Friday Five: Foodie gift guide

I have finished my holiday shopping already. I was actually done before Thanksgiving. Yes, I’m kind of crazy. I just love buying gifts for people and once it becomes acceptable in my mind to start shopping, I am super productive. That being said, most of you probably haven’t done any shopping yet — so hopefully this can serve as a guide if you have any foodies in your life.

If there was one type of gift I had to get for the rest of my life, it would be food related gifts. Food is my biggest hobby and I LOVE getting gifts related to it. These are all gifts I would be thrilled to get (hint, hint).

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Bella Diamonds Slow Cooker. How freaking adorable is this crock pot? I know adorable isn’t a word one would usually use to describe a slow cooker, but it my mind it can’t hurt. Not only would one of these look good on your kitchen counter, but it has good reviews online. I would personally have a hard time choosing between the blue and the red. Decisions, decisions. You can get these at JCPenney.

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The Taste of America by Coleman Andrews. My second favorite hobby after cooking is reading, so getting a nice cookbook or coffee table book would be an excellent gift. I saw this one in Food Network magazine and added it to my Amazon wishlist. This book is filled with stories about all the food America is known for. Gotta love a little patriotism with your food trivia.

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Microplane grater. Every chef no matter how serious of a cook they are needs a microplane grater. NEEDS. We got the above one as a wedding present and it gets used on a daily basis. It is great (pun slightly intended) for grating hard cheeses like parmesan, zesting a lemon or an orange, or for sprinkling some whole nutmeg on some eggnog (my current favorite use). If I see a microplane on a wedding or gift registry, I buy it immediately for that person.

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Wine pairing or cooking class. I consider myself to be quite competent in the kitchen (or else this blog would be a gross miscalculation on my part), but I have always wanted to take a cooking class. Or a class where you can learn all about wine and food pairing. A lot of time you can even find some of these on Groupon, Living Social or Scoutmob. I know that places like Sur La Table also offer cooking classes, and I’m sure you could find something awesome where you or your gift recipient lives.

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Framed Food Print. I have a background in graphic design, so I love decorating our house with fun looking prints. There are so many adorable food-related prints out there, and I think any foodie in your life would love to find a framed print under the tree or in their stocking. Etsy is a great resource as well as sites like Society 6 or Pinterest. Sometimes even places like HomeGoods or TJ Maxx have some super cute ones as well.

Mediterranean Chicken Stew with Baked Polenta

So yeah. Monday sort of got away from me. I looked up from my computer and saw it was almost 5 pm and was like “Welp, guess that recipe post will go up tomorrow.”

But it is a good one, so I hope it is worth the wait.

I’ve waxed poetic about my crock pot before and this is the first time I have attempted at creating my own crock pot recipe. And it was pretty delicious.

I was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Everyday Food. It is a Mediterranean Chicken Stew that I made a lot a few years back. It takes about an hour on the stove so I figured why not adapt it for a slow cooker and make everyone’s life a bit easier?

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I served it over baked polenta, but you could just as easily pair it with couscous, quinoa or nothing at all. It is a good pick as the nights get cooler.

Mediterranean Chicken Stew with Baked Polenta

For the stew
1 lb chicken breasts
1 15oz can crushed tomatoes
2 gloves chopped garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
2 zucchini, cut in to 1 inch pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can artichokes, drained

For the polenta
1 cup ground cornmeal
4 cups water
2 tbls butter
salt, to taste

1) Place chicken breasts, tomatoes, garlic and oregano in crock pot. Cook on high for three hours. Remove chicken from crock pot and shred. Return to crock pot. Add zucchini, chick peas and artichokes, cook for another two to three hours on high.

2) With an hour remaining on the crock pot, combine the cornmeal and water in a casserole dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the butter and salt, return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. The polenta will not jiggle when it is fully baked.

3) Spoon the stew over a portion of baked polenta. Serve immediately.