THE NIBBLE BLOG Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.



Archive for Christmas

TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Drinks Menu

What’s on the cocktail menu for the holidays? Egg nog and sparkling wine are perennial favorites.

But offer guests holiday drink menu. Here are some of the beverages we serve, all with a holiday theme.

HOLIDAY BEVERAGES

Wine

  • Instead of white wine, make a Cranberry Kir: white wine with a splash of cranberry liqueur. It’s our own adaptation of the popular French drink, Kir (white wine plus blackcurrant liqueur).
  • Instead of plain red wine, make mulled wine with holiday spices. You can serve it warm or chilled.
  •  
    Seasonal Beer

    Turn to craft breweries for seasonal beers and ales. Many craft beers are only distributed regionally, but here are some we’ve found in wider distributions (check your local shelves for options):

  • Christmas ale: Anchor Brewing, Great Lakes, Rogue
  • Chanukah beer: He’Brew Chanukah Beer
  • Pumpkin ale: Buffalo Bill’s, Shipyard and all of these
  • Winter ale: Blue Point, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams
  •  
    Cranberry Cocktails

  • Cranberry Martini
  • Cranberry Mojito
  • Cranberry Tequila Comfort
  •  
    Eggnog Cocktails

    In addition to all kinds of variations on traditional eggnog recipes, there are also eggnog cocktails which have fewer calories than straight eggnog (which is perhaps the most caloric beverage on earth).

  • Eggnog White Russian
  • Eggnog Martini
  •  
    Ginger Cocktails

  • Ginger Martini
  • Ginger Joy (with pear liqueur)
  •    

    Cranberry Cocktail Garnish

    Egg Nog Cocktail

    TOP PHOTO: A cranberry and mint leaf garnish works for any cocktail. Photo courtesy Sarah’s Joy. BOTTOM PHOTO: Egg nog is less caloric in an eggnog cocktail. Photo courtesy Selvarey Rum.

     

     

    Cranberry Kir

    Cranberry liqueur plus white wine makes a
    Cranberry Kir. Use sparkling wine and it’s a
    Cranberry Kir Royale. Photo courtesy Drink
    Skinny.

     

    Chanukah Cocktails

  • Blue Chanukah Cocktail (think of it as a vodka Margarita; you can substitute tequila)
  • Chocolate Gelt Cocktail (chocolate vodka plus Goldschlager)
  •  
    Warm Drinks

  • Hot Buttered Rum (Rum Toddy)
  • Glogg
  • Mulled Wine
  •  
    Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  • Cranberry seltzer: Canada Dry, Polar Ocean Spray Sparkling Cranberry
  • Cranberry soda: Cape Cod, Sierra Mist (Regular and Diet), Sprite Cranberry (Regular and Diet)
  • Cranberry tea: Bigelow, Republic of Tea, Stash (caffeinated and herbal are available; serve hot or iced)
  • Mulled cider (make it without alcohol, stir in the spirits for those who want them)
  •  

    Serve responsibly! Always have attractive non-alcholic options for guests who should be cut off.

      

    Comments

    RECIPES: Christmas Cookies

    December 4th is National Cookie Day, and what better cookies to enjoy than Christmas cookies.

    Some people bake the same family favorites every year, others look for new recipes. We loved these three fun ideas from Pillsbury.

    All three begin with a package of refrigerated cookie dough. With the time you save mixing and cutting cookie dough, you can focus on the elaborate decorations.

