Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cooking With Envy Apples at the Central Maket Cooking School...Featuring Envy Apple & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal #BiteandBelieve #CookingWithEnvy #AnEnvyAppleADay #centralmarket

Last week, I attended the educational and delicious An Envy Apple a Day cooking class at San Antonio's Central Market Cooking School location. During the two-hour class, we learned how to use versatile Envy™ apples in delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes. We watched a trio of informative, friendly Cooking School chefs create each recipe step-by-step, received lots of handy cooking tips, and then tasted full servings of every recipe cooked. Before this class, I had never heard of Envy apples...but after? I'm a huge fan of this unique and delicious apple...there's a lot to love!

Envyis currently one of the hottest apples on the market. They're a cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala apple varieties. The flavor of Envy™ apples is crispy and sweetly tart, and they hold their shape very nicely when cooked. My favorite feature of the Envy apples is that it has a higher citric -- which prevents the browning enzyme from activating. The end result is that Envy™ apples are VERY slow to brown. This feature makes them ideal for adding to salads, charcuterie boards, and fruit platter...they will look great for hours! An Envy™ apple that was cut in half at the start of my cooking class still looked freshly cut when the class wrapped up 2 hours later. Very impressive! Envy apples are non GMO and grown naturally in Washington State and New Zealand.

As the video shows, Central Market Cooking School chefs prepared an entire day's worth of recipes featuring Envy™ apples. We also learned which white and red wines pair best with sweetly tart, crisp Envyapples! Recipes demonstrated in our cooking class were:
  • Envy Apple & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
  • Envy Apple, Arugula, Fennel & Roasted Walnut Salad
  • Butternut Squash & Envy Apple Soup with Sage
  • Sheet Pan Roasted, Fennel-Crusted Pork Loin with Envy Apples & Onion
  • Roasted Envy Apple & Pear Compote with Candied Ginger
All of the recipes were delicious, but I especially enjoyed the simple-to-make baked oatmeal breakfast recipe. It takes minutes to prep, and it makes a perfect comforting breakfast on chilly mornings!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Memphis Road Trip Part 2: The National Civil Rights Museum, Lunch at Huey's Burgers, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and Afternoon Tea with The Peabody Ducks

If you love good music (and music history), amazing cuisine, and fun times? Then Memphis should definitely be on your list of "must visit" destinations! The Weekend Gourmet team recently took road trip from Texas to Memphis, where we had a blast exploring the city during four action-packed days. Memphis has so much to see and do! Today, I'm sharing our visit to the educational, thought-provoking National Civil Rights Museum; lunch at a longtime favorite Memphis burger joint; a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music; and Afternoon Tea and Duck March at iconic Memphis hotel The Peabody.

We spent an entire morning exploring the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel. Our visited started out somber, knowing that the museum's site is the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Before entering the museum, all visitors walk past its moving permanent memorial to Dr. King, which is located on the balcony where he was shot on April 4, 1968. To say this was an emotionally moving moment is an understatement. 

The National Civil Rights Museum -- a Smithsonian Affiliate -- is very educational and thought-provoking. Visiting the museum is a self-guided experience. The museum's galleries are arranged in chronological order and tell the story of key episodes of the American Civil Rights Movement -- from slavery to 1968. The museum utilizes photographs, television broadcasts, 250+ artifacts, historical film footage, and interactive exhibits to portray iconic moments in the Civil Rights movement to educate visitors. 

