DIY Edible Gifts

Do you need a reminder that the holidays are right around the corner? We don’t! WE CAN’T WAIT. too much?

Today we’ve rounded up a few ideas that make perfect edible DIY gifts. There’s a range of options on this list, from nuts in solid and liquid form to citrus peels and marshmallow. Some take a bit more preparation than others (some are so easy you’ll have all of your teacher gifts done in an afternoon). But I may be a bit biased when I say that possibly the best gift on this list is the one that takes the longest to make.

And, as we all know, the best part about giving receiving an edible gift is that you don’t have to remember to put out that neon light up statue of Mt. Rushmore every time Aunt Peggy comes to visit. So get on with it.

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Spiced Mixed Nuts : a truly perfect blend of sweet and spicy. These are super easy to make with basic ingredients (think nuts, honey, cayenne pepper). Just make sure you share more than you eat!

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Hazelnut Liqueur : give this and you will be loved by all. Especially if you pass along a few key serving suggestions, such as mixing a shot into a cup of hot chocolate or a vanilla milkshake. BUT start making this one ASAP, because you need about three weeks of steeping time.

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Marshmallows! : There are so many perks to making your own marshmallows. You can personalize the color and flavor. Cut them out with cute cookie cutter shapes. Pair them with hot co for a real treat. And we aren’t kidding when we claim that these are easy to make.

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Candied Citrus Rinds : Again, another super easy treat. I added chocolate to these, but you can totally skip that. And as a bonus – we shared our orange marshmallows at the bottom of that post.

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Use this post as an excuse to get a jump start on the eating, drinking, and merriment! xo

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First Snow Cake!

This is part of our ongoing Cooking with Kids series, because bringing them into the kitchen creates bonding moments, opportunities to learn, and plenty of messes! And ginger is our ingredient of the season this fall. You can find more ginger recipes here, but if you want another dessert recommendation, skip right ahead to these chewy ginger cookies.

A few weeks ago, we woke up to our first snow of the season. If that wasn’t special enough, I thought that it was worth fully celebrating the day, and any celebration worth its salt requires a cake. That was the humble beginning of our “First Snow Cake”.

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The base of our cake is a delicious ginger cake and it’s topped with a healthy layer of powered sugar snow. It’s a simple cake that’s easy to bake on a whim and should definitely be incorporated into your next snow day. The recipe and more thoughts on celebrating the everyday below. *I’m thinking that next year the cake has to be baked in this pan.

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Cooking with Kids : Chia Pudding

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post that provides our detailed tips for cooking with little ones.

We’re so excited about today’s chia pudding because it’s a delicious dessert that’s  amazingly healthy thanks to the chia seeds. This is also a dish that a little chef can put together *almost* entirely on their own! Why almost? There is a pesky can opener involved, and that can slow down even the most ambitious 4 year old.

There are so many benefits to letting your kids help in the kitchen, from the basics of learning to count and measure, to the more advanced following of instructions. You’ll also delight in seeing them take pride in their work and their ability to do something for others – how excited will they be to serve this pudding to everyone else in the family?! And finally, for some kids, this recipe may introduce new tastes; there’s the strong coconut flavor with a hint of cinnamon, and there’s the unique texture of the saturated chia seeds.

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Read on to learn more about chia seeds and our simple recipe for chia pudding!

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Baking with Kids : Halloween Style

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with assistance from a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post provides detailed tips for cooking baking with little ones.

The focus of this Cooking with Kids post is all on the decorating, and in this post we give you sources for all of our fun supplies (including the spider cupcake holders!). Kids LOVE decorating treats, and Halloween is the perfect time to let them go wild. Make it spooky, creepy, silly, cute. It definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. And that’s what makes this project such a hit with big and little people.

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I like to plan projects for us to do throughout the season, some more time and energy intensive than others. Decorating spider cupcakes purposefully falls on the easier side. It’s something that you could do on an afternoon when you want to add a little bit of Halloween excitement (and sugar!) to their day.

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Cooking with Kids : Ginger Cookies

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post that provides our detailed tips for cooking with little ones.

*We first published this post almost two years ago, but these cookies are delicious and ginger is our ingredient of the season, so we’re republishing them today so that you don’t let a good thing pass you by.*

Ahhh, I meant to share this post before Christmas so that you could add yet another cookie to your baking list, but time got away from me, so here we are with a delicious ginger cookie that tastes just as good on a cold day in January as it would during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

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And I’m still smiling about how this came to be my favorite ginger cookie recipe. Calder’s sister made them a few years ago at Thanksgiving. That first batch was delicious and reminded me of the ginger chews that I used to buy in Trader Joe’s. I was so smitten that I asked for the recipe. She sent it along, and from her notes, I could see that it came from the grandma of a good friend. As I was baking these with Alex, I looked more closely at the bottle (more on that below) and realized that the recipe on the Grandma’s Molasses bottle matched the recipe I was making! Ingredient for ingredient and word for word. So, maybe you already know this recipe?

