Last minute gift idea: Christmas Quinoa

The last stretch before Christmas–do we mob the mall for those last minute things or pay overnight shipping  OR do we get creative.                                                   I love homemade gifts.

As we head into the final days before Christmas, I will be posting projects that can be made in about an hour (once you gather all the materials!)  Give joy in a thoughtful way!

One of my favorite food discoveries this past year was Quinoa. I season it with fresh herbs (love what cilantro or basil do to quinoa’s nutty flavor!) , drizzled with garlic infused olive oil, fresh grape tomatoes and sliced black olives. I make a big batch, toss in the herbs, refrigerate it and have it as a quick lunch or dinner. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is a plant (Chenopodium quinoa) native to the Andes Mountains. It is popular for its high protein and nutrient value.  To learn all you really want to know about this plant go to http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/quinoa.html

Cook quinoa like you cook rice.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

2 cups water          1 cup quinoa

Place quinoa and water in a 1-½ quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). You will know that the quinoa is done when all the grains have turned  transparent, and the  germ has separated. Quinoa is really easy to do in a rice cooker. Follow directions for the rice cooker using the same information as rice.  Makes 3 cups.

Bottom jar: quinoa, middle jar:pecans and a layer of dried cherries, top jar: brown sugar cinnamon topping

Inspired by the book Mary Jane’s Outpost by Mary Jane Butters.(ISBN 978-0-307-34580-6), I found the idea for topping quinoa just like a morning bowl of oatmeal. Tried it, love it, thinking this could be packaged up for gifting.

Christmas Quinoa                                Give a gift basket with a mini rice cooker and this quinoa collage of jars with the directions for a college student to take home  or stack the tower of jars with the directions in a gift bag for a favorite foodie.

Package in small wide mouth canning jars or other decorative jars that stack well:

1st jar- 1 cup Quinoa

2nd jar- a layer of pecans and a layer of dried cherries (or try dried cranberries or blueberries)

3rd jar: 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder (mix well)

Give the cooking and serving directions: Cook the quinoa according to the basic directions.

While steaming hot serve,  topped with pecans and dried fruits then sprinkle with the brown/cinnamon sugar mix (to taste) .


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