7 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For The Foodie In Your Life

7 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For The Foodie In Your Life

Foodie Stocking Stuffer Ideas
Foodie Stocking Stuffer Ideas

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own.)

As a food and lifestyle blogger, I love receiving gifts that are themed around entertaining and spending time in my kitchen. And, I think people who like to be around food always appreciate getting something new to use. Here are 7 practical stocking stuffer ideas, for the foodie, cook, baker, and general kitchen enthusiast in your life!

Foodie Oven Mitts

Foodie Oven Mitts (Cotton With Printed Silicone)
Foodie Oven Mitts (Cotton With Printed Silicone)

When I was looking through the many household items at Kitchen Stuff Plus, I was delighted by these cotton-silicone mitts with the word ‘foodie’ repeated all over them! How fun are they? They’re 100% cotton with 100% silicone printing, which provides additional grip. I think they’re perfect for someone who creates and entertains in the kitchen.

Mortar & Pestle

Stainless Steel Mortar & Pestle
Stainless Steel Mortar & Pestle

I chose this stainless steel mortar and pestle because it’s heavy-duty and easy to clean. Having one mortar for fresh herbs like garlic and another one for dry spices like cardamom is a definite advantage to having more than one set!

Kitchen Shears

Henckels Kitchen Shears
Henckels Kitchen Shears

Most people have at least one pair of scissors in the kitchen. This could be a lightweight pair for opening food wrappings. But most foodies also have a heavy-duty knife for cutting meat, and possibly one dedicated to herbs. I love these Henckels Twin L 8-inch multipurpose stainless steel shears, which you can sharpen. There’s also a built-in rotary to help open jars.

Mini-locking Tongs

Mini Locking Tongs With Silicone Tips
Mini Locking Tongs With Silicone Tips

When you’re entertaining, the more serving utensils you have on hand, the more prepared you are as a host, especially when guests bring unexpected gifts of food. These silicone-tipped mini-tongs are just the right size for vegetables like green beans, fruits, bite-sized desserts, or cheese cubes.

Spiralizer

Oxo Good Grips Hand Spiralizer
Oxo Good Grips Hand Spiralizer

One of the easiest ways to prepare healthy meals is by making ‘zoodles’ out of zucchini or carrots and using these veggies like pasta or just to add interest to a dish. I like using this Oxo Good Grips Hand-Held Spiralizer because of its compact size, sharp blade, and finger protector. It’s also very easy to clean.

Colorful Spatulas

Silicone Spatula With Bamboo Handle
Silicone Spatula With Bamboo Handle

Spatulas make a practical gift because they always need replacing from wear and tear. These silicone spatulas with bamboo handles are a useful and colourful addition to any kitchen.

Cookie Scoops

Oxo Good Grips Large Cookie Scoop
Oxo Good Grips Large Cookie Scoop

Cookie scoops are one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen and I’m sure the foodie in your life would agree! They can be used for many things like ensuring cookies are a uniform size or for scooping cupcake batter into liners. This  Oxo Good Grips 3 Tablespoon Cookie Scoop is great for egg salad and quinoa salad. It can also be used for serving ice cream or soft cheese.

By the way, these mantle stocking holders and cute knit red or white stockings are sturdy enough to hold many of the items featured here.

Red & White Knit Christmas Stockings
Red & White Knit Christmas Stockings

Finally, don’t forget to have fun with presentation, like using a mitt as a stocking!

'Foodie' Oven Mitts
‘Foodie’ Oven Mitts

I hope these ideas inspire you to personalize some stocking stuffers or holiday gifts for the foodie in your life!

Let me know of any cute ideas you’ve gifted in the past. Enjoy!

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The Best Holiday Shortbread Sugar Cookies, Ever

Shortbread Sugar Cookies; Holiday Cookies
Shortbread Sugar Cookies; Holiday Cookies

I don’t know about you, but nothing reminds me of my childhood more than iced sugar cookies! One day I came home after school from 3rd Grade and my mom had made heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink icing. I must’ve devoured half the cookies on the spot, and my sweet tooth was very satisfied. I was happy and my mom was happy, because she loves when we ask her for food. It’s a mom thing, wanting your kids to have healthy (and sometimes not-so-healthy) appetites.

The sugar cookies my mom made were from a Betty Crocker cookbook that our American neighbor had gifted her, after I kept asking my mom for all desserts American. Growing up in an American compound in Saudi Arabia means that my love for the sweetest of American sweets is well-developed. I’m talking about sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, fudge, toffee, caramel anything, pralines, pecan pie with ice cream, etc.

