Are you entertaining for New Year’s Eve or need to bring an appetizer to a party? Here are some interesting and easy appetizers curated from some of my most popular recipes, sure to liven up the celebrating. Click on the highlighted title to get the recipe. Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!
My French maman makes the best darn Southern pecan pie! Whenever she asks visiting family or friends what they’d like her to make for them, everyone requests this pie.
This cake is so good, I have made it twice in a week. I love fresh cranberries and this cake really showcases them. The cake is very moist with excellent texture and classic vanilla flavor. With each bite, your taste buds discover the cinnamon-spiced tart cranberry layer first followed by the creamy cake base. Bliss. The original recipe was from Martha Stewart but I discovered it on the talented food stylist, Teresa Blackburn’s blog, Food on Fifth. The cake is simplicity itself and bakes in about a half hour. Add to that the powerhouse antioxidant benefits of cranberries, and you’ve got a winner! Be prepared to be wowed! The cake travels well for a potluck and can easily be doubled for a crowd. Add 15 minutes to the baking time if doubling the recipe.
Got cranberries? I had more cranberries than we could eat so they became the inspiration for this easy holiday table setting. Because cranberries float, they look gorgeous in glass vessels on a table. Choose clear glass vessels of different heights for interest. I featured a taller footed compote for the center of the table which could hold several floating candles and 4 smaller glass votive holders( Dollar store)to flank it. I filled them half way with fresh cranberries, added water to the rim and floated round candles in each. The table was left bare with a rich burgundy center runner embellished with gold embroidery. On this I scattered Christmas ornaments in reds and gold with some fragrant holiday greenery. Continue reading
“A big orange and some fresh pine boughs and ‘Silent Night’ are all I need, and cookies, of course. They are the strings that when I pull on them, I pull up the complete glittering storybook Christmases of my childhood.” Garrison Keillor
The tradition of oranges at Christmas is thought to have originated with St Nicholas who placed gold in the poor people’s shoes in what is today Turkey. Oranges are thought to be a symbolic interpretation of that tradition since the fruit was an exotic and rare treat. The orange’s segments are a symbol of being able to share your wealth with others. My maman who grew up in poverty, one of 15, in depression era Québec, remembers the joy of receiving a single orange in her worn stocking hung with hope, Christmas Eve. Continue reading
‘Tis the season of rushing about trying to do too much before the big day arrives. With so many indulgences at too many parties and cookies and sweets to tempt us everywhere we go, sometimes a time out from the frenzy is needed. Return to basics with a healthy nutritious meal that you can put on the table in no time and cooks itself in the oven unattended. Enter the sheet pan dinner. This chicken dinner requires just 10 minutes of prep time and is ready in 45 minutes of hands-off time in the oven. It fills the house with mouth-watering aroma and great flavor from shallots and lemon. Clean up is a snap. We even served ours right in the pan. Just what every harried family needs at this time of year. You can substitute any vegetables as long as they are cut in similar sizes for even cooking.
‘Tis the Season! Candy bark is the workhorse of edible gifting. This dark chocolate bark comes together in minutes and looks fabulously decadent wrapped for gift giving. Sweet cranberries and crunchy toasted pecans are enveloped in dark chocolate to give the bark texture and a nice contrast in flavors. Hidden inside is the surprise bite of candied orange peel to make the bark more interesting. Strewn on top are more cranberries, pecans and the crowning touch: a dusting of Fleur de sel. The finished bark is beautifully festive. For presentation, I filled cellophane bags with the bark and tied them with a cranberry~colored velvet ribbon. These were nestled inside themed birchbark paper cones with a sprig of evergreen tucked in(instructions for making the cones at the end). To save time, you can use commercially available candied orange peel or candied ginger.
“Baking cookies is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food. They are very bite-sized and personal.” Sandra Lee
Holiday cookie baking is a labor of love for me. Truth be known, I am just more of a cook than a baker. These cookie recipes are tried and true favorites of this reluctant baker. I hope you’ll find a recipe or two to try yourself. To access the recipe, please click on the highlighted titles. Crank up the Christmas carols, roll up your sleeves and get your holiday baking on!
“”Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring some out here.
Good tidings I bring
To you and your kin;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.” English Traditional
There exists many versions of figgy pudding in traditional English baking as there have been versions of the popular Christmas Carol since the 16th Century. Dried figs are a good source of potassium and fiber. Lusciously sweet with an interesting texture, they make a healthy snack anytime. Come winter, I love incorporating them in baked goods where they add sweetness, fiber, color and texture. I experimented with a spiced cake recipe found on Allrecipes and came up with this citrus version. The figs are puréed in a food processor with half a lemon and added to a batter with almond meal and yogurt. The resulting cake is dense, moist and fragrant. It makes a nutritious sweet addition to breakfast or brunch or simply enjoyed with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee. Singing Christmas carols, totally optional.
This ragu is a fast and easy weeknight recipe that delivers the bold flavor of traditional ragus that slow-cook for hours. Lean ground pork is browned in garlic, then simmered in red wine for mėre minutes. It can be served over cheese raviolis, polenta or grits. The only time I have had grits is when I travel to the American South. They are always creamy and cheesy and hard to resist. For my first time making them I used an instant variety made with milk and parmesan for added richness and texture. This dish is destined to become a family favorite, ready in less than 30 minutes. It only tastes like you were in the kitchen all day!