Edible Gift #5: S’mores Kit

by Leslie on December 14, 2012

s'mores kitMy final and favorite edible gift idea is a s’mores kit made with homemade marshmallows, homemade graham crackers, and the best bar of dark chocolate you can find. If you’ve never tried a homemade marshmallow before, you must. They’re pretty easy to make and 1000 times better than any store bought kind. They’ll turn a cup of hot chocolate into something magical, and when roasted and pressed between chocolate and graham crackers, the warm center oozing out, they’re unbelievably delicious. As for the graham crackers, when I first tasted my homemade version, I wasn’t sold. It was a lot of work and I don’t dislike graham crackers from the store. But then I tried them in the s’more and changed my mind. They really stood up to the marshmallow and chocolate and didn’t crumble like other graham crackers do. They made the best s’more I’ve ever tasted. But if you’re running short on time or low on motivation, store-bought would be fine. As for the chocolate, I used a Mast Brothers chocolate bar, mainly because the paper it comes wrapped in is so great. Their chocolate is extremely dark, a little too bitter for some people, although I like it, but when combined with the sweetness of marshmallow and graham crackers, it really worked. I highly recommend them. These little kits would be a good gift for anyone, but they’d be fantastic for someone with kids. Standing around a fire roasting marshmallows is fun at 32, but even better at age 8!

I hope you enjoyed my edible gift ideas this year! In case you missed any, here’s a recap: spiced apple cider + ginger cookies, popcorn 3 ways, homemade nutella, hot toddy kit and here are some other ideas from past posts that would also work as a gift: lemon curd, boozy maraschino cherries, pumpkin whoopie pies, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, clementine bars, the perfect chocolate chip cookies, salted fudge brownies, rhubarb-raspberry jam tassies, and apple butter

s'mores kit 2s'mores kit 3s'morestoasted marshmallows'more

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPES…

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Edible Gift #4: Hot Toddy Kit

by Leslie on December 12, 2012

hot toddy kit 2You like the idea of giving an edible gift but don’t feel like cooking? This one’s for you! All you have to do is buy a good bottle of bourbon, a couple of lemons, cinnamon sticks, and a jar of honey and you have yourself a hot toddy kit! Just include this recipe or your personal favorite to tie it all together. There’s nothing better than a delicious toddy to keep you warm on a cold winter night, and it doubles as medicine for a sore throat. That’s something everyone could use this time of year!

IMG_9015IMG_9017IMG_9011_2honey bourbon toddy

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Edible Gift #3: Homemade Nutella

by Leslie on December 10, 2012

For my third edible gift idea, I made one of my favorite foods: nutella. The first time I tasted it I was studying abroad in France. Every weekend we would have a big brunch with bowls of café au lait, cheese omelets, and fresh croissants with nutella. The delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread would almost melt on the warm, buttery pastry. It was so good. I was hooked immediately and nutella has been a staple in my pantry ever since. While I was pregnant I ate it constantly, my favorite snack being apple slices covered in peanut butter and nutella. Nothing like turning a piece of fruit into a Reese’s peanut butter cup!

To make this homemade version I used a recipe from this month’s issue of Bon Appétit. It gives you the option to use semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. I went with bittersweet, because in my opinion, darker is better. This resulted in a spread slightly less sweet than traditional nutella with a much deeper, richer flavor. It’s really delicious. The recipe itself is easy to follow, the only challenge was peeling the hazelnuts. I found this tip online and it made the task pretty painless. Any pain is worth it though! In the end, you’ll have four 8-ounce jars of chocolate goodness. Give three away and keep one for yourself!

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPE…

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Edible Gift #2: Popcorn 3 Ways

by Leslie on December 6, 2012

Today’s edible gift idea is inspired by those gallon tins of 3-way popcorn people have been sending at Christmastime for years. The ones that include a buttered popcorn, caramel popcorn, and that deliciously gross cheddar cheese flavor. You know, the one that you can’t stop eating until you are completely covered in orange powder. That tin of popcorn may be the thing I miss most about working in an office. Every year, around the second week in December, I could count on some vendor sending an endless bucket that I would spend the next couple of weeks arm deep in. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!

