Seasonal Fare with Flair: Gift-Giving Out of the Box

If you want to make loved ones feel really cared for, nothing’s better than a homemade treat, carefully prepared and packaged in pretty wrapping!

The granola would make a great gift to pack in mason jars with a ribbon and note. Also the cornbread mix is yummy and makes a super gift. 

Make-it-Yourself Cornbread Mix

Hands-On Time: 5 Mins
Total Time: 15 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes (depending on baking vessel)
Yield 12 servings

When it comes to whipping up freshly baked muffins and quick breads, we love the convenience of a boxed mix. But we’re not crazy about the hydrogenated fats and preservatives that sometimes hide inside. So we came up with our own super-simple cornbread mix using ingredients you likely have on hand. Whisk together the dry ingredients today, and stash the mixture in the pantry for up to three months. Then bake a fresh batch on Thanksgiving (or any) morning.

• 1½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1½ tablespoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• 1½ cups milk
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 3 large eggs

How to Make It

Step 1
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Step 2
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk in milk, oil, and eggs until evenly combined. Pour batter into a lightly greased baking vessel and bake as directed below. Let cool slightly before serving.

Step 3

Cooking Times:
Mini muffin tin (makes 45): 10 to 12 minutes
Standard muffin tin (makes 15): 12 to 15 minutes
10-inch cast-iron skillet: 25 to 30 minutes
8-by-8-inch baking dish: 30 to 35 minutes
8-by-4-inch loaf pan: 55 to 60 minutes (tent with foil if browning too quickly)
Real Simple\November 2017

Easy Granola

This is a super versatile recipe with some substitutions and suggestions below. Make 6 servings.

Preheat oven to 250°F.

• 3 cups rolled oats
• 1 cup slivered almonds
• 1 cup cashews
• 3⁄4 cup shredded sweet coconut
• 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
• 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbs. maple syrup (or honey) • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
• 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup raisins

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt.

Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed. This stays fresh in a sealed jar or container.

Experiment by adding a little cinnamon and nutmeg; add a tsp. of vanilla; try swapping out the raisins for currants, dried cherries, dried chopped up apricots, or cranberries. Try walnuts, macadamia, or pecans in- stead of cashews and almonds, or a mixture of them.

~ Courtesy of Alton Brown

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at