15 gift baskets perfect for the holidays

{Hello Kitty themed gift basket Christmas 2009}

The holidays are still more than a month away, but I am not all about waiting in long lines and letting the holiday season slip by because of stress. While people are frantically shopping I will be sipping on hot cocoa while I admire Christmas decorations. My family loves theme baskets, and I think they are a lot of fun to make and receive. So here are 15 ideas for gift baskets this holiday season. I hope this helps make your shopping easier.

{Michigan themed basket Christmas 2009}

Movie Night Basket: a DVD, movie theater candy (gummy bears or Junior Mints, anyone?) placed in a popcorn bucket. (My mum makes these for my dad, brother and I every year)

Book Lover Basket: books or magazines related to the book lover\’s interest, large coffee mug, decorative bookmark, bubble bath and candles.

Breakfast Basket: Make your favorite quick bread (on my list is cinnamon spice bread), wrap it in cellophane and tie it with a pretty ribbon. Include a jar of your favorite jam with a mini spoon and knife. (Great for grandparents)

Kids Basket: crayons, coloring books, markers, stickers, play-doh

Sugar Cookie Basket: Make your own vanilla sugar with a vanilla bean and granulated sugar. Place in a pretty jar and include your favorite sugar cookie recipe, as well as a couple of cookie cutters and some decorating supplies such as sprinkles and colored sugars.

Pampered Basket: include some body scrub, body wash, bath bombs and a beauty mask.

Coffee Enthusiast Basket: gourmet coffee, mugs and some flavored syrups.

Wine & Cheese Basket: a bottle of wine, a block of cheese, crackers and some wine glasses
The Wine-o Basket: two bottles of wine, wine glasses and wine glasses markers.
Candle Basket: a variety of candles in different scents including votive and tea lights with holders. (a great hostess basket)

Tea Basket: a variety of teas (bags or loose), infuser, oversized mug, teabag holder and tins to hold tea.
Winter Basket: lip exfoliater, face masque, lotion, WoodWick Candle and hot chocolate. (awesome gift for the college girl in your life)

Cook Basket Chili Theme: fill a pot with assorted cans of beans (kidney, navy, pinto..etc), chili powder, your favorite chili recipe, a ladle and oven mitts.

Chocoholic Basket: hot chocolate mix, chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream topping, chocolate candies.

Ice Cream Sundae Basket: ice cream scoop, jars of pineapple, butterscotch and strawberry topping, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, nuts, ice cream cones and sundae dishes. (my mum gave me this basket one year while I was in college it was a SERIOUS hit!)

{Winter Wonders Theme Basket 2010}

xo I hope this helped you!

Coat Check

{DKNY Belted Wool Blend Trench Coat $178.00}

You can never have too many jackets for fall and winter. With this brisk weather here are some of the jackets that I am absolutely adoring.

{Betsey Johnson Flounce Hem Three Quarter $140.00}

{Burberry Taffeta Down Puffer Coat $895.00}

{Diane von Furstenberg Simyonette $675.00}

{Miss Sixty $148.00}
{NorthFace denali $180}

Any special jacket you are loving currently?

xo

Almond Bear Paws

While some people are hooked on William Sonoma ,I am hooked on Sur La Table for those of you who live in the metro Detroit area check Sur La Table out at The Creek… the store is amazing! Like William Sonoma, Sur La Table sells celebrity chef cookbooks as well as has their own cookbooks. I absolutely love baking so it\’s not a surprise that one of my favorite books they make is called The Art and Soul of Baking. This book has taught me so many new baking skills. Including how to make that AMAZING almond filling that you find in bear claws…. HEAVEN! I decided to make some almond bear paws.






Almond Bear Paws

For this recipe I made my own croissants however Pillsbury Crescent Rolls will work fabulously for those who are not as adventurous.

Ingredients
Pre-made croissants or Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Almond Filling
1 cup raw sliced almonds

Almond Filling
(from The Art and Soul of Baking)
Ingredients
4 ounces almond paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoon all purpose flour.

Directions
Break or cut the almond paste into 12 pieces and put them into a food processor. Add the sugar and process until the almond paste is cut into tiny pieces. Add the butter and process until well blended. Scrape down the food processor bowl and place the contents into a mixing bowl. Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add the flour and mix until combined.

Assembly
Cut your Croissants into triangles. If using crescent rolls lay out your triangles. Spread the Almond Filling onto the triangles and roll like you would to make crescent dinner rolls. Brush your Bear Paws with an egg wash sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

POMtini

In order to make a fabulous drink look gorgeous rimming a glass in sugar is essential. However plain old boring white sugar wouldn\’t look as classy. Here is the secret to coloring sugar. This also works as great sanding sugar for cookies.

Colored Sugar
{1/4 cup white sugar goes into a baggy}
{add three drops of red food coloring}
{close the bag and squish the color into the sugar. the sugar will absorb all the color}
{voila! rimming sugar or sanding sugar made easy!}

POMtini
1 3/4 oz. SKYY Infusions Cherry Vodka
3 oz. orange juice
2 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
1 oz. pineapple juice

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

Cheers! xo

How to cut a pomegranate

It\’s officially pomegranate season, and these beauties are popping up everywhere. Which means there is a lot of questions about how to cut a pomegranate. POM Wonderful usually offers a great little booklet about \”How to Cut a Pomegranate\” near where there pomegranates are being sold. I used their method, but always seemed to have an insanely large red mess ALL over my kitchen. This is when I came up with the following method of how to cut a pomegranate. It leaves little to no mess!

First I begin to make a slit down the side of the pomegranate
all the way to the bottom
I repeat this step five times around the pomegranate
Your pomegranate should now have five sections
Now at the top of the pomegranate you want to create a box


Your pomegranate should now look like this.

grab a section and begin to pull downward.
Repeat all around the pomegranate
Voila! Simple and hardly any mess!!!

xo