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Food Gifts

Last Minute Gifts for Dad

By | Craft, DIY, Food Gifts | No Comments

This Father’s Day guide for dad contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure agreement for details. 

As seen on The Today Show

Tomorrow is Dad’s big day. Are you ready? Last week I published my Father’s Day Gift Guide for Every Kind of Dad, but if you procrastinated getting your guy a gift, never fear, I’m here to help. As the clock ticks down, I’m offering my favorite last minute gifts for every kind of dad. Trust me, they’re so good, your guy will think you spent weeks planning to surprise him.

Man’s Man

Philips Shoqbox Mini Rugged Waterproof Speaker


Don’t let this bluetooth speaker’s tiny size fool you. The Philips Shoqbox is loaded with features and tough enough to take on the road anywhere you want to go. The whole thing is small enough to hold comfortably in the palm of your hand, but it’s completely waterproof, has a built in mic for taking phone calls, oh, and it floats too. Did you hear that? IT FLOATS!

 

Nuts and Bolts Picture Frame

Nuts and Bolts Father's Day Picture Frame

Honor the dad who does it all with this cute DIY nuts and bolts frame. A frame, some nuts and bolts, some glue, and the tutorial from SheKnows is all you need to make this cute gift a reality. The best part is this is an easy gift for little hands to help with too.

 

Perry Ellis Water-Resistant Nylon Travel Kit

Perry Ellis Water-Resistant Nylon Travel Kit

Even the most organized dad could use a little help keeping it all together. This water-resistant travel kit will lend a hand, and makes a stylish travel companion to organize all his toiletries on the go. You can pick one up at a Macy’s near you.

 

DIY Shaving Cream with Printable Label

TheIdeaRoom.net DIY-Shaving-Cream

Who knew you could make your own shaving cream? This simple recipe from The Idea Room is cute, practical, and will leave Dad’s skin feeling great! Don’t forget to use the free printable label to take this gift over the top.

 

DIY Beard Oil with Printable Label

EverythingEtsy.com DIY-Beard-Oil

Sure, your mountain man may save time on shaving, but that doesn’t mean his facial hair doesn’t require love and attention. This DIY Manly Man Beard Oil from EverythingEtsy.com is simple to make, but will impress your guy on Father’s Day.

 

Foodie Father

Tara Teaspoon’s BBQ Rub

Tara Teaspoon's BBQ Rub

My 10-ingredient BBQ rub recipe makes enough to last all summer long, which means it’s the gift that keeps on giving. A few Tablespoons is all you need each time you use it. With a little bit of luck, this is a gift you’ll get to enjoy too.

2 1/2 Tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
7 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp celery salt
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
5 tsp dry mustard
5 tsp ground cumin
5 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients, making sure brown sugar is evenly distributed. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Makes 1 1/4 cups

 

DIY Handprint Apron

DIY Handprint Apron

What do you get when you combine an apron, iron on transfers, paint, and tiny hands? A gift any dad would be proud to wear in the kitchen or while manning the grill. Simply Kierste has the full tutorial for how to make your own customized apron.

Mantry Man’s Pantry

Mantry Man's Pantry

Your Foodie Father can’t get better than his own curated pantry of snacks, sauces and artisan foods. Subscribe him to receive crates of delicious food just for him at Mantry.com. You’ll get a printable card to gift him so he knows what to expect in the mail, along with stories and recipes to use the cool products.

“Shirt” Gift Wrapper

Shirt and Tie Bottle Wrap

You COULD gift the standard shirt and tie this year, OR you could scrap it (literally), and use it to wrap up a bottle of Dad’s favorite drink. According to the step-by-step directions from The Tamara Blog, you don’t even need to sew a stitch to pull off this unique look.

Sentimental Dad

Printable Room Service Kit

Printable Room Service Kit

Even if you burn the toast and undercook the eggs, this adorable printable room service kit will start Father’s Day off right. The card and food toppers from The Dating Divas will add tons of noticeable cred to your special breakfast delivery service.

 

Cooper and Kid Activity Kits

Cooper and Kid Activity Kits

It can be tough finding fun activities that allow for quality “Dad and Me” time. The Cooper Kit from Cooper and Kid is a quarterly subscription box that is designed with Dad in mind. It comes packed with products, activities, stories, resources, and even recipes. The box comes with everything needed to have stress-free, creative together time.

