Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mothers Day Cookie Basket - The Perfect Gift!

Mothers Day is right around the corner and I know you want to give your mom something spectacular to show her how much you appreciate all that she does for you and your family. There are many great ideas out there for mother day gifts and as long as you put sometime thinking about what your mother truely wants, needs or likes you can't go wrong. After all you didn't forget!

One of my favorit Mothers day gifts is a "mothers day cookie basket". You have many options when it comes to cookie baskets. You can always opt to make the cookies yourself, find a cool basket and ribbon and complie it all together. You can also find her favorite manufactured cookies and buy a few of each and then put them in a cool basket. Maybe you don't have time to go and do this so you just want to buy a mothers day cookie basket already put together. Obviously there are a ton of companies out there who sell these online. Here is a good link to find online cookies: Mothers Day Gifts

I personally like to work with local small businesses. Some of the best handmade cookies I have found out there are Minnie Beasleys Almond Cookies. They are so tasty and make the best gift for any situation! Minnie Beasleys always has a sale on their Mothers Day Cookies-usually like buy one package get the other half off or something of the sort. All of their cookies come in a great cookie tin and can be shipped anywhere in a presentable fashion. Their mothers day cookies are worth checking out if you haven't found the perfect mothers day gift yet!

More Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Unique Mothers Day Gifts & Baskets She’ll Remember

(Source: thebasketspot.com)

Everyone has heard the jokes: moms hoarding a stockpile of the same Mother’s Day gifts from forgetful kids, mothers with 12 bottles of the same perfume, and 10 pairs of the same slippers. This year, give her something to brag about. By taking some time to explore your options, the special mom (or moms) in your life can receive the kind of gift that will warm her heart and show her how much you care for and appreciate her. Check out these suggestions to make your mother’s gift the one she’ll be hoping you repeat next year!

A Mothers Day gift basket can encompass all of the things a mother loves. Whether it be chocolate cookies sure to tickle her taste buds, gardening supplies to get her green thumb itching or the peaceful bath supplies to soak all her cares away.

Great Mothers Day gifts don’t normally include such fun things as books of jokes, a basket of her favorite (but forbidden!) comfort foods, or a pair of tickets to that rock band she doesn’t admit to loving but rocks out to in the car, however, this can let mom know how much effort you put into scoping out the right gift.

Or, you could let your mom know that you haven’t forgotten all the effort she put into raising you, and give her a handmade and heart-felt gift to remind her of when you were still cute and did as you were told! When is the last time she got a card decorated with glitter and macaroni, or a collection of pretty rocks you looked all morning to find? We suggest you pair that with something a little finer, like a gift certificate to her favorite store, or a pass to a day at the spa, but reminders like that can warm a mom’s heart as much as an expensive present.

Remember, every mother is different, and the things that make your mom so amazing are the things you should take into account when picking the right gift. For example, if you go with an inexpensive Mother’s Day Gift Basket, take into account her personal likes and dislikes. You might not want to buy the mother of your children the same gift basket as you do the woman who changed your diapers. Does your special-mother like to be surrounded by signs of motherhood, or would she appreciate a basket full of treats and sweets made to remind her that she’s a beautiful lady, too?

Finally, while gifts don’t have to be things she needs around the house, consider your mom’s current situation! Is she always complaining about clutter? If so, a basket full of chocolates or cookies (which are loved, eaten, and gone) may be a better idea than a basket of gardening supplies (which might only add to her clutter level!). There are countless reasons for loving the moms in your life; with a little extra effort, you can find the perfect gift to say it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Treats for School and Work

(Source: christine Steendahl)

Are you as tired as I am of those little white heart-shaped candies with messages like “I like You” printed on them? Be a little creative this year and come up with some new Valentine’s Day treats to take to school and work. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Valentine’s Day Cookies

Make a batch of Sugar cookies or pick up some refrigerated dough at the grocery store. Cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and bake. Frost with a glaze of powdered sugar, water and a little red food coloring, or make it really simple and buy a container of pre-made frosting. Use some frosting pens to write messages or draw on the cookies. Add a few sprinkles and you’re set! Don’t forget to invite your kids to get involved in decorating any cookies they are taking to school. They will have a great time preparing these special treats.

Valentine’s Cup Cakes

Purchase a box of devil’s food cake mix (or your favorite flavor) and prepare according to package directions. Line muffin tins with paper liners and pour enough batter in each to fill to about 1/3 full. Top with 1 tbsp of fruit preserves (strawberry works great) then add more batter until the muffin tins are approximately ¾ filled. Bake according to cake mix directions. When they are cool, dust them with powdered sugar, or frost them and sprinkle with red-hot candy hearts.

