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International Inspired Holiday Treats and Gifts

Saturday, December 16, 2017

As I check out the Trader Joes newsletter, Fearless Flyer, for holiday shopping guide 2017, I noticed many festive foods for holiday parties. I will now list only the vegan and vegetarian options, but omit any meat items. These festive foods also make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

#1 Cute reindeer decor inside a store

  • Pumpkin-shaped Fall Zucchette Pasta
  • Winter Snowflake Pasta is durum wheat semolina that was grown in Canada, and it is off-white color as well as snowflake-shaped. It is made via bronze stamps, which creates abrasions on the dough surface that will absorb sauces and oils better than the Teflon stamps.
  • Mini Minty Stars are actually chocolate shortbread cookies infused with mint and coated with dark chocolate.
  • Chocolate covered pretzel assortment also has different toppings, such as dark chocolate/chopped almonds, milk chocolate/rainbow sprinkles, and dark chocolate/crushed peppermint.
  • A 22-inch evergreen wreath is created from Noble Fir boughs, with dogwood and juniper as well as hand-picked pine cones.
  • Sipping Chocolate is made from rich dark chocolate.
  • Beet & Roasted Garlic Dip has a deep purple color, and it consists of beets, tahini, roasted garlic, lemon juice and sea salt. And, the best part, it is vegan, gluten free and low fat. (I need to put this one on my future grocery list). You can enjoy it with Seed Beet Crackers, which contain black sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, white corn, beet powder, paprika, onion powder, and sea salt.
  • Peppermint Flavored Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones. Other flavors include, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Pumpkin Ginger.
  • Hasselback Potatoes is accordion-cut, thinly sliced, and made in France. Briefly fried with butter and salt before baked to get that crispy and creamy texture.
  • Jingle Jangle includes mini pretzels covered with milk chocolate and white chocolate, dark chocolate covered caramel popcorn, milk chocolate coated with red candy, and milk chocolate & dark chocolate covered mini peanut butter cups, all placed inside a tin can.

#2 Christmas tree decoration inside South Coast Plaza

  • Cinnamon Roll Wreath is used to decorate your dining table for your holiday breakfasts.
  • Honey Crisp Apple Cider
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage wines from Napa Valley.
  • Josephsbrau Winterbrew is a rich and dark beer which has double amount of malt than regular beers. It is from Munich Germany. The Hallertau hops are from Bavaria.
  • L’eclat blanc de blancs is sparkling French wine.
  • North Coast Brut is a sparkling wine that is made via method champenoise, which involves a secondary fermentation process inside the bottle. Sugar and yeast are added to the wine in the bottle, and the top is closed. This combination will create a fruit flavor in the wine, whether sweet grape, apple or pear.
  • Carneros pinot noir is from Los Carneros AVA, located north of San Francisco. This red wine has plum and blackberry taste as well as some baking spices.
  • High Rye Bourbon is made in Minnesota
  • Barrel Rested Gin is made from corn, juniper berries, citrus, and cloves. Then, it is placed inside a barrel for three months, which creates a spicy flavor as well as some sweet vanilla flavor. It has al light color.
  • Belgian cookie collection is made in Belgium. They come in 12 different flavored within the package.