 

My Hero is My Dad Printable Questionnaire

My Hero is My Dad Printable Questionnaire

You won’t believe the answers your kids will give as they fill out this cute printable questionnaire about their Dad. It’s a cute way to mark the day and remember the little people who made him a Dad in the first place.

If you procrastinated Father's Day shopping, I'm here to help. These last minute gift ideas for Dad are so good your guy will think you spent weeks planning

Father’s Day Gift Guide For Every Kind Of Dad

By | Craft, DIY, Father's Day, Food Gifts, Gift Guides, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Outdoor, Uncategorized | No Comments

This Father’s Day guide contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure agreement for details. 

Check out my Father’s Day Gift Guide for every kind of dad. Whether he’s an outdoorsman, a foodie father, or just a classy guy, I found the perfect gift ideas.

You’ve heard it said before, “My dad is the BEST dad in the world!” Perhaps you’ve even said it a time or two, and if I’m being totally honest, I believe my dad is the very best.

Bob and Tara

Me and Dad

Every dad has unique qualities that make him worthy of that description. Those special, individual traits that set our fathers apart from one another,  so shouldn’t the gifts that we give them match their personalities? I think so! Check out the following guide, help the kids pick out the perfect gift for dad, or get your own pop a thing or two.

 

The Outdoor Dad

The Outdoor DadPack up the goods, the outdoorsy dad is ready for an adventure! Some dads spend time with their families at the movies or out to dinner, but not the outdoor dad! He loves gathering the family together on the mountainside and out in the fresh air.

 

Hiking Shoes for Dad and the Kids
Take a hike…in a good way, in these “Daddy and me” VERSATRAIL KEEN hiking shoes. These stylish and comfortable shoes come in big and small, matching sizes, so the whole family can be in on the adventure. See large selection on the Keen site.

Keen "Daddy and Me" Shoes

Eco-Friendly Fish-Shaped Cutting Board
If dad likes to cook in wide open spaces, he needs a cutting board for the job. These Epicurean Camp Series Cutting Boards come in a fish shapes! How great is that? They also come in standard sizes, but the quality remains the same. Made from natural wood fiber, and heat-resistant up to 350ºF, they’re light, durable, eco-friendly and work just as good in the home as they do outdoors.

Epicurean Camp Series Boards

 

One Skillet, Full Meal
For dad, the campfire cooking doesn’t stop with the cutting board! He’ll need a skillet if he wants to whip up a fantastic meal under those blankets of stars. This Master Pan Non-Stick Divided Grill/Fry/Oven Skillet allows dad to make a full meal with just one pan. I mean, it only takes one propane burner for the skillet to grill up a hot meal? Amazing!

Master Pan Non Stick Skillet

Good Lookin’ Board Shorts
Beach and pool trips are coming up now that the kids are out of school and Father’s Day is here. If dad needs a new suit, swim suit that is, check out this stylish pair from Target. The Mossimo Supply Co. swim trunks are crafted with a durable poplin weave and a touch of spandex for a great fit.

Tara Teaspoon, Father's day, gift guide, father's day gifts

 

The Classy Dad

The Classy DadThe classy dad values quality. He likes a nice thing or two. He loves those tech gadgets that keep him up to speed and on time. A nice shave kit and great pants are his thing. And maybe your classy dad even likes a cocktail/mocktail here and there.

 

Cool Shades
Dad will look good in these Aviator Polarized Sunglasses no matter where he’s going. Classy or not dad’s lose sunglasses, or maybe he just needs a pair in every car, or mansion he owns. Either way you won’t go wrong with these stylish shades on Father’s Day.

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, Gift guide, Father's day gifts

 

Hanging Travel Bag
A shave kit that doesn’t have to sit on the wet sink! It hangs on the door knob, hook or towel rack, so no matter where dad goes he stays classy. This Perry Ellis travel bag is compact and looks cool and manly! Plus it’s on sale! Get it now!
Perry Ellis Mens Hanging Travel Bag

Hanging Travel Bag, Black, hi-res

 

 

 

 

 

Mix It Up All In One
Shake things up with the Tovolo 4-in-1 Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker. This cocktail shaker allows you juice, jig, strain and mix cocktails all with one shaker. Your dad will not only be impressed with the simplicity of the shaker, but he’ll also be excited to put it to good use!

