Gift Guide for the Holidays

These two small kitchen appliances are all the rage right now. With everyone looking for the best and healthiest ways to prepare meals at home, these gadgets make for the perfect holiday gifts.

AirFryer

This popular appliance is making its way into the homes of many, especially those looking for a healthier alternative to oily, fried foods. Airfryers come in many sizes catering to any sized household. According to online reviews, Phillips makes the best performing and easy-to-use airfryer.

The well-known brand sells three different models: The Compact, XL and XXL. These models all have the patented “Turbostar Technology,” meaning hot air circulates 360 degrees around the food as it cooks. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and has a crisp outside with a tender inside. And as the food cooks, any excess fat is simultaneously drained, which is 75% – 90% less fat than typical fried foods. You can also download the “Philips Airfryer app” for recipes, tutorials and tips.

Although the “Turbostar Technology” is used in all the models, the portion size and capabilities are what sets them apart. The basic Compact Airfryer model can easily fit on your countertop, has the ability to cook two portions (1.8 lb) at one time and has easy-to-use controls. The XL Airfryer model is the midsized option that can cook up to four portions (2.65 lb) at one time and features digital touchscreen controls with a preset button to remember your favorite foods. Lastly, the largest XXL Airfryer model is the most powerful model that Phillips offers. It can cook two bags of fries or even a whole chicken in one go, which makes this model ideal for larger families.

Anova Precision Cooker

The other gadget that would make a great gift this holiday season is the Anova Precision Cooker. With this simple device and your phone, you can cook professional level meals. The Anova Precision Cooker uses what is called “Sous-vide” (pronounced ‘sue-veed’) or precision cooking, a technique that uses precise temperature control to achieve perfectly cooked, flavor-filled results.

Here’s how it works. Grab any sized pot and fill it about half way with water. Place the Anova wand into the water and use the clamp to secure it to the side of the pot. Use the controls on the wand or the Anova app on your phone to select the temperature specified in the app or recipe book to achieve your desired doneness. Take a resealable plastic bag and place your choice of ingredients and seasoning inside and seal it. Place the bag in the preheated water and clip the bag to the pot. That’s it! The water will continue to circulate eliminating any hot or cold spots, and in no time at all you will have a perfectly cooked meal! Once the ingredients are cooked, you can use a pan to crisp up the outer layer.

The Anova wand can be used to cook anything from steaks and fried chicken to eggs and potatoes. There are over 1,000 recipes available on the app and online. Anova makes cooking so simple, you’ll never want to use anything else!

Make A Difference This Holiday Season

The cold holiday months can be a difficult time for many people. If you’re looking for a way to give back, this time of year is the perfect time to start. Below we have listed six of the simplest and most impactful ways you can spread your holiday spirit this year. Many of our communities participate in these these opportunities; watch for emails from your community about our giving back events.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans:
Sending cards to our military heroes is a simple, yet impactful way to give back this holiday season. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can brighten the day of those who have given so much to fight for our freedom and those who aren’t able to make it home to their families for the holidays. You can send cards through your local American Red Cross that participates in the Holidays for Heroes program. You can also see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.

Collect donations for a food bank:

Food banks are always in need of help, but especially during the holidays. During this time, many people are in the giving spirit and it’s a great opportunity to get friends together to collect donations. You can form your own food drive or gather cash and food donations for a drive run by another organization. Food banks look for nutritious nonperishable items like whole grain foods and canned foods with low sodium. If you’d like to look for a food bank in your area, click here.

Volunteer at a Shelter:
As money is short for many during the holiday season, one of the most rewarding ways to give back is to donate your time. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a women and children’s shelter to help with meal prep or food service. This allows for the opportunity to meet the individuals you serve and makes for a very gratifying experience. To find a shelter to serve at near you, click here.

Assemble a group of friends to sponsor a family:
Get a group of friends involved in the giving this year by sponsoring a family in need. There are many organizations such as The Salvation Army that gather information for families in need of sponsorship during the holiday season. Groups will be provided with a list of the family members and the children’s ages, clothing sizes and wish lists. After choosing a family, let the holiday shopping begin! Your group is free to spend whatever amount meets the budget. This very rewarding way of giving back ensures that families in need have a holiday they won’t soon forget.

Help Children in Need with Toys for Tots:
A great way to get involved this season is to help children in need by donating new, unused toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots is a charity that collects unwrapped donated toys to give to less fortunate families who can’t afford gifts during the holidays. “The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”

Unique Sites For Valentine Gifts

Forget the flowers and chocolate this year! Instead, buy your valentine something unique and unexpected. Check out these cool sites for hand-made creations and other thoughtful gifts. If you can imagine it, they probably have it! Most of what you will find on these sites cannot be found in stores, which guarantees a unique gift for that special person on February 14th.

POPCHARTLAB.COM
For Her: The Compendious Coffee Chart
For Him: The Very Manly Varieties of Beer Stainless Steel Tumbler

ETSY.COM
For Him: Personalized Wooden Watch
For Her: Personalized Metal Keychain

OLIVEANDCOCOA.COM
For Her: French Grapefruit & Bergamot Spa Crate
For Him: Gentlemen’s Deluxe Shaving Set

Recipe: Life is better with fresh baked cookies!

Ingredients:
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 box Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate or Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 bag Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Instructions:
1. Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat well.
2. Stir in peppermint crunch baking chips.
3. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Form 1 inch balls and drop onto ungreased non-stick cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees.

Recipe from: http://thefrugalgirls.com/2013/12/peppermint-crunch-dark-chocolate-cake-mix-cookies.html