One of these permanent exhibits is Standing Up by Sitting Down: Student Sit-Downs 1960. The original lunch counter where the sit-ins actually took place is displayed, along with 3D figures sitting in at the counter -- along with hecklers at their side. To complete the exhibit, a film is projected behind the protesters. The film tells the story of the students' nonviolent direct action training, ensuing protests, and conflicts. Via multi-touch, multi-user interaction, museum visitors engage in boycott stories from across the country. Learning about these protester's courage and determination in the face of resistance was emotional and inspiring!
For us, the most moving exhibit was the final one, King's Last Hours: Rooms 306 and 307. This emotional exhibit allows visitors to look into the two rooms at The Lorraine Motel that Dr. King and his aides stayed in the day of his assassination. Following Dr. King's death, these two rooms were never rented out again. Both rooms have been preserved exactly as they were on the night of Dr. King's assassination. Room 306 was Dr. King's room and shows the bed where he napped, coffee and cigarettes, and a container of milk. 
Knowing that Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of this very was so emotional that I couldn't help tears welling up in my eyes. The National Civil Rights Museum is definitely a must visit for anyone coming to Memphis. The museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 Wednesday thru Sunday (closed on Tuesdays). We spent nearly 4 hours exploring the museum's exhibits, so give yourself plenty of time to read the placards at each display, as well as watch the movies and historical television broadcasts that accompany the exhibits and artifacts. Current admission is $16 for adults, $15 for seniors and students with IDs, $13 for children 5-17, and free admission for active members of the U.S. military and children 4 and younger.

When we left the National Civil Rights Museum, it was time for lunch. We headed to Huey's original Downtown location for some burgers. Huey's is an iconic Memphis burger restaurant! This original location opened in 1970, and Huey's has expanded to nine locations in Tennessee and Mississippi. We loved the fun, casual vibe...and the delicious burgers and hand-breaded onion rings! While we looked over the expansive burger menu, we munched on Cheese Fries with Bacon and Scallions...dipped in their delicious house-made ranch dressing!

My team each picked a different burger to try: Bluff City (smoked cheddar, bacon, onion straws, and BBQ sauce), Senor Huey (with pepper jack), West Coast Turkey (guacamole and jack cheese on a turkey patty), and a Bluez 57
(blue cheese, onion straws, and Heinz 57 sauce). Our burgers were served with fries or huge, crispy onion rings. Everything was cooked perfectly and tasty...we definitely left full and happy.

You probably in the video that Huey's has TONS of with toothpicks embedded in the ceiling...and wondered what the heck is going on! Trying to get a toothpick to stick in the ceiling is a little tradition that Huey's customers -- including us! -- take part in. According to Huey's, there's a trick to ensuring toothpick success: "Get a dry straw and insert a frill pick with the frill closest to your mouth and aim up and BLOW HARD!" Good advice! More good advice is make sure you visit Huey's and try their delicious burgers and sides!

After lunch, we headed to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a must-see destination for any lover of Southern soul music. Stax was founded in 1957 and recorded music from artists that include Booker T. & the MGs, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and the Staples Singer. Current Stax artists include Angie Stone and Melissa Etheridge. Stax Records plays a key role in American music history as one of the country's most popular soul music record labels – second only to Motown in sales and influence. 

The museum tells the entire history of Stax Records and features lots of great exhibits that showcase LP records, instruments, clothing, and other memorabilia from iconic Stax artists.

One of the showcase exhibits at the Stax museum is Isaac Hayes' amazing Cadillac Eldorado. The vehicle was purchased in 1972 as part of Hayes' renegotiated recording deal with Stax. The Cadillac was purchased for $26,000 (that's about $143,000 in current dollars!!). The vehicle has a number of unique, upscale amenities -- including a refrigerated mini-bar, a television, 24-carat gold exterior trim, and plush white fur carpet on the floorboards. 

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Tuesday thru Sunday, and is closed on Monday. We were able to see the entire museum in about 1.5 hours. Before we knew it, it was time to changed into our dress clothes and head to The Peabody Memphis for Afternoon Tea, cocktails, and the iconic afternoon Duck March.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Comfort Food...Featuring Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie #comfortfood #winterfood #savetime

Chilly weather instantly makes me crave warm, comforting meals! I love making a big pot of soup...but sometimes I'm in the mood for a heaty casserole like shepherd's pie. What's not to like about a savory beef and veggie filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes? The problem? Traditional shepherd's pie can take an hour or two to make...not exactly practical for busy weeknight dinners. Today, I'm sharing  a streamlined version of shepherd's pie that has all the comfort you're craving...but is quick enough to whip up any night of the week! 