    RECIPE: MELTING SNOWMEN COOKIES

    Prep time for these cuties is 30 minutes, total time is 1 hr 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Pillsbury Ready To Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 12 miniature creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 24 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped
  • 1 container (1 pound) vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 12 large marshmallows
  • 48 miniature chocolate chips (for eyes)
  • 2 Dots orange gumdrop candies, cut into small carrot-shaped triangles (for noses)
  • 1 pouch black cookie icing
  • 24 pieces red string licorice, 7-1/2 inches long, clipped on ends for fringes of each scarf
  •  
    Preparation

       

    Melted Snowman Cookies

    Santa Belly Cookies

    TOP PHOTO: Melted snowmen cookies. BOTTOM PHOTO: Santa Bellies. Photos courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cookie dough rounds 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack to cool completely. Meanwhile…

    2. MAKE the hats. Remove the creme from sandwich cookies and save. Attach a miniature peanut butter cup to one half of the sandwich cookie, using a small amount of the saved vanilla frosting. Continue for the remaining hats.

    3. CUT the marshmallows in half, and place one half on top of each cookie, cut side down. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the remaining frosting, uncovered, on medium (50%) for 20 to 40 seconds, until slightly warm (stir halfway through). Spoon the frosting on top of the marshmallow/cookie to look like melting snow. Attach a hat to the top of each cookie. Attach the miniature chocolate chips and orange gumdrop candy for the eyes and nose. Allow to set for 20 minutes.

    3. USE black cookie icing to pipe arms on each snowman cookie. Wrap one piece of licorice around the neck for the scarf. Allow to set completely before serving, about 30 minutes.

    Store in an airtight container.

    You can see step-by-step photography and a video of this preparation here.

     

    Reindeer Cookies

    These reindeer are delicious. Photo courtesy
    Pillsbury. The recipe is below.

     

    RECIPE: SANTA’S BELLY COOKIES

    The photo for these is above. Prep time is 40 minutes, total time is 1 hour 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Pillsbury Ready To Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 24 large marshmallows
  • 1 container (1 lb) vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • Red, yellow and black gel food colors
  • 48 white vanilla baking chips (for Santa’s suit buttons)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. On two ungreased cookie sheets, place the dough rounds 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Meanwhile, slightly flatten marshmallows.

    2. REMOVE from the oven and top each cookie with a marshmallow. Return to the oven, and bake 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly softened.

    3. REMOVE the cookies from the cookie sheets; cool completely on cooling racks. Meanwhile, separate frosting into 3 small bowls, using 1-1/4 cups to make red frosting, 1/4 cup for yellow frosting and 1/4 cup for black frosting. Add food color to each, and mix to get desired colors (red, yellow and black). Frost and decorate cookies to look like Santa’s belly, using photo as a guide.

    Store in an airtight container.

    You can see step-by-step photography and a video here.
     

    RECIPE: CUTE REINDEER COOKIES

    Make these reindeer in 30 minutes of prep time, 1 hour 5 minutes total time. See the photo above.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 10 oz chocolate candy coating, cut into pieces (from 20-oz package)
  • 24 small white fudge-covered pretzels, halved (from 5-oz bag)
  • 48 candy eyeballs
  • 24 Junior Mints or other chocolate-covered creamy mint candies (from 1.84-oz box)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place thr cookies 2 inches apart on two ungreased cookie sheets. Shape each cookie into oval, but do not flatten.

    2. Bake 11 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

    3. MELT the candy coating as directed on the package. Working with one cookie at a time, dip the top side of cookie into the melted candy coating, covering fully and letting excess drip off. Place 2 pretzel halves on top of cookie for antlers, 2 candy eyeballs for eyes and 1 mint candy for nose. Repeat with remaining cookies.

    Store in an airtight container.

    Head here for a step-by-step photographs and a video.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Figgy Pudding

    “Oh, bring us figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer,” goes the carol, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Don’t know the carol? Sing with the bouncing ball.

    If you start now, you can have a homemade figgy pudding at Christmas.

    WHAT’S A FIGGY PUDDING?

    A distant cousin of the fruit cake, figgy pudding is a traditional fig-based cake, which became common in England in the 1600s. Christmas pudding has been celebrated in song at least since then. Countless carolers sing for it every year. (But do they get a slice?)

    Thought to bring luck and prosperity to all who share it, a figgy pudding is typically made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the Sunday before Advent.

