Tag Archives: Holiday

Butter Pecan Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

Butter Pecan BiscottiButter Pecan Biscotti are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges and for sharing! One of my favorite ice cream flavors is butter pecan, so I wanted to turn it into a biscotti for giving away as homemade gifts for friends this holiday season.   

Normally, I am too busy to do much baking during the holiday season.  This year is different. We just moved to a new city and I am still healing from surgery so my time in the kitchen is limited. Baking loads of Christmas cookies is something that I really enjoy and these biscotti are going to be in the regular rotation. They received rave reviews around here and this house is well versed in cookie consumption.  Biscotti are an excellent option if you ship cookies to friends and family, like I do.  They hold up well and remain fresh much longer than normal cookies. 

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Lobster on Thick Cut Idaho®Potato Chips with Spicy Saffron Aioli

17-lobsterDress up your favorite Idaho® Potatoes with lobster and saffron aioli for a special holiday appetizer! Salty, crunchy thick-cut chips are a sturdy base for buttery lobster tail.  Topped with a spicy saffron aioli and chives, it makes an elegant nibble for any party.  This post is sponsored by Idaho® Potatoes. All opinions are my own.

The holiday season is upon us, which means HOLIDAY PARTIES!  It’s a special time of year, so I don’t feel guilty about a little splurge.  The end of one year, the beginning of a new one…  It’s a time to celebrate with friends and family and it’s a time to pull out all the tricks and SHINE!  I make one or two special appetizers for parties and lobster on thick-cut potato chips is no slouch.  The saffron aioli elevates it to “high falootin’ status” and this appetizer is always the first to disappear.  It looks much fussier than it actually is, everything except the chips can be made in the morning and set aside in the refrigerator for later.  This is key when you have lots to do before guests arrive.

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Holiday Gift Guide

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We all have someone in our lives that loves to cook or bake, right?  It might even be YOU! Whether you are looking for a gift for someone you love or treating yourself,  here are a few of my favorite things.  I’ve put together a baker’s dozen of course.  I own everything on this list and use it regularly.  Some of the items are newer versions of what I have, as most of my stuff has been in use for YEARS,  which is why I chose these particular things.  They have been used A LOT and stand up to the abuse they get from your truly.

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Holiday Candy Bark

Holiday Candy Bark - Perfect hostess gift or quick treat for busy holiday schedules!

This week, Betsy from Desserts Required is doing a guest post!  I love Betsy and I know you will too!  We’ve been friends for a few years now and I must tell you, when you are around her – a good time will be had, whether you like it or not!  🙂  She is a ball of energy, a ray of sunshine and has a serious sweet-tooth just like your truly.   Betsy is a “girl’s girl”, a cheerleader & champion of her friends, the kind of friend everyone should have.

Hello Pook’s Pantry readers!

I am so excited to guest blog while Cheryl takes some much needed time to recover from her surgery. I met Cheryl at Food Wine Conference a couple of years ago and last year she was my roommate. To say that I love and adore her would be an understatement. I mean, seriously, you already know how fabulous her sense of humor is in addition to her talent in the kitchen but I got to see it firsthand. Cheryl was on team Betsy’s Balls in the Chopped competition and, holy moly, can that woman cook!

My blog is Desserts Required and I live by the mantra, “Without desserts, life would not be as sweet.” If there is a delicious dessert within reach, driving distance or flying distance, I am always up for giving it a try. That goes for candy, too.

Since Thanksgiving is two days away, I thought it would be best to offer a quick and delish option to make; Holiday Candy Bark. I love the idea of making something that is as easy to serve at home as it is to take to someone for a hostess gift.

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The key is to use high quality chocolate. I love bittersweet chocolate but Holiday Candy Bark will work just as well with semisweet, milk or even white chocolate. When I was at Whole Foods buying dried cranberries and unsweetened shredded coconut, I had trouble locating dried apricots. I was directed to a bin of very dark, almost black, apricots. I thought something was wrong with them but learned that they were Turkish apricots and, as such, did not contain sulphur, which gives that very bright unnatural orange color. Although, initially, I wanted that bright orange color, I opted for the natural dried fruit. Feel free to use whichever dried apricot you prefer.

