Upcoming New Leaf classes include miso, paella, beer, anti-inflammatory cooking

 

Madia Jamgochian and Magali Brecke will host an info session/dinner party at New Leaf Sept. 21

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has lots of interesting cooking classes in the near future, including classes on making miso and paella, beer tasting and beginning home brewing with two local breweries, and learning about anti-inflammatory eating. Here are some details; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Friday, Sept. 21, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Info Session & Dinner Party, Cost: $40

With Certified Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian, and Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke, Co-Founder and Nutritional Director of Kitchen Witch Bone Broth

You may have heard that inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue?

This class offers an intro to New Leaf’s 4-Week Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, held during the month of October. Come to this Dinner Party to learn the basics of anti-inflammatory eating, get your questions answered about the upcoming series, and meet past attendees who have benefited from this particular diet and lifestyle.

Class will start with an introduction to “What is inflammation?” and include the topic of Leaky Gut, as well as a breakdown of anti-inflammatory eating. A full anti-inflammatory meal is included.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Miso Making Workshop, Cost: $35

With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama, founders of Hakouya Cooking School. In this class you’ll learn how to make 1.5 lbs. of organic miso to take home. Masumi and Eriko will share different ways to incorporate miso into your everyday diet. Since this is a simple but lengthy process, ingredients will be prepared for you in advance and assembled together in class.

 

Thursday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m.

Regional Spanish Cooking: Paella, Cost: $45 or $40 each for two

In this hands-on class, Kristen Valenza will show you how to prepare traditional paella, and pair it with a Spanish red blend. Traditional paella is a mix of spanish rice, vegetables, meat, (like chorizo and sausage) and seafood, (clams, mussels, shrimp) and aromatic spices including parsley and saffron. Wine pairing included.

 

Friday, Sept. 28, 6-8 p.m.

Beer Brewing and Tasting, Cost: $18

Julie Reinhart from Elkhorn Slough Brewing and Emily Thomas from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing will lead you on an evening of beer tasting and beginner home brewing. They’ll go over different beer styles and you’ll get a chance to taste beers from both breweries, along with tasting notes.

 

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More Mother’s Day restaurants for the Santa Cruz area

Aquarius Restaurant – Photo courtesy of Aquarius Facebook page

Did Mother’s Day 2018 sneak up on you? Mother’s Day is Sunday – some restaurants in the Santa Cruz area, including Bargetto Winery, which only has one seating – are fully booked, but others are still available. Below are a few.

Refer to my May 3 article for a few Santa Cruz County restaurant highlights (plus one for Monterey), but I am not sure which of those still have reservations available.

Also, if you want something off the beaten path, Roaring Camp Railroads is hosting a brunch buffet ($39 adults, $29 kids) from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Bret Harte Hall (last seating at 1). There are train rides to go on after brunch (diners receive $2 fare discount); visit this site.

As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, the following restaurants still had selected Mother’s Day brunch reservations available—these are based on a party of 4. Call or make reservations through OpenTable.com.

BRUNCH

  • Chocolate the Restaurant (831) 427-9900
  • Ideal Bar & Grill (831) 423-5271
  • Jaguar Restaurant (831) 600-7428
  • Mozaic (831) 600-7428
  • Solaire Restaurant & Bar (831) 600-4545
  • Suda (831) 600-7068
  • Zelda’s on the Beach (831) 475-4900

 

DINNER

  • Aquarius-Dream Inn (831) 740-8138
  • Café Cruz (831) 476-3801
  • Chocolate the Restaurant (831) 427-9900
  • Gabriella Café (831) 457-1677
  • Ideal Bar & Grill (831) 423-5271
  • Jaguar Restaurant (831) 600-7428
  • Mozaic (831) 600-7428
  • Pearl of the Ocean (831) 457-2350
  • Persephone (831) 612-6511
  • Solaire Restaurant & Bar (831) 600-4545
  • Suda (831) 600-7068
  • Zelda’s on the Beach (831) 475-4900

 

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Mother’s Day restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz & Monterey: Shadowbrook, Chaminade, Portola & more

Shadowbrook is open during the day on Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy of Shadowbrook.