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Ginger + Vanilla

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find our archive of ginger posts here and our previous featured ingredients here. Today we’re adding something sweet to the docket.

Get ready to start planning your next dinner party, because we have the perfect dessert : vanilla ice cream + ginger spread. This is such a simple combination, but the results are phenomenal. ginger_icecream

We used Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato for the base, and topped it with a syrup made from Ginger People’s ginger spread. I scooped some paste into a ramekin, added almost an equal amount of water, and microwaved it for a few seconds until the syrup was warm but not hot. Then I gave the mixture a good stir and drizzled it over the gelato.

Can’t find ginger paste in your grocery store? Amazon delivers.

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And I’m not joking about the dinner party. Sometimes a fancy dessert is in order. Sometimes you can plan ahead and bake something the day before. But sometimes, a tub of ice cream is the way to go. This combination takes that easy dessert and dresses it up just enough to leave an impression.

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Plus, maybe it’s time that we make ginger the new flavor of fall! Pumpkin’s had its run. #outwithpumpkin #gingerishot #gingersarehot Wait. Am I doing this right?

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Midsummer Magic

It’s the middle of summer, food is at its freshest, and the livin’ is easy, or at least it should be.

There’s nothing we love more at this time of year than the intense flavors and colors of fresh fruits, and there’s no easier way to enjoy them than to just throw them in whatever you’re making. Need some ideas? That’s why we’re here.

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Last week I put some fresh raspberries and cherries in my mojito – smashing them up just a bit in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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Serve cubed watermelon with mint for a refreshing treat on a hot day. If you like that combo, you’ll love our watermelon mojitos!

And if your garden’s still overflowing with mint, make some aqua frescas.

Add fresh figs and blueberries to your mocktails (or cocktails!).

Throw watermelon and blueberries in your smoothies with a tea-based twist.

What about watermelon in your gazpacho?!

Any ripe berry would go well in these yogurt-based popsicles. These lemon pops are another refreshing option.

Yesterday Alex asked to bake a cake (nothing makes my heart melt faster than his request to do something in the kitchen!). He wanted a cake with “a blue middle and red paint on the frosting”. I let him add some food coloring to our batter, but then transformed his idea for red paint into a splattering of berries and their juices across the top. This is a basic yellow cake with our favorite coconut milk buttercream (scroll down).

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Summer, and particularly July, is such a special time of year for us, and nothing tastes more like summer than perfectly ripe fruit; it’s pure midsummer magic. If you can get your hands on some, especially if you have the chance to get out there and pick berries, do two things : 1. eat as much as you can while picking, and 2. do something creative and special with the leftovers. You won’t regret it! xo

 

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DIY Vanilla Extract

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean, and some homemade perfumes with vanilla essential oils.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but today we’re finally hitting on the key ingredient in every kitchen – vanilla extract! Who doesn’t have a bottle of vanilla extract in their kitchen? It gets used in everything. In fact, yesterday the boys and I baked our favorite chocolate cake, and even that called for two teaspoons of vanilla extract. 

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My fist exposure with homemade vanilla extract was a few years ago when I received a bottle from my BFF for Christmas. It was amazing, and I cherished that bottle, wanting to use it but also keep it for ever because it was just so good. As you’ll see, DIYing your own extract is so easy that I probably should have reigned in my emotions a bit…

The key to make a quality vanilla extract comes down to two things : 1. quality beans and 2. time.

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How-to

For this bottle of extract I used 8 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans and 1 cup of vodka. Split each bean by slicing through it lengthwise, then place the beans in a jar, add the vodka (making sure that it covers the beans), and let sit for at least two months.

After that time, you don’t have to remove the beans. In fact, you can let the extract sit longer to get a richer flavor. And as you use the extract, you can top it off with more vodka to keep your batch going.

That’s it!

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For how simple this recipe is, there are many ways to personalize it. Try different vanilla beans for different flavors (for example, Ugandan beans are supposed to have a more smokey flavor). You can also use different alcohols. I used vodka because it’s flavorless, so I would really only taste the vanilla from my beans, but you can substitute rum or bourbon. Personally, now that I have this bottle, I’m excited to experiment with a few more bean/alcohol combinations.

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And if you just happen to have a big bottle of vodka sitting around, don’t forget that with a single vanilla bean and a few days, you can turn it into a smooth vanilla vodka! If you’ll remember, Calder made fun of my idea to make vanilla vodka, but the joke’s on him because that stuff was so good that it’s already gone and I’m thinking about making another batch (maybe with lime this time!).

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