    Also called plum pudding and Christmas pudding, this dessert is, in the manner of British puddings, a steamed cake. Essentially, it’s a very wet, alcohol-soaked, boiled fruit cake. British recipes use fruits such as plums, figs and dates; Irish recipes vary the recipe with raisins, currants, sultanas and citrus peel. Here’s the difference between British pudding and American pudding.

    Even if you don’t have five weeks, you can make one this weekend and still have figgy pudding on Christmas.

    The Christmas pudding is served on Christmas day, traditionally decorated with a spray of holly (which is not edible). In some homes, it is doused in flaming brandy and brought to the table in a darkened room. Here’s how to flambé a dessert.

    The steamed pudding trend hasn’t caught on in the U.S. (or at least, it hasn’t returned since it fell out of fashion at the beginning of the 19th century), but we think it’s ripe for a comeback.

       

    Christmas Pudding

    Christmas Pudding

    TOP PHOTO: Figgy pudding with hard sauce. Photo by Gerry Lerner | SXC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Figgy pudding with toffee sauce, from Mackenzie Ltd.

     
    NEXT DECISION: SAUCE FOR THE PUDDING

    First, here’s a figgy pudding recipe. You can add figs, dried plums (prunes), raisins or other dried fruits and still be authentic.

    A good pudding needs a good sauce, of course. Christmas pudding can be served with:

  • Brandy- or rum-flavored white sauce (here’s a a recipe from England)
  • Custard sauce (recipe)
  • Hard sauce (recipe)
  • Toffee sauce/sticky pudding sauce (recipe)
  • Lemon sauce (recipe)
  • Whipped cream (plain and holiday flavored recipes)
  •  
    Or you can be very untraditional and serve your pudding with some vanilla ice cream. For delightful overkill, try rum raisin ice cream.

     

    wassail-bowl-feastsfromthepantry-230

    A wassail bowl. Wassail is neither the bowl nor the punch, but a toast to good health. Photo courtesy Feasts From The Pantry.

     

    SHOULD YOU HAVE WASSAIL WITH YOUR FIGGY PUDDING?

    You may have heard of the wassail bowl. Wassail is neither the bowl nor the spirited drink inside it. Rather, it is a toast to good health. What’s in the bowl can be anything from eggnog to punch.

    The toast is not limited to England. From the Spanish salude to slainte in Irish Gaelic, many languages wish good health when glasses clink.

    Wassail (WOZ-ul) is an Old English toast, adopted from the Old Norse “ves heill,” meaning “be healthy.” It has been served to carolers for centuries.

    Wassail has its own song, too: Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green.

    But should you serve it with figgy pudding?

     
    Nay. Drink from the wassail bowl before or after dinner; but with the pudding, have a nice cup of tea. Coffee, if you prefer.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Goat Cheese With Sundried Tomatoes

    We love to serve red and green foods as much as possible during the holiday season. Doesn’t this goat cheese look nice and Christmasy?

    Slices of fresh goat cheese are topped with marinated sundried tomatoes, and you can serve them in several ways:

  • As an hors d’oeuvre, with crostini.
  • As an appetizer, atop a crostino (grilled or toasted bread).
  • Halved or quartered on a plate with a green salad (arugula, beets and radiccho are good choices, as are these).
  • On a goat cheese baguette sandwich.
  • As part of a cheese plate.
  • If you have leftover pieces, you can use them to top pasta and pizza, or add them to a sandwich or burger.
  •  
    And it’s so easy to make.

    You can buy whole sundried tomatoes, or make your own topping. dice them and marinate them in olive oil with oregano and other herbs*.

