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Archive for Christmas

RECIPE: Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

Delicious with wine or cocktails. Photo


Want a hot and hearty hors d’oeuvre with cocktails? This sausage-stuffed mushroom recipe can be made up to 48 hours in advance, then baked right before you’re ready to serve.

Baby portabella mushroom caps are stuffed with goat cheese, sausage and dried cranberries to create these a most attractive appetizer. A perfect party starter, stuff your mushroom caps up to 48 hours before you’re ready to serve, then bake when needed!


Ingredients For 15 Mushroom Caps

  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian sausage, cooked
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 15 mushroom caps, stems removed
  • Nonstick olive oil spray


    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE goat cheese, sausage, cranberries and garlic in a small bowl.

    4. SPOON filling into the center of each mushroom cap. Spray each mushroom with a thin layer of nonstick olive oil spray and place on a 13″ x 9″ baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft and goat cheese filling is golden.

    This recipe was created by Cheekykitchen works exclusively for Good Cook. Visit for more delicious recipes.

    Find more recipes for in THE NIBBLE’S Appetizers & Hors d’Oeuvre Section.



    RECIPE: Spiced Cranberry Cocktail

    Still looking for the killer Christmas cocktail?

    Try this spiced Cranberry Cocktail from

    The special difference is simple syrup infused with allspice, cloves, fresh ginger, cinnamon and fresh cranberries; then blend with vodka and a splash of club soda. The cranberries and mint leaf are a perfect holiday garnish.

    The simple syrup can be made in advance (just simmer in a saucepan) and stored in the fridge.


    Ingredients For Simple Syrup

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 12 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole cloves

    The cocktail that shouts “Christmas!” Photo courtesy

  • 1 to 1-1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce cranberry syrup
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Optional: 1/2 ounce triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • Ice
  • Garnish: uncooked whole cranberries and mint leaves

    1. MAKE simple syrup. Inspect your spices to be sure they are fresh. Allspice that’s been on your shelf for years won’t pack much of a punch.

    2. COMBINE water, sugar, allspice, cloves, ginger and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, add the cranberries. Bring to a boil and boil until the cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for one hour. Then strain mixture through a fine sieve, gently pressing with the back of a rubber spatula or wood spoon to extract the juices. Cool and refrigerate until ready to make drink.

    3. COMBINE the cranberry syrup, optional triple sec and vodka in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Fill a rocks glass with ice and strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the glass. Top with club soda. Garnish and serve.

    Here’s the full recipe with step-by-step photos.

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.



    HOLIDAY: Family Favorite Jell-O Molds

    Mom’s Lime Gelatin Mold with sour cream
    and pineapple. Photo courtesy


    Mom’s recipe for a Pineapple-Lime Gelatin Mold has been part of our holiday for decades. The recipe arrived way back in the 1960s, on a box of lime Jell-O (we think). Made in a fluted mold, it became a family favorite at Christmas and Easter.

    Mom served it as a side with the turkey or ham; we enjoyed the leftovers as a sweet snack or dessert. And as simple as it is, it’s a favorite of our foodie friends, who invariably ask for the recipe.

    Alas, we didn’t have time to make it and shoot Mom’s recipe, so we’re grateful for the use of this photo from the blog Please Be Seated. It’s actually a different recipe—a cucumber lime mold—but it looks close enough. You can even use the cucumber slices and parsley as shown.

    Here’s the cucumber-lime mold recipe.

    We’ve also included a related recipe for a cranberry gelatin mold. Both are made in a six-cup fluted mold (or substitute any six cup mold you have).


    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings

  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) lime gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Optional garnish: clementine/tangerine segments, cucumber slices, grapes, kumquats, mint, parsley, whole cranberries

    1. DISSOLVE gelatin in water a large bowl. Stir in pineapple; cover and refrigerate until syrupy.

    2. WHISK in sour cream; add pecans. Transfer to a 6-cup ring mold coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Unmold onto a serving plate.

    3. BRING to table plain or filled with optional garnish.



    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely ground
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges
  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced pineapple
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional garnish: clementine/tangerine segments, grapes, kumquats, mint, parsley, whole cranberries

    Cranbrosia: cranberries, oranges, pineapple and sour cream. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home.


    1. COMBINE combine cranberries and sugar in a bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

    2. DRAIN juice from oranges and pineapple, reserving 3/4 cup juice. Cut pineapple into small pieces. Set fruit aside.

    3. SPRINKLE gelatin over reserved juice in a small saucepan; let stand for 1 minute. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add to cranberry mixture; stir in the oranges and pineapple. Fold in sour cream.