#3 Lighted Tree at Spectrum Center

  • Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s consists of two chocolate peppermint wafer cookies and creamy peppermint filling with some candy cane piece to form a sweet sandwich. Then, this sweet sandwich is dipped into rich and dark chocolate, before sprinkling some candy cane pieces over the dark chocolate.
  • Italian Butter Cookies  & a Few Meringues are from northern part of Italy. The cookies include baci di Dama hazelnut sandwich cookies with dark chocolate filling, chocolate Torcetti—has a horseshoe shape and dipped in dark chocolate, Toc ad Mais—narrow shape and it has apricot filling, Paste di Meliga—has a rich butter flavor, and Krumiri al Cioccolato—has the shape of rainbow and cocoa powder infusion. The cinnamon meringues are light, crisp, and airy.
  • Danish butter cookies tin is from Denmark. The Danes call these cookies—Smakager. They come in various shapes, and they are very sweet, crunchy, and buttery, with a hint of vanilla. It is a great goodbye gift, as the Danes say, “Hej Hej.”
  • Lebkuchen Gesundheit are made in Nuremberg, Germany. The soft gingerbread biscuits are made from hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, candied orange peel, and spices—aniseed, ginger, coriander, cloves, pimento, mace, cardamom, and cinnamon. After baking these biscuits on a very thin wafer cookie, they are coated with either chocolate or sugar glaze. They must have at least 12.5% nuts. These cookies are said to be the Oblaten of Lebkuchen.
  • Walkers pure butter shortbread cookies, made by the Walker family since 1898. (Wow, these are old cookies, and I am shocked to see that they still exist.  I used to eat them when I was a kid, living in WV. I remember the ones I ate came inside a tin can with a plaid design).
  • Stroopwafel Dutch Cookies involves placing a Stroopwafel cookie over a mug of hot drink, whether coffee, tea, cocoa, or cacao. The steam of the hot drink will melt the caramel in the wafer cookie to make the cookie soft and warm. (This Dutch method is similar to dipping Oreo cookies or chocolate chip cookies in milk or tea. When I was a kid, I used to dip cookies in hot tea in a similar fashion).  Anyway, the Stroopwafel Dutch Cookies are from Gouda, Netherlands, and the word “Stroopwafel” means syrup waffles. A very thick dough consistency is placed in a waffle iron, and then cut in half while hot. Caramel is placed on top of the pressed waffle, and another pressed waffle is placed on top of the caramel layer. It is a popular treat in Amsterdam, Holland.
  • Raspberry Stars are made from sugar cookie dough, and it is made in Linz, Austria. It is modeled after the Linzertorte. The dough is rolled and made into star shapes. Two pieces of star cookies sandwich some Meeker raspberry jam, and then sprinkling coarse sugar over this sweet sandwich.
  • Have your own tea party with 6 tea flavors: Raspberry Black Tea, Bergamot Black Tea, Rooibos & Vanilla Red Tea, Lemongrass Rosehip Herbal  Tea Infusion, Calming Herbal Tea Infusion, and Moringa Matcha Tea. These teas come from Sri Lanka, Japan, Europe, and South Africa.
  • Winter Wassail is fruit juice combination of black currant, apple, and lemon juices, as well as spices, such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and orange peel.
  • Salty Honey Toffee Milk Chocolate covered Crackers

#4 Tree decor, next to the reindeer, in the same store at Spectrum Center

  • Sugar Plum Jam includes zesty orange, fragrant spices, and sweet plum flavors. It is made in Maine, but the plums are from Washington.
  • For coffee lovers, there are festive coffees in the lineup, such as Wintry Blend, Gingerbread, Salted Caramel, French Vanilla, and Chocolate Mint. All these flavors are made in Brazil from Arabica beans.
  • Black Pepper Pecorino is made in Sicily, Italy, which also goes by its traditional name, Pecorino Pepato. It is made from sheep milk. Then, add some peppercorn, and let it age for four months.
  • Marcona almonds with rosemary are actually from Spain. It tends to be smaller than California almonds, but it has a sweet and buttery taste. And, it is also light and crunchy. They are roasted in expeller pressed sunflower oil, and mixed with some sea salt and rosemary.
  • Fondue Normande is made with soft cheeses and brandy. Such soft cheeses might include Camembert, Livarot, and Pot L’Everque, combined with butter and Calvados apple brandy. With this dip, add some bread, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, cauliflower, and celery.
  • Double crème brie with truffles is made from brie cheese, which is from Pelussin village, located at Rhone-Alps section of France. Add Perigord black truffles .
  • Fromage Pave is from France. It is a squared shaped soft cheese that has been ultra-filtrated, removing whey from the milk. It contains more protein, calcium, and phosphorus than other soft cheeses. But it is aged for two weeks before eaten.
  • Lemon ricotta is said to taste similar to lemon cheesecake. It is made in Southern Italy, and it contains fresh milk, salt, and whey as well as lemons, and sugar, which are mixed well before baked at low temperature.
  • Brie stuffed with garlic and herbs is from Wisconsin. It also includes parsley and onion powder. The garlic and herbs are placed between brie sandwich, and it makes a festive spread or dip.
  • Creamy Cauliflower & Onion Dip include cauliflower florets, Swiss cheese, and sour cream as well as some sautéed onions, cream cheese, roasted garlic, carrots, and chives.