Shortbread Sugar Cookies With Icing
Shortbread Sugar Cookies With Icing

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5 Tips For Hosting a Casual Hanukkah Party Plus A Latke Recipe

5 Tips For Hosting a Casual Hanukkah Party Plus A Latke Recipe

Hanukkah Party Table
Hanukkah Party Table

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own.)

As we approach the darkest days of the year, celebrating Hanukkah is one of the most anticipated events in the Jewish calendar.

Hanukkah is an 8-day holiday observed in November or December, depending on the Hebrew lunar calendar. This year it begins on the evening of December 2nd.

Often referred to as the ‘festival of lights’, Hanukkah refers to the rededication of the Holy Temple after the Maccabees defeated their Greek-Syrian oppressors. When the Jews went to light the menorah, or candelabra, oil that should’ve lasted for one day burned for eight.

Hanukkah is celebrated in as many ways as there are family traditions, but almost all Hanukkah party celebrations include lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, singing songs, opening gifts; and, eating latkes, gelt, and sufganiyot.

I only started making latkes when my kids came home from school one day raving about the latkes a mom had made in their classroom. Since then, my family looks forward to the one or two days when I go all out making latkes: they like to invite friends over to enjoy the party!

Here are 5 tips for hosting a casual Hanukkah party:

Tip 1: Use any variation of blue, white, grey, silver, and gold linens and platters that you have.

Hanukkah Table
Hanukkah Table

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The Best Homemade Potato Latkes!

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

I’ve been hooked on making homemade latkes ever since my kids introduced me to these delicious potato pancakes years ago!

My kids came home one day, raving about the latkes a mom had made in the classroom to celebrate Hanukkah. I just had to learn how to make these potato latkes, and I’m so glad I did.

Latkes are the star of any Hanukkah celebration because they are fried in oil. Hanukkah is an eight day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple after the Maccabees defeated their Greek-Syrian oppressors. Oil in the menorah lasted for eight days instead of one, which is why oily foods are eaten during this holiday.

Hanukkah also includes lighting the menorah, singing songs, opening small gifts, playing dreidel, and eating chocolate gelt. (Look for an upcoming post on hosting a casual Hanukkah party.)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Of course, you can buy latkes at stores during this time of year, but nothing compares to making them yourself! They taste so much better, straight out of the frying pan. They’re fresh and sizzling and hot. When you buy latkes, you have to reheat them at home, and they just don’t taste the same.

So, how do you make these golden, scrumptious potato latkes? There are many recipes out there and all involve grated potatoes, eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. It’s a time-consuming process to make latkes at home, but it is so worth it, in my opinion! The house stinks for a few days, but my family always accepts this fact because of how good homemade latkes are. Every time I make them, I’m always glad that I do.

I make my latkes with the usual ingredients, but I add  in a sweet potato, a carrot, and an onion. One year, my friend came by to pick up her daughter after one of our casual latke parties and went home to make latkes with added grated zucchini. She said her family loved them! There is definitely room to be creative with this recipe. After all, you’re going to be frying the latke in hot oil – what food doesn’t taste good when fried?

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Potato Latkes
(makes 3 dozen 3-inch latkes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Ingredients:
10 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and washed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and washed
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp baking powder
3 T flour
2 eggs
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Sour Cream and Applesauce for toppings

Method:

  • Coarsely grate the regular and sweet potatoes.
  • Place the potatoes in an old tea towel and squeeze out all the liquid you can. Do not rinse the potatoes.
  • Place the potatoes in a large bowl and coarsely grate the carrot and onions on top.
  • Add the dry ingredients and the eggs. Mix well.
  • Place 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick pan and heat over medium-high heat. The oil just needs to cover the bottom of the pan; it does not need to be deep.
  • Using a ¼ cup measure, place each latke carefully into the hot oil. Each pan should hold 3-4 latkes on average.
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes a side, flipping when you can see that the latkes are getting golden brown.
  • Keep moving the pan around and adding oil to ensure each latke is always frying in oil, to avoid burning and sticking.
  • Fry in batches, adding oil in between.
  • Be careful: the oil and pan get hot and the latkes splatter.
  • Place between paper towels and serve with sour cream and applesauce!

Do you make latkes at home? I’d love to hear your recipe variations!

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Enjoy!

