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Shopping, Crafts, and Recipes on a Budget


Archive for December, 2010

Tarragon Vinegar

Tarragon stocks

Strip the tarragon from the large stalks. Put into small stone jar or wide necked jar, and in doing this, twist some of the branches so as to bruise the leaves and tear them apart. Pour in enough very pale vinegar so as to cover the top. Allow to infuse for about 2 months or more. Strain into small bottles and cork

Rose Petal Vinegar

Basically, if you like it as an herb, put a good sized sprig of it in some white vinegar and wait a couple of months and try it. This works with sage (don’t leave it too long), oregano, tarragon, thyme (may have to leave it longer) and chives that I can think of.
1 c rose petals
3 whole cloves
2 c white wine vinegar

Trim away white part of rose petals. Wash and drain thoroughly. Slightly bruise petals and place with cloves in a wide mouth canning jar. Place vinegar in a medium saucepan bring to a boil. Pour vinegar over petals, cover at once with metal lids, and screw bands tight. Let stand at room temp for 1 week. Strain vinegar into decorative jars, discarding rose petals. Seal jars with a cork or other airtight lid. Makes 2 cups

Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons
Makes 2 pint jars
8 to 9 small Meyer lemons, or 5 to 7 small regular lemons, plus a few
additional for juice.
About 1/2 cup kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 2-inch-long cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves

Scrub the lemons. If they are not organic, immerse them in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove any pesticides and wax. Cool them in a  bowl of ice water. Make two deep vertical incisions in each lemon to divide it into quarters, but don’t cut it all the way through. You will have a lemon “flower.” If the lemons are large, you may just want to quarter them and arrange them nicely in the jar after salting.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt in the bottom of each sterilized jar. Sprinkle the inside of each lemon “flower” with a rounded tablespoon of salt and pack into the jars. Press down as you pack the lemons to release some juice and to fit as many as you can into each jar. Wedge a bay leaf and cinnamon stick between the lemons and the side of the jars. Add the cloves. If needed, add additional lemon juice to cover the lemons. Seal the jars.

Let stand for one week at room temperature, inverting the jars occasionally to distribute the salt and juice. Then store the jars in the refrigerator for up to six months. When the rinds soften (about two weeks), the lemons are ready. To use, rinse lemon, scrape away the pulp, and dice the rind. If white crystals appear, the lemons may still be used. Just rinse them first.

To complete the gift, add a cookbook on Mediterranean or Moroccan cooking. Or add a tag to suggest using these lemons to flavor sauces, braised dishes, vegetable stews, roast chicken, fish, rice or even tuna salad.

Nasturtium Vinegar

1 quart Nasturtium flowers
1 chopped shallot
1 small piece garlic
1 piece red pepper
1 tsp. salt
Loosely fill a quart jar with clean nasturtium flowers. Add a finely chopped shallot, a very small piece of garlic, and a piece of red pepper. Fill the jar with cold vinegar, and let stand 2 months. Add 1 t of salt, strain through several thicknesses of cheesecloth and store in sterilized jars closely sealed.

Moonshine Cake

Day 1-The day you get your starter. Pour starter into a gallon glass container. (Keep covered lightly and at room temperature.) Add to starter a 16-oz can of sliced peaches & the juice from the peaches, & 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir daily for 9 days.

Day 10-Add 2 cups sugar, 1 16-oz can chunk pineapple and juice. Stir daily for 9 days.

Day 20- add 2 cups sugar, 16-0z can fruit cocktail & its juice, 1 ten oz jar Maraschino cherries and its juice. Stir daily for 9 days.

Day 30- Strain fruit, divide into 3 equal parts. Divide starter liquid into 5 parts, give to 4 friends, keeping one part for yourself to start a new batch.
Fruit makes three cakes. For each cake: Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan, or 2 9x5x2″ loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 box yellow cake mix
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup chopped nuts
1/3 the strained fruit

In large bowl, mix together the oil and the eggs with electric mixer, on high speed. Add the cake mix and the pudding mix. Beat well. Fold in 1/3 of the strained fruit, and the nuts.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cakes may be frozen for up to 1 year.

