Gifts from Your Kitchen

Wouldn’t you like to come home from a hard day to find dinner practically made? Or start the morning off with an easy, healthy breakfast? Your friends and neighbors will appreciate these gifts!
Spicy Italian Seasoning
1 tsp     fennel seed
1 tsp     dried rosemary
1 tsp     crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp     dried parsley
1 Tbsp     dried basil
1 Tbsp     dried oregano
Grind fennel, rosemary, red pepper and parsley in spice grinder or blender.  Remove from grinder and stir in basil and oregano. Package it in a spice jar and include some pasta with the gift. Attach directions for sauce: Add one tablespoon seasoning to two cups crushed tomatoes or a jar of spaghetti sauce and simmer briefly.
Tortellini Soup Mix
1 cup     dried Great Northern beans
1/4 cup     brown lentils
1/4 cup    green split peas
2 Tbsp     dried parsley flakes
1 Tbsp     vegetable or chicken broth granules
2 Tbsp     chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tsp     grated Parmesan
1 tsp     onion powder
1/2 tsp     instant minced garlic
1/2 tsp     thyme
3/4 cup     dried tortellini
Sort beans carefully and discard any debris. Layer them in the bottom of a pint jar. Combine the remaining ingredients except tortellini and put in small zipper or twist-tie bag and place on top of beans. Put tortellini in another bag and put at the very top.
Attach directions: Rinse beans. Put into a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot with 8 cups water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until the white beans are tender  (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours). Add 4 cups water, the seasonings, the tortellini and, if desired, 1 cup each coarsely chopped carrots and celery.  Return to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1/2 hour, until tortellini and vegetables are tender. Makes 6 servings (1-1/2 cups each). Each serving: 205 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3.5 mg cholesterol, 266 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 7.5 g fiber, 13 g protein.
Holiday Granola
4 cups     rolled oats
1/4 cup     honey
1/4 cup     apple juice concentrate
1/2 tsp     cinnamon
1/4 tsp     almond extract
1/2 cup     chopped nuts
1/2 cup     toasted wheat germ
1 cup     dried cranberries
In a large baking pan toast the oats in a 350° oven, stirring every 3 minutes, until golden (about 9-10 minutes).
In the microwave or a small saucepan, heat the honey and juice concentrate just until the honey liquifies.  Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the cinnamon and almond extract.
As soon as the oats are toasted, add them to the honey mixture. Stir quickly to coat everything well. Spread the mixture into the baking pan again and return to the oven for 5 to 6 more minutes, stirring once or twice, until just starting to brown. Allow the oat mixture to cool in the baking pan then stir in the wheat germ and dried cranberries.  Package in airtight containers for giving.
Serves 12. Each 1/4 cup serving: 244 calories, 6 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fiber, 7 g protein.
By Cheryl Sullivan, MA, RD.

Easy Ideas...
Meal of the Month
Give an elderly shut-in or a working mom a year’s subscription to your very own bread-, soup- or dinner-of-the-month club. Give them a few days notice each month before delivering your gift.
Herb Mix
The American Heart Association has a recipe for a salt-free All-Purpose Herb Mix. Mix the following well and put in spice jars for giving -  1/2 tsp. ground red pepper, 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. each of the follow ground herbs: basil, black pepper, mace, onion powder, parsley, savory, sage and thyme.
Make up extra gift mixes to have on hand as hostess gifts all year long - and don’t forget to make some for your own use!
More Suggestions...
You may be able to adapt your own favorite recipes for giving, or find other recipes already designed as mixes if you look online or in a library or bookstore:
• Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends by Maggie Oster

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