The 2016 Gift Guide

by Irvin on December 12, 2016 · 71 comments

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2016 Gift Guide on Eat the Love

“NO MORE GIFT GUIDES”, shouted my friend Shauna on Facebook, who apparently was channeling the spirit of the Grinch. I cringed, because I had yet to publish my annual gift guide here on Eat the Love. But in the end, I decided she’s not the boss of me. Plus my gift guide is awesome. Because I only share awesome things! (Also, I was recently told that I use the word AWESOME too much but I’ve decided to embrace that). Here’s a few personal recommendations of AWESOME gifts for you guys this holiday season in case you need some suggestions for the holiday season. In addition, I’m also doing an AWESOME giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post! Sorry this giveaway is closed!


AJ and I make a lot of homemade pizza at home on our baking steel and we love using a pizza peel when we do. We sprinkle the peel with cornmeal or semolina and then place the pizza dough directly on the peel. Then we top it and with a quick jerk of the wrist, peel the pizza onto the steel. When it’s done we peel the pizza off the steel and often serve the pizza directly on peel! So we’re always looking for a handsome peel that functions and looks good. Rachel Ray’s pizza peel is made of Acacia wood and looks gorgeous hanging on the wall as well as on the table. And even if you use to serve frozen pizza, everyone will still think it is homemade if it’s served on this.

I’m in love with this adorable Pie Calendar that Simply Recipes put out for 2017. Each month has an illustrated seasonal pie, along with a recipe for that pie. If you love to bake or love someone who bakes, this makes for an adorable stocking stuffer.

Aera and Tang Tong Tavy

I love home scents in theory but problem with the delivery system are they tend to either be too overly fragrant or barely smells at all. But the Aera fixes that with the various scent blends that are lovely. It’s a sophisticated product that allows you pick how much fragrance you want released, from mild to strong. Designed by master perfumers, the scents are unique and sophisticated.

If you are a home scent purist however, might I recommend Tang Tong Tavy’s candles. Hand poured in San Francisco, these soy candles come in array of beautiful scents and are individually wrapped in a wax sealed venetian-style marbled paper. Just make sure to place your order by this Thursday, as the owner won’t be taking anymore holiday orders until the new year.

Microplane Graters and Anolon's Cheeseboard

I shared a few Microplane graters last year in my holiday gift guide but this year I found out about their special Master series and I fell in love with them again. Gone are the plastic handles and frames and instead are gorgeous Walnut wood handles and stainless steel. I’d be thrilled to find the Extra Coarse grater or the zester (or really any of them) under my Christmas tree or in my stocking.

AJ has a vague obsession with cheese. Cheese of ALL sort. So Anolon’s marble and teak serving board is the perfect gift for folks like him. It’s an elegant way to serve cheese or any other appetizer and would be a welcome addition to any party buffet.

The Muse and The Spire.

The holidays are always a stressful time but things seem even MORE stressful right now in our country. Thankfully there are few products out in the market that I’ve unabashedly embracing to help me out. Right now my favorite item is the Muse, which helps with meditation. It feels like a device from a 70s science fiction movie, but basically you place it on your forehead and it measure your brain activity when you meditate. And if you actually are able to calm your brain for a certain amount of time, you hear birds via the app that is monitoring your activity. It’s basically the gamification of meditation and I know that sounds crazy insane but anything that gets me to calm down for a little bit gets a huge endorsement from me.

Along with the Muse is the Spire, which is the first mindfulness wearable. You wear the rock on your belt throughout the day and as you tense up it vibrates to remind you to relax and to take deep breathes. I have a habit of staring at the computer screen all day, hunched over as I type and work on my photos and the Spire has helped me relax, sit up in a better position and to remind me that I need to take a deep breath and relax.

Moleskin and Western Digital External hard drive

I carry around a moleskin journal where ever I go in case I want to sketch something out or to take notes. There’s something really great about hand drawing on paper, as opposed to the iPad or iPhone. Though I love having my iPhone and use it for a quick snapshot or to jot a note down on the rare occasion I don’t have my moleskin with me, I kind of wish there was a way to bridge the two. Now there is. The Moleskin Smart Writing Set is like magic. Words that you write down on the moleskin are immediately (in real time) translated to the Moleskin app on your device. It keeps track of the pages you are on, and you can even email it to yourself. It also has a built in OCR program so it can translate what you write (if you have decent enough handwriting) into text that you can use in a Word document. Did I say it was magic? Because that’s what it feels like when I use.

