Tis the season, y’all!
Now, listen. We all know that holiday commercialism has gotten way out of control over the years, but this is nothing new. In fact, it’s a main theme in the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon from 1965. You see, the older I get, the less desire I have for things and the more I crave experiences. Mostly because I can’t break experiences. I’m really good at breaking things if we’re being honest here.
But the fact of the matter is, some of my favorite life experiences happen to be from moments spent giving and receiving gifts on Christmas. Whether they were big or small, good or bad, they’re all attached to warm memories that I keep tucked away deep inside to remind me of all the people that I love and how lucky I am that they all love me back (I think…).
So if it’s cool stuff for cool people you’re after, look no further than my 2016 gift guide. And hey, for the record, it’s totally cool to treat-yo-self at the holidays, too. (Also, get the recipe for Coquito – the Puerto Rican style eggnog pictured above here.)
I have lots of neat stuff this year that I hope will make someone on your list very happy. Everything listed below is either something I own and love or would love to own (unless otherwise stated). Full disclosure: some (but certainly not all) of these are affiliate links that allow me to make a (very small) commission on any products that you buy. (And yeah, for the record, I buy a lottt of crap on Amazon). All funds go right back into the maintenance of this website and are vurrrry much appreciated.
So without further adieu…
For the Cooks:
Spoonful Magazine – Oops! I had all intentions of including this in my original post, but somehow it slipped through the cracks. This gorgeous food “magazine” really reads more like a cook book with it’s big artistic photos, thick matte pages, and zero advertisements. I had the pleasure of working with the Spoonful gang on the cover story for their 2016 Summer issue and it goes down as one of my favorite career experiences to date. Any food lover would be beyond stoked to receive a single issue, a yearly subscription or the beautiful gift bundle.
Uuni 2 Woodfired Pizza Oven – THIS!!!! I’ve been wanting one of these bad boys for well over a year now. I love making pizza at home but hate how I can’t achieve the same effect as the crazy hot ovens in the best wood/coal fired pizza joints. The Uuni is the solution! This compact, portable, cost-effective wood fired oven burns wood pellets to be cleaner and more efficient, and it gets up to 932 degrees. That’s CRAZY! And it can cook a pizza in 60 seconds, just like the pros. It’s not just for pizza, either. You can cook meats, vegetables, or anything else you want to have that amazing, wood-fired flavor. I’m going out on a limb and saying this the ultimate foodie (I know, I hate that word too) gift.
Misen Chef’s Knife – Coming in at a close second to the Uuni is this knife. But, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that this is easily the sharpest, most comfortable and ergonomic knife I’ve ever used. AND IT’S ONLY $65 AND COMES WITH FREE SHARPENING!! That is bonkers, you guys. But… The bad news? It’s SO awesome, there’s a waitlist for it and the next batch of knives won’t be available for a few more months. Get yourself or someone you love on the list now – it will be sosososooooo worth it.
Doughnut Pan! – If you’ve been reading Coley Cooks the past few months you probably already know this doughnut pan is my favorite new thing. It makes doughnut making easy! And okay, yeah, it’s really just baking cakes and muffins in doughnut form, BUT, eating said confection in the shape of a doughnut makes it all that much more AWESOME. I’ve only made one recipe in it so far, but I intend on using it many, many more times in the future.
Benriner Mandoline with Julienne Attachment – This is hands down one of my all time favorite kitchen tools. You’ve probably seen me talk about it and use it in tons of my recipes and videos. The julienne attachment is a god send and makes slaws and salads a breeze. But man, it is SHARP. And it would be wrong of me not to tell you about how I completely merked my right index finger with this thing last week. Don’t be like me and avoid a severed fingertip by using the guard (even though it kind of sucks) and don’t ever try using it on cauliflower because it falls apart mid slice and gets wonky af (trust me).
Philips Smokeless Indoor Grill – Last year I was sent one of these grills to try out before I shot an infomercial for it (if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably will soon!). I thought it was going to be really gimmicky and poorly made, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It came right at the start of winter, and right around when our outdoor grill was on it’s last legs, so we used it a lot. It gets super hot, can sear the crap out of a piece of meat, and gives food really awesome, authentic grilled flavor (with very little smoke). Is it a replacement for an outdoor grill? Mmmm.. no. But it’s a really great option for anyone who doesn’t have access to one.
