Giada’s Tips, Tricks and Picks

A few weeks ago I had the chance to chop, cook, and bake alongside the beautiful and talented Giada de Laurentiis. The Food Network star and Target culinary expert, hosted an intimate event in New York City to show off a few of her top tips, tricks, (and Target picks!) to a hungry group of food and lifestyle writers. While the demonstration did have a holiday theme (eeks! I'm behind!), her recipes and ideas apply to year-round entertaining as well (phew!).

I was given the opportunity to touch and use Giada's collection for Target, and I now have a few new must-haves. And while it's a little too late to ask Santa to put these under the tree, it's the perfect time to resolve to be a better cook and hostess. Check out the coolest kitchen gadgets and gizmos from Giada and Target… And click below the fold for one of her delicious recipes. (Believe me, I tried it… and all I can say is YUM!)

Stainless Steel Mezzaluna Knife, $20.79
Sleek and sexy, Giada designed this knife for a woman's hand. The gentle curve makes chopping, mincing, and slicing easy and comfortable. TIP FROM GIADA: “Treat your knives like you would treat your jewelry.”

Food Processor, $59.99
You'd be hard pressed to find a food processor that's as good and inexpensive as this one. It comes with an eight-cup-capacity bowl and two reversible disks for thin and thick slicing or shredding. It also has suction cups on the bottom to keep it secure and centered.

10-Piece Aluminum Cook Set, $129.99
Ideal for the novice chef, Giada's 10-piece aluminum cook set is a recipe for success. She designed her pots and pans for easy lifting and pick-up, and the silicone handles make cooking safer.

Programmable Coffee Maker, $49.99
This coffeemaker is functional and fashionable.The design of the glass carafe is aesthetically pleasing, so it looks pretty sitting on your kitchen counter. The signature twist handle also makes it extra easy and comfortable to pour your morning cup of joe.

Here's the recipe for Giada's sweet-and-savory cheese stuffed dates with prosciutto. A perfect party finger food, they're ridiculously easy to make and absolutely mouthwatering. Enjoy!

¼ cup (2 ounces) goat cheese (room temperature)
¼ cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
¼ cup finely chopped basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
16 Medjool dates
8 thin slices of prosciutto, halved lengthwise

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
With a knife, make a lengthwise incision in each date, gently open the dates slightly and remove the pits.
Spoon about ½ teaspoon cheese mixture inside each one.
Close the dates around the filling.
Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with toothpick.
Arrange on a platter and serve.

Number of servings: 4 – 6

P.S. And here's a photo of me and Giada “hanging out” in the test kitchen. She's the tiniest woman alive. I want her metabolism…