Gifts from the Edible Givens Kitchen



It's almost Christmas!  It's almost Christmas!  I love Christmas.  Jesus' birthday is the best one in history.  It's been really special this year going through Advent at church- first year I think I've done that.

If you're looking for some edible gift ideas, try these:


Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti (pictured)
Lenox Almond Biscotti
Chocolate Truffle Cookies


Condensed Milk Fudge
Oreo Truffles
Buttermilk Fudge
Chocolate Orange Truffles (pictured)
Cake Balls


Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix (pictured)- One of my favorite ideas on this list!
Cherry Almond Snack Mix
Chex Mix- can't go a Christmas without some of this!
Maple Pumpkin Butter - refrigeration required
Cinnamon Rolls

There are also several baked goods options- quick breads, muffins.  You can find those by clicking through the labels on the right hand side, breads/breakfast/good for gifts.

Merry Christmas, and maybe see you back here Monday or Tuesday for another idea!

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti


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Biscotti is so great with coffee...or tea, hot chocolate, or alone.  Homemade biscotti leaves store bought biscotti in the dust.  I've had this recipe for years, and I make it each year at Christmas to give as gifts and to enjoy some for myself.  It's delicious.  If you like Nutella, you will love this one for its nod to the hazelnut-chocolate combination.  I actually like giving biscotti more than other cookies/homemade candy because it's kind of unique.  It's twice baked, so it keeps longer than other candies and cookies.  That is, if it lasts that long, which in my house, it doesn't.

Shaping the "logs"

There are a couple steps involved in biscotti, but it's still easy.  Make this for yourself and the coffee lovers in your life!

Instead of makin' it rain...makin' it snow!

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
courtesy of Food Network/ Gourmet Magazine, circa 2006

Makes approx 30 biscotti

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 Tb (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup blanched hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tb. confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter and flour a large baking sheet, or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat until combined well.  Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough.  Stir in hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

On the baking sheet with floured hands, form dough into two slightly flattened logs, 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.  Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, if using.  Bake logs for 35 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

On a cutting board, cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4 inch slices.  Arrange the biscotti, cut sides down and up, back on the baking sheet, and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Cool on a rack.

The biscotti will keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week and frozen up to a month.


  • I've made these with very few tweaks, but the one small tweak I know I've made is to not blanch the hazelnuts.  Do you know how much trouble it is to remove the husks off hazelnuts?  I prefer to save the time- I have made it both ways, and I can't tell a significant enough difference. 

Condensed Milk Fudge


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Between now and Christmas, I'll likely be just posting Christmas goodies- good for gifts, parties, or eating yourself...not that I'd know anything about that.

So this fudge isn't real fudge.  You don't need a candy thermometer or a perfect, sunny day for it to work out.  It is, however, quick and easy, and will set up on the rainiest of days, which is good, because the past two Christmases around here have not had the best weather surrounding them.  Most importantly, while the texture is a little different from true fudge, it's still very tasty, and nobody has refused it yet.

Drew's grandmother is one of those people who you find it difficult to buy gifts for, because she has no hobbies, every square inch of her house is packed with stuff, so there's not a lot of room for anything else.  She does, however, have a big sweet tooth, and loves fudge, and she does not care about the semantics of fudge.  I have made this for her pretty much every year since I've been part of the family, and she has come to expect it.  When she gets my gift of fudge she literally squeals with delight and promptly eats a piece and hides the rest behind her back so that no one else in the family can eat any.  It's pretty funny.

So without further adieu, from the Eagle Brand recipe collection, I give you their recipe for chocolate fudge.

Chocolate Fudge (Condensed Milk Fudge)
from Eagle Brand recipes

makes approx. 2 pounds of fudge

1 can condensed milk
18 oz (3 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil, wax paper or parchment; set aside.

In a medium pot, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, and salt.  Melt over medium low to medium heat.  Once melted and smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour and spread the mixture into a prepared pan to make an even layer.

Chill the fudge 2 hours or until firm.  Cut into bite sized squares.

Lasgna Soup


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Baby, it's cold outside!  Sorry for calling you baby.  When it's cold, about all I want to eat is soup (which, when I say soup, I mean soups, stews, and chilis).  They're just so good- warm, filling, diverse.  As I type this, it's chilly and rainy.  A perfect soup day.  I had chicken chili for lunch.

This soup is a unique one, and it's a good addition to the Givens' soup repertoire.  What makes it good is its resemblance to lasagna.  What makes it unique is the addition of a ricotta- Parmesan mixture to the soup bowl just prior to serving.  Yum!

It's easy to make, and makes enough for a small army.  We didn't end up freezing any, but instead ate on it all week.  I am sure it freezes well, but I'd recommend only boiling the amount of noodles you'll need at any given time, or, if you're lazy like me and don't feel like doing that, reduce the amount of noodles the recipe calls for by 1/3 to 1/2.

Lasagna Soup
adapted from the book, 300 Sensational Soups via A Farm Girl's Dabbles blog

1 1/2 lb ground beef or Italian sausage
2 tsp. olive oil
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese mixture. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheese mix in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

  • We omitted mozzarella since there was other cheese.  I don't think I missed it, but if you're in a real cheesy mood, go for it.  
  • I reduced the amount of noodles called for by about half, using only slightly more than a cup.  It seemed like a good move.  I also used radiatori pasta, because they looked fun and were on sale.
  • The original recipe calls for Italian sausage.  Drew doesn't like sausage, so we used ground beef, which is also our traditional lasagna filling.  It worked well.

