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hostess gift

Food Lifestyle

The perfect baked good for any occasion

May 4, 2016

I love to bake — and I love gifting baked goods to friends and family — but I often struggle with what to bake for small occasions like “thinking of you” or “thanks for hosting us” or “welcome to the neighborhood.” Cakes are my favorite, but they’re big and *sometimes* not that practical for an individual or small family. (In our home, they’re always appropriate!) Cookies or bars are great options, but can be difficult to dress up. And I always worry that anything too involved might give off the impression that I’m trying too hard. (Which, I am. Almost always.)

After years of hunting for the perfect go-to baked good, I’m happy to report that I’ve landed on coffee cake. It’s easy, can be eaten any time of the day, and calls for ingredients you probably already have! And it’s pretty safe, so I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like it. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes but my current favorite is The Pioneer Woman’s.


To dress it up, I use the Multi Dots loaf pans from The Container Store. They are smaller than my normal loaf pan, which means I get five (maybe even six) loafs out of every batch. Since the original recipe calls for a 9×13, the bake time has to be adjusted a little. For a standard loaf pan, add 12 minutes to the baking time. For smaller loaf pans (like the ones shown here), baking time varies, but start checking it around 30-35 minutes. For my oven, 40 minutes does the trick. I just do the toothpick test and when it comes out clean, I take it out.


Once they’re baked and cooled, I wrap them up tightly in cling wrap, then with cellophane. I tie on a little tag so people know what they’re getting themselves into, tie a bow, and then just trim the top!





So there you have it! Easy and delicious!

Does anyone else have go-to baked goods for gifting? You know I need to hear all about them!

The Best Coffee Cake. Ever. (By The Pioneer Woman)

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups (scant) sugar
3 cups flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 whole egg whites, beaten until stiff

For the topping:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I leave these out)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (or LARGER!) baking pan. (Or loaf pans.)

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. (Baking time varies depending on pan.) Serve warm.


Stock the occasions closet: the gift shelf

February 2, 2016

The occasions closet in our house is one of my favorite places. It goes through cycles of being super organized one minute and in complete disarray the next, but I blame that on the fact that I use it so much. Don’t be fooled though — our occasions closet isn’t nearly as glamorous as it may sound! It’s really just the closet in our guest bedroom — so as you can imagine, it’s a bit of a catch-all.

I’m not always as prepared as I’d like to be, but I do try to keep a couple of gifts on hand for a few different occasions, in case I’m ever in a pinch. I store these gifts on a shelf in my occasions closet, conveniently located next to my wrapping supplies. (And if I’m really on top of things, I go ahead and wrap them.) Today I’m sharing four things I try to keep in stock in my occasions closet at all times.TOC_Stock the closet v2

For A Hostess: Pistachio Dish
I was given this gift idea by my aunt, and I absolutely love it! Sometimes I’ll even throw a bag of pistachios in with it.

For A Birthday Girl: Amazing Grace Body Lotion
Fragrances can be kind of personal, but this fragrance is light and fresh enough to (hopefully) not offend anyone. I love giving it as a gift, because women don’t always want to spend much on everyday body lotion, so this feels like a treat!

For A Birthday Boy: Yetti Rambler Colster
Men can be tricky to shop for, but Mr. AG was given this by his brother’s mother-in-law (follow that?!) for Christmas and loved it, so I added one to our stash!

For A Baby: I’ll Love You Forever
This has always been one of my favorite children’s books! I don’t necessarily have this specific one on hand at all times, but I try to keep a sweet book stashed away in case I need it for a baby or child gift.

Does anyone have any other gift ideas I should stock up on?! Do share!