       

    Goat Cheese Appetizer

    Deck the table with goat cheese rounds. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

     

    The Bella Sun Luci brand of sundried tomatoes has done all the hard work. Look for their jars of:

  • Julienne Cut Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil with Italian Herbs
  • Bruschetta with Italian Basil Sun Dried Tomato and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sun Dried Julienne-Cut Tomatoes with Herbs and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Whole Pine Nuts
  •  

    Homemade Marinated Sundried Tomatoes

    You can make your own marinated tomatoes, but it’s much quicker to buy them. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

     

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS GOAT CHEESE

    Ingredients

  • Goat cheese log(s)
  • Sundried tomato topping
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary†
  •  
    Variations

  • Instead of the tomatoes, a mix of red and green bell peppers, diced and marinated.
  • A chiffonade of fresh basil, or a garnish of small basil leaves, instead of the rosemary.
  • If you make your own topping, consider marinating it in a flavored olive oil (basil, chili, rosemary, etc.).
  •  
    _________________________________
    *You can use basil, black pepper, marjoram,oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sea salt and/or thyme.
    †If you use rosemary, garnish with very small pieces, as guests may be wary of eating a larger sprig.

     

    If you come up with other uses for “Christmas goat cheese,” please share!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Christmas Tree Ornaments From Dehydrated Citrus

    dehydrated-grapefruit-tree-ornament-specialtyproduce-230

    Ruby Red Grapefruit

    Dehydrate lemons, limes oranges and grapefruit to make tree ornaments. TOP PHOTO: An orange slice ornament. Photo courtesy Specialty Produce. BOTTOM PHOTO: Red or pink grapefruit make pretty slices. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    You—or your kids—can make these dehydrated citrus ornaments in your oven. You don’t need an electric dehydrator, but if you have one, great.

    The fruit slices become translucent after drying, adding color and textural interest to any display.

    A convection oven is better than a conventional oven, but the latter works, too.

    In addition to tree ornaments:

  • Use the dehydrated citrus in garlands or wreaths.
  • Add them to potpourri.
  • Give them as stocking stuffers.
  • Use them for party favors.
  •  
    MAKE YOUR OWN CITRUS CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

    Ingredients

  • Your choice of citrus (we especially like blood oranges and red grapefruits)
  • Optional: cloves for the citrus rims
  • Metallic gift wrap string or other decorative tie
  • Optional: gift tags (for stocking stuffers)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting, usually 140°F. (To use a food dehydrator, set the temperature to between 125°F and 135°F and dry for 2-12 hours. Remember to rotate your dehydrator trays for even drying.)

    2. CLEAN the skins of the citrus with a damp towel.

    3. CUT the citrus into slices from 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick. If using the cloves, use an ice pick to punch holes for them in the surface skin (not in the white pith). TIP: Pressing in cloves can create a sore spot on your finger. Use a thimble.
     
    *If you need a lot of cloves, it’s best to buy them in bulk (e.g., a one-pound bag).

     

    4. PLACE a wire rack atop a baking sheet(s), and arrange the slices on the rack. Place the sheet(s) in the oven, but leave the door open 2 to 4 inches. This enables the air to circulate and the moisture to escape, dehydrating the fruit. If you are preparing more than one tray, rotate the trays halfway through for even drying.

    TIP: You can set a fan just outside of the oven to supply further air circulation, and to help speed drying.

    5. DRY the orange slices in the oven for 6 to 12 hours, or until the peel is hard and the fruit is brittle. Allow the slices to cool completely; then store in an airtight container until ready to create the hanging loops or otherwise use them.

    6. USE an ice pick or other sharp implement to puncture a hole for hanging through the flesh of each piece. Use string (the metallic wrapping string is great here) to create a loop for hanging on tree branches. If you’re using a gift card, place it on the string before tying the knot.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPES: Cranberry Cheesecake

    We [heart] cheesecake. Every October, we switch to pumpkin cheesecake in its many forms. But as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, we start baking cranberry cheesecake recipes.

    Because cheesecake is such a rich and heavy dessert, we usually don’t serve it following a big dinner, but as a “tea time” snack (and honestly, we’ve been known to eat it for breakfast).

    The first recipe is a plain cheesecake with a cranberry topping, analogous to cherry cheesecake. The second recipe has a different look, with a cranberry swirl inside the cheesecake and a thin layer of cranberry gelée on top.

