Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas - Guest Post by Chef Joseph Morris

Today I have a special treat. Chef Joseph Morris, guest blogger on the Aisha Chowsita site, has some great tips on Holiday Gifts you can make or bake.  Personally, I love giving Number 6 and 7, Unbaked cookie kits and Herb/ Spice blends. They are really nice because they don’t have to be consumed right away and they show you put some thought into them. Plus it gives the giver a chance to add a special touch and to use some creativity.
The other thing I really like about giving homemade gifts is that they come out great, even when you’re on a tight budget. So let this post inspire your inner holiday elf.

Also if you’re looking to spruce up your cooking skills to impress the in-laws, check out Chef Joseph Morris’s site
It is a great resource for those interested in getting a culinary degree or if you are just looking for a list of the top 25 soup blogs.  


Bake Your Own Christmas Gifts!
Are you looking for gift ideas in time for Christmas? Does the thought of wandering around a crowded shopping center give you nightmares? Now you can make gifts for everyone on your list without leaving your kitchen! Here are ten ideas for Christmas gifts that you can bake or cook yourself.

1. Cookies – There’s nothing more traditional than giving cookies as a Christmas gift – but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be appreciated! Beautifully decorated Christmas cookies will be a testament to the time and effort you put into them, not to mention your creativity. If you’re not so great at decorating, look for a unique recipe that none of your friends and family have had before. You might also consider baking cookies for certain people’s health needs, such as sugar-free or gluten-free varieties.

2. Gingerbread – Another holiday favorite is gingerbread. You could decorate gingerbread men to look like your family and friends, or use them as a base for decorated cookies of any shape. Alternatively, you could make sweet-smelling ornaments. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might even try making a gingerbread house to give the host of this year’s Christmas party.

3. Truffles – These are the perfect delicacy to make for chocolate lovers. Truffles may seem complicated to make, but recipes can be found for all levels of bakers and cooks. You can experiment with various flavors like mint, orange, and almond for the filling and different types of chocolate and decorations for the coating.

4. Candy – Who doesn’t love sweet treats around Christmas time? There are so many kinds of yummy candy to choose from – caramels, fudge, peanut brittle, peppermint, and more! You can make your candy extra-special by giving it away in cute little packages decorated in holiday colors.

5. Jelly, Chutney, or Relish – Here is a treat that your friends and family can enjoy all year round! Homemade jelly, chutney, or relish taste much nicer than the processed varieties you find in the store, and they are not common gifts like cookies and candies. You can even decorate the jars with personalized holiday labels.
6. Unbaked Cookie Kits – This gift doesn’t even require any baking, since you give the gift of baking along with the ingredients in a cute jar. Layer dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, chocolate chips) for a cookie recipe in a mason jar and print the recipe on a label tied to the top. The person receiving the gift just has to add a few basic ingredients like butter and eggs in order to make the cookies. You might even want to tie a holiday cookie cutter to the jar for an added touch.

7. Herb and Spice Blends – Here’s another food gift that requires no baking. Mix together a blend of herbs and/or spices that works well as a meat marinade, a special seasoning, or an olive oil dip for bread, and put it in nice jars. You can use your own recipe or find one online. Gourmet food lovers and cooks will love these pre-prepared blends.
8. Fruitcake – Fruitcake is often joked about around the holidays, but a good recipe will have your friends and family raving about it. Homemade fruitcake can contain lots of tasty ingredients such as dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and even brandy (which helps it last a long time)! You just might bring back a tradition – just make sure that you give away fresh fruitcake!

9. Bread or Crackers – If you have friends and family who don’t like to have many sweets around the holidays, here is a tasty alternative. Homemade breads and crackers can range from basic wheat to something fancy with herbs, whole grains, and nuts.  You might even pair these with little jars of homemade jam or chutney.

10. Homemade Dinner Coupon – If you’d love to cook gifts for your friends and family this holiday season, but you don’t have a lot of time before Christmas, give the gift of a future meal! Present coupons that promise the bearer a homemade meal cooked by you, whenever they choose. You might want to attach the coupon to a bottle of wine or some nice cooking utensils. You could even go the extra mile and offer to babysit after you cook the meal, so that a couple can have a lovely dinner and time on their own to enjoy it.

Joseph Morris is an avid food enthusiast who loves cooking for the holidays. He owns the site Culinary Arts College for students interested in getting a degree in culinary arts.


Anonymous said...

Wow the bread idea is amazing! i love these personalised gifts.

I found after visiting here and found a lovely gift for my grandson!

nancy john said...

I like to use gold item as gift

gift for men

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