    4. BEAT cream until in a small bowl until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Fold into fruit mixture. Pour into a 6-cup ring mold or 12 individual molds lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate until set. Unmold before serving.

    Thanks to Taste Of Home for this yummy recipe.



    RECIPE: Cranberry Infused Vodka

    Your own holiday bottling of cranberry
    infused vodka. Photo courtesy Prairie


    Make cranberry vodka to bring as a house gift or place on your own bar. It will be ready in three to four days.

    It’s easy to craft your own cranberry vodka infusion. Instead of vodka, you can use silver tequila, genever, Plymouth gin or a London gin with a low level of aromatics.

    This recipe is courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits, which makes both organic gin and vodka (including cucumber-infused vodka) in Minnesota.

    The vodka is handcrafted with single vintage organic corn. The line is certified organic by the USDA, which ensures that no genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used. The price: just $19.99 for a 750 ml bottle.




  • Whole fresh cranberries
  • Whole cloves
  • Vodka


    1. POUR 1/3 of the vodka into a pitcher or a measuring cup with a spout and set aside.

    2. FILL the empty bottle space with cranberries and cloves.

    3. TOP OFF the bottle with the reserved vodka and tightly securing the cap.

    4. STORE in the fridge or in dark, cool space for three to four days. Then, it’s ready to serve.

    How about:

  • Espresso-Cinnamon for Valentine’s Day
  • Jalapeño-Horseradish-Garlic for Cinco de Mayo
  • Honeycrisp Apple for Mother’s Day
  • Lemon Lime for Spring
  • Orange-Tangerine for Winter
  • Strawberry Basil for Summer

    It’s easy to infuse vodka: Just add simple ingredient to the bottle. Photo courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits.


    Download the pdfs at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Gingerbread Cupcakes

    Gingerbread cupcakes with “gingerbread
    cookie” frosting and a gingersnap cookie
    garnish. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.


    If you want gingerbread for Christmas Eve but don’t want the chore of rolling out gingerbread men, these easy gingerbread cupcakes from Pillsbury will also delight.

    The frosting is made from Biscoff Spread,* ground spice (spéculoos) cookies in a creamy base. In Europe, it’s called spéculoos spread.

    The all-natural, nut-free spread is made of 57% ground spéculoos cookies (the national cookie of Belgium). And it is luscious.

    Unless you have some relationship to Belgium, France or Holland—or fly Delta Airlines, where they are served as a snack—you may not have heard of spéculoos (SPECK-you-loose; in Dutch, it’s speculaas, pronounced SPECK-e-lahs) cookies. In the U.S. they have been sold as Dutch Windmill cookies.

    You can find Biscoff Spread in the peanut butter section. Trader Joe’s carries a private label version called Cookie Butter.



  • 1 roll (30 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated gingerbread cookies
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional: extra roll Pillsbury refrigerated gingerbread cookies to bake into gingersnap
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper baking cups
    For The Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup Biscoff/Cookie Butter Spread
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Place a paper baking cup in each of 10 regular-size muffin cups.

    2. BRING refrigerated cookie dough to room temperature (let stand on counter for about 10 minutes). Then break up in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well combined and smooth. Spoon into baking cups.

    3. BAKE 14 to 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove muffin cups from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    4. MAKE the frosting. Beat the butter and cookie butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, whipping cream and salt until fluffy. Place in decorating bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.

    5. GARNISH with a gingersnap cookie.

    *The name is a truncation of “biscuits for coffee.”



    RECIPE: Roasted Beet, Avocado and Granny Smith Apple Towers

    Here’s a tasty first course in Christmas colors. It’s one of the many recipes on


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 medium beets, scrubbed with leaves trimmed
  • 1 medium size, ripe Haas avocados
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, diameter close to apples
  • ½ cups goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional:¼ cups parsley, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 2 tablespooons pine nuts
  • Lemon juice as needed

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. WASH and scrub the beets. Pat dry.


    Festive starter: a Beet, Avocado and Apple Tower. Photo courtesy The Amazing Avocado.


    2. PLACE beets on large piece of aluminum foil. Lightly coat with olive oil. Add dash of salt and pepper. For even roasting, wrap foil over, covering beets completely, and crimp ends. Roast until cooked through, 30- 50 minutes. Remove, uncover and let cool. Do not discard oil in the foil; you can use it later as dressing.