Quick party trick- Pesto Turkey Pinwheels


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We had a Christmas party this past weekend in which we all brought dishes.  When completing the list of who would make what, the theme pretty quickly turned from dinner to hors d'oeuvres and desserts.  I decided to bring black eyed pea salsa (can't believe I haven't shared this before- recipe coming soon!) and these pinwheels, which I sort of made up on the spot.  I had seen different recipes on The Pioneer Woman and floating around on Pinterest, but pinwheels are the sort of thing that just seem to not need precision or a recipe- they're like a sandwich and encourage customization.

Plus, who doesn't love pinwheels?  My grandmother used to buy some from Sam's Club and serve them at family get togethers.  They were my favorite.  I have good memories of times where pinwheels are served.

Anyway, they were a pretty big hit- all of them were eaten, and they're on the healthier end of party food- lower in fat, not fried, no mayo.

Pesto Turkey Pinwheels
Makes 25 pinwheels/ 5 tortillas

1/2 block (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup prepared pesto
5- 8-10 inch tortillas
1- 8oz package deli turkey- not shaved
1 or 2 roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
8 oz package sliced provolone, meunster, or cheese of your choice
Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shredded or ribboned

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and pesto until well incorporated.

Working 1 tortilla at a time, lay tortilla on a flat surface and spread the pesto/cream cheese mixture onto the tortilla in a thin layer, leaving about 1/2"- 1" border.  Add 3-4 turkey slices, spreading out evenly over the pesto mixture.  Layer with the cheese slices and the red bell pepper strips, using the bell pepper strips every few inches (see photo, above).  An optional variation is to leave out the cheese slices and instead to cover the turkey and red pepper strips with the Asiago or Parmesan shavings/shreds.

Beginning with 1 end, tightly roll the tortilla up, slice into 1 1/2" slices, and pin with toothpicks to keep together.  You should have 7-9 total slices, including the ends.


  • I had a lot of cream cheese mixture left over, but that will work well with any wraps you may want to make yourself, maybe as a pasta sauce, a veggie dip, etc.  Or just make more wraps.
  • I alternated use between the meunster cheese and Asiago cheese in the wraps, partially for experimentation and partially because I didn't have that much sliced cheese on hand.  I am not sure which I preferred, and I am not sure the crowd had a preference either.  
  • I used spinach and herb wraps, but any soft tortilla shell will do.  I liked the green color, especially here at Christmas.

Sole Meuniere


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Sole meuniere is a classic French dish, likely made popular in the US by Julia Child.  It's fairly simple and straightforward in its preparation, but like so many simple dishes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  It's just good.  I had a recipe bookmarked in the April 2010 issue of Bon Appetit and when I found sole on a trip to Trader Joes, I grabbed it, knowing exactly what I'd be doing with it, and was glad that I'd be crossing off another recipe on my ever-growing list of recipes to try.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does that- saves recipes seen in magazines, cookbooks, on tv, or the internet for years.  We should have a contest for how long we've saved a recipe before making it!  Winner makes the recipe?

Anyway, the recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg, who writes the blog Orangette and was a columnist at one point for Bon Appetit.  It's a definite winner, and it's another one of those "kitchen cred" recipes, where when you make it, you'll feel for a minute like a kitchen whiz and that you're really eating something that came from a restaurant that has white tablecloths and linen napkins, with prices that don't end in decimals and usually are reserved for special occasions.  Molly Wizenberg writes about how her father would often exclaim that they ate better at home than most people do in a restaurant.  Make sole meuniere and serve it with a simply dressed salad and maybe some roasted potatoes, and you might feel that way too.

Sole Meuniere
from Molly Wizenberg via Bon Appetit
serves 2


1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 sole fillets (each about 3 to 4 ounces)
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedges

For fish:

Place flour in pie dish. Rinse fish; pat with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of fish with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Place on platter.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot and shimmers. Add butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide fish between 2 warmed plates; tent with foil. Pour off drippings from skillet; wipe with paper towels.

For sauce:

Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter; cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice (sauce may sputter). Spoon sauce over fish. Serve with lemon wedges.


  • While it is a white fleshed fish that is inherently lean, this is not the absolute healthiest preparation, but don't let that deter you.  
  • I didn't use parsley.  I don't actually like the taste.  Mine is not garnished.  There goes the kitchen cred.
  • Molly Wizenberg cautions you to have everything ready, because in less than a minute, your fish can become too browned or your butter can become burned rather than browned.  I followed her advice and it seemed to go well.  
  • While I did reheat this with some success and good taste, this is a dish that is best right after it's made.

Meatless Monday: Winter Vegetable Soup


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How was your Thanksgiving?  Can you believe Christmas is already here?  Do you still feel a bit weighed down by the food you just ate and the thought of all the food you're about to eat during this holiday season?  I know I am, but here's a good soup that is easy and filling but healthy.  It's restorative.  It's a good meal to make for eating on those days you're not at a Christmas party or family dinner.  It's also good if you've experienced the thing that is going around these days that includes anything from stuffy nose to sore throats to worse.

More reasons to make this soup?  It's easy and has a short list of ingredients.  It's good with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan to finish it.

I think we ate just the soup, but it'd be good with toast or bread, a salad, etc.  This one is a keeper.

Winter Vegetable Soup
from Everyday Food, November 2009 issue
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bunch kale ( 3/4 pound), ribs cut away and discarded, leaves torn
5 1/2 cups (43.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (14 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed
3 sprigs thyme

Grated Parmesan, for serving (optional)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Cook onion and garlic until fragrant, 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add squash and kale and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add broth, beans, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash and kale are tender, about 12 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan, if desired.

  • The original recipe says that the entire thing takes 30 minutes from prep to table.  I'm a slow chopper, but my experience was more like an hour.  
  • You'll definitely want a big pot.  The kale, going in, is very voluminous.  It cooks down.