Monday, December 15, 2008

Office Cookie Exchange

If you and your family love having (or giving) a variety of home-baked cookies for the holidays, but you just don't have the time or energy this year, here's the solution: a holiday cookie exchange!

You can bake just one large batch of your favorite holiday cookies, take them to the cookie exchange, and come home with several different kinds of freshly baked cookies! You'll be the family hero, with minimum effort!

Cookie exchanges can be done with friends and neighbors at home parties, or with co-workers at the office. Since the focus of this article is saving time and energy, we'll discuss the office version. Hey, you won't have to spend time cleaning up the house before and after the exchange!

Here's how to have a cookie exchange at work:

1. Pick a date. Plan ahead so you can give people plenty of advance notice... at least two weeks.

2. Reserve a conference room or other area for the exchange. Book it for an hour. You're probably safest to plan it for the lunch hour, when your fellow employees will be free to have some non-work-related fun.

3. Invite people to participate. Be careful how you do this at work. Some companies frown on sending personal emails or using the copier for unofficial fliers. Do what's acceptable where you work. You'll want a minimum of six people to make the exchange worthwhile, but less than ten so the amount of baking everyone will have to do is manageable.

Explain in your invitation that everyone will need to bake a dozen cookies per participant. So if eight people sign up for the exchange, everyone will need to bring at least eight dozen cookies (extras for sample tasting are encouraged!).

Emphasize that family favorites or traditional cookie recipes are preferred, so there will be less chance of two or more people bringing the same type of cookies.

Also ask them to bring copies of their cookie recipe for sharing. This is not only a great way for everyone to obtain new cookie recipes, it's a safety mechanism for people with food allergies. They can review the recipe before trying the cookies.

4. Ask everyone you invite to RSVP at least a week prior to the exchange and specify the type of cookie they'll bring.

5. Share the RSVP information with all participants, so everyone will know how many cookies to bake and bring (and how many copies of their cookie recipe). Ask everyone to bring their cookies already counted out, one dozen cookies per participant, packaged in sealable plastic bags (or other containers they don't mind giving away). If eight participants, they'll bring eight bags containing one dozen cookies each.

6. At the exchange (in a decorated room if you're ambitious), it'll be nice to provide coffee or water, and encourage people to sample the cookies. That way you can all rave about each others' culinary skills and have fun swapping stories about baking adventures, cookie recipe development, or the biggest nuts in the company. Relax for a while, have a good time, and take home some new and delicious goodies for the family!

(Source: Bonnie Lowe)

Gourmet Food Gifts

Shopping for gourmet food can be confusing. Many gourmet foods are produced in foreign countries and have foreign labels. The prices can be very high and you may not know what you are buying or why you are paying so much. And when you are a buying a gift for someone, especially a gourmet food gift, you will want to know whether you are giving something of true quality and class - not to mention whether the food is healthy and delicious. There are some tips in this article that can make gourmet food shopping easy for you.

irst of all, the Internet is a great resource for all type of gourmet foods. Look over various sites and get an idea of what you want. You can also browse through local gourmet shops, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Gourmet shop staff is usually pretty literate when it comes to gourmet foods.

Once you’ve done your research, you may be better able to select products that you are looking for and know what is good and priced reasonably. For example, you may need a good olive oil for a special gourmet recipe. With your homework done, you’ll know what is the best brand to buy and where to buy it. If you need further advice, you can go to the Internet and see what other gourmet fanatics think about what brands are best. If websites are recommending certain gourmet products, they are probably good choices as far as pricing and quality are concerned.

(Source: Jennifer Bailey) Back to Gourmet Cookies

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Unique Gift Idea of Gourmet Cookie Bouquets, Hand Painted With Edible Ink

Source: Mary Denis

A unique gift is at your finger tips. Buying gourmet cookie bouquets can be ordered online. Don’t spend hours of frustration looking for the “perfect gift” and settle with something that is just so-so. There is a simply amazing unique gift that can be ordered online to fit any age or gender in any walk of life. Gourmet cookie bouquets that are hand painted by professional artists with edible ink are a truly unique gift idea. These bouquets are simply amazing.

The business of hand painted cookies evolved when two talented ladies decided to leave their craft business and venture into something more unique. They started with stamping cookies with edible ink. After stamping the ink on these cookies, they felt it would be more artistic and personal if each cookie was freehand painted. After mastering an eleven step process to complete each masterpiece, they hired their own artists to make these creations.

There is a selection of cookie bouquets that can purchased online for almost any special event. Christmas is especially a great time because the arduous task of finding the just-right gift for everyone on your list is stressful and time consuming. Ordering online is so slick. It is hard to keep up with everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, new babies, and the list goes on and on.

Being the materialistic society we’ve become, it is hard trying to find a unique gift that the recipient does not already have. A gift such as handcrafted gourmet cookie bouquet really shows the recipient that it was given with just that special someone in mind.

Groumet Gift Baskets

Source: Jennifer Bailey

Gourmet gift baskets must come as a real surprise to someone who loves to eat. Anyone who passionately loves food is somewhat of a fascist when it comes to eating the best that is available. So, perhaps a gift unsurpassed for a gourmand is a scrumptious basket full of gourmet delights. Here are some suggestions and examples of gourmet gift baskets:

For those enthusiastic about Italian food, a bona fide Tuscan feast is an experience that can be singled out as one in a million. A sprinkling of roasted garlic vinaigrette for that o-so-crunchy Italian salad (made with celery, bell pepper, mushroom, black olives, onion, garlic and oregano) is an enticing appetizer. Follow that with some Fettuccini pasta (pasta with three flavors – egg, spinach and tomato-basil) and top of the line tomato and sweet basil sauce with Italian vegetables thrown in for good measure and you will be setting the pace for an elegant meal. The entire experience can come to a mouth-watering close with home-baked biscotti.

Another favorite is the gourmet snack basket with cocktail bites, raspberry-honey-mustard pretzels, cheese shortbread, maple sugar nut mix, chocolate almond cookies, cheese straws and potato chip cookies. This appetizing array of snacks will tantalize the taste buds and leave anybody craving for more.

A gift collection of teas is another gourmet favorite among tea lovers food lover. Try a collection of teas and chai that come with cookies and teacakes. This collection, fit for royalty, will contain English Breakfast, Earl Grey, spiced chai, vanilla chai, ginger bread tea, fruit-flavored iced teas with a bouquet of teacakes and cookies.

Ordering gourmet gift baskets is always easy, but creating your own custom-made basket is special and lots of fun.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Orange Almond Cookies

(written by Michelle)
Recently, I reunited with a childhood friend on Facebook. When we were young, Becky and I were inseparable, so catching up with her online has brought back quite a few fond memories. Becky told me that she checked out my blog in search of some cookie recipes and found that I only had the recipe for Fudgy Cocoa Brownies to offer her sweet tooth.

Gasp!It occurred to me that I had yet to transfer a cookie recipe I had posted to my personal blog back in July, so in honor of old friends, here's my recipe for Orange Almond Cookies, adapted from a recipe for Orange Poppy Seed Cookies on Simply Recipes.

Orange Almond Cookies (makes about 2 dozen cookies)(adapted from Simply Recipes)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature1 large brown egg, at room temperature1 tablespoon orange zest1
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking sodaPinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toastedPreheat oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and orange zest.
Beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl part way through to ensure even mixing.In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Fold in the toasted almonds.Place heaping teaspoonfuls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing the cookies ample space, as they will spread as they bake.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies just begin to turn golden around the edges. Remove from the oven. Let sit on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes so the cookies can solidify a bit, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.