Gifts For The Home Cook

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If you have a loved one that loves to cook I’m here to make Christmas shopping easier. You can’t go wrong with any of these gifts for the home cook.

Gifts for Mom
I love to cook. I love to entertain. I love to put on a beautiful, bountiful spread of home cooked goodness – even though my myriad of food allergies has made it more challenging to do so.

The funny thing is, I’m not one to invest in items that make the job easier. That’s why I’m thankful that every Christmas my husband gets me something, okay a few somethings, for entertaining.

If you have a home cook in your life, consider getting them a few of these handy items this Christmas.

The Basics

Cookikng Gifts

Whether you’re loved one can whip up a souffle with their eyes closed, or are just embarking on their home cook journey, they need these kitchen basics!

Accessorizing The Mixer

Gifts for the home cook

To extend the sparkle and shine of a KitchenAid Mixer, or to simply keep dust out of clean mixing bowls, get a pretty and functional cloth cover.

Or if your loved one prefers to show off their mixer, let their personality shine with mixer decals. These are an inexpensive way to dress up a kitchen tool while bringing a pop of color to the kitchen.

If your favorite cook is a bit…messy in the kitchen, they may appreciate the splatter guard and pour shield.


Christmas Gifts For Cooks

These mostly inexpensive items make entertaining so easy, and add a little class to your gatherings.


Best Cookbooks

I’m credited with being a good cook. But I didn’t start that way. I started following recipes, which led to tweaking recipes, which led to the ability to make up my own successful recipes. When I was first starting out the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook was such a blessing!

As I grew into different styles of cooking, I discovered the Dillard House Cookbook – southern cooking at its fattening best. Yum!

As my family grew I needed easy recipes for a crowd. The Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook and Cooking From Quilt Country helped with that.

And of course, my cookbook collection wouldn’t be complete without favorites from Food Network cooks like:

These items are sure to bless your home cook! They will make cooking and entertaining easier and even more stylish. What gifts have you bought for your home cook? What do they use most often?

The Emotional Side of Food Allergies

Food Allergies
I have to be honest. Lately, I’ve been struggling with my food allergies. Maybe it’s just the heightened emotions of this pregnancy.

But it’s all become a bit overwhelming.


I try to keep a positive attitude, because really, it’s food. I’m not starving. I’m not terminally ill. One look at the news headlines will tell me how much more horrible life can be. I need to suck it up and move on.

But every so often it’s nice to have myself a little pity party.

I think the reason I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed is because my allergen list is growing. And my safe foods list is quickly shrinking.

At first it was just dairy. I cut out all dairy products – no big deal. The biggest adjustment was cheese, but I finally found two AMAZING substitutes (Daiya cheese shreds – their cheesecake and mac and cheese are great too, and Field Roast Chao slices – out of this world flavor). Yay!!

Then, I took out gluten. I’m not celiac, but after doing a food challenge I realized how sluggish and bloated gluten made me feel, in my gut and in general. So I cut gluten and never looked back.

Still, not a huge deal. There are plenty of gluten free options out there. I’m so thankful for all the allergen free brands! Kudos and thanks to you all!!

Mystery food allergies? I’m over them. Sigh. #thatsmyforearm

A photo posted by Cheryl Pitt (@cheryllpitt) on

But then…then I started having gut trouble again, last October. Severe digestive distress episodes which would last for a few hours and consist of my gut painfully evacuating everything from my system, just like my diary reactions. However, this time my episodes came with weakness, sweating, itchy palms and throat and a lovely itchy rash.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But I believe I’ve found the culprit. After much trial and error, juicing (which I love), a Whole 30 Diet (which I strongly recommend – loved it), going Paleo for a while, allergy testing and an intense food challenge, it looks like I have Alpha-Gal.

Basically Alpha-Gal is a tick-borne or chigger-borne allergy that causes you to become intolerant to mammal meat. That’s right, no beef, lamb, goat, pork, venison, etc. Just fowl, fish and seafood are safe.

I was bit by a tick late last summer. My symptoms started late fall. I say it “looks like” I have alpha-gal because I haven’t been tested yet. But I will be soon and all signs point to this issue.

Since cutting mammal meat out of my diet I’ve generally been okay. Except in a few cases which left me wondering, is it something else or do I have to be very careful of cross contamination?

