Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Brownie Mix #FoodGifts

There's nothing more personal than a homemade gift.  I think they're especially good for those hard-to-buy-for people on your lists.  Some people seem to have everything, so it can be overwhelming searching through the copious amounts of nick-nacks and gadgets that flood the store shelves during the holidays.  The best homemade gift (in my opinion), is that of the food variety.  It's a consumable, so it's not going to sit on a shelf and collect dust until it eventually gets donated or tossed in the garbage.  Ugh...there's just so much unnecessary waste because we all have this need to buy that perfect something for people when it's actually really hard to find a gift that people actually want!

I am definitely guilty of what I describe above, so I'm trying to get better at really trying to think and find out exactly what a person wants or needs.   For those people who seem to have everything, today's post contains links to some super fun and creative homemade food gifts ideas, as gathered by Ellen at Family Around the Table.  We all have to eat, right?!   Check them all out, and maybe a few of the ideas will jump out at you as being a perfect treat for someone special to you.

I've been working on a few homemade projects this year, including this homemade brownie mix.  I tweaked a few ingredients in my usual favorite brownie recipe to make it shelf stable, and then put it in a festive jar, with a little note describing how to prepare.  With this mix, you only add eggs, vanilla, and a little bit of milk, and after baking you've got perfectly soft, fudgy brownies.  I've even included a little package of ingredients to mix up with milk and a bit of vanilla to glaze the top with.  This will be the perfect homemade gift for any chocolate lover in your life!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Spinach Phyllo Bundles

One of my favorite evenings to host is an appetizer party!  It's so much more casual than a big dinner, and if you're hosting other families with children, it seems to work well to get the kids to eat a variety of items too.  I find that kids like to snack in packs anyway, and are constantly looking for something in the kitchen while I'm prepping dinner, so I prefer to linger around, have a few drinks, and snack away while visiting.  It is also a great opportunity to prep a lot of stuff in advance, and really just be using the oven on and off for the evening too.   At this time of year, I usually prep a couple appetizers a week to have on hand in the freezer.   With the holiday season fast approaching, it's so awesome to just pull a few things out when people pop by for a visit.

This is one of my all time favorites.  They are basically my take on spanakopita.  Everyone loves them, they're easy to prep and freeze, and they bake up in about 20 minutes prior to serving.  They're great to pull out to have for a weeknight dinner, too! 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Haunted Halloween Mini Cake #HalloweenFoodFun

Last year I really got into the Halloween spirit, and was making spooky treats for weeks leading up to it.  Check out this Spooky Brownie Haunted House and these Eyeballs, which were just a couple.  Suddenly, I look at the calendar and see that Halloween is just around the corner and I haven't done anything!   I also agreed and have been looking forward to being a part of this Halloween roundup of spooky stuff, as hosted by Family Around the Table.  But I was stumped for a recipe.

I turned to the experts... the kids.  When I asked them what they thought would be a great Halloween food, they both yelled "CAKE!"  In case you're wondering, cake is usually a front-runner answer in my household, so I tend not to consult these experts for all cooking inspiration.  Since we had no real reason to make cake, and no imminent company to help us eat such a treat, I ended up making a mini one.  In the end, I think this is actually a great way to make a themed cake for Halloween or other special days where there are already enough treats.  I mean really, even if I was taking this cake to a Halloween get-together, how much cake does one need?  I already eat my bodyweight in those little mini candy bars at these events.  There is already sugar overload all around you.  So contribute to it responsibly, by making a mini cake.

Since a cake is a blank canvas, how to decorate a mini-cake for Halloween is really up to you.  Halloween is a time of year that offers super fun and decorative candy, so it really can be as easy as just sticking some candy in your frosted cake (my kids love this kind of thing, and then they can actually do it themselves).  Or, you could just use orange frosting and then throw some black sprinkles on it.  I even saw some fun ideas out there where you make an easy stencil (like a spider, or bat), and sprinkle cocoa on a white cake to make a creepy sillouette.   You could also do a ghost stencil on a chocolate cake using powdered sugar to sprinkle and make the sillouette.

On the day I made this cake, my Halloween candy stash was at zero. What I did have were sprinkles, and white candy melts (the exact age of which was questionable).  I also knew I had black food paste....a color I don't really have any use for normally.

With these items, the kids and I concocted this:

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Italian Bread

It's Tuesday.  And it's fall.  After the crazy wind this past weekend, there are almost no leaves left on the trees now.  This time of year always means I'm using my slow cooker way more, and the baking going on here increases exponentially.   If my kitchen smells like something comforting for supper, I immediately feel warmer.  Fresh bread is no exception to this.  I love the smell of fresh bread at anytime of year, but it is even more incredible on a chilly, blustery day.  That's why I chose to make one of my favorite Taste of Home recipes this past weekend.  It's called "Mom's Italian Bread".    I'm sharing this for Taste of Home Tuesday this week, as hosted by Jolene's Recipe Journal.  Check out what else is being shared at the bottom of this post!

Mom's Italian Bread