Assembly is a breeze. It’s just a matter of adding layers of dried fruit, coconut and toasted pecans over most of the melted chocolate and then drizzling more melted chocolate over the top to keep the goodies in place.

Holiday Candy Bark - a perfect hostess gift or quick treat at home for busy holiday schedules!

Best of all, Holiday Candy Bark is great throughout this holiday season. I’ve even heard a rumor that Santa loves a batch with his milk and cookies!

Find DR on twitter, facebook & instagram!

Holiday Candy Bark
Yields 48
A delicious, no-bake treat perfect for hostess gifts and holiday gatherings!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (141 grams) dried cranberries, chopped
  2. 1 cup (172 grams) dried apricots, chopped
  3. 1 cup (120 grams) pecan pieces, toasted
  4. ½ cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 2 pounds (910 grams) bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Add 4/5 of the melted chocolate and use a small offset metal spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Top with the cranberries, apricots and most of the pecans and coconut.
  2. Drizzle half of the remaining chocolate over the top. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and coconut over this. Lastly, drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to ‘glue’ the pecans and coconut onto the bark.
  3. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. If the block of chocolate is too hard to cut through, allow it to sit out on the counter until a knife cuts through the chocolate without breaking it into shards of chocolate. Cut in squares.
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Holiday Recipe Round-Up

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The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually a blur for most of us, which is why I’ve complied a dozen recipes that could come in handy for this time of the year.  There are cookies, cupcakes, homemade sanding sugar, hot chocolate and an adult beverage or two to enjoy. 

Happy Holidays to you & yours!  Thank you so much for stopping by!

 

Blueberry Mini Pies

blueberry mini pies3 I’m as patriotic as the next gal, but when Independence Day rolls around and you add the World Cup to that equation,  it seems everyone feels it to a near fever-pitch level of excitement…  (since I started this draft, I am sad to report the US team was knocked out by Belgium) Making good pie crust in Florida is no easy task.  I thought it was just my own shortcoming until  a friend’s sister was lamenting about the fact that she has tried on several occasions to make pie crust here and finds it impossible.    I must tell you, I exhaled a sigh of relief to end all sighs.  I was certain that it was me and that I had somehow lost my touch.   Hearing from  people who also grew up elsewhere that they find making pie crust in the steamy heat of Florida to be a nightmare…  well, that made me feel so much better.    

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I stuff my feet down into my boots, with two pairs of thick socks and grab my heaviest winter coat.  My sock monkey hat on my head, gloves shoved in my pockets and scarf slung over my shoulder ready to protect my face from the biting, bitter cold that awaits outside my door.

A splash of peppermint schnapps in my cup, topped with hot chocolate from the pot on the stove and I’m ready.  Camera in one hand, boozy cocoa in the other.  This is Christmas Eve. 


Every year, I would trek out in the very late night hours around my neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights.  Our neighborhood was infamous.  People came from all over to tour the houses, photographing nearly every single one…  And I lived there.   I would wait until the throngs of people no longer blocked every inch of sidewalk, the crowds had all gone home, the tour buses no longer clogging up the streets.   I waited.   Finally, when the night was quiet and the only sound was the snow and ice crunching under my boots, I made my annual rounds.

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Holiday Spirit…

Last night as I was driving to do a little Christmas shopping, I witnessed some Very Rude Behavior.  The Girl (with whom I was speaking at the time) was subjected to a five minute tirade by yours truly and stories of similar behavior that I had been witness to during previous Holiday seasons in New York.

Instead of rehashing stories highlighting the “not-so-proud” moments, let’s instead focus on something positive.  People I happen to think are fantastic!  Some of them I know in real life and some only through the world of food blogging, but these are folks that I really, truly enjoy and I know you will too.  

They are all very genuine and lovely people.  They are riotously funny and can bring you to tears in the same post.  Their recipes make you want to chip a tooth on the screen trying (in vain) to get just a little nibble…    

They are a talented, kind and wonderful lot, please do check them out and say “hi” for me while you’re there. red velvet

Jenni, otherwise known as “Sissy” of Pastry Chef Online.   Jenni is the Best.  Plain & Simple.  She is extremely knowledgeable and helpful,  her recipes are swoon-worthy and she is one of my favorite people on the planet.  This bread recipe absolutely fascinated me.

Jamie writes some of the most beautiful words you will ever read.  Her blog Life’s a Feast is one of my favorites.  The recipes and the stories that go with them are wonderful.  I can’t even tell you how many I have bookmarked to make someday…  But, this one is next.

Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic is high-larious.  She is my Canadian connection!  Her recipes are straight-forward and delicious, she cooks and bakes with passion, loves to share the wealth with our food blogger community and is an all around great gal.  Her slow cooker pulled pork recipe is something you need.  Trust me…

Rebecca of Foodie with Family is just that.  She is a Mom of some of the cutest, funniest boys and her food consistently elicits the “Pavlov’s dog” drool reaction.  I met Rebecca at a food blog conference this year and we decided to trade goods… I was the recipient of this.  It was magic in a mason jar.  Seriously.  I’ve never had anything like it and I cook for a living.  I can’t say enough about how good it was.  I ate it with a spoon while no one was watching…

Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake  is a delight.  Her food and photos are beautiful and her archive of recipes is massive.  If you are looking for something in particular, chances are you’ll find it over there!  Here is an example: I was looking for a fun something for a breakfast/brunch and this called my name.  Loudly.

David Leite.  Where do I even begin…  He is amazing, his writing is so honest and genuine that he makes you feel as if you are having a conversation.   I’ve met David a few times and believe me when I tell you, he is just as genuine in person.  His site is wildly popular, his book is beautiful and his “Blahg” is like a little peek into his life.   His post about the Thanksgiving debacle had me howling with laughter…  He really paints a picture.

Becca of It’s Yummi! is without a doubt one of the sweetest people that I’ve never met 😉   She is a chef living in Wisconsin, she loves football (so you know we get along!) and she makes a mean bowl of soup.  She is also a newlywed, so go on over and give her some love.

Well, friends… That about does it.    In the spirit of giving, these are the people that are a gift to me through their words, their food and their friendship.  Go check them out and cook something wonderful tonight.  <3

Blueberry Eton Mess

 

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Let me say that I think we should appreciate our Mom’s on more than just one day a year…  It is an incredibly important job that is sometimes thankless.  Through terrible two’s and rebellious teenage years, through laughter and tears, joy and fear… you are there for it all.

So, to every Mom out there:  Happy Mother’s Day today and everyday for all that you do!  

Now that I’ve earned my birthday and Christmas presents for next year, let’s get to it.   

This weekend is Mother’s Day and the Internet, food magazines, morning shows, cooking shows, even the evening news is filling the space between our ears with recipes to make for Mom…

Most of them even look really good!  But here’s the problem:  MOM isn’t the one making them!  (I hope)!   

More than a few of the recipes featured have ingredient lists long enough to make even the average home cook sweat under the collar, much less someone who rarely ventures into that mystical space from where food magically appears.

Some of you out there are lucky enough to live with people who actually know:   A. where the kitchen is located in your home and  2) how to find things in this mysterious room. Then, there are those of you who live with people that open the fridge door, stand there staring at it’s insides and then ask you “what is there to eat?”.  

Well, even THOSE people can handle this recipe.

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Dim Sum Good Eats

Unless you live under a rock, everyone is familiar with Chinese take-out.  Let me be the one to tell you that what you are eating isn’t exactly Chinese food.  It’s like going to Taco Bell and saying you had Mexican food…

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s move on shall we?

Dim Sum.  It’s an experience like no other.  For me, it is complete and utter sensory overload and I adore every second of it.  The clinging of metal and ceramic as plates of food go whizzing by and the staccato of a language I don’t understand.  The unfamiliar smells mingled with the scents of spices I know so well amidst the hurried movements of the women peddling an array of dishes from the kitchen.  It is an assault on the senses in the very best of ways. Continue reading