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  • Kara Kimbrough

Kara's Sights & Bites: Last-minute Christmas gifts for the foodie and traveler

By Kara Kimbrough

Kara's Sights & Bites: Last-minute Christmas gifts for the foodie and traveler
Old-fashioned fruit salad or ambrosia is the perfect last-minute “save” to round out the dessert table on Christmas Day.

Christmas is almost here, so technically, your shopping needs to be complete. However, if you’re like me, there are always a few last-minute gifts to buy. Here are a few suggestions for the food-lover, home chef and traveler (and some may fit into all three categories) on your list. If you can’t find them before the big day, simply print a photo of the item from the internet, wrap it in a festive package and include a card with the disclaimer that the gift is “on its way.” They’ll be so happy with any of these gifts that it won’t matter that it’s a little late.

 Merry Christmas!

1.     Cuisinart 14-Cup 50th Anniversary Food Processor – One of the most used items in my kitchen is my Cuisinart Food Processor. When I have lots of vegetables to chop (think summer canning season), I simply can’t survive without a little help from this trusty appliance. In simple terms, it’s indispensable when I need to slice, grate, shred, dice and pulverize almost anything. The 50th anniversary model is a modern version of the old-school version that debuted in 1973.

2.     The Always Pan – Believe it or not, there’s now a pan that can do the job of 10 (yes, 10) pieces of traditional cookware. The Always Pan is deep enough to roast a chicken and shallow enough to fry an egg – it braises, sears, steams, strains, sautés, fries, boils, bakes, serves and stores leftovers – in short, it basically does it all. It’s also oven safe, perfect for stovetop-to-oven recipes. It’s a little pricey, but when you consider that it replaces several other pans, the price is justifiable.

 3.     Rollink Flex 360° Carry-On Spinner Suitcase – Just when you think you’ve seen ever modern invention in the world of travel accessories, a new one comes along that blows all the others out of the water. If you’ve ever pushed a carryon bag while sprinting through the Atlanta Airport (and who hasn’t if you’re flying anywhere?) you know the value of one that’s lightweight and doesn’t create any more problems that you’re likely already experiencing.  Rollink created a lightweight, yet durable carryon that’s not only superior to any carryon I’ve ever had, but is also built with expandable sides that accommodate last-minute additions, then folds flat accordion-style for easy storage. To order, visit the website:

    My latest favorite Rollink product is a hardshell Tour Mini Bag that can be worn as a crossbody purse for easy access to items. Slash and cut resistant straps offer added protection while traveling.

4.     Countertop Ice Maker – The need for one of these now-indispensable kitchen appliances originated with the purchase of a new refrigerator with a larger-than-normal ice container. The solution? Remove the unwieldy container and purchase a countertop ice maker. Once I began using it, I wondered how I’d lived without one. Being able to quickly fill a cup with perfectly-shaped small ice cubes (there’s an option for larger cubes) is wonderful.  I’ve begun seeing them in offices, kitchens and even classrooms. Inexpensive models can be found at most major retailers for less than $100.

5.     The charcuterie board craze has been around for awhile now, but doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. In my opinion, you can never have too many boards, ranging from small round ones to medium-size to a giant one for those impressive spreads. I’ve found several of mine at TJ Maxx and other discount stores.

 6.     If you’re giving the gift of travel for Christmas or planning to treat yourself with a trip to New York City in 2024, there’s no better time to make a reservation than right now. Reservations can now be made for Hotel Week, set for Jan. 3 – Feb. 4. Hotel Week offers visitors the opportunity to save 24% at 150 hotels across the city. I’ll be attending a large travel writers show in January and have already booked the Hilton New York Times Square at a substantial savings. To make a reservation, visit:

     Speaking of last-minute life-savers, here are two of my favorite “saves” when a little something extra is needed for the Christmas dinner table. 

 Mrs. Walters’ Fruit Salad

 (This is the recipe for the ambrosia served in the movie “The Help.” Actress Sissy Spacek, who played Mrs. Walters, the quirky mother of mean-spirited Hilly, ate fruit salad as she watched her soap opera during Hilly’s bridge party.)

 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained

1 can pineapple chunks, drained

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup flaked coconut

1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream (supplement sour cream with scoops of Cool Whip if you want a sweeter taste)

 Mix all ingredients together. (You can add other favorite ingredients like strawberries, grapes and chopped pecans if you'd like). Refrigerate and chill before serving

 Pull-Apart Crescent Roll Christmas Tree

 2 cans (8 oz) refrigerated Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls (8 Count)

2 packages (5.5 oz each) garlic & herbs Boursin® cheese

1 tablespoon butter, melted

3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (more to taste) 

     Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Separate dough into 16 triangles. Use kitchen scissors or knife to cut each triangle in half lengthwise.

    Spoon about 2 teaspoons cheese on shortest side of each triangle. Roll up each, starting at shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point. Build trunk by vertically placing two crescents side by side. Please remaining crescents next to each other in a tree-shaped pattern, pointed sides up, continually working your way up to make a pointed top.

    Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until deep golden brown. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with cheese. 

   Recipe adapted from

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at



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