Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Shortbread Cookies

Everyone has their personal favorite taste that they cherish over everything else. Some people like beer, others prefer specialty cheese... For my husband, it's any dessert with peppermint or a fresh minty flavor (with maple a close second, being Canadian and all!). Mint chocolate chip ice cream, even peppermint candies are in danger around him, but his greatest and most favorite dessert has to be Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

When we were first dating, he would practically buy this in bulk from Willams-Sonoma, to satisfy his sweet tooth until the next Christmas. If we heard that one of our friends had never tried this lovely treat, they were promptly handed a tin to take home. Hey, we take our candy seriously around here!

As I gear up for my annual holiday cookie-making marathon, I began to wonder if I could combine my husband's love of chocolate peppermint bark with my own favorite sweet - shortbread cookies. Bing, bang, boom: A thing of beauty was born! Chocolate Peppermint Bark Shortbread Cookies!

A buttery shortbread cookie is spread with luscious white chocolate & peppermint-tinged semi-sweet chocolate. Topped with crushed candy canes, this cookie is festive & decadent! Try this recipe for your next holiday party or cookie exchange!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pomegranate Gin Fizz

As I write this, December is officially upon us. Winter holiday parties over take our schedules, variations from the Nutcracker Suite serenade us in the shopping malls, and the kids are getting together their wish lists; It's a joyous season - especially when it can be combined with seasonal food and drinks for our family and friends!

I began brainstorming for a festive holiday cocktail almost as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were put away. I wanted to try to hit upon all those sweet and spicy notes we come to associate with this time of year. Sweet pomegranates & oranges, spicy clove & cinnamon, and the smooth, almost floral aspects, of a fine gin (one of my new found loves).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu in Review

I know what you are going to say, another Thanksgiving post?!?  That is soooooo last week!

OK, I agree - it's time to set up the Christmas tree, or put up the Hanukkah decorations, but many of our Thanksgiving-esque recipes can still make another appearance on the winter holiday table! There is so much more than turkey to the holiday. Plus, I really like pie, and take almost any opportunity to promote it!

We had a large menu this year, and honestly this was the first Thanksgiving dinner that I was completely pleased with. The entire meal worked, and each dish turned out tasty - I wouldn't change a thing...this listing of recipes is a winner!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms with Mascarpone Cheese & Panko

Stuffed mushrooms are often a staple as a passed hors d'oeuvres, or on the holiday buffet table. When done well, they are amazing; when done poorly, the fungi (fun-guy) should just leave the party (ba da dum!).

Fortunately for me (and my guests), I stumbled upon a fantastic Ina Garten version several years ago, and they have been on my Thanksgiving menu ever since. This year, instead of doing the same old thing, I decided to use her awesome recipe as an inspiration for something new: A savory filling of panko bread crumbs, gourmet mushrooms, herbs, garlic, and mascarpone are stuffed into a large white mushroom for a lovely & lightened version of a great starter!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel

The first question people usually ask me when they learn about my food blog, is, "why?". Well... The truth is, there are a lot of different reasons that spring to mind: I like to cook (and eat!); I enjoy writing to keep my sanity while raising two young kids; food styling appeals to my artistic side; and, of course, I starting blogging as a way to share great recipes!

The idea was really sparked last Thanksgiving. We spent a busy day cooking many, many dishes, and a busy night hosting many, many people for dinner. After the leftovers were put away, and the last fork was dried, I began getting requests to forward the recipes we had put together. I had always cooked a mix of my own recipes, family secrets, and, of course, things found on my favorite blogs, when I got to thinking: rather than just forwarding the instructions, why not start writing about them!

This Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel was one of the dishes that I made that night, and created the buzz that soon brought this blog about. Based off of a famous Ruth's Chris Steak House recipe, I tweaked it to fit my tastes. Butter-whipped sweet potatoes are baked with vanilla, sugar, and egg to create a fluffy and satisfying side dish. Topped with a brown sugar-glazed butter pecan crunch... well, this vegetable side dish is probably the best sweet potato recipe ever. Seriously. By the end of dinner, not a smidgen was left in the house.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cranberry Sauce with Maple Syrup

Thanksgiving is, hands down, my favorite holiday when it comes to food. Pass the turkey, load up on the sweet potatoes, and give me some pie, please... I'm in heaven.

Being from Massachusetts, Thanksgiving and it's history has always been important. Growing up, making a trip to Plymouth Plantation is almost a rite of passage around here. You can stare down at Plymouth Rock (from behind the fence), or try your hand at making butter while wearing a construction paper pilgrim hat, but there is so much more to it than that... for me, it is the center of some of my most meaningful childhood memories.

As a child and young adult, I spent most of my summers living a brief walk away from the beach where the Pilgrims and the Native Americans had their first meeting (First Encounter Beach, for reference!). The marshes, the beach, and the cranberry bogs all have special meaning to me. I remember being part of a rag-tag group of cousins, spending our free time larking on the beach, and playing touch football as kids. On other occasions, a few of my friends and I would even sneak onto an Ocean Spray cranberry bog to pick water lilies. So the cape, and this holiday, hold a special place in my heart.

Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving Day side dishes that people either love or hate. I know many people favor the canned version, with it's wobbily goodness, but I really enjoy the classic, whole berry, approach. This year, however, I upped the ante.