More recently, I've prepared "goodie baskets" for relatives for their Christmas gifts, several years in a row. One year I gave a gift card to the brother in law who'd received banana bread and soup mixes several times. I thought he'd be tired of the goodies and would like a gift card to Bass Pro Shop. I think he did, but he requested a goodie basket for the next year! What a compliment!!
So, here's a quick and easy little basket (or big basket) that you can put together for someone. Even if they don't normally bake, this mix is so easy that anyone can become a baker!
Make a big batch of this baking mix, package it any way you like...I personally like quart canning jars...because I can make it ahead and it stays fresh. But other ideas could be a plastic zipper bag full of mix tucked into a cloth bag that you can make from remnants, or a big stocking, or another kind of jar...whatever suits your fancy, nancy! Make it festive...tie a ribbon around the jar or add a handmade gift tag and label...anything to cute it up and make it personal.
Then, add the recipes for using the mix on pretty recipe cards. It's super easy to make these yourself...just go to Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store and purchase a pack of unlined index cards-any size you like. I usually get the 3x5 ones, but they come in a variety of sizes. Then find some fabric you like and that coordinates with your basket's color, and cut out a cute shape from the fabric..a star is always cute and easy to draw by hand...a mitten shape is really cute, too. You can find lots of inspiration on the Internet or in books and magazines...if you're artistic, draw your own and make it your trademark..so that when anyone sees the cute little hand drawn snowman (or whatever) on a gift, they know it's from you. You could also use pretty or fun stickers on the cards. Hand write the recipes-that's the important part, which makes it personal. Then, tuck the jars or bags into a container...
These are Sonic Drive in drink carriers that I covered last year and presented last Christmas...they are just painted with craft paint, then covered with scrapbook paper, cut to fit. Easy, peasy...
Or you could use a basket. Don't be afraid to look at the flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales for cool gift baskets. This big blue darling one, which is now off white and on the back porch holding back porch things, was only $4 at a flea market! It's a big one, but you can find smaller ones for good prices.
You can keep your Baker's Basket as simple as you want, with just the mixes and recipes, or you can add things like mixing bowls, baking sheets and utensils such as wire whisks and measuring cups...tea towels make a cute filler and are inexpensive...Dollar Tree has some darling ones for-oddly enough-a dollar. Make the basket as full or as simple as you choose.
Here's a great recipe for a generic baking mix, as well as some ways to use it. Recipes are from the 20th Anniversary edition of The Spirit of Christmas by Leisure Arts (which is a good ol' Arkansas company!). Enjoy!
Quick Baking Mix
10 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cups shortening
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a wire whisk.
Cut shortening into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 6 weeks. Give mix with the following recipes.
Quick Mix Biscuits
2 cups Quick Mix Baking Mix
1/2 cup milk
Combine baking mix and milk, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, knead lightly 3-4 times.
Roll or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness; cut out biscuits with a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Quick Mix Banana Nut Muffins
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Quick Mix Baking Mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Beat cream cheese at high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, beat well. Add banana and vanilla, beat well. Stir in Quick Baking Mix and pecans. Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pans immediately. Makes 20 muffins.
Quick Mix Pancakes
3 cups Quick Baking Mix
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Combine all ingredients, beat with a wire whisk until smooth. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle. Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn and cook other sides. Yield: 16 pancakes
Doesn't that sound good?
Coming up: other Fun Food Gifts!