Gift Ideas – Wine and Cheese

Gift Ideas – Wine and Cheese

Wine and cheese pairings make wonderful Christmas gifts for friends, family and acquaintances. wine grapesYou definitely want to make sure that the recipient drinks wine, because not everyone enjoys an alcoholic beverage. But if they do, there are some fantastic choices for you to send them.

One of the premiere brands to consider in this realm is Wine.com – and those selections can even be ordered on Amazon, too – where many of them have free Super Saver shipping.

For example, the Bordeaux Style Gift Set with Scharffen Berger Chocolate & 2 Wine Glasses from Madsen Family Cellars with a bottle each of their Gold Medal Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot provides two stemless wine glasses and a bar of gourmet Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

cheeseThen there’s the Raspberry Chocolate Wine Gift Set by Westport Winery which includes a bottle of their raspberry chocolate dessert wine “Red Sky at Night”, a pair of Westport Winery cordial glasses and box of five raspberry velvet chocolate truffles.

A mouth-watering option is the medium sized Savory Sophisticated Gourmet Food Basket with Caviar by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets with Fine Black Capelin Caviar and a variety of crackers, cookies, pretzels, nuts, dips and sauces in a simple, willow basket adorned with ivy vines.

wine glass

The Italian Classic Gift Basket by igourmet contains a stunning array of cheeses, olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and more items produced in Italy that are attractively packaged in a dark stained wood planter. This gift basket contains cheeses that would pair well with some of your favorite wines.

A wonderful package of Christmas themed wines is the Season’s Greetings Christmas Wines Mixed Pack. It’s a festive collection of Moscato, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel and Riesling wines that would pair well with a number of the gift baskets mentioned here.

For instance, a lovely gift basket that would pair nicely with the seasonal wine collection above is the Well Stocked Gourmet Basket with Smoked Salmon by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. It is a generous and impressive helping of the good life with an oval willow basket filled with everyone’s favorite gourmet chocolates, confections, and sophisticated snacks.
wine escape

With a classic assortment of savory snacks and sweet holiday treats, there will be something for everyone as friends and family gather around to enjoy in the Holiday Greetings Christmas Gourmet Food Gift Basket by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. There are a variety of sweet and savory items assembled in a red and gold stamped tin basket to delight that special someone on your gift giving list.

The North Coast Tasting Flight Wine Mixed Pack from the William Hill Estate Winery provides a Red Blend, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley Chardonnay, a North Coast Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc to please the palate of friends and family.

wine and cheese The Happy Holidays gift basket by Wine Country Gift Baskets is a wonderful treat to pair with your favorite wine. With festive favorites like Walkers shortbread Scottie Dogs, peppermint candy, butterscotch, milk and dark chocolate, hot cocoa and more, it’s sure to please the most discerning connoisseurs on your shopping list.

Finally, the Let It Snow gift box by the Seattle Gift Basket Company is fun and festive. It contains cashews, sausage, a Chocolate Espresso Bar, dark chocolate blueberries, Lindt Truffles and something that my family and I enjoy in lieu of champagne for special events, Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. If you want something that seems like champagne but that you can share with the kids for a holiday toast, Martinelli’s provides a variety of sparkling fruit juices to fit the bill.

Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Meat and cheese gift baskets are a great food gift to give during the holidays. They’re perfect appetizers for entertaining, so hosts and hostesses appreciate the thoughtful gift. There are many brands and variations of the gifts to choose from. Having snacks of this sort handy is a real benefit when family and friends drop by for a spontaneous holiday visit.meat

The Hickory Farms company is well-known for its delicious summer sausage, but they have so much more to offer, and their brand is synonymous with gift giving around the Christmas season. The company even offers free shipping to the military – a very patriotic act by this company! In addition to sausages and cheese blocks, they also sell signature nut gifts and fresh fruit, too.

The Swiss Colony company is a household name, just like Hickory Farms. They are known for their sausage and cheese blocks, but there’s one gift box in particular that’s always a hit. It’s the Swiss Colony Sausages ‘n Cheese Bars, which comes in 4, 6 or 8-piece options.

You can get their 4-piece pack, which includes Kreme Kaese and cheddar cheese, and their original and summer sausages. The 6-piece Swiss Colony gift box includes the previous four items, but you get to add in some Colby cheese and a garlic beef sausage for your gift recipient. And the 8-piece pack gives you all previous selections, along with a Caraway beef sausage log and Swiss and Edam cheesecheeses.

