CHICAGO FOOD BLOGGERS HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
For the second year in a row, a group of Chicago Food Bloggers came together to create a list of our favorite foods, kitchen tools, cookbooks, and beyond. And this year the guide is even bigger, with nearly 200 pages of gift ideas for every friend, family member, colleague, and host or hostess. In the pages ahead youâ€™ll find the gifts that we already love and the items that are at the top of our holiday lists this year. We have plenty of healthy ideas, more than a few indulgences, quite a few coffee-related suggestions, and the kitchen gadgets that are worth the space and money. We hope you find a little something for that foodie in your life, and maybe even a new favorite for yourself. From all of the Chicago Food Bloggers, we wish you a delicious holiday season.
MEET THE BLOGGERS Chicago Food Bloggers was founded in June 2013 as a database and resource for Chicago-based bloggers who write about food, recipes, restaurants, wine, cocktails, health and nutrition, markets, food policy, and other aspects of food culture. We provide a way for bloggers to reach new readers while connecting with each other online and in-person. In the past year we have grown by leaps and bounds and today we have nearly 300 member bloggers, comprising writers from the city, suburbs, and Northwest Indiana. Any blogger from the Chicago-land area is welcome to join at chicagofoodbloggers.com/join. The gifts in this guide were contributed by members of Chicago Food Bloggers in November. Merchant suggestions are taken directly from the blogger whenever possible. Prices were current as of the date this guide was published.
CHICAGO FOODIE GIRL chicagofoodiegirl.com
THE GHOST GUEST theghostguest.com
BUNNY AND BRANDY’S BRUNCHTIME BLOG bunnyandbrandy.com
BLISSFUL BASIL blissfulbasil.com
50 STATES OF WINE 50statesofwine.com
CHICAGO JOGGER chicagojogger.com
DIETITIAN DEBBIE DISHES dietitiandebbie.com
VEGGIE NEXT DOOR veggienextdoor.com
CULINARY POSTCARDS culinary-postcards.com
THE RHOYAL REPORT therhoyalreport.com
ARTSEES DINER artseesdiner.blogspot.com
LIVE HALF FULL livehalffullblog.com
LINDA & ALEX M.
EAT THE BURBS eattheburbs.com
KITCHEN NOMAD kitchennomad.com
I’M FULL CHICAGO imfullchicago.com
DISH DESTINATION dishdestination.com
ŚWIAT NA TALERZU PIOTRA dziennikzwiazkowy.com/ category/gotuj-z-nami/
MAMA’S HIGH STRUNG mamashighstrung.com
BREAKFAST @ SUNSET breakfastatsunset.wordpress.com
INSPIRING KITCHEN inspiringkitchen.com
THE UNRELENTING PASSION theunrelentingpassion.com
CHICAGO FOOD BLOGGERS chicagofoodbloggers.com
MARGE’S NEXT MEAL margesnextmeal.com
ALICIA TASTES LIFE aliciatasteslife.wordpress.com
A WELL FED LIFE awellfedlife.com
THE ROAMING GASTROGNOME theroaminggastrognome.com
THE CHOPPING BLOG thechoppingblog.com
THE CULIONARY ENTHUSIAST theculinaryenthusiast.com
MONICA AND KATE
TASTE BUD DIARIES tastebuddiaries.com
BAKED CHICAGO bakedchicago.com
ROSIE DISCOVERS rosiediscovers.com
CHI ORGANIC GIRLS chiorganicgirls.com
YEAST OF EDEN yeast-of-eden.blogspot.com
APARTMENT PANTS apartmentpants.blogspot.com
SMOKED CHOCOLATE CHIPS getyourhotcakes.com| $15
LIZZY D. For chocoholics everywhere, this is a new twist on everything youâ€™ve tasted. As the self-appointed president of Chocoholics Anonymous, I devour nearly every variation and form of chocolate I encounter. I especially like the bacon and chocolate trend, so these chips are enticing with the smokey aroma surrounding the chocolate. While I would buy them for chocolate chip cookies in theory, they probably would bypass the mixing bowl on their way to my mouth.
RITROVO TRUFFLE & SALT the chopping block | $26.50
If you’ve been to The Chopping Block, you’ve likely tasted this salt on our famous Truffled Popcorn we often welcome our guests with. But this gourmet finishing salt containing Black Italian shaved truffles is delicious in many other dishes such as potatoes and eggs too. It’s a favorite product of our chefs, and a little goes a long way!
ORGANIC BURST SUPERFOOD POWDERS organicburst.com | various prices
This is the perfect gift to up a smoothie addictâ€™s game! Organic Burst sells a wide array of quality superfood powders (e.g., spirulina, chlorella, maca, acai, baobab, wheatgrass, etc). Donâ€™t be intimidated by their complicated names, these goodness-filled powders are a simple way to enhance the vitamin and mineral content in you diet. My favorites are maca, spirulina, and chlorella, and I add them into smoothies throughout the week. Chlorella gives my skin a dewy glow, maca boosts my energy and mood, and spirulina provides an intense kick of plant-based protein. Perfection in superfood form.
GRACE HIGHTOWER COFFEES OF RWANDA coffeeofgrace.com | $12.50
JULIE G. The holiday season is the perfect time to think about how fortunate we are and to reach out and help those working hard to make their world a better place. Coffee of Grace offers you that opportunity to buy a variety of coffee roasts individually or in gift packages.
KOLOSSOS OLIVE OIL kolossos.co | $20
MARY L. When it comes to olive oil, there is none better than Kolossos. I was first exposed to this delicacy at The Pickle & Turnip Mediterranean Restaurant in Michigan City, Indiana. The purity, quality, and depth of flavor takes you away to an exotic Greek Isle!
MANTRY mantry.com | $75+
Mantry is the leading food-of-the-month club for men in North America -- the definitive destination for modern men looking to discover American artisan food and how to cook and entertain with it. A beautiful wooden crate filled with amazing food arrives each month, along with a manual on how best to enjoy it. Lots of great food that you never even new existed.
TRADER JOEâ€™S FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL SAUCE amazon.com | $12.25
This sauce is perfection and extremely dangerous. You will not find a better complement to ice cream, apples, a spoon...the possibilities are endless.
