2015 Holiday Gift Guide

I have officially survived my first semester of graduate school. I am so ready to relax and do all the cozy fun christmas-y things! I spent the past couple days in California visiting family, doing too much shopping (hello Home Goods!) and eating all the good food (hello Indian Food buffets!). And maybe like me, you're having trouble with holiday-gifting inspiration. Fear not, I've compiled a list of my foodie-inspired gifts for any cook (or eater) on your list. 

1. Burgundy Stone Washed Linen Apron from Etsy - I'm a big believer in dressing the part and this beautiful belgian linen apron is enough to make any chef feel like Dominique Ansel.

2. Hand-Dipped Cherry Wood Bowl from Food52 - Fact: a home cook can never, ever, have too many serving bowls, especially ones as beautiful as this. 

3. No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites  from Kneading Home - There are few things as thoughtful as a homemade gift. These truffle brownie bites are simple, decadent, and vegan + gf! 

4. Green Kitchen Travels: Healthy Vegetarian Food Inspired by Our Adventures - I've been following Green Kitchen Stories for years, their blog is so lovely I wish they could adopt me. This book is on my own personal wish list. 

5. Marble and Wood Cake Stand from Terrain

6. The Art and Soul of Baking - This book has been my own personal reference for all things baking for years. It's like my baking bible and has never let me down. 

7. Calphalon Non-Stick Square Griddle  - It may seem like a luxury item, but we use ours weekly for everything from grilled cheeses to pancakes

8. King Arthur Flour Vietnamese Cinnamon - High quality cinnamon makes the perfect stocking-stuffer. 

9. Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven in Burgundy from Sur La Table - I could go on and on about how much I adore my dutch ovens. They are hands down the most loved item in my kitchen. Timeless, reliable, versatile, and beautiful. So worth the investment. 

10. Belgian Linen Napkins from Sur la Table - I would own these in every color if I could. They are elegant yet relaxed, perfect for any occasion. 

11. Wood Marble Square Platter from Crate and Barrel - I bought this platter last year and love it. It's makes the perfect cheese platter for dinner parties and is just so beautiful. 

12. Vintage Measuring Spoons from Cost Plus World Market

13. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi - Completely vegetarian and completely mind blowing. Ottolenghi is famous for a reason - his recipes are interesting, innovative, and will completely change the way you think about vegetables. 

14. Red Nested Mixing Bowls from Sur La Table - These get used daily in our home. They are a must-have for any baker. 

15. "You Got This" Mug from Etsy

16. Orange Rosemary Shortbread from Kneading Home - The perfect homemade treat for neighbors, teachers, and friends. 

17. Round Pizza Stone - The secret to crispy thin-crust (sorry Chicago) pizza is a piping hot oven and a stone. It will not let you down. 
18. Food52 Vegan - Food52 is a constant in my life, so naturally I've had this cookbook on my wish list since it came out this Fall. 

19. Black Truffle Oil - A luxury most home cooks won't spend on themselves, but such a treat. It will transport you to Italy and add something extra decadence to your dishes. 

20. Grocery List Notepad from Brim Papery - How cute is this notepad? Seriously though, meal prep is important and so is this notepad. 

Still looking for more inspiration? Check out last year's Holiday Gift Guide! 


Holiday Gift Guide: A Kitchen Edition

I'm a big believer in the idea that you don't need a big fancy kitchen, expensive pots & pans and top of the line gadgets to make fantastic food. I'm super proud of the amount of food that comes out of my little apartment-size kitchen, and I've found acquiring a few simple tools, most of which I use daily, can make a huge difference. So if you're still looking for that perfect stocking-stuffer, a great gift for your favorite cook, or even some starter kitchen basics for a college student, let this be your guide:

Mini Measure Shot Glass$2.97 (on sale now) - My mom got me one of these last year for christmas and I seriously don't know how I lived without it. I literally use it 365 days a year, usually multiple times a day. For baking and cooking this thing is a gem. 

Microplane Zester, $12.38 - This is an absolute necessity for any cook. It zests citrus like a breeze, finely grates parmigiano reggiano into pillowy piles, grates tough ginger, and even zests dark chocolate for topping desserts. The blades are super sharp so you don't have to work hard to grate food. Every kitchen needs one. 

