a few of my favorite things

by Patricia on December 19, 2009 · 72 comments

Peppermint Bark Cupcake

Peppermint bark cupcake (Devil's food cake with chocolate and white chocolate ganache plus candy cane pieces. Yum.)

Can’t you just hear Maria singing?: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… My version would be more like a cross between the Sound of Music and Willy Wonka: Chocolate on cupcakes and powder white snowflakes…

Anyway… I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite things with you.  Hint: that means I’m giving more stuff away. Why? Because I want to. The last two giveaways were a lot of fun. And anyhow, what’s one more between friends?

As for my favorite things, where to begin? Of course, there are the things I use the most like the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, a little whisk, kosher salt, and a couple of pretty bowls. Then there are the things that make me happy every time I use them like the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, microplane grater, and some really good olive oil I brought back from Napa. There are plenty of other things in my kitchen that I love, but those are the first things that come to mind. Have I mentioned the Kitchen Aid stand mixer? Okay, so I love my Kitchen Aid. It makes baking so much easier (Maybe that’s not a good thing?). And someday I hope to be successful enough to give one of those away like the Pioneer Woman does every so often. But for now, I have put together a small prize for 2 of you that I hope you will love as much as I do:

A few of my favorite things

First a little whisk. Can you love a whisk? I’m not sure. If you cannot then I am very much in like with this little whisk. I found it a couple of years ago. It’s small… only 8 inches from end to end. It’s not meant for big jobs, but quite often I find that I have a small job to do and the big whisk would require a big bowl (small bowl + big whisk = seriously messy. Trust me). I use this little whisk for everything from stirring together dry ingredients for a cake to beating a single egg to mixing up a small batch of ganache… and sometimes I use it just to make milk a little frothy for a cafe au lait.

A few of my favorite things

Next, a Microplane zester/grater. For years I stubbornly resisted the microplane. I had my little OXO grater that worked and that was good enough for me. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But then… Dan bought me a microplane despite my ambivalent protests and circular logic (I wanted one but didn’t think I needed it). The first time I zested an orange with that microplane, it was over for the sad little grater. Does a great job on cheese too. I’ve even heard some people use it to mince garlic and ginger.  Anyway, these Microplanes have a comfort grip and pretty colors.

A few of my favorite things

Last, but certainly not least: a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. If you’ve been reading my blog since last Christmas, you have heard me mention this book about a bazillion times. That’s because it’s awesome. I’ve made crunchy biscotti, brownie-like biscotti, cocoa-nana bread, and several other things I didn’t post about.  And I learned some great tips like rubbing your lemon zest and sugar together to activate more of the oils from the lemon peel.  Anyway, like I said, it’s an awesome book.  If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe the growing legions who participate in Tuesdays with Dorie.

To enter:

Leave a comment telling me the best Christmas present you’ve ever received. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then tell me the best gift you’ve ever received.

Bonus: If you donate to Menu for Hope, I’ll give you an extra entry. Just leave me a comment letting me know that you donated and what you put your raffle ticket toward (I hear there’s an awesome brownie kit on there…).

Deadline for entry: Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 8am PST
I’ll use the random number generator to select 2 winners on Christmas Eve morning. Check back then to find out who won (hopefully it will be you!).

What is the best Christmas gift I have ever received? That is a tough one, but I would have to say: dance lessons. Dan knows how much I enjoy ballroom dancing so last Christmas, he took a few lessons on his own and then set up a couple of lessons for both us to take together. I think that was the sweetest gift ever.

Happy Holidays! and Good luck!

Update (12-24-2009): Winners

Picture 8

Congratulations Allison and JoJo!
Picture 5
Picture 7


1 kathy b December 23, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Best Christmas gift ever? Well it was my Mothers Day gift one year…..
a canoe. We love using it. It meant so much more to me than a gem or flowers . I got a canoe!

2 Jenny December 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

My favorite Christmas present so far is the one my 5 yr old daughter bought for me this year (she told me what it is). She used her money to buy me a teddy figurine with a heart on it b/c she said it shows her love for me. How sweet is she?!

