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Archive for November, 2011

GIFT: The Best Peppermint Bark

The best peppermint bark we’ve ever had.
Don’t miss it! Photo courtesy Enstrom.


We’ve tried every peppermint bark we’ve come across. And the winner:

Peppermint Bark from Enstrom Candies of Grand Junction, Colorado.

It’s a perfect blend of top-quality dark and white chocolate with crushed peppermint candy and chocolate cookie pieces. We admit to total addiction.

And we have to stock up on it, because it’s only made during the holiday season.

We promise you: Anyone you give a box to will tell you it’s the best peppermint bark they’ve ever had.

And they’ll pine for December 2012, when another box might come their way.

Enstrom Candies are certified kosher.

Get yours at The Nibble Gourmet Market—home to our very favorite treats.




TIP OF THE DAY: 41 Things To Do With Leftover Ham

A week later, we are still working our way through leftover Thanksgiving ham.

We received a lovely ham gift basket from The ham was about 10 pounds, and joined a large turkey and five sides to feed a group of eight. Needless to say, plenty of everything was left after the meal.

While the other leftovers were polished off by Sunday, we’re still munching on lots of leftover ham. We developed this list of 41 recipe ideas, and have been ticking them off three times a day. Yes, it’s a ham-a-thon: a ham marathon. Let us know what we’ve left off the list.

Leftover Ham For Breakfast & Brunch

  • Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, ham and shredded cheese in a tortilla wrap)
  • Congee (Chinese rice porridge—make it with Cream of Rice) with diced ham, pea and scallions
  • Chef salad (with the leftover turkey)
  • Homemade “Egg McMuffins”

    Ideas to finish our leftover ham. Photo courtesy

  • Eggs Benedict (poached eggs and ham on English muffins with hollandaise sauce)
  • Frittata or omelet
  • Ham croissants (roll shredded ham in refrigerated croissant dough)
  • Ham and eggs, any style
  • Ham and waffle “sandwich”
  • Quiche
    Leftover Ham For Lunch

  • Croque Monsieur (a hot grilled ham and cheese sandwich with Emmental or Gruyère)
  • Ham & grilled cheese with Brie, Cheddar or other favorite cheese (pineapple slice optional)
  • Ham salad
  • Ham salad/egg salad combo (add diced hard-cooked eggs to the ham salad)
  • Ham salad in a red bell pepper
  • Ham sandwiches with special condiments: chutney, cranberry-horseradish relish, honey mustard, chipotle or wasabi mayonnaise
    Leftover Ham In Sides

  • Canned soup—split pea soup, lentil soup, vegetable soup, cream of asparagus soup, etc.—with diced ham
  • From-scratch soup with the ham bone (split pea, lentil, vegetable)
  • Green beans and/or Brussels sprouts with julienned ham
  • “Ham and Swiss” baked potato
  • Ham fried rice
  • Mashed potatoes (white or sweet) with diced ham
  • Rice with ham, peas, corn and pimento strips
  • Queso asado (baked cheese) with ham
    Leftover Ham For Dinner

  • Fettuccine Alfredo with julienned ham
  • Ham and pineapple skewers
  • Ham, potato and root vegetable casserole
  • Ham and potato gratin
  • Ham and pineapple pizza
  • Ham pot pie
  • Ham skewers with mushrooms, onion, bell peppers and pineapple
  • Mac and cheese with ham
  • Pasta any style with ham, peas, broccoli florets, red bell pepper or pimento
  • Roasted potatoes with diced bell peppers, onion and ham
  • Spinach salad with ham instead of bacon
  • Stir-fried vegetables and ham
    Leftover Ham For Cocktails & Hors d’Oeuvre

  • Cubed ham cocktail garnish for Bloody Marys and Martinis
  • Deviled eggs with a small dice of ham (we call it “ham and eggs”)
  • Deviled ham on biscuits, in mushroom caps, on sandwiches and canapés
  • Ham canapés (thin slices on bread or crackers with any garnish you like—sliced olives are the easiest)
  • Salumi or cold cuts platter (slice the ham very thin, like prosciutto)
    Still have leftover ham?