I do a lot of traveling and travel photography and when I do I always want a reliable external hard drive to help me out. The new WD My Passport 1TB hard drive is small and cute, coming in numerous shiny lego-like colors and is powered by the USB cord itself. It’s also small and weighs less than half a pound which means it doesn’t hog space in my laptop bag which is key when I’m camping or road tripping and room is at a premium.

Anolon Cast Iron Skillet and WUSTHOF Knives

I love working with cast iron, especially because of the even heat retention it has. New cast iron skillets are rough because of how they are made, but the 10-inch Anolon Vesta cast iron skillet has a smooth matt black enamel interior that makes it easier to clean, while keeping the gorgeous cast iron look. I’m especially enamored with the cobalt blue enamel exterior as well, though it comes in paprika red as well.

I adore my WUSTHÖF knives and their new Nakiri knives are a perfect example of why. Razor sharp, the knife function similar to a Santoku knife but with a rounded end allowing for a more Western style rocking back and forth of the knife for chopping. It comes in two different sizes, the Nakiri 7-inch and the Nakiri 5-inch, and would be a welcome addition to anyone’s knife collection.

Thermoworks Thermapen and Thermapop and Makar Gin

If you want precision in your kitchen you need to get a precise thermometer. I’m partial to Thermowork’s thermometers which are the standard in all high end professional kitchens. From testing meat and poultry to checking if a cake or loaf of bread is done, a kitchen thermometer can be your new best friend when making food. The Thermopop thermometer is an affordable option that gives precise and accurate temperatures in 3 to 4 seconds. For those who want even faster readings (2-3 seconds with an accuracy of .7ºF) with all the bells and whistles, the Thermapen MK4 is the one for you!

Never ask me to make a cocktail for you because I rarely drink. This means I also make my drinks REALLY strong because I’d rather be known as the generous bartender than the guy that makes weak drinks. But when I pour heavy from a Makar Glasgow Gin bottle, my friends don’t complain. A juniper-forward gin, this piney alcohol is a refreshing splash of the woodsy outdoor in liquid form. This would be a lovely host gift that is slightly different than the average bottle of wine.

Photographs from the Edge and the Illustrated Book of Sayings

I’m always trying to improve my photography game and Photographs from the Edge functions not only as a beautiful coffee table book but as a tutorial on how to take those beautiful photographs. Not only can you be inspired by the photography from around the world but author Art Wolfe gives you camera and specs for the photograph, including the make of the camera, the lens, f-stop, ISO and film (if it’s not shot digitally). He discusses the background of each photograph as well as gives a few handy real world tips and a little background of where each shot was taken. I love the peak behind the curtain of each photograph!

The Illustrated Book of Sayings is a whimsical book of fun sayings from around the world. With adorable illustrations and phrases like “Some days are honey and some days are onions.” or “Far from the eye, far from the heart” these sayings often explain feelings that I never knew needed explanation, or that I always wanted a way express but never knew how.

I’m giving away a pair of the WUSTÖF knives to ONE lucky reader and a Thermopen MK4 thermometer to ANOTHER lucky reader! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite holiday cookie or recipe is! Leave a comment below and I’ll draw a winner in two weeks from now for both winners. (Only one entry per person please.)

The Fine Print
By leaving a comment below to enter, you are agreeing to the Official Rules.
▪ You must be over the age of 18.
▪ This contest is only open to U.S. Citizens. Sorry non-US people!
▪ The contest starts as of today, and will run until Monday, December 26th, 2016, 9am PST.
▪ The combined retail value of the WUSTHÖF Knives is $300.
▪ The retail value of the Thermapen MK4 is $99
▪ Only one entry per person please. Any additional comments by the same person will be discarded in the final selection process.
▪ The winner will be chosen by a randomly selected comment. All comments will be numbered and I will use to pick a random number.
▪ The number of eligible comments below determines the odds of winning.
▪ If there’s a problem with contacting the winner, I reserve the right to award everything to someone else randomly chosen. So in other words, make sure you type in your correct email address if you want the knives or thermapen and respond within 72 hours to me when I contact you or I’ll give everything to someone else.
▪ The knives prize is being delivered directly from WUSTHÖF or their parent company. If they have not delivered the prize to you within three weeks of me notifying you of winning, please reach out to me again and I will do follow up to make sure everything is OK. Please keep in mind we are all human and things happen. I will do everything within my power to make sure the prize is delivered in a timely manner.
▪ The Thermapen MK4 prize is being delivered directly from Thermoworks or their parent company. If they have not delivered the prize to you within three weeks of me notifying you of winning, please reach out to me again and I will do follow up to make sure everything is OK. Please keep in mind we are all human and things happen. I will do everything within my power to make sure the prize is delivered in a timely manner.