3 Patricia December 23, 2009 at 7:57 am

1 extra entry for Veronica for her Menu for Hope donation (see comment #19).

4 Tere December 23, 2009 at 7:28 am

Best gift was waking up one Christmas morning to find that my then 16-year old daughter had filled a stocking for her dad and I. We always fill the kids stockings, but no one had ever filled one for either of us, and her little gifts were so thoughtful. It was truly a fun surprise!

5 Meredith Phillips December 23, 2009 at 4:42 am

The best Christmas present I received was from my Grandma many years ago. She got our family a huge TV to replace our old, 1980s 24″ TV. It was great because we used to have all my brother’s and my friends over for movie nights once a week and we could now watch the movies on a decent size screen!

6 Susan Field December 22, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Wow – what a wonderful contest! Five years ago, I had mentioned to many people that I didn’t have a Christmas tree, and was sad because without a job, I couldn’t afford one. After spending my first year unemployed (and yes, still unemployed now) and the day my first great niece was born – we were all at the hospital admiring the new addition. Such a beautiful child! We all went to dinner afterwards, and when I got home, I found a HUGE box in front of my garage door. It was a lovely artificial tree, pre-lit, and just about ready to decorate! There was a note on the box that said “Ho Ho Ho – From Santa!” To this day, I have absolutely no idea who left it, since my entire family spent the day at the hospital. I consider it a lovely Christmas miracle!

7 Linda Leu December 22, 2009 at 10:32 pm

just got a magnet that says “say it with carbohydrates” http://www.fridgedoor.com/sayitwicama.html

8 Jessica December 22, 2009 at 9:03 pm

The best present I’ve received was an iPod mini from my parents. Music on the go = best thing ever.

9 Justine December 22, 2009 at 8:49 pm

a scarf my mother knitted me, when I insisted on home made presents one year. I’m wearing it now. ;)

I used to have a little whisk and it broke … my three year old son misses it!!

10 Ginny December 22, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Best Christmas present… mmm… my mom made a cookbook of our family recipes… that was awesome! :)

11 Melissa December 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm

As a wee budding writer, I discovered a bulky, heavy, noisy electric typewriter under the tree in 1978, bearing the scuffs and indignities of floor-sample-hood that brought it down into my family’s price range.

It was an audacious Christmas wish from an eight-year-old, and I hadn’t imagined it would come true.

I wrote my first short stories on that typewriter.

12 Lisa December 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm

A full kitchen set when I was three. It had the stove, refrigerator & sink. It also came with little dishes, pots & pans. I loved it.

13 Amanda December 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I think my best Christmas present was a few years ago when my dad gave be an ipod. It was a third generation, back before all this fancy itouch stuff. We had just returned from celebrating Christmas with my mom’s side of the family and he had set everything up on our computer and I was totally surprised! It was great. :)

14 Marti December 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm

A red sweater. Someone gave me a red sweater once, which was meaningful because it meant he trusted me.

15 Anthony December 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Probably have to go with my first tool set when I was 6 years old. You could have rewrapped it the next few years and I would have been perfectly happy!

16 Dawn Hutchins December 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

This is very random but a gigantic stuffed buffalo with the softest fur ever. I wonder what happened to him when I moved away.

17 lori December 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Best gift ever-a trip to Germany during the Christmas Markets. I loved every minute of it! I would love to win any of these prizes. I really need a microplane zester.

18 Katie @ goodLife {eats} December 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Best present was when my hubby got me an ipod back when the nano just came out. It was completely unexpected and the biggest surprise he’s ever gotten.

19 Aila D. December 22, 2009 at 11:27 am

I think the best and most thoughtful gift I ever recieved was a new knife from my DH for my kitchen. Woohoo!

20 Sheila | Live Well 360° December 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

The best Christmas “gift” would be the time, love, laughs shared with my family during our holiday meal spent together. I’m not with them this year, so it makes those times that we’ve shared all the more special.

21 Mamatobe December 22, 2009 at 10:06 am

I have to say my BEST christmas gift ever was from my husband (then fiance) and it was our puppy. She is the best dog ever and I could not imagine my life without her.

