Friday, December 08, 2006

Gift Certificates are Now Available!

Finding the perfect Holiday gift is hard, especially if the person you are shopping for has everything! If you are like me, finding an unique gift is important. I try to give my loved ones special, personalized gifts that they instantly love. For example, every year I make my sister Whitney a beautiful photo book that captures her family's memories of the year and her two growing children. Of course, this year she is also receiving a Keepsake Cookbook with my favorite recipes of the year!

Giving your loved ones a gift certificate for a custom cookbook is a gift that will be remembered for years to come! Whether your recipient is the family matriarch, a new mother, a gourmet chef/foodie or your family's favorite cook, she/he will love making their own cookbook.

Gift certificates are available for Heirloom and Keepsake cookbooks. Email us at or call us toll free at (866) 697-3247. We are happy to help you give the perfect gift! Gift certificates will be available until December 22, and will be sent by priority mail or email.

Creative Ways to Give Secret Ingredients Gift Certificates:

  • Fill a Christmas stocking with cooking utensils, recipes, and the gift certificate. Precious!

  • Include a several handwritten recipe cards with the gift certificate. They could be your favorite, time-tested recipes or family recipes that have survived generations!

  • Bake your favorite Holiday treat, wrap it up beautifully, and affix the gift certificate to the packaging.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quick & Simple Recipe Contest: Win an Heirloom Cookbook!

Do you have a cherished recipe that was passed down to you? Maybe it’s your great-grandma’s chicken dumplings or your mom’s delicious spaghetti sauce. Tell Quick & Simple your recipe and you could win a Secret Ingredients Heirloom Cookbook!

The first-place winner will win a $250 gift card from Boston Market Catering, a Secret Ingredients Heirloom Cookbook and a Rose’s Cocktail Infusions set- a total value of $555?! Four runners-up will win an Heirloom Cookbook and a cocktail set, valued at $305/each.

Check it out! All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm ET on Dec. 12, 2006.

Winners of Secret Ingredients 10 Heirloom Cookbook contest will be annouced tomorrow! Check our website for details.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Choosing Photos for Your Family Cookbook

The photos in your cookbook can make a powerful contribution to the feel of the project as a whole. To make the most of this opportunity, think about connections between the photos you'll use and what your cookbook is all about. You don't necessarily need the prettiest scenery, or the most professional or flattering photos of family members. Photographs that speak of the warmth of home, and the connections between and among the generations of your family are just the thing.

So, if some of the recipes you are including have been in the family for a long time, you may wish to include pictures from farther back in the past as well. Kitchen pictures are of course a natural, but pictures of a home's exterior, yard, or any well-remembered living space may work just as well.

If the book you are making has at its heart the recipes of the family matriarch, or if in some other way, the essence of the book centers on a smaller group than the whole list of people who will be receiving it, then its only natural to choose photos consistent with the book's focus. But in most cases it's desirable to include a good balance of photos of the people who will be receiving a family cookbook. Its nice for as many of the recipients to feel as much ownership of the cookbook as possible.

Go through those albums, and happy hunting!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Delicious Rum Cakes Make Perfect Holiday Treats

Last Friday I appeared on the KGUN (ABC-9) morning show in Tucson, Arizona. I shared my favorite holiday recipe, Rum Cakes, with the audience and the crew. They were a huge hit! Not only are these cakes the perfect size to give your favorite people as a holiday treat, but they are also incredibly yummy... and, well, a little addictive!

Secret Ingredients Rum Cake Recipe

1 cup pecans, chopped
1 (18.5 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum

1/4 pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum


Grease and flour bundt pans. Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pans. MIx all cake ingredients. Pour batter over nuts. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Prepare glaze while cake is in the oven.

For the Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in rum.

Cool cakes. Invert on serving plate. Prick top. Drizzle and smooth glaze over top and sides. Allow cakes to absorb glaze. Repeat until all glaze is used.

Be sure to enter our contest for your chance to win one of ten FREE Secret Ingredients Heirloom Cookbooks!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Beautiful Gifts

Gift wrapping presents doesn't have to be boring! Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks:

~ For items 4 x 6 inches and smaller, you can use a sheet of 8.5 x 11, beautifully decorated paper. You can find papers like the one we chose at scrapbooking stores, art stores, and stationery stores. Be sure to choose a paper that bends easily; handmade papers with fibers and plants often crack or separate as they bend.

~ Satin ribbon is an inexpensive, elegant way to dress up your gifts! Satin and grosgrain ribbons can b purchased for very little money, often 99 cents per roll, at craft stores such as JoAnn's and Michael's. Ribbons can be used alone on hard-to-wrap gifts, or tied over a beautiful, matching wrapping paper!