Mini Maldon Salt Tins – Wanna be that weird girl who carries salt around in her purse (like me)? Now you can, and so can a bunch of your friends. These are the most adorable little tins of my favorite salt (often referenced in CC recipes) and they make the best stocking stuffers ever.
Blue Apron Subscription – If you know someone who likes to cook, but gets overwhelmed by the planning and shopping, Blue Apron is perfect for them! This weekly service has you select your meals, then sends you the ingredients (responsibly sourced, sustainable and often organic!) and simple cooking instructions. The meals are unique, easy to prepare, full of flavor, portion controlled and have zero wasted ingredients. The best part? They’re now featuring Australis barramundi in their recipes. Double win!
Kitchen Shears – An absolute essential in the kitchen. I use them for everything from snipping herbs and cutting kitchen twine to snapping through chicken bones and opening packages (my mailman hates me, for real). I had a pair, they broke, so I bought this pair, and I like them better than the first ones.
Cuisinart Immersion Blender – One of my most used kitchen tools is without a doubt the immersion blender. I make everything from pureed soups to salsas to hummus to milkshakes with ease. But the best part? The cleanup is SO easy.
Le Crueset Honey Pot – This honey pot is one of my favorite things in my kitchen and it’s also one of the less expensive Le Crueset items out there. I use honey in my coffee every morning, in addition to lots of my cooking, so this thing is always hanging around on my counter. It will forever remind me of my sweet friend Anne from Louisiana who bought me this off of my wedding registry. I taught her to put honey on hushpuppies and she never looked back. <3
NoPro Popsicle Mold – I LOVE this thing! You can turn any liquid into a popsicle, which is the best thing ever come mid-July. Try my Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles or my Lavender Peach Popsicles to start!
Taylor Digital Thermometer – Essential! Never overcook (or undercook) your meats again. Every cook needs a great thermometer and this one is it.
EatSmart Precision Digital Scale – I bought this scale for baking, but find myself using it for so much more. It really comes in handy for recipe developing and even for following recipes. Because, yeah, after years of cooking I still can’t eyeball what 3 pounds of potatoes looks like. Very accurate and easy to use.
Good Cook Rubber Spatulas – I use rubber spatulas allllll the time when I cook and I adore this set. The heads detach from the wooden handles to make cleaning easier and more thorough. Plus, I love that handles are wooden, because I’ve melted my fair share of plastic ones. They have a nice thin edge that allows you to scrape out every last bit from a bowl, and the fact that they’re all different colors means you can keep some just for baking and others for savory dishes. Because nothing is worse than using a garlic and onion flavored spatula to stir your pancake batter.
The Fresh Pressed Olive Oil Club – It’s expensive and nerdy, but I love being a part of it. A great gift for any food dork who already has everything else. The olive oils are crazy good and unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced (unless you’ve experienced fresh pressed olive oils straight from the grove).
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker – I love this ice cream maker! You will be amazed how easy it is to make your own ice cream at home. For realz! It’s so much fun and you can make it as easy or as challenging as you want. Awesome for kids and adults alike.
The Perfect Scoop – I have had a low-key obsession with David Leibowitz for many years. His writing and his recipes are all awesome. He is the expert I look to for all things ice cream, and this book is ideal for anyone who wants to start making their own sweet frozen treats at home. If buying someone the ice cream maker above, be extra awesome and give them this book, too. 100% chance you’ll get some bomb ice cream in return.
The Butcher Babe Cookbook – Y’all might remember my Food Network Co-Star Loreal Gavin, aka The Butcher Babe. She’s one of the wackiest, most talented people I know with one of the biggest hearts. She recently finished this gorgeous cookbook that’s packed with tips, information and ideas. Not to mention amazing, southern inspired recipes – I couldn’t be more proud of her. Don’t be fooled by the title – it’s not all about butchery – Loreal is a baller, professionally trained baker, too. The book won’t be out until April 25th, but you can totes preorder it and I highly recommend you do!
