Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Make Your Holiday Party Shine

A table filled with delicious food and dazzling decor surrounded by family and friends is the perfect recipe for a holiday dinner to remember. Once you've figured out your menu, be sure to leave time to plan the table decor.

A festive and memorable gathering can be achieved without the fuss by using things you already have around the house. Use these tips to help make your holiday dinner party a success during this most wonderful time of year:

  • Keep things simple. White dinnerware, such as Mikasa's Ciara dinnerware, which features embossed swirling lines on a durable bone china body, makes a great backdrop to showcase your holiday meal. Look for Ciara, Loria and Ortley white dinnerware sets (16-piece sets) at Macys.com for $99.

  • Add splashes of color and texture. It's OK to mix and match patterns, colors and textures on the table. If you have white or solid colored dishes, layer with decorative salad plates or add seasonal glassware or use red napkins, chargers or placemats to create a holiday atmosphere.

  • Be creative with table decorations. Try using things you have in new ways. Scatter candles, ornaments and greenery down the center of the table. Add some holly leaves and berries to a vase or pitcher to complete the look.

  • Don't skip the details. It's easy to focus on the bigger elements, but small touches can take your spread to another level. Coordinate details, such as place cards, napkin rings and placemats, with the theme to make your tablescape memorable.
End the evening with a crowd-pleasing dessert, such as this Vanilla-Orange Cheesecake with Cranberry Swirl and Gingersnap Crust.

Vanilla-Orange Cheesecake with Cranberry Swirl and Gingersnap Crust

Recipe courtesy of Mikasa.

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 24-32 purchased gingersnap cookies (to make 1 cup crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Simmer cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice and water in saucepan over medium-high heat until berries burst and begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then in blender or food processor puree until smooth. Set sauce aside.
  3. Coat 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Process gingersnaps in food processor until fine; add graham cracker crumbs. With machine running, drizzle in melted butter. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom of prepared springform pan and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Set aside.
  4. In large mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and remaining sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla and 1 tablespoon orange juice, then pour into prepared pan. Drizzle top of cheesecake with 1/4 cup of prepared cranberry sauce, then drag skewer, toothpick or knife tip through sauce to create marbled swirl pattern on top. Place cheesecake on baking sheet and bake on center rack until edges are set and puffed but center is slightly jiggly, about 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Turn oven off, crack door open slightly and allow cheesecake to cool inside for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely at room temperature, then cover cheesecake with tea towel and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Run knife around sides of cheesecake, then release and remove side of pan. To cut, dip blade of thin, sharp knife into hot water (do not wipe dry) and slice into wedges, cleaning blade between each cut to prevent smearing. Serve with remaining cranberry sauce.

SOURCE: Macy's

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dress Up Your Party for the Holidays

Delicious food, fine wine, friends and family. These are a few of everyone’s favorite things during the holiday season.

Luckily, there are a few ways to help you host the ultimate party with family and friends this season without breaking the bank. Shoppers who switch to ALDI can save as much as 50 percent on products such as wine, cooking and baking necessities.*

A menu consisting of mulled wine and beautifully presented appetizers can make your holiday gatherings truly special. Consider these tips from food stylist and loyal ALDI shopper Janice Stahl:
  • Choose a Theme: Introduce a conversation-starter and create excitement amongst guests by choosing a party theme. Host a “Winter White” party that asks guests to wear only white and offer white and sparkling wines and light-colored foods like shrimp, cheeses and shortbread cookies for dessert.
  • Set the Mood: Decorate to create an ambiance that goes with your theme. Bring a winter wonderland indoors with artificial snow sprinkled on tabletops and evergreen branches painted gold and silver placed throughout to create an experience for guests that goes beyond a typical dinner party.
  • Dress Up Your Cheese Tray: Put together a simple but spectacular cheese platter by providing a selection of 3–5 cheeses that have different textures and tastes. Soft cheese, like goat, pairs well with crackers and semi-hard cheese, like manchego, can stand up to the flavors of tangy jams or jellies. Serve smoked cheeses with nuts, such as walnuts, and aged cheeses, like Parmesan, with fresh, crisp vegetables such as celery or cucumber to highlight the flavors that develop during the aging process.
  • Infuse European Charm: Create your own unique version of European mulled wine, a classic combination of red wine and spices that warm together to make a festive drink. Add a bit of French flair by serving savory crepes as an appetizer or sweet crepes for dessert.
  • DIY Dessert: Create a candy buffet in lieu of serving dessert. Use clear glass containers to hold a variety of chocolates, sweets and hard candies, mixing and matching different shapes and sizes for an eye-catching display. Provide small bags and twist ties so guests can customize their dessert and even take some home for later.
Crepe Creations
For an appetizer, dessert or even a midnight delight, offer your guests a crepe creations station, allowing them to try their hand at creating new, interesting and fun flavors on a classic European dish.
  • Offer different types of crepes by adding flavors to the crepe batter such as chocolate, toffee, lemon or even beer.
  • Get creative with unique fillings like almond butter, fruit preserves or roasted pumpkin.
  • Provide toppings like hazelnut spread, whipped ricotta or applesauce for the adventurous guests, but make sure to have more common toppings like powdered sugar, chocolate sauce or whipped cream available as well.
These simple tips and affordable, easy-to-make recipes will help you get ready for the holidays. Visit www.aldi.us for more entertaining ideas.