Tovolo 4-in-1 Cocktail Shaker

A Little Down Time
A classy dad is ever the busy dad. Whether playing ball with the kids, or fixing the garage door, or repairing his little girl’s bike, he keeps it all going strong. Give him a little break with a Massage Envy Gift Card. Receive a free 30-minute upgrade and choice of a free Enhanced Therapy with $125 in gift card purchases – or get discounts on these items during this next week: Murad Shaving Essentials Set – $67 value, $50 – Whish Shaving Kit with reusable travel bag – $50 value, $25 – Spongelle Men’s Super Buffer, $14 value, $10.

Treatment Gift Card

 

The Foodie Father

The Foodie FatherThe foodie father loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking up a masterpiece for his family to enjoy, so why not make his hobby a little bit more enjoyable?

The next steak that your dad makes will be the best one yet with help from the SteakChamp Ultimate Steak Thermometer. Any great grill master knows that the perfect steak takes time and patience, and this thermometer lets dad know exactly when the steak is done to perfection. LED lights guide the way and the probe reads heat along it’s entire length. Good stuff.

 SteakChamp Ultimate Steak Thermometer

 

Dad will be obsessed with this Sphere Ice Maker from Tovolo. At least I am! He can make perfectly round, clear ice cubes with this awesome gadget. The insulated stand creates two ice spheres that won’t dilute drinks. Plus they look super cool and dad will get all the praise!

Sphere Ice Maker

Decorate A Cake You Didn’t Have To Make
No fuss, with all the glory! Any dad will be grateful for a delicious ice cream cake. Did you know you can get an un-decorated Carvel Ice Cream Cake at the store, then decorate it yourself? What a great way to send your own message on Father’s Day and get the kids involved. Eat fast! It melts. GET IT at your local grocery store!

Decorate An Ice Cream Cake

 

The Coolest Dish Ever
Take dad’s cooking game to a whole new level with the Le Creuset Dish with Platter. The multi-function design of the dish allows your dad to keep things simple and delicious around the grill by cutting out multiple dishes that hardly keep the food at the sizzling heat of deliciousness. Marinate meat in the dish and serve it on the cool platter included!

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, Gift Guide

So Much More Than Ice Cream
I have to say I think this is a pretty cool kitchen appliance! It’s not just an ice cream maker. The new Cuisinart Fruit Scoop Dessert Maker churns fresh fruit into a frozen dessert. So if dad is on a health kick he’ll absolutely love it! The special mashing paddle gets the fruit perfectly smashed with no extra ingredients. No when his health kick is over…The machine makes regular ice cream and frozen yogurt like a dream!

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, gift guide

 

The Tech Dad

The Tech Dad

Father’s who love technology are the most fun to shop for because they’re interested in the latest and greatest gadget. Sometimes shopping for the techy dad can be dangerous because you end up shopping for yourself after finding all the cool things there are out there.

 

Never Miss A Thing
Dad might lose his wallet or phone every once in a while (or maybe the kids just play tricks on him), but the techy TrackR Bravo helps him track it. Dad sends a request through his phone and the tracker rings on his keys. Dad’s phone goes missing? Well, this little device works on the opposite way too, and calls his phone to set off a ring, even if it’s on silent!

 TrackR Bravo  TrackR Bravo

 

Keep It Together
His smart phone can do one more amazing thing – double as his wallet! Get dad this Card/ID Holder iphone Case and lighten his load. No more bulky wallet, it’s all in one place!

Card/ID Holder iphone Case

 

Dad On The Go
For a gadget guy on the go there’s nothing better than having all the right cords, cables and chargers. This portable, waterproof case keeps his cords and hard drive in one place. Easy to carry on, or keep at home. Velcro straps and pockets allow everything to stay separated and untangled. I want one! Forget Father’s Day, when is Single Girl’s Day?

portable, waterproof case

Happy Shopping! And Happy Father’s Day!

Oh, the happy flavor combos you can make with these Magnificent Macaroons! Punch up this classic by adding dried fruits, nuts and even chocolate!

Magnificent Macaroons

By | Baking + Desserts, Cookies + Brownies, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Snacks, Uncategorized | No Comments

Oh, the happy flavor combos you can make with these Magnificent Macaroons! Punch up this classic by adding dried fruits, nuts and even chocolate!

 

Is there a more glorious combination than toasted coconut and the creamy sweetness of sweetened condensed milk? No, no there is not. Read on my friends.

Magnificent Macaroons

Sweetened condensed milk has been around for many years and is the staple in desserts, beverages, candies and cookies.  Where would Tres Leches cake be without the most important leche – sweetened condensed milk.  Not to forget the other side of the spectrum – it can even be found in savories such as Asian-inspired marinades and curries.  It stores well and will keeps in the refrigerator after opening for up to 3 weeks.  If you have leftovers from a recipe, you can always find many places to drizzle.  In this recipe, the milk solids add a wonderful nutty flavor as it browns in the oven.

