A Few Gift Ideas


1. Something homemade: Toasted Muesli

Since discovering toasted muesli this past summer, I can’t get enough of it — seriously, we make double batches of it twice a week. Its virtues are countless — healthy, whole grain, full of fiber, gluten free, easy to make, delicious, delicious, delicious — and I can’t introduce enough people to it.

If you are interested in printing these labels at home, these are the two sets of Avery stickers I ordered:

Circular: Avery, 2.5″ diameter, White
Rectangular: Avery, 3″x3.75″, Ivory

Here are the label files to download:

off white
blue & off white

Two other foods I love giving as gifts this time of year are rosemary shortbread and orange and ricotta pound cake. This pinboard has more ideas, too.

filling the jars

big jar muesli

top of jar

2. The Baking Steel
Baking Steel

Many of you know that I love my Baking Steel and contribute every month over on the Baking Steel blog, and so I will keep this brief. In sum, I believe that to start making really good pizza at home, you need three things:

1. The Baking Steel, discussed in more depth here.

2. The Jim Lahey pizza dough recipe (or his book: My Pizza). Once you make the Lahey dough, which is a bit wet and sticky, a few times, working with it becomes second nature. No pizza dough comes together faster — it takes five minutes to mix up — and while it does require a long, slow rise, the timing is quite forgiving. I have baked the pizza anywhere from 10 hours to 18 hours after mixing.

3. Tipo 00 flour.

Made on the Steel: Margherita Pizza, Za’atar Flatbread, Arugula & Prosciutto, Apple Galette, Summer Squash & Ricotta, Grapes & Rosemary:
baking steel pizzas

I love my Baking Steel storage sleeve, too:

And this cherry chunk cutting board:
jk adams cherry chunk cutting board

And this flour:
tipo 00 flour

3. Barney Butter

Barney Butter

Before my children started attending school a few days a week, they obtained 95% (or something like that) of their calories from peanut butter. Peanut butter, of course, is a no-no at school, and unfortunately other nut butters just don’t cut it for them.

Last week while visiting my sister, who has a son with a peanut allergy, I learned about Barney Butter, an almond butter that magically looks and tastes like peanut butter and, most importantly, fools the little beings I am packing lunches for. Moreover, it is made in a peanut-free facility, which means the children are allowed to bring it to school.

Now, what sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients are packed into Barney Butter to make it spread and taste so deliciously? Mostly good things: dry roasted almonds, evaporated cane juice (sugar, I know, but that I can handle), palm fruit oil (not to be confused with palm kernel oil), sea salt. I found Barney Butter at my local grocery store, but you can order it online as well.

toast with Barney Butter

4. Pie Box or Cake Box or anything from Food52’s Provisions

I love my pie box. With or without a pie in it, I just like staring at it, and I think it makes such a fun gift.

You can buy the PieBox and CakeBox in various places, but you might have fun poking around Provisions, the kitchen and home shop created by the beautiful food website, Food52. Santa, I would like one of everything but especially one of these.


5. Boxwood Linen Bib Apron
Canal House Cooks Everyday, Aprons

If you own Canal House Cooks Every Day, you may have unknowingly read about Boxwood Linen aprons on page 180 and coveted one ever since. For the cook who has everything, one of these beauties might be a nice addition to his/her kitchen.

6. Vanilla Bean Paste

The same friend who introduced me to the Negroni this past summer also introduced me to this vanilla bean paste, something she had read about in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. What can I say, she has impeccable taste. Vanilla bean paste behaves like a vanilla bean, scattering seeds throughout whatever batter it is mixed into, and imparts a wonderful flavor, too.

6. Lifefactory Bottle

I still absolutely love my Lifefactory glass bottle. I have been sipping tea in it all fall.

7. For the Do-it-yourselfer: A Cheese-Making Kit
cheese kit

I have had this cheese-making kit in my fridge for about a month now, and I cannot wait to get started on making mozzarella, burrata — yes, burrata! — monterey jack, feta, chèvre, cultured butter, and so much more. I will be sure to report back when I do. Perhaps you might want to order one, too? And we could exchange notes?