Zahav – I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chef Michael Solomonov twice now on episodes of The Chef’s Kitchen. He is one of the most humble, kind and gracious people I’ve ever met, and his food is always knock-out amazing. His book is a look inside Israeli cuisine as well as his own family history and it’s as beautiful as it is interesting. Not to mention, the recipes are all fire. If you’re into mediterranean flavors, this book is for you… or, I mean, “your friend”.
The Flavor Bible – For serious cooks interested in learning how to expertly pair flavors. This book has been in my collection for years and serves as the ultimate recipe guide. Great read.
Sheet Pan Suppers – I met author Molly Gilbert at, of all things, a QVC training, and we’ve stayed connected through our blogs and social media ever since. Her book is full of unique and innovate easy dinner ideas that are created solely on a sheet pan. This means lots of things (like browned caramelized vegetables), but mostly EASY CLEAN UP. Perfect for busy moms who are starting to play out the slow cooker.
Plenty – This book, as well as author Yotam Ottolenghi, has developed an almost cult like following over the years. This is the cook book that you want to keep out on your coffee table. It’s full of stunning photography and mouthwatering, vibrant vegetable recipes that are adored by vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – This is the one that started it all! Come on, it’s INA. She can do no wrong. This book is a classic, but I’ve also had my eye on her most recent one, Cooking for Jeffery. Seriously, they are so cute it makes you wanna vom, but their relationship status is 100% a life goal (as is a cookbook called “Cooking for Chaser”).
Smitten Kitchen Cookbook – If you read my blog regularly you know I’m as obsessed with Deb as I am with David and Ina. Everything she cooks turns to gold. If you want a volume of recipes that are guaranteed to work and be delicious, this book is essential. Also, her writing is as witty as it gets.
For the Garden:
Most gardeners, myself included, work fairly minimally, and it’s definitely weird to give someone a bag of organic fertilizer or a garden sprayer as a gift. But truth be told, any serious gardener would actually be stoked. That said, they’re a little awkward to wrap and don’t feel all that personal.
I love giving and receiving seeds. Saving seeds from your own garden is the best and cheapest way to gift a garden to someone you love, but packets of seeds and seed catalogs are awesome, too. My friend and garden guru Gary Pilarchik (check out his AWESOME gardening YouTube channel) recommends both of these catalogs: Totally Tomato and Tomato Growers for some really unique tomato and pepper varieties. Gary and I also have a new YouTube series and Facebook group called Grow It Cook It Eat It. Join our community and share your gardening and cooking tips with us!
I don’t start my tomatoes and peppers from seed, I buy seedlings from a nursery just outside of New Hope, PA (on the Jersey side) called Cross Country Nurseries. They specialize in unique varieties of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, basil, tomatillos and cilantro and they ship nationwide. So whether you live locally or not, a gift certificate here would be a killer gift for anyone with a green thumb.
Dwarf Citrus Trees – There are lots out there that you can purchase from local growers and garden centers (depending on where you live), but many are also available for purchase online. These are especially fun for gardeners who live in an area where it’s too cold to grow in the winter (looking at you New Jersey), since they can be grown inside. Depending on the age of the plant and the variety, it may take them a few years to start producing fruit, or they could come with fruit already on them. Either way, once you do harvest that fruit, you’ll never taste anything juicier for more flavorful. I had a good run with a meyer lemon tree (but then killed it – oops!) and recently just picked up a calamondin – a unique tiny sour orange with edible skin. A lime tree is next on my list (after I inevitably kill the calamondin).
Hori Hori Japanese Gardening Tool – This thing is quite possibly the most useful tool I’ve ever used in the garden. It works as a shovel, a knife, a spade and measuring stick all at the same time. I somehow lost mine last summer and it still hasn’t turned up. I’m sure it’s hiding somewhere with the missing socks and tupperware lids. So… hint hint, guys. Pro tip: paint the handle a neon color.
So, there ya have it folks! My 2016 gift guide. If you didn’t find anything you like on this list, you can never go wrong with a puppy and a Charlotte Hornets Starter Jacket.
Did I miss anything awesome? I’d love to hear what’s on your list this year.
Happy shopping and merry merry.