METROPOLIS COFFEE SCHWEIK’S BLEND metropoliscoffee.com | $15.30
Metropolis brews great coffee. I always pick up a bag when I run across it at a store in the city. Schweik’s Blend is always my favorite no matter what’s in it.
carnivoreclub.us | $50/month
RACHELL Subscription boxes are all the rage in food; it’s a great way for people to get introduced to and enjoy artisanal items from all over the world. I haven’t gotten a subscription to the Carnivore Club yet, but I’m hoping to receive one as a gift this holiday season. Each month the subscriber will receive a box filled with handcrafted cured meat from small batch purveyors with ethical and humane practices. It’s a great gift for the carnivore in your life.
ISLAND CREEK OYSTERS shop.islandcreekoysters.com| various prices
Typically, Iâ€™m not a big oyster fanatic. However, I tried these for the first time this year and was smitten. They were flown in for an event straight from Massachusetts with all the briny goodness sealed in, then expertly shucked. I ate them without any condiment at first, and holy moly were they amazing! Mignonette and horseradish sauces did not disappoint with these oysters either. A chef shucker overheard my exclamations after a few rounds of oysters about how much I wished I could have them at home. He politely let me know they were available for online ordering and could be delivered straight to my door. New Yearâ€™s Eve? Check!
SEASONINGS & COOKING SAUCES FROM SPICEMODE spicemode.co | various prices
For the Indian food carryout addict in your life, get them to try a little Indian cooking of their own with sauce and spice blends from Spicemode. Created by Amar Singh as an extension of his food truck, the Curry Cruiser (which he parked for good in 2012 due to Chicagoâ€™s tough food truck regulations), Spicemode transports you to the streets of India with its handcrafted line of warming, bold sauces and spices that add complexity and heat to favorite proteins or veggies, or create a base for all kinds of authentic Indian dishes.
ZINGERMAN’S MOKHA JAVA BAGGED COFFEE plummarket.com | $13.99
As a native Detroiter, I am a big fan of everything Zingerman’s. With Plum Market just a few blocks from my apartment, I am constantly checking it out for its slew of Detroit-based products. I love all of the flavors, but the Mokha Java is smooth and robust. There is always a bag stocked in my pantry!
CHAPIN COFFEE chapincoffee.com | $15.99+
Chapín sources their coffee from the highest quality, organic, fair trade beans from every region in Guatemala. Their expert artisan roasters then toast the beans to maximize a robust flavor and balanced body for each of their light, medium, and dark roasts. They roast in small batches in accordance with your order, so your coffee is always fresh and flavorful. They bring you the world’s finest gourmet coffee and the opportunity to do something good every time you enjoy it. For every bag of Chapín Coffee you buy, they buy 3 meals for a child in need. So enjoy the superior taste of beans sourced fairly from Guatemalan farmers, and take comfort knowing that your purchase is helping those in need.
UNCORKED VENTURES WINE GIFT BASKETS uncorkedventures.com | $125+
Nothing better than the gift of wine, unless the wine comes with additional items you pick based on the themes of savory and sweet gourmet, chocolate, or the refined and elegant, all packed in a beautiful wooden crate. Brothers-in-law Mark Aselstine and Matt Krause of Uncorked Ventures go treasure-hunting in California, Oregon, and Washington wine country to bring you the very best wines that few people have ever heard of.
SRIRACHA2GO KEYCHAIN sriracha2go.com | $7
STARR N. This is the perfect gift for any of the Sriracha-loving people in your life. Not only is it a totally adorable miniature version of the iconic bottle, but also itâ€™s completely functional and refillable. Sriracha fans can rest assured that they will never be caught out in public without their favorite spicy sauce.
TIFFANY’S TORCHER HOT SAUCE torcherhotsauce.com | $7.75
For anyone who loves flavor and heat, then Tiffany’s Torcher Hot Sauce is for you. The company has a story that everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit should read about. A California man trying to protect his garden from critters decided to plant peppers as a natural deterrent. It didn’t help the vegetables much, but it gave him lots of peppers to enjoy. So, when “life gives you peppers, you make hot sauce”!
MIKEâ€™S HOT HONEY mikeshothoney.com | $10
This vinegar and chile-infused honey is perfect for anyone who loves the spicy/sweet combination. The best thing about this versatile condiment is that the honey is very light, so it takes on a good dose of the heat from the chiles. Itâ€™s especially good paired with salty meats (soppressata is my favorite), biscuits, and fruit/cheese.
MANHATTAN FRUITIER GIFT BASKET manhattanfrutier.com | $52.50
LINDA & ALEX M. Your vegan and non-vegan friends will appreciate a beautiful fruit basket filled with the freshest fruits and vegan cookies and crackers. You can build your own basket or choose one of the many pre-made baskets.
NOT KETCHUP notketchup.com | $9.00
Can you imagine ketchup without tomatoes? Seems like such a strange concept, right? Until you try Not Ketchupâ€™s gourmet sauces. How about meatballs with a cherry chipotle sauce? Or smoky date pork chops? Four different flavors to tempt your taste buds and open your mind to create dishes that are far from ordinary.
MIYOKO’S CREAMERY CULTURED NUT CHEESES miyokoskitchen.com | $33+
DIANA M. Miyoko’s cultured nut-based cheeses are one of the items on my own wishlist this Holiday Season! Her organic, handmade wheels of Classic Double Cream Chive, Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, and more are receiving rave reviews across the nation.
CARLA HALLâ€™S PETITE COOKIES carlahall.com | $6.50+
ERICA W. Carla Hall has a line of petite cookies that she has available on her website in the cutest gift sets with amazing flavors like Pecan Shortbread with Vanilla Salt and Mexican Chocolate Chip. This is the perfect gift for your foodie friend that has a sweet tooth! These cookies are absolutely delicious, and they make you feel less guilty when you are eating them because they are so small! Best of all, they are reasonably priced.