    Both recipes are made in a nine-inch springform pan. A nine-inch cake yields 12 slices.

    RECIPE #1: CHEESECAKE WITH CRANBERRY TOPPING

    This recipe is Philadelphia Cream Cheese’s classic cheesecake, with a cranberry topping. The result is the cranberry version of a cherry cheesecake.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (half of a 12-ounce package)
  • ½ cup water
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon orange zest
  •    

    Cranberry-Cheesecake-sliced-philadelphia-kraft-230

    Like cherry cheesecake, but with a cranberry topping. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 325°F. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and the butter until blended. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese and 1 cup of the remaining sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over the crust.

    3. BAKE from 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake; cool before removing the rim. Refrigerate the cheesecake 4 hours. (You can leave it in the spring mold for the time being.) Meanwhile…

    4. BRING the cranberries, water, remaining sugar and cinnamon to boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the berries have softened; stir occasionally. Cool slightly; thrn refrigerate until ready to serve.

    5. SPREAD the cranberry topping over the cheesecake just before serving.

     

    Cheesecake With Cranberry Gelee

    Fresh Cranberries

    TOP PHOTO: Cooked cranberries are swirled into the cheesecake and puréed into a gelée topping. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home. BOTTOM PHOTO: Fresh cranberries. Photo courtesy USA Cranberries.

     

    RECIPE #2: CRANBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE WITH
    CRANBERRY GELÉE

    In this recipe from Taste Of Home, cooked fresh cranberries are swirled through the batter; and then strained in a food mill or sieve to create a gelée topping.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 55 minutes plus chilling.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker or shortbread cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil, about 18 inches square). Wrap the foil securely around pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

    2. MIX the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl and press onto bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 6 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile…

    3. COMBINE the cranberries, sugar and water in a large saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the berries pop, about 12-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Press the cranberry mixture through a food mill into a small bowl; discard pulp and seeds. Set aside.

    4. MAKE the filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Add the eggs and beat on low speed until just blended; pour into the crust. Spoon 1/4 cup of the topping over filling. With knife, cut through the filling to make a cranberry swirl.

    5. PLACE the springform pan in a larger pan and add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan. (This creates a water bath, or bain-marie, which adds moisture to the oven and keeps the top of the cheesecake from cracking.) Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the center is just set and the top appears dull.

    6. REMOVE the springform pan from the water bath. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides from the pan with a knife; remove the foil.

    7. COOL for 1 hour longer. Pour the remaining topping over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight, covering the cheesecake when it is completely cooled. Remove the rim from the pan.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Garnish Desserts With Brittle

    If someone gives you brittle—or you’re inspired to make your own—use some of it to garnish desserts.

    Just a few small pieces make almost any dessert even more festive. If you already have “brittle crumbs” at the bottom of the box, so much the better.

    MAKE BRITTLE

    For the holidays, this spicy pumpkin seed brittle recipe is a natural. We also love classic pecan brittle (recipe below).

    You can add dried cranberries to any brittle recipe.
     
    RECIPE: 15-MINUTE MICROWAVE BRITTLE

    You can make this brittle in just 15 minutes, plus cooling time. Make sure everything is in its place before you start cooking, because the brittle sets quickly. This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

    Ingredients For 1 Pound/16 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •    

    mini-pumpkin-pie-brittle-garnish-figandolive-230

    Plain or fancy, almost any dessert perks up with a brittle garnish. Photo courtesy Fig & Olive.

     

    Pumpkin Pie With Brittle Topping

    Turn a plain holiday pie into a festive one
    with brittle. Photo courtesy Midwest Living.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan with 2 teaspoons of butter; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart, microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for 4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage).

    3. ADD the pecans. Microwave for 4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 300°F (hard-crack stage). The mixture will be very hot. Vigorously stir in the baking soda, vanilla and remaining butter until the mix is blended.

