You know one of the things I noticed about growing up? It’s that there seems to be less gifts under the tree the more years pass by. I guess people have this idea that since you’re working already, you have the means to buy whatever it is you want yourself. With this in mind, maybe they believe that whatever they give you will probably not be up to par, so they choose to stop. But let’s get real for a second: who the heck doesn’t like receiving gifts? Whether it’s for Christmas or a birthday, it’s always nice to feel like you’re being remembered. That’s what gifts mean to me anyway– that the giver has you in mind enough to bother.
Personally I am a very sentimental person when it comes to gifts whether it be giving or receiving. It doesn’t take much to stir my emotions. When someone likes a gift I’ve handed to them so much I get sucked into their joy. One of my favourite gifts to date is this framed photo of my besties and I when we were in college and we went out for a lunch-date at a Korean restaurant. We were at that age when we were wide-eyed with hopes and dreams for the future, and riding on that high we talked about life, our friendship, and even promised each other that someday we would go on an adventure in Korea together. (We’re working on it!) As it happens, the owner of the restaurant is this nice lady who even changed into a hanbok when we asked if we could have a “portrait” taken with her. My best friends had the photo framed to immortalize that symbolic day and gave it to me for my birthday. I looooved it. It hasn’t left my dresser to this day. It’s such a simple thing but it transports me back to that day every time I look at it.
And then of course there are the special gifts that really stick in your mind, like that time my Dad decided to buy me a KitchenAid when he saw how close to retirement age my mom’s hand-me-down stand mixer was. It was so old but I keep putting it through so much it groans in protest whenever I use it. Yep, just one of those things that Dads do.
It’s remembering that I’ve been lucky enough to receive gifts like these that make me persevere in my own gift-buying. There are times when not being able to find the perfect gift for someone eats me up! If you’re like me then maybe this little list I’ve drafted can help you out this season of giving. This mixes up nice (and some of them pricey) kitchen things with homemade heart-felt edible gifts– a little something for everyone! This Christmas gift guide is based on things I personally love and would love to receive myself. 🙂
Let’s start with kitchen tools and utensils that I have on my own personal wishlist:
1. KitchenAid Digital Hand Mixer with Turbo Beater II Accessories and Pro Whisk— I’ve always wanted to own one of these shiny KitchenAid hand mixers for the recipes that don’t really need the stand mixer. It’s handy and easier to clean, and very very useful because you can switch the attachments.
2. Kaiser Bakeware Kaisercast 9-1/2-Inch Classic Bundtform Pan AND Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Heritage Bundt Pan— A bundt pan can turn any regular cake into a head-turner, and if you know someone who likes baking cakes then these pans will be put to good use!
3. Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker— Here’s a beautiful heavy-duty, bigger-capacity machine for making more ice cream at home! Someday I am hoping to get this myself.
4. Williams-Sonoma All-Clad Stainless-Steel Measuring Cups— Every baker or kitchen enthusiast needs a good set of measuring cups and spoons!
5. Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 7-1/4-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Soleil— Apart from the gorgeous colour, imagine all the yumminess that will come out of that magical pot!
6. Cuisinart Classic Waffle-Maker— I think pancakes and waffles are the best when made at home! I actually prefer the rounded waffle shapes rather than the square ones for some reason.
7. Pyrex Prepware 3-Piece Clear Mixing Bowl Set— Bowls are another kitchen essential you can never have enough of in all sizes and materials.
8. Lodge Pre-Seasoned 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet— The number of things you can do with a cast-iron skillet is pretty darn endless, but if I had one of these in my life Dutch Baby Pancakes and skillet choco chip cookies would be an everyday thing around here.
Next up, my favourite things in the world that help people learn how to cook and bake– beautiful, gorgeous, mouth-watering cookbooks. I myself cannot wait to add these to my collection:
9. Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan– If you like to bake you NEED to have a Dorie Greenspan cookbook in your collection. This is her latest, but personally I want to own all her books.
10. Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats by Joy Wilson– This book by one of my favourite food bloggers adapts all her quirky and fun writing with awesome recipes and drool-worthy pictures.
11. Top With Cinnamon: Stylish Sweet and Savoury Recipes by Izy Hossack– Here’s another of my favourite food bloggers who came out with her own cookbook filled with her gorgeous food photos. Seriously, check out her blog if you haven’t seen any of her food photos. UH-MAZING.
12. Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen– Anybody else curious about Scandinavian pastries?
13. Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen– One word: PHO. Who doesn’t love that soul-comforting beef noodle soup? Aside from that, Vietnamese cuisine has some pretty awesome dishes!
14. Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker– A beauty of a cookbook of one of my favourite Asian cuisines!
And now we move on to some of my personal recipe picks from my archives! Nothing quite spreads love like homemade food, in my opinion. And honestly a lot of people do love receiving food for Christmas, so why not go the extra mile and prepare them yourself? My first set of homemade goodies features cookies and bars, aka the easiest things to give because they can be easily transported!