*Based upon a price comparison of comparable products sold at leading national retail grocery stores.

Apple and Berry Tartlets

$0.12 per serving at ALDI. Recipe courtesy of Chef Jonathan, ALDI Test Kitchen.

  • 2/3 cup Millville Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 cup Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baker’s Corner Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt
  • 1/2 cup Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Tuscan Garden White Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 3 tablespoons Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Baker’s Corner Corn Starch
  • 2 tablespoons Berryhill Raspberry Preserves
  • 3 cups peeled and diced gala apples, (about 3 small apples)
  • 1 cup cranberries, frozen

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. In food processor, process oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Add chilled butter; pulse until butter resembles the size of peas. Add vinegar and water slowly. Mix to form firm dough. Chill pastry dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
    3. In medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients.
    4. Place oatmeal dough on lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 24 three-inch rounds. If dough becomes too warm to work with, roll into ball and refrigerate until chilled. Place dough rounds into muffin cups.
    5. Prick each dough round with fork and bake for 10 minutes; allow to cool.
    6. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in each tartlet and bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.
    7. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Preparation Time  20 minutes
Chill Time  30 minutes
Cook Time  25 minutes
Chill Time  30 minutes
Total Time  1 hr. 45 minutes

Serves  24 tartlets

Shrimp DeJonghe Bites

$2.92 per serving at ALDI. Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, ALDI Test Kitchen.
  • 1 1/2 cups San Zenone Bianco wine
  • 1 cup Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, divided
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper
  • 12 ounces Sea Queen Jumbo Easy Peel Raw Shrimp, thawed and peeled
  • 2 cups Chef’s Cupboard Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 750 milliliter Herres Brut Sparkling bottle
  • 1 package (5.3 ounces) Specially Selected Rosemary Flatbread Crackers

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. In small saucepan, combine wine, 1/2 cup butter, garlic, salt and pepper; simmer 5 minutes.
    3. In 9-by-13-inch pan, lay shrimp in single layer. Pour wine sauce over top.
    4. Melt remaining butter and mix together with breadcrumbs. Press over shrimp and bake for 15 minutes or until shrimp is pink and breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
    5. Pour glasses of Brut Sparkling.
    6. Carefully place shrimp atop bite-size cracker and balance on top of champagne flute. Serve.
Preparation Time  10 minutes
Cook Time  30 minutes
Total Time  40 minutes

Serves  8

Fresco Cheese Crostini with Pumpkin Mojo

$0.52 per serving at ALDI. Recipe courtesy of Chef Michelle, ALDI Test Kitchen.