Dining out on Mother’s Day is extremely popular, so if you haven’t made reservations yet, better hurry: here are a few restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz County and Monterey. I’ll publish more in the next few days.

Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos

Shadowbrook

It’s very rare for Shadowbrook to be open during the day, but it’s happening on Mother’s Day. The restaurant is serving a dinner menu all day (11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) in its main dining room. Mother’s Day specials are slow-roasted leg of spring lamb (porcini mushroom-crusted with organic baby carrots, wild rice ‘pilaf’ and Cabernet jus, $28.95) and sweet-glazed ham (lightly smoked with Gouda potato gratin, grilled asparagus, apple-mustard and ham hock jus, $24.95). Many other dishes will be available like New England clam chowder; signature salad which includes baby spinach, candied pecans, and bacon-wrapped prawns; and house specialty Angus prime rib. See full menu here.

Many of the large party tables (7 people and up) have been booked, but as of press time there were a couple cancellations for the private room, at 11:15 and 5:15—this holds 12-16 people. For smaller parties (tables of four, for example) they are booked from 11 a.m. to 2:30, but there are reservation openings after that scattered throughout the afternoon and evening. Call 831-475-1511 for reservations. In addition, the Rock Room Bar & Lounge is open beginning at 10:30 a.m. for bar service and 11 for food, and might stay open as late as 10 p.m., but there are no reservations accepted for that area. It’s first-come, first-served. The regular dinner menu will be available at the rooftop heated bar/lounge deck. The regular Rock Room menu will be available in the lounge and on the deck. Because of Shadowbrook’s popularity—especially on Mother’s Day—many people choose to buy restaurant gift cards for Mother’s Day and give these as gifts, to be used at a later date.

1750 Wharf Rd., Capitola

 

Chaminade

The Chaminade offers its annual Mother’s Day buffet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 13. Cost is $66.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 6-12 and free for kids under 6. Selections include Belgian waffles; an omelet bar; mini quiches; gourmet salads; a seafood bar with teriyaki salmon, Dungeness crab legs and more; roast prime rib with au jus; bourbon glazed honey ham; and ravioli with porcini cream, fried leeks and wild mushrooms. Kids’ dishes are chicken strips and fries; mac & cheese; and mini pancakes. See full menu. Call (831) 475-5600 or visit  opentable.com for reservations.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Sanderlings

Sanderlings at Seascape Resort has a brunch buffet from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm; the price is $56.95 for adults and $21.95 for kids. This year’s selections include a prime rib carving station; a seafood bar; a salad assortment (includes roasted beet with radicchio, apple, pickled apple; and Cobb; fresh fruit; and freshly baked croissants and muffins. Other highlights include potato cakes; smoked bacon and chicken apple sausage; and a kids’ menu with chicken tenders, hot dogs and more. Call (831) 662-7120 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

One Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos 

Hollins House

Hollins House at Pasatiempo has a brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm; the price is $75 for adults (includes a glass of champagne). The menu will include made-to-order omelets featuring choices such as smoked salmon and green garlic chives; Yukon gold potato hash; Applewood smoked bacon and breakfast sausage; a carving station with items such as Pitt ham with honey mustard and Hollandaise; artichoke quiche; and a few salads (including Caesar, and build-your-own-Cobb). Other highlights include a croissant and bagel station, cupcakes and bread pudding with salty whiskey caramel. See full menu here. Call (831) 216-5358 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz

Monterey

Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa is hosting Mother’s Day brunch at its De Anza Ballroom. There will be live piano music, and each mother receives a complimentary Mimosa. The buffet is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 831-649-7874 for reservations. Cost is $54.95 for adults, $41.95 for seniors 65 and up, and $24.95 for kids. The menu includes ham-gruyere frittata, sweet & savory crepes, California cheeses & cured meats with crusty bread & crackers, wild King salmon, and prime rib.  The kids’ menu includes macaroni & cheese and grilled chicken fingers with Ranch. See full menu.

