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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Layered ingredients in decorative jars make for
distinctive gifts. From left, these make cookies,
brownies and bean soup.

Jolly jars: Layered for holiday giving

By Betty Shimabukuro

Remember sand art? You took different colored sands and funneled them into pretty bottles in layers -- and got art! Sometimes your teacher would have you grind up chalk, so you'd have rainbow colors. Looked good enough to eat, but yuck.

Sand art has grown into a recipe concept, ideal for Christmas giving.

Flour and sugar take the place of sand, with nuts, chocolate chips and raisins adding layers of color to quart jars.

Consider the advantages: You get to give a gift of food, but you don't have to cook. The giftee receives a gift of food, but can eat it sometime in late January -- after the holiday sugar rush has passed.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Hot chocolate mix would make a nice little
gift for a teacher, baby-sitter or neighbor.

The most common recipe-in-a-jar is for brownies or cookies, but there are lots of other possibilities. Bean soups, for example, layer up real nice.

Basically, you need a formula where the dry ingredients are pretty (that's why so many of these contain brown sugar; adds color) and can all be combined and added to the recipe at one time. The wet ingredients should be few and simple (an egg, some oil and vanilla, for example).

The fun in giving gifts like these is in the assembly. You'll have to mess up your counters a bit, but not nearly to the extent of baking for all your friends.

Consider, once again, the advantages: You can shop for lots of people at one time, at supermarkets and drug stores that are generally more convenient than malls. Have children? Indenture them. Have them help you measure ingredients, layer them, decorate jars. Force them to share in the joy of giving, or at least the joy of scooping.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Bean soup mix makes a hearty meal.

Some shopping tips:

Bullet If you're filling a lot of jars, buy in bulk to save cash. Many health-food stores sell nuts, beans and such in bins. Warehouse stores sell chocolate chips in huge bags.

Bullet When buying jars, remember that a quart is roughly 4 cups or 32 ounces or 1 liter. Decorative jars add value to your gift, but aren't always marked in quarts, and almost all these recipes call for quart sizes. The easiest way to go is quart mason jars, which are sold in supermakets, sometimes by the case. Plastic quart take-out containers, sold in bulk in warehouse stores or in six-packs at supermarkets, are an inexpensive alternative. Whatever you buy should have a good seal, so your gift may be stored for a few weeks.

Bullet Attach the instructions, and sign your name on the back. That way you don't have to bother with gift tags, and your recipients will remember who was so clever to come up with such gifts. Plus, they'll know who to call if something goes awry.


These two recipes came from, which offers many more suggestions for cookies-in-jars. Other recipes on the site are rated on a five-star scale, based on results achieved by home cooks.

Brownies in a Jar

1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup flaked coconut (optional)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a 1-quart jar, layer the ingredients in the order listed. Pack down firmly after each addition.

Bullet Attach-a-note: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together 2 eggs, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in contents of the jar and mix well. Spread evenly into a greased 8-or 9-inch square pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.

Rainbow Chocolate Gift Jar Cookies

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
1-1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pour flour mixture into a 1-quart jar, then layer remaining ingredients over. Pack down after each addition.

Bullet Attach-a-note: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. 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 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 4 dozen.


This soup has you layer the beans, then add packets of rice and spices, which the recipient will have to remove before dealing with the beans. You can dress up your gift by putting the spices in pretty plastic gift bags and attaching them to the outside of the jar.

For more layered soup ideas, visit

Bean Soup Mix

Cox News Service

6 cups dried pinto beans
2-2/3 cups dried lentils
1-1/3 cups dried white navy beans
1-1/3 cups yellow split peas
4 cups uncooked brown rice
Bullet Spice packet:
1/4 cup dried crushed basil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
8 dried red peppers
4 bay leaves

In each of 4 quart jars layer the following: 1-1/2 cups pinto beans, 2/3 cup lentils, 1/3 cup navy beans, 1/3 cup split peas.

Combine the spices and divide among four small plastic bags, making sure there are 2 peppers and one bay leaf in each bag. Place 1 spice-filled plastic bag in each jar on top of the beans.

Place 1 cup rice in each of 4 small plastic bags, then place in jars on top of spices.

Bullet Attach-a-note: Remove rice and spices from jar. Wash beans and combine with 9 cups water in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Drain.

Cook 1/2 cup minced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until softened. Return beans to pan and add rice, along with 10 cups chicken broth and spices. Boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beans and rice are tender. Serves 8.


These recipes are not layered, but rather all mixed together so they can be scooped out in portions. You could layer them for looks, then instruct the recipient to shake up the jar before using.

Wild Rice Pilaf Mix

Country Store catalog

3 cups uncooked wild rice
2 cups dried lentils
2 cups raisins
1 cup medium barley
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup beef bouillon granules
3 tablespoons dried parley flakes
3 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Makes 9 cups, which can be poured into one large jar or divided into smaller jars.

Bullet Attach-a-note: To make two servings, combine 1/3 cup mix with 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 50 minutes or until rice and barley are tender.

Hot Chocolate Mix

3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup coffee creamer
1 teaspoon salt
5-1/3 cups nonfat dry milk

Combine ingredients and mix well. Divide into four containers.

Bullet Attach-a-note: Spoon 3 heaping teaspoons of mix into a coffee mug and add boiling water.

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