  • 1/2 Specially Selected French Baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Stonemill Essentials Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tablespoon Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Baker’s Corner 100% Pure Canned Pumpkin
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 5 ounces Benita Fresco Cheese, sliced into 10 rectangles
  • 2 1/2 cups SimplyNature Organic Baby Arugula

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. In large bowl, combine baguette slices and 1/4 cup oil, toss until coated. Place in single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Reserve.
    3. In medium bowl, combine chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, pumpkin, orange zest, orange juice, lime zest and lime juice. Gradually whisk in remaining oil. Reserve.
    4. Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear fresco cheese on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool. Slice each rectangle on diagonal.
    5. Arrange baguette slices on serving platter. Top each with few pieces of arugula followed by slice of fresco cheese. Drizzle with pumpkin mojo.
Preparation Time  20 minutes
Cook Time  20 minutes
Total Time  40 minutes

Serves 25 crostini


Savory Holiday Flavors Made Simple

A holiday season filled with gatherings and celebrations with friends and family calls for easy dishes that bring exquisite flavor to your festivities. One way to spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating is to plan for quick-prep dishes you can have on the table with next-to-no fuss.

The perfect centerpiece to your holiday table, Smithfield's Signature Spiral Sliced Ham is fully cooked, hickory-smoked and easy to prepare. All you need are a few sides and your meal is complete. You can use the leftover slices to create a delicious next-day brunch or lunch dish, like this Ham and Cheddar Cranberry Melt.

If you're in need of a simple holiday hors d'oeuvre or entertaining recipe that you can plan ahead, look for convenient meal-helpers like Smithfield's Sweet & Smoky Pork Roast. Pre-seasoned and perfect for the slow cooker, this roast delivers tender, juicy perfection with minimal prep work. Plus, it can serve as the base for an endless number of festive dishes, like these sweet and savory Barbecue Pull-Apart Sliders.

For more quick and easy holiday recipes, visit Smithfield.com.

Ham and Cheddar Cranberry Melt

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 sandwiches

  • 8 slices bread
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 pounds Smithfield Signature Spiral Sliced Ham, sliced
  • 3/4 pound white cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 3 cups (2 ounces) salad greens
  1. Heat heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Butter one side of two slices of bread then turn buttered side down. Top one slice with 5 ounces ham slices and the other with 3 ounces cheese slices; transfer to skillet face up and cook 5-7 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned and cheese is beginning to melt.
  3. Remove sandwich halves from skillet and transfer to cutting board and repeat to make three additional sandwiches.
  4. Top ham side with cranberry sauce and greens, and place cheese side of bread on top to finish sandwich. Cut in half to serve.

Barbecue Pull-Apart Sliders

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Makes: 18 sliders

  • 1 Smithfield Sweet & Smoky Pork Roast
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 18 jalapeno or butter Hawaiian dinner rolls, sliced in half horizontally
  • 9 dill pickle stackers, cut in half
  • 5 large slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • barbecue seasoning
  1. Place roast in 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Cook on high 4-5 hours (Low: 8-10 hours).
  2. Heat oven to 375 F.
  3. Remove roast from cooker; discard juices. Use tongs or two forks to pull pork; mix in barbecue sauce.
  4. Arrange bottom half of rolls in 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Spoon pulled pork evenly over top. Place dill pickle on each sandwich and lay cheese slices on top to cover all sandwiches.
  5. Place tops on rolls and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle tops with barbecue seasoning.
  6. Bake about 15 minutes until cheese is melted and top buns are slightly crisp. Serve warm.

SOURCE: Smithfield

Host Guests with Good Holiday Cheer

When guests drop by unexpectedly this holiday season, keep your good cheer intact with a kitchen well-stocked for easy impromptu entertaining. Appetizers you can prepare with minimal hands-on time and simple enhancements to easy leftovers will make you a gracious, if not gourmet, host.

To whip up special dishes on the fly, you’ll need a few key ingredients on hand. Most drop-in guests aren’t expecting a full meal, so plan instead for lighter fare, such as appetizers and desserts. Use these tips to get started:
  • Get creative with the leftovers you have on hand. Turkey can be mixed with vegetables and hummus to create a salad, sandwich or wrap to instantly transform leftover turkey into a treat so tasty your guests won’t even know they’re helping clean out the fridge.
  • Rely on versatile ingredients that can pull their weight in many ways. Hummus is perfect for easy entertaining because you can use it in countless ways, from dipping with chips or veggies to easy appetizers and side dishes. Sabra's line of refrigerated hummus, with 13 flavor combinations to match any recipe, is perfect for a wide variety of uses, and it provides a healthier alternative to traditional snack foods and spreads. In fact, eating two tablespoons of hummus a day helps fulfill your bean requirement for the week.
  • Find an easy dessert or two that you can make ahead of time and keep fresh for surprise visitors. Cookies, candies and brownies are all good choices because they store easily. If you’re looking for something more, bread puddings keep up to a week in the fridge for easy reheating, and many pies can be made and frozen ahead of time to simply pop in the oven when guests arrive.
Look for more recipes to make your holiday entertaining easy at sabra.com.