8. Julia Child Notecards/Holiday Cards

As always, the Julia Child Cards (now available for sale individually) and the Julia Child Holiday Cards (this one and this one) are for sale here.

Julia Child Cards

9. Pearl Sugar, Parchment Paper and a Few Other Things:

pearl sugar

Just a few things I love: IndriVanilla Beans, Temecula Olive Oil, Lake Champlain Chocolates cocoa and chocolate, Alfetra Pasta, Fair Trade treats, peelers, parchment paper sold in sheets, pearl sugar, Catamount Flameware measuring cup.

Parchment Paper:
parchment paper

10. Your Favorite Tea Towels Repurposed:

tea towels

You know those 79 cent Ikea tea towels everyone loves so much? With a few simple stitches, they can be transformed into countless things: napkins, coasters, placemats, bread bags, wine sleeves, to name a few.


wine sleeve

Sometimes Anthropologie has fantastic sales on their linens:
blueberry bag

bag with bread

11. Vintage Pyrex Bowls and SAF & Red Star Yeast




So, this fall I picked up a Pyrex #441 bowl at a nearby flea market. It soon became my favorite bowl to bake the peasant bread in — the perfectly round shape of the bowl creates a beautiful round loaf. The more I researched the bowl, I discovered it belonged to a set of four nesting bowls (also called Cinderella bowls, specifically the Pyrex #441, #442, #443, #444), which I found for sale/auction on Ebay. I absolutely love the set in general, but I love most of all that I can bake the whole batch of peasant bread in the second largest bowl (#443) and half of the batch in the smallest bowl (#441). The set runs anywhere from $35 to $50 or higher depending on the pattern of the Pyrex.

I have two extra #441 bowls that I would like to give to two of you along with bulk packages of my favorite yeast: Red Star Active Dry and SAF Instant. I have used both of these yeasts for ages, but yesterday I contacted Red Star Yeast to get a little more information on when it’s best to use one or the other. In our brief email exchange, I learned that instant and active dry yeast can be use interchangeably, but that instant yeast is not recommended for refrigerated doughs that would be kept longer than 48 hours. Red Star also recommends using active dry yeast when baking gluten-free doughs, however, many people have had success using both active dry and instant yeast. More information can be found on their website.

Also, you can buy both SAF instant yeast and Red Star active dry yeast in bulk from Amazon. After you open the pouches, transfer yeast to airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer, where they will last forever.

So, if you are interested in this little giveaway, leave a comment. Tell me your favorite holiday movie. We watched Love Actually the second Thanksgiving was over.

Update: The Giveaway is now closed. Alex and Prashanti are the winners.

blue pyrex

A few more ideas can be found on last year’s gift guide. And this pinboard, dedicated to homemade food-related gifts, might be helpful, too. Happy cooking and shopping, Everyone!


  1. Stephanie says

    If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Miracle on 34th Street, but I love so many! Thanks for the nifty giveaway!

  2. megan says

    my favourite holiday movie is really not a movie, but what i call the “funny paper rudolph.” it’s just the 1964 Rudolph that they air every year on television, but it’s hands down my favourite.
    thanks so much for this giveaway. your peasant bread (in our house, it’s “mama bread”) is a daily staple in our house. we love it, and my son will talk with anyone who will listen about mama bread. i also have a bit of a thing for pyrex, and i can’t find either the SAF or red star yeasts here in BC (nor will amazon deliver them to me) so this is perfect! happy holidays to you!

  3. Nicole says

    We have a family tradition to watch Charlie Brown Christmas and Love Actually before Christmas is out. Happy memories!

  4. says

    Since I got married, the holiday movie we watch every year, without fail, is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. His family has a tradition of watching the movie on Christmas Eve, so I’ve gladly joined in on the fun.

    Thanks for another wonderful giveaway!

