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Essential items in a Christmas food basket for under $40

We are exchanging gifts with friends for Christmas and they are very much into food, as are we. I'm trying to think of good items to put in the basket for a total of $40(or under). If you were to get a small basket containing food items what would you like to recieve? Or if you were giving such a gift what would you give? For starters I was thinking a small jar of homemade pesto, maybe some good nuts, and a link of fresh pepperoni, other than that I'm stumped.
PS. How long will a homemade pesto stay in the fridge?

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  1. This year I'm preparing a dinner in a basket.
    Fresh homemade dried pasta, a homemade jarred tomato sauce, hunk of pecorino, baguette, infused olive dipping oil and bottle of wine.

    1. Olives, nice crackers, a good chocolate bar, tea and jam, holiday cocktail napkins, etc. However, I really like lollya's meal in a bag suggestion too. I've done martini in a bag before: vodka, olives, vermouth, toothpicks, cocktail napkins, martini glasses.

      1. thanks ellen!
        it's pretty easy with the pasta roller deal. man, one of the best purchases i've made actually. it's fun too.

          1. Truffle salt - SO GOOD and great on so many things!

            1. If they enjoy cooking at home - a variety of salts (sea salts from various parts of the world), peppercorns, saffron (always appreciated by the home chef), really good vanilla beans, white truffle oil.

                1. If your friends are far away, then local specialties they won't be able to find.

                  If they are across the street, then local specialties from where you grew up (if it wasn't also across the street).

                  The salt idea is good and you can extend that to other things -- an array of different versions/brands of the same thing -- different types of peppercorns, cinnamons, balsamic vinegars, etc. In regular shopping most of us get one of a thing, so offering a "taste test" selection is really more of an extravagance and a good present.

                  1. a jar of Tapenade, hard cheeses and special crackers or artisan bread, caviar, really good olive oil, wine and beautiful wine bottle stoppers,chocolate in any form, a can of good cocoa mix or mulling spices, teas, pomegrante juice and vodka...anything you would like to eat but wouldn't buy on a regular basis...

                    1. Lipton has a new line of specialty teas, they are delicious. Look for the triangle shaped bag.

                      1. A split of sparkling wine or small bottle of exotic flavored hooch. Tinned smoked fish or imported anchovies in a jar. Also little items that can be used after all the consumables are consumed: a little cheese plate, pate/cheese spreader or a nice wooden spoon. All (no consumables) can be found for a reasonable price at places like Marshall's, TJ Maxx etc.

                        1. All of these suggestions are great. We excahnged tonight and we went with the dinner in a basket idea. It was a hit and our friends expressed that the gift was very thoughful. We ended up getting them frozen lobster raviolis with an seafood sauce that are made fresh and flash frozen from a local Philadelphia pasta store. I roasted some cauliflower for a homemade twist and an antipasta dsh. We got them a dozen cookies from an award winning bakery and fresh sausage that consisted of 3 links of pork: one with sharp prov and spinach, one with pork and apple, and one with pork, tomato and basil. We also got the a bottle of wine from our hometown region. I know I would have been very happy wth this gift and they really appreciated it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Tonyjlive

                            Tonyj..sounds like a winner. Love the roasted cauliflower idea! Might borrow that one myself.

                          2. bottle of wine,fresh roasted coffee,croissants or nice shortbread cookies,fresh fruits,nuts,jam,pesto sauce,pasta

                            1. I know this is probably a little late on this...but if I were giving a gift basket to another foodie, it would be filled with:
                              A good EVOO
                              Balsalmic glaze
                              Good dark chocolate
                              Dried pasta
                              Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies
                              Half bottle of wine
                              Coffee (if they are a coffee drinker)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BellaDonna

                                Good Sherry Vinegar
                                Stick or two of a high end salumi
                                Jar of anchovies