If you don’t have a friend to give you the starter, you can use this recipe, beginning with the ingredients used on the first day, and add an 6 oz can of apricot nectar, and 1/4 cup of any good liquor.

Marinated Olives

8 cloves of garlic, squashed in their skins (or peeled and finely chopped
if you love garlic)
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of finely chopped thyme leaves
4 tablespoons extra virgin oil
one teaspoon of crushed dried chilies
500g black olives

Put the garlic, vinegar, thyme, olive oil and chilies in a clean, dry jar. Add the olives and shake the jar, then seal. Leave for at least 48 hours, though three weeks will be even better.

Lavender Honey

Provided by JaCyn Lavender Farm

8oz Light Honey (such as clover honey)
4 tablespoons of Dried Lavender buds

Heat honey in double boiler till fully heated add lavender and stir Continue over heat for 30 minutes . Remove from heat and allow to partially cool Place in sun for 3 hours (optional) Strain out lavender Put honey in jar.

Comments: Different varieties of lavender will cause variations in flavor. Varying the amount of lavender will change the intensity of flavor. Heating for too long can release a more acrid oil into the honey in some lavender varieties.

Homemade Christmas Spice Bundles

4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. ground ginger
20 whole cloves
2 Tbsp pickling spice
dried orange and or lemon peel is also a nice addition if you have them on hand

Place all in a decorative jar. Attach a card that reads: “Pour the spices into a kettle or pan, add a quart of water and cook until hot. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for a while. Makes the house smell wonderful.”

Or tie the spices into bundles to be used for mulling cider.

Garlic Jam

4 Garlic head, whole (~14 oz)
1 T Olive oil, extra-virgin
1 md Onion; unpeeled & halved lengthwise
Salt (opt)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a large sharp knife, cut off 1/2-inch from the top of each head of garlic to expose some of the flesh.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the bottom of a gratin or glass pie dish. Place the garlic and the onion halves cut sides down in the dish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until very soft to the touch. Uncover and let cool for 20 minutes. Peel the onion halves and finely chop them. Place in a medium bowl.
Squeeze the garlic pulp from the skins into the bowl; discard the skins. Using a fork, stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and mash with the onion and garlic until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt if desired.

(The garlic jam will keep refrigerated in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.)

Makes 1-1/3 cups.

Use this condiment with roasted meats or as a spread for toasted croutons or cold meat sandwiches, or try a spoonful of it mixed into homemade salad dressings and sauces.

Dried Orange and Lemon Peel


Preheat oven 150:. Peel oranges and lemons, using only the outermost peeling. Cut into strips (3×1/2″). Place on baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 2 hours or until slices are crisp and dry.

These can be used in cooking.

These are pretty as gifts placed into glass jars-to decorate the jars cut circles of fabric 1 inch larger than the jar top. Use a gold cord or raffia to tie the fabric to the jar top. These peels can be added to hot cider along with cinnamon and cloves or used as part of a potpourri

Cranberry Mustard

1/2 cup finely chopped sweetened dried cranberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 jar (8 ounces) Dijon mustard

In small, microwave-safe bowl, combine cranberries, honey and 1 tablespoon of the mustard; mix well.

Microwave on high 45 to 60 seconds or until hot. Cool 2 minutes.

Stir in remaining mustard. Divide mixture evenly into 3 (4-ounce) decorative jars; cover. Store in refrigerator.

