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Archive for December 4, 2014

GIFT: Gluten Free Bread Mixes From Breads By Anna


One of the delicious gluten free bread mixes.
Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.


One of the worst things about a gluten sensitivity is having to give up good bread.

But Breads from Anna Gluten is a gluten-free line that spares no effort to create delicious bread mixes to bake at home. We couldn’t believe that they were gluten free. (Nor could we believe that there were black beans in the brownies!)

Individual packages or gift sets.

The mixes are:

  • Free from gluten, yeast, corn, dairy, soy, nuts, rice and
  • High in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • All Natural
  • Certified GMO Free
  • Certified kosher (pareve)
    The breads have the same excellent taste and texture that one expects from a good piece of bread. The recipes can easily be made egg free.


    The products are produced in the company’s dedicated, controlled, allergen free facility.

    Choices include:

  • Bread Mixes: Classic Herb Bread Mix, Original Bread Mix, Yeast Free Bread Mix, Dairy & Corn Free Bread Mix
  • Brownie Mix: Black Bean Brownie Mix
  • Fruit Bread Mixes: Banana Bread Mix and Pumpkin Bread Mix (which can be made easily into other breads, such as carrot or zucchini bread)
  • Pancake & Muffin Mixes: Apple Pancakes & Muffins Mix, Cranberry Pancake & Muffin Mix, Maple Pancake & Muffin Mix
  • Pie Crust Mix
  • Pizza Crust Mix
    The products range from $5.99 to $7.99 at

    There are also gift sets from $23.99 to $27.99, including:



    Banana Bread is one of several gluten-free sweet mixes. Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.


  • Happy Holidays Gluten-Free Gift Set with Pumpkin Bread Mix, Pie Crust Mix and Classic Herb Bread Mix.
  • I Love Bread Gluten-Free Gift Set with Classic Herb Bread Mix, Corn and Dairy Free Bread Mix and Yeast Free Bread Mix,
  • Pancake and Muffin Gluten-Free Gift Set, with Apple, Cranberry, and Maple Pancake & Muffin Mixes.
  • Sweet Bread Mix Gluten-Free Gift Set, including Banana Bread Mix, Pumpkin Bread Mix and Black Bean Brownie Mix.
    If you’re thinking of reducing your own gluten intake in the new year, get some for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!


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    GIFT: Better-For-You Dried Fruit Gift


    The better-for-you gift. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.


    We like to send premium dried fruit gifts to people and families who focus on healthy living.

    We like food gifts in the first place. Unless we know that someone really wants something specific, no one we know needs more stuff to fit into already jammed households.

    If it’s an office gift, well, no office needs more cake, candy and cookies lying around during the holidays.

    This 1-pound, 8-ounce tray is $24.98 at

    The fruits were picked at the peak of perfection, carefully dehydrated, then packed in a reusable wooden crate. The lucky recipient(s) will munch on dried Angelino plums, apples, apricots, kiwi, pears, prunes, yellow peaches and white peaches.



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    GADGET: The New Egg Timer

    There’s a new egg timer on the market, one that’s purely visual.

    We’ve been enjoying the new Taylor Egg Timer.

    Simply place the timer into the water when cooking eggs on the stove top. The colors will change, indicating when you have soft, medium or hard boiled eggs.

    Internal sensors in these 21st century egg timers calculate cooking stages precisely by temperature, not loosely by time. The timers heat up in precise synchronization with the eggs, and make automatic adjustments to accommodate the number of eggs, the amount of water and the altitude.

    For people who make boiled eggs, it’s the new best thing. It takes the guesswork out of cooking eggs and you get perfect results every time.

    And it’s a great stocking stuffer. It’s also a good for New Year’s resolutions: Make protein-rich hard boiled eggs for snacking.



    One of the “21st century egg timers.” The red color moves up as the eggs get cooked. Photo courtesy Taylor.


    Versions from three different manufacturers are available now:

  • HIC, $6.79 on
  • Norpro, $7.49 on
  • We couldn’t find the Taylor egg timer for sale on line, but head to Target stores. It’s $4.99.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Feast Of The Seven Fishes


    Seven courses mean smaller portions, like
    this taste of grilled octopus. Photo courtesy
    Scrapetta | Beverly Hills.


    You’ve still got plenty of time to plan a Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. Known as Esta dei Sette Pesci in Italy, the tradition was brought to the U.S. by Italian immigrants.

    Some background:

  • The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates back to medieval times, to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat or milk products on Fridays and specific holy days. Fish, typically fried in oil, was most often substituted.
  • Other traditional dishes included baccalà (salted cod fish), calamari and seafood (oysters, scallops, shrimp, smelts).
  • The tradition is believed to have started in southern Italy, in areas like Naples and Sicily. It is not a tradition in northern Italy.
  • Italian Catholics would receive Holy Communion during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. In the spirit of the holiday, there was abstention from meat prior to receiving communion.
  • The seven fishes may have represented the seven days of the week, but some families serve 13 varieties of fish, representing Jesus and the 12 apostles.
    You don’t have to be a follower of the faith to participate in the feast. Adapt the tradition to your own celebration.



    Anything goes. Italy has a wealth of coastline, so options were plentiful.

    You don’t have to cook it all: Assemble a group of people to bring their favorite fish and seafood dishes (a curated potluck).

    If you want to feast but don’t want to cook, check with local restaurants. For example, Chef Tony DiSalvo of the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica, California is presenting this tempting Feast of Seven Fishes menu at his restaurant, Cast:

  • Course 1: Baby Kale Caesar, White Anchovies, Garlic Croutons, Shaved Parmesan
  • Course 2: Kusshi Oysters, Mignonette, Cocktail Sauce
  • Course 3: Smoked Trout and Avocado, “Chips and Dip”
  • Course 4: Dungeness Crab Toast, Yuzu Mayonnaise
  • Course 5: Grilled Octopus Salad, Chickpeas, Olives and Feta
  • Course 6: Homemade Linguine with Clams, Mussels and Shrimp, Chilies and Herbs
  • Course 7: Lobster Risotto, Bisque Emulsion, Tarragon, Chervil and Chives
  • Dessert: Traditional Italian Cookies, Coffee, Tiramisu and homemade Limoncello


    Each course is half the size of a normal portion, and you can make easy-to-prepare appetizers for most of them. Here’s what we’ve served in past years:

  • Crab dip with crudités
  • Oyster shooters
  • Seafood paté or tuna-olive tapenade
  • Seafood chowder
  • Carpaccio or sashimi
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Crab cakes
  • Marinated seafood salad (calamari, octopus, shrimp, green and black olives, onion) over greens
  • Fried calamari


    Lobster risotto. Photo courtesy

  • Angel hair pasta with lobster, scallops or shrimp in a tomato cream sauce
  • Squid ink pasta with scallops and red caviar
  • Seafood risotto
  • Our favorite salmon dish of the moment
    For a kids’ menu, considera California roll, jumbo grilled shrimp, tuna noodle casserole, a seafood pasta dish and seafood-vegetable skewers.

    Here’s more about the Feast Of The Seven Fishes.


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