Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Favorite Foods

Today we're wrapping up our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide with the tastiest treats we enjoy in our happy homes. (Looking for more gift ideas? We have you covered on cookbookskitchen gadgets, and kitchen equipment too.)

Let's get cooking!
Erin, Andrea, and Amy

Disclaimer: These ideas are solely the opinions of your favorite bringers of hot dinner. No companies or manufacturers asked us to provide reviews or compensated us for writing about their products.

Erin's Favorites:

Penzey's Spices: I heart Milwaukee. This home-grown company provides delicious spices at reasonable prices. Stores are popping up around the country, but if there isn't a shop in your hometown, keep your eyes peeled for free shipping offers. (For example there's free shipping through midnight tonight!) My favorite Penzey's spices are Herbes de Provence and Chili 9000. Also, I love the seasonal catalogs Penzey's sends out. They're packed with tons of great recipes, including this Apple Cinnamon Bread. --Erin

Sendik's Wicked Brownies: Sendik's was the grocery store a few blocks from our house in Milwaukee. Everything they made was delicious, but my favorite treat was their Wicked Brownies; gooey brownies studded with chocolate chips and a thick ribbon of creamy caramel. A perfectly decadent dessert. I ate as many as I could before we moved away, but that didn't satisfy my cravings. Imagine my joy when I discovered that Sendik's ships Wicked Brownies anywhere in the country! The husband bought be a box of "Not-A-Nutter" Wicked Brownies for my birthday this year, and I was the happiest lady in town.  --Erin

    Amy's Favorites:

    Esther Price ChocolatesGrowing up in suburban Dayton, Ohio meant eating Esther Price chocolates every Christmas. We always had a four-pound box of assorted chocolates that my grandma would pick up at the East Dayton store. Now there are Esther Price stores in Cincinnati, too. And you can find Esther Price's gold foil boxes in grocery stores throughout Ohio and in locations in Indiana and Illinois. Or, you can shop online. I'm partial to the opera creams and my dad loves the chocolate covered cherries. I see that Esther Price has teamed up with Dayton potato chip maker Mike-Sells to now offer chocolate covered potato chips -- oh my! --Amy

    Strawberry Hill PoviticaPovitica (poh-vuh-teet-suh)  is a traditional Eastern European dessert or breakfast bread -- kind of like a nut roll. I married into a povitica as my mother-in-law is half Croatian and from Kansas City, where Strawberry Hill Povitica and a lot of families of Croatian heritage are based. She says she's somehow related to Strawberry Hill's owners, but sadly that doesn't mean she gets a discount. Povitica is pricey -- a lot of work and ingredients go into each loaf, which seems to weigh about what my children did at birth. OK, so the website says each loaf is "just" 2 1/2 pounds. The website also says that one loaf -- $29.99 before shipping -- will feed 20 people and I'd say that's true if everyone eats one small slice. My experience with povitica is nobody can eat just one small slice. Our family's favorite flavor is the traditional English Walnut. --Amy

    Zabar's Holiday Blend Coffee 16oz (Kosher)

    Zabar's Coffee: I love to give coffee lovers the gift of java from Zabar's, New York City's renowned purveyor of gourmet and kosher foods. While the lox and bagels are no doubt divine, Zabars coffee is the perfect way to warm up in the winter. Zabar's also puts together a variety of gift baskets and boxes, which makes nice gifts for family, friends, colleagues, and clients. --Amy

    Andrea's Favorites

    Almond Croissants: These buttery and airy pastries are a new tradition at our house. I'm a Williams Sonoma disciple but hadn't tried the croissants until last year. Oh my — they are so good! My boys now request them on their birthdays, too.  The dough arrives frozen and you simply take out the number you want to bake and let them thaw and rise overnight. Pop in the oven for a few minutes in the morning and you've just turned any holiday (or birthday) breakfast into something extra special. --Andrea

    Panettone: I grew up eating this traditional Italian fruit-studded cake at Christmas time. My grandfather would arrive at our house with several cakes. The year he discovered personal-sized panettone lives on in our family lore because my cousin Allegra could not stop saying, "I got my own little panettone!" These days you can find good panettone in most grocery stores. Look for the Perugina or Ferrara brands as they are always moist. Be sure the cake you buy includes candied citron, orange peel or lemon peel. The ones with just raisins are not authentic. You can eat panettone right from the box, lightly toasted and topped with butter or as the main ingredient in baked or traditional french toast. --Andrea

    Pizzelles: These wafer thin Italian cookies melt in your mouth. I grew up eating the ones my Aunt Dottie used to make with her pizzelle iron. Hers were always dusted with powdered sugar and flavored with anise and vanilla. These days my mother-in-law often has several packages stashed in her pantry when we visit. You can buy pizzelles at most grocery stores, however, I'm thinking I need to get my aunt's recipe and try my hand at making some! --Andrea

    Peppermint Bark: If you've never tried the Williams Sonoma version of this holiday treat, you have not lived. Made with Guittard chocolate, the candy carries a refreshing peppermint flavor through each layer, thanks to delicious peppermint oil mixed into the chocolate. I say buy one for you and one to give. --Andrea

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