    3. CUT the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit and skin. Place the flat side down on a cutting board. Slice horizontally. Squeeze lemon juice on to prevent browning. Cut Granny Smith apple the same way, but leave skin on. Squeeze lemon juice on to prevent browning.

    4. COOL beets until you can handle them. Slip their peels off using your fingers or a paring knife. Slice crosswise. Stack on plate alternating beets, apples and avocados.

    5. SPRINKLE crumbled goat cheese over top. Garnish with parsley and pine nuts if desired. Drizzle the used olive oil from roasting and the rest of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.



    FOOD FUN: Penguin Oreos

    The perfect Oreo for Christmas, New Year’s
    Eve and black tie occasions. Photo courtesy
    Mackenzie Limited.


    How do you make Oreo cookie even better?

    Turn them into penguins!

    These adorable Oreo penguins aren’t inexpensive: 12 cookies are $42.95 at

    But if you’re game to make your own, head to the store for the ingredients to make your own.



  • A jumbo bag of Oreos (ideally Double Stuff Oreos)
  • Dark and white chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
  • Red and yellow food color-or-gumdrops, Starbursts or other orange candies for beak and feet
  • Wax paper
  • 2 quart-size plastic storage bags

    1. MELT dark chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Dip Oreos completely in the chocolate and set on wax paper to harden, about 10 minutes. We used tweezers to hold an edge of the cookie. Then, after we set the cookie on the wax paper, we added a dab of chocolate to the small “naked” spot.

    2. HARDEN and when the chocolate has set, melt the white chocolate in the same manner. Transfer into the plastic storage baggie. Cut a small corner off the bag and draw the “vest” on each cookie. Don’t worry if your lines aren’t as perfect as the professional version—they used specialty tools to achieve perfection.

    3. CREATE the beaks and feet. After the white chocolate has set, melt another batch of white chocolate and use food color to make it orange. Transfer to the other plastic storage bag to pipe the beaks and feet. (Unless you’ve got a great hand, it’s best to omit the bow tie.)

    4. CREATE eyes by dabbing white and dark chocolate with a toothpick. Let harden and store in an airtight cookie tin between sheets of wax paper until ready to serve.



    RECIPE: Hot Chocolate Peppermint Bark Ice Cream Float

    Before those limited edition candy cane and peppermint ice creams disappear, have your last hurrah

    Pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City created this treat with Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark Ice Cream Float

    “I do not mess around with my hot chocolate,” says Chef Tosi. “As a pastry chef, it’s practically required to have a killer hot chocolate recipe at the ready when the cold months come knocking….Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark Ice Cream just screamed out ‘dunk me in hot chocolate!’”

    The flavor, white chocolate ice cream blended with crunchy, chocolaty peppermint bark and peppermint candy pieces, is available through the end of the month.


    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings


    A hot and cold holiday treat. Photo courtesy Häagen-Dazs.

  • ½ cup cocoa powder (Dutch-processed with alkali)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 carton (14 ounces) peppermint bark ice cream
  • Optional: peppermint schnapps
  • Optional garnish: candy canes/peppermint sticks

    Peppermint Bark Häagen-Dazs is here until
    the end of December. Photo courtesy



    1. COMBINE cocoa powder, sugar, chocolate and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

    2. BRING milk to a near scalding boil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Pour milk immediately over the bowl of cocoa, sugar, chocolate and salt. Allow it to sit for 1 minute.

    3. WHISK slowly to combine. Continue whisking until mixture is evenly combined and silky smooth. You can always pass it through a fine mesh strainer if you’re concerned about lumps.

    4. POUR hot chocolate evenly into mugs and add optional schnapps; stir to mix. Scoop ice cream on top. Garnish with optional candy cane/peppermint stick.



  • For a crowd, make the hot chocolate in advance in a large batch, so all you have to do is heat and serve.
  • Invest in quality cocoa powder and chocolate: It will make a world of difference in the taste and texture of your hot chocolate.
  • You can use 0% or 2% milk in place of the whole milk.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Christmas Popcorn Balls

    Our grandmother loved to make popcorn balls with candied pecans. They’d be placed in a beautiful Moorcroft bowl for nibbling.

    Our childhood contribution was to add chocolate chips and M&Ms. But these Coconut Popcorn Snowballs with candy canes are spot on for the holiday season. (If you don’t like peppermint, you can leave out the candy canes.)