My Streamlined Weeknight Shepherd's Pie tastes like it's been cooking for hours, but it's ready in about 45 minutes -- most of which is hands-off time! My special surprise? A layer of melty cheese between the layers of mashed potato and beefy filling! To save time, I  use refrigerated, cooked mashed potatoes from the grocery store. as well as pre-chopped onions and celery. You can also use leftover mashed potatoes -- or even good-quality instant mashed potatoes. Since shepherd's pie reminds me a bit of a pot pie, I cooked this recipe in four individual 2-cup ramekins. You can also layer everything in a 2-quart casserole or 9x9 square baker instead.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Weekend Gourmet's Most Popular 2018 Recipe: Smoky Cheesy Broccoli-Cauliflower Rice Soup #bestof2018 #soup #cheesy #bacon

I've got some great new content coming your way later this week -- including the final installment of our 2018 trip to Memphis! First, I want to share The Weekend Gourmet's most popular recipe of 2018. It was a close tally, but the winner is a comforting soup that's perfect for enjoying on chilly Winter evenings. It's ready to eat in about 45 minutes of mostly hands-off cooking time...and it's bursting with tons of great flavors and textures!

My Smoky Cheesy Broccoli-Cauliflower Rice Soup is hearty and comforting -- a true meal in a bowl! It features plenty of healthy veggies...balanced by a generous amount of cheese and *bacon*! I've made this delicious soup at least twice per month since first sharing it here last August. For someone who's always cooking up something new to share in here? That's really saying something! One taste, and I promise you'll understand why it's in heavy dinner rotation here.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Top 10 Best Bites of 2018 #WGTravel #bestbites2018 #culinarytravel

After a fabulous extended holiday in the Houston area visiting our family and friends...and celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary...The Weekend Gourmet is back and ready to take on 2019! However, before officially heading into the new year...I want to take a final look back at 2018! Today, I'm sharing my Top 10 Best Bites 0f 2018: the best food we tasted during our culinary travel adventures last year. From casual to upscale, we sampled a broad range of cuisine...from Texas BBQ to spicy chile-infused food in Santa Fe. A key lesson we learned last year is that smaller cities like Tulsa and Jackson, MS, have very creative chefs and menu items that rival those found in much larger cities. Check out the video...then read on below for details about these fabulous menu items:

