Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
Chop 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate into small chunks and layer on the bottom of a standard quart-size mason jar, or an equivalent-size jar. Tap the jar to level it and settle the chips. In a bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Layer the mixture on top of the chocolate. Add 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans. Layer 3/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar on top.
Seal the jar, tie it with a ribbon, and attach a gift card with this simple recipe: "Preheat oven to 350°. Have ready 2 nonstick baking sheets. Using a mixer or wooden spoon, cream together 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter with the brown sugar in the jar. Add 2 eggs, mixing them in one at a time. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and blend. Add the remaining ingredients from the jar and mix just until all the flour is absorbed. Use 2 tablespoon cookie dough for each cookie, and space them an inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 24 cookies."
Mixed Seasoned Olives
Drain 2 cups of picholine or other brine-cured olives, rinse in cold water, and pat dry. Combine olives with zest from 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and about 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add a chopped dried red chili, if desired. Marinate at least 4 hours or up to 5 days. Pack into decorative jars with tight-fitting lids. Tie each with a ribbon and attach a gift card.
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