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Cookie Gift Baskets are a Great Way to Say Thank You

Thank you cookie bouquet

Showing Your Appreciation With Treats

Need a good idea to thank a colleague or a friend? Perhaps it's a teacher who has gone the extra mile for your child? Or maybe your neighbor gets your kids on the bus so you can get to work early. If you're looking for a really wonderful thank you gift, send a cookie basket and you can't go wrong. Because everyone loves cookies, you'll be sending a fantastic show of your thanks and in a tasty way.

So let's get started!

Special Occasions

The Perfect Gift

Thank you cookie bouquetChoose from online vendors who deliver cookie gift baskets or find a good bakery who will make one up for you. It's ideal if you can purchase your basket in town so you can save yourself some shipping charges. But if the person you're thanking is not local, you'll have to ship anyway.

Gourmet Cookie Bouquets makes amazing cookie baskets that you can send. You can get them personalized with bees to say "Thanks a Buzzillion" or with sacks of money for a "Thanks a Million" bouquet.

There are specialty boxes to thank teachers that feature red apple cookies and cheerful sunflowers that say thank you in a fresh way. No matter the theme, you'll find ideas from elegant to goofy. And they all taste great.

There is even a special Thank You bouquet available for nurses and one for doctors. They are great ways to thank the health care staff members who have gone out of their way for you!

Types of Cookie Gifts

So Many Tasty Treats

One way to go with the thank you cookies is the decorated version. These cookies are typically over-sized and made of sugar or shortbread cookie dough.

They are then iced with a royal icing that hardens so the cookies won't smear. They are then decorated in bright and fanciful designs that are so realistic, they almost look like the real objects they portray.

Another version of the cookie basket is a regular cookie mix. This can include a nice basket with chocolate chip, oatmeal, double chocolate, peanut butter, or other kinds of cookies. They are usually all together in a basket and somehow wrapped for freshness. This version of the cookie basket is tasty, but it doesn't make as bold of an impression.

The cookies may arrive smashed as they are more delicate than the hearty sugar or shortbreads, especially if they have a longer trip ahead of them. But the choice is up to you! Choose wisely.

Know Your Cookie Company

Do Your Research

Know how the delivery company plans to ship the cookies. Are they individually wrapped? Do they go via Fedex? When will they arrive? And do you have to pay extra for Saturday delivery?

Don't be ashamed to call the company, even if you plan to order online, and ask questions about the cookies you are going to send. You will want the arrangement to arrive in perfect condition with every crumb in place, so it's okay to do some questioning to avoid disappointment!

Prepare Your Taste Buds

Image by TheSnapVT on Flickr
Image by TheSnapVT on Flickr

Send a Cookie Gift!

They'll Thank You Later

There's a reason why thank you cookie bouquets are so popular. They bring delight and smiles to everyone who sees them. Send one today and brighten someone's day.

It's a wonderful and clever way to say thank you to someone who has gone out of their way to help you. And it's as appropriate a gesture to family and friends as it is for coworkers or clients and people you deal with for business reasons.

Different Types of Cookies

What to Consider

When you're putting together a cookie basket, you'll want to consider a few different types of cookies for your recipient. If you are up for baking a few different batches, then definitely consider including more than one type. But if you don't have the energy to be Betty Crocker for the day, then just choose one and decorate them differently if you want a seemingly wide variety.

When considering different types of cookies, you might consider:

  • Chocolate Chip
  • Oatmeal Raisin
  • Shortbread
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Snickerdoodle
  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip
  • Peanut Butter
  • Biscotti

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Homemade Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian recipe that is simply delicious. It is a hearty and filling meal that features eggplants, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and aromatic herbs.

This eggplant parmesan recipe is more of a lasagna dish and can feed a family of four with plenty of leftovers.

Since all of the ingredients in this eggplant parmesan recipe are fresh, it does take a little more time to prepare but the end result will be well worth the effort you put into each step.