Magnificent Macaroons

Whisking the egg whites in this recipe helps these macaroons stay less compact as the tiny air bubbles expand the volume.  When beating egg whites, remember that their volume increases six to nine times in size so use a large enough stainless steel or glass bowl for best results.  Plastic bowls inevitably retain grease no matter how clean they are and the tiniest bit of fat will prevent the peaks we want to achieve.  Start with egg whites at room temperature to ensure fullest volume.  Sugar is added as soft peaks form and it is crucial that it is added a little at a time so it will dissolve.  These macaroons call for sweetened condensed milk to be folded in gently to maintain that volume.

Magnificent Macaroons2

Macaroon cookies are typically just coconut. But I couldn’t resist a little addition. I used dried cherries and mini chocolate chips, but feel free to experiment and find your favorite combo. I also recommend toasted almonds and dried apricots – delicious!

Magnificent Macaroons

 

Magnificent Macaroons

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Magnificent Macaroons

Punch up this classic treat by adding fruit, nuts or chocolate. I used dried cherries and mini chocolate chips, but feel free to experiment and find your favorite combo. I also recommend toasted almonds and dried apricots - delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 14-oz bag shredded sweetened coconut
  • ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Whisk egg whites with salt in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit; scoop 2-inch balls about 1 inch apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  2. Bake at 300°F until golden, about 25 minutes
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
https://tarateaspoon.com/magnificent-macaroons/

To add to your beautiful cookie buffet platter, also try my Clementine Almond Cookies and Coconut Cherry Balls.

Recipe by Tara Bench
Photographer Paula Hible
Prop Stylist Jen Everett

Just when you thought you couldn't love bacon any more than you already do, here are 101 ways to enjoy this delicious meaty treat.

101 Ways To Love Bacon

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Baking + Desserts, Breakfast + Brunch, Chicken, Easy Dinners, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Homemade Gifts, Main Dish, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, Snacks | 2 Comments

Oh, bacon! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! No really, let’s count them. Just when you thought you couldn’t love bacon any more than you already do, here are 101 ways to enjoy this delicious meaty treat. HINT: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Bacon is meat candy. Admit it, you think so too!
It’s one of the most versatile foods–used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even desserts. I mean, that really covers it. These days no one blinks if you mention bacon on a cake, in a cocktail or a fancy chocolate bar. You can serve bacon wrapped in bacon on top of bacon and people wouldn’t question it.

This stat puts it all into perspective (not really, but I think it’s funny) “In general, 62 percent of people prefer bacon over sausage on breakfast sandwiches. But among those who feel more confident in dressy clothes than in comfortable clothes, 74 percent prefer bacon on breakfast sandwiches.”  From correlated.com.

In honor of this ever-popular, delicious food, I’ve collected 101 ways to cook it, use it, eat it and celebrate it. This was done purely out of love–for you, and for bacon. To help you navigate the list, it’s broken into categories. However, categories or not, I urge you to start from the top and enjoy all the way to the bottom!

 

How to Cook Bacon

The first rule of bacon is knowing how to cook it. You’re no longer limited to the ol’ frying pan when it comes to cooking bacon. My personal favorite method is to bake it in the oven, but you can’t go wrong with any of these options.

1. How to Bake Bacon in the Oven

2. How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

3. How to Cook Bacon in a Waffle Iron (and 13 other ways)

Waffle Iron Bacon

4. How to Batch Cook and Freeze Bacon

5. How to Make Heart Bacon

 

Breakfast Dishes

Ok, ok, I couldn’t help but include some breakfast recipes. But these aren’t your typical bacon and eggs dishes. These take bacon for breakfast to the next level.

6. Bacon Pancake Dippers

7. Maple Bacon Pancakes

Maple Bacon Pancakes

8. Bacon Stuffed Waffle

9. Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Quesadilla

10. Nutella and Bacon Stuffed French Toast

Bacon Stuffed French Toast

11. Apple Bacon Breakfast Burrito

 

Main Dishes

Bacon, it’s what’s for dinner. These dishes are sure crowd pleasers, and offer some new ways to highlight the flavors of bacon in your main course.