~ Making your own wrapping paper is a great project to do with kids, and a wonderful way to get them more involved in the holiday preparations. Choose bright colored butcher paper, and stamp or color onto the paper with sponge stamps, markers, watercolors or crayons. Encourage your kids to fill the whole paper, edge to edge, with their own creative holiday designs!

Here at Secret Ingredients, we hope your holidays are bright and festive!

For wonderful gift ideas, remember to check out our website. We offer Heirloom and Keepsake custom cookbooks; gifts full of traditions, memories, and holiday cheer.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yummy Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Thanksgiving is one of the greatest times each year to enjoy family and delicious food. So, have you planned your meal?

This year I will be traveling to Tucson to spend Thanksgiving at my friend Beth's house. I will also be stopping by KGUN, Tucson's ABC station, to appear on their morning show on Friday the 24th. Super exciting! If you are in Tucson, tune in!

Beth and I will be cooking our Thanksgiving meal together. She is planning some Thanksgiving classics with a southwestern kick, while I will be preparing Southern family recipes that date back several generations. I thought I would share them with you.

Mamaw's Rolls
Guests beg for the leftovers! This recipe really is incredible.

1 cup cold water
1 cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
2 well-beaten eggs
1 package yeast cake
6 cups flour, unsifted

Place first four ingredients in boiler.
Heat until dissolves. Add another cup cold water and 2 well-beaten eggs.
Put 1 package yeast cake in lukewarm water. Put yeast in other mixture when it gets warm-cool.
Add 6 unsifted cups of flour (not quite full cups). Set aside. Let rise, double cover, and put in refrigerator.
Cut on floured board. Pat with melted butter and fold over. Cook at 400° till done.


Buttered Peas & Carrots

½ cup water
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots
10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed

In a large skillet, combine ½ cup water, 1 stick butter, cut into pieces, 3 tablespoons sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt over moderate heat until the butter is just melted. Add 1 pound carrots, cut into 1/16 inch slices, and stir them to coat with the mixture. Cook the carrots, covered for 4 minutes; stir in a 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed, and cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

My mother added this recipe to our Thanksgiving meals about 8 years ago. We love it!

Mom's Pumpkin Cheesecake

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12
single crackers)
½ cup ground pecans
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
3 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds natural cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon sifted cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
Whipped cream and whole pecans for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°. Make your crust by combining all ingredients. Mix - coating crumbs with butter well. Pat crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Place in freezer while preparing filling.

Prepare the filling: Mix ¾ cup sugar, pumpkin puree, 3 egg yolks, cinnamon, mace, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat cream cheese and 6 tablespoons sugar until smooth. (I use my electric mixer.) Add cornstarch and blend well. Add vanilla and lemon extracts. Mix again until very smooth. Add spiced pumpkin puree to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until you don't see any traces of white to make sure it is extra smooth.
Pour filling over crumb mixture in springform pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until sides have risen. The center will still be somewhat soft. Remove from oven. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and release the side. Remove cheesecake from pan bottom.
Garnish with whipped cream rosettes and whole pecans.

Be sure to include your favorite Thanksgiving recipes in your Secret Ingredients custom cookbook. Also, be sure to enter our contest for your chance to win one of TEN free Secret Ingredients heirloom cookbooks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Unique Holiday Cards

As Thanksgiving draws closer, so does the season for Holiday Cards. Personalizing Holiday Cards can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for people with extensive mailing lists. Here at Secret Ingredients, we’ve put together a few neat ways to make personal, quick cards to celebrate the people you love!

1. Recipe Cards:

Buy pretty Holiday cards, and insert a copy of a recipe that reminds you of the recipient in each. Be sure to copy onto simple, pretty paper, and include a little note about the recipe. Using family recipes, handwritten and stained from use, makes it all the more personal and memorable.

2. Keepsake Cookbooks:

Secret Ingredients recently introduced a new product, Keepsake Cookbooks, which are postcard-sized, personalized perfect-bound cookbooks. These books are perfect to send as both cards and gifts! The books have a customized Dedication Page, where you can include a Holiday Letter to all the recipients. We offer two beautiful Holiday styles, as well as two all-purpose Family styles. These unique and stylish cookbooks are both personal and useful.

3. Holiday Books:

A friend of mine makes Holiday Books to send out every year instead of cards. Each member of her family creates 2 index-card sized pages, and then they are printed onto blank index cards, stacked together, and the edge is sewn with bright red thread on a sewing machine. The little books are a wonderful alternative to store-bought cards, and it is wonderful to hear the stories of the year from many points of view; hers, her husband, and their children. These books are surprisingly easy to make, and are a perfect blend of personalization and ease of creation.

Best wishes to each of you as you make your own Holiday Cards! Please let us know any wonderful ideas you have, or any neat things you’ve seen, as we’re always looking for new takes on Holiday classics!