GOLDBELY GIFT CARD goldbely.com | various prices
RACHELL This gift is perfect for the food lover that has relocated and misses all the comforts of home or someone that loves to travel the world at the dinner table. Goldbely.com is like Fedex gone food, you’re able to have regional food favorites shipped to you all over the country. If you’re looking for crawfish from New Orleans, a real Philly cheese steak, an expertly made corned beef sandwich from Katz’s in New York, or the infamous all beef hot dog from Vienna Beef in Chicago, then Goldbely.com has your answer. You can purchase gift cards for your loved ones in denominations of $25 to $1000, or you can order their favorite regional food.
RAVEN’S BREW COFFEE ravensbrew.com | $11.40+
Raven’s Brew Coffee comes to us from Alaska. Every time I indulge in the “brew” I am swept away to my Alaskan cruise. Raven’s brew is a rich, robust coffee. Enjoy some Santa Caws or choose my favorite brew, Ebony Pearl. Make sure you check out the artwork and storytelling with each specialty roast. (Don’t forget the specialty chocolate!)
BOURBON-MADASCAR VANILLA EXTRACT bourbonbarrelfoods.com | $10-$35
Aged in bourbon barrels that were once filled with some of the Bluegrass Stateâ€™s finest bourbon, this single-strength vanilla extract is rich, sweet and aromatic with a bit of Southern heritage and charm.
URBAN ACCENTS FABULOUS FOODIE SPICE BLEND COLLECTION GIFT SET urbanaccents.com | $112.50
HARVEY M. Urban Accents, located in Chicagoâ€™s Ravenswood neighborhood, was founded in 1996 with the goal of bringing premium, all-natural, and visually appealing herbs and seasonings to the contemporary home cook. I discovered them in this past year and immediately fell in love with all of their unique spice blends (my current favorite is Sonoma Pepper, a lemon-orange pepper blend that is perfect for eggs, casseroles or just about any dish). With these spice blends, you can travel the culinary globe without leaving your kitchen.
JACOBSEN SALT CO. STUMPTOWN FLAKE SALT jacobsensalt.com | $11.95
Shhh... but I ordered this Stumptown Coffee Flake Salt to stash in my husbandâ€™s stocking this year. I think it will be great in a steak rub or to sprinkle on fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies or on hot cocoa. The possibilities are endless!
NORMâ€™S FARMS ELDERBERRY PRODUCTS normasfarms.com | $2.75+
Just in time for winter months, Normâ€™s Farms elderberry products are not only tasty on their own or used as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes, but since elderberries are considered superfruits and are filled with antioxidants, these products can also keep those winter colds at bay. My favorites are the wellness syrup and the elderberry ginger pecan jam.
WHOLE PIG OR LAMB ROAST FROM ZIER’S PRIME MEATS ziersprime.com | various prices
There’s nothing like the drama of a backyard pig roast! David Zier has been a North Shore butcher for almost 30 years, specializing in superior cuts of meat, wild game, and smoking. He’s developed a loyal following for his acclaimed pig and lamb roasts. Dave and his crew will come to your location with their spit roaster and cook onsite. Zier’s Prime Meats offers complete food catering for the roast, from appetizers and salads to sides and dessert.
BELGIAN BREAKFAST GIFT BASKET pantry.lepainquotidien.com | $99.95
We’ve been in love with Le Pain ever since the first location opened up in the South Loop earlier this year, and one of the things we’ve loved most is the extraordinary pantry selection of spreads, jams, and dressings. Our particular favorites are the Blueberry Preserves with some of the Blondie Spread (white chocolate), or the super yummy Speculoos. This basket is perfect if you can’t decide between the rainbow of options and comes with two cutting boards for serving.
CHEF ARAM REEDâ€™S COOKING CLASSES chefaramreed.com | various prices
SHANYA P. Sharpen your culinary skills and let highly talented Chef Aram Reed teach you and your friends how to prepare a new dish or two.
ROCKIT RANCH GIFT CARD rockitranch.com | various prices
Give a gift card to a friend and they can go to any Rockit Ranch property including: Rockit Bar & Grill, Ay! Chiwowa, Rockit Burger Bar, Sunda, Underground and Bottlefork! Prices for gift cards range from $25 - $300. You really canâ€™t go wrong with any of these cool places that take food allergies seriously!
PEELING THE WILD ONION jlchicago.org | $24.95
DELANE H. “Chicago” is the Native American word for wild onion. As an onion has many layers, so too does the cuisine of the namesake city. Peeling the Wild Onion uncovers those layers and captures the essence of Chicago’s culinary past, present and future in the new cookbook from the Junior League of Chicago.
A TALE OF TWO CHEFS DINNER DELIVERY taleof2chefs.com | various prices
PETER A. Once you’ve eaten Chef Julius Russell’s food you’ll be hooked! The first time I met him was at Chicago Chowdahfest and he was serving Chilean Seafood Chowder with Truffled Croutons. See what I mean? He’s a fantastic private chef as well as being a culinary ambassador to Chile and has quite the range of offerings, all of which are delicious. Great for parties, dinners for two, or even lunch at your office. If anything you should at least follow him on Twitter or Facebook to find out what he’s got cooking for holiday deliveries and when he’s doing one of his pop-up dinners here in Chicago. They always sell out!
GIFT CERTIFICATE TO SAUCE & BREAD KITCHEN sauceandbread.com | various prices
MONICA & KATE Sauce and Bread Kitchen is a bakery and a cafe owned by Co-op Sauce and Crumb Chicago, which emphasizes local ingredients and house-made fare including locally produced Stumptown and Dark Matter brewed coffee. Their menu changes frequently and honors seasonal ingredients. Buy a gift certificate for this Chicago local cafe (available in store) and grab one of the famous Co-op hot sauces or even experience the special Stew Supper Club monthly dining event.
ULTIMATE VIENNA LOVERS KIT viennabeef.com | $77.95
DELANE H. The full Vienna Beef Chicago-style experience, with all the trimmings. Complete with most everything you need for a Chicago dog and Italian Beef feast, this kit is a party in the making!
MADE IN EVANSTON GIFT BASKET facebook.com/nwcookin | $49.99
This gift combines a variety of local, edible products made by artisan producers throughout Illinois. Along with a bag of delicious Chapin Coffee which offers 3 meals to malnourished children in Guatemala for every bag purchased, there are incredibly unique items including edible candles and Truli Julie’s savory biscotti crisps. Yes, savory! Only available for a limited time, customers can purchase this basket for pick up via Now We’re Cookin’. What better way to support local food!