Picture courtesy of 3liz4 on Creative Commons.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Homemade Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb medium eggplants (about 3), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 5 lb plum tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 ozfinely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2/3 cup)
  • 1 lb chilled fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), thinly sliced

Picture courtesy of GobberGo on Creative Commons

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (Continued)

Eggplant Parmesan

Image Credit: jimmysmith on Flickr

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Directions:

  1. Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes.
  2. While eggplant drains, cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and blanch tomatoes together in a 5-quart pot of boiling water 1 minute. Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel off skin, beginning from scored end, with paring knife.
  3. Coarsely chop tomatoes, then coarsely pure in batches in a blender. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add garlic and saut, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomato pure, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375F.
  5. Stir together flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow bowl, then stir together panko and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a third shallow bowl.
  6. Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, letting excess drip off, and dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.
  7. Heat remaining 1 1/2 cups oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant 4 slices at a time, turning over once, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
  8. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of a rectangular 3 1/2-quart (13- by 11- by 2-inch) baking dish. Arrange about one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Cover eggplant with about one third of remaining sauce (about 11/4 cups) and one third of mozzarella. Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  9. Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com, picture courtesy of GobberGo on Flickr

How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

A Sweet Favor – Cookies!

cookie favors

cookie favor ideas

Add Delicious-ness to the Party

If you're throwing a bridal or baby shower, you'll want to include memorable favors for your guests to take home. Some people even choose to give favors at children's or adults' birthday parties, too.

No matter the reason for your celebration, one good idea is to give a favor that the guests will really enjoy. How about something scrumptious like cookie favors?

Image by hindsightbride on Flickr

Introduction to Cookies

Baking in Style

Cookies can come in every shape, size, color, and type imaginable. Today's gourmet cookies are wonderful treats all by themselves, without too many frills needed!

You can dress them up with pretty wrappings and your guests will marvel at the thought and time you took to make such a lovely bundle. Only you have to know how easy it was!

Wedding Cake Cookie Favors

To Bake or to Buy?

That is the Question

Whether you bake your own cookies or buy them will depend on you. Is your life already running at a hectic pace and having one more thing to do is just out of the question? Then don't feel bad about turning to a pro to bake your cookie favors for you.

However, if you're up for it, there are so many cookie recipes out there for you to try...

You can bake bars, brownies or Rice Krispy treats. Or, you can do a chocolate chunk or peanut butter cookie. A favorite for good reason is the rolled sugar cookie.

The reason why these are such a great choice is because they are easy to make and offer lots of decorating options.

Making Sugar Cookies

Recipe to Bake Them Yourself

Reciple from AllReciples.com

Here is a recipe for simple sugar cookies for kids from Allrecipes.com that you can try.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoons full of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Shaping Up the Cookies

Glam it Up

cookie party favors

Now that you've got the idea of the ingredients you'll need, you'll want to decide on a shape for your cookies. Baby shower favors such as rubber duck cookies are a great idea, you can frost them in yellow icing. Bridal shower favors can be a rose or a gown or wedding ring shapes.

Kitchen stores sell all kinds of quality cookie cutters that go with party themes. You can spell out a person's name, such as the name of the birthday girl or the bride and groom. You can even personalize cookies with the person's age or anniversary. All cut out in wonderful sugar cookie dough.

Image by Tracy Hunter on Flickr

Decorating Your Cookies

Decor and All That Jazz

Beautifying

Decorations and wrapping will really add to the presentation. Use sprinkles, candy, colored icings, and edible decorations like babies or bows.

You can find all you need and more at a large craft store in the candy-making aisle. You'll find edible fondant decorations that you can stick right on your homemade cookies to make them look professional.

Wrap them in colored cellophane with a pretty satin bow. Four custom cookie favors stacked together should be enough. Or use pretty decorative bags from the craft store. You can also tie them up in a pretty dish towel that the guest can take home and use later.

birthday cookie bouquet

Bakery Cookies

Local Shops

The world of cookies has changed so much over recent years. You can now find cookies at bakeries and online that look like works of art. Bakers are able to do just about anything you ask in sugar and icing.

Online sources for favors will offer cookie options. Sometimes they come on sticks so you can offer them as birthday cookie bouquets. Others come in shapes of wedding gowns with pearly icing or tuxedos. They'll even print your guest of honor's face on a cookie in edible frosting.

Cookies make excellent favors because they are a delicious treat. If they are also a feast for the eyes, so much the better!

Easy Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

Homemade Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

Homemade Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

A cobbler is like a pie except it has no bottom crust. Blueberry cobbler is a traditional American recipe that is a sweet blueberry filling topped with a pastry dough and baked. It can be sweetened with a sugar and other things such as fresh summer peaches can be added for a unique and unexpected flavor.

This blueberry cobbler recipe features a little lemon juice and cinnamon for a different flavor combination that will definitely taste like a gourmet dessert. So break away from the trendy NY cheesecake with blueberry topping and try an old classic dessert every once in a while... you'll be glad you did!