Valentine’s Day Cake

Bake any flavor cake in a heart shaped cake form. Let cook and cut in half horizontally. Mix a few drops of red food coloring into a container of whipped topping, and spread some on the bottom layer of the cake. Add the top layer and frost the entire outside of the cake. Top with fresh berries.

Chocolate Lollipops

Get some heart-shaped lollipop molds. Melt milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate (quality chocolate chips work great). Pour the melted chocolate in the mold and add a lollipop stick. Let cool until hardened. Wrap in cellophane and tie with a little bow.
Use leftover chocolate and plastic spoons to create fancy coffee stirrers. Simply dip the plastic spoons in the melted chocolate. Let cool and repeat until you reach the desired thickness.
Both of these can be decorated by drizzling different types of melted chocolate over the finished product.

Have fun this year creating some wonderful Valentines Day treats. I’m sure you will come up with a delicious treat that will be a big hit in the office or the classroom.

More Valentines Day ideas

Saying I Love You With Valentine Cookies

(Source: Michele Bery)

Valentine’s Day is a day of love – a day set aside to tell the people around us how much we care. Be it a spouse, a friend, or a parent, we show our loved ones how much they mean to us by delivering them with sentimental cards, flowers, candy, and gifts. It is the one day of the year when all out romanticism – in all its forms – is expected and accepted. When it comes to Valentine’s Day we all seem to have our own ways of celebrating. For some that means a special dinner at a restaurant. For others, it means tickets to a show. And for still others, it means a special Valentine’s Day treat that we wait for all year long. Valentine cookies are here just prior to and on February 14th – and gone the day after. So for many, buying or making these sweet treats are part of their celebration of love.

Valentine cookies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. You can simply head to your local grocery market where you’ll surely find cookies of all kinds packaged and ready to be bought. This is a perfect idea for those classroom parties for which you’ve been asked to supply treats. Most often these are simple sugar cookies decorated with all manner of Valentine decorations – from frosting to sprinkles. This certainly makes any parent’s job easier; you can just pick up a couple of trays of Valentine cookies and you’re on your way with cookies that will surely please every picky eater.

Of course the bakery is another place to find your Valentine cookies. Here you’re likely to find a more high-end cookie with better quality ingredients. If you are presenting the Valentine cookies as a gift – or bringing them to someone’s home – this is a great place to get them. The bakery can wrap the cookies in a tray or box them in beautiful wrapping. Either way you’re giving a lovely – and sweet – gift.

There are even online resources where you can find unique and creative Valentines Day cookies that you can box and ship to whomever you choose. Some companies will even do personalized messages on large Valentine cookies – from ‘I Love You’ to ‘Will You Marry Me?’. This is a wonderful personal gift for the cookie lover in your life.

Valentines Day cookies are another sweet way to let someone know you care. No matter what kind of cookies you choose, it is guaranteed that the person to whom you give them will be thrilled with such a gift.

More on Valentines Cookies

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mother's Day Gift Baskets

(source: Kevin Stith)

You can never go wrong with a gift basket. It is a great idea for Mother’s Day, as you can fill it up with a number of things that your mom loves. She will love to get a number of little things, and you can give her a lot more than the standard flowers and candy.

It is easy to decorate a gift basket. First, you need to pick the basket itself. It can be a wicker basket, a plastic basket, a bowl made of earthenware, porcelain bowls—basically any container that is big enough to hold everything you want to give your mom. You will need something to decorate it with (streamers, glitter, etc), a transparent sheet to cover the basket, and some ribbon to tie around the top of the sheet.

As for the contents, you can put just about anything in the gift basket. Chocolates are most common. You can also put in candy, cookies, and cakes in with the chocolates. Or, you could also give her a basket with different types of teas and coffees.

Another favorite with mothers are bath products like salts, oils, bath foams and gels, brushes, and sponges. You could also fill the basket up with candles, candleholders, incense sticks, scents, potpourri, and perhaps even a potpourri burner. Or, you could go with different types of beauty products and makeup.

Stationery is also a good idea. You can fill the gift basket with pen, paper, envelopes, and writing pads. You can also fill the basket with your mom’s favorite music and movies.

If your mom likes gardening, you can put seeds, books, tools, and a pair of gloves in the basket. Or, if your mom is a kitchen whiz, you can fill the basket with oven mitts, wooden spoons, whisks, a set of knives, recipes, etc. If she likes to sew or knit, you can get her a basket full of thread, spools, wool, and needles. The possibilities for a creative and thoughtful basket are endless.

More Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Back to Gourmet Cookies

Vintage Mother's Day Gifts

(Source: Kevin Stith)

The earliest celebrations of Mothers Day date back to Ancient Greece where there were celebrations in honor of the Mother of the Gods - Rhea. The 1600s saw the practice of observing Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday during Lent. The credit for the current date of second Sunday of May goes to suggestions made by Julia Ward Howe in 1872 and Anna Jarvis in 1907. Anna Jarvis began an intense campaign in 1908 to establish a national Mother's Day. Yielding to her suggestions President Woodrow Wilson announced that the second Sunday of May would be celebrated every year as Mother's Day.

It is an occasion for gift giving. Choosing the right gift is an art in itself. Everybody likes receiving unique gifts. Vintage gifts make wonderful unique Mothers Day gifts. A little time spent in exploring the market would be time well spent.

Gifts should be bought keeping tastes and personality in mind. If you are looking at clothes, vintage garments are a lovely idea. Find out her favorite era and get her a unique vintage garment. Suppose you are getting her a hamper of skin care products, a vintage basket would be a nice receptacle for them to nestle in. A similar vintage basket could hold her favorite cookies, chocolates and the like.

If you are keen on a vintage Mother's Day gift but are unable to decide on an item, buy a bottle of vintage wine. Along with a vintage Mother's Day poem written out by you, this will make a truly wonderful gift.

Mothers the world over, love displaying photographs of their loved ones where they can be easily seen. A vintage photo frame would be a fantastic gift that she can use. Women love jewelry and mothers are no different. Vintage jewelry will give your gift that special touch. Several jewelry stores offer a wide range of vintage jewelry, look around and find something that suits your mother. Brooches, rings, necklaces, and bracelets- the choice is endless. Depending on your budget you can find a suitable vintage jewelry piece.

A vintage Mothers Day gift would be a unique gift that any mother would be happy to receive.

More Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Jazz Up Your Meals w/ Almonds

(Tips by Harriet Hobgson)

The dictionary defines an almond as the kernel of the fruit of a tree. But Silk Road traders thought of almonds as a portable and tasty food source. Many cultures, including the Romans, reserved almonds for celebrations. Today, many of us prepare holiday recipes that contain almonds.

Why have almonds been popular for centuries?

The answer: Almonds have a unique flavor and give food an extra crunch. Toasted almonds and golden raisins, for example, turn basic cooked rice into a tasty pilaf. Almonds give green and meat salads an extra flavor punch. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to vanilla pudding mix makes it taste like made-from-scratch.

Put almonds on your grocery list and jazz up your meals. Curried almond Soup sounds like company fare, but it's a yummy Saturday night supper when served with crusty bread. The Almond-Apricot Granola is perfect at breakfast time and snack time. Almond extract and whole almonds make these Chinese Almond Cookies doubly good.

CURRIED ALMOND SOUP

2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup whole almonds, 2 tespoons (or more) curry powder, 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granular flour, 2 cups skim milk, 2 cups low-fat chicken stock (from a carton) 1/2 teaspoon light salt

In a large pan, saute almonds in canola oil, butter, and curry powder until nuts are lightly browned. Remove nuts with slotted spoon and cool. Put almonds in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds, or until nuts are ground.

Sprinkle flour over remaining oil-butter in pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for one minute to form a roux. Using a whisk, gradually add milk and chicken stock to roux. Stir soup until slighty thickened. Add ground almonds and salt to soup. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley. Yield: 4 servings.

ALMOND-APRICOT GRANOLA

Dry ingredients: 6 cups uncooked oatmeal, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Wet ingredients: 2 tablespoons canola oil, 3 tablespoons frozen apple juice (undiluted), 1/4 cup honey, 2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Line a jelly roll pan with non-stick foil. Pour granola mixture into pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring twice, until granola is golden brown. After granola has cooled add 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips. Yield: About 7 cups.

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES (Sorry, these aren't low-cal.)

1 cup butter-flavored Crisco, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Splenda, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 large eggs (room temperature), 1 tablespoon almond extract, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 cups pre-sifted flour, 1 teaspoon (or more) of water, 1 package (3 1/4 ounces) whole almonds

In large mixing bowl, beat Crisco, granulated sugar, Splenda,
and brown sugar until flullfy. Add eggs and almond extract. Beat one minute more. With mixer at lowest speed, add remaining ingredients, EXCEPT almonds. Finish blending dough with a wooden spoon, adding a few drops of water if necessary.

Form dough into small balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Put balls on prepared baking pan, one inch apart, and flatten slightly. Place a whole almond in the center of each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Yield: 5 dozen.