    Cut it into single portions to defrost for lunch or dinner, or cube and freeze for soup garnishes, omelets, casseroles, etc.

    Find ham recipes in our Pork Section.

    Take our ham trivia quiz.



    PRODUCT: Fresh Goat Cheese (Chèvre)

    Get it while you can: pumpkin goat cheese
    for the holidays.


    The wife of a farmer in Hiram,* Ohio, Jean Mackenzie took her first cheese-making class in June 2007 and was licensed to produce cheese that October.

    Two weeks later, she entered her chèvres (goat cheeses) in the National Cheese Competition sponsored by the American Dairy Goat Association. She won two Best of Show awards, two First Place awards and one Second Place award. Awards continued to roll in, most recently at the 2011 American Cheese Society competition (for her Apricot Ginger Chèvre).

    In addition to plain chèvre logs, Mackenzie Creamery makes flavored logs that tempt us to hold a goat-out (really a pig-out, where we dig into every flavor). The flavors include Black Truffle, Blue, Blueberry Lemon, Cranberry Orange, Garlic Chive, Herbes de Provence, Honey, Sweet Piquant and seasonal Toasted Pumpkin.


    There are also small tubs of flavored chèvres: Apricot Ginger, Cognac Fig (with Courvoisier Cognac), Sweet Fire and Tomato. The chutney or syrup flavorings are on the bottom of the cup, so that when the cheese is inverted onto a plate, they turn into a topping. Just add crackers, graham crackers and/or baguette slices and serve.

    Toasted Pumpkin and Cranberry Orange chevre logs are wonderful additions to holiday tables. The Toasted Pumpkin tastes like pumpkin cheesecake.

    Tips straight from the cheese-maker:

  • Fresh goat cheese should be kept as cold as possible without freezing (33°F–35°F). It will keep in the fridge for two to three weeks.
  • To open a plastic-wrapped log, use a scissors to snip off a small bit of one corner to create a ”V.” Run the scissors or a sharp knife around the edges and remove the wrapper.
  • It’s easy to slice fresh goat cheese cleanly with a piece of dental floss.
  • Serve all cheese at room temperature. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator one hour before serving.
  • Store leftover goat cheese covered tightly in plastic wrap. You need to keep out air, which allows mold to grow. If small specks of mold develop, just trim them away and enjoy the rest of the cheese.
  • Discard any cheese that develops an off-odor, strange colors or more than a touch of mold.
  • Like all cheeses, chèvre ripens as it ages. It will develop a stronger flavor in a week or two (but won’t get “goaty” like aged goat cheese).
  • Fresh goat cheese freezes beautifully for up to 6 months.
    For retail locations or to buy online, visit the website,

    Find out why goat cheese is a good choice for lactose-intolerant people.

    Find a trove of cheese information, plus reviews of our favorite cheeses, in our Cheese Section.

    *While Hiram, Ohio may become famous as the location of Mackenzie Creamery, it was also the residence of a U.S. president. James A. Garfield lived there as a college student, instructor and then principal at what is today Hiram College. He also married a Hiram girl, Lucretia Rudolph. Several of their children were born there, including Harry Augustus Garfield, who became president of Williams College, and James Rudolph Garfield, who became the 23rd Secretary of the Interior under President Theodore Roosevelt.



    GIFTS: Cake Pops Book & Cake Pops To Buy

    We are, unabashedly, crazy for cake pops.

    Ever since we first discovered them in 2007 and made them a Top Pick Of The Week, cake pops have been our favorite party cake.

    That they’re delightful food-on-a-stick is one reason. That they’re very festive is another. They can be glamorous or adorable, depending on the occasion.

    But our personal favorite reason for loving cake pops—aside from deliciousness—is portion control. We love cake, and cake pops take the portion size down several notches.

    Cake Pops For Everyone

    Cake pop blogger Molly Bakes (her nom de plume) has put 50 irresistable cake pop designs into a recipe book, Crazy For Cake Pops.