12. Spicy Maple-Bacon Drumsticks

Spicy Maple-Bacon Drumsticks

13. Macaroni and Cheese Pie with Bacon Lattice

14. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Chicken

15. Bacon Weave BLT (video)

16. Bacon Wrapped BBQ Meatballs

17. Bacon Wrapped Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers

18. BBQ Onion Meatball Balls

19. Sweet & Spicy Bacon Chicken Sandwich

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Chicken Sandwich

20. Bacon Explosion

21. Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Brats

22. Bacon Wrapped Meatballs

23. Feta Chicken Breasts

24. Bacon Wrapped Grilled Cheese (video)

25. Bacon Wrapped Turkey with Chipotle and Orange Rub

26. Bacon Pretzel Grilled Cheese

27. Donut Bacon Cheeseburger

Donut Bacon Cheeseburger

28. Bacon Mac and Cheese Taco

 

Side Dishes and snacks

If it’s a snack or side dish you’re looking for, then bacon is the answer. After all, what pairs better with a bacon main course than more bacon?

29. Cheese and Bacon Muffins

30. Caramelized Onion and Bacon Mashed Potatoes

31. Wrapped Bacon Breadsticks

32. Bacon Granola

Bacon Granola

33. Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

34. Bacon-Wrapped Corn on the Cob

35. Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites

Bacon Mac and Cheese Bites

36. Coca-Cola Soaked Bacon

37. Bacon and Brussels Sprout Spears

38. Maple Bacon Pretzel Rods

39. Bacon and Guacamole Fat Bombs

Bacon and Guacamole Fat Bombs

40. Bacon Cream Cheese Bites

41. Bacon Ranch Pepper Jack Pull Apart Bread

42. Bacon Wrapped Avocados

43. Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

44. Bourbon Bacon Jam

45. Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Stuffed Jalapeños

Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Stuffed Jalapeños

46. Candied Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple with Honey-Sriracha Sauce

47. Candied Bacon Baked Brie

48. Bacon Wrapped Cheese Fries

49. Cheddar Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball

50. Smoked Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings

51. Easy Cheesy Bacon Biscuit Pull-Aparts

52. Bacon on a Stick

53. Maple Bacon Bourbon Popcorn

54. Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

55. Sweet and Savory Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Puff Pastry Twist

Sweet and Savory Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Puff Pastry Twist

56. Campfire Bacon

57. Bacon Mozzarella Sticks

HINT: These would be amazing using these tasty mozzarella sticks from Farm Rich Snacks

58. Bacon Potato Skewers

59. Chicken Bacon Ranch Bombs

60. Deep Fried Doritos Crusted Bacon

61. Baked Beans in a Bacon Cup

Baked Beans in a Bacon Cup

62. Bacon Wrapped Parmesan Cracker Bites

63. BBQ Volcano Potatoes

64. Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies

65. Loaded Mashed Potato Balls

 Loaded Mashed Potato Balls

66. Easy Glazed Bacon Crackers

67. Bacon Wrapped Dates

68. Apricot Thyme Glazed Bacon Sticks

69. Crispy Deep Fried Bacon

 

Desserts

Bacon has a sweet and savory quality to it that makes it a perfect choice to use in desserts. These unusual pairings will have everyone asking for more.

70. Candied Maple Bacon Donut

71. Bacon Cannoli

Bacon Cannoli

72. Bacon Doughnuts

73. Maple Bacon Fudge

74. Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich

Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich

75. Sweet Bacon Monkey Bread

76. Vosges Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar

77. Bacon Toffee

78. Bacon Pralines

79. Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

80. Bacon Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

 Bacon Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

81. Pancakes ‘n’ Bacon Cookies

82. Brown Sugar Bacon Twists

83. Bacon and Whiskey Caramel Marshmallow Toffee

84. Beer Candied Bacon Strips

85. Maple Glazed Bacon Skewers with Chocolate

86. Maple Bacon Mini Cheesecakes

Maple Bacon Mini Cheesecakes

87. Maple Bacon Donuts

88. Bacon Weave Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Bacon Compote

89. Sweet Bacon Monkey Bread

90. Bacon Crack

 Bacon Crack

 

Drinks

This just goes to show that bacon really does go with everything.

91. Peppered Bacon Bloody Mary

Peppered Bacon Bloody Mary

92. Maple Bacon Old Fashioned Cocktail

93. Chocolate Bacon Shot Glasses

Chocolate Bacon Shot Glasses

 

Bacon Things

Whether you’re looking for home decor, fashion, or a gift for the bacon lover in your life, here are a few fun bacon finds.