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey

 

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Mother’s Day gift ideas from Tea Forté

Chakra Collection, with vanilla Veda chai and more–one of many gift possibilities from Tea Forté. Photo courtesy of Tea Forté

If you’re looking for a special Mother’s Day gift for a woman who is a tea lover, I got to sample some Tea Forté products recently and can tell you they are both beautiful AND delicious! Plus, there are a range of prices depending how simple or extravagant your needs are.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they are the exclusive tea purveyor to the James Beard Foundation and they supply many hotels, restaurants and resorts in 35 countries. I first tried Tea Forté at a hotel in Las Vegas about 10 years ago, and was hooked.

 

Back to the tea and gifts. There’s the new Ceremonial Matcha Bowl Set and Matcha Single Steeps, which both came out in February 2018. Matcha, a finely ground Japanese-style green tea, is renowned for its health benefits. “Steeped green tea contains only the antioxidants that can be extracted in water, while with matcha, the whole leaf is consumed,” said a Tea Forté spokesperson. “Our high-grade matcha is shaded in the weeks prior to harvest, increasing chlorophyll and encouraging the deep emerald hue.”

 

The bowl set includes a handcrafted bowl and bamboo whisk, plus a measuring ladle, and is priced at $65. The steeps are prepackaged and measured for single servings. The five teas are gluten-free and vegan, and there is Pure Matcha plus four flavored varieties: Chocolate Matcha, Coconut Matcha, Ginger Matcha and Chai Matcha. A sampler package with 15 single servings costs $35.

 

Tea Forté also released a Chakra Collection in 2018. “Tea Forté’s first collection of all-chai teas, our Chakra Collection was designed with the ritual tea drinker in mind,” said CEO Michael Gebrael. “Chai has the unique effect of being simultaneously energizing and grounding, which makes it an ideal tea for focused wellness practices such as yoga, barre, and Pilates.”

 

Chakra Blends include:

  • Maté Mantra Chai
  • Vanilla Veda Chai
  • Ginger Guru Chai
  • Rooibos Raja Chai
  • Turmeric Tantra Chai

They come in attractive presentation boxes that hold Tea Forté’s signature pyramid infusers (10 for $22 or 20 for $34), or a single steep box (15 for $20). Chakra chai teas are also available in loose tea canisters for $18; the recyclable canisters make between 35-50 servings.

To accompany any tea you choose, how about a combination steeping cup/infuser? Tea Forté makes a really nice one—it’s a lidded, double-walled ceramic cup with a stainless steel infuser for loose tea ($20).

Last but not least, there is the Dolce Vita Collection of organic dessert teas: Berry Basket, Raspberry Coconut, Pear Cobbler, Belgian Mint and Mango Mélange. The assortment features black, white and herbal teas. Prices range from $16-30.

These are by no means the only products available, visit the site for the full selection—be prepared for a lot of fun choices, like loose leaf trios (three interlocking tins; each steeps approximately 10 cups) or tea chests. If you can’t decide, there are gift cards.

Tea Forté products are available online at teaforte.com and at select retailers.

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Eat soup Thursday & help Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center

A scene from the 2017 Soupline Supper (courtesy of Soupline web site)

Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center (HSC) invites the community to eat unlimited soup from dozens of local restaurants, caterers, and other food businesses from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Cocoanut Grove.

 

The 19th annual Soupline Supper assists HSC as it helps families and individuals in our community find safe, permanent homes. Last year’s dinner helped 249 people find a permanent home. For $50 per person, attendees receive soup, salad, bread, and dessert. Wine is available for an additional donation. Kids’ tickets are $20. Buy tickets online.

 

Participating restaurants in 2018’s Soupline include 99 Bottles, Assembly, The Bagelry, Café Cruz, Erik’s Deli, Gabriella Café, India Joze, Kelly’s French Bakery, La Posta, Manuel’s, Oswald, Shadowbrook, Soif, and Walnut Ave Café. See full restaurant list at souplinesupper.org/restaurants.