Turkey Salad

Serves  2

  • 1 cup turkey breast, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons diced red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup Sabra Hummus
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir well.
  2. Serve in bowl of radicchio as salad, on sandwiches, wraps or as an appetizer with veggies, chips or pita bread.

Twice Baked Potato Jackets with Rosemary

Serves 16
  • 8 small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup Sabra Classic Hummus
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • salt and pepper
  • sea salt

  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Scrub potatoes and poke with fork 2-3 times to allow steam to escape while baking.
  3. Place whole potatoes on rimmed sheet pan and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (depending on size of potatoes) or until potatoes are soft; cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop inside into bowl, leaving about 1/4-inch ring of potato around edges.
  5. Lightly mash potato chunks in bowl; add hummus and stir until combined. Season mixture with salt and pepper, taste and adjust if necessary.
  6. Using spoon, divide potato-hummus filling evenly among potato jackets and broil for 5-7 minutes or until tops are golden and crispy; watch carefully as they burn quickly.
  7. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with rosemary and a pinch of sea salt. Serve immediately.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Holiday Cocktails!

Something merry, berry and bright.  Create the illusion of a tasty Elf’s kiss by muddling the flavors of cranberry and candied ginger.  The layered green and red hues also give this cocktail an extra festive flare.  Or opt for a creamier after dinner drink with the Holly-Daze cocktail, a rich combination of milk, citrus and melon.  Additional holiday recipe highlights include:

·         Seasonal Ingredients such as candied ginger and fresh cranberries
·         Festive Garnishes including colorful sprinkles and wrapped holly berries
·         Vibrant Hues of red & green or blue & white for garnish

Midori’s Elf Kiss

By Eric Fura of California

1.5 parts Midori Melon Liqueur
1.5 parts Sweet & Sour
1 part Skyy Infusions Citrus
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
2 ½ inch squares of Fresh Ginger
Top with Cranberry Juice
A floater of Orange Liqueur
Garnish:  candied ginger and a cranberry.

Fill tall glass with ice, pour Midori as the bottom layer.  Muddle fresh ginger and juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Add sweet & sour and Skyy Infusions Citrus.  Shake with ice.  Strain and pour over the bottom layer. Finally, carefully top with cranberry juice and a floater of Orange Liqueur.  Garnish with candied ginger and a cranberry.

Midori Holly-Daze

By Rob Husted of Florida

1 ¼ parts Midori Melon liqueur
¾ part Skyy Infusions Citrus
1 part Finest Call Simple Syrup
1 part Half & Half
1 Raw Egg (No Shell)

Procedure: Combine Ingredients into a mixing tin with ice. Shake hard for 30 seconds & Strain into a 10oz glass over fresh ice.

Garnish:  Depending on holiday, Red & Green or Blue & Silver sprinkles

Holiday Soups with Heart

Share the warmth of the season by opening your heart and home to family and friends with healthy holiday soups.

Beyond bringing the holiday spirit home with these delicious soup recipes, Princess House, respected for its quality, artfully designed cookware and home entertaining products, including stockpots ranging from 8-Qt. for everyday needs to 45-Qt. for larger gatherings, is lending a helping hand with the Share the Warmth campaign. The company is donating 600 stainless steel stockpots, backed by a lifetime warranty, to organizations that feed the hungry and help those in need, providing lasting, quality cookware that will assist with nourishing thousands of people for years to come.
Some of the donated cookware is featured in these recipes, created by the Food Network’s “Chopped” champion Chef Katsuji Tanabe. Find more recipes and quality cookware for all your holiday entertaining needs at princesshouse.com.