 

How To Make Blueberry Cobbler

Homemade Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

Picture courtesy of toastforbrekkie on Flickr

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

Directions:

Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish. Place the blueberries into the baking dish, and mix with vanilla and lemon juice.

Sprinkle with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of flour, then stir in the tablespoon of melted butter. Set aside.In a medium bowl, stir together 1 3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, and 6 tablespoons sugar.

Rub in the 5 tablespoons butter using your fingers, or cut in with a pastry blender until it is in small pieces. Make a well in the center, and quickly stir in the milk. Mix just until moistened. You should have a very thick batter, or very wet dough. You may need to add a splash more milk. Cover, and let batter rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spoon the batter over the blueberries, leaving only a few small holes for the berries to peek through. Mix together the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar; sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown. A knife inserted into the topping should come out clean - of course there will be blueberry syrup on the knife.

Let cool until just warm before serving. This can store in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Recipe courtesy of BlueberryRecipe.com.

How To Make Blueberry Cobbler - Making Blueberry Cobbler

The Best Waffles Ever

Liege Waffles

Liege Waffles are the Best Ever!

Liege Waffles

Last year, my husband and I spent a week touring the country of Belgium with extended stops in Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp. Some of our fondest memories are of the food - fine Belgian chocolates, paper cones full of fries and of course, waffles. I came home a full 5 pounds heavier!

Photo Credit: Liege Waffles

When it comes to waffles, no one does it better than the Belgians. Around every street corner, you'll smell the sweet aroma of waffles being cooked and people snacking on little waffles in wax paper. One day in Brussels, we just couldn't pass up this little street vendor who had a long line of patrons. Wow were we glad we took the time to get that sweet little waffle topped with fresh strawberries or strawberry jam and whipped cream. It was the best waffle we've ever had!

The chef in my husband decided that we could make these little treats at home - how hard could it be - right?? Well we tried recipe after recipe of Belgian waffles and none of them compared to the one we had that day in Brussels. Well after some luck and numerous attempts, we were finally able to replicate that little waffle and I'm sharing that recipe with you today.

I know that you'll love these waffles as much as we do - they truly are the best ever!!

The Quest & A Mystery Unraveled

We returned home craving Belgian waffles and not just any Belgian waffle mind you, we wanted to duplicate those yummy sweet caramelized waffles that we enjoyed so much in Brussels.

After trying numerous Belgian waffle recipes, we just couldn't seem to duplicate the sweet caramelized crust and dense texture that our waffle from Brussels had. Needless to say, we were getting quite frustrated and had pretty much given up. Then one day I was reading Midwest Living magazine and out of sheer luck, I discovered an article about Liege waffles and the mystery was unraveled.

Well it turns out that the sweet tasting waffles that I was so desperately trying to replicate weren't classic Belgian waffles at all... they were Liege (a city in Eastern Belgium) waffles. According to the visitbelgium.com website, "In Belgium there are two types of waffles (or gauffres as we like to call them): the Brussels and the Liege waffle. The Brussels is rectangular in shape with a golden-brown exterior, deep divots and is usually eaten with a knife and fork. Brussels waffles are served with a variety of toppings such as powdered sugar, whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, strawberries and chocolate. The Liege waffle is golden-yellow, more dense in texture and has a burned sugar coating on the outside giving it a lightly sweet flavor. This hand-held waffle is sold by street vendors all over Belgium."

And so continued the quest to find the best waffle recipe only now we knew we were searching for a Liege waffle.

Did You Know?

In the 18th century, one of the cooks for Prince Bishop of Liege invented the tasty Liege waffle.

Our Liege Waffle Recipe

Liege Waffle Recipe

We tried four or five different Liege waffle recipes making adjustments as we went to create a combination that yielded the desired color, taste, and texture. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water (about 105°F - too hot will kill the yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup Belgian pearl sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix the yeast, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and let it develop or sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Place the flour in a separate large mixing bowl (we use the bowl of our kitchen aid stand mixer) and make a well in the center of the flour.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix until blended on medium speed (we use the paddle in our kitchen aid mixer).
  4. Add the eggs (one at a time), melted butter a bit at a time, and the vanilla and cinnamon. Be sure to mix well after each addition to the batter. Keep in mind the batter will be thick and VERY sticky (this is normal).
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and let the dough rest until it doubles in volume inside the bowl.
  6. Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes.
  7. While the dough is resting, heat the waffle iron (we use a Waring Pro Belgian Waffle Iron and I recommend Belgian waffle irons because they have the deep pockets).
  8. Spoon about a 2" ball of dough into the center of the waffle iron (this should yield a waffle that is about 4" in diameter). I know that sounds small, but these rich waffles pack quite a punch. Waffles will take 3 to 5 minutes to bake (in our waffle iron, they take 3 minutes and 15 seconds on level 3).

