Tag Archives: Snack food

My Top 5 Gifts under $20 -Local! & Holiday Recipe

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

Local Apple Cider

Geissberger Farmhouse 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

Joy In Your Kitchen canned sauces, http://mealsfromjoyskitchen.com

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

Hair Clips from the Tattooed Tutu shown

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 

Holiday Dip (Recipe Below)

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)

A thoughtful Gadget can mean a lot!

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!

Holiday Dip

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!


Schools, lunches, snacks and more – whats wrong with this picture?

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Dana a fellow blogger from My Hot Pink Apron  and we got to chatting about the school systems and lack of attention to the right kind of nutrition information being presented to our children.    Now I understand that kids have peanut allergies and most schools have adopted a no nuts mandate but come on – since when should the fact that an item has a “no peanuts” symbol constitute a “good” snack.

Of course a lot of this can be dictated by the teachers and school staff and of course lead by example at home BUT, like society in general a matter of convenience has been inflicted on us parents – especially ones that do try to eat healthy, whole foods.     The message that the kids are getting (even in a household like mine that promotes healthy eating) and that is being enforced by teachers and school staff  alike is that if its nut free its ok to take to school – therefore must be a good snack/lunch choice.

Case in point,  my daughter was in JK last year – her teacher had a rule of no (items that spill) in the classroom – which is fine,  however, they also want items that the kids can eat quickly, bring their garbage home with them (don’t even get me started on the excess garbage we go thru because everything has to be individually wrapped with the no peanuts symbol),  and the kids can open without help.  Still ok and easy – ya right!  – for a week or month or two – then the kids boredom with a granola bar (never mind its frowned upon to send “homemade” items as the school wants to see the no peanut symbol) – and a fruit with water. Veggies and Dip are out – dip spills, as does hummas, yoghurt, yogurt tubes, applesauce etc.

My daughter who loves to grocery shop with me –  we were shopping for something new for her to take in her lunches – and she picked up a bag of “Fudge-o” cookies and insisted that she could have them because “Look Mommy – it has the no peanut symbol on it!”  …. this coming from the little girl that knows that too much juice is not a good thing – “Too much sugar – right Mom”  and that junk food is a treat “Oh Mommy I think my tummy hurt/arm hurts/head hurt whatever) because of all that “junk” I ate earlier/yesterday etc….”   and likes sandwiches with “just salad (lettuce), tomato and meat”.   Neither of my kids will touch white bread as they’ve only grown up on rye or pumpernickel.

What is wrong here?   Why is it so difficult to access good information – why isn’t there a “nutrition & our youth”  portion of the school curriculum?  money? time?  resources?    Myself – I’d love to be invited to my daughter or son’s class room to do some one on one experiment with the kids  – how much sugar is there in a cup of juice?  a can of pop?  chocolate milk?     So why is it so difficult to gain a platform to speak to the kids in a school setting?  How about a after school or evening workshop for parents – How to make 15 easy interchangeable lunches & snacks?  hmmmm?

In these days of convenience and time/resource restrictions and social economic pressure – shouldn’t we be encouraging our youth to enlist their parents in buying from local farmers, and supporting local business and creating good snacks from whole food and especially in the very young – instill good eating habits and choices to help our youth educate themselves and grow into confident young adults ready to make their own choices.

So I leave you with this question – what are you putting in your kids lunches this September?

I love to hear your comments/suggestions- please feel free to leave a reply!

Like this post – check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – can’t wait for it to start again for a new season!