Christmas Gift Ideas from Gibbs Smith

Can't quite find the perfect gift this holiday season? The creative minds here at Gibbs Smith have come up with some fantastic, creative, economical ideas for your holiday shopping ... all involving the wonderful Gibbs Smith titles!

You’re getting “Muffin” for Christmas = Muffins Book $16.95, Gift items $4.75

Play Some Reindeer “Games” = Pocket Guide to Games $ 9.99, Gift items & basket $8.50

Hope Your Holiday is Warm and “Toasty” = French Toast $16.95, gift items & basket $12.75

Save Santa a trip. Be naughty = Pocket Guide to Mischief $9.99, slingshot and box $3

Other ideas:
  • “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter” = Marshmallows & hot chocolate
  • May you have “S’more” Love this Holiday Season than you know what to do with. = S’mores with all the fixings
  • "I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." ~ Harlan Miller = Putting Up with a jar of homemade jam
  • May your new year be Festive and Fruitful! = 75 Remarkable Fruits for Your Garden with seeds or unique fruits
  • Add a Little Spice to Your Holidays!” = Salsas & Tacos with a jar of homemade salsa and chips
  • You take the “Cake” neighbor. We think you’re top rate! Happy Holidays = 101 Things to Do with a Cake Mix and a packaged cake mix
  • Thyme again to wish you and yours a Happy Holiday Season = 75 Exceptional Herbs and a seed pack or gardening tools
  • Have a wonderful Christmas this year with a “plateful” of fun = Small Plates and some Christmas Dishes
  • Take “note!” We’re thinking of you this holiday season! = Box of Gibbs Smith note cards, pens and stamps
  • Wishing you a wonderful holiday “simmering” gently with love = 101 Things to Do With Canned Soup and a fresh batch of homemade soup
  • "Like snowflakes my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and too soon gone." ~ Deborah Whipp = Snowflakes, paper and scissors


Tasty Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week's Tasty Thursday feature comes from Muffins: Sweet and Savory Comfort Food by Cyndi Duncan and Georgie Patrick. You can whip up these fantastic muffins Thanksgiving morning and then snack on them until your main dinner event! 

Frosted Pumpkin Muffins
Try substituting chocolate chips for the raisins to get your daily dose of chocolate—delicious!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup seedless raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.

Combine the egg with pumpkin and milk. Stir in raisins. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just to moisten. 

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 15–20 minutes. Cool.

In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cooled muffins. Makes 16 muffins.



Bark House Style signing in the Highlands

Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature authors Chris McCurry and Nan Chase, recently did a booksigning at Summer House antiques in Highlands, North Carolina.

Bark style is quickly becoming a popular green-building material in commercial and residential architecture. Learn about the history, various styles and varieties of homes built with bark siding and designs in Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature.

Chris McCurry and her husband, Marty McCurry, are the originators of the modern poplar bark shingle manufacturing company, Highland Crafstmen, based in North Carolina.
To Order, Please Visit our Website:

Add a little Italian to Thanksgiving

Chef Leonardo Curti, author of Trattoria Grappolo and Food Festivals of Italy, shares his recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli, a delicious appetizer to your upcoming turkey feast.

Happy Mangia!


Creation of the 101 Series

Stephanie Ashcraft shares the history of creating her 101 Things to Do with a Cake Mix cookbook. That first book was the launching pad for a series of cookbooks which has sold more than 2 million copies and is a New York Times bestseller.


Tasty Thursday

In the mood to shake things up a little this Thanksgiving? Try this easy and fantastic recipe from Family Dinners by Janet Peterson. It's a great substitute for the usual sweet potato or yam dishes that appear year after year, and it tastes better when made the night before! 

Sweet Potato Salad
Who says potato salad has to be made with white potatoes?

4 to 5 sweet potatoes or yams
1 cup sliced celery
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted

Cook sweet potatoes or yams in a large pan of water until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel sweet potatoes or yams and cut into 1-inch cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine celery, green onions, relish, salt, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Toss with sweet potatoes or yams to coat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Add pecans just before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Time Saver: Toast nuts, such as almonds and pecans, in the microwave. Place nuts in a glass bowl and microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave 1 minute more.


See it Wiggle. Watch it Jiggle.

Jennifer Adams and Melissa Barlow, authors of 101 Things to Do With Gelatin, recently shared some great recipes with FOX 13's Good Day Utah.


Ribbon Has People Tied Up in Knots!

Ribbon: The Art of Adornment by Nicholas Kniel and Timothy Wright is garnering rave reviews from across the country.