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Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Christmas Kitchen Ideas
Christmas Pieces For Your Kitchen Island

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own)

It’s time to get ready for Christmas and the best place to start is in the kitchen, the central meeting place of our home!

My kids and husband love all of the décor and enjoy every piece I put out. How fun is it to eat off of Christmas plates and to be surrounded by the colours and scenes of the season for a few weeks a year?

I recently picked up these 7 festive plates and tableware items at Kitchen Stuff Plus and they instantly put my family and kitchen into the holiday spirit.

1) Placemats and a Table Runner

After using mainly plain red placemats, I changed things up this year by going with printed placemats. I chose the Festive Tree pattern because I liked the different coloured trees on the beige background and because they go with the mini-tree decorations I have around the house.

Christmas Table Runner and Placemats
Christmas Table Runner and Placemats

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Create The Perfect Floral Centerpiece In 7 Easy Steps!

William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice's Table
William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice’s Table

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a beautiful floral arrangement and, this weekend, my wish came true!

As a blogger, I get invited to events throughout the year, but I knew that the William Ashley Exclusive Floral Event would be special. For one, the setting was the new William Ashley customer experience showroom on Toronto’s Mink Mile. With high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and a tea lounge, the new space was perfect for the Secret Garden affair.

The second reason this event was special is that it was hosted by Alice Rossiter Lewis. Alice is the founder of Alice’s Table, a Boston-based business that provides starter kits and support to ‘executives’ who in turn run their own floral parties. Earlier this year, she appeared on Shark Tank and left with investments from both Mark Cuban and Sara Blakely. Alice’s energy is contagious, the pace is perfect, and the end result is a gorgeous and fragrant centerpiece.

Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice's Table
Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice’s Table

On Saturday afternoon, I rode the escalator to the second floor of William Ashley’s Bloor Street location and walked past the soft teal chairs in the bright and cozy customer lounge. At the long coffee bar, I enjoyed my English Breakfast Tea in Herend’s Royal Garden teacups (the same pattern gifted to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and admired the long table that was set up for our event. What an inspiring spot, amidst crystal vases and tableware, for an afternoon of floral arranging.

At each blogger’s place stood a 6 inch Kastehelmi vase made by Iittala, the Finnish design house. The Kastehelmi collection is distinguished by raised droplets, named after the Finnish word for ‘dewdrop’. Oiva Toikka, the designer, cleverly added these droplets to hide joint marks and lines. We put on our aprons and got ready to fill our beautiful vases.

As Alice took us through the steps of building our own bouquets, we chatted about each other’s social media accounts and our love for creating content. Bloggers being bloggers, we had our cameras out, taking lots of photos and videos. It’s what we do, and documenting our every move feels most comfortable among fellow bloggers!

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10 Simple & Easy Kitchen Tricks From Henckels Knives

 

Tomato Bruschetta

Last week I had an amazing day with the Henckels & Staub product knowledge team, at the beautiful Miele Experience Center in Vaughan.

At the Henckels' Knives Event at the Miele Experience Centre, Vaughan, Ontario
At the Henckels’ Knives Event at the Miele Experience Centre, Vaughan, Ontario

Along with the Kitchen Stuff Plus team, we saw close-up product demonstrations by 5 chefs and a sales manager — all while preparing our own delicious lunch!

My favorite part was learning some food prep secrets from the chefs while trying out the different knives and cookware. I was on the team that made Tomato Bruschetta and Grilled Ratatouille Crostini and I very quickly realized that having the right knife, sharpened, could easily save me about 20 minutes a meal!

Tomato Bruschetta
Tomato Bruschetta

Here are some of the insider tips and tricks that I learned:

Pro Tip #1
The three most useful knives in any kitchen are a paring knife, a chef’s knife (can be a 6, 10, or 12 inch blade), and a bread knife. Continue reading

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Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop-Off Day

Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop Off Day

Our oldest is going off to university the first week of September, and, admittedly, I’ve been a bit of a hot mess over here. I’m not ready for my daughter to leave the nest. Some days are good, others are not so good. My heart is sad and heavy, but my thinking is more along the lines of ‘it’s going to be okay’. Over the years, I’ve heard many parents talk about their experience, listening intently because I knew my turn would come. It has.

I spent the last months of my daughter’s senior year thinking about missed opportunities of being together, yet also understanding that a teen’s school and social life can take precedence. Sometimes I felt guilty about how I could’ve parented her differently as a kid. And, sometimes I just cried a lot.

