Gift-Wrapping Like a Pro

When a fellow blogger encouraged me to share my love of gift-wrapping in a “How To” post on my blog, I couldn’t resist! Supplies are simple: satin ribbons, decorative boxes, colorful berries, gift tags, quirky embellishments, and framed photographs. Put them all together and you have a captivating gift-wrapped package that will have your friends and family adoring its beauty rather than trying to sneak a peek inside. Place the the gifts under the Christmas tree or on the fireplace hearth to spread excitement as well as anticipation of an upcoming event. Decorated packages become “Instant Décor”. Interesting boxes can be found anywhere all year long. Often greeting cards, scented candles, exotic fragrances, and luxury beauty products are packaged in unique and vibrant boxes. It’s a shame to discard them after opening when you can go “green” and give them a facelift as a phenomenal package for someone else. Satin ribbon is classy and elegant, in my opinion. Choose polka dots, geometrics, or muted tones. Make single or multiple bows. Angle cut the ends to create a nice finish. Incorporate any embellishment such as a sprig of rosemary, a pine cone, a branch of holly, or an interesting ornament. Let your creativity shine! Sometimes I attach a gift tag, other times I take a snapshot of the recipient and put it in a miniature frame. Who doesn’t love seeing photos? Afterwards, the frames hang on the tree as memorable ornaments. Just be sure to include the date on the back for reminiscing years later. Whatever you design, have fun and be creative. Anything goes!

Xmas Pizzelle Cookies

Experience the Holidays: Xmas Pizzelle Cookies! I’m obsessed with food that has eye appeal. That’s one reason I was drawn to pizzelles, a traditional Italian waffle cookie. I could make you crazy by telling you we’re going to make them from scratch, but hey, my time is in high demand just like yours. Besides, since I don’t own a pizzelle iron, sometimes it’s better to leave things to an expert. I’m here today to save you time when someone suggests a Holiday Cookie Exchange. Pick up a package of Classic Italian Pizzelles on your way home from work, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts. You can thank me later when you’re sitting back relaxing with a glass of wine.

XMAS PIZZELLE COOKIES

Ingredients:

7-ounce package Vanilla Flavored Pizzelle Cookies

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 ounces pistachios, chopped

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Heat in microwave on 50% setting for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each pizzelle cookie into melted chocolate. Sprinkle both sides with chopped pistachios. Place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.

Xmas Crinkle Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Xmas Crinkle Cookies! Shortcuts are the key to success for that next cookie-exchange the kids forgot to tell you about. “Oh yeah, Mom, sorry.” No worries. Head to the kitchen to clang some pans around, preheat the oven, and dust a little powdered sugar on your nose. They’ll be none the wiser. By the time the house begins to smell like a neighborhood bakery, you’ll have rows of cookies lined up ready to be boxed. And if you’re one of those organized parents, just so you know, these cookies freeze well. Arrange them in a freezer gallon bag, layered between squares of waxed paper. I have literally taken these crinkle cookies out of the freezer and handed them to a little girl to eat. Other than being slightly chilled, they retain a chewiness that makes them simply delicious. You deserve a pat on the back. You’re welcome.

XMAS CRINKLE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

15.25-ounce box strawberry cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, room temperature

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberry cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir until a dough forms. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Shape dough into 1” balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until center is just set. Remove pan from oven; cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with more powdered sugar.