#5 Pointsettia Tree inside South Coast Plaza

  • Vegetable Pastry Puffs is used as an aperitif in French dining, similar to appetizer.  It includes pastry puffs and vegetables, vegetable sauce, red and yellow peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and onions.
  • Mini quiche duo is also appetizers. It comes in six flavors, and some flavors have meat.
  • Mini cheese crepes with Emmental cheese is made in France. This is another appetizer, and it as Emmental and Swiss cheese.
  • Mini brie en croute is also an appetizer. It consists of a puff pastry and brie cheese.
  • Almond Nog is vegan eggnog. It doesn’t have any corn syrup, soy or gluten. It can be frothed and placed for your coffee for a vegan cappuccino. Or, maybe in tea to make vegan chai latte.
  • Triple Ginger Brew is actually Trader Joe’s Ginger Ale.
  • Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Pitted Amarena Cherries
  • Gingerbread House Kit is a German Hexenhaus, which means witch’s house, similar to the house where the witch lured Hansel and Gretel in order to cook and eat them. (They are actually doing that in real life nowadays). But this looks like a fun kit, where you can create your mini gingerbread house with gingerbread pieces, candies, icing mix.
  • Pointsettia

#6 My mother gave it to me a couple of years ago for Christmas

(This battery-operated holiday decoration involves the father bear reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to his son)

  • Glazed Walnuts with Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
  • Create your own Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit in vanilla and chocolate flavors as well as red, green and white icing, and sprinkles.
  • Rainbow of Honey includes Clover honey (USA), Sunflower honey (Ukraine), Orange Blossom honey (Mexico), Eucalyptus honey (Argentina) , American Macadamia honey, and Mimosa honey (Brazil).
  • Eggnog and Light Eggnog festive drinks
  • Martin-Collet Double Crème Brie is from Sainte Cecile, Brittany, which is France. It is said to have a hint of mushroom flavor.
  • Chocolate a la Orange
  • Crème Brulee Tarte includes cream, sugar, egg yolks, and bourbon vanilla. Place this vanilla custard combo into either a ramekin or a flaky crust.
  • Fruit and Nut Crisps contain almonds, dried apricots, dried cherries, dried cranberries, flaxseeds, poppy seeds, and orange oil; and, the crisps are baked twice to get the crispiness and dark golden brown color. It is a mixture of crispy, crunchy, and chewy.
  • Chocolate chip panettone
  • Paperwhite Bulbs are a part of the Narcissus family, originally from the western Mediterranean region. Its cousin is Daffodil’s Paler. Paperwhite Bulbs can’t survivor in cold weather climate. So, it is advisable to keep it indoors during cool months. Each can be placed in a glass vase and grown hydroponically without soil. The vase should be placed in indirect sunlight and add water in the vase. Within 3 to 5 weeks, the bulbs will emit a sweet smell. (I would like to buy one and try it out).

#7 My parents gave this to me for Christmas. It sings when you squeeze its hand.