The listing below isn't a ranking...because it's impossible to rank these fabulous dishes!
  • Smoked Turkey and Smoked Boudin with Beef Cheek from Bodacious on Mobberly BBQ in Longview, Texas. BBQ is king here in Texas, and we love hitting the road to sample offerings from the pits at our state's best BBQ joints. During a BBQ road trip weekend last Spring, my team was absolutely *blown away* by the moist, flavorful smoked turkey breast and daily special boudin sausage at Bodacious On Mobberly in the East Texas town of Longview! Turkey can be tough if not cooked properly, but Chef Jordan Jackson's turkey was absolute perfection -- generously seasoned outside and remarkably juicy. The rice-based boudin was smoky and spicy, with ample pieces of chopped beef cheek meat added to the mix. This BBQ was worth the nearly 6-hour drive to Longview!
  • OBX Donut Breakfast Sandwich, Duck Donuts (multiple locations nationwide). Duck Donuts is primarily known for its delicious, warm made-to-order personalized donuts. However, they also offer a fabulous sweet-savory OBX Donut Breakfast Sandwich that knocked our socks off! A freshly fried cake donut is cut in half and serves as the sandwich bun...inside is scrambled egg, cheese, and your choice of meat -- we opted for a sausage patty. Then? The sandwich is topped with a drizzle of maple glaze and a sprinkle of chopped bacon. Is your mouth watering yet? This combination of sweet, savory...and smoky was a flavor explosion!
  • The Tavern Burger at The Tavern in Tulsa. There are burgers...and there's The Tavern Burger. This burger is packed with umami and is among the best burgers we've eaten *anywhere*! Every component is delicious -- adding up to a perfect burger. A patty made from a proprietary blend of ground meats is cooked perfectly medium...topped with earthy Stilton cheese, and a creamy Cognac-mushroom sauce. The burger comes to the table on a freshly bake challah bun with a generous serving of The Tavern's signature garlic frites. This is truly burger perfection!
  • Blueberry Cupcake at Muddy's Bake Shop in Memphis. Muddy's is one of the most popular bakeries in Mempis...and for good reason! Owner/Baker Kat Gordon serves homey baked goods that are fun, delicious, and creative. When we visited Muddy's this Summer, we sampled several items from their display case. All were delicious, but the creative Blueberry Cupcake really stood out for us! It features a moist vanilla cupcake filled with homemade blueberry compote. Then? The cupcake is topped with blueberry cream cheese icing, lemon zest sugar, and fresh blueberries. As much as we wanted to inhale this cupcake, we purposely savored every bite's layers of flavor and texture. This is a cupcake all cupcakes should aspire to!
  • Pork Belly Corn Dog at The Pig & Pint in Jackson, MS. I love it when a chef takes a familiar food and transforms it by using new, creative ingredients. When we visited The Pig & Pint en route to Memphis last Summer, their Pork Belly Corn Dog immediately caught our attention! This corn dog features smoked pork belly dipped in a house-made cornmeal batter and fried. It's served with seasonal beer-infused mustard for dipping. If you think a hot dog is good inside of a corn dog? Wait until you taste luscious pork belly. Creative, flavorful, and a bit whimsical too. This take on traditional corn dogs was easily one of the most creative and delicious foods we tasted last year!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Steviva Holiday Keto Blogger Recipe Challenge Contest Entry: Sugar Free Sparkling Cranberry-Lime Mocktail #steviva #sweetandeasy #mocktail #ketofriendly #cheers #cranberrylime

The Christmas season is nearly over...which means it's time to get back to carefully watching our sugar and caloric intake after a few weeks of splurges and indulgences! I'm taking part in the Steviva Holiday Keto Blogger Recipe Challenge Contest...and my submission is in the contest's Beverage category. I used Steviva's KetoseSweet+ liquid sweetener in my sweetly tart, fizzy Sugar Free Sparkling Cranberry-Lime Mocktail. It tastes so great that nobody will suspect that it has no added sugar!

KetoseSweet+ liquid sweetener contains stevia, monk fruit, and allulose — a rare natural sugar found in maple syrup, figs. and raisins. It's a safe, non-caloric, non-glycemic sweetener that has just 5% of the calories of regular sugar. KetoseSweet+ liquid sweetener delivers the sweet taste you love, without affecting blood sugar levels. I know you're thinking, "...but how does it TASTE?!?!?" KetoseSweet+ tastes great -- there's no weird aftertaste or bitterness, and it's safe for those following a keto diet. Best of all? There are 0 calories in each one-tablespoon serving!  I used the KetoseSweet+ liquid sweetener to create a big-flavor cranberry simple syrup that's the base of my mocktail. The sweet-tart cranberry simple syrup is flavored with frozen cranberries, orange peel, rum extract, and just a touch of cinnamon -- and it's a gorgeous magenta color! The recipe makes about 1 cup of simple syrup -- enough to store in the fridge for a day or two worth of these tasty beverages.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Coffee-mate® natural bliss® Five-Ingredient Peppermint Mocha Mousse #peppermint #mocha #mousse #holidaydessert #coffeematerecipe

