Mel’s Holiday Gift Guide: His + Hers
This is the last on-going gift guide this year, and it sort of encompasses all of the wonderful gift chances and endings. As a reminder, nothing on this (or any other) gift guide that I publish is sponsored; these are all things we bought or donated by friends / family and what we really love […]

This is the last on-going gift guide this year, and it sort of encompasses all of the wonderful gift chances and endings.

As a reminder, nothing on this (or any other) gift guide that I publish is sponsored; these are all things we bought or donated by friends / family and what we really love (there are Amazon affiliate links below for the items I actually purchased from there).

FYI: The comment threads for all of these gift guides are amazing and filled with so many more game recommendations!

3. Owl succulent pot holder: aff. link I love succulents and love this succulent medium. Owls! So cute! I think succulents make a great low-maintenance gift (I gave this succulent subscription several times as a gift). Succulents are pretty much the only plant I can keep alive, so they might as well look cute while they're in my house.

dress, jogging pants, pillowcase

4. Very comfortable t-shirt dress: aff. link I love this comfy t-shirt dress. I wear it all year round (it's a great summer dress with flip flops or in winter with a long cardigan). I have the gray / white stripe. It adapts quite well to the waist and is loose and straight (not tight and well adjusted).

5. Joggers:aff. link I mentioned these joggers aff. link on a Friday Thoughts post last month; They are awesome. Inexpensive and very comfortable. I have the black camouflage pair. This is a dri-fit, slippery type material (compared to a soft stretch knit). And for some madness let me repeat my love for these Vuori jogging pants. Unbelievable.

6. Silk pillowcase:aff. link I was skeptical of silk pillowcases, but I am officially a convert. I love mine and am now one of "those" people who take my pillow and pillowcase when I travel everywhere.

milk frother, chopping board, ax throwing

seven. Milk frother:aff. link My brother sent me this milk frother aff. link for my birthday earlier this year because it knows my obsessive love for hot chocolate. I can't believe I lived so long without a milk frother! I hear it's great for homemade lattes too, but I use it for hot chocolate and it takes hot chocolate to a whole new level.

8. Bamboo cutting boards:aff. link These bamboo cutting boards are fantastic! I really needed new ones and loved these. I occasionally use mineral oil to keep them in pristine condition. I have the small and medium-large sizes.

9. Throwing hatchet: Brian and the boys threw axes at a church activity last year, and it wasn't long before Brian rigged up some old logs in our backyard so we could throw our own. axes. It has been extremely popular (and sure, I promise). Chances are, if you come to visit us, we'll feed you, then come out and throw axes. Be careful… you will become obsessed. We get our axes and handles from here - we have full size axes and "mouse hawks" for young children.

wooden spoon, leather purse, branch base cleaner

ten. The most amazing wooden spoon: I didn't know I could love a wooden spoon so much. These handcrafted wooden spoons made from Jonathon's spoons are truly in a league of their own. They are light and sturdy and just about perfect in every way. I have the spootle and the spoon stirring. The design and ergonomics of the spoons are unlike any other wooden spoon I have used.

11. Leather handbag: aff. link I'm not a handbag type girl, but I love this cute but still functional leather handbag. It's roomy without being bulky, and I like that it has a shoulder strap so I can always carry it as a crossbody.

12. Basics of the branch: my friend introduced me to Branch Basics a few months ago and I use it for everything from laundry to toilets to sinks. This is amazing stuff, and I love how green, clean, and natural it is. I am already planning to give a starter kit to a few friends and neighbors.

geekey multi tool, habanero bbq almonds, extra raw cocoa powder

13. Geekey multi-tool:aff. link this smart little all-rounder fits on a keychain and features a screwdriver, ruler, wrench, bike tool and more. My teenage driver has one in his stocking. UPDATE: thanks to a reader for alerting me that this tool also includes a bowl and pipe labeled on the packaging. I'm sorry I didn't notice this (I had already bought one for my dad and stepdad ... and I'm clearly super oblivious ... now I'm going to have to make an awkward call to both of theirs. ).

14. Habanero Bold BBQ Almonds: aff. link I've talked about these bold tasting almonds before, but it's official: the habanero BBQ flavor is our favorite. So much so that they went straight to our Amazon subscription and registered the orders. They are so, so, so good.

