Category Archives: Food Gifts

Easter Trail Mix

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Something that’s hard for me to resist when I see the long aisle of Easter candy at the store are those malted milk Robin Eggs–malt balls covered with a candy coating. I buy them every year and eat way too many of them! This year, I told myself I would not buy them unless I used them in a recipe. And since I’ve been short on time lately, it needed to be something pretty simple. So I came up with an Easter Trail Mix–a blend of chocolatey sweets mixed in with some healthy ingredients. The mini robin eggs and pastel M&M’s give the mix plenty of chocolatey taste and spring color, and the other goodies include raisins, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, peanuts, and mini pretzel twists. This recipe makes a large bowl of trail mix, so there’s plenty for everyone to munch on!

EASTER TRAIL MIX by NancyC

Makes about 13 cups

  • 1 (13.7 oz.) bag Mini Robins Eggs (almost 3 cups)
  • 1 (11.4 oz) bag milk chocolate easter M&M’s (about 1 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup raisins (you can use golden or dark raisins)
  • 2/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower kernels
  • 1 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1 (16 oz.) container cocktail peanuts or dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups mini pretzel twists (you can also use mini pretzel sticks or mini pretzel snaps)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a large spoon. Eat right away or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes a great food gift, too, packaged in treat bags!

Are you a fan of those Robin Eggs too? Are you using them in any Easter recipes this year?

Linked to Full Plate Thursday.

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Gift Wrap Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is just a few days away…if you still need ideas for ways to wrap or package your Valentine gifts, treats, or candy, here are some fresh ideas!

Above, Valentine Present Toppers from Julep look really easy to make–see instructions and downloadable heart shapes here.

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Lots of great downloadable Valentine labels for jars, gift bags, and other containers are available here at World Label.

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Speaking of jars, here’s a pretty way to dress up a jar and put a gift inside…like a food gift or candle. From The Pleated Poppy.

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Also at World Label, special treat labels and stickers for coffee or hot cocoa cups, chocolate bars, and goody bags. See instructions and downloadable designs here.

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Check out these Candy Huggers…a fun way for kids to give Valentine Candy! See downloads and instructions here at Lia Griffith.

Hope these ideas give you some inspiration for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.

Egg Nog Mini Loaves

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Egg Nog is one of those foods that signal the beginning of the holiday season. I first noticed it this year in the grocery store about three weeks before Thanksgiving. I usually buy a few cartons during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and pretty much always have some left over after Christmas. Which is great, because it gives me an excuse to bake some egg nog goodies! Like these Egg Nog Mini Loaves, for example.

After having lots of super-sweet holiday treats, I was wanting something just a little sweet, and these little loaves turned out to be just the thing! They’re moist, slightly sweet, and have a mild egg nog flavor, so even those who aren’t crazy about egg nog may like them. These mini loaves rise really nicely, too (Note: I also tried making this recipe as a 9 x 5″ loaf, but since it sunk a little in the middle, I think it works best for mini loaves, and probably muffins, too).

If you’d like to sweeten these loaves up a little more, sprinkle on a dusting of powdered sugar after they’ve cooled or add an egg nog glaze on top (try the glaze that I used on these Egg Nog Muffins).

EGG NOG MINI LOAVES by NancyC

Makes three 5 x 3″ mini loaves

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup egg nog
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • Optional: Egg Nog Glaze

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour three 5 x 3″ mini loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In medium bowl, beat eggs, egg nog, yogurt, sugar, butter, and vanilla and rum extracts, blending well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten.

Pour into prepared mini loaf pans. Bake at 350˚F for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (I baked mine for 32 minutes).

Cool loaves for 10 minutes in pans, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. If desired, glaze with Egg Nog Glaze (click here for the recipe–I’ve used it before on some egg nog muffins).

As the holidays wind down, these Egg Nog Mini Loaves are the perfect treat with some coffee or tea. Hope you had an enjoyable holiday and wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Muffins

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After baking quite a few mini loaves for the holidays, I thought I’d try some muffins! I really like these muffins because they have dried cranberries, golden raisins, chopped pecans, and lots of spices–they just seem perfect for this time of year! You can top them with cream cheese icing if you want, but I like them plain if I’m having them in the morning–they’re sweet enough on their own. These are perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch, or snack and this recipe makes 32 moist, delicious muffins–so you’ll have plenty to eat, share, and use in your goody packages! 🙂

CRANBERRY PECAN PUMPKIN MUFFINS by NancyC, adapted from MyRecipes

Makes 32 muffins

  • 3/4 cup  (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line muffin cups with paper liners; set aside

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

In medium bowl, combine flour and next 6 ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg). Add chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and golden raisins to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Then add the flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with the pumpkin puree, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.

Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pans on wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely.

If desired, frost with cream cheese icing. These muffins are so tasty, you don’t really need icing on them. But here’s the recipe if you want to try it…

CREAM CHEESE ICING

  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)

Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy; gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth. Add Half & Half, 1 Tablespoon at a time, mixing until it has a spreadable consistency (the icing will be thick–add more Half & Half if you’d like a thinner consistency).

It’s hard to believe Christmas is coming up so quickly! Are you getting everything done that you’re needing to?

Royal Riviera® Rogue Valley Salad

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A few days ago, I found a nice surprise on my doorstep–a box of beautiful Harry & David® Royal Riviera® Pears! And Harry & David® is also extending a special offer to me and my readers–a 20% discount on your next purchase of anything on their site when you enter the code NANCY20 during checkout! So if you still need some gifts, you’ll want to check out their site!

I learned a little about the history of these pears, too. These sweet and juicy pears, traced back to 19th century France, were brought to Oregon’s Rogue Valley in 1897, where they thrived in the climate there. And for 80 years Harry & David® have been shipping these pears from their southern Oregon orchards.

I was wondering why there was a spoon in the package, and then I saw a note explaining that, in celebration of Harry & David’s® 80th anniversary, and also in honor of National Pear Month (yes, December is National Pear Month!) they were inviting some pear lovers to take the “Spoon Test Challenge” to see if their claim that Royal Riviera® Pears are really “so big and juicy, you can eat them with a spoon” is true. So I did take the Spoon Test Challenge, which involved letting the pears ripen for 1-2 days, slicing them in half, and using a spoon to eat the juicy pear. And I am happy to verify that yes, these pears really are juicy enough to eat with a spoon! They are really, really good. If you like pears or know someone who does, these are a real treat!

Here are some serving suggestions for these pears:

  • Halve, core, and eat with a spoon (makes a wonderful, healthy dessert!)
  • Slice and serve after dinner with an assortment of fine cheeses
  • Slice pears for salads
  • When slicing pears for salads or dessert, Harry & David® recommends peeling them first, then sprinkling with some lemon juice to keep them looking fresh

Here’s a recipe for a salad you can try–this recipe was included in my package of pears, so I thought I’d share it with you. This would make a great salad for your holiday meal! You can also find more salad recipes at Harry & David.com.

ROYAL RIVIERA® ROGUE VALLEY SALAD (recipe and photo from Harry & David)

royalFor the dressing:

  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup walnut oil
  • Whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. chill for 20 minutes.

For the salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 large or 2 small Royal Riviera® Pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2/3 cup Rogue Creamery or other blue cheese
  • 2/3 cup Harry and David® candied pecans, roasted pecans, or roasted walnuts

Gently tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates. Top with fans of pear slices. Sprinkle blue cheese evenly over the pears and lettuce and top with nuts. Drizzle the dressing generously over the salad and serve.

Are you a pear-lover, too? What kinds of recipes do you like to use pears in?