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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.



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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.


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    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.


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    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.


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    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.


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