A special thanks for WUSTHÖF and Thermoworks for the awesome giveaways. I was not compensated for this post but all the products listed above were sent to me as free samples to try. I only post about products that I love and all opinions above are my own.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Matelich December 12, 2016 at 9:10 am

It may not be fancy, but the holidays aren’t complete without a family sugar cookie frosting session. We use Martha’s sugar cookies with a simple buttercream frosting.


Rose December 12, 2016 at 9:27 am

My absolute favorite holiday cookie is a classic snickerdoodle. No one can turn one down!


Shauna Sever December 12, 2016 at 9:55 am

Oh, you know what ever you’re selling on your gift guide, I’m buying. You’re my boo. xo


Tara Hula December 12, 2016 at 10:14 am

For the Irish Cream fans – add a little more flour & 1/2 cup of Irish Cream to a sugar cookie recipe. They are delicious!!!


Katherine White December 12, 2016 at 10:50 am

I love ginger cookies dipped in white chocolate!


grace December 12, 2016 at 11:01 am

very cool! my favorite holiday cookie is (and probably always will be) my mom’s molasses cookies. 🙂


Kelly D December 12, 2016 at 11:29 am

My favorite holiday cookie is 7 layer cookies.


The Suzzzz December 16, 2016 at 7:59 am

I’ve never heard of those, what are they?


Niniane December 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm

One of the constants in our Christmas baking is Rum Balls, and last year I made a batch with Kahlua instead of plain rum, and they were amaaaaazing.


Melissa December 12, 2016 at 3:36 pm

My sister-in-law makes the best molasses cookies and I look forward to them every Christmas!


Geoff December 12, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I’ve got to have gingerbread at Christmas time!


Lindsey December 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Ginger spice cookies


Lee Ann December 13, 2016 at 2:33 am

We love a plain sugar cookie with sprinkles. However…this time of the year…gingerbread boys and girls are a must to bake and decorate!


Kimberly C. December 13, 2016 at 4:20 am

My grandfather would make a ton of cookies for Christmas and my favorite was and still is the fig cookies!!


Marisa Franca @ All Our way December 13, 2016 at 4:29 am

My favorite Christmas cookie is Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti. We only make them at Christmas and they are so good. The grandsons love them.


Robin P. December 13, 2016 at 4:47 am

My mom’s recipe for pfeffernusse, handed down for generations, is my favorite.


The Suzzzz December 16, 2016 at 8:01 am

My maternal grandmother was from Silesia, Prussia and she would make those every Christmas. I haven’t had them since she passed away when I was a little girl, almost 30 years ago. I may have to find time to make them this year.


Alexzandra December 13, 2016 at 5:43 am

Favorite holiday cookie = gingerbread people from an ancient “Joy of Cooking” with substituting some of the AP flour with whole wheat, adding an egg, and doubling the ginger.
Favorite holiday recipe = homemade cranberry sauce with white and brown sugars, rum (or bourbon) and orange liqueur, some sort of dried fuit, and toasted pecans = yum!


leslie Riley December 13, 2016 at 6:37 am

great gift guide. always looking for suggestions and inspiration. thank you very much.


Marcia December 13, 2016 at 6:37 am

Favorite holiday cookie? That’s like asking a mom to choose her favorite kid. Ok, if I MUST choose: it would be snowball cookies (mexican wedding cookies).


Rachel B. December 13, 2016 at 7:48 am

Irvin, you have some really nice prizes! I especially enjoy the hard drive and the journal! Happy Holidays!


