Holiday Gift Guide 2016 | Garlic, My Soul

Happy Holidays, everyone! If you’re like me, you might have waited until now until gifts, but lucky you did, because I’ve got some suggestions for you that will make anyone in your life who loves cooking happy.

1. Spice Subscription to Raw Spice Bar OK, OK. I included this last year and I’m including it again. You get spice kits with a regional theme once a month, for $7/month. I asked for this for the holidays last year and really enjoyed getting it every month and trying new recipes from different regions of the world. And, for someone like me who likes to cook but also has tried and true recipes, this was better than say, Blue Apron or another meal service.

2. Prep Bowls – I love bowls of all sizes. I have so many prep bowls I am kind of running out of room. But they’re great for everything – chopping up all your veggies before starting a complicated recipe (or just one with a lot of veggies, like stir fry), good for pizza nights when we want to put out all our toppings, good for photos when trying to photograph the process of a recipe…the list goes on. Good for parties when you’re serving a bunch of dips. You get the idea. These glass ones are classic, but I also have a bunch of colored ones that are mini Bakers Bowls (see below!)

3. Bee’s Wrap – I want this stuff – it’s my new yearly obsession. It’s a wrap that replaces plastic wrap and the like that is made of organic cotton and bees wax. Plus, they’re reusable for up to a year. As a house that goes through a lot of plastic wrap, and tinfoil, this is definitely something I want to bring into my repertoire in 2017 to have a more sustainable kitchen.

4. Sourdough Starter – I got this for my wedding, and it is awesome. I MAY have killed my starter and now need to start again, but I find bread fascinating and challenging and getting sourdough starter is like committing to a pet – you have to keep it fed and alive. It’s a great step for any cook looking to kick it up a notch.

5. Cooking for Jeffrey, Ina Garten – Jeffrey is Ina’s husband, and besides the name (OK I am bias) I generally love all of Ina’s books. The steps are easy to follow, the recipes simple, and the results vary from good to the best. I love to pull her recipes out once in a while to impress friends, or remind myself of “home.” I can’t wait to get my hands on this latest one.

6. Travel Cake Carrier – This is the cake carrier I have for leaving the house. It comes with cupcake/muffin holders, too, and can pop from one layer to two quickly, depending on how many cupcakes or how tall a cake you have. I’ve had it 5 years running, and I use it regularly. If you know someone who often gets tasked with bring the dessert, they might need this ASAP.

7. Baker Bowls –  I feel like I have talked about this with you guys before, but a long while ago someone told me about Parker Bowls. These were 5 nesting bowls that were beautiful and colorful and made in Portugal. I had some and tried to gift them whenever I could. They disappeared from Crate & Barrel for some years, and I was desperate to find new ones – but then Crate & Barrel started carrying them again with a different name (but same great look.) They come in mini size, too, and I use those ones for prep all the time!

8. Bench Knife – I love my bench knife. I use it to cut dough, cut brownies, flatbread, and to get all the crumbles and flour off the counter. It’s a great tool for anyone in your life that loves baking (or is just OCD about a clean kitchen!)

9. Air Popper – Popcorn is eaten in my house probably three or four times a week. And we use this air popper we’ve had forever. You can leave it without butter and salt (or try sugar or other spiced toppings!) but it is easy and a great snack (better with butter, unless your dieting…you get it.) I don’t trust microwave popcorn one bit (all those chemicals, etc.) and this is a great and easy way to make it without using the stovetop (and all the oil/butter that comes with that!)

10. Colanders of all sizes – I have several large and several small colanders. I use the little ones for berries and fruit rinsing. I use the big ones for pasta. I use the mesh ones for rice rinsing. I love using the pretty ones to serve fruit directly – no bowl needed! Everyone could use a colorful colander – you can even use them as a fruit bowl (built in ventilation!)

So there’s your list – 10 great kitchen tools for your people .(Psst – for even more ideas, check out the 2015 and 2014 Guides. They are different and equally as useful!) What else do you want for your kitchens?

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

Today’s breakfast in bed recipe comes with a fascinating back story for a brand new hotel by Joie de Vivre. 50 Bowery in Manhattan is a new hotel with an old soul; built on ground that’s held a beer garden, a vaudeville theater, and a Chinese restaurant, this hotel is on a crossroads of cultures on the lower east side.

A place where Chinatown meets Little Italy meets Tribeca, this part of the city is steeped in history, and the new hotel will bring a new chapter to this land. Though the hotel brings Chinatown’s culture to its design, it’s also crisscrossed with modern touches that will pull from all of New York’s communities, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of the city.

Breakfast in Bed | Garlic, My Soul

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

To that end, this recipe reflects the history of a traditional Chinese breakfast. Congee is a rice porridge made by simmering broth and rice for some time; the more time you have, the more you can take, but I think 45 minutes makes a great porridge that’s thick, creamy, and filling. Top with your favorite ingredients – I prefer to mix in freshly grated ginger and green onions, with a dash of sesame oil – the oil really takes it to the next level. Add some protein with a hard boiled egg, with a side of piping hot cup of green tea and some antioxidant-heavy fruits, this breakfast is sure to energize you as you head off to a day of meetings or urban exploration.

