z4By Elke Probkevitz

Homemade gifts are the best kind, especially when they are edible. You know that a little extra love has been added to the mix. Purim is the perfect time to make a homemade gift basket. When the kids are experiencing sugar overdose, it’s refreshing to receive a shalach manot that contains something other than jawbreakers and gummy worms. I have a special affinity for mason jars, which are inexpensive and the perfect little container for any homemade gift. Here are some ideas of what to give out this Purim that will look impressive with little effort and be so much more appreciated.

Granola. Homemade granola is simple to make and delicious. Mix your favorite dried fruits and nuts with rolled oats and customize the perfect breakfast treat. Slivered almonds, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, dark chocolate, pistachios, and orange zest are all delicious add-ins that will make your homemade granola memorable.

Instant smoothie. A pre-assembled smoothie that you add liquid to and can be tossed in a blender to whip up in seconds. No recipe or second thought. You can use frozen fruit, fresh or freeze-dried, which will last the longest. Combinations like raspberry coconut cashew, mango ginger vanilla, peanut, or almond butter banana cinnamon are all great flavor mixes and pretty when assembled in a jar.

Popcorn gift set. Supply ready-popped popcorn or popcorn kernels and create three kinds of seasoning mixes such as spicy fiesta (chili powder, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper), chocolate (cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon), and gingerbread (ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt). Label each seasoning and seal in airtight containers. Its quick to prepare and a fun treat to receive.

Cake and cookie mixes. Take a large mason jar and layer dry batter ingredients inside to make a pretty presentation. Tie directions around the lid or print out on a sticker to stick onto the jar. Include the ingredients list as well so they can make the recipe on their own in the future.

Soup in a jar. Just like cookie mixes, soups are a great thing to put in a jar. Add all the ingredients for individual portions of soup, with pre-chopped veggies, pre-measured spices, dry pasta, or beans. All that’s left is to add water and simmer in a pot when they are ready for a hot meal. Alternatively, you can cook the soup and ladle into jars to be warmed up and eaten right away. Give with small loaf of bread or roll.

Salad and dressing. Another jarred concoction to make is homemade salad dressing. Make your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, creamy ranch, raspberry vinaigrette, citrus garlic–anything is better than preservative-filled bottled dressings. Give with a small prepared salad. v

Flavored Popcorn


1—3 bags microwave popcorn

coconut oil, butter, or butter substitute

maple syrup or agave

Spicy Seasoning:

3 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. cumin

1½ tsp. onion powder

1½ tsp. smoked paprika

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. black pepper

Chocolate Seasoning:

6 Tbsp. cocoa powder

¾ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. cinnamon

4 Tbsp. agave

Gingerbread Seasoning:

4 Tbsp. ground ginger

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. salt


Pop popcorn kernels. Mix 3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter per batch of popcorn. Mix seasoning mixtures together. For spicy popcorn, mix oil or butter with 2 teaspoons seasoning and toss with popcorn. For chocolate popcorn, mix oil or butter with 4 tablespoons maple syrup or agave and 2 tablspoons seasoning and toss with popcorn. For gingerbread popcorn, mix oil or butter with 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 teaspoons seasoning and toss with popcorn. Spread each batch of popcorn on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, stirring halfway through. Reserve seasoning mixes in airtight container for later use.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.

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