Share the Warmth with a Dinner Party
This holiday season is the perfect time to start a new tradition: a Share the Warmth dinner party that lets you share the joy of giving at home and with others during the holidays.
  • Contact a local organization that feeds the hungry and helps those in need and request a list of food items needed this holiday season.
  • When inviting guests, also give them the list of food items and ask them to bring a donation.
  • Consider inviting a representative from the organization so they can share information about what they do and who they serve.
  • Take the donated food items to the local organization, or if a representative joins the party, give the donated food items to the representative that evening.
  • Repeat every year, and your Share the Warmth dinner party will soon become a holiday tradition cherished by all of your guests.
For more holiday recipes, visit princesshouse.com/sharethewarmth.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Charred Vegetables

Serves 6
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

  • 1/2 cup chopped piloncillo
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups large butternut squash, cubed and peeled
  • 4 whole large carrots, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup white corn kernels, washed
  • 1/4 cup small diced Mexican squash
  • 1 large jalapeno, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 3 fresh epazote leaves (or fresh coriander leaves if epazote is not available)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine piloncillo, cumin, butternut squash and whole carrots. Toss to evenly coat and place on large baking dish. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, reserving about 1/4 of roasted vegetables. Cube carrots into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  4. In Princess Heritage Stainless Steel Classic 8-Qt. stockpot, heat olive oil. Saute about half the garlic, chipotle pepper, remaining carrots and butternut squash, and vegetable stock. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Working in batches, transfer cooked stock and vegetables to blender and puree. When complete, return to stockpot to keep warm for serving.
  6. Meanwhile, heat medium-sized skillet. Add corn, Mexican squash, jalapeno, epazote, remaining garlic and reserved butternut squash and carrots.
  7. Quickly saute to lightly char (not burn) veggies. Keep watch and stir when needed for 3-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  8. To serve, divide soup among six bowls. Top off soup with charred vegetables. Garnish with toasted pepitas and a drizzle of olive oil.

Autumn Stew

Serves 10
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 small white onions, small diced
  • 2 chile negros (dried pasilla chile peppers), finely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, small diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups white beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 8 quarts low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 large butternut squash, small diced
  • 1 acorn squash, small diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, medium diced
  • 1 yam, medium diced
  • 1/8 cup sea salt or kosher salt
  • 3 cups leftover roasted turkey, dark and white meat, cubed
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 3 leaves fresh sage
  • 4 cups fresh mint, stemmed and chopped

  1. In Princess Heritage Stainless Steel Classic 15-Qt. Stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, pasilla and poblano peppers. Cook until onions just become translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until it becomes soft and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add beans and enough broth to cover them. Cook until beans are soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining vegetables and season to taste with salt. Allow to simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. With a handheld immersion blender, do four quick pulses to blend some of the soup and vegetables to make soup a little creamy without additional fat or cream.
  4. Add turkey; cook another 5 minutes. Drizzle in vinegar to help balance sweetness; season to taste with sea salt.
  5. Serve stew with plenty of fresh herbs (thyme, sage and mint).

SOURCE:  Princess House

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Cocktail Tips for Winter Entertaining

Winter is the perfect time for entertaining guests in the comfort of your home -- and nothing beats cozying up by the fireplace with a delectable winter cocktail.

From warming treats to rich flavor concoctions, vodka can be a terrific ingredient for wintertime cocktails.

A party calls for something special. If you’re going to be serving cocktails, get prepared with creative, festive spirits and mixers. Plan ahead with some simple, fun recipes for a cozy cocktail party without all the hassle.

For instance, check out the more than 40 playful flavors that Pinnacle Vodka offers such as Pinnacle Raspberry and Pinnacle Whipped – as well as its premium Original variety – which are great for any cool weather gathering.

Need some mixology inspiration? This recipe for Hot Cocoa is sure to warm up the crowd:

• 1 part Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

• 2 parts Hot Chocolate

• Pour into a mug and garnish with whipped cream and cherries.

 Having friends over for a boozy brunch? Watching the game? Let this Sunday Funday recipe make a splash with partygoers.

• 1 part Pinnacle Original Vodka

• 2 parts Tomato Juice

• Dash of Tabasco Sauce

• Dash of Horseradish

• Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

• Shake, then add celery and other fun toppings.

More information, recipes and entertaining inspiration can be found at www.PinnacleVodka.com and www.TheCocktailProject.com.

Amid the fun, remember, please drink responsibly!