22 H. Angulo December 22, 2009 at 10:02 am

I’m still waiting– it’ll be a KitchenAid!

23 JoJo December 22, 2009 at 10:02 am

wow! I would love love love Dorie’s book! oh goodness. My best christmas present was probably my stand mixer! It has kept me baking in the kitchen for the past 2 years :)
Happy Holidays!

24 pontch December 22, 2009 at 9:59 am

My best present I ever received was my Kitchen Aid mixer!I’m in love with him.

25 Shan December 22, 2009 at 9:41 am

My dad got my mom a new diamond ring to replace her original that he gave her. The new one was much bigger and looks really terrific. Mom took the old one and had it put in a pendant and on a chain and gave it to me. Beautiful and touching and totally connects me to them.

26 linz December 22, 2009 at 9:34 am

Best present would be this year from my boyfriend – he says I get too stressed out too often too easily, so he bought me two gift certificates for massage sessions.

27 Kassy December 22, 2009 at 8:49 am

The best gift I received was a teardrop shaped pendent in my dads birthstone in memory of him – from my husband…so sweet! :)

28 Rachel J. December 22, 2009 at 8:41 am

Best gift ever- Kitchen Aid Mixer. I use it almost daily!

29 Sarah December 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

Best gift ever would be my trip to London and Ireland from my aunt!

30 Jennifer S December 22, 2009 at 8:19 am

My best Christmas gift ever….would have to be the Silpat I received a few years ago. I didn’t realize how much I needed it at the time but now I use it every time I bake cookies (which is more often that I’d like to admit).

31 CB December 22, 2009 at 7:49 am

OMG I want the mini whisk! I’m a sucker for mini gadgets! OoOoh and the microplane is awesome! Best Xmas gift ever? That’s a tough question and my memory stinks. HA! I guess I’d have to say it’s a tie between my parents/in-laws buying us our first home and my husband and I’s joint Xmas gift to each other this year: our doggy. Isn’t she the cutest? http://tinyurl.com/yz686ap
Thanks for hosting the giveaway! Happy Holidays to you and your family :)

32 Chris December 22, 2009 at 6:38 am

I think for me it would have to be my blanket that my mom made for me. Thanks.

33 Leigh December 22, 2009 at 6:15 am

Hmm… has to be a trip to Chicago (wasn’t for Christmas, but it was still great!)

34 Diane December 22, 2009 at 5:28 am

The best Christmas present I ever received was the mortal instrument trilogy!! I love to read.^^

35 J December 22, 2009 at 4:36 am

My best present ever was horseback riding lessons.

36 linda December 22, 2009 at 4:21 am

a holiday card recently informed us that a donation was made in our honor to a charity that feeds/houses homeless in usa…very thoughtful & very sensitive…especially in today’s economic times.
thank you for including me in this lovely giveaway.
patricia, joyous 2010 to you & those you hold dear!

37 Ashton Skelton December 22, 2009 at 1:11 am

The best Christmas gift I think I have ever received was actually a gift from my mom for both me, and my best friend. We always loved to get together and bake cookies, it was one of our favorite things to do. (still is!) My mom, knowing this, made us really bright, fun matching aprons. :) They had frills and were pink and yellow, with watermelon seed fabric and cherries fabric. :P I will have that apron till the day I die, and then ill pass it on to my daughter who will probably think its ugly but love it just the same.

38 Marie December 21, 2009 at 11:40 pm

My best friend gave me hand painted shirts last Christmas and it’s just adorable.

39 Jennifer December 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I remember getting a Troll Treehouse when I was a little kid and thinking it was the greatest thing ever! :)

40 Jane December 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm

My best ever gift is…what I’m getting this year. They are all good.

41 megan December 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Best gift I ever got would have to be my Kitchenais mixer. I use it all the time and it’s 100% better them my old Oster! Great giveaway!!!