Las Vegas Review Journal, Nov. 13, 2008: "The book has terrific ideas for decorating oneself and one’s environment with ribbons, in all their variety — including directions for making those gorgeous ribbon roses. It’s a pleasure to turn the pages and peruse the photos. Beauty is food for the soul, and this book contributes to the cause."

Bridal Guide.com blog by Executive Editor Susan Schneider, Oct. 8, 2008: "This tome is a treasure for any bride-to-be’s coffee table (just watch your friends pick it up and leaf through it, ooh and aahing!). In the wedding section you’ll find out how to use ribbons, or love knots, to heighten the beauty of your bouquet or to add a satiny sheen to your invitations. Ribbons are the “extras,” the type of detail that makes a typically pretty table setting look really special. Also note that ribbons can be gotten quite inexpensively at your crafts store, and if you or your friends puts your heads and hands together, you can probably come up with some very sweet and unique ideas for your look. Take a look at these ideas and let yourself dream!"

Country Living December 2008 issue: featured as an Editor's Pick.

Congrats, Tim and Nick!

Tasty Thursday

In keeping with fall flavors, this week's Tasty Thursday recipe comes from New West Cuisine: Fresh Recipes from the Rocky Mountains by Chase Reynolds Ewald and Amy Jo Sheppard. Enjoy!

Park Cafe's Classic Apple Pie
2 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Prepared pie crust, uncooked
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Gently toss apple slices with sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Place apples into the prepared crust.

Mix butter, brown sugar, and flour and crumble with a pastry cutter or hands to get mixture into small bits. Spread over the apples carefully. Lightly press topping into apples.

Bake according to the following instructions:
"The important thing [for this pie] is in the baking. I hate undercooked apples and too many apple pies have undercooked apples.  I bake the pie for 2 hours at 350ish with a large stainless steel bowl over the top not touching the pie. For the last 10 minutes I take off the bowl, turn up the heat a bit, and let the crumble topping brown."
—The Pie Lady, Kathryn Hiestand


Tasty Thursday

Every week at the barn we all enjoy what we lovingly refer to as "Tasty Thursday." What is Tasty Thursday, you ask? Well, because we have so many cookbooks with amazing recipes at our fingertips, we decided we wanted to try them all! Now every Thursday someone brings a recipe selected from one of our cookbooks for all to sample. So, to take it a step further, we thought it would be nice to share our recipes with EVERYONE! 

The first cookbook we're featuring is the Ivy Bake Shoppe Cookbook by Martha Wolf. We hope you enjoy this scrumptious fall recipe!

Pumpkin Dessert Bar
2 (15-ounce) cans pumpkin
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 yellow cake mix
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix the first seven ingredients as you would for pumpkin pie, pouring batter into a greased 9 x 13-inch glass dish. Sprinkle cake mix over the top and then drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with pecans if using. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. Makes 12 to 15 servings.

If there are any recipes or books you'd like to see featured as part of Tasty Thursday, please comment and let us know!


Cheap vs. healthy

Is it always one against the other when you are considering what to feed your family? Or is there a way to keep meals both inexpensive and healthy?

According to author Jennifer Maughan, there is a way to do both. "It is possible to lower the amount you spend on food without resorting to drastic measures, such as serving boxed macaroni and cheese five days a week. With strategic planning and flawless execution, you can still get good food for less than you’re spending now."

In her new book 100 Meals for $5 or Less, coming out in Spring 2009, Jennifer shows weary grocery shoppers the way to an enlightened—and lightened—food budget.

Her suggestions?

Have a plan
Figure out what's on sale and where
Do recipe research
Make a shopping list
Buy house brands
Use coupons if you're up for the challenge
And many more . . .

There are numerous ways to save on food. What are some of yours?

As a bonus, here's one of Jennifer's simple and cost-effective meals:

Farmer’s Strata
Use leftover mashed potatoes or instant—either way it’ll taste wonderful.

8 cups mashed potatoes
1 (16-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (16-ounce) can creamed corn
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare mashed potatoes. Mix the corn together in a small bowl. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, layer the following: 1⁄3 of the mashed potatoes, 1⁄2 of the ground beef, 1⁄2 of the corn, 1⁄3 of the mashed potatoes, 1⁄2 of the ground beef, 1⁄2 of the corn and top with remaining mashed potatoes. Pat the potatoes with a spoon to form small peaks. Bake 30 minutes until potato peaks begin to brown and mixture is bubbling in the center.

Serves 4–6

Serve with sliced strawberries, bananas and apples.