Source:  State Point Media

Festive Fun with Cookies and Cocoa

Treat your holiday guests to something special this Christmas. From mouth-watering spritz cookie recipes that will outshine the rest, to delicious hot cocoa boosted with salted caramel and an edible candy spoon on the side, you’ll be the host with the most in no time at all.

Spritz Cookies with a Little Glitz
You know gingerbread and sugar cookie, but do you recall the most impressive cookie of all? Spritz cookies are fast and fun. Use a Wilton Cookie Press to make dozens of delicious, perfectly-shaped uniform cookies quickly. Add a spritz of edible silver or gold Color Mist Food Color Spray to make them shiny and bright.

Santa’s Favorite Spritz Cookie
Indulge Santa’s sweet tooth with decadent chocolate spritz cookie sandwiches filled with a layer of peppermint icing. Take a shortcut by using decorator icing that is already flavored and ready to squeeze, perfect for the time-crunched holidays.

Ho-Ho-Hot Cocoa with a Twist
There’s nothing quite as comforting as a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter day, but add a dash of salted caramel flavor and you’re in for a real treat. Made with velvety Dark Cocoa Candy Melts candy, steamed milk and a splash of Treatology Salted Caramel flavor, this cocoa offers just the right balance of salty and sweet.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookie Spoons
The delicious taste of sweet, baked Christmas cookies is captured in the Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Flavor Candy Melts candy and made into edible candy spoons with a microwaveable Spoon-Shaped Silicone Candy Mold.

For more holiday ideas and inspiration, visit wilton.com.

Sugar Cookie Candy Spoons

Serves 24 spoons

  • Wilton Sugar Cookie Candy Melts Candy (12-ounce bag)
  • Wilton Christmas Candy Spoon Mold
  • Wilton 12-inch Disposable Decorating Bags

  1. Break 12 candy wafers in half and place in cavities of mold. Place mold in microwave and microwave at half power or defrost setting for 1 minute. Gently jiggle and lightly tap mold to smooth melted candy. Continue to microwave and tap at 30-second intervals until smooth and completely melted.
  2. Alternate melting method: Melt candy in disposable decorating bag according to candy package directions. Snip a small tip off end of bag and gently squeeze bag to fill cavities with melted candy.
  3. Chill filled mold until candy spoons have hardened, about 10-15 minutes. Place mold on flat surface and gently push on bottom of cavities to release candy.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Serves 4 cups

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup Dark Cocoa Candy Melts Candy
  • 1/4 teaspoon Wilton Treatology Salted Caramel Flavor Concentrate

  1. In large saucepan, cook milk on medium heat until hot; remove from heat. Whisk in candy and flavor concentrate. Continue whisking until candy is melted and mixture is smooth. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Peppermint Spritz Sandwich Cookies

Serves 4 dozen sandwiches

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Wilton Peppermint Decorating Icing

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough.
  4. Place dough into cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool cookies on pan on cooling grid 2 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on grid.
  5. Sandwich cookies together with Peppermint Decorating Icing.

Metallic Spritz Cookies

Serves 10 dozen cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Wilton Imitation Almond Extract
  • Silver Color Mist Food Color Spray
  • Gold Color Mist Food Color Spray
  • Buttercream icing
  • Wilton Silver Sugar Pearls
  • Wilton Gold Sugar Pearls

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and extracts; mix well. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, mixing to make smooth dough. Do not chill.
  4. Place dough into cookie press using an 8-petal flower disk and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool cookies on pan on cooling grid 2 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on grid. You will need two cookies per treat.
  5. Use silver or gold Color Mist food color spray to spray cookies. Let dry, about 3-5 minutes. Turn cookies over and spray underside. Let dry, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Prepare buttercream icing or use pre-made buttercream icing. Use tip 12, cut disposable decorating bag and icing to pipe elongated beads on bottom of one cookie, following cookie shape. Sandwich two cookies together.
  7. Use tip 4, cut disposable decorating bag and icing to pipe a dot in center of sandwich cookie. Top dot with either silver or gold sugar pearls.

