News and Gift Guide: Writing for Brit and Co, Foodie Gifts, Gifts for Makers

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 11.22.46 AMYep I’m at it again! Starting December 1st my articles have been appearing on the awesome DIY and Tech centric Brit + Co. And to start things off right, the first round-ups I did were on fun, non-traditional foodie gift ideas and creative gifts for makers and DIYers.

Each Gift Guide has 30 great and unique gift options in it! I worked really hard to find gifts that were thoughtful and hopefully a bit harder to find so that you don’t accidentally give the same popular gift to your cousin as say your aunt Betty! (Unless they read my articles too in which case all bets are off but may I say you both have excellent taste!)

Want a little taste of what you’ll find in these mega-gift guides?

So pop over and check them out! ‘Tis the season for gift giving after all. And that’s not all! I Also have a pet gifts post in the works for B + Co. and, for those interested in making their own presents, an entire round-up dedicated to DIY wall art gifts. Here’s a sneak peek:

Keep coming back on Fridays for more Gift Guides! This Friday will be a revisited Gift Guide for Techies!

Favorite Holiday Desserts: a round-up

Well it’s almost the holidays and maybe you’re thinking of what to make for all of those hungry, hungry relatives. In my family, the Christmas Eve party is always at my parents house and perhaps unlike normal family holiday parties, the definition of “family” is pretty all-encompassing. We have immediate family come, like my grandparents, great grandma, aunts and uncles. Then their siblings, children and spouses. At this point you’re probably saying, so what? that sounds pretty standard, well then there are my second cousins, third cousins, a great uncle’s remarried ex-wife and occasionally her new husbands family, roommates of second cousins and their adopted children. Oh and dogs, lots of dogs. If you haven’t guessed by my pictures, we have somehow become a Poodle family. I have two, my parents have one, my great-grandmother has one and then there is the poor harassed cat my grandparents own. Dr. Pepper (the cat) can certainly hold his own though and is often found on top of curtain rods and bookshelves.

Now have all of these people, related and not, and animals in one place. What do you feed them? The good news is that in a party this large someone will eat what you make. But I think I have found a few perfect holiday pleasers for family (large or small) and friends.


Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake from Bon Appetit

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake from Bon Appetit

Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Ice-Cream Pie

Found in: Bon Appetit Desserts

Slightly unconventional, yes. The first time I made this I was worried it was “too cold out” for ice cream. I was wrong. So, so, very wrong (the Warm Chocolate Truffle Sauce on the same page helps warm things up). After I made this once it became my assigned holiday dish every year. so be forewarned, if you like to change it up every year it may be hard to sell your family on something new.

Note: This does require preparation in advance (so that the ice cream can set up), so plan a day or two ahead!

Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Dulche de Leche Walnut Streusel

Found in: Sprinkle Bakes

It’s pumpkin pie baked in a cheese cake pan! How clever is that? It’s perfect for those family members that Just can’t get enough pie. But If you’re more of a fruit pie person, Heather Baird has got that covered too!


Chocolate Sugar Cookies from Sprinkle Bakes

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from Sprinkle Bakes

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Found in: Sprinkle Bakes Blog

A twist on the classic. These dense and intensely chocolatey cookies are GREAT for cookie cutters. They hold their shape incredibly well. I made these last Christmas and am certain I’ll make them again!

Sweet Treats:

Peppermint Hot Chocolate from A Zesty Bite

Peppermint Hot Chocolate from A Zesty Bite

Salted Pumpkin Caramels

Found in: Food 52

Okay I haven’t had these yet but they’re on this years list. I’ve heard wonderful things about these sweet and salty fall snacks. The seem just perfect for accompanying your coffee in the middle of that post-turkey drowsiness.

Hot Cocoa

Found on Brit + Co

Okay so technically this a link to 16 cocoa recipes but hey, I’m not picky! All forms of the warm and cozy beverages are welcome. I’m excited to try the Mexican hot chocolate or a holiday favorite of mine, peppermint hot chocolate.