Case in point. Hubby and I went out to eat. We were at a steakhouse, however I ordered fish. Shortly after arriving home I had a reaction. So, was it cross contamination with the fish being cooked alongside the beef? Or am I allergic to something else entirely?

I don’t know yet. I share all this to 1) whine, 2) commiserate with others going through the same issue, and 3) to illustrate that allergies aren’t all cut and dry. It’s not always easy to pinpoint an allergy. And it’s not always easy eliminate the allergen.

Eating out for me now consists of a plain salad. It sucks some of the joy out of anniversary dinners and holiday celebrations. So much of our lives and events revolve around food.

Once I get tested and, hopefully, have some answers I think I’ll feel better. Understanding exactly what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

So, forgive me if I whine a little more than I should. But by all means, enjoy every single bite of your Thanksgiving dinner! Seeing others enjoy “standard” food brings me joy. Because honestly, even though I can deal with them and work around them, food allergies kinda suck.

Thanks for letting me vent :-).

DIY Starbucks Lighted Garland – So Wrong It’s Right

DIY Starbucks Lighted Garland

Let me preface this post by saying, I’m NOT a crafty person. I want to be. I dream of making my own Christmas wreaths and picture frames and you name it. But whenever I try, the result ends up far from the dream. And looking like something a toddler made. Actually, my toddler could probably do a better job.

So when I craft, it has to be easy. Fool-proof easy. Like, three steps max. So, if you’re craft-challenged like me you’ll love this easy, lovely, Starbucks Lighted Garland.

DIY Garland

This whole idea came about via a Facebook post. You like my blog on Facebook, right?

I had been frustrated with all the attention over the Starbucks “cup controversy” because really, it’s just one uber sensitive conservative making the rest of us conservatives look bad. Isn’t that always the way? It only takes one high-on-his-horse nut job to make the rest of us look crazy.

Of course, there are more left-wing nut jobs, but who’s counting? `\_(“,)_/’

In fact, the other day Shane and I were discussing how nice it would be if there were no Republican, Democratic and Independent parties. We should be divided as ultra-conservatives, ultra-liberals, and moderates. We moderates could rule the world and the “ultra” parties could whip themselves into regular frenzies. No harm done to the rest of us.

But I digress…

Starbucks Cup

photo credit: Starbucks / Red cup ornament

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Starbucks cup controversy – how the Christian conservatives were offended by the fact that Starbucks coffee cups were plain red this year, and didn’t say the word Christmas. (Though it was really drama started by one malcontent.)

I was frustrated with the silliness of it. After all, Starbucks has never professed to be a Christian brand. So I facetiously commented on Facebook that I was going to decorate my Christmas tree with Starbucks cups. Wouldn’t that be pretty?

To which my friend Heather replied with a link to a post from Hey Gorgeous about DIY Dixie Cup garland and an idea took shape.

I was consumed with a need to get to Starbucks and see if they’d sell me a bunch of their Tall red cups.

Cake Pops

I promised my little ones hot cocoa and cake pops and off we went. They went for the goodies, I went for the cups (and a decaf, vanilla cappuccino with coconut milk).

With a big smile on my face I asked the cashier if he’d sell me some of the Tall cups. He said he’d be happy to give me one. To which I explained that I’d need at least 20 for a craft I wanted to do because of all the hoopla.

This is when the barista piped in and made my day. “We have sample size cups in the back you could use. Would they be too small?”




I explained that size would be even better and they sent me on my very merry way with a whole sleeve of tiny red cups. I took note of the Advent calendars and Christmas blend coffee on my way out. Ahem.

Starbucks Christmas Cup


And here we are. A super easy, fun, pretty, craft that also makes a political statement.

  1. Acquire some of those festive red Starbucks cups (preferably sample size).
  2. Grab a string of LED Christmas lights in the color and length of your choosing.
  3. Using an Exacto knife, or something else precise, cut a small X in the bottom of each cup. Seriously, small! You can make it bigger if need be, but if you start too big the cup will slide off the light.
  4.  Carefully slip the string bulbs through the X at the bottom of the cup, so that the Starbucks cup becomes a globe for the light.
  5. Wrap them with green pine garland if you like.
  6. Sit back and admire your work.

SAFETY WARNING: Use LED lights! If you do not use LED lights DO NOT leave these plugged in for long. And, never leave them unattended! Regular lights will get HOT and could be a RISK FOR FIRE!

So, what do you think? Do you likey?