SOURCE:   Wilton

Friday, December 2, 2016

How to Give Your Favorite Host a Helping Hand

The merrymaking experts at Ocean Spray share top ways to give the most to your host this holiday season

 Every host knows, 'tis the season to light up the party circuit by adding an abundance of glitz and glam to every gathering. From the neighborhood cookie swap, to the New Year's Eve bash, the holiday season is filled with soirees galore!  Whether the host is a cocktail connoisseur, an entertaining enthusiast, or a holiday decor devotee, a helping hand is always appreciated. 

So how can you be a "guest that will impress?" It's as simple as clicking your rhinestone red shoes three times and bringing a gift that helps your host shine! What better way to dazzle your host and fellow guests than by including the fruit that's the life of the holiday party – the amazing cranberry! No other fruit shines brighter during the holiday season – from colorful ways to deck the halls, to a festive flavor that adds flair to cookies, crafts and cocktails. Bring this tiny red berry as your plus one and you're sure to be the best guest on the list!

Be the ultimate host helper with these cranberry inspired gifts:
Decor They'll Adore: 

Deck the halls for your holiday decor devotee with a crimson creation made from the heart – and cranberries, of course.  Easy DIY decor gifts like a Holiday Kissing Ball, a Cranberry Topiary or a Cranberry Holiday Wreath will help the host set the scene for celebrating.

Cranberry Cocktail a la carte:   Help your cocktail connoisseur serve up swanky cocktails by stocking the bar cart with festive ingredients and garnishes, such as sugared cranberries and swizzle sticks. Toast the host with a wintery White Cosmopolitan or a Champagne and Cranberry Juice Sparkling Punch.

Appetizer Accoutrements:  Not sure of your holiday host's style? Top tables and palates with ornate appetizer options that can be unwrapped and readied at a moment's notice. Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish, Cranberry Bruschetta and Cranberry Herb Butter are easy gifts to give in decorative jars with a wheel of brie or a baguette.

Night Cap Noshes:  Help your entertaining enthusiast send guests home with a sweet memento. Beautifully appointed Merry Mint Cookies and Santa's Hot Cocoa Cookies served on a pretty platter or individually wrapped for guests to take home will help your host wrap up the night on a high note!

Whether you are hosting or a guest, Ocean Spray has plenty of new ideas to help you celebrate the holidays in style on its Plan-It guide. Have a gift worth sharing? Join the conversation on Ocean Spray® Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages.

About Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray is a vibrant agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 cranberry and grapefruit growers in the United States, Canada and Chile who have helped preserve the family farming way of life for generations. Formed in 1930, Ocean Spray is now the world's leading producer of cranberry juices, juice drinks and dried cranberries and is the best-selling brand in the North American bottled juice category. The cooperative's cranberries are currently featured in more than a thousand great-tasting, good-for-you products in over 100 countries worldwide. With more than 2,000 employees and nearly 20 cranberry receiving and processing facilities, Ocean Spray is committed to managing our business in a way that respects our communities, employees and the environment. For more information visit: www.oceanspray.com or www.oceanspray.coop

SOURCE Ocean Spray

All About Desserts

Holiday treats you can make with the family

A staple of the holidays, flavorful desserts bring a seasonal spread together like nothing else, and whipping up those desserts is a perfect time to spend some quality time with your family. From cookies that are sure to quickly disappear to a classic cheesecake and a berry-inspired twist on a holiday favorite, an array of tantalizing desserts can keep your family and friends around the dinner table long after the main course has been devoured, and give your family a new activity to bond over.

Made to Vanish
When it comes to holiday baking, it’s often the simplest ingredients and classic recipes that resonate best with everyone. One of which is Quaker’s Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – a family favorite that’s been featured under the lid of the Quaker Old Fashioned Oats canister for 20 years. A kitchen staple for 100 percent whole grain baking needs, the Quaker Oats canister is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Find more oats recipes and learn more about the iconic oat canister at quakeroats.com.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Makes: 4 dozen
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter, softened, plus 6 tablespoons
  • 3/4       cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup granulated sugar
  • 2          eggs
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1          teaspoon baking soda
  • 1          teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3          cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1          cups raisins
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown.
  4. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; move to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

A Holiday Classic Sure to Please
Be sure to remember around the holidays that special can be simple, and recipes do not need to be complex to be guest-worthy. Keep your kitchen stocked with a few key ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which is perfect in this rich Classic Cheesecake and other desserts, but it also lends a creamy texture to appetizers and main dishes. Find more tips and recipes to make your holiday entertaining sparkle at creamcheese.com.

