Holiday Gift Guide: 2013 Favorites for the Baker & Foodie

The tree is up, the lights are hung, my cookie swap cookies are now just a faint delicious memory & the window cling snowflakes are up!  
Oh yeah, it’s most definitely Christmas up in here.
I know, I know, you’re probably saying, “Window clings?! Really?!” 
Yes, girl, really. 
Don’t judge!
I’m relaxed, I’m singing cheesy songs & I’m ready to plan Christmas dinners!
Yes, girl. 
Dinners…with an “s”! 
Then someone has to go & ruin my “Zen-mas” mood & remind me that I have to buy gifts.
Crap.
As soon as the pressure is on, all of those great ideas that I tell myself I will remember come December are just not there anymore & I’m left scrambling for something unique & thoughtful at the last minute…which usually means that you are getting something I baked and/or bought at the supermarket.
This year, I decided to do something a little different & kept a running list of things that I not only loved but actually owned & used A LOT in 2013. This is not a sponsored blog & no company I mention has contacted me peddling their wares.  Now if they would like to send me some more mats or pans, I wouldn’t be totally against a little package in the mail 😉 
I just really want to spare the lost souls that empty thousand-yard stare that I so frequently see going on in the store isles this time of year.  
It’s like rows & rows of sad, gift giving zombies out there. 
No joke.
So here’s my list of top Foodie Gifts for 2013! 
I know it’s a little late for this but if you two day ship with Amazon.com, 
you will get it on time!! 
I provide links to most of these products on my Amazon Store that you can find HERE or on the side bar of this here blog ——->
 
And remember, as much as we all love gifts, nothing beats the gift of love for your fellow man/woman. Take some time this season to tell someone how much they mean to you because you never know just how many more trips you get around the sun.
That being said, your mom might look at you crazy if you show up with hugs for Christmas so let’s get into it! 
 
Happy Chrismakwanzakah!

Apple Corer/Slicer

Ok. I’m usually a hater of all useless kitchen gadgets in the kitchen.  
Hello avocado scooper. I mean, just use a spoon, dude.  
They usually end up in the very back of my drawer a.k.a. the land of misfit kitchen gadgets where they annoy me because my useful tools won’t fit. Grrr!
But this tool, as ridiculous as it looks, it actually a blessing! So much so that I have two!  One from OXO & the one pictured from KitchenAid.  I had to make 9 apple pies this Thanksgiving & I must say, these little gadgets made my life a whole mess of a lot easier.  It cores AND cuts the apples into even little slices.  All you have to do is line up the core with the center circle & press down! I’m never cutting apples by hand again!  Granted, you still have to peel the apple but that doesn’t bother me too much because I’m practicing to be just like my mama & get the peel off in one loooonnngggg piece without breaking it.  Once I can do that, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready for motherhood….maybe…or not…whatevs.
Photo from Farro Breakfast Blog Here
Cast Iron Skillets
I know an iron skillet seems like a really weird gift to give to someone unless they are say…a cartoon character…but this is also something really amazing that most people don’t think of buying for themselves.  How do I know? Well, someone gave me one of these old school bad boys last year & ever since then, I was hooked. Once I learned how to take care of it properly, I haven’t used another pan since.  Yeah, I know it browns everything & if you are not careful, it will heat to hellish temperatures but once you master the art of cooking in a cast iron skillet, you will have a kitchen staple that will last for over 100 years!  How many things in your life will even last half that long?! 
I love the idea of passing on something that carries all of the flavors, stories & memories of hundreds of family gatherings & dinners.  It’s probably one of the most sentimental pieces I have in my cooking repertoire & I couldn’t think of a better gift to share with someone who loves cooking as much as I do.
Gold Williams-Sonoma Cookie Sheets & Pans
GoldTouch not available on Amazon.com but you can find them at Williams-Sonoma.com
 
For those of you that don’t know, Patricia’s PattiCakes is not only my blog name but also the name of my home-based baking business.  That being said, I know some things about good baking pans & cookie sheets.  I can’t even count the amount of cakes & cookies that went in the trash because they stuck to the pans or came out with burnt edges & gooey underdone centers because the pans didn’t distribute heat evenly.  Williams-Sonoma cake pans & cookie sheets are some of the best I’ve encountered since starting my BakeShop.  They are made by USA Pans, a 50 year old American company.  (Go USA!) They feel thicker & heavier than your average pans but also have this amazing non-stick coating that I have yet to scratch or burn anything on.  I use the GoldTouch & Traditional pans sold by Williams-Sonoma but USA pans also makes similar ones that are equally as sturdy & non-stick.  This would make a great gift set with my following favorite thing…
Silicone Baking Mats
These slightly rubbery, flexible & heat resistant mats have saved not only countless cookies & scones from melting onto to my beautiful gold cookie sheets, but they have most definitely saved the bottom of my oven from overflowing pie & cake disasters!  I have a self-cleaning oven but something about it heating up to 1,000,000 degrees freaks me out so I prefer to just avoid making a mess in the first place. I haven’t found one thing that has stained them or ruined them.  Cleaning up is absolutely 99% easier when I use these mats under gooey chocolate chip cookies, delicate sugar cookie & anything reminiscent of caramel and/or glue.  Just a little warm water & soap & BOOM. You’re done.
I know Sil-Pat mat is the most popular of these silicone mats & I’m sure they are wonderful but they are expensive! I bought a set of three MIU mats (pictured above) for under $30 last year & honestly, I don’t notice the difference…and I use them A LOT.  You can roll up a couple of these mats & gift them along with some USA pans for a great baker’s gift basket!
Tiered Cookie Cooling Rack
These cookie racks have been such a space saver!  If you knew the teeny, tiny apartment kitchens that I have had in the last 10 years, you would understand how absolutely valuable counter space is! Especially when you have 100 sugar cookies to decorate or 10 cake rounds to cool!  I would have had to use my living room table…couch…patio furniture…if this little gadget had never come across my path but now I can make magic happen in my modest little kitchen by building UP.  I found these racks by accident at Marshall’s & thought I’d give them a whirl.  They are made by Wilton & I love that they come in a set of 3 and don’t lock so I can lift & move them as needed without having to disturb the racks below.  HINT: The racks are pretty tall on their own so I always manage to slip one of my regular cooling racks under the bottom rack to make it 4 layers! 

Photo courtesy of: iMore.com
My Recipe Book

Available on iTunes Here

This app is another one of my “must have in the kitchen” items. For years & years I’ve kept my hand written recipes in a overstuffed, rather abused recipe binder that has begun to fall apart at the seams.  I’m pretty sure it has also began to spit recipes out at me in a sign of pure exhaustion & rebellion.  I figured it was time to give my poor little binder an upgrade & thought “there must be an app for that, right?”  Well there is…actually there’s tons.  But the one I like best is simply called “My Recipe Book”.  It’s $1.99 & worth every penny.  It not only allows me to manually enter my personal recipes but also allows me to download & customize recipes from some of my favorite websites! (Hello, FoodNetwork.com!).  It also has a nifty timer, measurement & serving size converter as well as a neat share button where I can send my recipes to friends & family with one tap of a button!   I think that this app is one of the best ways to spend $2…besides maybe a Wendy’s Frostie….but that’s pretty hard to gift wrap… 

Happy Holidays!!

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