15. Extra raw cocoa powder: aff. link For the chocolate lover or the ultra-amateur baker in your life, this extra raw cocoa powder is something else. It is the deepest, darkest and richest cocoa powder I have ever used. I save it for any super special baking projects (or for homemade hot chocolate). It's ridiculously amazing and totally worth it.

weighted blanket, proofing basket, wallet

16. Weighted blanket:aff. link I tend to be a little claustraphobe and thought I would hate a weighted blanket, but Brian got one for me earlier this year, and I love it. I have nervous and restless legs at night and this blanket helps me sleep much better and much deeper. he Is warm up (even if it says cooling) so I don't use it that much in the summer but missed it while it was gone.

17. Proof baskets:aff. link for the baker who wants to take his bread up a notch, fermentation baskets are so much fun! I have a couple of them and love to use them. They make me feel like a rock star and they are great for sourdough recipes or free bread. I have the bread shape and the round baskets.

18. Leather wallet:aff. link we bought this wallet from Brian for Father's Day this year, and he says it's his favorite wallet. Phew! It's simple, no frills, but leather and durable.

emergency flashlight, white bowls, cooling rack

19. Roadside emergency flashlight: aff. link a great little gift to slip into the glove compartment of your car! This high powered flashlight also has an emergency signal - it's small and light!

20: My favorite bowls: aff. link I can't tell you how much I love these bowls. They make important appearances in my food photos, but more than that, we use them all the time in our daily meals. They make perfect serving bowls for things like tacos or pizza toppings, and they're also fantastic for pasta, salads, or even soups. I love them.

21: Foldable cooling rack:aff. link This amazing collapsible cooling rack is the perfect solution when you're baking a bazillion cookies at a time or need to save counter space (or both!). It also doesn't take up much storage space. I use mine all the time.

Disclaimer: I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for me to earn fees by logging into and affiliate sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn qualifying purchases.

If you’re a regular cook, you’ll know the “eureka” feeling when you discover a way to cut an everyday kitchen task in half. As our cookery team has spent so many hours writing and triple-testing recipes, they’ve picked up a fair few tricks and tips along the way, so we asked them to impart their wisdom…

You probably already know that adding a dash of vinegar to egg poaching water helps coagulate the white. But did you know that adding a dash of vinegar to the water when boiling eggs helps the shell peel off more easily ? Say goodbye to piles of tiny egg shell shards. Test this tip out with one of our egg recipes.

A pizza blade can be wheeled through a sheet of pastry or bread dough with ease, saving you the expense of buying shaped cutters, or having to fiddle around, twizzling the point of a knife into strange angles.

‘Hard’ herbs like rosemary and thyme can be frozen whole. When you come to use them, they’ll naturally crumble into pieces, bypassing the mezzaluna completely. Try this recipe for lemon, pancetta

If your brown sugar has clumped into pieces, place a piece of soft white bread in the packet and the sugar will break back down into sandy granules in a few hours. tera stop it happening again, make sure the storage space is nice and dry.

Save yourself the disappointment of an un-squeezy lemon by microwaving it whole for around 20-30 seconds on high. It’s just enough time to release the juices, but be careful not to go overboard and dry the flesh out. Try one of our zesty lemon recipes.

If you have plain flour in the cupboard, you always have bread on hand. Just take one mug of plain flour combined with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil per person, then slowly add cold water until it’s a soft, smooth dough which leaves the bowl clean. Divide the dough into balls, roll out to a 2mm thickness then dry fry in a non-stick pan. They’ll only take a few moments and are ready when both sides have golden brown patches all over.

While the rind of cheese such parmesan, pecorino and Grana Padano is difficult to grate, it’s a shame to waste such an expensive byproduct. But there’s no need to. Add the rind whole when you’re sweating onions in the first stage of making a risotto or sauce. It will impart lots of its flavour but save you taking to it with a chainsaw. Don’t forget to remove it before serving though…Try using cheese rind in a risotto recipe.

Make your own dried breadcrumbs by grating stale bread on the coarse side of a grater, then spread the crumbs in a thin layer over a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 140C, giving them a good shake halfway through. The golden, crispy crumbs will last in a sealed conteneur for up to two weeks. Try our wild garlic chicken Kiev recipe made with panko breadcrumbs.