  5. Valerie says

    Our new Christmas movie favorite is “ELF”. It’s family friendly and I just can’t help but laugh and repeat all of Buddy’s weird sayings. Smiling is my favorite!!

  6. Lindsay T says

    I love me some Pyrex, and I don’t yet have any of the Cinderella bowls. I’d love to give one of them a new home. :)

  7. Erin says

    different movies for different days – miracle on 34th and alistair sims 1930s version of a christmas carol with my mom, christmas vacation with my dad, love actually when wrapping presents, and christmas story and its a wonderful life early and often! love your blog! thank you for the great recipes all year!

  8. Maureen Foster says

    A Christmas Story and Love Actually are our two favorite Christmas shows.
    I made your thyme dinner rolls for Thanskgiving……wonderful. Looking forward to making them again soon!
    Thanks for your wonderful blog and a great give-away!

  9. says

    My kids have Rudolph on endless repeat- the old 60s animated version. The Christmas Story will forever be my favorite! Thanks for some beautiful ideas!

  10. says

    Watching “Santa and the Three Bears” is one of my family’s holiday traditions – it’s an old, old, old cartoon about two cubs who learn about Santa from a park ranger, and mama bear is frustrated that it’s now weeks past their bedtime. It’s quite goofy actually, and we don’t so much watch it as nap during it. Something about it just puts us all into a deep winter slumber after setting up the tree :)

  11. Kate says

    I have two favorite holiday movies. The first one, “White Christmas,” is deeply sentimental, as my mom and I always make a point to watch it together every Christmas – a tradition that’s been going strong for as long as I can remember! The second one, “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, is just contemporary, cheesy goodness.

    Also, I made your thyme dinner rolls for Thanksgiving and they were an unqualified hit. Can’t wait to make them again soon!

  12. Leah says

    The Grinch that stole Christmas – hands down. The old version, not any of the new versions :) Thanks for the gift ideas – perfect timing!

  13. Bates says

    Ali! Our au pair is from Sweden and she has been telling us about pearled sugar. She found some here in Abu Dhabi from another Swedish family and made cinnamon rolls – instead of icing pearled sugar is the topping. So tasty!

  14. Ashley says

    Great roundup of gifts. My fav holiday movie is A Christmas Story :) but I love White Christmas and The Santa Clause

  15. June Bails says

    Thanks for the great gift ideas. My favorite holiday movie is “Holiday Inn.” It has wonderful Irving Berlin songs, including “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade.” (This movie came before both of those.) it has a love story. And it has Bing Crosby singing and Fred Astaire dancing. I love it.

  16. Christine says

    A Christmas Story -mostly because my #3 son looks just like Ralphie. And The Santa Clause trilogy because I love the concept. And Home Alone, because the whole family watches and laughs every year. And the original 1/2 hr, animated, How the Grich Stole Christmas, because it is perfection in Christmas film. Hmmm. I forsee a ‘leaving the house’ issue arising soon….

  17. Christy says

    I am crazy, but I love Elf to watch with the kids and a Christmas Story, not to watch with the kids… If I am by myself, Its a wonderful life! Thanks for the amazing blog and recipes!!! Merry Christmas!

  18. Joan says

    My go-to, all time favorite bread recipe is your peasant bread – perfect every time and oh-so-easy! I would love a vintage pyrex bowl in which to bake it!

    My favorite holiday movie, a short film, not a full length movie, is the Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It is an acurate depiction of the wonderful book set to music. It is the first film we watch every year and also the last. My kids still love it, too, and they are now 24 and 27!

  19. Della Kurtz says

    I’m with June , love Holiday Inn.
    Just discovered your blog this fall and am having a great time with your recipes! Thanks so much :-)

  20. Jackie says

    My favorites would be “White Christmas” or “Holiday Inn” and I’ll add “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV special! Plus I love your peasant bread! It’s so good right out of the oven!