30-Day Friendship Starter Cake

If you can obtain the “starter” juice from a friend who has made this recipe, do so. If not, you substitute a mixture of 6 ounces apricot or peach brandy, and 6 ounces of heavy syrup from canned peaches, apricots or fruit cocktail. Do not use any other type of fruit syrup. Day 1: In a glass gallon jar, put the 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of starter juice or the brandy-syrup mixture. Add 2 1/2 cups of sugar and a large can of diced peaches, juice and all. Stir well. Place lid on jar and refrigerate. Day 2 through 9: Stir well once a day. Day 10: Add a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, juice and all, and 2 1/2 cups of sugar to peach mixture. Stir well. Day 11 through 19: Stir well once a day. Day 20: Drain liquid from at least 20 ounces of maraschino cherries. Sliced cherries are preferable but whole ones (minus pits) may be used. Discard liquid. Add cherries and 2 1/2 cups sugar to peach-pineapple mixture. Stir well. Day 21 through 29: Stir well once a day. Day 30: time to bake the cake! Place peach-pineapple-cherry mixture in a large strainer and drain off as much liquid as possible. It will take a while because mixture is quite thick. Save the liquid in 12 ounce lots (pint jars work nicely) and refrigerate or freeze. Will keep 30 days in refrigerator and longer, frozen. Keep this liquid as the starter for your future cakes or share with friends to start theirs.

1/2 c. EACH raisins, chopped dates,
chopped walnuts and chopped pecans
1/3 of the drained fruit mixture
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. Wesson oil
1 1/2 c. EACH raisins, chopped dates,
chopped walnuts and chopped pecans
All of the drained fruit mixture
3 boxes yellow cake mix
3 boxes vanilla pudding
12 eggs
1 1/2 c. Wesson oil

Use ingredients shown above to make either 2 loaves or 6 loaves at a time. If you have a very large mixing bowl, use second set of ingredients and make all 6 loaves at once. If not, use the first set of ingredients and make 2 loaves at a time. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the loaf pans. Mix ingredients and pour into loaf pans. Batter will be stiff. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Do not overbake. If your oven temperature isn’t accurate and seems too hot, use a lower temperature (325 degrees). This cake is delicious, moist and rich. Serve for special occasions or give as gifts.

M&M Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup mini M&M’s candies
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (see Note)
1 cup buttermilk biscuit and baking mix
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (see Note)
1 cup buttermilk biscuit and baking mix

In 1-quart wide-mouth glass jar, gently layer and pack ingredients in the order listed, beginning with oats. If there is any space left after adding the last ingredient, add more candies to fill the jar. Place lid on top. Cut an 8-inch circle of fabric to cover lid. Place fabric over lid; secure in place with ribbon or raffia. Attach gift card with preparation instructions and decorate as desired.

Gift Card: To Make M&M Oatmeal Bars: Empty contents of jar into medium bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Press into an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until bars are light golden brown and center is almost set. Makes 16 bars.

Note: After measuring the brown sugar, crumble it between your fingers for uniform texture. Be sure to pack the brown sugar firmly in the jar to prevent the baking mix from sifting down through it.

Holiday Oatmeal Cookie Mix

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 18-ounce container (6 cups) Quaker oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
4 1-quart jars with lids
4 cups “Add-Ins”


Confetti: 1 cup candy-coated chocolates, divided
Cherry-Berry: 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Chocolate-Cherry: 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Nutty Chocolate: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda in a very large bowl. Add sugars; mix well. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Stir in oats.

In each 1-quart jar, layer 1 1/3 cups cookie mix, 1/2 cups “Add-Ins,” 1 cup cookie mix, 1/2 cup “Add-Ins,” 1 cup cookie mix. Place lid on jar; seal tightly.

Makes 4 1-quart gift jars. Include the following directions with each gift:

Preparation instructions:

1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar Holiday Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine eggs, water and vanilla; mix well. Add entire contents of one jar of Holiday Oatmeal Cookie Mix; stir with fork until all dry ingredients are moistened and a stiff dough forms.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool one minute on cookie sheets;
remove to wire cooling racks. Cool completely.
Makes about 3 dozen.

Cranberry Hootycreeks Cookie Gift Mix

5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together : 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets or remove to cool on wire racks. Makes 18 cookies.