    4. QUICKLY POUR into the prepared pan and spread with a metal spatula as thin as possible.

     
    5. COOL completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.
     
    NOTES:

  • This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.
  • For a 1,650 watt microwave, adjust both cook times to be 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes.
  • Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
  •   

    Comments

    GIFTS: Gourmet Food

    We taste thousands of products a year, and a few always stand out as “great for the holiday gift list.” Here’s the first of this year’s gourmet food gift lists. We also have a chocolate gift list, a stocking stuffer gift list, and others to come (spirits, food books and more).

    CARNIVORE CLUB: THE BEST ARTISAN MEATS

    For foodies or meat lovers, Carnivore Club finds the most exceptional cured meats and packages them a gift box with an introduction to the artisan and ways to serve the items. The club delivery can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or just once.

    Each box has 4-6 selections of handcrafted meat, a total weight of approximately 18 to 28 ounces. Past selections have included meats as varied as biltong, duck breast prosciutto, Iberico ham, ‘nduja, water buffalo braesola and wild boar sausage.

    Products are curated by a team of meat lovers dedicated to “finding the greatest artisans on the planet, and sharing their best creations with our members.”

    Satisfy someone’s inner carnivore at CarnivoreClub.co (yes, it’s co, not com).
     
     
    DEAN’S SWEETS: CHOCOLATE CHRISTMAS TREES

    Dean Bingham gets credit for the most creative chocolate Christmas trees this year: hand-stacked blocks of 70% cacao dark chocolate or 32% cacao milk chocolate that create the tree. The nonpareils add a Christmas lights effect.

    The artisan chocolates are all natural and are made in a nut-free facility. The large tree is 5.5” tall x 5.5” wide at the base (1 pound, 7 ounces of chocolate) is $29.50; small tree is 3.5” tall x 3.5” wide (7.5 ounces of chocolate, $17.50).

    Get your tree(s) at DeansSweets.com.
     
     
    E-CREAMERY: PERSONALIZED ICE CREAM PINTS

    eCreamery sells top quality artisan ice cream; but the real differentiator is the ability to create custom labels for each individual pints. Sure, you can leave the flavor as the title on the pint, e.g. Banana Toffee Praline Crunch or Chipotle Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

    But you can also personalize it: Peace & Joy From The Hofstadter Family, Amy & Sheldon’s Holiday Cheer, and so on. There are:

  • Nine holiday flavors, including the two previously mentioned plus Candy Cane Swirl, Gingerbread Cookie Swirl and others.
  • Twenty year-round flavors—the basics plus Chocolate Cake & Brownie Bites, Chocolate Malt Ball and Sea Salt Caramel.
  • There are five sorbets that are dairy free and vegan.
  •  
    Including overnight shipping in ice, four pints are $84.99, eight pints are $139.99 at eCreamery.com. BUT WAIT: There’s a savings of $15 off plus free shipping with code SweetNY15, through January 31, 2016 (shipped to one address).

    It still may be the most expensive ice cream you’ve ever bought, but it also will be among the most memorable.
     
     
    4505 MEATS: BACON-LACED HOT DOGS

    There are many recipes that call for wrapping a sausage with a strip of bacon. 4505 Meats of San Francisco saves you the trouble: Bacon is embedded in its hot dogs.

    These creative sausage makers have loaded uncured hot dogs with uncured bacon, a recipe guaranteed to wow. A 3-pound package of 16 dogs is $33.00 plus shipping at 4505Meats.com.

       

    Carnivore Club

    Chocolate Christmas Tree

    eCreamery Holiday Pints

    Bacon Hot Dogs  at 4505 Meats

    TOP PHOTO: A past box from Carnivore Club, featuring the charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina. SECOND PHOTO: Chocolate Christmas tree from Dean’s Sweets. THIRD PHOTO: Bacon Hot Dogs from 4505 Meats. BOTTOM PHOTO: The finest ice cream with labels customized by you, from eCreamery.