  21. says

    The past two years we’ve LOVED watching ‘Heloise at Christmas Time’ on the Hallmark channel. And I LOVE your bowls to cook that gorgeous bread in. Looks beautiful and I can taste it through the computer.

  22. Betsey says

    My husband is a sucker for “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We all groan and tease him about it (“Not AGAIN!?”), but do end up watching it as a family. “Love Actually” is more my style.

    How do I access your label templates? They are perfect.

  23. Dana says

    Without doubt, my favorite holiday movie is National Lampoon Christmas Vacation. Not only do keel over laughing, I quote it all year long, and best of all it brings back memories of watching it with my father. He laughed hysterically at the movie and it’s one of my favorite memories with him. His laugh is fondly remembered now that he isn’t with us any longer.

  24. Liz says

    Great post.Love your cards and always give them as gifts. Love the cherry cutting board too–my new favorite wedding present. A great holiday film–well, not holiday in spirit, very dark indeed, is “Un Conte de Noel,” but provocative.

  25. Kathleen says

    Thank you for your list!! I now have Christmas ideas for my co-workers and added a few more wish list items to my list :). My sisters and I always get together to watch Love Actually and we watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve on repeat with my Daddy!

  26. Teresa says

    I don’t know if it’s fully a Christmas movie…but when we get out of classes for winter break, my sisters and I power through the Harry Potter films while shamelessly consuming baked goods! The double chocolate cake is a favorite :)

  27. Elizabeth says

    I thought I didn’t have a favorite Christmas movie – but at the mention of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, above, I broke into a smile. That’s a classic for me! And, I’d love to try baking your peasant bread in one of these bowls.

  28. --anu says

    The only one we have watched as a family more than once is Love Actually. I guess not growing up in America (I have lived here for 12 years) makes for different tradidions. I guess we are not movie people :)

  29. Anne says

    To be perfectly honest, I dread the holidays and try my best avoid anything that reminds me of them. But at some point, I do watch A Christmas Story.

    Your gift suggestions are great, and I also appreciate the link to your Homemade Gifts for Foodies pin board. I’ll be making most of our gifts again this year and am always looking for new ideas. Thanks!

    • says

      Heather, it’s from Anthropologie, but I got it on clearance earlier this fall. You might be able to call and ask if they have any in stock. They were selling them in those blue cartons that you see berries piled in at farmers’ markets (and the grocery store for that matter :)), so it kind of looked like a carton of fruit if you can picture it. Really cute.

  30. Dianne Reamy says

    My favorite holiday movie is While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock. Ashley Bartlett Bacon still makes me laugh every time.

  31. Krys says

    Home Alone! And, of course, It’s a Wonderful Life. As kids my sister and I avoided It’s a Wonderful Life for years due to us assuming it was old and boring because it was in black and white, but one year we watched it because there was nothing else on (remember that feeling in the pre-internet / DVR / DVD / VHS days?) and we loved it. Go figure.

    Those Julia Child cards are fantastic, btw.

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  33. alex says

    thanks for the great ideas! my favorite holiday movie is elf, but love actually is definitely up there among the best too :)

  34. Cheri K. says

    I would love to have that Pyrex bowl! My favorite Christmas movie is Family Stone, the perfect mixture of laughing and crying.

  35. Natalie J Vandenberghe says

    My favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life”
    Those Pyrex bowls are beautiful!
    Hope you enjoy a blessed holiday season.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  36. Lisa Kus says

    Have to chime in on “it’s a wonderful life.” – the scene where they’re so close to each other on the phone with Sam Wainright – sooo romantic!

  37. Tiff says

    Just made your bread recipe and it turned out really well….having the perfect Pyrex would be great! I’m unashamed to say my favorite holiday movie is Home Alone.

  38. Marcie says

    Elf and White Christmas like many others – and those bowls are the best! My mom has them in pea green – totally early 70s!

