Thursday, May 24, 2007

Helpful ideas for kitchen gifts to make

As everyone surely knows by now, gifts from the kitchen are some of my favorite things to make and give -- for Christmas, birthdays, or any occasion. I’ve found over the years a number of different cookbooks that have given me many good ideas for this type of recipe.

Some of the newer cookbooks in my collection along this line are written by Jackie Gannaway. I believe she has written over 40 cookbooks. These are small, booklet-style cookbooks, about 32 pages each. But they are packed with ideas. I’ve bought most of mine through Current. But they can also be found in local shops -- I got two of mine at Cherished Friends, one of my favorite shops in Elko, Nevada, while visiting my daughter. Or you can browse through the titles and purchase the books at www.cookbookcupboard. com.

Here are the books I have: Cookie Cones, The Cup Collection, Gift Mixes, Many More Mixes, Cookies in a Jar, and Muffins in a Jar.

Cookie Cones is full of innovative recipes for giving cookie mixes in disposable cake decorating bags. In addition to the yummy-sounding recipes, Jackie also includes dozens of ideas for packaging and decorating the cookie cones to make them look irresistibly cute. I have not yet found time to try any of these recipes, but I intend to soon.

The Cup Collection is filled with gift mix recipes of all sorts -- cake, soup, fudge, pudding, cobblers, and beverages -- which the recipient microwaves right in the gift mug you package the mix in. The only one I’ve tried so far is the Chocolate Fun Fudge in a Cup, but I hope to try more very soon. I have 4 cute new mugs on hand to use with these recipes for this Christmas.

Gift Mixes is a collection of all different sorts of mixes, from pilafs to nut breads to cookies and cakes, that would be nice in gift baskets. Jackie adds at the bottom of each page suggestions for other items to include in a basket with that particular mix. At the end of the book she has wonderful ideas for making other little things to tuck in each basket -- things like mulling spices, roasted nuts, candies, etc.

Many More Mixes is just that -- lots of recipes for different mixes packaged either in cups or in quart jars. Again, the recipes are for all different sorts of mixes, including pancake mix, bar cookie mixes, cornbread mixes, cake mixes, etc. Jackie gives great ideas for decorating the jars and for what to include in gift baskets with each recipe.

Cookies in a Jar contains just what you’d expect -- recipes (26 of them) for layered cookie mixes to give in quart jars. Butterscotch Brownie Mix in a Jar and Almond Joy Brownie Mix in a Jar sound particularly appealing.

Muffins in a Jar -- again, muffin mixes layered in jars for gift-giving. Some of these include glaze mixes as well. These delicious-sounding muffins can also simply be made up as muffins in your own kitchen -- skip the jars and just go directly to baking. Orange Date Muffins, Pina Colada Muffins, Trail Mix Muffins, Glazed Caramel Muffins -- and many more -- all sound so good. No Bake Mini Fruitcakes in a Jar sound like fun for Christmas.

Hope someone else will find these little books as useful and inspiring as I have!

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