- Chocolate Chilli Cookies— A little something special for chocolate cookie/brownie lovers, perfect for the winter season because the chilli gives that slight heat!
- Bouchon’s Chocolate Chip Cookies— Everybody loves chocolate chip cookies and of course I’ll have to suggest my favourite version to date!
- Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies— Basically a super special version of the chocolate chip cookie. You’ll be surprised how much the Nutella in the center adds to the whole choco chip cookie-eating experience!
- Chocolate Macarons— Macarons have been so big this year! These little buggers come from the easiest macaron recipe I’ve tried so far.
- Cornmeal and Fruit Biscotti— I haven’t made a single biscotti this year, but among those that I have made this is my favourite.
- Stained-Glass Cookies— Very Christmas appropriate, and very gorgeous too!
- Lemon-Glazed Madeleines— A little something different and classy. The lemon adds a nice zing!
- Baked Brownies— My favourite version of brownies. For now.
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars— A little something for the PB&J lovers, because we all have someone like that in our lives don’t we?
If you’re feeling especially energetic in preparing your homemade gifts, I’ve got a bunch of cake recipes that will wow! They’re not necessarily hard, but they definitely take a teeny more work than cookies:
- Chocolate-Peppermint Cupcakes— These has Swiss Meringue Buttercream on top, which is probably the best kind of frosting!
- Homemade Puto-Pao— One of my favourite things I have made this year hands down!
- Nutella-Surprise Cupcakes— Imagine the look on the faces of the people who bite down on that thang and find the surprise inside!
- Mint Chocolate Cupcakes— A classic that is perfect for the season!
- Buche de Noel— This would make a great Christmas dinner centerpiece. Watch the tree-cake get cut down chunk by chunk until there’s none left. 🙂
- Fresh Ginger & Chocolate Gingerbread— I don’t think I’ve ever loved gingerbread as much as I loved it slathered with chocolate on top.
- Bahamian Rum Cake— This cake is a David Lebovitz recipe, so it’s unsurprising that it got so much raves. (It is really good ya’ll. Put your rum to good use!)
- Lime & Pistachio Angel Food Cake— Gorgeous and heavenly-looking, soft as a pillow to the bite, and wonderfully citrusy. I can totally imagine eating this by the fire. Yum!
- Chai-Spiced Crumb Coffeecake— Filled with all the warm spicy flavours of the winter season!
I was supposed to stop here, but I thought what the hey, why not add a little more just in case options are needed? The recipes below are a mixture of yeast breads, confections, and some ice cream. I guess ice cream is a little harder to gift unless you’re giving it to your next door neighbour, in which case he/she can easily pop it in the freezer! Yeah, I’ll throw some ice cream in here too:
- Filipino Ensaymada— The perennial popular recipe on the blog. It’s pretty, it’s fluffy, it’s a Filipino staple especially around the Christmas season!
- Chocolate, Walnuts & Dried Fruit Panettone— Every year one of my Dad’s friends gives us a box containing this huge fantabulous-tasting panettone, and I love it so much I decided to make some myself. Delish!
- Polvoron— Super easy milky Filipino confection that is equally easy to love!
- Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches— This never fails to bring me back to my childhood!
- Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwiches— I’m not a fan of candy cane, but this ice cream sandwich is a game-changer. I have to say!
- Cookie Dough Truffles— There’s a risk the person you gift this to might not be able to stop popping them in his/her mouth. I know that was my issue with these truffles.
- Ginger-Gingersnap Ice Cream— Again, another season-appropriate recipe. I love the bits of gingersnap cookies scattered in the ice cream. Makes me feel all cozy despite eating something cold.
- Jeni’s Queen City Cayenne Ice Cream— One of my all-time favourite versions of chocolate ice cream! It has a hint of warmth thanks to the cayenne, and will definitely be a hit for chilli-chocolate lovers out there. 🙂
- Milky Cookies & Cream Ice Cream— A classic that is well-loved, and it just so happens this is my favourite cookies and cream ice cream version I have eaten. Ever.
So there you go! It’s quite a long list isn’t it? But I hope you found some interesting things on my gift guide. And if these are still not enough for you, then stay tuned for the next couple of weeks. It’s about time I get on with my annual countdown-to-Christmas round of recipes, and this year I’ve picked out some of the best I’ve made yet!
PS. Just in case you’re looking for a nice Christmas bazaar to go to, the Ateneo Junior Marketing Association is having its BIG RED BAZAAR at Mercato Centrale, Bonifacio Global City on the 13th of December 2014, from 4PM to 3AM. (It’s my first time promoting a university event and it’s for the blue school haha! But yay for students taking these kinds of initiatives. I’m all for it!)
This bazaar is not all food but there will be fashion deals, gadget finds, toys, and novelty items as well. Why not pass by if you’re in the area that day? 🙂