Tag Archives: bread

My Favorite 3…Homemade Hostess Gifts

Summer is here and for me that means lots of opportunities to catch up with friends and family! Whether it’s gathering together for one summer birthday or holiday weekend, or simply a weekend BBQ, I find myself constantly thinking about good hostess gifts to bring.

The older I get, the more I appreciate homemade and edible gifts. While my friends and family have plenty of space for an extra item or two in their homes, I’ve come to appreciate not having ‘another thing’ to add to a shelf or cupboard (even if it’s too cute for words!). Homemade (and preferably edible) gifts are a great way to pass along a small token of appreciate to your host, but minimize the ‘stuff’ that gets added to their homes.

Not to mention, summer is a great time to get into your kitchen and enjoy some of the best flavors of the season. Below I’m sharing three simple ideas for homemade hostess gifts.

Seasonal Homemade Jam

I was fortunate to grow up with a mom who loved to make her own jam, so for my first 18 years of life I really didn’t have much awareness of Smuckers. Enter college…when I forced to fend for myself on the food front…and well, my standards dropped a bit. No really, for my entire 20s, I’d say. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve been reintroduced to the joy that is homemade jam and preserves. It truly is just a notch better than anything you can buy in the store, and it’s a great way to take advantage of seasonal fruit.

Fresh-Baked Homemade Bread

I know the first thing that everything thinks about when it comes to homemade bread is….yikes! yeast is scary and unchartered territory! I had the exact same thoughts, but then was introduced to No Knead Bread from Brown Eyed Baker and boy did that help breakdown my fear of how to make bread. This is an incredibly simple recipe that only takes a round or two to get the hang of it. It turns out delicious and can be wrapped up in parchment paper and seasonal ribbon for a festive touch.

Crunchy Homemade Peanut Butter

My dear friend Sarah and her husband came over to our home for dinner and in her bag of treats she gifted me an adorable jar of homemade peanut butter (I know, she has the best handwriting and presentation skills). I’ve always enjoyed natural peanut butters, and was super excited to try this one out. It was amazing, and since it went right into the refrigerator it did not separate, so no mixing was needed.

Even though the summer season can be incredibly busy, it’s a great time to pull out your pots and pans and experiment a bit in the kitchen. Plus, it’s a great way to put together a cost-effective and personalized gift for friends and family.

Happy cooking and baking!

The fight of the century: Carbs vs. Me

The fight of the century. No, I’m not referring to the #MayPac fight or Avengers vs. Ultron. I’m talking about carbs.

My relationship with them has been complicated over the years. In the early 90’s, I watched my parents and their network of friends get swept up in Phase 1 of the Atkins diet. All of the chatter about the benefits of eating as much as one liked on the no-to-low carb diet was pan-seared into my brain.

Fast forward 20 years. When I  haven’t had enough sleep or when I’m stressed out and then faced with food choices, it can sometimes still feel like a battle royale of Good vs. Evil.  “Are all donuts bad? What if they’re vegan and made of alternatives like egg replacer, almond flour, coconut flour, applesauce and pumpkin puree?”

My fellow TK bloggers and I believe that carbs are an important part of a balanced diet and that some carbs are better than others. Today, we’re sharing a few of our favorites. Starting with…

Bri… Months ago I was at the store looking for sprouted whole grain bread. I wasn’t looking for low-carb/low-calorie, but I came across this gem and decided to give it a go. At 50 calories and 6.5 net carbs per slice, this flax seed bread is now part of my breakfast almost every morning. The first five ingredients: sprouted organic whole wheat berries, filtered water, wheat gluten, flax seeds (see this article on benefits of flax seeds!), and oat fiber. Toasted with a tablespoon of almond butter, it’s a delicious part of my day.

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Kristi… I have had a lifelong friendship with starchy carbs! Nothing beats mashed potatoes, creamy mac n’ cheese and the delicious crunch of fresh French bread. Unfortunately, my 30-something life now includes a slower metabolism and a husband that doesn’t eat many carbs at all. The compromise? A blossoming friendship with sweet potatoes. Sure it’s not completely the same, but it’s a fairly good substitute, and it has become a staple in our household. In addition to just roasting sweet potatoes in the oven, I love cubing them into a breakfast hash to accompany fresh veggies and over-easy eggs, and mashing them with a dab of non-fat Fage Greek yogurt to make a creamy, yet flavorful, dinner side.

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Meredith…I live with a man who would choose to the eat simple carbs for each meal (if I let him). We’re big pasta fans in our household, but with a wedding on the horizon and the need to be healthier, we have found a perfect alternative to white pasta: Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta from Trader Joe’s. This pasta has no “bad carbs” and instead has a blend of 20% organic quinoa flour and 80% organic brown rice flour—so we still get our pasta fix without the sugar-rush that comes with a simple carbohydrate. This pasta can be used for an easy weeknight meal—top with marinara sauce or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and you’re ready to go! For a quick protein addition, sauté chicken or shrimp and serve on top.

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If you have a favorite carb, let us know what it is and how you like to prepare it.