Melissa C. December 13, 2016 at 8:32 am

I love Guatamalan Tamales for Christmas! Very unusual!


Amy S. December 13, 2016 at 8:37 am

My favorite holiday cookies are gingerbread cookies.


Erin R. December 13, 2016 at 8:43 am

MORE gift guides! I can never resist a gift guide or a clearance bin. Thermoworks is about a half hour drive from my house, I really should run down there and give their retail store a good going over. I have the classic Thermapen (how did I ever live before?) but those little Thermopops are trying to suck me in now, too. Great list!

I just made neighbor cookies this weekend and busted out the old Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars (from Our Best Bites). I’m kind of sorry I gave most of them away, because they are smashing. But chocolate earthquakes are a close second. Soft ginger cookies are also a close second. Cornmeal cookies are another close second. (I’ll stop.)


Chelsea December 13, 2016 at 9:05 am

My fave holiday cookie recipe is for cut-out sugar cookies! My favorite way to decorate them is lots of colorful icing and red hot candies 🙂


Kari December 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

I love that you picked out some items that I haven’t seen on any other gift guides!


Michelle December 13, 2016 at 10:07 am

Gingerbread Cookies or Super Cookies. Hard one truly


The Suzzzz December 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

What are super cookies?


ed ang December 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

It’s gotta be anything with pumpkin in it! I’m partial to pumpkin spice galette cookies with oodles of frosting on it! Happy holidays.


Judy December 13, 2016 at 10:49 am

I make soda cracker toffee with chocolate and nuts. Happy holidays and thanks.


Barbara Consbruck December 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I don’t know the name of my favorite Christmas cookie because the original recipe was lost long ago but we always called it walnut snowball cookies. By searching online I can always find a recipe that makes the same cookie but it is always called something different.


Jen K December 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Great gift guide! Every year I make a date-filled cookie using a recipe from my Dad’s great-aunt. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them. Happy holidays to you and yours.


Aimee D December 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm

I love my Grandmother’s recipe for Hungarian Butterhorns. They are great with hazelnuts or pecans, although I’m sure they could be made with almost any kind of nut. They are the perfect sweetness. Happy Holidays to your family!


Keri H December 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

My favorite cookie is the old-school nutball / snowball / Russian tea cake / Mexican wedding cookie. My mom always made them and they are the one I will always find time to make.

Happy holidays!


Linda M December 13, 2016 at 5:15 pm

I have a new favorite, after my visit to New York City last year. Pignolis! Absolutely love them.


Mary Ann December 13, 2016 at 5:37 pm

I love Pecan Tassies.


Susan Rodgers December 13, 2016 at 6:47 pm

My favorite Christmas cookie? Easy choice: Lebkuken-a German spice cookie with glaze!


Rivka December 13, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Amazing gift guide! The Moleskin Smart Writing Set is now on my wish list. And I love sugar cookies for the holidays.


Dora December 13, 2016 at 7:34 pm

My most favorite cookie is Aunt Wanda’s fruitcake cookie. I have enjoyed it for many years when she gifted me with the recipe. Even her kids and grandkids don’t have the recipe. Aunt Wanda is no longer with us which makes this cookie that much more special 😊


rachel December 13, 2016 at 10:33 pm



Cathy December 14, 2016 at 3:39 am

Sugar cookies are so delicious and so fun to decorate!


Amy M. December 14, 2016 at 7:38 am

My favorite cookie is Fiesta Fudge cookies (Betty Crocker). You use sugar cookie mix to start, so super easy, but with added chocolate and cinnamon and, the best part, Hershey Hugs! I look forward to them every year!


Jay December 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

Chocolate Pixies!


Deborah Frady December 14, 2016 at 10:22 am

My favorite Christmas cookies are my grandmothers chocolate pinwheels or her butter balls!


Carissa December 14, 2016 at 11:10 am

Sugar cookies- they probably taste so good because I make them with the kids. They load them with icing and sprinkles 😀


Anne December 14, 2016 at 1:20 pm

You can’t beat classic sugar cookies. I prefer them sprinkled with sugar rather than frosted, but either way they’re my favorite holiday cookie.


Tee December 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Classic vanilla shortbread.. best alongside a hot toddy 🙂 Thank you for sharing the Gift Guide!