    At about $10 a copy, think of it as a holiday gift for everyone who loves to bake. Hopefully, they’ll fall in love with making cake pops, and you’ll be the lucky recipient of some of them.


    The most delightful book of the season: Crazy For Cake Pops. Photo courtesy Ulysses Press.


    For a sure thing, check out our favorite cake pops, ready to buy and eat.

    You’re not the only one who deserves a treat of cake pops: Every sweets-lover on your gift list deserves them, too.



    RECIPE: Fig Cocktail For Fall & Winter

    A fig cocktail for fall and winter. Photo
    courtesy Linnea Johansson.


    Here’s another special seasonal cocktail recipe, developed by Linnea Johansson, a New York City-based chef and party planner. Use it to treat your guests to something they’ve never had before.

    The recipe makes one cocktail.



  • 2 ounces vodka (for excellent bargain vodka, try Russian Standard or Wódka)
  • 1/2 ounce maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fig purée (muddled figs or fig jam)
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 ounce ginger beer
  • Ice
  • Garnish: a honey comb “log” dipped in maple syrup; alternate garnish, 1 small fig


    1. Muddle the fruit and syrup in a shaker, or add fig jam (which will add more sweetness to the cocktail). Add the lemon juice and vodka.
    2. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a glass and top with ginger beer.
    3. For garnish, dip a slice of honey comb into maple syrup and place atop the cocktail. (We didn’t want to create a potential mess of honeycomb dipped in maple syrup, leading to guests with sticky fingers, so we used a plump little fig, notched on the bottom and set on the rim.)

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes in our Cocktails & Spirits Section.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Measurement Conversion Magnet

    How often do you come across recipes that require you to do conversions? Converting fluid ounces to tablespoons and cups is always a challenge for us!

    While there are conversion tools online, you won’t need to run to the computer if you have a measurement magnet on the fridge.

    This handsome and easy-to-read brushed stainless steel magnet (see photo) easily converts cups, fluid ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons and milliliters.

    You can also use it to hold your shopping list on the fridge. And it’s a truly useful gift for friends who cook.

    You can buy the magnet online for $11.90.


    This easy-to-read magnet gives you recipe
    measurement conversions. Photo courtesy Endurance Kitchen.


    The manufacturer notes that “Magnets will not always stick to stainless steel surfaces.” If other magnets stick to your fridge, then these will. If magnets don’t adhere to your fridge, just use Scotch Restickable Strips.



    PRODUCT: Adult Chocolate Milk

    Chocolate milk for adults: Delicious! Photo
    courtesy Adult Beverage Company.


    Love chocolate? Like vodka? Need a delightful alcoholic gift?

    Take a look at Adult Chocolate Milk, a liquid confection made from real cream. While the company positions it as an alcohol-infused chocolate milk, to us it’s more of a creamy chocolate milkshake. Either way, no complaints.

    Adult Chocolate Milk may be one of the first products manufactured as the result of a Facebook post.

    A couple of years ago, one of the company’s founders updated her Facebook page to say, “Tracy is enjoying some Adult Chocolate Milk.” Friends began inquiring about the recipe, or where they could buy a bottle. Another friend, with experience in management and manufacturing, read the post and became Tracy’s business partner.

    Now, we can all enjoy some Adult Chocolate Milk! It’s only 40 proof, half the alcohol of conventional spirits. (Straight spirits are at least 80 proof, or 40% alcohol.)

    We drink it from a brandy snifter. The nose is a combination of cream and vodka with a hint of cocoa. On the palate it’s a creamy spiked milkshake, subtly flavored with chocolate. It’s very smooth, to the point where you’ll need to hide it from kids.


    The company won’t disclose all of the ingredients, but we imagine that an infusion of chocolate liqueur creates the subtle, chocolaty flavor. Whatever the secret, it tastes great: comfort food in a glass.