 

The usual set-up is this: there are different tables around the perimeter of the room, all with large containers of homemade soup, with about a dozen available at any one time (selections rotate throughout the evening). Attendees walk around and choose which ones to sample. Public officials and other community leaders serve the soup. This year’s “Celebrity Ladlers” include local politicians Mark Stone, Richelle Noroyan, Cynthia Chase, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, and John Leopold; and arts and community organization leaders such as Keisha Frost (United Way), Nan Mickiewicz (Dominican Hospital), Susan Nemitz (SC Public Library), Susan True (Community Foundation SC County) and Nina Simon (MAH).

 

Buy tickets and read more information online at souplinesupper.org.

Free parking after 4 pm is available at the Boardwalk lot across from the Cocoanut Grove.

HSC is a non-profit organization that partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness into permanent housing. HSC’s vision is that homelessness in Santa Cruz County should be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Event location: Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz

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Teen Kitchen Project: two brunch dates remain in series, plus new kids’ classes

A scene from TKP’s brunch benefit Sunday, March 25, in Aptos

Teen Kitchen Project has been running a brunch fundraiser series since March. There were two Sundays in March, then they skipped Easter, and now two Sundays remain — April 8 and 15. Entrees rotate each time and have included Huevos Rancheros with rice and beans; orange-zested thick cut French toast with spiced maple syrup; and broccoli cheddar quiche with country style sausage and home fries. There are two seatings each day, 9:30 & 11:30 a.m., and brunch takes place at TKP’s newly renovated teaching kitchen and café at 8061 Aptos St. Cost is $35 for adults and $15 for kids under 12. The TKP teens do the cooking and serving. Entrees include a basket of freshly baked goods at each table, plus coffee, tea and juice. My family and I dined with TKP on March 25, and thoroughly enjoyed the meal–from the delectable scones to scrumptious sausage, Chilaquiles and more! View menus and purchase online at teenkitchenproject.org/brunch.One hundred percent of proceeds benefit TKP.

TKP recently began offering cooking classes for kids ages 8 and up, for $35 each, and they are now expanding to offer a few for kids 5-8. At the first one for “littles” on Monday, April 30, kids will make pizza. “Teen Kitchen Project is excited to open our doors to aspiring chefs ages 5 and up who are interested in learning more about developing their culinary skills,” says founder Angela Farley. “We believe empowering young people with the knowledge and skills to prepare food from scratch is essential to accomplish our goal of building a healthier Santa Cruz County, one meal at a time.”

Topics for the older kids have included burgers, tacos and dumplings. During the 2-hour classes, kids work with other students in groups of two to four. There are also adult chefs and a teen helper present. At the end of class, participants get to eat the food they prepare. Monday and Wednesday classes are at the Aptos location (8061 Aptos St.), and Friday classes are at the Soquel location (2880 Research Park Dr.). Enrollment is limited. Visit the registration page at crm.fundly.com//6708/Pages/Events/#/.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers 600-700 free, healthy meals for clients throughout Santa Cruz County who are in crisis due to illness.  Teen volunteers ages 13-18 prepare meals with the assistance of adult volunteers. The teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. For more info, visit the web site teenkitchenproject.org.

 

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Valentine’s Day dinner reservations available at Jacks Monterey

Jacks Monterey at the Portola Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of Jacks Monterey

Jacks Monterey has an intriguing four-course prix fixe dinner menu available for Valentine’s Day 2018, and they are still accepting reservations (call 831-649-7874). Dinner is $64.95 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. In addition to the meal below, diners receive a box of chocolate-covered strawberries to go!

 

I had the opportunity to dine at Jacks a couple months ago, and the food from executive chef Danny Abbruzzese was exquisite. The restaurant is located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa at Two Portola Plaza.