42 Amanda December 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

The best Christmas gift I have ever received was my gas logs. They were a total surprize and are beautiful. I would have never thought to ask for them and have enjoyed them very much. I do ask for a kitchen Aid mixer every year and have not received it yet! So I am soooo jealous of all these red kitchen aid mixer comments. LOL

43 Allison Day December 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

Best Christmas gift ever is probably this year’s gift from Son (we “exchanged” gifts early). He wanted a new camera, so my gift to him was to help him buy the new one, and his gift to me… his old Canon Rebel XT! I love it. :D

44 Maya December 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

What a generous giveaway! My best gifts are a tie between my Kitchen aid mixer from my parents and my Simac ice cream maker from my uncle! Both extremely generous gifts that I use very often. :)

45 Kim Polacek December 21, 2009 at 10:03 am

Best Christmas Ever… gift list:

Kitchen-aid Stand Mixer
Pasta Bowl Set
Sewing Machine
Paper Shredder

Some people may think that’s odd… but I use every one of them!

46 Beth December 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

A KitchanAid mixer about 15 years ago. Still going strong.

47 Maria December 21, 2009 at 9:00 am

Love your favorites! We have the same taste:) The best gift was from my dad, a personal letter with a framed picture of my grandmother-who I was named after. Happy Holidays!

48 allisonemme December 21, 2009 at 8:17 am

my best christmas gift ever… thats a tough question! I would probably have to go with my red kitchenaid mixer! it has traveled through 3 apartments with me so far and will continue to do so, and was a present from my parents when I was 18- not something every 18 year old would want but I love it!

49 Sarah December 21, 2009 at 7:46 am

Now… Mind you… I’m in my 30’s now but the best ever gift that was given to me was from my best friend a couple of years ago. We were shopping for our little ones and I mentioned how I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven when I was a kid but never ever ever got one. Didn’t think twice about that comment until I opened my gift from her on Christmas Eve. An Easy Bake Oven. Seriously, it brought tears to my eyes.

50 megan December 21, 2009 at 7:14 am

I REALLY want a microplaner! I asked for one for Christmas, so we’ll see :)

My best christmas present was the year my grandpap put together a large dollhouse for me. He spent so much time putting shingles on the roof and putting little furniture in, etc. I loved it and played with it for so many years.

51 qudz104 December 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm

my favorite/best present would have to be my last anniversary when my hubby got me an audi a4.. ive always loved audis and to get it was the biggest shock and the best gift ever!!

52 Angie December 20, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I think the best gift ever might be having my own computer. It’s a great privilege to have, and I’m not always nice about sharing my technology…

53 Veronica December 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

The best gift I ever got was a Ty beanie white baby seal (large size). I don’t like stuffed animals and don’t collect them, but for some reason I fell in love with it when I spotted it at a flea market when I was with a friend. She loved it too and bought it “for her daughter.” 6 months later, I was unwrapping a gift my hubby got me and there was that darling seal! My friend had sold it to him so that he could surprise me! I think what I loved most was how they had conspired together to do something special for me. I still have that seal, 10 years later.

Thanks for the reminder on Menu for Hope. I only glanced at that blog when you posted it, meaning to come back later and forgot. I’m working 12 hours a day right now so I think I’m operating on a diminished number of brain cells. I put my donation towrd UW11–the light set (though the brownie kit was tempting!).

54 Lisa December 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Probably the best Christmas present I ever got was my Kitchen Aid mixer. It’s certainly out-lasted most of the other gifts!

55 Debbie December 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

My husband gave me a diamond necklace one year for Christmas–it wasn’t just any diamond..it was the diamond given to my mother-in-law in her engagement ring from my father-in-law. Many years ago, he gave her a larger diamond ring so she no longer wore the engagement ring. My husband was given the diamond by his mom so he had it reset into a beautiful necklace which I cherish.

56 Hannah W. December 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Hmm… I remember like 10 years ago when GAP had those really catchy commercials for their “crazy stripes” scarves, mittens, beanies, etc. I would sing-along to the commercials cuz they were so fun! And even though we lived in Southern California, where there’s really no need for any of that warm clothing, my mom surprised me with a set of matching mittens, scarf and beanie. I was surprised… we’re a really practical kind of family… it was really sweet and thoughtful of her, and I still wear the mittens! :D

57 CJ Vierow December 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Best Christmas gift–our wedding on the beach in Carmel, CA in 1990–although it was two days after Christmas on the 27th. Many more “best’ gifts since then, but that was certainly the winner. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. CJ

58 Charles Thompson December 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Great idea for a post – and that cupcake looks awfully yummy too. The best Christmas trip I’ve received was a Christmas trip to Tahiti. Happy Holidays.