The last-minute rush to Christmas is officially on -- only a few days left to finish all of your holiday prep! The recipe I'm sharing today is perfect if you need to make a quick, no-bake holiday dessert that can be prepared a day -- or even two -- ahead of time. It's true! My Five-Ingredient Peppermint Mocha Mousse features a secret ingredient...and it's so creamy and decadent that no one will know how incredibly easy it is to make. My secret ingredient? Versatile Coffee-mate® seasonal Dark Chocolate Peppermint natural bliss® coffee creamer! It lends its peppermint mocha flavors and creaminess to this light-as-air mousse. I love using the natural bliss® line of creamers in my coffee and desserts -- they're made with real milk and cream sourced from cows that aren't treated with added growth hormones. Their all-natural, non-GMO Dark Chocolate Peppermint creamer is flavored with cocoa and peppermint extract...and zero hard-to-pronounce additives!

All it takes is five simple ingredients and about 10 minutes to whip up this streamlined mousse. Then, it chills in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, each serving is topped with fluffy whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed peppermint for a fun, festive holiday presentation! This mousse is the perfect dessert for your upcoming Christmas Eve or Christmas Day family meal. The versatile mousse can also be served in small shot glasses for a fun addition to the dessert table at more informal holiday parties. Either way, the mousse is creamy and  delicious...featuring a harmonic blend of chocolate, peppermint, and coffee flavors.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Holiday Coffee Moment with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew Coffee Maker...Featuring Spiced Eggnog Latte #giveaway #coffeemoments #flexbrew #latte #eggnog

Living in a two-person household, I honestly don't need a full-size coffee maker. I prefer to use a single-serve coffee machine so Michael and I can brew whatever coffee variety we're in the mood for each time! That said, I want the flexibility to use single-serve coffee cups...or my favorite gourmet ground coffee. That's precisely why I LOVE using my Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ coffee maker. Its tagline, "Single-serve coffee, brewed your way" is definitelyspot on! This unit can brew popular K-Cup* packs OR your favorite ground coffee...providing the flexibility to successfully facilitate all your coffee moments. Here are some of my favorite key features of the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew™ coffee maker:

Brew an 8-oz. or 10-oz. cup of coffee using any Keurig®* K-Cup pack -- or up to a 14 oz. travel mug using ground coffee. Both a K-Cup pack holder and a coffee grounds basket are included.

The 40 oz. water reservoir can be filled in the sink and allows multiple brews without having to refill. When the water level in the reservoir gets low, a blue water drop flashes on the unit, signaling it is time to refill.

Whether it’s a single-serve K-Cup pack or your favorite fresh ground coffee, just place them in the holder, lower the lid, and press Brew. The FlexBrew™ coffee maker automatically shuts off when brewing is complete.

Choose from 8 oz. or 10 oz. single-serve K-Cup packs, or up to 14 oz. using ground coffee. Use the included adjustable cup rest to fit your favorite mug in just right.

The pack-piercing needle on the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew™ removes for easy cleaning -- which prevents frustrating clogging that can sometimes occur with frequent use.
*NOTE: K-CUP is a registered trademark of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Use of the K-CUP trademark does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.

Whatever your personal seasonal "coffee moment" is, FlexBrew™ ensures it's exactly what you want! The holidays are hectic, so I find that it's important to take time to slow down and savor the holiday moments. That's exactly what Michael and I did one evening last week. We enjoyed the holiday décor in our home, watched a holiday movie on television...and enjoyed mugs of comforting Spiced Eggnog Latte. It's a snap to make thanks to the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew™ -- a perfect little treat for two!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Simple, Festive Double Peppermint Bark Oreos! #holidaygoodies #nobake #oreo

