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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Giftable

TIP: Do It Yourself Apple Gift Basket

We’re coming up on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Instead of braving the stores, how about heading to your nearest farmers market?

Top e-tailers like Harry & David will send a basket or box of assorted apples, but you can put your own together and provide even more fun through a greater assortment.

Apples are affordable, delicious, universally loved and always available. Present them in beautiful “keeper” basket for a healthy holiday gift—great for calorie counters, dieters and fitness fans.

Here are five simple steps for a do-it-yourself apple gift basket from the U.S. Apple Association.

1. FIND a basket or other container—you may already have some on hand from prior gifts you’ve received. You can buy baskets at craft store, big box retailers and even your grocery store.

 

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It’s easy to create an apple basket gift. Photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association.

 
2. FILL the basket with healthy, wholesome apples: the more colors and varieties, the merrier. If the apples don’t have stickers indicating their variety, take a photo of the apple basket and sign at the market and include it in the basket.

3. ADD a few colorful accents, like clementine oranges, a jar of caramel sauce or honey for dipping, or a small holiday candle.

4. PERSONALIZE with foods or trinkets the recipient will enjoy—simple stocking stuffers will do—an apple slicer, or a cheese; for a gym person, a stretch band. If you don’t want to add a cheese, which typically requires refrigeration, include a gift card to a store where it can be purchased.

5. ACCENT with a ribbons and a card or note that wishes the recipient a healthy New Year.

  

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PRODUCT & GIFT: Perky Jerky, Now In Flavors

There’s only a week left until Christmas, but you can click on over to get a boat load of one of our favorite snacks for gifting: Perky Jerky.

This is tender, flavorful gourmet jerky with a twist: the meat is caffeinated. The manufacturer calls it “the world’s first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack.”

Anyone who needs a snack along with a bit of energy can simply tear open a portion-controlled package and enjoy a flavorful, nourishment and yes, liveliness.

The protein-laden beef or turkey jerky has been caffeinated with guarana, a natural energy booster with about twice the caffeine content of a coffee bean. A single-portion bag has less than 100 calories per ounce and is low in carbs, with 5g or less of sugar per serving.

The products are all natural: no added MSF, no nitrates, no preservatives.
 
BEEF & TURKEY, ORIGINAL & FLAVORS

Since it debuted several years ago, Perky Jerky has grown in flavors. Marinating the meat overnight allows the flavors to infuse, and makes the jerky even more tender.

Beef Perky Jerky and Turkey Perky Jerky are available in Original, Hot & Bothered, Sweet & Spicy and Teriyaki. Additionally, Turkey Perky Jerky is Jamaican Style.

   

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Delicious and tender jerky with a jolt of caffeine. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

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Give individual packages or multipack boxes.
Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

PACKAGES FOR EVERYONE

From individual snacks to multi-portion sizes, there are:

  • Individual snack bags (1 ounce), $2.99
  • Multi-portion bags (2.2 ounces), $4.99
  • Family-size bags (5 ounces), $9.99
  • Multipack boxes of 6-packs (2.2 ounces) and 12-packs (2.2 ounces), $59.88
  •  
    If you want to try the flavors, pay for four and get the fifth free (2.2-ounce bags).

    You can sign up for monthly deliveries, too, and save 20%-30% with free shipping.

    HOLIDAY SPECIAL

    There’s 40% off plus free shipping on orders over $50. Use code HOLIDAY 40 through midnight on December 21st.

    Place your order for great jerky at PerkyJerky.com.

    Perky Jerky is also available in more than 30,000 retail outlets across the U.S., including GNC, Target and Walgreens.

