For the past couple of years, I have been moving a jar of cookie ingredients around in my cupboard to get to other things. The layered red and green candies topped off the flour and brown sugar base. It looked so cute, but I never took the time to make the cookies, until last week. I was surprised at how easy it was to make the cookies. They did taste a little old to me, but Mark and Austin did not notice a difference.
    I have made cookies in a jar for Christmas presents in the past, but it took so much time to pound the sugar in tightly so all the ingredients would fit in the quart jar. They look pretty topped off with Christmas fabric tied up with ribbons on top but not a very practical gift. I wanted to do something different. All I had to do was catch a post on Facebook from my cousin’s wife, and I found my practical Christmas gifts in a jar.
    Deb shared a post from Old Fashioned Cooking. It contained three recipes for seasonings I use all the time: taco, ranch and dry onion soup mix. Perfect. Gifts I can make to have on hand for sharing or using. I also tried out a new granola recipe this morning that works great as cereal or topping on yogurt. It also stores well in a jar in the cupboard. Finally, if you are daring, I have also included a toffee recipe that seems pretty easy and stores well in a jar. Enjoy.

Taco seasoning
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. sea salt
    Put ingredients into a pint jar. Cover and shake.

Ranch seasoning
5 Tbsp. dried minced onions
7 tsp. parsley flakes
4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
    Put ingredients into a pint jar. Cover and shake. Before using, shake again. For dressing: Mix 2 Tbsp. ranch mix with 1 cup Miracle Whip and 1 cup sour cream. For dip: 2 Tbsp. ranch mix with 2 cups sour cream. Mix a few hours ahead for flavors to blend.

Dry onion soup mix
2/3 cup dried minced onions
3 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
    Put ingredients into jar. Cover and shake. Shake again before using. Four Tbsp. mix equals one package of soup mix.

Golden granola from Taste of Home
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped dried apricots or Craisins
    In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Mix well. In a saucepan, cook oil, brown sugar, honey, water and vanilla until sugar is dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake at 275 degrees for one hour or until golden, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in dried fruit. Store in air tight container. Use as cereal or topping on yogurt or ice cream.

Easy toffee from Mom on Time Out
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
    Spray a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Leave handles slightly hanging over the sides. Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on top of paper. In a heavy bottomed pot, add butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Once boiling, stir occasionally until reaching 290 to 300 degrees or hard-cracked stage on candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over pecans. Let this sit for a few minutes before sprinkling chocolate chips on top. Cover the pan with tin foil and let sit for five minutes or until the chips have softened. Remove foil and gently spread softened chips in an even layer. Place candy in the refrigerator to cool for at least two hours. A cold garage works too. Once firm, lift parchment paper by handles and put on a hard cutting surface. Using a knife, break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.