The busy holiday season is in full swing! Between shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking/baking, and entertaining, it sure can get tiring. What if I told you that today I'm sharing a recipe for an EASY, festive, and delicious holiday treat that will save you precious time as Christmas approaches? It's true! My friends at Nabisco are known for their fun limited edition seasonal Oreo® flavors -- and this holiday season is no exception. Their limited edition Peppermint Bark flavor is made for peppermint lovers. The cookie's peppermint creme filling is combined with crunchy sugar crystal that provide a crunchy sensation that peppermint bark lovers crave! These Peppermint Bark Oreos® are definitely delicious straight from the package...but I found a way to up the peppermint bark quotient!
My Double Peppermint Bark Oreos feature a topping of white chocolate and plenty of crunchy pieces of crushed peppermint. In less than 15 minutes, you can assemble approximately 20 cookies. Be sure to allow an hour or two for the white chocolate to firm up before serving. These fun no-bake treats are perfect to "make and take" to any last-minute holiday party invitations...or for adding to your Christmas cookie tray gifts. As an added bonus, these goodies are so simple to make that even young children can get involved with their assembly! As this video shows, my Double Peppermint Bark Oreos are totally simple to make:

These Double Peppermint Bark Oreos are my kind of holiday treat: a little bit of time to assemble...and big on peppermint flavor! If you're a peppermint lover like I am, these simple no-bake holiday treats are a MUST make item. Everyone who tries them has raved about them...and is blown away by how simple they are to make. That's a holiday win-win scenario, friends!

Disclosure: Nabisco provided me samples of their seasonal Peppermint Bark Oreos® to facilitate recipe development. All opinions provided are solely my own.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Wewalka Pie Crust #Giveaway...Featuring Eggnog Pie with Maple-Spice Whipped Cream #pie #holidaybaking #easydoesit

The holiday season is here...filled with traditional sights, sounds...and tastes! We all know I'm all about the peppermint during the holidays...but Michael LOVES eggnog. I decided to create a pie recipe for him with all the traditional flavors found in eggnog. Confession time: I've never actually baked a pie until making today's recipe. I've made quick crumb crusts...but making pie crust from scratch has always intimidated me. Thanks to Welwalka's refrigerated European Bakery Style ready-to-use pie crust? Problem solved! Wewalka's lard-free pie crust is 25% thicker than the leading crust, and it fits perfectly in a 9-inch pie pan. Simply unroll and place in your pie plate...and anyone can make a fabulous pie! Wewalka pie crust is packaged in single-crust packages, which is perfect for single crust pies like Dutch apple, pumpkin, pecan, or custard. I found this pie crust easy to use...foolproof actually...and it bakes up flaky and delicious. Bottom ling: this amazing Wewalka pie crust has officially made me a pie baker!

My Eggnog Pie with Maple-Spice Whipped Cream features an easy eggnog custard flavored with nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and vanilla extract. After cooking on the stovetop, the flavorful custard is placed in a pre-baked Wewalka pie crust and refrigerated until set. My secret ingredient? A thin layer of white chocolate ganache in the bottom of the crust, just under the custard! Just before serving, I made a special whipped cream -- flavored with real maple syrup, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  This recipe's a keeper, folks...everyone who tasted it went totally nuts for it. If I can successfully bake a pie, then anyone can!!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Food Lovers #foodiegifts #mailorder #bestbites #sweetandsavory

Last weekend, I shared my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Cooks. Today, I'm back to with my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies -- featuring the very best mail order food gifts you can order or send to the food lovers in your life. Whether you're looking for something savory or sweet, I've got you covered...and these gift suggestions fit a wide range of budgets. My goal was to share a well-rounded group of gift ideas so there's literally something for everyone!

(1) Fulton Fish Market Gift Card. For the seafood connoisseurs in your life, a gift card to the iconic Fulton Fish Market is a fabulous gift! Their consumer seafood is selected first because of its taste. One of Fulton Fish Market's quality directors is a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate and seafood chef. You can rest assured all fresh seafood featured at Fulton Fish Market's website has undergone a number of taste tests with chefs and foodies. If it meets the taste test, then other criteria are evaluated. FultonFishMarket.com features the largest assortment of the quality fresh seafood available anywhere -- purchased online and delivered direct to the customer's home. Every midnight, 1-2 MILLION pounds of fresh seafood arrives at Fulton Market docks in New York City. Fulton Fish Market's online store features a broad range of fish -- whole and fillets; oysters, clams, and mussels; shrimp and scallops; and crab and lobster. Fulton Fish Market gift cards can be purchased for as little as $10...up to $1000. It's a gift that can literally fit any budget!

