Whether you plan on baking every day, or a few times this Holiday Season, there is nothing more aggravating than to find a recipe you just have to make, only to realize you’re missing key ingredients. Think about all the home baked gifts you might like to give as gifts – will you be attending any Christmas parties that  might be nice to bring a hostess gift? How about showing your appreciation to teachers, doctors, or other professionals that have helped you throughout the year, or sweetening up a neighbor’s day? And, then of course who and how many times will you be entertaining over the holidays? Think about what might be nice to have on hand for those guests, and the unexpected ones. Don’t forget Santa!

'Tis the baking season!

‘Tis the baking season courtesy of JibJab cards

Chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon-raisin oatmeal cookies, and mom’s chocolate log happen to be a few of my family favorites, and I don’t have to think about it – I just always keep those ingredients on hand this time of year. The lists below will give you your basic baking essentials, but if you have specific recipes in mind already, be sure to check the ingredient list of the recipe as well to ensure you have everything you’ll need, including the equipment and containers for storage, and gifting.

Baking can be a great family activity, so make it a family affair

Baking can be a great family activity, so make it a family affair

Baking with my Auntie Vera and mom are some of my fondest childhood memories, so why not make it a family affair? Be sure to read through the recipes from beginning to end before you start. Everything will come together much faster if you pre measure the ingredients, plus you’ll be less likely to forget something important, and it will make it easier to assign age-appropriate tasks for all those involved.

Make-ahead dough

Make-ahead dough

Various bread and cookie doughs lend particularly well to preparing in advance, then just bake them off when you’re in a hurry for something homemade to enjoy (not to mention making the house smell yummy)! Divide the dough into portions and use plastic or freezer paper to wrap, then refrigerate or freeze. Cookies for example, should be scooped onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and flash-frozen uncovered. Once ready, transfer to freezer bags and return to your freezer. Mark each bag with a label of contents, baking times, temperatures, and be sure to include the date, so you don’t have to go hunting for the recipe again when you’re ready to use your frozen goodies.

Cookie Monster gifts

Gifts for the Cookie Monsters in your life

Cookies can be baked frozen, but remember to turn the cookie sheet 180º half way through the baking process. You can also bake ahead and freeze: cupcakes, cakes, pies, cookies and cheesecakes. Now you’re set to entertain in style without all of the fuss on the day of your gathering.

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Homemade Holiday Gift

Keeping this list of pantry and fridge basics on hand this time of year can save you both time and energy in making fewer trips to the grocery store:

Pantry                                                                                                               

All-Purpose Flour and Bread Flour
Cake Flour and Self-Rising Flour
Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar
Confectioner’s Sugar (10X Sugar)
Yeast (regular & rapid-rise)
Kosher & Iodized Salt
Baking Soda and Baking Powder
Vanilla Extract +1-2 bean pods (other flavored extracts)
Dark Cocoa Powder
Cream of Tartar
Assorted Nuts, Raisins, & Dried Cranberries
White & Dark Chocolate Chips
Pumpkin pie filling
Light or Dark Karo
Maple Syrup
Allspice, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Pie Seasonings
Vegetable Oil, Shortening, Non-Stick Spray
Chocolate Wafers
Graham Crackers
Old Fashion Oats
Various Decorating Candies

Refrigerator & Freezer

Unsalted Butter
Milk
Buttermilk
Heavy Cream
Cream Cheese
Sour Cream
Puff Pastry Sheets
Filo Sheets
Fresh Eggs

Quick, easy, no-bake gift certificates

Quick, easy, no-bake gift certificates

However, if you’re looking for a quick gift that requires no baking, please do check out our Personal Chef Approach gift certificates. There’s one to fit every budget, and it is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year when the cook in your life saves up to 7 or 8 hours every week, and no longer has to worry about “what’s for dinner?” For more about how the Personal Chef Approach works – please see the video below this scrumptious cookie recipe.

Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies embody so many of my favorite flavors – creamy butter, exotically aromatic cinnamon, richly sweet brown sugar, chewy raisins and chunky texture from the old fashioned oats, mmmmmmm! Guaranteed to fill the house with drool worthy aroma so enticing it’s hard to wait for the cookies to finish baking.

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