THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN: Affordable Gifts, Great Recipes, Food Fun!


Who wouldn’t be happy to get a luscious brownie
gift? Shown here, Mari’s New York Brownies.
If you want to avoid the holiday shopping crowds, we have the solution: delicious gifts that are just a point and click away (or you can phone in your order). We’ve created “favorite gift lists” in 14 different categories for your shopping (and nibbling) pleasure. We’re mindful of the economy—no caviar this year, no luxury gifts (except a couple for wine connoisseurs), delicious choices from $20 to $35, and great stocking stuffers for less than $10.

Books ~ Cookbooks
Books ~ Culinary Reference
Books ~ Sustainable Foods
Brownies & Cookies
Chocolate & Caramels
Gourmet Foods
Green Gifts
Hot Housewares
Liquor & Wine Gifts
Kosher Gifts
Organic Gourmet Food
Stocking Stuffers ~ Food
Stocking Stuffers ~ Housewares
Sugar-Free Gifts

 

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RECIPES: Christmas Cocktails With Infused Vodkas

Whether you’re preparing for the Kwaanza “Karamu” feast, setting up the menorah for eight fun-filled nights, trimming the tree to Nat King Cole Christmas songs or just basking in the holiday buzz that’s synonymous with the first months of winter, infuse your holidays with a whole new kind of “spirit.”

Toast your holiday with holiday-themed fruit-flavored vodka cocktails certain to leave a lasting impression. The recipes were developed by SKYY Infusions, which use all-natural fruit flavors (and this year won awards for best fruit-flavored vodka at the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago). Impress guests by adding your very own twist, with creative garnishes or customized glassware tied with holiday ornaments, ribbons or other themed accents.


Garnish your Berry Sparkle cocktail with holly
berries, shown here, for a more festive look.
Holiday Cocktail Garnishes

Fresh sprigs of rosemary look like Christmas tree branches. Holly berries should not be ingested—eating more than three holly berries can cause illness* in adults, and have a worse effect on children. Don’t use it as a drink garnish just in case happy guests decide to nibble away. Instead, look for red currants (they look like the epitome of Christmas), white currants, lingonberries, Champagne grapes (Zante grapes), sweet gooseberries (which are red, not orange) or dried red mulberries (the fresh ones are out in the summer).

*According to the Wisconsin Poison Control Center, holly berries are “seriously poisonous;” ingestion of 20 or more berries can be fatal to children. The berries, leaves and stem of mistletoe are all considered toxic.

Berry Sparkle With Raspberry Vodka
Merry Cherry With Cherry Vodka
Holly Day Cocktail With Grape Vodka
Midnight Kiss With Passion Fruit Vodka
Winter Chill With Citrus Vodka

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NEWS: Red Wine May Fight Alzheimer’s


In winter, you can go with mulled wine, shown
here surrounded by its spices. Click here for the
recipe.
White wine drinkers may want to switch to red. While red wine has been touted for its health benefits for some time (the grapes have high levels of antioxidants), a new study from UCLA and Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests that the polyphenols in red wine may hinder the formation of protein plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease. In an article in the November 21 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the researchers report that in lab tests, the polyphenols in red wine blocked the formation of toxic protein clumps thought to destroy brain cells and induce dementia. David Teplow, a UCLA professor of neurology and senior author of the study, says that “the compounds were shown to block the earliest stages of clumping, suggesting that polyphenols might prevent or reduce disease in humans.” Certainly, a glass of red wine can reduce stress! The study continues at Mount Sinai, testing the effects of grape seed extracts in clinical trials in humans.
Polyphenols are potent antioxidant compounds that have demonstrated greater antioxidant protection than vitamins C and E. The most “famous” polyphenols are the flavonoids in green tea, which may inhibit cancer by blocking the formation of cancer-causing compounds and suppressing the activation of carcinogens. These are the flavonoids catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and proanthocyanidins. Other sources of polyphenols are found in peanuts, white tea, olive oil, pomegranates, certain other fruits and vegetables, and cocoa/dark chocolate. Chocolate or cocoa that has been processed with alkali (“dutched” cocoa) will not contain any polyphenols or antioxidants.

Read more about antioxidants in our Guide To High-Antioxidant Food.

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FREEBIE: Holiday Gift Labels

Don’t spend money for gift labels in these tough times. Courtesy of Land O’Lakes, you can print 18 different gift label designs on your color printer. Using a standard 2″ x 4″ sheet of white mailing labels, such as Avery#5263, that prints 10 labels per sheet, you can become a creative label maker. You’ll need Adobe Reader to open the PDF files. (If you don’t have it, you can download it free.) There’s a theme for everyone, including Chanukah and general winter motifs. Start your label-making at http://www.landolakes.com/promotions/Free-Gift-Giving-Labels.cfm.

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NEW PRODUCT: Champagne & Crystals

For years, Champagne house Moet & Chandon has been gifting celebrities and VIPs with bottles hand-embellished with Swarovski crystals; Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Blake Lively, Madonna and Kanye West have all received their own crystallized Moet. Now, non-boldfaced names can buy their own at MyMoet.com. Choose Moet & Chandon’s White Star or Nectar Imperial, 750ml or magnum, and gold or silver Swarovski crystals. If your name (or message) is seven letters or less (two lines on the magnum) and you can pay the hefty tab, you or the lucky recipient of your choice can have a keepsake bottle.

To say that embellishment is pricey is an understatement: The Nectar Imperial magnum, $86.99 in its unadorned state, came to $249.95 with the application of crystals. Frankly, we’d rather have two more magnums of Champagne—hold the crystals. But if money is no object in your household and you’d like to hand out keepsake party favors at your New Year’s Eve bash, head over to MyMoet.com.

 

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