Robin December 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

We love Swedish Dream Cookies (drommar). They are as light as air!


Rebecca December 15, 2016 at 4:56 am

Wouldn’t be Chanukah without homemade latkes, usually a mashup of recipes and don’t forget the homemade applesauce. This year they’ll be followed by your babke.


Jeffrey December 15, 2016 at 8:39 am

My favorite holiday cookie is the frosted cutout. They just feel right for this time of year and its fun to bake and decorate them with the kids. I guess you can say its one of our family traditions!


Marisa Franca @ All Our Way December 16, 2016 at 4:20 am

My favorite cookie is Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotto. We only make it at Christmas, and it tastes so good with hot coffee or tea. And may I come over? No-one in our house likes egg nog, and I love it! I can’t see buying it just for me 🙁 I love your gift guide, and you can’t be microplanes. I won’t travel without ours. Have you tried the triangular microplanes? They have a different cut on each side. Have a great weekend!


The Suzzzz December 16, 2016 at 8:12 am

That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid. I like chocolate crinkle, chewy lemon, a fat fluffy sugar cookie, pumpkin chocolate chip, florentines, speculoos, and black and white cookies.


The Suzzzz December 16, 2016 at 8:13 am

Ooooh and butter spritz, how could I forget them? I need to stop talking now because I feel like telling my boss I need to go home and bake and that might not go over too well.


Tim December 16, 2016 at 10:28 am

My holiday go-to treat is Cranberry-Orange bread, which we call Cranberry Crumble on account of the first time I made it with double the amount of liquid, which meant when it came out of the loaf pan it fell apart completely. We still ate all the crumbs.


Heidi December 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm

My favorite would have to be an AWESOME Molasses/Soft Gingersnap! Yum!


Kirsten December 16, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Cut out almond sugar cookies, and ginger bread people. Then I have friends in to decorate them. Being in Florida (and after a little-ok a lot of wine), some of them end up in rather skimpy swimwear!!


Susan December 16, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Russian tea cookies!!!


Anne December 17, 2016 at 4:51 pm

This is the only time of year I make biscotti. I don’t know why that is–they’re so good, and not really that difficult to make. My favorite Christmas biscotti is pistachio with dried cranberries; they taste great, and their colors are perfect for the season.


Margot C December 18, 2016 at 1:20 am

I am a fool for those holiday sugar cookies in the Christmas shapes and I love to make them. The rest of the year I never eat a sugar cookie ever!


Dee December 18, 2016 at 6:17 am

Cookie one can decorate – sugar cookie with decorative icing.


Susan Christy December 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

I love Big, Soft Ginger cookies using this recipe (minus the raisins)


Sharon December 18, 2016 at 12:21 pm

I love Mexican wedding cookies with powdered sugar and chopped pecans.


Margie s December 18, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Spritz cookies, tinted green, with almond extract.


Nicole B. December 19, 2016 at 7:46 am

My favorite holiday cookie are snicker doodles, not original but I love them!


Amalissa December 19, 2016 at 8:17 am

Soft molasses cookies with candied ginger chunks in them is my favourite!


Wendy December 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm

My favorite holiday cookie is a cranberry white chocolate cookie! 🙂


kelli winter December 20, 2016 at 10:24 pm

my favorite holiday food is pierogi. My grandmother was from Poland and she would make hundreds of them for the holidays. A milk and egg based dough, almost like a pasta dough is filled with either potato onion farmers cheese and black pepper, or sauerkraut cabbage onion. She made them medium sized, boiled and then fried in butter, served with sour cream & apple sauce. I now make them but not every year, it is a lot of work. Memories…….


Daniel December 21, 2016 at 2:35 am

I always like to make a bread pudding with some rum constituted figs for a “figgy pudding.”


Mildred December 22, 2016 at 2:18 am

My recipe for rum balls is a popular one among my family and friends


Susan D December 22, 2016 at 2:31 am

Any Christmas cookies that we make together as a family are a favorite for me, but for the sake of this question, I will choose our family’s traditional Christmas sugar cookies recipe


Beth December 25, 2016 at 12:53 pm

I just discovered your blog and made your chocolate double rye cookies. Incredible!!! Definitely a new favorite.


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