  • Amaryllis Bulbs in Wax are from Israel and Brazil. These bulbs are imported but hand-dipped in Virginia. All its nutrients are in its was-covered bulb. It should be placed on your counter, where there is sun, and turn the bulb once in a while. No soil or water required. (These sound interesting).
  • Winter Wake Up Tea is black tea from India. It contains cinnamon, orange peel, licorice, ginger, and cloves flavors.
  • Grump Tree is a Cypress Tree with a lemon scent. It is said to grow fast. It comes with a 4-inch pot, and perfect for indoor decoration.
  • Lip Therapy Duo consists of an exfoliating scrub and emollient ointment for dry lips. They are made from macadamia, jojoba, and olive oil, as well as sugar. The SPF 15 balm moisturizes the lips.
  • Gingerbread flavored dog treats consist of whole wheat, rolled oats, molasses, and natural gingerbread. There is no corn or soy.
  • Chocolate bar quintet include 5 different bars, each with different flavor:  milk chocolate cinnamon crisp, dark chocolate orange peel, milk chocolate honey, dark chocolate hazelnut, milk chocolate toffee and sea salt. It is made in Belgium.
  • Bath Fizzers Set has 4 fizzers in different, each with a different fragrance: floral fantasy, rejuvenating rosemary, sweet pea apple, and rose petal. Place inside your bathtub for a relaxing hot bath.
  • Gingerbread Coffee is from South America. It consists of medium dark Vienna roast bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger. Wintry Blend Coffee is also a medium dark Vienna roast bean from South America. It consists of green and red peppercorns, cloves and sweet cinnamon.
  • Cedar Balsam Candles has the fresh pine scene, and it is made from coconut/soy wax as well as palm and beeswax. It is also paraben free  and it has a lead free cotton wick.
  • Scandinavian Tidings include gummy candy. The Danes say “God ferie!” and the Norwegians say “Lykkelig ferie!” which means Happy Holidays. Scandinavian Swimmers, which I have actually bought in the past because they are vegetarian. But this holiday, they gummy shapes are festive in green trees, red ornaments, and clear star shapes. The flavors include sour apple, berry, and sparkling grape. The colored dyes are made from spirulina, fruits and vegetables.
  • Warm Vanilla Body Butter is a body cream, made from pure shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, vitamin E, and other natural ingredients to moisturize your skin during cold winter months.
  • Four Pound Plus Bars are made from Belgium chocolate, in milk chocolate and dark chocolate bars.

#8 Decoration at Spectrum Center

  • Drizzled Gingerbread Oat Bars are gluten free snack bars, and they are 140 calories. It is perfect for when you have a busy day, and you know you will miss your lunch. Ingredients include almond butter, oat flour, flax seeds, molasses, brown rice syrup, fig paste, ground ginger, candied ginger, spices and seasonings.
  • Chocolate mint flavored cupcakes
  • Veggies and greens salad kit includes chopped broccoli, shaved cauliflower, shaved Brussel sprouts, radicchio, kale, and green cabbage, as well as some pistachios, dried pear crumbles, and a honey ginger dressing.
  • Candy cane green tea is a combination of decaffeinated green tea leaves, vanilla bean, cinnamon, roasted chicory, and peppermint.
  • Chocolate Peppermint Almond Beverage is a combination of Cali Almonds, Dutch process cocoa, and some peppermint.
  •  Nuts & Fruits & Honey sounds like one of those sweet gifts you might receive in a holiday basket. It include a jar that is filled with honey, bee pollen, peanuts, dried figs, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, currants, walnuts, coconut, and sesame seeds.
  • Mini Cannoli is piccolo cannoli dolce, which is Italian for small tube dessert, and it looks like a small, tube-shaped, cheese-filled dessert. Phyllo dough is first rolled into a tube shape before it is fried. Crunchy shells are lined with dark chocolate, before they are filled with buffalo ricotta and orange zest.
  • Yogurt Eggnog is from Britain. It is made from Greek Yogurt, egg yolks, and nutmeg spice.
  • Truffle honey mustard is from Paris, France.
  • Roasted Hazelnuts with no salt are from Oregon.


What do you think?

10 Points