     

     

    Robert Lambert White Fruitcake

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey With Cinnamon

    Tonnino Ventresca Tuna

    Valrhona Hot Chocolate Mix

    TOP PHOTO: A deluxe fruitcake from Robert Lambert. SECOND PHOTO: Whipped Honey With Cinnamon From Savannah Bee. THIRD PHOTO: Tonnino’s Ventresca Tuna, made from sashimi-quality tuna loins. BOTTOM PHOTO: Valrhona Hot Chocolate at Sur La Table.

     

    ROBERT LAMBERT: ARTISAN FRUITCAKES

    Robert Lambert has long been a great food artisan, who uses the bounty of local California heirloom fruits and nuts to make his creations. He crafts our favorite fruitcakes, pricey but worth it, orchestrating a memorable symphony of flavors unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

    There’s a white fruitcake and a dark fruitcake; the difference is the mix of hand-candied luxury fruits and the spirits.

  • White Artisan Fruitcake has light-colored fruits: golden raisins, candied bergamot, coconuy, Rangpur lime, Meyer lemon peel, blood orange peel, Buddha’s hand citron and candied young ginger all contribute. Nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts. Each cake is soaked in the fine French cognac, infused with herbs and spices, topped with a California bay leaf and candied white grapefruit peel star.
  • Dark Artisan Fruitcake has dark fruits: dates, prunes and dark raisins, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. The cake has a touch of molasses and brown sugar, the spices are cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The cake is soaked in his favorite 10-year-old Ficklin port.
  •  
    The one pound fruitcakes are $55 each, or any two in a gift tin for $100, at RobertLambert.com.
     
    SAVANNAH BEE: ARTISAN HONEY

    Our favorite honey producer, Savannah Bee spins together crystallized honey and aromatic cinnamon, forming an irresistible and spreadable Whipped Honey With Cinnamon. There are two sizes: a 12-ounce jar ($16.55) and a pair of two 3-ounce jars ($6.50).

    Another favorite holiday gift is Winter White Honey. From the Idaho Rockies, it is creamy, smooth and spreadable with natural finishing notes of cinnamon. This white-hued honey with a bright red label is available in the 12-ounce jars ($12.50) and two three-ounce minis ($12).

    For the honey connoisseur—or anyone with a refined palate—Sourwood Honey Gold Reserve is the honey gift. The sourwood trees in the Appalachian Mountains blossom only in “vintage” years, when there’s plentiful sun and rain.

    The flavor of sourwood honey is big and complex with hints of maple and spice. With a large jar, there’s enough to spare for basting grilled chicken or pork tenderloin, as well as lavish in tea and on pancakes. Sizes range from 3-ounce minis to 80-ounce jumbos, $12 to $92. The popular 12-ounce size is available with an optional pump—no dripping honey.

    For an even more special gift, the Sourwood Reserve packages 20 ounces of honey in an elegant tall flute and equally elegant packaging, $120. The company owner, one of the world’s great artisan honey experts, it “calls arguably the best in the world.”

     
    TONNINO: TOP QUALITY TUNA IN JARS

    Some people buy the best of everything. In the case of tuna, that’s Tonnino tuna, so lovely it’s packaged in a see-through jar.

    Our local gourmet stores sell it for $8 to $10 jar, but on Amazon it’s just $5.99. “Just $5.99” may still have sticker shock for those who wait for sales of supermarket brands for 99¢, but for gifting, think outside the can!

    The large fillets stand tall in jars, very different from what’s packed into cans. And the flavor must be tasted! Even our brother, who waits for the 99¢ sales, acknowledged as much. We now have solved the problem of what to get the tuna lover and the health-focused.

    Tonnino varieties include Tuna Fillets With Capers And Garlic In Olive Oil, With Garlic In Olive Oil, With Jalapeño In Olive Oil, With Lemon And Pepper In Olive Oil, With Oregano In Olive Oil, In Olive Oil (plain) and In Spring Water.