    The recipe is from the Popcorn Board. While the recipe suggests four-inch-diameter popcorn balls, that’s a huge portion. We suggest making two-inch-diameter balls.

    You can give them gifts and party favors—if you can restrain yourself from eating them.


    Ingredients For 8 Four-Inch Balls

  • 2 cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows

    Coconut popcorn snowball. Photo courtesy The Popcorn Board.

  • 1 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 8 candy canes or candy cane sticks, about 3-4 inches

    1. PLACE a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper over a work surface. Spread coconut onto paper.

    2. SPRAY a large mixing bowl lightly with cooking spray and place popcorn inside.

    3. MELT butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in marshmallows and continue to stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix well until coated.

    4. SPRAY hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form into balls. Place balls on coconut and roll and press coconut to coat. While holding popcorn ball, gently press a candy cane into each ball.

    5. SERVE immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage.


    White chocolate candy cane popcorn. Photo
    courtesy The Popcorn Board.



    Ingredients For 1 Pound

  • 5 cups popped popcorn
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking chips, chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed hard candy peppermints

    1. COVER a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside. Place popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

    2. MELT chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Or, melt according to package directions. Stir in crushed peppermints after chocolate is melted.


    3. POUR chocolate mixture over popcorn mixture and stir to coat. Spread onto prepared pan; allow to cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set, break into chunks for serving.

    4. STORE in an air-tight container at room temperature.

    Don’t like mint? Mix ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries and ½ cup sliced almonds with the popcorn. Pour chocolate over the mixture after it is melted.



    RECIPE: Holiday Sorbet Cocktail

    We spent much of the weekend enjoying limited-edition, seasonal batch flavors from Ciao Bella Gelato: Cranberry Prosecco Sorbet, Montebianco Gelato and Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Gelato.

    Cranberry Prosecco Gelato. No matter how stuffed you may be from a big holiday dinner, there’s always room for sorbet. Ciao Bella’s Cranberry Prosecco Sorbet marries sweet-tart cranberry sorbet with a hint of Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine.

    Colorful and delicious by itself, it creates an easy cocktail—apéritif or dessert—when scooped into a glass of Prosecco or other sparkling wine. A great idea for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. It can be made as a mocktail for non-drinkers.

    Montebianco Gelato. Montebianco, or Mont Blanc, is a famous European dessert made with puréed, sweetened chestnuts, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Ciao Bella’s Montebianco Gelato is a luscious chestnut cream with organic dark chocolate chunks and a bit of rum extract. If you’re an ice cream lover who’s dreaming of a white Christmas, this could be it.

    Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. What a great way to enhance delicious pumpkin gelato! Made with real pumpkin purée and a hint of cinnamon, the thick swirls of sea salt caramel make it the best pumpkin ice cream you could wish for. While you can still get pumpkin ice cream, pick up a pint.


    Make a sparkling cranberry sorbet cocktail. Photo by Lognetics | Fotolia.

    The flavors are all natural and the milk for the gelato is rBST-free.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 mall scoops cranberry sorbet
  • 6 ounces Prosecco or other sparkling wine; sparkling Italian soda (like San Pellegrino) for mocktail
  • Optional garnish: cocktail pick or toothpick threaded with mint leaves and fresh cranberries—or—lime curl
  • Optional garnish: sparkling sugar rim (green, red or white)

    1. SOFTEN sorbet at room temperature for 5-7 minutes. Add optional sugar rim to a Champagne glass.

    2. PLACE 2 small scoops of sorbet in the bottom of the glass.

    3. TOP with Prosecco or soda, garnish and serve.


    Enjoy limited edition seasonal flavors while
    you can. Photo courtesy Ciao Bella Gelato.



    Use Nutella and pizzelles (Italian waffle cookies) to make a most delicious ice cream sandwich.


  • 1 package pizzelles
  • 1 jar Nutella
  • 1 14-ounce container Ciao Bella Montebianco gelato
  • Optional: melted chocolate for dip

    1. SOFTEN gelato at room temperature for 5 minutes. Lay the bottom pizzelles on a cookie sheet, 2 per sandwich.]

    2. SPREAD Nutella on the bottom pizzelles and top with 1-2 scoops of Montebianco gelato. Add the top pizzelle and press down slightly to seal.

    3. DIP half of the sandwich in the optional melted chocolate.

    3. PLACE sandwiches in the freezer to harden until ready to serve.




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