Other brands have some amazing offers, too. A company called Wisconsinmade makes a tantalizing food gift basket called the Deluxe Meat and Cheese Gift Box. It includes beef summer sausage and salami, a variety of cheeses in the flavors of tomato basil cheddar, cranberry cheddar, and roasted garlic. It comes with a cheddar cheese spread and a few mustard options, including stone ground, sweet and hot, champagne, and honey. A box of wafer rolls completes the gift basket.

Check out the Art of Appreciation Gift Basket called Smoked Salmon and Seafood Gourmet Gift Box. It has a fishing themed container, so it would make a great gift for a special man in your life. It includes sausagessalmon fillets, an herb pate, smoked salmon pate, cheese straws, and a variety of crisp crackers for the recipient.

Another excellent gift option for the meat lovers in your life is one of the many selections from Omaha Steaks. A marvelous sampler is their Family Value Pack which includes top sirloins, roasted chicken breasts, burgers, jumbo franks and stuffed baked potatoes. As a chaser, you can also get the Assorted Individual Cheesecakes to keep the holidays sweet.

The holidays always bring savory images of the sausages and cheese logs offered by vendors like Swiss Colony and Hickory Farms. These seasonal treats are a great way to entertain guests or to enable your loved ones to entertain their guests when they receive these packages and baskets from you.

 

Fritters & Mutts

Fritters & Mutts

Today we’re going to fill your belly and your heart. December 2nd is National Fritter Day and it is National Mutt Day.

National Fritter Day

To celebrate today as National Fritter Day, we’re going to hook you up with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Fritters are any sort of cake or pastry with fruit or meat inside and are a classic comfort food in many regions of the country.

Breakfast: Cheesy Bacon Fritters

This image courtesy of cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

I just love the smell of bacon in the morning! My mouth is watering just thinking about these bad boys.

If you like the extra zing, the recipe includes a ration of jalapeños. Click through to get yours sizzling.

Lunch: Easy Zucchini Fritters

This is going to make a really tasty lunch for you today. I love zucchini in casseroles, stir fry, as a side or even in cookies! Click here to see how to have these for lunch.

This image courtesy of laurenslatest.com

This image courtesy of laurens latest.com

Dinner: Indonesian Corn Shrimp Fritters

Bakwan (seafood cake with whole shrimp).jpg

This image courtesy of Garrett Ziegler. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Also known as Bakwan Udang, this savory shrimp dish brings an exotic set of spices to your holiday table.

Click here to learn the secrets of this Eastern dish.

Dessert: Easy Glazed Apple Fritters

Is there anything as tasty as an apple fritter with a generous layer of glaze?

Click here to find out how to make this tasty treat for dessert tonight.

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

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National Mutt Day

We were watching the highlights of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day and it’s neat to see all the exotic breeds, but not everyone has the cash for a purebred or the medical problems that are inherent in some of the breeds. A lot of people just want a furry friend who is going to live a long healthy life without the cost and drama of a pedigree. If you have room in your home and your heart for a fuzzy family member, today is specially designated for the rest of the canine community.

Interesting Holiday Stats

Santa Checking His List

Interesting Holiday Stats

Did you know the vast number of resources processed during the holiday season? Below are a few interesting statistics regarding the number of cards and gifts sent, party food eaten, and more.

Holiday Shopping

Holiday sales are expected to hit $439.53 billion this year. December accounts for roughly 15% of stores’ yearly sales, with the exception of jewelry stores for which it is closer to 24%. Most Americans only expect to spend an average of $854 each this holiday reason. On Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday 2013, approximately $12.3 billion was spent.  The new experiment of opening shops on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until midnight on Black Friday resulted in lower percentage of sales on the infamous shopping holiday. Residents of the New England states are anticipated to spend more than the rest of the country, while the South is expected to spend the least overall.

Christmas Cards

Do you enjoy receiving lots of cards in the mail? There are roughly 1.6 billion Christmas cards sent in the United States every year to friends, family members and acquaintances. This makes Christmas the #1 card sending occasion, followed by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  The greeting card manufacturers are being heavily impacted by the prevalence of free, instant options available online.

Presents

The number UPS is expected to deliver this year is over 340 million. The busiest day for UPS in the 2013 holiday season was Monday, December 16th when they reached 34 million deliveries, which translates to 394 packages being delivered every second during that day.  FedEx’s busiest day was 22 million deliveries on Monday, December 2nd.

Toys

About 45% of shoppers will be purchasing toys this year, with video games and Barbie being the products most sought after.  California leads the nation in toy production with 10 locations that produce dolls and stuffed animals as well as 88 locations that produce games, children’s vehicles and other toys.

