Sunday, November 30, 2008

Give a Gift Basket

One of my favorite holiday presents to give is a Gift Basket. I give at least one, if not more each year at Christmas time. The great thing about gift baskets is that you can personalize them to match the recipient. The one I have given the most often is a Wine basket and I am making one up this year to give to a friend.

Gift baskets can be fairly inexpensive to make, but beautiful when done right. I did a search today for Wine Gift Baskets on Google and what I found were baskets varying in price from $29.00 to over $200.00. You can bet that my basket did not cost $200.00, but it sure will look expensive.

Let's take a look at my basket. I spent $4.00 on the basket at Wal-mart, $1.00 on the shredded tissue paper at The Dollar Tree, $2.00 on the wine glasses from The Pottery Barn, and $9.00 on the wine at Wal-mart. The wine I bought was from a local winery and very good. In addition, I added a romantic movie from Wal-mart's $5.00 bin (can you tell I love Wal-mart) and added some chocolates to finish it out. I'm not sure of the price of those because I already had them at home. Once everything is arranged in the basket, I put it in a gift basket bag that I got at The Dollar Tree for $1.00 and I'm finished. Total cost $22.00, plus whatever the chocolates cost. Oh, and I usually buy a big bow to put on it from the Dollar General Store for a dollar or two.

Once it's put together, it is beautiful. I'd love to show you a photo, but I haven't assembled it yet. The only room in the house I have to store my gifts is a room that is closed off from from the heat and I don't want a frozen bottle of wine.

As I said, you can personalize your basket in any way. I've seen baskets for a car buff that is in a bucket with all kinds of car wash soap and waxes, keychains, anything for a car. Then, there's one that I did for a friend's birthday that was a big bowl filled with popcorn, cheese flavored salt, and a DVD. If you have someone who is hard to buy for, I guarantee there is a themed basket out there for them. The sky is the limit when it comes to making a Gift Basket.

Need some ideas? Just do a Google search and see what you come up with.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgivng and Deviled Eggs

I want to take this early opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. After the holiday is over, I should get back to my regular posts. I ran into a roadblock during Novel Writing Month and didn't get as far as I hoped, but I am still at it. More on that roadblock to come later, hopefully.

Today, I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my husband and myself. He has to work the whole four-day Thanksgiving holiday and I have two family dinners to attend on Thursday, so we decided to celebrate the holiday today. As with every Thanksgiving, I have a full day of cooking and baking ahead of me, so I have a preparation hint for you today if you are going to make Deviled Eggs. Almost everyone has Deviled Eggs for their holiday meals.

To help make cleanup easier when making Deviled Eggs, put the cooked egg yolks in a zipper bag. Seal tight and mash the yolks until they are all broken up. Add the remainder of your ingredients to the bag and reseal. Mash some more (kids love to help do this) to mix the ingredients. When thoroughly mixed, cut the tip off of one corner of the bag and squeeze the egg mixture into the eggs white halves. If you have cake decorating tips, you can use those also to make it fancy. Once you're finished, just throw the bag away for an easy cleanup.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and don't eat too much.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Chocolate Lovers Dream

Chocolate cake in 3 minutes? That could be a dangerous thing, but it's true. It's a mini chocolate cake microwaved in a coffee cup and it really works. I fixed one a few nights ago and it wasn't bad. Even though I like chocolate, it was a little too much chocolate flavor for me. I think the next time I prepare it, I will cut back on the cocoa a little. So, this recipe is for all of you chocolate lovers out there.



1 Coffee Mug (microwave safe)
4 tablespoons flour (that's plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons
chocolate chips (optional) mini chips would be the best
1/2 t. vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Stir in the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and oil and mix well. Finally, add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Busy month

This is a busy month for me. Besides preparing for Thanksgiving in a few weeks, I always participate in the National Novel Writing Month every November. Unfortunately, my posts may be sporadic this month. For today, I will give you a couple more kitchen hints. These are about bananas.

Peel a banana from the bottom instead of the top and you won't have to pick the stringy parts off. If you leave bananas connected when you bring them home from the store, they will ripen faster.