Recipe makes 8 - 10 waffles.

Liege Waffle Recipe

My Liege Waffle Recipe Tips

It has been our experience that Belgian pearl sugar is difficult to find in the U.S. so we buy C&H sugar cubes (normally for coffee), place about 60 of them in a plastic Ziploc bag and 'crush' them with a meat tenderizer (you could use a rolling pin or heavy sauce pan as well).

Image credit: L'Epicerie

Then put the sugar through a sifter maintaining only the 'pearls' of sugar for the waffles. You need about 1 cup of pearls. The fine sugar that goes through the sifter can be put in your kitchen sugar jar or used to sweeten the strawberries if you are using them for the topping. I was able to find an online source at L'Epicerie. See the pearl sugar photo to the right so that you know what you are trying to obtain.

The addition of pearl sugar in the batter is what gives these waffles that special caramelized Liege waffle taste. However, that same sugar makes them sort of sticky so be careful not to burn yourself when removing them from the waffle iron.

The pearl sugar also makes clean-up of the waffle iron tricky. As the sugar melts, it runs in the crevices of the waffle iron. So my biggest tip is that after you finish baking your waffles, clean the waffle iron while it is still warm. If it cools completely, the caramel sugar mixture can be nearly impossible to get off the iron.

These waffles freeze extremely well so consider making a double batch. We just let the waffles cool, wrap them individually in Saran wrap, and then place them in a large Ziploc freezer bag. When we want one, we remove it from the freezer and put it in the oven on a baking sheet to heat it up.

The waffles make GREAT housewarming gifts to welcome new neighbors or holiday gifts for friends and family. Just wrap them up in a gift tin or box and deliver them with your favorite toppings. Your recipients will be thanking you again and again!

Waffles Being Served At A Belgian Fair

Liege Waffle Toppings

Liege Waffle Toppings

Some of my favorite ways to finish off a Liege Waffle!

First of all, I should say that the sweet caramelized exterior of Liege waffles makes them ideal for eating as a snack with just a dusting of cinnamon or powdered sugar. That said, I love waffles with toppings so here are some of my favorites.

Photo Credit: Roboppy at Flickr

1) Strawberries & Whipped Cream - When strawberries are in season, I just slice them up and add them to the center of each waffle. Out of season, I buy frozen whole strawberries in my grocer's freezer section, thaw them, add a bit of sugar and spoon them over the top of the waffle. Of course, I add whipped cream no matter what the season!

2) Nutella & Bananas - Most Americans aren't real familiar with Nutella, but if you've traveled at all in Europe, you know just how much Europeans enjoy their Nutella. And why not? Chocolate with hazelnuts is a delectable combination. I just spread a thin layer of nutella on top the waffle and then add sliced bananas. You can see in the photo that someone else liked that idea as well and took it a step further adding some coconut to the mix. Have I mentioned my mouth is watering?

3) Vanilla Ice Cream - Liege waffles are the perfect base for a delectable dessert so I take warm waffles, top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then drizzle the entire thing in either rich caramel or melted Belgian chocolate.

4) Caramel & Bananas - Drizzle the waffles with Caramel ice cream topping (warmed up of course), add some sliced bananas and a few crushed walnuts. Yummy!

Other Liege Waffle Recipes

Want to try some other Liege waffle recipes? Here are some of the one's that we tested during our attempt to find the perfect waffle recipe. Feel free to run your own experiment!

Not A Cook? Buy Liege Waffles Online!

The Liege Waffle Factory based in Denver has brought the taste of authentic Liege waffles to the United States. You can buy frozen waffles online and have them shipped via overnight or 2 day air directly to your home. Simply heat them straight from the freezer and top them with your favorite toppings for a little taste of Belgium right in your own home.

Waffles Aren't Just For Breakfast!

In Belgium, waffles are sold in waxed wrappers by street vendors. They are usually not eaten for breakfast and are considered to be a snack or dessert food. Most Belgians enjoy them as a late afternoon snack because they don't eat dinner until 8 to 10 PM.

Brussels Walk-About Video

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