Classic Cheesecake

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 5 hours, 45 minutes (including refrigerating)
Makes: 16 servings
  • 1 1/2    cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3          tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3       cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 4          packages (8 ounces each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1          cup sugar
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 4          eggs
  • 1          cup canned cherries
  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Mix graham crumbs, sugar and butter; press into bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each until blended. Pour over crust.
  4. Bake 1 hour, or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with canned cherries, if desired.
A Holiday Treat Straight From Your Freezer
For a festive twist to your holiday sweets, look no further than your freezer. Aside from a bright, joyful color, frozen red raspberries’ sweet and tart flavors allow them to complement and enhance a wide range of ingredients. They also boast the most fiber and the lowest natural sugar content compared to other berries. This Raspberry Greek Yogurt Bark is sure to warm your loved ones’ hearts with the taste of the holidays. Find more recipes worth sharing this holiday season at redrazz.org.

Raspberry Greek Yogurt Bark

Recipe courtesy of NourishRDs.com
  • 2   cups plain, reduced-fat (2%) Greek yogurt
  • 1   lemon, zest only
  • 2   tablespoons honey
  • 1   cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  1. Line small baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In medium bowl, combine first 3 ingredients. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add berries, pistachios and almonds to mixture. Fold in until well incorporated. Spread mixture in baking pan and place in freezer for about 2-3 hours, or until hardened.
  4. Once hardened, remove bark from pan and either cut or break up into pieces. Allow to thaw about 5 minutes before eating.
Notes: Store remaining bark in freezer. You can experiment with any ingredients you have on hand, such as frozen cherries with dark chocolate chunks, frozen blueberries with unsweetened flaked coconut or dried cranberries with pecans.

Family Features

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Bold Take on Seasonal Classics

Push your taste buds’ boundaries as the holiday season approaches with bold flavors and new spins on classic seasonal favorites, including savory pork recipes.

As host of the Food Network’s “Chopped,”Ted Allen knows a thing or two about experimenting with different flavors in seasonal dishes, making heartburn an occupational hazard in his line of work. That’s why Allen has teamed up with the PEPCID® brand and its Tastemakers program to enable foodies in their pursuit of great tastes.

“Whether trying new restaurants or tasting dishes on set, I keep their products on hand because they act fast and last, taste great and prevent my heartburn from getting in the way of enjoying a variety of bold flavors,” Allen said.
Savor these recipes and learn more about how to enjoy end-of-meal moments this holiday season by visiting facebook.com/Pepcid.

Thai Pork and Herb Salad with Crispy Shallots

Serves 1
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

  • 1 cup grape seed or other neutral oil
  • 1 large shallot, sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon oil (from frying shallots), divided
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into thin 1/2 moons
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork loin, sliced into 1/2 inch slices, each slice quartered
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons sliced scallion greens

  1. In skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add shallots when it starts to shimmer and stir with slotted spoon until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, drain on paper towels and set aside to garnish top of salad.
  3. In salad bowl, add fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon oil from shallots and whisk to combine before adding red onion.
  4. Place wok or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of shallot oil.
  5. Heat until almost smoking and add half the pork strips and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, turning once so strips brown, and add bowl of dressing. Repeat with the rest of the remaining pork and mix to combine.
  6. Add basil, mint, cilantro and scallions and toss to combine. Garnish with fried shallots.

Ribs with Homemade Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • 4 1/2 pounds pork ribs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 package (6 ounces) fresh raspberries
  • 3 chipotle peppers from a can of chipotles in adobo more if you like things extra spicy
  • 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce from the peppers
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste from a tube
  • 5 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons water or more if your sauce is extra thick

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place ribs on roasting pan and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Flip ribs and cook for 20 more minutes.
  4. While ribs are cooking, combine remaining ingredients in blender and pulse on high. Once thick, scrape into bowl.
  5. Reduce oven to 325 F and baste ribs with sauce. Cook for another hour.
  6. Repeat twice, basting once an hour.
  7. Serve with extra sauce on the side and plenty of paper towels, as these are finger licking good and messy fun.