    We love sipping Adult Chocolate Milk straight, but you can also use it as a base for cocktails, such as:

  • Chocomintini: Add creme de menthe, peppermint schnapps and vanilla vodka.
  • Chocolate Dipped Raspberry: Add Chambord, rum and vanilla vodka.
  • Naughty Night Cap: amaretto or coffee liqueur and a splash of grenadine.
  • White Delight: amaretto and heavy cream with a nutmeg garnish.
    Get the recipes and more information at

    Adult Chocolate Milk is distributed by W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., and is available at selected retailers, including some Costco stores. To find a retailer near you, write to or telephone 1.949.371.6455 during business hours, Mountain Standard Time.*

    The suggested retail is 17.99 to 19.99 per bottle. Order a case for holiday gifts!

    Find more of our favorite spirits in our Cocktails & Spirits Section.

    *Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time. It remains on Mountain Standard Time year-round. Thus, in the winter months it is in the same time zone as Mountain Time states. In the summer months it is on the same time as Pacific Daylight Time states.



    RECIPE: An Easy Turkey Pot Pie

    Still have leftover turkey? Tired of turkey sandwiches? Want a way to restore that white meat to moistness?

    Make a turkey pot pie. We usually do from-scratch cooking. But a turkey pie made with some prepared ingredients (cream of chicken soup and crust, for example) is easy and fun. You don’t have to spend time making a roux for the filling and reducing chicken stock.

    Our recipe doesn’t use a bottom crust, which gets soggy under the large amount of creamy filling. Instead, you get the equivalent of a deep dish pie with a crisp top crust.

    You can use the same recipe for chicken pot pie.

    Head to the turkey pot pie recipe.

    Do you know your turkey and chicken parts? See the diagram on the bottom of this page, along with a glossary explaining the different parts of the chicken/turkey and how to use them.

    Find more of our favorite chicken and turkey recipes.


    Mmm, turkey pot pie. Photo by M. Sheldrake | IST.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Fall-Winter Cocktail Recipe

    Enjoy this cocktail hot or cold. Photo
    courtesy Zaya Rum.


    With people dropping by over the holidays, you should have some “instant” refreshments on hand.

    Make up a large batch of this tasty apple cider cocktail and keep it in the fridge to grab as needed. Serve it cold, or warm it in the microwave (30 seconds at a time, stirring in between) or on the stove top.

    Here’s the easy recipe, per serving:

  • 6 ounces apple cider
  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • Pour over ice in a highball glass
    Optional garnishes: a slice of apple and/or a cinnamon stick. If you have apple schnapps (liqueur), you can add it to the mix (1/2 ounce per drink) or bring the bottle to the table and let guests add their own.

    We purchased a half-gallon of apple cider, poured 1/3 of it into another container and replaced it with Jameson Irish Whiskey. We added rum to the second container, also in a 3:1 proportion of cider to spirits.


    This cocktail works with any nibbles you have on hand, from salty snacks to cookies and other sweets.



    RECIPES: Gingerbread Latte & Hazelnut Cream Coffee

    After Thanksgiving dinner, we served two specialty coffee recipes that were sent to us by Krups, a leader in coffee and espresso makers and other kitchen appliances.

    Both recipes were hits, and we’ll continue to make them throughout the holiday season. Although guests will appreciate them, you don’t need a special occasion: Make them as a treat for yourself.

    The second recipe is enhanced with liqueurs. You can also add a shot of coffee liqueur to the Gingerbread Latte.



  • 2 fluid ounces espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons gingerbread flavored syrup (also
    available in sugar-free)
  • 1/2 cup milk, steamed
  • 1/8 cup milk, frothed
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder

    Warm up with a gingerbread latte. Photo



    1. In a coffee mug, combine espresso coffee with gingerbread syrup.
    2. Pour in steamed milk and frothed milk. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and vanilla powder. Makes one serving.



  • 1 shot coffee liqueur
  • 1 shot Irish cream
  • 1-1/2 shot hazelnut liqueur
  • 4 cups hot coffee
  • Cream

    1. Mix coffee and liqueurs in a pot. Pour into individual cups.
    2. Serve with a pitcher of cream. Makes four servings.



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