GIFT CERTIFICATE TO TTOWA facebook.com/pages/ttowa | various prices
ALISON G. Ttowa opened this season’s Check Please!, but they’ve been our favorite restaurant for several years now. It’s an amazing place to sample authentic Korean with a modern twist. A gift certificate for Ttowa is definitely at the top of our Christmas wish list.
HOLIDAY COCOA MIX the chopping block | $10.95
Warm up on a cold Chicago winter day with The Chopping Blockâ€™s house-made Holiday Cocoa Mix. Mix with whole milk for the ultimate indulgence of rich, creamy hot cocoa. The packaging is perfect for giving as a gift.
LAKEVIEW COLLECTION shop.pastoral.com | $99.99+
STARR N. The Lakeview Collection pays homage to Chicagoâ€™s Lakeview neighborhood (home to the flagship Pastoral store and Bar Pastoral) with staff and customersâ€™ all-time favorites. The collection includes Ossau-Iraty, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (one of my personal favorites!), and small batch preserves from Quince & Apple. Each collection is packaged in a signature wooden cheese box with an informative insert describing every product, the artisans behind them, and how best to enjoy them.
SALTED BOURBON CARAMEL MARSHMALLOWS saltedcaramel.net | $7
All of Salted Caramel’s sweet treats are made in small batches right here in Chicago. They have amazing toffee, caramels, and popcorn, but I’m in love with their fluffy Bourbon Caramel Marshmallows. The marshmallows are perfect in hot chocolate or on their own!
BAKER AND NOSH BREAD BASICS BAKING CLASS bakerandnosh.com | $75
PETER S. Uptownâ€™s Baker and Nosh is a local bakery/cafe. In addition to all of the great breads and pastries, they offer baking classes. This is not your average throw all your ingredients into a bread machine class. Held twice a week, on the first, second, and third week of each month. You will have a chance to learn how to make dough for different types of bread, starters for sourdough, as well as different tips and techniques. If this is not enough there is also a croissant making class. I highly recommend the classes as well as all the food.
CHOPPING BLOCK GIFT CARD thechoppingblock.net | various prices
Give the gift of cooking this holiday season! The Chopping Block is Chicago’s premier recreational cooking school, private event venue, and gourmet retail and food-friendly wine store. Gift cards are good toward any purchase, available in any denomination, and never expire. A gift card to The Chopping Block is the perfect gift for both new cooks and veterans in the kitchen!
This kind of goes under the “Teach a person to cook and they’ll eat great food for a lifetime” category. I’ve been cooking for years and The Chopping Block continues to challenge me and give me new things to accomplish in my kitchen. You can learn by yourself, do it on a date, or just sit back and watch a demo….it is a great fit for anyone.
THE SPICE HOUSE GIFT BOXES thespicehouse.com | $22.95+
ALICIA L. This a perfect made in Chicago gift! Spices from The Spice House are great to give fellow food lovers and cooks for inspiring meals.
CHRISTINA C. Know a homesick Chicagoan? Give them a little taste of what theyâ€™re missing with an Ethnic Chicago Spice Blends gift box from The Spice House. Choose from 4 different boxes, each created to reflect a different Chicago neighborhood. How about a spice blend box for your favorite baker, grillmaster, or popcorn aficionado? Thereâ€™s even a gift box for salad and vegetable lovers!
RHINE HALL DISTILLERY rhinehall.com | various prices
MONICA & KATE Rhine Hall Distillery is handcrafted brandy distillery using locally sourced ingredients from the Great Lakes region. Started by a dynamic father-daughter team, the distillery/brandy bar is nestled in the heart of Fulton Market. The Brandy Bar is open for tastings and cocktails on Thursdays & Saturdays, along with two scheduled tours on Saturday for $10/person. 45 minute tours are available for up to 15 people or more and bottles are available for purchase. Try the tasty apple brandy as your first choice.
MADE BY CHICAGO FOOD BLOGGERS
RHOYAL DECADENCE PASTRIES rhoyaldecadence.com | $30+
RHONDA L. Rhoyal Decadence is Chicagolandâ€™s premier gourmet pastry product line. They specialize in brownies that are simply rich and delicious. Made from the freshest, quality, premium ingredients (local when available), Rhoyal Decadence provides a little piece of decadent heaven in every delicious bite. They cater and ship worldwide.
FLOWER & STONE: AN ESSAY ON LIFE createspace.com | $7.00
MARY L. “Flower and Stone,” by Mary E. Rapier-LaLuna, is an essay on life as seen through the heart and pen of a struggling 45 -year-old woman. A collection of poetry, short stories and a novella that span a period of growth. Much like a flower in the stone seeking to grow against all the odds, so it is that Mary has found her way: “Remember, you only live once, so what if the train you board really takes you no where, at least you went...”
IN THE KITCHEN
EGG SEPARATOR food52.com | $25
These adorable little egg separators are perfect for the friend or family member in your life who loves to bake.
OXO GOOD GROUPS POTATO RICER amazon.com | $39.99
PETER A. Want to make creamy whipped potatoes? Whipped sweet potatoes? Gnocchi? Then you need this! The ricer takes out all of the lumps enabling you to just whip in all the cream and butter you want. No more mashing!
PADERNO WORLD CUISINE VEGETABLE SPIRALIZER amazon.com | $34.10
ASHLEY M. If you’re looking for a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet, this spiralizer is your answer! I love transforming zucchini, carrots, beets, jicama, etc. into noodles, and it’s a wonderful way to swap out processed pastas for nutrient-dense alternatives.
FARMERS MARKET TOTE westelm.com | $18
DEBORAH D. Shop your local Chicago farmers market in style this summer with this sturdy market tote.
BODUM EILEEN FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER bodum.com | $60
LIZZY D. There are many coffee makers, but this Bodum French press is dazzling! I’ve owned several Bodum French presses over the years, and I don’t even drink coffee (I drink Crio Brü instead). Yet I hear French press is the way to go for the best cup of joe. This gilded one makes me feel I could invite royalty over and convincingly sip my hot drink with my pinky pointing up. Divine!