59 Gale Reeves December 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

A gift box from Penzey’s this year was great, but the best Christmas gift was given by someone who does not even realize how special the gift was. I don’t have children, and one Dec 24th midnight, I was allowed to help with the ‘special preparations.’ It was awesome!

60 Heather G. December 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I’m having a hard time coming up with the best gift EVER, but last year my mom gave me a little hand blown glass sea turtle pendant that I have hanging in my car. It reminds me every day of the trip I took to Hawaii last year where I saw a sea turtle come up on the beach right in front of me. One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. I still don’t think she understands how much that little stocking stuffer gift meant to me.

61 Kai P December 20, 2009 at 11:14 am

My best Christmas gift ever would definitely have to be the trip I took to Japan with my whole family.

62 Stacy December 20, 2009 at 9:42 am

The best Christmas present I ever received (besides the meaning of Christmas – Jesus!) would be when my husband dressed up as Santa during a Christmas party we were throwing and presented me with a gift from his bag – a diamond necklace!

63 Jess December 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

My best gift was a new flatscreen tv!

64 Gaby December 20, 2009 at 8:50 am

What a fantastic giveaway for the holidays!! The best Christmas present ever was an early one this year – my parents got me my new digital SLR Canon camera and I am absolutely obsessed!

65 Rebecca H. December 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

Okay. I have ONE lonely little microplane (not the one you’ve got)- I LURVE IT! My Aunt bought it for me as I’m the resident baker, and spaghetti sauce maker. I’d LOVE to try out another grating texture! Oh so many things to do!

And I must say- I understand about the wisk. You don’t wanna see my kitchen after making icing. It’s not right how far powdered sugar spreads.

Okay. Best gift ever. This sounds silly. But my husband one year got me an Indiana Jones DVD set. I know! However. It meant that he’d picked up on one of those odd moments where I’d mentioned I’d like something!

Now if he’d only picked up on the new kitchen aid…. :D

66 Kaitlin December 20, 2009 at 7:34 am

Definitely a ski trip to colorado to hang out and ski with alot of my family!

67 Caitlin December 20, 2009 at 7:26 am

I would say that the best give I’ve ever received would have to be one that I got last year. My parents paid to fly all of us over to England to spend Christmas with my sister, her husband (who’s English) and his whole family. This Christmas I won’t get to see my sister (she’s still back in England) so I really appreciate how special last year was.

68 Melissa December 20, 2009 at 6:20 am

Best Christmas gift ever? That’s a tough one. In most recent years I would have to say my laptop. I never asked for one and it was a total surprise. But to get all sentimental about the holidays, I must say my youngest daughter (she is actually my middle child) was due on Christmas Eve but came a week early. She was and is the most beautiful gift I have ever gotten for Christmas. She just celebrated her 13th birthday on Friday. (queue the teardrops!)

69 heather December 20, 2009 at 6:04 am

My boyfriend and I had Christmas together yesterday before we head home to Wisconsin, and his gift was extremely too generous — a digital SLR camera! I explicitly told him we didn’t need a fancy camera right now, but he knows how much I love to photograph… everything… and now I’m over the moon. I guess that makes it the perfect gift!



70 Rachel Cotterill December 20, 2009 at 12:47 am

What an incredible giveaway. My best ever Christmas present… hmm… tough one! Probably the skiing holiday my husband got for me when we first got together. Not because it was a holiday (though that always helps!) but because he patiently taught me to ski.

71 Aimee December 19, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Ooh, I was just thinking yesterday how much I NEED a little whisk! And I don’t have a microplane, either.

My best Christmas gift ever is pretty easy – Fourteen years ago, on Christmas, I found a little ring box in the toe of my stocking at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. That boyfriend is now my husband of twelve years, and he hasn’t topped that ring yet!

Happy Holidays, and thank you for hosting this giveaway!

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