Posts Tagged ‘baking’
Last week I shared one of my favorite gifts to make, the hot chocolate mug. I take gift giving very seriously but I have a limited budget so DIY food gifts are my go-to. When it comes to giving food, you can’t lose and if you’re willing to put in a little bit of time, you’ll save a few dollars.
I’m sure there are still a few of us scrambling for last-minute gifts (as we decide those sweaters will be given Christmas 2014) so here are a few options for DIY food gifts.
A good rule of thumb is that anything in a mason jar makes a good gift.
What mason jar gifts do you give?
Guess who is silly enough to leave a bunch of bananas on the counter in our hyper-heated pre-war apartment while she went away for the weekend? This lady. I suppose I was just subconsciously trying to let them get brown and mushy so I could make banana bread.
Yo, bananas, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but banana bread is the best breakfast snack of all time.
Banana Cranberry Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker
4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (or 3 teaspoons baking powder if you realize halfway through that you don’t have any baking soda and the grocery store is closed!)
1 1/2 cup flour
optional (but delicious) ingredients:
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mash bananas and add melted butter. Mix in sugar, egg, vanilla, and spices. Next add baking soda and salt. Mix in the flour. Add dried cranberries and nuts until just combined. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
When we started working on our apartment, we made a few rules. No more dirty dishes lingering in the sink. Chairs are not closets, put your clothes away. And tupperware without lids are garbage.
Because, really everyone, what is the point of having an unpaired piece?! There is no leftover storage in just a lid. You cannot carry just the bottom to work in your bag. They are lies and I cannot stand for it any longer! So I threw it all out. Everything that once held lo mein or burritos went into the trash. And it was time for an upgrade.
Look at these beautiful containers. I fell in love with them. We invested in some Oxo Pop Containers and I love them. It made so much more sense to use some well-made and design-friendly containers instead of beaten up, discolored ones that came with cheap take out.
Do yourself a favor and toss your old tupperware! It’s time to get your tupperware under control!
Things have been so busy around here for so long that I haven’t had two minutes to bake! I finally made some time to whip up some delicious lavender shortbread cookies and I am so in love with them. They are salty, sweet, and a little exotic!
I used the Martha Stewart French Butter Cookie recipe. I love Martha’s cookies (her iPhone/iPad app is to die for but I’m not allowed to use my phone as a cookbook anymore! Oopsies!) and I feel like I can follow her blindly into any dish. She’s my hero.
I took the plain butter cookie and I added about 3 tablespoons of dried lavender along with the vanilla. (The second time I made it I was feeling frisky so I added about a teaspoon more. Why not!) The lavender adds another dimension to the flavors. It’s subtle but it’s definitely there and everyone notices it. Lavender is not something that people are passive about, though. They either love it or think that it’s soapy.
This recipe is so great. It’s so quick and requires so few ingredients, I’ve made it twice recently. It’s not fussy at all.
I hope you make them and I hope that everyone loves them. How do you feel about lavender? Love it or leave it?
How delicious does that look! I’m pretty impressed with myself that I made it. Yesterday, while getting my mind off of the internet, I decided to finally make the baklava I’ve been dying to try out since I had a Good Eats marathon with Jon. I’ve had the phyllo dough sitting in the freezer for a few weeks with little determination to find the lid to the food processor.
Anyway, two things about Alton Brown’s baklava which will now be going into my list of favorite recipes.
First, I probably would never have tried making baklava a few years ago which is silly. Living in the city, I’ve been able to try out all kinds of foods and it’s fun to have harder to find ingredients right around the corner. (I know exactly where to go for Asian specialty foods!) Also, Jon’s family’s international background has introduced me to even more delicious foods I am now craving even though I can’t pronounce all of them properly.
Christmas time has come and gone. I was excited to start blogging up a storm about the adorable Xmas I was planning but my forgetfulness got the better of me and I left my computer charger in Manhattan!
Disappointed as I am, here are some of the homemade presents I made for Christmas. Of course, I’m all about homemade gifts. They’re fun to make, they’re inexpensive, they’re really appreciated, and they usually impress people. This gift was inspired by a lot of time surfing on Etsy and this recipe by Baked Bree.
I started by buying a dozen quart-sized mason jars. This was probably the most exciting part of the gift because I found out that my local hometown hardware store sells them. And at $13 a dozen, I don’t think I’ll be buying them from the chic baking store in Manhattan anymore. (Apparently it’s common knowledge that hardware stores carry mason jars, I was surprised. Maybe I’m out of the loop.)
Anyway, Bree’s recipe is really beautiful. You should check out how her jars came out. They call for:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Heath Chips
which I layered in order in the jars. The rest of the recipe is on her blog.
I also used a recipe for Butterscotch Chip cookies which starts with a jar layered with this:
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup rice cereal
On the recipe tag, I wrote out all of the jar’s ingredients along with the wet ingredients which are:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Empty the contents of the jar into a large mixing bowl and add the wet ingredients.
2. Mix until completely blended.
3. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
That’s a picture of the finished product amid the Christmas mess. I went to the Christmas Tree Shop (which I have to say, is one of my least favorite places to shop) and bought two 10×10″ festive fabric napkins for only a dollar. The napkins were my mom’s idea. She knows how to innovate like no one else. I really like the snowflakes on these because they’re a little more secular and still beautiful (read: red and green plaid didn’t make it).
I cut each napkin into quarters and trimmed the hem off. It left me with a little bit of a rugged edge but I liked the home-made look. I wrote up the recipe cards with festive colors on a plain index card. I would have liked to have done a more decorative card but time kept me using white ones and swiftly-dying markers. After punching a hole in the recipe card and gift tag, I put a rubber band around the fabric to hold it onto the jar and tied everything together with a piece of shiny red yarn (hooray for stash-busting, even if only a few yards).
I made one for everyone in my family. It’s a fun gift because it’s everything you need for a lazy day-after-xmas cookie baking kind of day. I have a feeling it’ll make a great gift for other occasions, too. And I’ve got a bunch of extra mason jars so we’ll see what happens with those!
What adorable gifts did you make? Or bake!
What do you give the girl that has everything (in boxes)? I wanted to bring my friend Ashley something special to welcome her into her new apartment. Wine is a classic and always appreciated but I like to think that I am less conventional. Last year, Ashley gave me a really beautiful flower when I moved. I went with a new recipe I found and made these hot chocolate cookies from Baked Bree. They certainly didn’t turn out as beautiful as Bree’s but they taste amazing!
Ashley’s got a great little studio that her cat is just loving. What a great space, you lucky girl!
These cookies were a great double whammy because I brought half of the batch to Chanukah dinner with Jon’s family. I think they were a hit…even though there were leftovers, his mom asked to keep them. I hate to see a great cookie go to waste, don’t you?
What do you give for housewarming gifts?
By the way, don’t these cookie pictures look fantastic. I think it’s time to start using a real camera and leave my iPhone to the snapshots!
I tried this recipe for Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter icing last week and I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever baked. It’s a Martha recipe so it’s great but it was so simple to make and I was knee deep in cookies!
Next time, for sure, I’m going to make half the amount of icing and I will probably try to assemble them like whoopie pies since those are adorable and the cookies were moist and cakey like the sandwiches. I didn’t have enough evaporated milk so I used a splash of soy milk in the icing. It worked great.
I wish I could be baking now but with Chanukah coming up quickly, I’ve got to get my gifts knit and wrapped in just 5 days!