DOCTOR WHO SILICONE ICE CUBE TRAY amazon.com | $14.99
JESSICA B. Celebrate the new Doctorâ€™s arrival with this adorable ice cube tray that enables you to enslave the Daleks to cool your cocktail or turn your lemonade into a time portal for your own personal Tardis. You can also use this tray to make chocolates and even jewelry, so even if you gift this to yourself, you can still use it to make gifts for all your favorite Anglophiles!
OLD STONE OVEN BAKING STONE amazon.com | $41.99
CETH J. Great for baking pizzas and breads. Preheat in a hot oven and then slide your proofed dough on top for a lovely crisp crust and a nice oven spring.
LEKUE PLATINUM SILICONE BREAD BAKER lekueusa.com | $35.00
IVA S. No more excuses for running away from baking bread. With this, making bread sounds so easy and fun! You can weigh, knead and bake bread in the same container. And it goes safely in your oven, microwave and dishwasher. I want to have one as well.
REAL SIMPLE THREE-TIER ADJUSTABLE OVEN RACK bedbathandbeyond.com | $16.99
This is the perfect gift for the baker in your life. It’s on my must have list this Christmas, although I’ll probably pick it up before then to use for all my baking. I’m excited to use it for photos and also as a multi-tiered cooling rack.
BROTFORM & LINER SET kingarthurflour.com | $32.50
CETH J. Proofing your bread in one of these bad boys will give your loaves those beautiful professional looking ring patterns. Also helps wetter doughs maintain their shape while proofing.
FIESTA MINI CASSEROLE bedbathandbeyond.com | $29.99
IVA S. These mini casseroles are so pretty that you do not even have to use them. Having them stand on your counter, or your window while cooking, brightens up not only your kitchen but your day. OK, you may use them as well (and they are PTFE, PFOA, lead and cadmium free, which is pretty awesome).
KEURIG MY K-CUP REUSABLE COFFEE FILTER amazon.com | $7.79
KATIE A. Shortly after the Holiday Season follows the New Year, and saving money may be on your top list of resolutions. I love high quality coffee shop coffee as much as the next Chicagoian, but have a hard time accepting spending my hard earned cash on expensive pour overs and lattes. Instead, I purchase a bag of the high quality roasted stuff at my favorite neighborhood shop and make it at home in these reusable K-Cup Coffee Filters. That way I can enjoy the good stuff without the price tag!
ZYLISS FASTCUT HERB DICER zyliss.com | $16.99
CHRISTINE A. This herb dicer is a savior to anyone who has absentmindedly sliced their finger while trying to cut herbs (something I am an expert in). I bought this last Christmas as a gift for my boyfriend, and I use it weekly. Your fingers stay a safe distance from the blades while they evenly chop fresh or dried herbs. Itâ€™s also the perfect tool for the scallions and chives that go into killer mashed potatoes!
CUSTOM RECIPE PRINT augustandelm.com | $24
Whatâ€™s better than an heirloom recipe? A stunning, custom print of the heirloom recipe as a gift. Gorgeous fonts, decorative details, and archival ink shoot this item to the top of my list. Now, if I could only decide which recipe to feature.
CUISINART GREEN GOURMET WOK amazon.com | $66.18
DIANA M. Though itâ€™s technically a wok, this is my go-to pan for nearly everything I cook. Itâ€™s large capacity and non-stick surface makes it great for sautees, sauces, and more. Plus the ceramic-based nonstick coating is scratch-resistant and free of PTFE and PFOA, substances often used in nonstick cookware that have raised health concerns over the years.
FORMATICUM CHEESE PAPER formaticum.com | $9
KATIE A. Last year I got this cheese storage paper on a whim and have since ordered twice since. My husband likes stinky French cheese and this is the only way we can store it without stinking up our fridge. It would be a great, unique hostess gift for holiday parties for the inevitable leftovers.
DIY MOZZARELLA CHEESE KIT etsy.com/shop/urbancheesecraft | $25
I purchased one of these kits as a Christmas present for my boyfriend two years ago. The kit was super easy to use and made for a great date night activity. Nothing beats a homemade pizza with mozzarella made in your own kitchen!
LE CREUSET HERITAGE STONEWARE SQUARE COVERED CASSEROLE williams-sonoma.com | $90
CELIA J. I received this Le Creuset stoneware baking dish several years ago for Christmas and itâ€™s a staple in my kitchen. This casserole dish is very deep and perfect for layered dishes, especially lasagna and apple crisp for a crowd.
REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS flipandtumble.com | $12
DIANA M. Iâ€™ve had a set of these machine-washable produce bags for years and love giving them out as stocking stuffers. They make for a practical, eco-friendly gift for any fruit & veggie lover you know.
MANUAL COFFEE MAKER manual.is | $99
DELANE H. A pour-over coffee maker designed to elevate the ritual of making coffee by hand, the Manual Coffee Maker is designed to be a beautiful freestanding appliance â€” an appliance you truly love to see on your kitchen counter day after day.
SALT PIG williams-sonoma.com | $19.95
LINDSAY K. I admittedly use a lot of salt on everything I eat and cook (I am trying to cut back). This salt crock provides me easy access to my Mortonâ€™s Kosher and it looks cute on my counter. You can portion your salt out more easily than with a shaker -- just make sure your guests wash their hands if they use it!
MUFFIN TOPS fredandfriends.com | $13.50
AMANDA T. I saw these jean muffin top molds at the International Home + Housewares Show this year and could not stop laughing. Fred & Friends makes some pretty amazing kitchen tools and gadgets and these are sure to put a smile on your face. They also make a great holiday gag gift!
LA CHAMBA COLOMBIAN CLAY POT williams-sonoma.com | $59.95
MIKE K. This pot is made by hand in La Chamba, Colombia in a tradition that goes back more than 700 years, according to Williams-Sonoma. Whatever the history, itâ€™s one of my favorite pieces of cookware. It can go from the cooktop to the oven to the table, and the thick clay walls keep any dish warm for hours.