Provencal Stonewall Salt Crock, $12.95 - Nate got me this salt crock for Christmas last year and I love it. It's a small detail that's really improved the efficiency of my kitchen. Having it filled next to the stove makes grabbing a pinch of salt at a moment's notice so easy and it's perfect for dunking my measuring spoons in for baking. Also it's pretty and french. 

10" Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, $14.97 - Lodge skillets are made in the USA, affordable, reliable, and ever so necessary for every kitchen. We love cooking in cast iron. Cast iron gives great heat distribution, gets super hot for frying, and it easily works on the stove top, in the oven, and over a camp fire. So versatile. We make cornbread in it, fry eggplant, bake puffy pancakes, and latkes. We have a mini one which makes the perfect fried eggs as well as giant chocolate chip cookies for two. 

Silicone Baking Mats, $15.12 for two - I got these for Christmas last year and use them all the time. You'll never have to buy parchment paper or cooking oil again. Nothing sticks to these, and they make clean up a breeze. They are essential for cookies or baked goods of any kind. 

Chef'n Citrus Juicer, $23.08 - I put off buying this juicer for years. Somehow I just couldn't justify spending almost $25 for something as silly as a juice press. I finally splurged a couple months ago, and I use this thing every single day. It squeezes out every last bit of juice with just a gentle squeeze. It produces zero mess and is easy to clean. I'll never go back to anything else. 

Non-slip Epicurean Cutting Boards, $24.99 - $39.99 - These cutting boards are fantastic. We have them in three sizes; they are high-quality, non-slip, and dishwasher safe. These boards won't dull your knives, and the best thing about them is they require zero maintenance. One good cutting board and a good chef's knife are probably the two most important things in a kitchen, period. 

Peugeot 7-inch Salt & Pepper Mills, Chocolate, $36.99 each - We bought these with money from our wedding about two years ago and love them. They are a great investment, really high quality and will last a lifetime. They live next to our stove and are used daily. The dark chocolate color is so classic and looks sophisticated and timeless on the table. 

Marble Pastry Board, $44.95 - Although it's definitely not a necessity, I adore this pastry board. It lives on top of two of my burners, which provides much appreciated extra counter space. It's beautiful, sturdy, and perfect for the baker in your life. I never have to worry about clearing a space on the counter to roll out dough, I just toss some flour on this board and start rolling. This size fits perfectly in my fridge, which matters, because technically you want to have the option to pop it in there - you know, to keep those beautiful chunks of butter from melting in your pie crusts. Also, if you're into instagraming your culinary creations like I am, it makes the perfect background - no one will know you don't have fancy marble countertops!  

9-cup Cuisinart Food Processor, $149 - I use my food processor probably 3-5 times a week for everything from pureeing chickpeas for hummus and pulsing ingredients for falafel. It's essential for pie crust. The attachments grate cheese in seconds, shred potatoes for latkes, and zucchini for zucchini bread.  I don't know how I functioned before I owned a food processor. 

Advantage Components Pot Rack, $219 - I invested in this pot rack last summer because I found our pots and pans were getting scratched up after being shoved in a cabinet. They were also taking up precious storage space in our tiny kitchen. At the time, my husband thought it was a totally unnecessary purchase but after having it for almost two years even he admits our kitchen couldn't function without it. It's an easy way to create extra storage in a tight kitchen, it looks nice, and it doubles as a drying rack - just wash and hang! This particular one is expandable, so if one day we have a big kitchen we can expand it wider to fit the space. 

Le Creuset Dutch Ovens, $240 - $330 I am fortunate enough to have two of these beauties and I must say they are hands down my favorite thing about my kitchen. French-made, they are a gift that can be passed down generation after generation. If well-maintained, they will last forever. They are made of heavy duty cast iron so you get the even heat distribution and versatility of going from the stove to the oven to the table, but because of the enamel coating they require zero maintenance and are a breeze to clean. They are perfect for slow cooking, braising, frying, soups, and one pot meals. The moment the seasons change in the Fall, my Le Crueset makes its home almost permanently out on my stovetop. On top of all of this, the colors are gorgeous. I just splurged on a 3.5 quart in burgundy which is perfect for one pot meals for 2-4, cooking beans, hot chocolate, baked apples, or mulling cider and wine. I've had a 7.25 quart in Marseille which is a work horse - perfect for soup and stews, and large one pot meals. These make an incredible gift for any cook.