When we first found out we would be parents, my husband said it best: ‘we’re going to have a visitor for 18 years!’ I was impressed with how insightful he was about raising kids and then letting them go. I’m a bit slower about accepting and understanding my role, but time has been the perfect teacher.

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7 School And Work Lunches Approved By My Daughter And Husband

7 lunch ideas for Back to School
7 lunch ideas for Back to School

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, on August 7, 2018. You can read that post here and follow the hyperlinks there to learn more about the highlighted products.)

After meal planning and making lunches for many years, my family and I have decided to shake things up for our upcoming back to school and work routines: we’re eating more fruits and vegetables and trying out different food combinations and ingredients.

Recently, I sat down with my high school daughter, who prepares and takes lunch every day, and my husband, who brings lunch to work a few times a month, to discuss new and fun ideas.

My daughter tested these lunches when she was at her summer day camp job and my husband enjoyed the leftovers from the photo shoot – yup, all the meals got a thumbs up!

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What I’m Sending To University With My Daughter This Fall

 

Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus
Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, on August 1, 2018. You can read that post here and follow the hyperlinks to learn more about the highlighted products.)

Although it’s going to be very hard to say goodbye to my oldest daughter when she goes off to university in September, it makes me feel better knowing she’ll have what she needs to make her dorm room feel a bit like home.

When we looked at the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, there were many room décor and snack accessories to choose from! We chose items that are reusable and environmentally friendly, conducive to healthy eating, and durable – so she can still use them when she eventually moves off campus.

Clothing & Shoes Storage

Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers
Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers

These velvet-covered hangers ensure clothes stay put without sliding to the bottom of the closet. Because they’re all the same, the closet will look more organized and aesthetically pleasing.

For shoes, we chose an under bed container to hold out-of-season shoes and an umbrella.

Bath Accessories & Toiletries

Dark towels and a shower caddy are practical
Dark towels and a shower caddy are practical

We went with navy towels because they’re easier to keep clean-looking! A shower caddy is a must, à la sleep-away camp.

Keeping beauty accessories tidy
Keeping beauty accessories tidy

For holding makeup and hair styling accessories, this flat plastic container with high sides is perfect – she can move the bin around and then store it under the bed when it’s not in use.

Coffee & Water Bottles

Double tumbler perfect for hot and cold beverages
Double tumbler perfect for hot and cold beverages

We opted for two types of mugs, in two different sizes. We love that both containers can be used for hot or cold liquids and foods.

Travel mug with handle is perfect for students on the go
Travel mug with handle is perfect for students on the go

The smaller mug with a handle is just right because she can easily hold it and reach into her backpack for other things. And, both containers are wide-mouthed and easy to clean – yay!

Coffee Station 

In-room coffee station
In-room coffee station

My daughter is someone for whom writing comes at crunch-time, meaning late night studying. Having an electric kettle on hand means she can make coffee and tea in her room.

She also picked out a rose gold colored coffee press and an electric milk frother. She’s very excited about sharing lattes and drinks with friends while enjoying the usual fun conversations that come with dorm living.

Rose-colored coffee press and monogrammed mug
Rose-colored coffee press and monogrammed mug

By the way, we’ve been making iced lattes every morning at home for a few months now and one of our tricks is sweetening the drinks with simple syrup (recipe below). This reduces the need to store sugar in the dorm room, not to mention keeping ants at bay!

To quickly make a latte, pour coffee into a tumbler, add syrup to taste, and then pour in the milk – usually no spoon is needed for mixing!

Jars For Storage and Snacks

Jars for desk accessories and snack storage
Jars for desk accessories and snack storage

Keeping snacks such as nuts and chocolate in glass jars or plastic containers is neater, sanitary, and more conducive to having dorm-mates drop in for a chat and a snack.

We also liked this set of 3 mason jars in a caddy for storing markers, pens and pencils, coffee utensils, and reusable stainless-steel straws.

Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp

Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp
Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp

When my daughter saw this lamp, she loved it for various reasons. It gives off a warm, zen light, setting a calm mood for the room. And, the negative ions it emits help manage dust and odors.

Packing up for university is still a few weeks away, but getting these items ready is making the upcoming university drop-off feel like it’s going to run a tad more smoothly!

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Drops of lemon juice

Place the sugar and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, adding the lemon juice a minute before you remove the syrup from the heat. Store in a closed jar, at room temperature.

What tips do you have for helping a student get dorm-ready?

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This post was sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. All opinions are my own. A special thank you goes out to Sophie and Joanna for helping me with understanding dorm life needs today!

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