For my popcorn, I decided to get a little fancier with the flavors. I made olive oil and sea salt to replace the buttered, salted caramel (my fave) to replace the plain caramel, and parmesan, rosemary and black pepper to replace the cheddar. I googled powdered cheddar cheese but couldn’t bring myself to press the buy button. Not gonna lie, I have regrets. Even missing that beloved orange powder, this popcorn would make for some addictive snacking on a cold, winter night. Throw in your favorite Christmas movie (Family Stone or bust) and you’ve got a nice little gift. Please include this piece of wisdom with the popcorn: all three flavors in your mouth at once equals magic. Trust me.

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPES…

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I love the idea of giving edible gifts for the holidays. So much of the time I struggle to find a present for someone – I don’t know what they want, I don’t want to spend a ton of money – and end up picking something random knowing full well that it will be regifted in the near future. In hopes of helping us all avoid that fate this year, I’ve put together some ideas for edible gifts that I’ll be sharing over the next several days. Who doesn’t love receiving something tasty, right?

First up, I’ve paired my favorite ginger cookies with a delicious spiced apple cider. The cookies are big and chewy with just the right amount of ginger. The cider is sweet and warm and begging to be spiked. Whomever you give them to will be filled with holiday spirit and as a bonus, your house will be filled with scents of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger while making them. If you’re feeling extra jolly, throw in a bottle of brandy to add to the cider. Beats a magazine subscription any day.

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPES…

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Dear Santa…

by Leslie on November 28, 2012

For our Christmas present to each other this year, Jolian and I decided to buy a juicer… wah-waaah. And to make things even more depressing, my sister and I discussed getting presents for just the kids. Since being healthy and selfless isn’t my strong suit, I couldn’t help but make a wish list just in case…

1. Cloud Cookie Cutter | 2. Camera Clutch | 3. Gold Boots | 4. Calligraphy Starter Kit | 5. Mood Ring Nail Polish | 6. Makeup Bag | 7. iPhone Dock | 8. Heart Earbuds | 9. The New-Fashioned Wedding

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Studiopatró Tea Towel Sets

by Leslie on November 15, 2012

Need a hostess gift to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? Check out these tea towel sets from Studiopatró. Each adorable towel is paired with a handcrafted wooden server. The “Easy As Pie” set is particularly perfect for the holiday. Love.

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Mushroom and Gruyere Bread Pudding

by Leslie on November 14, 2012

A couple of weeks ago we headed down to Austin for the wedding of one of my dearest friends. It was Gus’s first trip on an airplane and I’m happy to report he was an excellent flyer. He slept the entire way AND the person next to me moved on both flights. Perfect. I never have to fight for the armrest again.

The wedding was at Three Points Ranch out in the Hill Country and was hands down the cutest wedding I’ve ever been to. I took a million pictures on my phone but they don’t do it justice. Hopefully she’ll let me post some of the professional pictures when she gets them. You’ll die. There were airstreams, a bonfire, a barn, a pavilion with a fireplace and roaring fire, antlers everywhere, and endless vintage decorations. I swear, every corner looked like an Anthropologie display. For this, the bride collected items from flea markets and estate sales for months (actually probably years) and accumulated so much loot she’s now started a rental company called The Chartreuse Goose Vintage Rentals. If I was planning a wedding in Texas, I’d hire her in a heartbeat.

In addition to the decor, the food was also amazing. There were these seared polenta cakes topped with pulled pork and a radish slice. Unbelievable. There were platters full of tamales. There were even late night breakfast tacos – the way every wedding should end. But the real star of the meal was a wild mushroom and gruyere bread pudding served in individual ramekins. I ate two. Gus stayed the night with my parents, so this was my first time to drink in a year and I didn’t even get that tipsy because I ate too much. That’s how good the food was.