94. There is No “We” in Bacon Printable

There is No "We" in Bacon Printable

95. Don’t Go Bacon My Heart Mug . . . I Couldn’t if I Fried.

96. Baconnaise

97. Bacon Tape

98. J&D’s Bacon Salt

99. Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies – Bacon and Eggs Scarf Pattern

Bacon and Eggs Scarf

 

Vegetarian Options

For any vegetarians out there, please accept my condolences, and this recipe for something akin to bacon.

100. Tofu Bacon

 

Dog Treats

Even dogs love bacon, and now you can feel good about feeding it to them.

101. Peanut Butter and Bacon Dog Treats

Also produced by Melanie Donahoo. This post may include affiliate and sponsor links. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.

Valentine’s Day Hacks (that cover all your bases)

By | Baking + Desserts, Craft, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized, Valentines | No Comments

Valentine’s Day is on Sunday! Whew that’s soon. You still have all week for kids boxes, gifts, decor and treats.

Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us in the middle of a quiet winter month. But if you forget about it well, you’re in big trouble. If you’ve let something slip your mind this V-Day, don’t worry, because I’ve got your back with these 9 Valentine’s Hacks that cover all your bases.

Décor

Blog Valentines Garland

Even if you’re late to the game on the Valentine’s Day décor, the good news is the entire month of February is dedicated to love. My friend Liz used to live in New York, and she posted this cute 10-minute vellum heart garland on her blog, Say Yes. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any vellum on hand, you could use construction paper, yardstick, or even regular paper for a cute and simple look.

Gifts

Food Stirs Valentines Baking Kits

I love the idea of a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and the actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar, has developed the cutest subscription baking kits at Foodstirs. Each one is themed, and you can order a single kit, or a kit every month for a year. They are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers with your little chefs.

 

I Heart Naptime Valentines Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Four ingredients and five minutes, need I say more? Ok, I will, but only because this homemade vanilla sugar scrub from I Heart Naptime is such a fabulous idea. A homemade gift from the heart will surely make anyone feel special, and no one needs to know how easy it is to make.

Kid’s Valentines

Tatertots and Jello Valentines Box

Forget about complicated shoe box and construction paper menageries. This year, you can simplify your kid’s Valentine box with this cute hot air balloon. All you need is a helium balloon and a basket of some sort, and your kids will be ready for any delivery that comes their way.

Housing a Forest Emoji Valentines

Teens, tweens, elementary school kids, or even text-happy adults will flip out at these creative DIY Valentine. Housing a Forest has the full tutorial, but you can really let your imagination run wild as you create these.

Food

The Paper Mama Valentines Bacon Hearts

Oh I heart bacon. I really do! The Paper Mama might just be the smartest woman in the world, because—bacon hearts! Nothing says “I Love You” better than the sizzling sounds of bacon. The simple and smart heart shape is just an added bonus.

The Idea Room Valentines Heart Salad

Fancy up a simple green salad with heart shaped tomatoes and carrots. Amy from The Idea Room has the simple tutorial for this salad of love.

 

Super Make It Valentines Treats

My friend Jodi from my Martha Stewart days is a creative crafter extraordinaire. She and I would  work on food craft projects together and she always had the most fun ideas. She has her own food craft book, and she recently shared this cute idea for a V-Day heart treat. It’s really a triple threat: a treat, décor, and it uses up leftover Christmas candy.

 

Date Night

Brit and Co Valentines Date Plan

I didn’t forget about date night! Sure, you could make reservations and go the traditional route with the crowds, or be with your love at home. Stick with the Ultimate Romantic Dinner Date Brit+Co outlines, and you’ll finish off Valentine’s Day looking like a champion.

What are some of your favorite Valentine hacks?

 
Produced by Melanie Donahoo

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Buffets, Christmas, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Lifestyle, New Years, Party Foods, Snacks, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian | No Comments

Golden mixed nuts might be my new favorite party food. Gold makes everything a little more fantastic! I am loving all the edible gold food adornments, sprinkles, dusts and sprays that you can find now. Snacks for my Golden Globes viewing party just got…well…more gold!

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts
I wanted something easy, mostly store-bought to go with some of the other treats, snacks and drinks I am preparing. But I wanted it to be special. I’m very supportive of mixing store-bought prepared foods with things you may have made, or semi-made! Tricks like that let you enjoy the party instead of being completely exhausted from prep.

Snacks
Mixed nuts are just the thing. You can add little bowls all over the room and on your buffet table so people can snack and mingle. But it is the Golden Globes! It must be just a bit fancier than a can of mixed nuts.

