Tag Archives: christmas gifts

oils edited small

The Dish: Infused Oils

Flavor infused oils make a great gift for the holidays or any time of year. They’re perfect for a house warming party when you don’t feel like giving yet another bottle of wine.

Use a plain olive oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil for making infusions. They’re flavorless, keep for a long time, and heat well so they won’t hinder or mask the flavors you’re trying to create. Extra virgin olive oil is best for salad dressings or for dipping and should be used within a few days.

For a great sight with tips on infusing oils check out this page on The Accidental Scientist, The Science of Cooking.

Here are three great basic recipes for homemade infused oils. Mix and match herbs and spices to create more interesting flavors. See below the recipes for custom designed gift labels.

 

Lemon Oil

Great for salad dressings and marinades. Works best poured into small decorative bottles with a stopper. Can be kept on the shelf out of sunlight for up to 2 months. For longer use keep in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups or 4 portions of 1/2 cup

2 cups canola oil or olive oil

the peel of 2 medium sized lemons

Peel lemon being careful not to include any pith. A vegetable peeler works well. In a medium heavy sauce pan over low heat combine oil and lemon peel. Cook uncovered until aromatic, about 1 hour. Do not let oil boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. Remove lemon peel and pour into containers.

Can be kept cool for up to 2 months. Bring to room temp before using.

lemon sheet.ai

 Chili Oil

A great gift for anyone obsessed with Sriracha! Chili oil works best gifted in a small jar so it can be stirred before using. Best kept in the refrigerator and will last for several months.

Makes about 4 portions of 1/4 cup

1 cup peanut oil

1-4 Tbs. chili flakes depending on how spicy you want to go

Heat oil with red-pepper flakes in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirling pan occasionally, until red-pepper flakes begin to sizzle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Stir before using.

Oil keeps, covered and chilled, 3 months. Bring to room temperature before using.

 chili sheet.ai

Rosemary Oil

Wonderful for drizzling over a dish as a finishing touch. Basil, chive or thyme also make for great infusions. Looks best when gifted in small bottles with a stopper. If you’re planning on keeping a spring in the bottle it is best to keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Makes about 2 cups or 4 1/2 cup portions

2 cups vegetable oil

2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary

Pour rosemary and half the oil into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat on medium until herbs just start to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Do not boil the oil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Taste the oil to make sure it hasn’t burned and the flavor is to your liking. Add the remaining oil and strain into jars or bottles.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Bring to room temp before using.

rosemary sheet.ai

Print sheets on card stock or a heavier weight paper for best results. Cut out around edge and punch hole. Tie labels to bottles and jars with a festive ribbon and write your holiday greeting on the back.

Eggnog

The Dish: Kentucky Eggnog Spike

Georgia has the best peaches and everyone loves California wine but Kentucky knows its bourbon. Celebrate the holidays with a taste of the South by making this eggnog spike. One glass will be sure to have you kissing under the mistletoe in no time!

This particular concoction is best made at least a week in advance and given time to marinate. So, if you want to be drinking it by Christmas Eve get going now!

Check below the recipe for complimentary gift labels, wrapping suggestions and a tutorial on removing labels from wine bottles.

Kentucky Eggnog Spike

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks
  • 7 whole cloves

Preparation

Pour bourbon, rum and brandy into 1-quart bottle. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bourbon mixture; add pod to bottle.

Using mortar and pestle or bottom of heavy small skillet, crack whole nutmeg into 4 or 5 pieces. Add nutmeg pieces, cinnamon sticks and cloves to mixture. Cork bottle tightly. Let stand in cool, dark place for 1 week. (Can be prepared 3 months ahead.)

To make the eggnog

Ingredients

Makes about 6 servings

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 quarts half and half
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1+ cup spike
  • 1 cup milk or more as needed
  • freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation

In a heavy saucepan with an electric mixer beat together half-and-half, cream, sugar, and yolks until combined well. Cook mixture over moderate heat, continuing to beat, until slightly thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Continue to beat mixture until slightly cooled. Stir in vanilla and nutmeg.
Transfer eggnog to a bowl and chill, covered, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Add 1 cup of the spike to start and adjust to taste.

Just before serving, thin eggnog with milk to desired consistency. Garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg.

 

Preparations and Gifting Suggestions

For a quick and easy way to remove labels from wine bottles, check out this tutorial at DIY Idea Time.

Once labels are removed, thoroughly wash and dry your bottle. Using a funnel, pour the eggnog spike in to the bottle followed by the vanilla and spices. Seal firmly with a cork.

Using a thin layer of glue, attach the eggnog spike label to the bottle.

To make your bottle extra special, drip red or green sealing wax around the cork to ensure no leakage and make opening it part of the fun. Finish it off by tying a Christmas ribbon with a big bow around the neck. A fresh piece of nutmeg and a grater would also be great attached to the ribbon.

Use these special touches to let your friends and family know how much you care about their buzz this Christmas.

Click on the image below for complimentary labels or try your hand at designing your own!

Eggnog Label Sheet

4-sm

The Dish: Biscotti

With Christmas right around the corner and Black Friday just past, it’s time to start seriously thinking about what to give your friends and family this year. Edible gifts are great any time of year. They’re a creative gift from the heart that shows your loved ones how much you care.