When we got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that bread pudding, so I decided to make my own. I found a recipe online and increased the cheese, because that’s what I remembered the most – lots of gooey, nutty gruyere cheese. And why not? When you are using 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream, is another 1/2 cup of cheese really going to hurt anything? It was just as good as I remembered. Earthy and so rich. Having a whole dish of this is really dangerous, so before you make it, make sure you have lots of people around to feed, like Thanksgiving. It would make an amazing side dish or vegetarian option for your meal this year. Otherwise you will eat it all yourself and then be forced to pull back out the maternity jeans, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

Congratulations Kristi and Craig! Best wedding ever. xx

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Gus at 2 1/2 months

by Leslie on October 25, 2012

We took Gus to Central Park last weekend to see the fall foliage. We’re headed to Austin tomorrow for a week so I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it. The leaves weren’t quite at peak yet, but it was still pretty and we were able to snap a few good pictures of Gus while we were there. Can you believe how big he’s gotten?

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

by Leslie on October 24, 2012

Confession: I have a bad habit of day dreaming about the unknown, whether it’s a place I’m going to visit, event I’m going to attend, or present I’m about to receive, and getting really, REALLY high expectations, which almost always leads to disappointment. I know, I’m a brat. I try not to do it, but sometimes my imagination gets away from me. Occasionally though, that place or thing not only lives up to my expectations, it far exceeds them.

One of those times was when we moved to Brooklyn Heights. Jolian and I were moving in together and for some reason I got it in my head that Brooklyn Heights was where we needed to live. I’m not sure why. I hadn’t spent any time here. Maybe it stemmed from my undying love for The Cosby Show and secretly wanting to live next to Cliff and Claire! Before we moved, Jolian, aware of my tendency, tried his best to keep my expectations of our new neighborhood realistic. He would say to me, “You know we’re not moving to Paris? I think you have this idea it’s going to be some magical place like Paris. It’s not Paris.” He didn’t need to worry. Fortunately, it was everything I imagined it would be and after years of living here, I still find Brooklyn Heights magical. Every time I step onto the Promenade with its view of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan skyline, or walk past the charming carriage houses that line Grace Court Alley, or stop in the world’s cutest pharmacy located on Love Lane I feel like I’m on the set of a Nora Ephron movie. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else.

Another such time was when I experienced my first New England fall. My senior year of high school, while all my friends were applying to Texas colleges, I decided to only apply to schools in New England before I’d ever visited the area. When I pictured college I dreamed of rowers on the river, ivy-covered red brick buildings, wearing sweaters, tights, and pea coats. I dreamed of brisk air and leaves on the sidewalk, crunching underneath my feet as I walked to class. I dreamed of fall. Growing up in Houston, I didn’t even own a coat before I left for Boston University. That first year as the temperatures dropped and leaves started to turn, I fell even more in love with fall than I thought I would. It instantly became and has remained my favorite time of year.

Now, I try to soak up every moment I can of this short season. I try to convince Jolian (try being the key word) to go apple picking and to pumpkin patches. I line our windowsills with gourds. I eat bowls of chili and drink mugs of hot apple cider. I indulge in pumpkin flavored desserts, my hands down favorite being the pumpkin whoopie pies from One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn. This adorable bakery takes two perfectly light and moist pumpkin cookies and fills them with most delicious cream cheese frosting flavored with maple syrup and warm spices. They are fall in cookie form. Luckily, especially for any of you non-New Yorkers, One Girl Cookies has a cookbook that includes the easy recipe for these treats. I made them last week and can now add them to my list of things that don’t disappoint. I bundled up my sweet baby (another non-disappointment!), walked out to the Promenade, and enjoyed a pumpkin whoopie pie as I gave thanks for all the things that have been better than I could’ve ever imagined. That’s really what this season is all about, right?

CONTINUE ON FOR THE RECIPE…

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