mix in which they only need to add an egg, vanilla extract and water. Mix two cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk powder, two teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of dried lemon peel and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Save the recipient some time and cut in 1/3 cup of shortening until the flour makes crumbs no larger than peas. Stir in 1 cup of dried blueberries, then pour into a one-quart canning jar. Add some more dried blueberries at the top for some decoration. All your loved ones have to do is add one egg, 1/4 cup of water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then knead the dough and bake the shaped scones at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

3. M&M Cookies

Make a typical cookie mix with festive green and red M&M candies. Place the first layer of two cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder mixed together in a quart canning jar, followed by 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 1/4 cups of M&M candies. All your friends and family have to do is empty the jar into a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of butter, one egg and one teaspoon of vanilla, then roll into balls and bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees. It's a pretty presentation and makes delicious cookies.

2. Gingerbread Cookies

Send your loved ones a truly festive cookie mix this Christmas; gingerbread cookies are always a good choice. Mix two cups of All-Purpose flour, one teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda in one bowl. Then, mix 1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose flour with two teaspoons of ground ginger and one teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground cinnamon and ground allspice. In a one-quart jar, layer the first flour mixture, followed by one cup of brown sugar and then the second flour mixture.

Attach this recipe to the jar to inform the recipients about what extra ingredients they need to add to the dry mixture.

1. Hot Chocolate

Who doesn't love hot chocolate during the holidays? Make the perfect mixture for your friends and family by layering one cup of granulated sugar, one cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, one cup of powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup each of mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. All they have to do is mix everything together and for each serving (this mixture makes 12), combine 1/3 cup of the mixture with one cup of boiling water.

Spread some holiday cheer by sending your loved ones recipe mixes in a jar. They'll have some wonderful food this Christmas and won't be as stressed while they make it.

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