    JERKY TRIVIA

  • The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.”
  • While the prehistoric method of meat preservation was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe. The first European visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky from the meat of any animal they hunted, from buffalo to whale.
  • Today jerky can be found in meats as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotic alligator and ostrich.
  • Perky Jerky was a accidental invention, like potato chips, yogurt and many of our foods. An energy drink spilled over some jerky, drenching the meat. Not about to throw good jerky away, the “inventors” ate it and discovered that it was not only more tender, but a great energy boost. (Today, the process for making Perky Jerky is a bit more sophisticated.)
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    TIP: Gourmet Grocery Store Gift Card

    If you can’t think of a gift for people who like good food—because you don’t know exactly what they’d like—consider a gift card.

    A gift card to a premium market enables recipients to try new things or buy luxury items like artisan cheeses.

    Many of us our space-challenged at home, cramming those gift sweaters and bath products into already crammed drawers and closets. Unlike most gifts, which require space to store, a gift card can be spent and consumed in the same day.

    You can purchase gift cards in-store, of course. Some retailers, like Whole Foods, let you buy the cards online as well, with the option to send them digitally with a personalized holiday message.

    The photo is actually the 2014 limited edition holiday gift card from Whole Foods.

    Solved: what to get your favorite cook or foodie.

     

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    The limited edition 2014 holiday gift card from Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.

     

      

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    GIFT: John & Kira’s Artisan Chocolates

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    Splendid chocolate-dipped calabacita figs
    with whiskey-infused ganache. Photo
    courtesy John & Kira’s.

     

    Still need some special holiday gifts?

    Go no further than John & Kira’s. The dynamic duo of artisan chocolate can always b relied upon to handcraft memorable confections that are guaranteed to please.

    For Chocolate Sophisticates: Chocolate-Dipped Figs

    One of our favorite treats anywhere, the chocolate covered, ganache-filled figs are as good as it gets The figs are grown on a small family farm in Spain, then filled by John & Kira with a silky smooth, whiskey-infused Valrhona dark chocolate ganache. They are then enrobed in 62% dark chocolate: perfection!

    A 12-piece box is $34.95; a 6-piece box is $24.50.

    Get yours at JohnAnd Kiras.com.

    Don’t want figs? Check out the Happiest Of Holidays gift box with ten different infused ganache fillings.

     

    For Kids & The Young At Heart

    Almost too cute to eat, hand-painted ladybug chocolates in red and green are filled with flavored ganache: raspberry in the red ladybugs and garden mint in the green.

    A nine-piece box is $29.95, a five-piece box is $14.95 and a three-piece box is $10.00.

    Another gift ideas is Holiday Marshmallow Heaven, chocolate-enrobed marshmallows with mint ganache, raspberry ganache, caramel and plain.

    The handsome gift boxes are lovely “keepers,” and the letter-pressed card is another expression of John & Kira’s artisan approach.

    Anyone who gets a taste will become a fan!

     

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    Who can resist chocolate ladybugs? Photo courtesy John & Kira’s.

     

      

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    GIFT: Nespresso Inissia

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    The Inissia: just 4.7 inches wide by x 12.6
    inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.

     

    So many of us these days can’t live without a great cup of coffee, often leaving our posts one or more times a day to obtain one.

    The folks at Nespresso want you to have a great cup at your fingertips. They’ve created a new petite model, the Inissia: a single-serve coffee maker with a teeny footprint that fits in small spaces, from office desktops to dormitory rooms.

    And it’s only $99!

    Streamlined for maximum efficiency and simple to use, the small footprint (4.7 x 12.6 x 9 inches) weights a bit more than five pounds. The Inissia uses the same premium coffee capsules as the larger models. The water will be read in 25 seconds: an espresso (including the shorter ristretto and the taller lungo) or a full cup at the touch of a button.

    You can make up to 9 espressos without having to refill the water tank.

     
    A great gift for a college student or new member of the workforce, the Inissia is available in:
  • Blueberry Blue
  • Intense Black
  • Lime Yellow
  • Pure White
  • Ruby Red
  • Vanilla Cream
  •  
    It can be bundled with Nespresso’s wonderful Aeroccino Plus milk frother for $149.