(2) Butcher Box Gift Certificate or Curated Box. For the carnivores on your holiday shopping list, Butcher Box is an ideal gift! Butcher Box is a monthly delivery subscription service that sends two types of boxes: (1) boxes of beef, chicken and/or pork curated by Butcher Box and (2) boxes customized by the customer. To ensure the meat arrives in great condition, each shipment arrives frozen inside an insulated box that contains dry ice. Butcher Box meat is of the highest quality! Beef is 100% grass fed/grass finished, chicken is free range and organic, and all pork comes from Heritage breeds. For gift giving, Butcher Box sells gift boxes, gift certificates, and gift cards. To order gifts, gift cards, or gift certificates, call Butcher Box direct at 1-888-751-2869 (Press 1).

(3) Victory Love + Cookies. Who wouldn't love to receive a box of delicious, freshly baked cookies?!?!? I certainly can't think of anyone. I recently discovered Denver-based Victory Love + Cookies, and they're fantastic! I was initially drawn to Kristy Greenwood's cookies because her Lucy line is named after her cat. I had a beloved cat named Lucy (she's the angel cat in my header!), which immediately grabbed my attention. After tasting her sweet-tart Lemon Lucy cookies? I knew my initial instincts were spot on! Her entire Lucy line is made with almond paste, for a perfect chewy consistency and intense flavors. Kristy also makes traditional cookies like Oatmeal Raisin and a chewy Ginger with pieces of organic candied ginger. Prices for cookies range from $14 to $24.50. Please note that all Victory Love + Cookies items are baked to order after purchase, so please allow at least 48 hours for them to be baked and prepped for shipping. Orders are shipped Mon-Wed via USPS. For an additional $3.50, Kristy will provide eco-friendly gift packaging for your order!

(4) Mayana Decadent Chocolate Bar Quartet. For the chocoholics in your life, Wisconsin-based Mayana Chocolate's Decadent Chocolate Bar Quartet ($34) is a unique and delicious gift. gift! Award-winning chef Daniel Herskovic pairs high-quality 66% dark chocolate with organic cream and a wide range of creative ingredients to craft these hand-crafted chocolate bars. Each one features a perfect balance of flavors and textures. The Fix bar features vanilla-bean shortbread and fleur de sel caramel. The Kitchen Sink bar (a Food & Wine Editor's Pick!) includes peanut butter, pretzels, and fleur de sel caramel. The Coconut Dream bar showcases dark cocoa and crispy coconut, and salted caramel provides another layer of deliciousness. Finally the Space bar's vanilla bean nougat, toasted almonds, and fleur de sel caramel is perfect for nut lovers. These bars are decadent and rich -- making them perfect for sharing. The four-pack of Mayana Chocolate bars are packaged in  beautiful Art Deco-inspired packaging. Visit the Uncommon Goods website to order this delicious artisan chocolate.

(5) bnutty Peanut Butter Sample Pack. Peanut butter is a favorite food for many food lovers...perhaps it speaks to their  love of childhood PB&J sandwiches. bnutty takes peanut butter to gourmet heights, offering 15 amazing and creative flavors, including S'more Dreams and Totally Toffee! All bnutty products start with honey roasted peanuts for a light sweetness. Their online store offers 10 year-round flavors and five seasonal flavors in 12-ounce jars for $8.00 each. Simply pick a few flavors, and bnutty can create a customized gift basket for you! However, my favorite bnutty gift is the fun Sample Pack. For $25, your gift recipient will receive two-ounce jars of TEN different bnutty flavors packaged in a gift box! It's a great way to taste a wide range of bnutty's yummy peanut butters and pick a favorite or two.