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Found on Sugar and Cloth

These little bites are perfect for a large crowd. If you follow Ash’s brilliant instructions and buy frozen macaron shells (she found hers at Trader Joes) you’ll have a quick, easy, and easily customizable dessert for as many as you like! For holiday specific options think of chocolate peppermint ice cream, pumpkin spice ice cream, or any other exotic seasonal ice creams you can find!

The Changing eBook World: Cookbooks at Inkling

Here’s an easy start to this article, I love my job. I do, it’s different than my traditional ePUB work but my options have expanded drastically.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say ePUB is a wonderful standard conceptually but it’s been plagued by challenges outside of developers’ control which has significantly slowed down ePUB’s evolution. If left to our own devices developers can and will make beautifully creative ePUB books that push the boundaries of the standard, they are true works of art. Here’s the catch, they only work on specific devices. In large-scale ebook production, having your amazing book only available on tablets won’t fly. Publishers want and need accessibility at the lowest cost and in the least amount of time.

That means that you’re making the lowest common denominator ebook, at least until the devices catch up with the specs. This is where my options have altered. I can make gorgeous highly interactive ebooks that use HTML5 as their standard. Inkling provides me with the opportunity to delve more so into web development tactics without hesitation. Webkits? sure! Javascript? Definitely!

I get to see the books come alive and truly have their layout tailored to their content. Cookbooks and hobby books in particular seem to thrive in our card layout. I spent hours upon hours working on Flour, too trying to get the beautiful result I thought it deserved.  I got very close… but there were a few tiny caveats, I’m still frustrated that Kindle adds white backgrounds to .png images.

So when I saw in Twenty-dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals in a simple Inkling format, I was flabbergasted. It was so clean and simple and by using a card layout, they’ve solved the perpetual problem of making sure the photo is with the right recipe.  (This sounds simple, but in reflowable ePUB it can be a nightmare. Chicken Parmesan’s picture may end up sitting next to beef wellington’s recipe and to change it you have to further disrupt the layout sometimes even adding a blank or filler page.)

Screen Grab depicting poptip notes from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals

Screen Grab depicting poptip notes from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals

The recipes even carry over the author’s notes in the form of pop-tips (little floating notes) so that you can see alternative ingredients or preparation methods. Or you can take notes yourself and share them with friends. And once things get complex, there are timers and all kinds of widgets or quizzes that are just perfect for cookbooks. Since cooking is one of my greatest loves, you can imagine how exciting this was. Cookbooks deserve an option that does them justice and this seems like a step in the right direction!

So I tried actually making something from the app. I broke in my new ice cream maker by making The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World  From Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. While using my iPad in the kitchen was a new adjustment for me (and a little messy) I managed and had wonderful ice cream to eat (in spite of messing up the instructions a bit) and found a sort of contentment in the fact that the company I work for strives for high-quality content. It felt validating somehow.

While I daydream about all the cookbooks I’d like to see make it into our platform you can check these books out for yourselves. You should get a free preview of at least one and should you be interested, you can actually purchase singular chapters of books for a fraction of the cost of the whole book.

That aside, I love all of the new options I’ve been handed to do these books justice. It also helps that my coworkers are cool, very interested in being compatible with the ePUB standard (they ask me questions all the time) and the recipes are awesome!

Gift Guide: For Coffee Lover’s

Coffee lover's gifts

Happy Holidays! It’s time for another gift guide! Today we’ll focus on the coffee lover in your life (there’s always one!) with great gift ideas on both the low and high end of the price scale. That way you can find a simple stocking stuffer or a big ticket item for that special someone. Now pardon me while I go grab another cup of Java myself…

Gift Guide: Coffee Lover’s

1. “A Morning Without Coffee is Like Sleep”- this darling vintage style print can be found on Etsy for $21 from seller “Handz”. Want a stronger message? “Rule the World Start with Coffee” is also available on Etsy from NeueGraphic for $18. Both the prints are bright and colorful and pretty much sum up a coffee lover’s relationship with the delicious beverage.

2. Nespresso “CitiZ & Milk” Single Serve Espresso Maker– At $440 from Bloomingdales this is definitely a big ticket item. If you need a big gift for someone special, these Nespresso makers are delightful. With the milk frother/heater included your loved one will be able to make all their favorite coffee house drinks without all the equipment. Think the Keurig for espresso drinks.