So…I took a can of mixed nuts and seasoned them with a little garlic, rosemary and pepper. Delicious. To make them gold, I sprayed a few with edible gold spray, which you can find in your area or here.

color mist-food spray

nuts

I’ve sprayed nuts to go on top of cookies before, so getting to that place of spraying nuts with gold, wasn’t a stretch. I love them all shimmery and metallic mixed into a simple bowl. And with simple seasonings the flavor is elevated to celebrity status. Ready for the red carpet!

sprayed nuts seasonings Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 cups

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Make these for a fancy party or special gathering. Edible gold spray makes for metallic shimmers in the bowl of savory mixed nuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fancy mixed nuts
  • 1 can edible gold food spray
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • crushed pepper

Instructions

  1. Spread ¼ cup of the nuts on a sheet of parchment. Spray with gold food spray and let dry a few minutes. Turn nuts over and spray so each nut is completely covered. Let dry.
  2. Chop 1 sprig of rosemary and leave the others intact. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the oil, garlic powder, cayenne, chopped rosemary, rosemary sprigs and pepper for 10 to 15 seconds to heat the oil. Toss the remaining mixed nuts with the oil mixture to coat.
  3. Transfer nuts to a serving bowl with the gold painted nuts mixed in and on top.
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Recipe, Photo and Food Styling Tara Bench

Holiday Recipes On Studio 5

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Buffets, Candy, Christmas, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Lifestyle, Meat + Poultry, Party Foods, Tips And Techniques, Tutorial, Uncategorized | No Comments

Today on tv Brooke and I talked about holiday parties, holiday recipes, food buffets, how much to serve your guests and how to make food gifts at home that look like artisan delicacies!

I love visiting the beautiful Brooke Walker on Studio 5, on KSL here in Utah. She is honestly such an amazing host. So genuine and keeps the show upbeat, positive and informative.
We had so much fun talking about (well I talked everyone’s ears off) holiday-worthy apps and bites as well as delicious sweets that are perfect gifts.
Watch below!

Spicy Grapefruit Guacamole Holiday RecipesPeanut Butter Bites Holiday RecipesWonderful-Halos-Prosciutto-Bruschetta-Bites-1024x683 (1)
palette square holiday recipesHam Gruyere Mini Turnovers Holiday RecipesGINGERBREAD Caramel Holiday Recipes

Peanut Butter Bites

By | Candy, Christmas, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Snacks, Uncategorized | No Comments

I grew up making candy with my mom, especially around Christmas. But there would be times we’d make taffy or honey candy to pull at other times of the year. She was good at it. Candy making can be tricky, with all its science and particulars.

I still like doing it, but I also like the easy route, like these no-cook peanuty chews. They take 30 minutes to make, and suddenly you feel like the corner candy shop and want to decorate the kitchen in pink and stripes.
Peanut Butter BitesEven if you can’t make candy like See’s or Fauchon, you can definitely make these.
Chewy and peanut-buttery, they melt in your mouth and taste milky and sweet. Kids will love helping roll ropes of the candy and cutting it into pieces.

Peanut-Butter Bites

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 30 pieces

Peanut-Butter Bites

How easy are these chewy treats? You don't even need to turn on the stove - this recipe is completely no-cook.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup nonfat dry milk
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. In a food processor pulse dry milk until it forms a fine powder, about 5 pulses. In a mixing bowl combine peanut butter and corn syrup. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth.
  2. Add dry milk a little at a time and stir until mixture is stiff enough to work with your hands. Knead any remaining dry milk into mixture. Roll into ropes ½ inch thick. Cut into 2¼-inch-long pieces. Wrap in waxed paper or cellophane candy wrappers (you can order candy wrappers at clearcellobags.com) Store at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
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Peanut Butter Bites 3

Recipe: Tara Bench
Photographer: Kang Kim
Originally published in Ladies Home Journal December 2011

 

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

By | Candy, Christmas, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Fruit, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | One Comment

Chocolate bark gets a festive French makeover! If you wonder around Paris and make your way through every chocolate shop you see (which is what every food-obsessed gal does, right?), you’ll run across beautiful trays of little palettes. What you’re looking at is essentially chocolate bark, made the fancy French way!
Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)Chocolate bark is one of the most delicious holiday treats, gifts and the best part, it’s easy to make. I wanted something just that simple, but a little more fancy, and easy-to-package and give.