Caramel Popcorn Kit

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 1/3 cups un-popped Popcorn
1 cup Sugar
1 cup packed Brown Sugar

Set aside can of milk. Layer sugar and brown sugar in a one quart canning jar. Next, place popcorn into a small zip baggie. Seal baggie and place on top of sugar. Place lid on jar, then using clear packaging tape, attach the can of milk to the bottom of jar so they are firmly connected for storage purposes & store in a cool dry place until ready to use. Attach the following instructions for later use, or for gift giving:

***Caramel Popcorn**(written on a note card or recipe card)

Remove popcorn from jar and using your preferred method, pop corn until you have about 12 cups or 3 quarts of popped corn. Remove unpopped kernels from corn, and set aside. In a large saucepan, mix sugar from jar with 1/2 cup butter or margarine and the can of sweetened condensed milk. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute and remove from heat. Working quickly, pour mixture over popped corn, coating as much as possible while pouring, then using a large wooden spoon, mix popped corn and caramel until all corn is well coated. Spread onto cookie sheets which have been prepared with non-stick cooking spray, or eat directly from bowl.

Candy Coated Chocolates

This cookie jar makes a colorful homemade gift for any
occasion. You can use regular sized candies instead of the
mini’s if you like. Prep Time: approx. 15 Minutes. Cook

Time: approx. 12 Minutes.

Printed from Allrecipes, Submitted by Michelle

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mini candy-coated chocolate pieces
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/4 cups quick cooking oats

1 In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a 1 quart glass jar, layer the ingredients in the following order: Flour mixture, walnuts, 1/2 cup of the mini candy
coated chocolates, oats, remaining candies, and brown sugar. pack down well after each addition and attach a tag with the instructions.

2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

3 In a large bowl, cream together 3/4 cup of butter, 1 egg and 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in the contents of the jar until well blended. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

4 Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen ( 48 servings).

Butterscotch Brownie Mix

1/2 cup firmly packed flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups flour — mixed with
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder — and
1/4 tsp. salt

Layer ingredients in order given in a 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar. Press each layer firmly in place before adding next ingredient.

Attach this to the Jar:

Butterscotch Brownies

Makes 2 dozen brownies. Empty jar of brownie mix into large mixing bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly blend mix. Add: 3/4 cup butter or margarine, not diet, very soft 2 eggs, slightly beaten 2 tsp. vanilla (optional) Mix until completely blended. Spread batter into a sprayed 9×13 metal pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Cool 15 minutes in baking pan. Cut brownies into 1 1/2 inch squares.

Tortilla Soup Mix

1 cup converted long grain rice
2 to 2-1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 (5 oz.) can chicken

Seasonings: Mix the following and place in a thin zipper sandwich bag.

2 T. chicken bouillon granules
2 t. lemonade powder with sugar
1 t. lemon pepper
1 t. dried cilantro leaves
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup dried minced onions

Size of jar: Quart

Place ingredients in jar in this order:

1. Place rice in jar first.
2. Place seasoning packet into jar next. Gently flatten bag so it is visible from all sides of jar.
3. Fill jar with tortilla chips.
4. Put lid on jar.
5. Attach can of chicken to top of jar.
6. Decorate jar.
7. Attach the following recipe to jar.

Recipe To Attach:
Tortilla Soup

1. Carefully empty tortilla chips from jar into a dish. Set aside.
2. Remove seasoning packet. Set aside.
3. Place rice in large pan. Add 10 cups water and 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies and seasonings from packet.
4. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
5. Add tortilla chips. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 cups soup.

Texas Two Step Soup

1 (1.61-ounce) package brown gravy mix (regular or no-fat)
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
10 to 12 regular-size tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1 to 1 1/4 cups uncooked small to medium-size pasta (such as wheels, shells, macaroni)

Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth pint jar. In small bowl, stir together chili powder, oregano, cumin, onion and garlic salt. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add layers of tortilla chips and pasta to fill jar. Seal with lid. Attach gift tag with preparation instructions and decorate jar as desired.