3. Intelligentsia pour over gift box– $65 from For the coffee lover that makes their own brew. These gift boxes include everything they’ll need to make a great cup of joe. Novice? Not worries this box includes “a Hario V60 dripper, a box of 40 paper filters, an exclusive custom designed Intelligentsia coffee mug, a 3/4 lb bag of House Blend coffee, and a beautifully printed set of instructions for brewing the perfect cup.”

4. Daves Coffee Syrup– $21 for this Vanilla and Original coffee syrup combo or $11 for a single bottle of each. This syrup is delicious whether it’s in brownies, on ice cream, pancakes, etc. Upon trying my first taste I immediately looked up how to get some more (it’s really that good).

5. Reusable Coffee Sleeve– $8 from seller CKStitches on Etsy. There are over a dozen different designs to choose from and your coffee loving friend can enjoy feeling eco-friendly as they sip on their favorite Starbucks beverage.

6. Recycled Coffee Sack Market Tote– $40 from Etsy seller TheGreenBeanBag. This upcycled market tote is a fun way to show a love of coffee. Not only is it durable but its also eco and earth friendly. TheGreenBeanBag promises “$1 from every item sold goes to Global Orphan Project” on their shop description!

Thirsty? Have other ideas for gifts? I’d love to hear them!

Guess Who’s a New Boston Local Food Festival Blogger?

Yep it’s me! So maybe it’s not that hard to guess huh? You’re looking at one of the Boston Local Food Festival (BLFF) Bloggers for this year’s festival. If you’re wondering what BLFF is, you’re in the right place! Boston Local Food Festival is a large food and drink festival on October 7th at the Greenway with a great goal. Their mission states that they are trying to increase demand for locally and sustainably  produced food and support local farms and businesses by introducing them to a hungry urban population. To top it all off it’s a zero-waste festival, which means that volunteers help to ensure that everything is composted or recycled and nothing is thrown out.

Last year I volunteered in the information booth (yes that little brunette with the sunny disposition was me) and had an excellent time. I learned all about the festival, its admirable mission, and got to meet a lot of friendly people! This year I volunteered to be a blogger, in part because I (obviously) blog already and also so that I can go enjoy the festivities myself! Though I had a lot of fun in my little booth I missed out on some amazing cooking demonstrations by local chefs and on the Local Craft Brew Tastings (which were incredibly popular, trust me, buy your tickets when they are available). But if you can’t make the tastings you can always check out the Hyper-Local Craft Brew Fest which takes place the same weekend on Friday October 5th.

And if great food and drink isn’t enough to get your attention, there is also a market. Last year the market was chock-full of yummy treats and fun, food-inspired products. And if you have some little ones in tow, no worries, there were plenty of kid-friendly crafts and games to keep everyone occupied while mum and dad are trying some local dishes like lobster rolls, mini popcorn, crab cakes, pastas, chicken and waffles and so much more.

So look for me on BLFF’s blog in the coming months and get excited! I’ll see you all at the festival, I’ll be the one eating.

365: Sunny Day Pomegranate Iced Tea

5/12/2012- Nothing beats a little iced tea on a sunny day. To prepare for the return of the sun here in Boston I made a little pomegranate green tea iced tea using my nifty Weck Jars (think two big servings per jar).

It was really simple, I found a pomegranate tea (think of all the flavor possibilities) and poured boiling water over it and a green tea bag in the jar I was storing it in. I like my tea sweetened just a little too, so I added a heaping tablespoon of sugar to each jar (if you like sweeter iced tea go with 2 Tbs) and let it steep until it’s cool. Add just a dash of Pom Pomegranate juice (or some other type–a little goes a long way) and pop into the fridge. Don’t forget to leave the tea bags in! Here’s the hard part, the longer you leave it the better the sugar takes to the tea. I found that left overnight it was perfect for me but I bet that if you left it longer it’d be fine, maybe even better.

Here’s a fun idea, if you want to dress up your tea for guests, you could freeze pomegranate seeds to drop in as “ice cubes” and serve it in a wine or martini glass. It looks gorgeous and tastes delicious!