    The top of the line is Ventresca, “the royalty of our gourmet jarred tuna.” It’s hand filleted from a small section of the tuna’s underbelly (sushi eaters, think toro).

    Even the olive oil is delicious! A jar in every flavor is a special gift. See more at Tonnino.com.
     
     
    VALRHONA: GOURMET HOT CHOCOLATE

    The first hot chocolate mix from master chocolatier Valrhona, one of the world’s great chocolate producers and the name for fine chocolate in France. A perfect blend of the finest cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, it makes a rich, chocolaty, marvelous cup of hot chocolate. Exclusively at Sur La Table, a 12-ounce tin red and silver tin is $21.95.

    You can package it with Peppermint Cocoa Stirrers and Marshmallow Snowman Beverage Topper marshmallows for a more elaborate gift. Or, go whole-hog with a set of Peppermint Stripe Mugs.

    Find it at SurLaTable.com. Orders over $59 ship free with code SHIPFREE.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Christmas Tree Ornaments

    How clever is the Breyers Ice Cream employee who turned ice cream into Christmas tree ornaments? You can do it too, or hand it over to the tweens and teens to make with their friends.

    Breyers used a 1.5 quart container of their Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. You can, of course, use holiday flavors: candy cane ice cream, eggnog ice cream, gingerbread ice cream, etc.

    Check out this Christmas sprinkle mix and Christmas confetti, both from Wilton. Or, use crushed candy canes or instead of the sprinkles

    Find more nifty ice cream creations at Breyers.com.

    RECIPE: ICE CREAM CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 1.5 quarts of ice cream (3 pints—but buy extra just in case)
  • 12 mini peanut butter cups
  • 12 pieces (1-1/2-in. ea.) thin red licorice
  • Christmas sprinkles (substitute rainbow sprinkles)
  •  

    Ice Cream Christmas Ornaments

    Ice cream ornaments for eating, not hanging. Photo courtesy Breyers.

     
    Preparation

    1. LINE a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.

    2. SCOOP the ice cream, using a large round ice cream scoop, into 24 firmly packed scoops. Arrange the scoops flat-side down on the pan and freeze for 2 hours. Meanwhile…

    3. MAKE the ornament “hangers.” Poke two holes in the small, flat side of the peanut butter cups with a skewer. Add a licorice “hanger” by pushing the ends into the holes. Freeze.

    4. PRESS two scoops together to form a completely round ornament; repeat with the remaining scoops for a total of 12 ornaments. Arrange them on the pan and freeze at least 1 hour.

    5. ROLL the ornaments in the sprinkles, leaving a bare spot on top to attach the hanger. Attach the hanger by pressing it onto the top of the ornament. Freeze for 3 hours or until ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gingerbread Cookie Dip & Spread

    gingerbread-cookie-dip-venable-qvc-230

    Yummy and easy dip for cookies, fruit and more. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    OMG, we haven’t even finished Thanksgiving leftovers but the countdown to Christmas is ON!

    If you’re too busy racing around and don’t have much time to prepare something special for family, friends or colleagues, here’s an easy treat from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    It’s Gingerbread Dip or Spread—yummy with cookies, cinnamon-flavored snack chips and sure, crudités.

    Says David, “There isn’t a more perfect potluck or office party recipe out there, foodies. This takes seconds, needn’t be cooked or kept warm, and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand.”

    RECIPE: GINGERBREAD DIP FOR COOKIES

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut in four pieces and brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping
  •  
    Your Choice Of Dippers

  • Tea biscuits, gingersnaps, graham crackers, mini gingerbread men, spice cookies, vanilla wafers
  • Cinnamon-flavored bagel, pita and/or tortilla chips
  • Strawberries or other fruit
  • Pretzels
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, molasses, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.

    2. SCRAPE the mixture into a medium-size bowl and fold in the whipped topping. Transfer to a serving dish.

     
      

    Comments

    « Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »


    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.