In the past, we’ve offered a lot of great recipes that would make perfect Christmas or hostess gifts. Find a nice mug and fill it with gourmet hot chocolate and some homemade marshmallows to warm them up on a cold winter night. A beautiful basket filled with artisan breads and cheeses pairs perfectly with a jar of honey butter. Take a look through past pieces from The Dish and get inspired this holiday season!

Didn’t see anything you like? Don’t despair, I’ve got the perfect edible gift for you to make this year!

Do you have a particular recipe that friends ask you for time and time again? I do! For years now friends and family have asked me to bring my biscotti to gatherings or make for them to give as gifts. Cookies are a classic Christmas favorite that get a new twist with my Cherry Pistachio Biscotti.

Keep reading after the recipe for wrapping suggestions and custom gift tags.

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes about 3 dozen

3 ½ C flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 ¾ C sugar

3 eggs

½ C vegetable/canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C dried cherries loosely chopped

1/2 C pistachios loosely chopped

+ 1 egg for glaze and 2 Tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Whisk sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla and whisk until blended. Slowly fold in dry ingredients. Before fully mixed, add fruit and nuts. Fold batter together until well combined but not over mixed.

Spoon half the batter onto one sheet and the other half on another. Wet hands with water or spray hands with PAM to prevent sticking. Form into logs about 2 ½ inches by about 10 inches. Make sure its even width. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. (Can also make smaller cookies by making 4 logs instead of 2)

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until firm and lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Turn off oven. Slice logs into about ½ inch pieces. Each log should yield about 18 slices depending on the mix-ins (or about 10 if in 4 logs). Arrange cookies upright on sheets and return to turned off oven. Let sit in cooling oven for about 1 hour until cookies are golden and have firmed up. Remove and let cool on a rack.

Let cool completely. Cookies continue to dry out after baking. Store in airtight container for 2 weeks or freeze forever.

Substitute any fruit or nut you like or even add chocolate chips.

 

Wrapping Suggestions

Wrap cookies in cellophane bags, tie with decorative ribbon and attach label.

For best results, print labels on card stock or a heavier weight paper. Cut out around edges and punch hole. Write your holiday greeting on the back. Your friends will love getting such a personal, creative gift!

Click on the image below and print for custom designed gift tags.

Biscotti Labels sheet

Biscotti, photograph by Susie Poole Anderson

Gift Wrapping Tips from Yours Truly, Me

10 Gift Wrapping Tips & Tricks

Christmas is right around the corner! You found the perfect gift, and now it’s time to create the perfect presentation for it.

Here’s Yours Truly, Me’s holiday gift wrapping guide to make your gifts look amazing under the tree:

1. Select the perfect gift wrap.

There are so many wonderful themes of gift wrap to choose from during the holiday season. Be sure to select the gift wrap that has cutting lines printed on the back. This will help you measure and cut the gift wrap evenly. If you are wrapping large gifts, go for the thick wrapping paper. This will help prevent the large gift from tearing the paper.

2. Invest in sharp scissors.

Nothing makes a gift look tackier then uneven lines and torn edges. Use sharp scissors to create a clean-cut edge on all sides of your gift; the sharper the scissors, the less frustrating gift-wrapping will be.

3. Measure the gift wrap before you cut it.

Take a moment to place your gift in the center of your gift wrap, and measure it so all the sides are even. If you skip this step, your gift may end up bulky with sloppy folds. Measuring before trimming will ensure your gift wrap is the perfect length, resulting in an elegantly wrapped gift.

4. Use the right tape.

Try using the Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser. This hot item will make your gift-wrapping life so much easier! You will have one hand free to hold the paper to your gift, while using the other to dispense the tape. If you don’t want the tape to show, try using double-sided tape.

5. Forget the boring, mass-produced, stick-on bows!

Use wired fabric ribbon to create a simple bow instead. Ribbon will make any ordinary gift look extraordinary with almost no effort!

6. Adorn your gifts with a little something special.

Whether it is a beautiful ornament, or little trinket you found at the craft shop, it will add dimension to your gift. Not only will it look nice, but it will also double as a great conversation piece!

7. Don’t be afraid to use gift bags.

Some of us may not have time to wrap gifts and adorn them with little trinkets, so this is where gift bags come in handy. Pick a few fun, holiday-themed bags, toss the gifts in, and just add tissue paper. Gift bags are also a fantastic option for awkwardly shaped presents.

8. Wrapping big or oddly shaped gifts.

If you really want to surprise your child with a bike (or anything else that is huge or awkwardly shaped) without putting it under the tree, try wrapping a note in a shoe box that says, “Santa left you something in the garage.” The child will be extra surprised once they discover his/her new bike!

9. Get creative with gift cards.

Try placing a gift card inside a beautiful photo frame or attaching it to a bookmark.

10. Don’t skip the gift tag!

Labels are important during the holiday season. There are so many gifts going around, it’s a good idea to make sure you put “To” and “From” on every gift you give out. There are plenty of options for labels. You can use store-bought stick-on labels, or make your own unique label using craft paper or even the fronts of old Christmas cards. If you are wrapping gifts for family members and don’t have time to create gift tags, simply write the name of the recipient directly onto the wrapping paper.