     

    LARGER, WITH CREMA

    Another Nespresso innovation this year is the Vertuoline. It handles the larger American-style mugs as well as espresso cups, and tops both with rich, luxurious crema.

    Available in Black, Chrome and Red, the VertuoLine is priced at $299 and takes a new, flatter, rounder capsule than the original Nespresso machines.

    Check out the entire line at Nespresso.com.

     

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    A side view of the petite Inissia. It’s just 4.7 inches wide x 12.6 inches deep. Photo courtesy Nespresso.

     

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Bonnie’s Jams

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    Artisan jams are a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer. Photo courtesy Bonnie’s Jams.

     

    Most people won’t spend $8.99 on a jar of jam, opting for less expensive supermarket varieties that are higher on cloying sugar than on fruit flavor. That’s why artisan jam is such a welcome stocking stuffer or teacher gift.

    Why does it cost so much? The finest fruits, low sugar content (sugar is not only cheaper than fruit, but covers up sub-prime fruit) and hand labor to make everything from scratch in small batches, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    The flavors, which are made seasonally and are available until they sell out, currently include:

  • Apricot Orange
  • Fig Preserve
  • Peach Ginger
  • Raspberry Lime Rickey
  • Red Pepper Jelly
  • Strawberry
  • Strawberry Rhubarb
  •  
    In addition to the individual flavors, gift samplers are available.

     
    We especially liked the Raspberry Lime Rickey, sweet fruit with a delightful bit of citrus tang. It’s a charming variation on the always-popular raspberry jam.

    The recipes for the jams; but these are so good, most folks will want to enjoy them simply, on toast; or straight from the spoon.

    Check out the options at BonniesJams.com, and send some to people who will appreciate the difference.

    You’ll also find delightful recipes that use the jams.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Embossed Cake Pan & Cake Mix

    Buy one for yourself, buy one as a gift, but turn holiday cake-baking into a no-fuss event with an embossed cake pan.

    A plain bundt or loaf cake is instantly decorated by the design embossed in the pan. Aside from an optional dusting of confectioners’ sugar, there’s no more work for you to do—a welcome time savings during the holidays or any time of the year.

    Nordicware has an extensive collection for every season. For the holidays, check out the Cathedral Pan and other winners, including Bûche de Noël, Christmas Village, Fairytale Cottage, Gingerbread House, Gingerbread Man, Holiday Tree, Holiday Wreath, Star of David and a dozen more.

    Pair the cake pan with a package of Nordicware’s terrific bundt cake mixes for a delightful gift.
     

    BAKING TIP

     

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    It’s time for cake! One of numerous holiday-themed cake pans. Photo courtesy Nordicware.

     
    While the nonstick finish assures you that the cake will come out of the pan easily, and cleanup will be a breeze, it doesn’t hurt to take this extra step:

    Use Baker’s Joy, a nonstick spray with flour, to carefully spray all the nooks and crannies so the details are perfect.

      

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    PRODUCT: Moonstruck Chocolate Gifts

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    Hand-decorated Bark Bars are works of art. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Moonstruck Chocolates has been pleasing Oregonians since 1995; and thanks to the rise of e-commerce, all of us can get their handcrafted chocolates.

    Whether for stocking stuffers or a principal gift, Moonstruck has distinctly different offerings, from the beautiful chocolate bars shown here, the beautiful bonbons below, and everything in-between.

     
    STOCKING STUFFERS

    Bark Bars

    The Bark Chocolate Bars are beauties, at $9.00 apiece:

  • Dark Chocolate, Candied Orange & Hibiscus Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Strawberry & Basil Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Raspberry & Fennel Bark Bar
  • Dark Chocolate, Praline Pecan & Ginger Bark Bar
  •  
    Tumbled Chocolates

    Tumbling is the way the centers are enrobed in chocolate. For $5.00 per package, these bites are wonderful stocking stuffers, each more delicious than the next:

  • Milk Chocolate Tumbled Caramelized Hazelnuts
  • Milk Chocolate Tumbled Sea Salt Caramels
  • Dark Chocolate Tumbled Blueberries
  • Dark Chocolate Tumbled Beerberries
  •  

    WHISKEY-INFUSED CHOCOLATES

    We love whiskey-infused chocolates, and Moonstruck has two wonderful collections, exquisitely painted by hand:

    New American Whiskey Flight Bonbons

    The New American Whiskey Flight is a six-piece collection of bonbons: pairs of three whiskey-infused truffles.