LE CREUSET STACKABLE RAMEKINS lecreuset.com | $13.00
KATIE A. Ramekins are one my most used kitchen items for one main reason -- portion control! These stackable ramekins are a perfect half cup size, which is ideal for a single serving of ice cream. I also use them for snacking on chips, trail mix, dipping sauces, or anything else that you want to keep your portion control in check with!
SUPERSTONE BREAD DOME BAKER amazon.com | $44.51
For those bakers that want to make a beautiful boule with a crackling crust and soft, chewy interior.
EMILE HENRY BLACK FLAME-TOP FISH GRILL amazon.com | $79.95
CELIA J. Even though this Emile Henry roasting pan is described as a fish grill, it works amazingly well for many other purposes. I love to use it for roasting vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and squash. Itâ€™s the perfect size for the oven and cleans easily. I use this in my kitchen several days a week.
FOODIE DICE foodiedice.com | $38
I’m competitive by nature, but only for things that don’t really matter like board games. When I saw Foodie Dice on Twitter my assumption was this was the perfect game for me. Except, in this game you can’t lose! Foodie Dice takes the pain out of the weeknight dinner conundrum by rolling the dice with seasonal offerings to determine thousands of food combinations to help you plan your meal. Genius! I’ve added this to my wish list so I can shake things up in the kitchen.
CAMELBAK FORGE INSULATED TRAVEL MUG shop.camelbak.com | $29+
A vacuum-sealed, double-walled steel travel mug, insulated to keep your drink hot for over 4 hours. Plus, the easy to clean, self-sealing lid makes it easy to drink one-handed without worrying about leaks or spills.
BORMIOLI ROCCO SWING BOTTLES surlatable.com | $4+
CHRISTINE A. These bottles are so cute and the perfect container for everything; Bloody Mary mix for an at-home boozy brunch, sparking lemonade for a summer time picnic, home-infused olive oil and hard liquor. I love the vintage look and the price point. I keep these on hand for last minute hostess gifts. Itâ€™s an inexpensive bottle that can look like a million bucks!
GIFTS FROM NOURISHING NOTES nourishingnotes.com | various prices
MAGGIE H. Nourishing Notes help you tell the foodies in your life how much you love them through food-themed greeting cards, aprons, towels, and prints. Created by the owners of design studio Letterform, the gifts contain a food-themed message and delectable illustration to convey birthday wishes (“whisking you a happy birthday”), congrats on pregnancies (“bun in the oven!”) or just a note to make someone smile (“count the memories not the calories”).
KING ARTHUR SOURDOUGH & CROCK SET kingarthurflour.com | $27.95
CETH J. Once you’ve baked with a sourdough starter, there is no going back. This gift is perfect for those bakers that want to take their bread to the next level, but don’t want to go through the trouble of getting their own starter to grow.
WUSTHOF CLASSIC 8-INCH COOKâ€™S KNIFE amazon.com | $129.95
ALICIA L. This is a heavier knife that is a workhorse. This knife can be used for almost everything from prep of herbs to vegetables and cutting up meat so it is worth the investment.
SOUS VIDE SUPREME DEMI WATER OVEN amazon.com | $299.99
JESSICA B. You may cringe every time a contestant on Top Chef or Chopped says they’re sous videing their protein, but admit it; you want to sous vide all your food at home, don’t you? DON’T YOU? I thought so. This model is one of the more affordble and reliable out there, making it a little easier to throw that Iron Chef themed party you’ve always wanted to do. Plus, how can you not love a machine that makes it impossible to over cook your dinner?
CHAR-BROIL INFRARED OIL-LESS TURKEY FRYER charbroil.com | $129.99
RACHELL The Char Broil Infrared Turkey Fryer will give your loved one a turkey to brag about with crispy browned skin without the use of oil. The fryer has a 16,000 BTU burner and cool touch handle. If your loved one is a fan of fried turkey, then itâ€™s the perfect gift.
HAMILTON BEACH BREAKFAST SANDWICH MAKER hamiltonbeach.com | $29.99
JESSICA B. This little appliance may seem like a one trick pony, but itâ€™s actually incredibly versatile and perfect for small kitchens. Sure, you can make up your own Egg McMuffin in it, but you also do things like quiche, warm gooey desserts, and even ramen burgers!
ZOJIRUSHI HOME BAKERY SUPREME TWO-POUND LOAF BREADMAKER amazon.com | $249
CHRISTINE A. A lazy chef’s dream! This is the best breadmaker in the world. Not only does it make perfectly cooked bread, but you can also use it to make cake, starter dough, meatloaf, and jam. It’s worth the price tag. I’ve had my Zojirushi for 10 years (and my friend had it for 10 years before me!) and I give it almost daily exercise, and it has yet to breakdown or deliver a sub par product.
KELLEY D. I love baking bread from scratch, and try to make at least one loaf each week. Busy schedules can get in the way of all that kneading and rising though. As a working mother or two, I see no shame in letting a machine do some of that work! The Zojirushi can help you make sandwich loaves, baguettes, pizza dough, dinner rolls pretty much everything!
VITAMIX BLENDER williams-sonoma.com | $399.95+
LINDA & ALEX M. The best way to make fresh, healthy, delicious smoothies and juices. Everyone should have one!
theorangechef.com | $149.95
RACHEL If your loved one is like most of us and looking to make better choices in the kitchen then the Prep Pad can help. It is a scale that communicates with your IPad to weigh food and tell you the nutritional benefits, calories, fats, etc. of your meal or snack. The Prep Pad is able to do the calculations for both homemade and store bought items based on weight to help your loved one make good choices. This item is on my wish list for Christmas for sure!
HOT DOUG’S: THE BOOK amazon.com | $16.96
You know that friend of yours who hasn’t stopped crying since Hot Doug’s closed? Get him this. We know it’s not the same, but it’ll help the grieving process.
cooksillustrated.com | $25.54
JULIE G. This book is a fascinating read of the Slow Food inspired food and drink activity in Brooklyn over the last 20 years. The concept is similar to farm-to-table, but is instead distillery-to-glass. The approach to the writing is the sharing of history, distillery education, photography, and of course recipes. You will be introduced to the back stories of the distillers, their motivations for going into the craft business, how they see themselves compared to the competition, and commentary from the best local bartenders sharing their recipes.This book is destined for coffee tables, not book shelves. The photography alone is beautiful.