Gift Tag: Brown 1/2 pound ground beef in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add contents of jar and 7 cups water; heat to boiling. Stir in 1 (15-ounce) can corn with red and green bell peppers and 1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with additional crushed tortilla chips and shredded Monterey Jack cheese, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Creamy Wild Rice Mushroom Soup

1 (2.75-ounce) package country gravy mix (regular or no-fat)
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons dried celery flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried mushrooms (shiitake, chanterelle or oyster)

Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth pint jar. In small bowl, stir together bouillon granules, onion, celery and parsley. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add layers of wild rice, white rice and mushrooms. Seal with lid. Attach gift tag with preparation instructions and decorate jar as desired.

Gift Tag: Empty contents of jar into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 7 cups water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: You can find dried mushrooms in the produce section of your grocery store.

Dog Biscuit Mix

1 quart wide-mouth canning jar
1 dog biscuit cookie cutter
16 inches pretty ribbon
1 large envelope
–(punch a hole in the upper left hand corner
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar or white sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Pinch salt

1. Type baking instructions (see below) on a pretty piece of paper or card and tuck inside the envelope.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine: 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder, 1 teaspoon brown sugar or white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, pinch of salt .

3. Using a funnel, pour dry ingredients into the jar. Close jar tightly.

4. Tie dog biscuit cookie cutter and instruction card around the top of the card with a pretty ribbon.

Instruction Card:

Make Your Own Dog Biscuits

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat it to 250 degrees F. Place Dog Biscuit Mix ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add in 1 large egg, 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 to 1/2 cup (or more) hot chicken broth, beef
broth or very hot water.

2. Make a dough that’s very heavy, but not sticky. Add more flour or water, 1 teaspoon at a time if dough is too moist (use flour) or too dry (use hot water).

3. Turn out dough onto a floured pastry cloth and knead 8-10 times until elastic. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Roll out dough 1/2 of an inch thick and cut with a dog-bone shaped cutter. Place cookies close together as they will not spread.

4. Bake for 1 hour, rotate the baking trays in the oven (turn tray around 180 degrees), and bake them another half hour. Cool the cookies in the pan for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire cake rack to cool completely.

Healthy Heart Muffin Mix

1 quart wide-mouth canning jar
1 small Ziplock bag
16 inches a pretty ribbon
1 tiny wire whisk
1 large rubber band
1 large envelope
–(punch a hole in the upper left corner
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour –(spoon into measuring cup and level top)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt

2. Using a funnel, pour ingredients into the jar. In a small Ziplock bag, place the dark brown sugar in and completely close. Push bag into the mason jar. Close jar tightly. Secure the small wire whisk with a rubber band around the lid.

3. Type baking instructions (see below) on a pretty piece of paper or card, and tuck inside the envelope. Tie instruction card with a pretty ribbon covering the rubber band.

Instruction card:

Heart Smart Muffin Mix

Per muffin: 158 calories, 30 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat (less than 1 gram saturated fat), 18 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber. Makes 12. Dry mix keeps for 3 months. Store in a cool, dark cupboard

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray twelve 2 3/4-by-1 1/2 inch nonstick muffin cups with oil.

2. Empty the Heart Smart Muffin Mix ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the 3/4 cup low-fat (or regular) buttermilk, 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (from the Ziplock bag), 1 large egg, 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until frothy, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Using a spoon, mix just until moistened.

Batter will be thick. Do not overmix.

4. Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed gently in the center, about 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the cups. Serve warm or cool completely on the rack.

Do Your Own Thing Muffins: Stir in 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, raisins, currants or walnuts.

Bran Muffins: Stir in 3/4 cup unprocessed bran flakes with the dry ingredients. If batter is too thick, add in 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Muffins: Substitute 1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin for 1/2 cup of the applesauce and 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Dairy-Free Muffins: Replace the buttermilk with soy or rice milk. Add in 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Ginger Spice Muffin Mix

1 +3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store the mixture in an airtight container.