 

Here is the menu, which will be offered from 4-11 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Jacks Monterey’s regular menu will not be available that night):

 

First Course

Lobster Bisque profiterole, tarragon, orange oil

Second Course

Hearts Of Palm Salad organic gold beets, endive, pancetta, Pt. Reyes blue cheese dressing

Entrée (pick one)

  • Filet Mignon & Sweet Breads potato puree, local porcinis, perigord truffles
  • Wild King Salmon Dungeness crab gratin, haricot verts, tarragon, meyer lemon sauce
  • Mama’s Eggplant Parmesan Sicilian style with layers of fried eggplant, whole milk mozzarella, Reggiano-Parmesan, rich San Marzano tomato sauce

Dessert

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cake served with raspberry sauce, whipped cream

For more details, visit portolahotel.com/jacks-monterey.com.

 

 

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Valentine’s Day gifts & activities from Santa Cruz chocolatiers, Gilroy Premium Outlets

Mutari Craft Chocolate House on Pacific Ave.
Photo credit: Mutari Facebook page

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching—here are some shopping ideas if you’re a chocolate lover in Santa Cruz or you’re considering a trip to Gilroy Premium Outlets.

 

Santa Cruz Chocolatiers

Santa Cruz County residents are very lucky; we have a variety of talented local chocolatiers. Some highlights, in alphabetical order:

 

Ashby Confections, 16 Victor Square, Scotts Valley

 

Donnelly Fine Chocolates, 1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz

 

Mackenzies Chocolate, 1492 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz

 

Mutari Chocolate (specializes in single origin craft drinking chocolate, it’s featuring housemade bon bons for Valentine’s shopping) – two locations: 1108 Pacific Ave., next door to Assembly, and 504A Front St. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Front St. location — usually open weekends only — is going to be open Wednesday 2/14 from noon to 9 p.m.

Gilroy Outlets

 

If you haven’t made restaurant reservations yet, there aren’t many left—how about staying home with your significant other or gathering a group of friends for some Valentine’s Day fun? Host a stay at home date or girls’ night with goods from Le Creuset or Kitchen Collection for accessories and tools to whip up a festive dinner party. Both have shops at the Gilroy Outlets.

 

Want to buy a sweet Valentine’s gift, either for yourself or someone else (whether it be a romantic partner, a co-worker, family member or friend)? You can find raspberry hearts, “conversation beans,” sour “smoochi” lips, Valentine’s Day gift boxes and more at the Jelly Belly store.

 

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Upcoming New Leaf classes include making sushi

Learn how to make sushi at New Leaf
Photo credit: New Leaf Community Markets

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has several upcoming events, including classes on making sushi, learning about Japanese fermented foods, and identifying what foods cause inflammation. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).

 

Preregistration is required—even for free classes—at newleaf.com/events.

 

Mondays, January 22-February 12, 1-2 p.m.

Boosting Behavior Change 4-Part Series

The free, four-part interactive workshop series, led by licensed psychologist and wellness coach Kimberly Smith-Martinez, will support those wishing to modify their eating habits for goals such as improving health, building muscle or losing weight. The approach presented can also be applied to make lasting changes to other behaviors. Participants will learn about the science behind journaling and how this can support behavior change. By the end of the sessions, participants will “track mind, mouth and muscle” and be prepared to pursue their goals. The classes are on Mondays through Feb. 12.

 

Wednesday, January 24, 6-8 p.m.

Intro to Sushi Making: Part 2

In this hands-on class you’ll make maki rolls (from “maku” which means to wrap or roll), using nori on the outside, brown rice as a base, and other fresh ingredients including salmon and tuna. Attendance in Part 1 not necessary. With Sushi Chef Carlos Mayorga. Cost: $35

 

Thursday, January 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Traditional Japanese Fermented Foods Series, Class # 1: Amazake

Make amazake (means sweet sake)—a traditional Japanese sweet, nutritious, non-alcoholic drink made with cooked rice or cooked oatmeal and rice Koji. Enjoy as a dessert, snack or natural sweetening agent. Taste different amazake recipes. With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama. Two other classes will be offered: Feb 8 and Feb 22. Cost: $35

 

Wednesday, January 31, 6-7 p.m.