BOURBON & BACON morganmurphy.co | $22.95
Enjoy this tastefully adorned gateway into succulence by way of bourbon and bacon. Not only will you go deep into the history of the South’s palate, you will also be entertained by award winning food critic Morgan Murphy’s Southern gentleman humor!
THE OH SHE GLOWS COOKBOOK amazon.com | $14.62
If you havenâ€™t purchased the Oh She Glows cookbook yet, what are you waiting for?! Regardless of how you categorize your lifestyle (e.g., vegan, veg-friendly, omnivore), this book is a welcoming tool into the wonderful world of plant-based foods. Angela Liddon is a creative genius in the kitchen and her photography skills are topnotch. This is a must-have for anyone looking to incorporate a few more health-enhancing and delicious meals into their routine.
LINDA & ALEX M.
Angela Liddonâ€™s recipes are easy, healthy, and more importantly, delicious. She makes vegan food interesting and attractive.
MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING amazon.com | $22.60
PETER A. The most classic introduction on cooking French cuisine. There’s a reason why Julia Child’s cookbook is still around today; it’s just that good! Sure, there may be more modern French cookbooks but you can’t get to modern without the knowledge of classical preparation. I love pulling this cookbook off the shelf when I’m stuck on what to make for a good Sunday dinner.
EXTRA VIRGIN amazon.com | $20.53
SHANYA P. Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar have a show on Cooking Channel called Extra Virgin where they feature their a-ma-zing Italian food cooked in Italy and in New York. I love watching their show and now Iâ€™m more excited to be able to flip through their cookbook and try my hand at cooking Italiano!
YUM UNIVERSE COOKBOOK yumuniverse.com | $19.95
ALICIA L. I attended a Chicago Taste Talks panel called “The Greener Path: Food and Drink for a Plant Based Diet” and heard Heather Crosby speak about introducing more plant-based meals into your diet. This is her cookbook to guide you and can be incorporated into any style of diet, from meat eaters to vegans.
MONICA & KATE Heather Crosby, Chicago’s own and founder of YumUniverse, has produced her first cookbook, a creative collection of 150+ craveable recipes without meat, dairy, gluten, or soy. This is more than a cookbook — it’s a treasure chest that will help you change habits and develop health-promoting recipes of your own for a lifetime with simple, healthy, and delicious meals for meat-eaters and vegans. Purchase the book and receive bonuses, recipes, videos, ebooks and more. 142
ISA DOES IT amazon.com | $20.95
DIANA M. This is currently my most-used cookbook. Best-selling chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz has Rock Star Status in the vegan world for good reason. Recipes like Acorn Squash Risotto with Cranberries, New England Glam Chowder, and Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies showcase her talent for making creative, flavorful food as simply as possible. In fact, almost all of the recipes in this book are designed for everyday cooking, with many of them clocking in under 30 minutes.
amazon.com | $23.40
KELLEY D. Not only is this beautiful book full of gorgeous pictures and mouthwatering recipes, it is a wealth of scientific knowledge for the home baker. Anyone who has the desire to learn more about the art of pastry and some of the basics behind making things like meringue, caramel, custard, yeast dough, and more, must add this book to their collections. Plus, the introduction is written by Dorie Greenspan -- is there a better affirmation of this booksâ€™ worth?
PALEO BY SEASON victorybelt.com | $27.96
Paleo or not, this cookbook takes a different approach, focusing on techniques first, recipes second. A focus on the seasons is a nice reminder to focus on local ingredients and traditions. Beautifully photographed, simply presented, with tasty recipes that should please most.
THUG KITCHEN thugkitchen.com | $14.61
DEBORAH D. This cookbook embraces a no nonsense approach to getting people to eat more vegetables. With approachable, healthy recipes served with an extra sprinkle of hilarious foul-mouthed quips, Thug Kitchen would be a great gift for anyone, from the beginner cook to the self-proclaimed master chef!
BOUCHON BAKERY amazon.com | $25.80
It is an easy to read baker’s cookbook; everything I baked was delicious. I didn’t modify any of the recipes. It is on the heavy side, though.
BAKING CHEZ MOI amazon.com | $23.40
MAGGIE H. If, like many people, you suffer from an inexplicable desire to be French, then pick up Dorie Greenspan’s latest cookbook, which takes you inside her Parisian friends’ kitchens to learn what they like to bake when they’re at home. The recipes are all fairly easy to make, helped by Dorie’s easy-to-follow instructions and friendly, inviting tone. From cookies to loaf pan cakes and even the dreaded macaron, all recipes are elegant enough to serve to company (though no less delicious eaten directly out of the baking dish alone on a Tuesday night).
THE TUCCI TABLE amazon.com | $18.00
We loved Stanley Tucci’s cookbook last year and have made so many of the recipes. Thrilled to see another this year, I’ve already glanced through it and it looks chock full of things I would serve friends and family.
DOMINIQUE ANSEL: THE SECRET RECIPES amazon.com | $20.47
Sure -- you can find the recipe for the famed Cronut in this cookbook. But you can also find a variety of innovative recipes for every skill level, all combined with passionate essays that give you real insight into Anselâ€™s insanely creative mind.
corkcicle.com | $24.95
AMANDA T. Corckcicle Air makes it easy to chill and aerate red and white wines. Itâ€™s perfect for keeping your wines cold at outdoor concerts and events, and is super easy to use!
CRAFTHOUSE COCKTAILS crafthousecocktails.com | $19.99
The Crafthouse collection (premixed bottled craft cocktails) is the brainchild of former beverage director of The Aviary and World’s Best Bartender, Charles Joly. There are currently three options available, and while they’re all delicious, the Southside (gin, lime, sugar, and mint) is a definite standout. They’re the perfect addition to any holiday party and make lovely host/hostess gifts!
ICE BALL MAKER cocktailkingdom.com | $149.95
For your next party, how would you make your cocktail concoction that much cooler? Enter the 55mm ice ball maker! Leave your plastic rectangular ice tray in the freezer, as this is the future of cool drinks!