Party food

Are you tired of turkey once Christmas is over? This may be why. The USDA  approximates that there are more than 244 million turkeys raised in the United States with as many as 60 million making it to the table through the holiday season. Americans eat an average of 13.7 pounds of turkey every year! I know I do my share of compensating for the vegetarians among us.  It is also reported that 7.3 billion shrimp are consumed at as many as 46 million holiday gatherings.  According to a Reader’s Digest poll, the favorite Christmas cookie in Pennsylvania is the Pizzelle and the national favorite is the Sugar Cookie.  I certainly enjoy both, but I definitely have a soft spot for a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Decorating

Most malls and other stores begin decorating for the holiday season on November 1st, but as many as 40% begin well before Halloween to get ready for early-bird shoppers.  Shopping centers spend an average of $22,998 on their holiday decorations.  Many retailers begin receiving deliveries of holiday decor in June or July and begin closing out their summer and gardening stock to make way for the yuletide supplies.  You know I love Christmas all year long, but let’s at least wait until after Labor Day!

Christmas Trees

If it is your practice to go chop down a tree and lug it home, check this out. There are 20.8 million Christmas trees cut in the U.S. every year, with the most (over 25%) coming from Oregon. Tree farmers reap roughly $506 million from this tradition. There are $69 million in artificial trees imported from China each year. Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones annually since 1991.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

China is the largest producer of Christmas ornaments which totals $592 million from January through August. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are around 250 injuries per day from decorating accidents and Christmas tree fires.

Holiday Music

The holiday song most frequently played is “Jingle Bells”. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” runs a close second, but it is the #1 best selling Christmas single of all time.

Elf Chow

Elf Chow

Ingredients:Who doesn't like cherries?

  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 small jar of green maraschino cherries
  • 1 small package chopped pecans
  • 1/2 bag of miniature marshmallows
  • 1 container of whip topping, thawed

Instructions:

Step 1 - Place cherry pie filling in a mixing bowl

Step 1 – Place cherry pie filling in a mixing bowl

Step 2 - Mix in green maraschino cherries.

Step 2 – Mix in green maraschino cherries.

Step 3 - Add pecans and marshmallows

Step 3 – Add pecans and marshmallows

Step 4 - Fold in whip topping being sure to mix well so all ingredients are incorporated together

Step 4 – Fold in whip topping being sure to mix well so all ingredients are incorporated together

Step 5 - Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

Step 5 – Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

Step 6 - Find some festive cups or bowls to portion this treat out for hungry munchkins

Step 6 – Find some festive cups or bowls to portion this treat out for hungry munchkins

Okay, the word is in!  We did some shopping.  We did some preparing.  We did some eating.

This recipe is kid tested and elf approved!

This recipe is kid tested and elf approved! If you don’t mind getting your crew all sugared up, it’s a mighty fine treat!

When elves get all jazzed up on sugar we convert that energy into a sing-along so here’s a carol of unknown origin that you can sing with us:

The Cherry Tree Carol

First Verse

JOSEPH was an old man, and an old man was he, when he wedded Mary in the land of Galilee. Joseph and Mary walk’d through an orchard good, where was cherries and berries so red as any blood. Joseph and Mary walk’d through an orchard green, where was berries and cherries as thick as might be seen. O then bespoke Mary, so meek and so mild, ‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph, for I am with child.’ O then bespoke Joseph with words so unkind, ‘Let him pluck thee a cherry that brought thee with child.’ O then bespoke the babe within his mother’s womb, ‘Bow down then the tallest tree for my mother to have some.’ Then bow’d down the highest tree unto his mother’s hand: when she cried, ‘See, Joseph, I have cherries at command!’ O then bespake Joseph— ‘I have done Mary wrong; but cheer up, my dearest, and be not cast down. ‘O eat your cherries, Mary, o eat your cherries now; o eat your cherries, Mary, that grow upon the bough.’ Then Mary pluck’d a cherry as red as the blood; then Mary went home with her heavy load.

Second verse

As Joseph was a-walking, he heard an angel sing: ‘This night shall be born our heavenly King. ‘He neither shall be born in housen nor in hall, nor in the place of Paradise, but in an ox’s stall. ‘He neither shall be clothéd in purple nor in pall, but all in fair linen, as were babies all. ‘He neither shall be rock’d in silver nor in gold, but in a wooden cradle that rocks on the mould. He neither shall be christen’d in white wine nor red, but with fair spring water with which we were christenéd.

Third verse

Then Mary took her young son and set him on her knee; ‘I pray thee now, dear child, tell how this world shall be.’— ‘O I shall be as dead, mother, as the stones in the wall; o the stones in the street, mother, shall mourn for me all. ‘And upon a Wednesday my vow I will make, and upon Good Friday my death I will take. ‘Upon Easter-day, mother, my uprising shall be; o the sun and the moon, mother, shall both rise with me!’

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