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

For the entire recipe, head over to the JDV Blog, Joyride, here!

Chocolate Pixie Cookies | Garlic, My Soul

This time of year is synonymous in my life with cookies of all kinds. When we were little, we’d help my mom make a bunch of cookies for teachers, neighbors, family, etc. The ones above MIGHT be my fave (Chocolate Pixies) but here’s what else we made on the regular:

Anginettes Cookies | Garlic, My Soul

These were what I wanted to bring to the Cultural Fair in grade school – Anginette Cookies. They have an orange frosting that’s to die for, and there’s something soothing about frosting a million cookies and then shaking sprinkles on them. I love this spot in the assembly line.

Gingerbread Cookies | Garlic, My Soul

Gingerbread men (or stars, or ninjas, whatever) are up their on my list of favorites. I love the heavily spiced ones, with a piping hot cup of tea. And, speaking of heavily spiced cookies, I will admit these Italian Spice Cookies really grew on me over the years.


As a kid, I just couldn’t understand why anyone would pick these over something more chocolatey – hello, Hershey’s kisses?! But as an adult I think these are my favorite ones. There’s something about a spicy, rich, chewy cookie that is just perfect.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies | Garlic, My Soul

And, of course, my mom also always made chocolate chip cookies. Over the years, I’ve adapted her recipe to use a few other throw-ins, such as these Cranberry Walnut Cookies but the base is the same. There’s something about this memorized cookie recipe that really makes me feel calm – it’s something I always know will end well for me. (Except the time I used salt instead of sugar, but that’s a story for another day…)

Hopefully these cookies will make your holiday parties that much better – I am starting to figure out which few I will make for my party this weekend, and I am wondering if maybe I just make all 5? That’s reasonable, right? (Right?)

Happy December, everyone! We’re glad this final month of the year is here, though we can’t quite believe it’s come so quickly. We’re ready for peppermints hung on trees, wintry nights with cocoa, decking the halls, and some quality family time. We hope you’ll enjoy this calendar as much as we do as we wind down 2016.

December Produce | Garlic, My Soul

December! Time for cookies and soups and stews and all the roasted vegetables your household can handle. I love this time of the year – Christmas lights, cozy evenings with apple cider, parties with great cheese plates & bubbly punch, trips home to squeeze nieces and nephews…it really is a lovely time of the year, don’t you think?

There are so many hardy foods available right now it’s hard to choose the best ones. So much citrus starts popping up in grocery stores that it feels like you can hardly believe your luck – there’s something about sunny produce that really brightens up the dark evenings.

So here’s a small dose of what’s in season:

Blood Oranges
Butternut Squash
Sweet Potatoes

And here is a round up of what dishes are featuring these awesome fruits & veggies:

Blood Orange Bars | Garlic, My Soul

First, if you have an office party or cookie exchange or family party coming up, these Blood Orange Bars are a great alternative to a chocolate item – and you guys know how much I love chocolate. These are a riff on Lemon Bars, and they are just as good and more impressive in color!

Roasted Vegetable & Arugula Salad | Garlic, My Soul

This Roasted Vegetable and Arugula Salad has sweet potatoes AND butternut squash and also beets (use golden if you’re worried about staining) and can be served warm or cold depending on your feeling. Adding a layer of greens technically makes it a salad, but you can even wilt the arugula if you’re feeling feisty.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies | Garlic, My Soul

Again, back to the sweets. I’m sorry you guys, but cold weather makes me want to spend every weekend baking. These Walnut Cranberry Cookies have the same base as a chocolate chip, but you can choose what to add – and cranberries feel so wintery! You probably even have some leftover from Thanksgiving that you were wondering what to do with (no, just me?!)

Chicken Pot Pie | Garlic, My Soul

We are absolutely into hot dinners that we can serve a couple of nights in a row, and this Chicken Pot Pie is the perfect thing to feed an army & feel full and happy. What’s with having to try so hard to feel full these days? I’m guessing it’s the weather but something about a warm dinner with a glass of red wine really warms the heart. This has leeks, and you can add peas, carrots, celery…whatever other veggies you have lying around! Go crazy with those roots lying in your fridge. (Bonus if you have extra herbs from T-gives for this one, too. Again, just me!?)

Vegetarian Chili | Garlic, My Soul

This Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili is another great hearty dish to make on your weekend and have for lunch all week long. Add meat if you feel like it. But the sweet potatoes fill you up without a need for meat, and balance your spices with a sweet undertone. Serve with avo for something really special.

These are just a few of my fave recipes for the beginning of winter – feel free to browse around and tell me which are your favorites for the season. I always love hearing what everyone is cooking this time of year! 02