Well that Christmas season is upon us, and as much as the season is not supposed to be about the gifts – we all know that for one (or two) people on our lists – it is about the gift. So what do you give that person you see once or twice a year but that expects a gift? My kids would say “A lump of coal!” but as an adult you can’t just unload a hunk of coal on someone and be done with it …. so besides the ho-hum bottle of wine or box of chocolates – the token gifts we like to give are close to my heart – local & thoughtful. As many of you already know I am a huge supporter of the local economy, so for me to direct you to Wal-Mart or another box store for the $20 – gonna-be-a-garage-sale item candle holder would be sacrilege. Instead I direct you to my Top 5 list of gifts under $20.
Joy’s Top 5
One – Apple Cider
With the number of people these days, dieting, not drinking (alcohol) and the danger of Drinking & Driving – I present you with local apple cider – There is nothing better than a locally made fresh apple cider. Serve it ice cold or hot mulled with spices and a cinnamon stick you can’t go wrong!
Two – Canned Yummies
Pictured here are a couple of my sauces that I sell – a Tasty BBQ Dipping Sauce and a Pasta sauce, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to natural preserves! Whether it be jams, jellies, sauces or pickles, pick up a few from your local vendors (you can find them at craft sales!) and make up a basket of yummy.
Three – Local Artisans
Not that hair clips are the thing for everyone, I am using this as a simple example of local talent that you can find in your home town. Don’t know where to start? Check out Facebook or a listing of local vendors & artisans like The Hot Pink Apron.
Loads of stuff out there from flower arrangements to hand turned bowls and pens and everything in between.
Four – Homemade Something Scrumptious
Ok, so I realize I may (or may not) have one up on some of you in that I cook and enjoy it – however there are loads of easy-as-1-2-3 recipes for yummy appy’s that you can bring. It doesn’t have to be a dip – a homemade loaf of holiday bread, muffins, cookies or Caramel Corn (from Crazy Corn) in a tin makes a lovely gift!
Five – A Gadget (or something thoughtful)
This last category may have you thinking I’m sending you running to your local box store – but stop! Wait is there a local independent out there looking for your business? Something that your hosts don¸t have but could (and would) use? These kitchen misters (are used with EVOO or your choice of oil) and air to coat your pans when cooking sticky items without subjecting your self (or your family) to all the chemicals that I can’t pronounce on those aerosol cooking sprays) can be found at my local gourmet butcher shop – Lots of times these guys are the ones you will find the best “OMG thats so cool!” items at!
That’s it – that’s my top 5 list!
One other item that I didn’t mention but is equally as valuable is the gift of helping others. Make a donation in your host’s name to your favorite (or theirs) charity many of these organizations will give you a card of thanks to present to the person you were donating on behalf of.
So that’s it – o wait – you all wanted the recipe for my easy-peasy hot dip above …. riiiigghhht.
OK here it goes!
In a blender or food processor or mixer – mix – 1 300g container of creamy ricotta (whey) cheese, 1 egg (beaten), 6 dashes hot sauce, some minced garlic (maybe a 1/2 tsp or a clove), and 1/4 c mozzarella cheese. Blend until smooth.
Pour into an oven safe dish. Top with my Joy of BBQ dipping sauce (or if you don’t have any on hand – your favorite sweet with heat heavy-on-the-molasses sauce) and bake for about 60 min. Remove from oven and serve with flatbread and a glass of wine :). YUM-O
stay tuned next post will be a tasty holiday (or in my house a whenever Mommy will make them appetizer sure to please!)
From my kitchen to yours – happy & healthy eating!