How to Read Nutrition Facts and Labels

Join Dr. Danette Sutton and learn how to read and understand food labels and start making healthier choices. Since the FDA announced a new label for packaged foods last year to reflect new scientific information, we will discuss the link between diet and chronic diseases.

Cost: $5

 

Wednesdays, Feb 7-Feb 28, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, $56 for drop-in (only a couple of these remain) or $225 for all four classes

You may have heard than inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue? In this 4-week series, Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke and Holistic Nutritionist Madia Jamgochian will lead you through the basics of eliminating inflammation through diet and lifestyle. You will learn how to heal Leaky Gut, reverse autoimmune conditions, and get back on track to vibrant health. The four-class series breaks down as follows:

  • February 7: Intro to Inflammation, Leaky Gut, & Autoimmunity. In this two and a half hour class, Magali and Madia will provide a presentation on how inflammation affects the body, including what foods cause the biggest inflammatory response. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 14: Elimination Diets: There are quite a few anti-inflammatory diets out there these days. This class will go over how to choose the right elimination diet, and what’s in a name. We will cover the Autoimmune Protocol, (AIP) Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Wahls Protocol, Traditional Foods, and the Paleo diet to help you decide which one is the most realistic and beneficial fit for you. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 21: Meal Planning for Success! To complete a successful elimination diet, preparation is key. Magali & Madia will go over meal planning a week at a time, demonstrating batch cooking techniques that will make throwing together dinner easy! Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 28: Hands on Cooking. In our last class together, classmates participate in creating an anti-inflammatory recipe from scratch. We will discuss techniques, resources, and do a series review plus Q &A on what you have learned from the class. Full meal included.

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A Cuisinart Christmas: Gift ideas for chefs, bakers, coffee lovers and more

Cuisinart released this automatic cold brew coffee maker in March 2017—a great gift for coffee lovers
Photo credit: Cuisinart

If you have last-minute holiday shopping left to do and you have chefs or bakers on your list—or even just people that appreciate good coffee or an excellent toaster!—here are a few gift ideas from Cuisinart. The items cover a range of budgets, too. Some of the products are brand-new, while others are tried and true. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Target, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cuisinart has a new automatic cold brew coffee maker that was released in March, which makes cold brew coffee in far less time than manual coffeemakers. Using “unique spin technology,” Cuisinart promises coffee in as little as 25 minutes in a choice of three flavor strengths. Coffee can be refrigerated in the seven-cup glass carafe for up to two weeks. Retail price is $99.95. The recipe section of Cuisinart’s site includes one for “Creamy Cold Brew Coconut Coffee.”

Another new item—also just released in March—is a Cuisinart “PrepExpress” spiralizer. It’s actually described as a 3-in-1 slicer, shredder AND spiralizer, and can make eating healthier much easier. Uses include wide ribbons or crinkle-cut spirals of fresh zucchini and apples, thin or wide butternut squash or beet ‘spaghetti,’ cucumber slices for salads, and thick or thin shreds of veggies for snacks or fajita fillings. Retail price is $69.95.

I have a stainless steel four-slice Cuisinart toaster at home that I highly recommend. I never imagined how much I’d appreciate having the ability to toast three or four bread slices or frozen waffles at once instead of just two. It sure makes the mornings easier when my husband and I are trying to have a quick breakfast and get ourselves to work and our daughter to school on time! Plus, this toaster has customizable settings for each two-slice section (including food type, like waffle/bread/bagel/English muffin, and a shade scale ranging from 1-7). You can do toast on a darker setting on one side, and a waffle to a medium golden brown on the other.

If you’re looking for baking gifts, Cuisinart has several fun products including a non-stick, dishwasher-safe “Mini Bakeware” line with selections ranging from $5.95-$10.95. I like the mini heart pans (set of 4, $9.95), and Pinterest has a lot of recipes using this type of pan. There are also traditional baking pans like an “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet ($23.95) with silicone grip handles or a non-stick 24-cup mini muffin pan ($15.95).

If you want to browse all of the company’s recipes for inspiration around the holidays or any time of year, here’s the site.

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