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12/17/2010

Making Christmas, Making Christmas, Tralala


I thought about asking if anyone got the song reference in the title, but it's really obscure, so I won't.

Spoiler: It's "The Nightmare Before Christmas", one of my most favorite movies ever.

Anyhoo, the title still applies in that I was busy, busy, busy this week making Christmas...gifts. What kind of gifts? Well, food gifts, of course. I really wanted to do something nice for all the girls at work, but there are nine or so of them, so it could have gotten pricey fast. Thankfully, Taste of Home had this fabulous page of the Top 25 Food Gifts. Now, one gift didn't actually come from this page, but the other, sweeter one did.


Gift #1: Friendship Soup Mix In A Jar

Makes: 16 Servings
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 1-1/4 hours

1/2 cup dried green split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup med pearl barley
1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed and well dried
1/4 cup dried minced onion
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta or other small pasta

Additional :
1 lb ground beef (90% lean)
3 qrt water
1 can (28 oz) Hunt’s® Original Diced Tomatoes, undrained

Directions:
In a 1-1/2-pint jar, layer the first seven in the order
listed. Wrap pasta in a small sheet of plastic wrap; add to jar.
Seal tightly. Store in a cool dry place for up to 3 months.

To prepare soup: Remove pasta from jar and set aside. In a Dutch oven
over med heat, cook the beef until no longer pink; drain. Add the
water, tomatoes and soup mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover
and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta; cover and
simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta, peas, barley and
lentils are tender. Yield: 16 servings (4 quarts) per batch.

I changed this slightly and did not include the bouillon (that stuff is expensive in large amounts!). It turned out fabulously, but I am getting ahead of myself.


My assembly line. Recipe on the computer, jars standing at the ready, my measuring spoon and supplies at hand.


Here are all my jars assembled and ready to go. Mike helped me tie ribbons around the jars and attach the directions.

As I said, they turned out fabulously! All but two of the other girls at work have kids, and these jars make something like eighteen gallons of soup, so I think these will make some really great meals. They also last forever. I know the recipe says three months, but I've had some that were given to me before I was married, and they've lasted for years!

Of course with dinner must come dessert...

Gift #2: Celebration Spoons

Makes: 24 Servings
Prep/Total Time: 10 min.

1 cup (6 oz) NestlĂ©® Tollhouse® Semi-Sweet Morsels
24 metal or plastic spoons
Peppermints and/or Andes candies, chopped

Directions:
In a microwave, melt semisweet chips; stir until smooth. Dip spoons
into chocolate. Tap the handle of spoon on the edge of the bowl to
remove excess chocolate.

Place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with chopped candies. Let stand until
set. Yield: 2 dozen.


I used a double-boiler I bought from Ikea for about $5 because I can't melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it.


Once again, an assembly line was built. Pan, spoons, marshmallows--seriously, why wouldn't I use marshmallows over mints for hot cocoa spoons?


I then filled a pan with ice and put my sheet of chocolatey spoons on top to help it set.


Once the chocolate was set, I wrapped each one up in a little gift bag and twist-tied them. I got the bags (25 in a pack with twist ties included) for about a buck. Then in the fridge to keep cool.

I am SO excited to give these gifts out tomorrow. I really hope everyone likes them.

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