ESTANCIA WINE-INFUSED BAKERY BOX silverlandbakery.com | $28.00
Perfect for the wine lover with a sweet tooth, this bakery box contains a bottle of both the Estanica Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with delicious wineinfused bakery bars! The Estancia Chardonnay White Chocolate Caramel Bars are laced with creamy white chocolate and white chocolate chips, infused with buttery Chardonnay, and topped with luscious caramel. The Estancia Pinot Noir Bakery Bars are composed of an all-butter crust topped with a layer of Pinot Noir, bright raspberry and tart cherry filling, and dotted with butter crust crumbles.
SOMRUS INDIAN CREAM LIQUEUR somrus.com | $29.99
After a wonderful meal, donâ€™t you look forward to a nightcap that is luxurious tasting? Not too strong or overpowering but balanced and enjoyable. As a gift, this ornate red and gold bottle is beautiful on its own let alone the creamy, delicious Indian spiced contents. Whether for the holidays or as a hostess gift, SomruS The Original Indian Cream Liqueur would be appreciated.
STEMLESS CHAMPAGNE FLUTES worldmarket.com | $7.96/4
I have always found champagne flutes to be elegant but also incredibly delicate; one wrong breath and they’re blown over. Enter: stemless champagne flutes. I already had stemless wine glasses, but I encountered these at brunch one day after ordering a mimosa. The owner told me she had purchased them at World Market, one of my go-to stores for inexpensive, fun kitchenware. These flutes are fun yet won’t leave your guests worried they’ll knock them over if they sneeze. A perfect gift for the perennial party-thrower!
LOVE CORK SCREW WINES binnys.com | various prices
ERICA W. I like this gift because the wine is locally made in Michigan and Illinois wineries, and the labels have the cutest names, like “Hard Knock Life”, “Good Times Good Friends”, “Movin’ On Up”, “Touch the Sky”, and “Head Over Heels”. It’s available at Binny’s and Mariano’s locations all over the city.
GERSTACKER NURNBERGER MARKT GLUHWEIN internetwines.com | $9.09
ALICIA L. For anyone that has attended the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza or any Christmas markets in Germany you will be familiar with this warming drink made of red wine, sugar, and spices. Great for cold days winter days!
CALORIC CUVEE CLASSIC STEMMED WINE GLASS caloriccuvee.com | $19.95
I’m all about balance, but during the holidays it’s easy for little indulgences to make for a big setback. A few years ago I gifted myself a Caloric Cuvee wine glass. As we all know, those huge pours of wine can add up quickly and this glass helps me enjoy myself while still keeping myself in check. This has quickly become my go-to weeknight wine glass when I want “just one glass.”
BOLLYWOOD GROOVE CLASSES bollygroove.com | various prices
MONICA & KATE
After all the eating, you need a fitness break! Bollywood Groove makes cardio fun by using easy lead and follow Indian dance moves paired with bumping and infectious bollywood tunes. Started by dance instructor Ajanta Charborty and her business minded husband, Vivek Kumar, Bollywood Groove was created to expose the populace to Indian culture, Bollywood, and other forms of Indian dance. Classes are offered throughout Chicago, from the West Loop, Evanston, Devon, and even Bucktown. You wonâ€™t even realize your working out until you feel your sore muslces the day after!
FEED PROJECTS BAGS feedprojects.com | $22+
KELLEY D. These rustic bags come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. They’re fashionable, functional and each purchase enables a donation to a good cause! Each bag sold has a meal donation attached to it. I’ve got my eye on on the FEED Function Bag which provides 100 school meals. It’s a perfect “carry-all” bag for everyday use.
FRESH HESPERIDES GRAPEFRUIT ROLLERBALL sephora.com | $22
LINDSAY K. There is nothing I love better than the smell of citrus, and trying to declare it as my signature scent has been a longtime personal goal. This convenient rollerball fits in your purse and makes you smell â€˜freshâ€™ and clean. I am not a big perfume person, but I love this because it gives you that hint of something without knocking you in the face.
RIFLE PAPER CO. 2015 TRAVEL THE WORLD WALL CALENDAR riflepaperco.com | $26
CHRISTINE A. I had the pleasure of visiting Rifle Paper Company’s store and studio in Winter Park, Florida this summer. I’ve always been enchanted by their designs and I finally did some serious damage in their studio. Their drawings are my go-to for charming cards, journals, calendars, coasters, note pads, phone cases, and prints - I currently have a Wrigley Field print by them in my studio. This calendar showcases their charming, vintage-inspired designs. I can’t wait to hang it on my wall.
THREADLESS T-SHIRTS threadless.com | $15+
I have a dozen Threadless t-shirts in my closet. Most of them with a food-related statement, naturally. You can choose between clean, retro, or funny designs -- they have it all, and they are so comfortable. If you prefer â€œwearingâ€? them on your phone, they also come as iPhone cases.
REWINED CANDLES rewinedcandles.com | $28
AMANDA T. Rewined Candles are handmade from recycled wine bottles. Each soy wax candle has a unique label and is inspired by one of 7 wine varietal scents.
SEPHORA MASCARA sephora.com | $15
ERICA W. A non-food related gift that I like to give my friends with the gift of glam is blue or purple mascara from Sephora. This mascara gives your eyelashes just a subtle pop of color that is perfect for the holidays! Its something that people probably wouldnâ€™t buy for themselves, but once they try it, they will be hooked!
DRURY LANE SEASON TICKETS drurylaneoakbrook.com | $140+
ALISON G. The 2015-2016 season includes Billy Elliott the Musical, Beaches, Peter and the Star Catcher, White Christmas the Musical, and Bye Bye Birdie. A great gift for the suburbinate that loves a night at the theater but doesn’t want to trek downtown. We’ve yet to see a show at Drury Lane that we didn’t love!
FROM CHICAGO FOOD BLOGGERS chicagofoodbloggers.com | @chifoodbloggers | facebook.com/chicagofoodbloggers
For the second year in a row, a group of Chicago Food Bloggers came together to create a list of our favorite foods, kitchen tools, cookbook...