  39. Laurie says

    I am truly suspicious, duckie, that we are somehow related….last night I was being sad because I was tired and had to go back to work today after the weekend and my darling husband propped me up on the couch with a treat, a drink and Love Actually in the DVD player….the holiday movie that can ALWAYS cheer me! A tradition in our house for as long as we’ve been married! Hey missy, what blood type are you??

      • says

        Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer if for nothing else than Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Man.

        Granted, I also count Die Hard as a Christmas movie.

        It looks like I will forevermore be scouring all second hand stores for vintage Pyrex, which really just makes sense since I’m already hunting All-Clad pans.

        Your blog is best.


  40. Laurie says

    I would say ‘don’t you love the part where they’ except it would be the whole movie….but don’t you love the part where Mark is walking away after telling Juliet that he’s in love with her and he says “enough, enough now”? Gets me everytime! sigh…I love this movie so much and now I want to watch it again! Maybe with a Negroni! lol!

    • says

      Yes yes yes, I do love that part. It’s so heart breaking. The whole movie gets me! I find myself crying at nearly every scene. And omg, if I had a Negroni in hand, forget it…I would need a case of tissues to make it through the movie. Though, I think that’s a brilliant idea :)

  41. Deirdre says

    I am slightly embarrassed to say that my favorite is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but only because it is a family tradition. While You Were Sleeping is a close second. I tried your peasant bread last week and loved it! I will be making it again!

  42. Prashanti says

    I seriously had to think hard about this since I barely can get through a movie nowadays (I just fall asleep) since having kids 3 years ago. Its pathetic I know, but I hope once they get a bit older we can watch things together – I have such great memories of watching Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer at every single Christmas growing up. But I digress, my favorite holiday movies are Miracle on 34th street and Sound of Music (not sure if thats really a Christmas movie, but always pops up during the holidays :-).
    LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog (always admire your efficiency and how you cook all the stuff you do with 3 kids). Hope you are having a wonderful December :-)

  43. Nicole Mathuin says

    I am loving your website! My favorite holiday movie is Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather”. My husband and I watch it on Christmas Eve while we eat takeout–a tradition we’ve had since we were dating. :)

  44. Genene says

    It’s an old “made for tv” movie but I love it…. One Magic Christmas… with Mary Steenburgen. I’m not sure why that one touches me so but it does.

    I can hardly wait to try the peasant bread. What a brilliant blog you have here. Thank you for sharing your love of food, etc.

  45. F Kane says

    My favorite Christmas movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

    I love your blog ~ it inspires me to get into the kitchen and cook! I’ve made your Peasant Bread which was such a joy to make and so delicious. I baked it in a flat-bottomed Pyrex glass dish which gave it a bit of an odd shape but still tasty. It would be great to win the Pyrex bowl for future Peasant Breads as there will definitely be many more in my future! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  46. BrendaG says

    What a treat! I just found your blog today from a friends FB post and made your bread in a bowl! I used 1/2 the dough for a homemade pizza crust and we just finished it. The crust is crunchy and delicious.

    My favorite holiday movie is a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie that made me cry called “Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle”. What a great story. It’s on again on the Hallmark Channel on Christmas Eve at 12pm if you want to check it out! Hoping to win a pyrex bowl for my new bread in a bowl recipe! Thanks.

  47. says

    Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer if for nothing else than Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Man.

    Granted, I also count Die Hard as a Christmas movie.

    It looks like I will forevermore be scouring all second hand stores for vintage Pyrex, which really just makes sense since I’m already hunting All-Clad pans.

    Your blog is best.


  48. says

    I love the idea of toasted muesli, thread bags made from ikea towels….and where did you get the vanilla bean paste??? I think it is the same paste that was used to make that chocolate cake I was talking about after school..right?

    Happy Holidays Ali!!!

    Warm Wishes,

  49. Kay Kelsch says

    I just found your recipe for Peasant bread yesterday and flew to the kitchen to make some. I made two loaves and they were fabulous! The few slices that were left this morning were soft and delicious …..ate them for breakfast. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Heading to the kitchen to make more. We ♥ it!

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