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

I topped these holiday palettes with little bits of dried fruit, candied ginger, those beautiful green, already shelled Wonderful pistachios, and of course some little silver dragees and holiday sprinkles. The kids can also help. Spoon the white and dark chocolate onto parchment and let their little hands sprinkle and arrange the toppings.Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

When the chocolate set, I packaged little stacks in mini cellophane bags and tied them up. Very French Christmas if I do say so myself! Take that chocolate bark! Ohh la la!

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 Palettes (6 semi sweet, 6 white chocolate)

Pistachio Chocolate Bark (Palettes)

A chic version of chocolate bark! The French call these little treats Palettes and they are simply fine chocolate with artfully arranged nuts and fruit. Stick to Wonderful pistachios and add some holiday sprinkles to make them your own.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz (¾ cup) good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, or chocolate bar
  • 4 oz (¾ cup) good quality white chocolate chips, or chocolate bar
  • ¼ cup Wonderful pistachios
  • Dried fruit such as apricots, ginger, blueberries, bananas, plums, peaches, cranberries and cherries
  • Sprinkles and silver dragées

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolates in separate bowls. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spoon 1 tbsp chocolate onto parchment for each palette. Chocolate will settle into a circle.
  2. Decorate each palette with pistachios, dried fruit and sprinkles, cutting fruit into slivers or pieces as needed. Chill palettes for 30 min. If packaging, package while cold. Serve.
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Photography Tara Bench, unless where noted
Recipe Tara Bench

 

 

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

My mom used to hand me the wooden spoon (there were no silicone spatulas back then) and hold her hand over mine with the spoon handle inside, then swirl the caramel in the pan in a “figure 8.” Always a figure eight pattern—so that there were no spots on the bottom of the pan that didn’t get stirred and then scorch.

Once I got the figure eight motion down she’d let go of my hand and let me do it. She’d attach the candy thermometer onto the side of the pot and show me a line where the mercury needed to rise to before I could stop stirring.

Buttery Black Licorice CaramelsI actually loved it. I would watch the sugar and butter mixture bubble and turn from blonde to gold, then to caramel brown. All the while watching the mercury rise. Then we would stir in the black coloring and anise oil and the entire house it seemed would smell like deliciousness.

Now when I make caramel I laugh thinking how smart my mom was to teach her 5 or 6 year old to stir the caramel for almost half an hour so she didn’t have to stand by the stove that entire time! Good form mom! Good form.

Watch my how-to video below to see how we made these Buttery Black Licorice Caramels. Don’t worry, we sped the almost 25 minutes of stirring up, so you can go on with your day! LOL

Also try my Vanilla Salted Caramels, recipe here. And find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here if you don’t want to use waxed paper.

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

The recipe for these divide black caramels came from Aunt Leila Ruth, my grandfather's little sister. Mom has made these for as long as I can remember. I grew up stirring the caramel and wrapping them. Convince everyone to try these! Even if they don't love black licorice, they will fall for these little candies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp anise oil
  • 1 tsp black gel-paste food coloring
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper

Instructions

  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in anise oil and black food coloring and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Wrap well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe from Mom
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo

 

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Salted caramel started as a food trend. Something fancy chefs devised in restaurant kitchens and it made it’s way into fine chocolate shops, magazines, cookbooks, regular awesome restaurants and now, well, everywhere! (thank goodness!)

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla CaramelsIn cooking, salt is a preservative, a yeast inhibitor but also a flavor enhancer. The reason we put salt in baked goods is simply to enhance or bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients. It brings out buttery flavors, the caramels of brown sugar, enhances chocolates subtle flavors and balances each bite.

These caramels are super easy, thanks to a combo of sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup that speed up the process of homemade caramels by at least half! Use a candy thermometer (order it here) to get just the right consistency.

There’s a bit of extra salt (sea salt for a lovely flavor) in the caramel itself, but I also sprinkled gorgeous sea salt crystals on top of each piece before wrapping. Find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here, or at specialty candy stores.

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla Caramels WrappingThe salt on top gives you a burst of that flavor enhancing power and immediately makes the butter, vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors explode in your mouth!

Watch my video for a glance at how simple they are to make. And check out the Buttery Black Licorice Caramels recipe in the demo for another amazing flavor.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

I used a vanilla bean paste so I get flecks of beautiful vanilla seeds in the caramel. You can just use vanilla extract if you'd like.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper

Instructions

  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in vanilla bean paste and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Sprinkle each piece with flaked sea salt before wrapping well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo