Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine #SundaySupper

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gallo Family Vineyards in conjunction with Sunday Supper. All opinions are my own.
Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |
Growing up, family holiday get-togethers meant three generations cozied into my grandparents' house. Coats jammed into the coat closet. Boots and shoes lined up by the doors. Women congregating in the kitchen, men congregating in front of a football game, kids running from the pool table to the play room or playing hide-and-seek; each person in their stocking-feet.

Warmth enveloped you at every turn. Magical scents wafting from the oven. A crockpot in the corner with spiced steam escaping. A candle on the corner table scented for the season. As a kid, I really looked forward to the familiarity and tradition that this time of year invoked.

As an adult, I still look forward to it, but it's not quite the same. We now have four generations running around. My grandparents are now in their mid to late 80's; it's not as easy for them to host everybody any more. And unfortunately, none of us have the same fantastic home that they have. A home large enough for everybody to fit. Comfortably.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls {#GRAINHoliday}

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls from
A while back, I posed a serious question on Facebook. "Gingerbread: Cake or Bread?"  I mean, it's cake.  We all know it's cake.  So why is it called bread!?  It's one of life's little mysteries.  Like driving on a parkway and parking on a driveway.  It just is.  The majority of people said cake.  A few stepped out of the box and chose bread.  And I'm happy that somebody answered "cookies", because my life just would not be complete without one smart-alec in the mix.  Usually it's me, so...

But anyway, I decided then and there that I was going to make it my mission to turn gingerbreadcake into actual gingerbread.  I'm talking full-on yeast bread, too.  A quick bread would be just too close to cake to actually be considered different, I think.

Don't get me wrong, though - I LOVE me some good old-fashioned gingerbread.  Especially around Christmas and the holiday season, in general.  But I got it in my head to do something, so do it, I did.  That's a fun thing to say..."so do it, I did". Really. Try it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Buttery Herb Pull-Apart Rolls {#SundaySupper #GGHoliday2013}

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gourmet Garden Herbs & Spices. All opinions are my own.
Buttery Herb Pull-Apart Rolls #SundaySupper #GGHoliday2013 |
For us, the holidays are really the only time that we get to spend time with the extended family.  I don't have a single relative that lives in the same state that I do.   The majority live in our neighboring state.  Now, we do live in a "border" city, so it's not actually as bad as it seems.  But still, it's a drive that's not always doable on a busy family schedule.

So when the holiday season does roll around, road trips are planned.  Menus are devised.  Phone calls are swapped to see who is bringing what.  I've already mentioned my "Thanksgiving plan".  It involves notebooks with headings and labels and recipes popping out every which way.  Christmas is a scaled down version of that, which usually winds up occupying a few pages at the end of said notebook.  New Year's celebrations take up even less room, as my menu usually consists of only brunch, champagne, and orange juice - plus a pot of something lucky for later in the day.

But back to the larger meal plans.  Our Thanksgiving meal has always been a sit-down.  Our Christmas meal has always been buffet-style.  New Year's is a eat-where-you-are-in-your-jammies thing.  That's just the way we're used to doing things.  And I like it.  But no matter which holiday we're celebrating, there is always bread in some shape or form on the table.  We love our bread.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fast Focaccia with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Shallots #passtheprosciutto

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Parma Ham - Pass the Prosciutto.  All opinions are my own.
Fast Focaccia with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Shallots #passtheprosciutto |
I'll be the first to admit that when the holiday season rolls around, especially the day-before and the day-of any given holiday, I sometimes leave my family high and dry in the "normal" meal department.  Between preparation of the big meal and lack of stove/oven/refrigerator space, we eat a lot of cereal, sandwiches, and leftovers while the scents of the season linger around us.

This is one thing that I've vowed to change this year.  I will not starve* my family in anticipation of the big meal. This will just take a little advance planning on my part.  That's where simple meals like stratas, that can be prepared the evening before and left in the fridge for morning baking, come in.  Or a tray full of assembled quesadillas waiting to be baked for a quick lunch.  Or, believe it or not, a loaf of focaccia and bag full of pre-chopped mixed lettuce leaves to go with it.

Yeast bread?  I'm sure you're wondering if I'm being serious right now.  Who has time to make a yeast bread in the midst of the madness that is a holiday meal?  I do.  You do.  Anybody does, when it's this fast focaccia!  After a quick mix and knead, it gets stretched into a prepared pan.  After that, it's pretty hands off.  Prepare something to top it while it rises, then slide it into the oven for less than 30 minutes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Flavored Sea Salts {DIY} #HandcraftedHolidays

Flavored Sea Salts {DIY} #HandcraftedHolidays at
I hate to tell you this, but there is just over a month left until Christmas.  The time has come to to make a plan.   Will you brave the Black Friday madness or shop like mad from the comfort of your own home on Cyber Monday?  Maybe you've already been picking up little gifts here and there.  Maybe you're way ahead of me and your shopping is already done.  If so, you have my admiration.  I, however, am still trying to shake off the holiday denial.  Why does it always come so fast!?

Now, as much as I love to shop, I also love making gifts from my kitchen.  Last year it was homemade extracts and all-in-one beer bread kits.  This  year it's homemade liqueurs and do-it-yourself flavored sea salt.  Next year I'm thinking do-it-yourself flavored sugars, lip balms, and sugar scrubs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Spiced Persimmon-Bourbon Fizz {a boozy, boozy Christmas}

I hope you're kicked back enjoying your gifts with friends, family, good food, and a glass full of a warming beverage.  Hopefully a cocktail.  You know, if you have nothing to do but enjoy the day anyway, why not!?

If you want something that packs a punch so big you won't need those slippers to warm your toes... so warm and spicy and inviting that you won't need those Christmas decorations... and so filled with bourbon that all the bent boxes and torn-up wrapping paper in the world won't bother you.
Plus, there's persimmons in there.  Bourbon, persimmons, and lots of cozy warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, and allspice.  Curl up next to the twinkling tree.  Something new and shiny in one hand.  This cocktail in the other.  Enjoy your day!

Spiced Persimmon-Bourbon Fizz

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes (to make the per
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Keywords: beverage alcohol persimmons Christmas New Year American winter

Ingredients (1 large or 2 small cocktails)
    for the cocktail
    • 3 oz. bourbon
    • 2 oz. spiced persimmon puree
    • 1 oz. lemon juice
    • ginger ale
    to garnish
    • cinnamon stick
    • freshly grated nutmeg
    • thin slice of persimmon (peel off)
    for the spiced persimmon puree
    • 2 c. water
    • ¾ c. brown sugar
    • 3 fuyu persimmons, roughly chopped
    • 1" piece of cinnamon stick
    • 1 whole star anise
    • big pinch freshly ground nutmeg
    • big pinch ground ginger
    • pinch ground cardamom
    • pinch ground allspice
    • ¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste
    Combine bourbon, spiced persimmon puree, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice to fill. Shake well and strain into a glass, leaving at least a half an inch of head room. Top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a grating of fresh nutmeg, a thin slice of persimmon, and a cinnamon stick, if desired.

    to make the Spiced Persimmon Puree (yield: ~1⅔ c.):
    Combine the water and the brown in a medium pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the persimmon, cinnamon stick, and the ground spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low bubble and allow to cook until persimmons are soft and water has reduced, ~30-40 minutes.

    Remove cinnamon stick and star anise. Pour into the jar of a blender, and carefully (it's hot!) puree until smooth. Set a strainer over a bowl and push the puree through, discarding solids. Depending on the size of the holes in your strainer, you will have more or less "pulp". Stir in vanilla bean paste.

    Transfer puree to a jar, and store in the refrigerator.

    The brown sugar in the persimmon puree lends a brown color to the drink, but it also lends a nice, molasses-like flavor to the puree. If you prefer it look more orange, use granulated sugar in its place.

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    Sunday, December 16, 2012

    Sticky Wholegrain Mustard & Ginger Cocktail Sausages {#SundaySupper}

    Often, when holiday meal planning rolls around, I tend to neglect the appetizers.  And, though I hate to admit it, the beverages often take a back seat, as well.  At least the "special" beverages.  It doesn't take much planning to grab some beers or a couple nice bottles of wine.  And pulling the liquor from the cabinet? No work at all.

    Now, I find this to be an absolutely ridiculous predicament, as I am that person who stands around the appetizer table and nibbles.  Toothpick in one hand, cocktail in the other.  So yeah, two of my favorite parts of any get together, and I neglect them when it comes to my own planning.  So not cool.  Well, I'm making a vow to change that.  I'm going to start exploring more appetizer options.  And diversify my cocktail and mocktail offerings.
    Now, one thing that screams appetizer is little weenies.  Now, normally I've used the little smokies or little hotdogs, but this time I went with the slightly larger breakfast sausage links.  Thanks to my girl, Nigella.  If anybody knows how to throw a party with plenty of hors d'oeuvre and cocktail options, it's her.  I mean, I know I want to be a guest at her house.

    These are going in my permanent rotation, because they are so durn addictive.  Sticky.  Slightly sweet.  Slightly savory.  Perfect with a hunk of toasted sourdough.  Pass the toothpicks!

    Sticky Wholegrain Mustard & Ginger Cocktail Sausages

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
    Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
    Keywords: bake appetizer sausage ginger mustard Christmas Thanksgiving Super Bowl tailgating

    Ingredients (50 sausages)
    • scant ½ c. orange marmalade
    • scant ½ c . wholegrain mustard
    • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
    • 2 tsp. freshly grated gingerroot
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 50 uncooked breakfast sausages (~2¼-2½ lbs.)
    • thick-crust bread for serving, optional (preferably a round loaf, sourdough or rye, ~9" in diameter)
    If making immediately, preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with foil (or use a couple of disposable foil pans) - it's gonna get messy.

    Combine all of the ingredients except the sausages and bread in a large bowl and whisk together. Add the sausages and turn them around in the mix to coat (using your hands is easiest).

    Dump the whole thing onto the prepared tray. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn up the oven to 400° F and stir the sausages around, being sure to pick up any gooey juices and coat the sausages. Close oven and bake another 15-30 minutes, stirring again halfway through, until sticky and burnished and cooked through.

    To serve in a bread bowl, cut a circle around the top of a round loaf of bread and lift it off like a lid. Dig out the bready center with your hands, leaving the crust intact. (You won't need the insides, so make them into bread crumbs for another use.)

    Fill the emptied-out loaf with as many of the sausages as you can, refilling as necessary. Set out with toothpicks on the side for spearing the sausages.

    Advance Preparation:
    Place all of the ingredients except the sausage and bread into a gallon-size, freezer-safe, zippered baggie. Squish everything around to mix. Add the sausage, squeeze the air out and seal the baggie, and then squish around again until they are well-coated in the mixture.

    Store in the fridge for up to 2 days, and then cook as directed. Freeze for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the fridge, and then cook as directed.

    You can also use a hearty, rectangular loaf of bread and hollow out the center in the same fashion to have a bread "tray" instead of a bread "bowl". This is especially handy when making a double-batch.

    I am EXTREMELY picky when it comes to sausage. I don't like it floppy. And I don't like it even the least bit under-cooked. I want that sticky, browning on the outside for maximum flavor. If you these are cooked too long for your liking, start with the higher heat and decrease the cooking time by 15 minutes of so.

    p.s...don't forget to eat the emptied-out bread bowl once the sausages are gone. That has that sticky goodness will have seeped into it, making it an irresistible midnight snack (in true Nigella fashion). Mmmm....

    adapted from Nigella Kitchen
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    Now.  I wanna know - are you anything like me?  Do you find yourself at a holiday party with a drink in one hand and a toothpick for stabbing hors d'oeuvres in the other?   Or perhaps you're a neglecter of appetizers and fun cocktails...but don't want to be.  Either way, you'll love this list of Holiday Beverages and Appetizers that the #SundaySupper crew has put together this week (hosted by Connie from The Foodie Army Wife).  Check it out.

    Party Beverages

    Appetizers and Hors d'oeuvres

      In remembrance of the Sandy Hook tragedy, our live chat for tonight has been cancelled.  My heart breaks for the victims and their loved ones every time I think of what happened.  I just want to squeeze my kids and my husband and give thanks that I can do so.

      We’d love to feature your Holiday Beverages and Appetizers on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.  So tell me - what are you must have holiday cocktails, mocktails, appetizers, and hors d'oeuvres?  I'm always looking for inspiration.  Feel free to leave the link to any in the comments. 

      Sunday, December 9, 2012

      Ginger Bourbon Balls {#SundaySupper Ultimate Cookie Exchange}

      Everybody loves Balls during the Holidays...

      Painted Glass Balls hanging from the Christmas tree 
      Chocolate Coconut Balls
      Rum Balls
      Costume Balls
      Supernatural Balls
      Fruit 'n Nut Balls
      Disco Balls
      Cheese Balls
      Popcorn Balls

      And of course...

      Bourbon Balls
      It's true.  I can't resist a good boozy ball on any holiday tray.  These balls in particular have bite... from the ground-up spicy gingersnaps to the punch of bourbon to the lemon sugar they are rolled in... these are some pretty irresistible balls.

      Ginger Bourbon Balls

      by Heather Schmitt-González
      Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
      Cook Time: n/a
      Keywords: dessert ginger whisk(e)y nuts Christmas cookie American winter

      Ingredients (~6 dozen)
      • 1 c. granulated sugar
      • finely grated zest of 1 fat lemon
      • 2½ c. (~100) crushed ginger snaps
      • 1 c. finely ground hazelnuts
      • 1 c. powdered sugar
      • ¼ c. bourbon
      • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
      • 3 Tbs. golden syrup
      • 2 Tbs. water
      Combine sugar and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Pour onto a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Set aside.

      Combine crushed gingersnaps, ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Whisk together the bourbon, vanilla, golden syrup, and water and drizzle over the crumb mixture; pulse until everything comes together.

      Shape into ½ tablespoon-sized balls. Roll in the lemon sugar. Store in an airtight container.
      These freeze well. Simply set out on a parchment lined baking tray and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe zippered baggie for up to one month. Plus, the alcohol keeps them soft enough, that if you get a hankerin', you can reach into the freezer and grab a boozy bite!
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      This week, #SundaySupper has a special guest who knows a thing or two about cookies.  Janet Keeler, Food & Travel Editor for the Tampa Bay Times and author of Cookielicious will be joining us during out chat tonight with tips on baking for the Ultimate Cookie Exchange and also to answer any of your baking questions.   So go ahead, grab a glass of milk and join us for The Ultimate Cookie Exchange tonight.  We are giving away 5 signed copies of Cookielicious during the chat.

      Check out Cookielicious by Food Editor Janet K. Keeler from The Tampa Bay Times now while there is a special… Buy One Cookielicious Cookbook and get one for a friend!

      And now, prepare for the Ultimate Holiday Cookie Exchange:
      Do you have a favorite cookie to take to a Cookie Exchange?  Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on December 9th.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm (Eastern) for our #SundaySupper Ultimate Cookie Exchange live chat.