Attach this to the jar:

Ginger Spice Muffins
Makes 1 dozen
1 package Ginger Spice Muffin Mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 12 muffin tins. In a large bowl, combine the muffin mix with the butter, egg, vanilla and milk. Stir the mixture until the ingredients are blended. Do not over mix. Batter will be lumpy. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cinnamon Pancake Mix

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; seal in jar. Attach the following recipe to the jar:

In medium bowl, combine 3/4 cup milk, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons salad oil. With fork, blend in 1 1/3 cups pancake mix until moistened, but still lumpy. Cook on lightly greased griddle or skillet.
Yield: Ten 5″ pancakes

Cinnamon Oat Pancake Mix

4 cup quick cooking oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups flour
1 cup non-fat dry milk powder
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
3 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Combine all in a large airtight container. This makes a nice gift. Make a simple gingham or calico fabric bag and place a baggie with 2-4 cups mix in bag. Tie plastic bag with twist-tie and cloth bag with raffia or ribbon Attach recipe card with instructions for making pancakes:


2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup water

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, Gradually whisk in oil. Alternately add mix and water. Heat a lightly greased skilled or griddle to med-high heat. Pour a heaping spoonful of batter onto hot surface. Cook until bubbles appear on top side (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and cook 2 minutes more or until golden brown. Serve buttered, hot and with warm syrup or Cinnamon Cream Syrup.

Cinnamon Cream Syrup

5 T margarine
1 cup fresh whipping cream
3 T. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp vanilla or maple extract

Melt margarine in small saucepan over med. heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook and stir with wire whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens slightly (3-4 minutes.

Serve warm. Store remainder in refrigerator. Makes 1 cup of homemade syrup. (Can give with gift packed in an 8 oz. jar)

Watermelon Jelly

4 cups seeded, diced watermelon
3 +1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 of a 6 oz. package liquid fruit pectin (1 foil pouch)

1. Place diced watermelon in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend until smooht (should have 2 cups watermelon puree). In a 6- to 8-quart kettle or Dutch oven combine watermelon puree, sugar and lemon juice. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon.

Stir in the pectin all at once. Return mixture to a full rolling boil; boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim of foam. Ladle jelly into clean hot half-pint jars,
leaving1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Allow to cool completely away from drafts, then store in a cool, dark place. Yield: Makes 4 half-pints.

Sweet Cherry Jam

A cherry pitter, available from a cook’s wares shop or catalog, removes pits from cherries easily. If you don’t have a pitter, halve the cherries, then pry the pits out with the tip of a knife.

3 pounds fully ripe dark
sweet cherries
1 1-3/4 ounce package
regular powdered fruit pectin
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups sugar

Sort, wash, stem, pit, and chop cherries. Measure 4 cups chopped cherries.

In a 6- or 8-quart Dutch oven or kettle combine cherries, pectin, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Bring to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling
boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Immediately ladle jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars*, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process jars in boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water begins to boil). Remove jars from canner; cool on racks.
Makes 6 half-pints (84 one-tablespoon servings).

Nutrition facts per serving: 58 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

Spiced Pickled Pears

Yield: 6 pints
3 cups light brown sugar
3 cups white corn syrup
2 cups white vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
4 quarts quartered pears

Cook sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, and spices for 18 minutes. Pour syrup into large, glass sterilized jar. Add pears and cook in boiling water bath until almost tender. Pour cooked syrup into enameled pan and cook until thick. Place a few cooked pears into hot pint jars, adding thick syrup and pears alternately.

**Out of a cook book, The Legendary Illinois Cookbook, published in 1982

Pickled Onions

4 qts. peeled pickling onions
1 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup mustard seed
2-1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 quarts vinegar
7 small hot red peppers
7 bay leaves

Sprinkle onions with salt; add cold water to cover. Let stand 12-18 hours in a cool place. Drain, rinse and drain thoroughly. Combine sugar, mustard seed, horseradish and vinegar; simmer 15 minutes. Pack onions into hot pint jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Cut two small slits in each hot red pepper. Add 1 pepper and 1 bay leaf to each pint jar.

(Add 1/2 pepper and 1/4 bay leaf <don’t ask me why it’s not 1/2 a bay leaf, too>). Bring pickling liquid to a boil. Ladle hot liquid over onions, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, Adjust two-piece caps. Process half pints and pints 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: About 14 half-pints or 7 pints.