  • The Knob Creek Whiskey Truffle features ivory ganache infused with Knob Creek Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Dads will appreciate bold notes of oak, caramel and fruit.
  • The Makers Mark Whiskey Truffle features creamy milk chocolate ganache infused with Makers Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Vanilla, oak and smoke nuances play along the palate.
  • The Woodford Reserve Whiskey Truffle marries Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey with rich dark chocolate ganache. Deep, spicy notes end with a clean finish.
  •  
    Nestled into a custom-designed box with a royal crown motif, the collection is $15.

     

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    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Oregon Distillers Collection

    Oregon is home to numerous craft distillers, which inspired Moonstruck’s Oregon Distillers Collection. This exciting box of bonbons includes:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle
  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle
  • New Deal Distillery Ginger Liqueur Truffle
  • Oregon Spirit Distillers Wild Card Absinthe Truffle
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle
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    A 12-piece box is $25.00. The bonbons are approximately 5% alcohol content by weight.

    Both boxes are memorable chocolate experiences.

    There are seasonal treats like Santas and penguins, and many other beauties to discover at MoonstruckChocolate.com.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Sara Snacker Cookies

    If you’re Sara Snacker (legally, Sara Leand), your entrepreneurial journey began in college, where you built and ran a snack company out of your college dorm room, selling cookies and treats across the campus as well as to local merchants.

    Sara now has an an entire cookie company, focusing on the nostalgic flavors of childhood. They’re different, fun and above all else, tasty.

    The all-natural line includes:

  • Chipn’Etzel Original Cookies, made with potato chips & pretzel bits.
  • Chipn’Etzel Dark Chocolate Cookies, with chocolate chips added to the potato chips and pretzels.
  • Hot Chocolate Cookies, baked with rich dark cocoa, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
  • Ice Cream Cone Cookies, chocolate and vanilla chips and sugar cone bits.
  • Lemonade Cookies, baked with real lemonade.
  • S’mores Cookies, combining crushed graham crackers, mini marshmallow, and chocolate chips.
  •  

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    Sara Snacker: nostalgic cookie fun for the holidays. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

  • Vanilla Milkshake Cookies, baked to taste like a real vanilla malt.
  •  
    Looking for a fun stocking stuffer? Check out SaraSnacker.com.
     
    We’re especially partial to the new flavors: Hot Chocolate, Ice Cream Cone and S’Mores.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Brownie Brittle

    What a fun riff on conventional brownies.

    Brownie Brittle was invented by Sheila G. Mains, who liked the crispy, crunchy edges the brownies made in her bakery, decided to make things even crisper.

    She worked on the recipe until she had crispy square—the same rich chocolate taste as the brownies, but wafer-thin with an amazing crunch. They’re brownies turned into cookies.

    Today, Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle snacks are available in:

  • Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle
  • Salted Caramel Brownie Brittle
  • Toffee Crunch Brownie Brittle
  •  
    A piece of Brownie Brittle is delicious by itself, with ice cream and with hot and cold beverages. As a stocking stuffer, the richly-hued bags are suited for festivities.

     

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    One of four delicious varieties of Brownie Brittle. Photo courtesy Sheila G’s.

     

    You can punch hole in the top of the bag and add a ribbon.

    You can find Brownie Brittle at retailers nationwide, or at Shop.BrownieBrittle.com.

    Five-ounce bags are $3.99, one-pound bags are $8.99. There are gift boxes, samplers and variety packs.

      

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