If you need your meat injected with a bermuda, sharp burst of flavour, choose marinade ingredients wisely. Red wine quickly penetrates meat, giving it a deep colour, while citrus zest and juice tenderises it rapidly.

Not enough space for your party loot ? Save space for food by putting drinks into big tubs, buckets and bowls filled with salted ice water – the salt will cause the temperature to drop, giving you icy cold drinks in seconds. Browse our petit cocktail recipes for drinks inspiration.

Spruce up a shop-bought block of shortcrust by popping it into a food processor with a flavouring like herbs, vanilla, cheese, cocoa powder, honey or spice. All great additons to give your pastry an edge.

Bypass pencil outlines and fiddly scissors when lining a springform cake tin ( that’s one with a clippable ring and removeable base ). Lay the parchment onto the flat base of the tin, then press down and clamp the ring into place on top of it, leaving the edges around the outside to easily tear off. Try the clamping technique with this showstopping courgette, lemon

We love a stripy rainbow cake, but it’s perhaps one for an experienced baker to take on. If you want your sponge to sing with Technicolor joy but need an easier route to success, pick up a tub of multi-coloured hundreds and thousands. Mix some through your sponge batter ( not too many ) and when you cut a slice of your finished cake, you’ll have beautiful polka dots.

tera peel a kiwi, just chop off the top and bottom, then push a dessertspoon in between the fruit and the skin. Turn the kiwi until all the skin falls off the back of the spoon.

When you cut the avocado in half, twist into two pieces, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh from the side without the stone for immediate use. Return the empty skin to the other half, which still contains the stone, using the skin to cover it over. Keeping the stone in and covering with the skin helps retain colour and freshness until the following day.

Make this comforting ham hock colcannon, topped with a fried egg. ' /> Make this comforting ham hock colcannon, topped with a fried egg. ' /> Achieve the perfect set white and runny yolk with a few splashes of water. Fry the eggs in a non-stick pan and when the whites are almost cooked, put a few drops of water into the pan, quickly cover it with a lid and turn the heat down low, or off completely, and leave for a minute or two to finish cooking. The effect will be a perfect semi-poach. >Make this comforting ham hock colcannon, topped with a fried egg.

As soon as you buy herb plants from the supermarket or greengrocer, remove the plastic wrapping and trim the top leaves quickly to use in your cooking. By trimming off the top leaves first you’ll help the plant shoot out from lower down the stem making it stronger. Water every other day or according to the directives on the pack.

Nutty brown rice can take a long time to cook until tender, so speed up the process by soaking it in water overnight, as you would pulses like lentils. It’ll cook far quicker as a result. Try a recipe with brown rice.

Making a roux from flour and butter isn’t too difficult a process, but if time is of the essence, it might be easier to reach into the fridge. A tub of cream cheese watered down until the same consistency as béchamel makes a super simple solution. If you want to boost the flavour, add a grating of nutmeg. Alternatively, use crème fraîche and grated cheese.

Garlic cloves are one of the trickiest items to prepare, and if you find it frustrating, invest in a sturdy garlic press, and voilà – the whole clove can be passed through it with the skin intact. It may take a bit of pushing, but once through, the flesh is passed through the holes while the skin is left in the press to be easily removed. Watch this video for tips on how to crush garlic.

Don’t just stick with salt and pepper, experiment with other storecupboard seasonings. Try sprinkling a crushed chicken stock cube over a whole chicken before roasting, or add a splash of soy sauce or wine to boost the flavour of your gravy.

Plastic bags of washed and ready-to-eat salad leaves are really convenient but don’t seem to last very long at all, even in the fridge. If you find yourself with leftover leaves, that are starting to lose their crispness, ensure they don’t go to waste. Instead, pop them in a pan with a little olive oil or butter, garlic and seasoning and wilt down as you would for spinach. This works particularly well with leaves like watercress and rocket. Learn how to build the perfect salad with our handy infographic.

Stir a few extra ingredients through your favourite shop-bought hummus and everyone will think you’ve made it yourself. Add a dash of lemon juice, chopped fresh coriander, some ground cumin, smoked paprika or a smidge of harissa paste to give it a kick. Alternatively add a few whole chickpeas and a drizzle of olive oil to make it look homemade.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *