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Archive for Christmas

CHRISTMAS: A Star Made Of Cheese

Cabot Cheese commemorates the Christmas Star (Star of Bethlehem) using a different flavor of their excellent cheddars for each point on the star.

In addition to regular cheddars in different stages of sharpness, there are delicious flavored cheddars: Chipotle, Everything Bagel, Garlic & Herb, Horseradish, Hot Buffalo Wing, Smoky Bacon and Tomato Basil. The company also makes Muenster, Pepper Jack and other popular cheese styles.

For variety, use other semi-hard cheeses. Look for young Asiago, Colby, Edam, Fontinella, aged Gouda, Jack, Manchego, Provolone and Queso Blanco—for starters.

You can make the star with one kind of cheese or use a different flavor for each star point—any cheese firm enough to cut into cubes. You can make a larger star for a larger crowd.

Ingredients For A 13-Inch Diameter Star


Cheese Star

A cheese star is born. Before building the cheese cube design, place a small bowl in the center for the garnish (here, pecans). Gouda wishes! Photo courtesy Cabot Cheese.

  • 5 (8-ounce) bars or blocks of cheese, cut into cubes
  • Fresh bay leaves or other herb
  • Roasted nuts, mixed olives or grape tomatoes
  • Garnish: fresh sage leaves (substitute basil, bay leaf, sweet bay or perilla [shiso])

    1. PLACE a small shallow bowl or saucer in the center of a large platter or cheese plate. Cut the cheese bars into 3/4-inch cubes, about 30 cubes for each flavor.

    2. BUILD the star around the bowl. Each of the five star points will be 5 cubes long and from 1 to 5 cubes wide. (If your bowl is too big, you will need more cubes to evenly the space five star points.)

    3. PLACE 4 or 5 cubes against the bowl to form each star point, for a total of 5 star points. Build out the points by placing more cubes as shown in the photo. In our star, we had a base row of 3 or 4 cubes, followed by one row of 3 cubes, 2 rows of 2 cubes and one row of 1 cube for the tip of each star point.

    4. BUILD up the star by topping the first layer with a second layer of cubes.

    5. TUCK sage leaves into the star as shown. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Fill the bowl in the center with nuts, olives or tomatoes.

    Here’s the recipe to stack cubes of cheese into a Christmas tree cheese board.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Cheese Balls

    Holiday Cream Cheese Balls

    Vegetable Cheese Ball

    TOP PHOTO: Cheese balls decorated like
    ornaments for holiday festivals. Photo
    courtesy Kraft. BOTTOM PHOTO: What’s
    inside the cheese ball? Here it’s red and
    green bell peppers. Photo by Claire
    Freierman | THE NIBBLE.


    Turn cheese balls into holiday ornaments with the right coatings. This recipe from Philadelphia Cream Cheese uses only cream cheese, but you can use your favorite cheese ball recipe.

    Instead of one big cheese ball, you make mini cheese balls with different coatings.

    We prefer to take the recipe one step further and flavor the cream cheese. We like bell pepper cream cheese, jalapeño cream cheese, olive cream cheese and scallion cream cheese; and for a splurge, smoked salmon cream cheese rolled in fresh dill.

    You can also make a dessert version to serve with cookies, like chocolate cream cheese (with cocoa powder and sugar), chocolate chip cream cheese (or other chip flavor), berry cream cheese (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry) and peanut butter cream cheese, rolled in cocoa powder, coconut or mini chocolate chips. But back to the savory:



  • 1-1/2 packages cream cheese (total 12 ounces), softened
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

  • Cream cheese mix-ins: green and red jalapeños, green and red bell peppers, olives, pimentos, scallions or other fillings
    Serve With

  • Bagel Chips
  • Crackers
  • Other chips and crisps
  • Preparation

    1. CUT the cream cheese brick into 6 two-ounce pieces; roll each into ball. If you’re flavoring the cream cheese, finely chop and blend in the mix-ins before shaping the balls.

    2. COMBINE the sesame seeds, poppy seeds and half the garlic in small bowl. Mix the herbs and remaining garlic in a separate small bowl. Combine the cranberries and nuts in third bowl.

    3. ROLL 2 cheese balls in the sesame seed mixture, 2 cheese balls in the herb mixture and the remaining 2 cheese balls in the nut mixture.

    4. WRAP each ball in plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve. Alternatively, you can place them in an airtight food storage container, lightly covered with plastic before you close the lid.



    The glamorous goat cheese log in the photo couldn’t be easier. If you’d rather turn it into round “tree ornaments. See Step 2.


  • Log(s) of goat cheese, straight from the fridge
  • Dried cranberries and pistachios -or-
  • The coating of your choice

    1. MIX roughly-chopped dried cranberries and pistachio nuts and place them on wax paper on a work surface.

    2. ROLL the log of goat cheese in the mixture, pressing down lightly so the mixture adheres. If you’d rather have round balls of goat cheese, let the cheese soften, form it into balls, and return it to the fridge until it hardens enough to roll easily.

    3. WRAP the finished log tightly in plastic and refrigerate until serving.
    TIP: See if you can score some honey goat cheese logs (we get ours at Trader Vic’s). They’re a revelation.

  • Christmas Tree Cheese Ball Recipe #2
  • Pine Cone Cheese Ball Recipe(#1 is in the photo caption)
  • Pine Cone Cheese Ball Recipe #2
  • Snowman Cheese Ball Recipe
  • Snowman Cheese Ball Recipe #2

    Christmas Goat Cheese Log

    Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

    TOP PHOTO: Goat cheese log from More Than Hungry. BOTTOM PHOTO: We love this Christmas tree cheese “ball.” Here’s the recipe from Betty Crocker.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Tree & Star Of David Napkin Folds

    Star Fold Christmas Napkin

    Star Of David Napkin Fold

    TOP PHOTO: Dress your holiday table with a Christmas tree napkin fold. Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO: A Star Of David napkin fold for Chanukah. Photo courtesy Expert Village.


    Some people go all out decorating the holiday table: bowls of ornaments, candelabra, flowers, holly, miniature rosemary trees, pine boughs, pine cones, pomanders, reindeer, ribbons, the works.

    We always have so much food on the table that we need to keep things simple. We do it with a special tablecloth and napkins.

    And napkin folds.

    Last year we folded the dinner napkins in the shape of a traditional Christmas tree. This year, it’s a more abstract tree with a star.

    We found the top napkin fold on, the website of Better Homes & Gardens.

    BHG has topped it with a star-shaped napkin ring. We don’t have star-shaped rings, but have jeweled gold-tone rings that will do the trick…unless we can pick up star rings on sale a day or two before Christmas.

    See how to fold the napkin, including a video, at

    If you don’t want a tree, has collected 20 different holiday folds.

    Chinet has a nice collection, including a poinsettia and a double star. There are also year-round designs.

    We like how folds napkins into festive bows.

    Elf hats, anyone? Here’s a video from Good Housekeeping.

    Celebrating Chanukah? Here’s a Star of David. Star of David napkin fold (photo above).

    If you think you can do it, try this Star Of David, based on origami techniques.



    The art of napkin folding is called napery. The word comes from the Old French naperie, tablecloth.

    Not surprisingly, it started with royalty. According to one source, the art dates back to the around 1400, a time when warm napkins or even perfumed napkins graced the tables of the elite. Another source credits the reign of Louis XIV, 1643-1715.

    The craft trickled down to the homes of the wealthy and almost-wealthy (the upper middle class). At fine tables in the 19th century, starched napkins were artfully folded nightly.
    What About The Napkin Ring?

    The use of napkin rings began in Europe during the Napoleonic era, 1799 to 1815. They were developed not for royalty, but for the bourgeoisie (middle class).

    The wealthy could afford freshly-laundered napkins at every meal; but the bourgeoisie lacked the servant bandwidth to make that happen. As a result, one cloth napkin would be used for all the meals in one day, or even for an entire week. Monogrammed napkin rings identified whom each napkin belonged to.

    In modern times, napkin rings have become decorative, and using them is much quicker than napery.

    Interested in the craft? Get a book on napkin folding and go to town! Gearing up for Valentine’s Day, the cover photo of the linked book is a pink napkin in a heart-shape fold.


    RECIPE: Cranberry Crumb Bars

    For a simple dessert or coffee break snack during the holiday season, try these “crantastic” crumb bars from the talented Lauryn Cohen, a.k.a. Bella Baker. See more of her terrific recipes at



  • 1-3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2-1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries


    Try these crumb bars with a morning cup of coffee or as a snack. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a 9×13 glass baking dish with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick spray.

    2. MIX together in a bowl 1-3/4 cups sugar, the oats, flour, almond meal, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to blend in the butter. With a fork, mix in the eggs to create a dough that comes together. The dough will be a little crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

    3. STIR together in another bowl the second 1-3/4 cups sugar, potato starch, vanilla and orange juice. Mix in the cranberries. Pour the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

    4. CRUMBLE the remaining dough over the berries and gently pat down so that dough is covering all of the cranberries. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.

    5. COOL completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A Flavored Shots Party

    Pinnacle Peppermint Bark Vodka

    Plastic Shot Glasses

    TOP PHOTO: Pinnacle Vodka has 40 flavors, including holiday flavors like Peppermint Bark and Pumpkin Pie. BOTTOM PHOTO: One-ounce, colored shot glasses are the way to go. Photo courtesy Party Essentials.


    Looking to do something different for a holiday get-together with friends? While there’s always a holiday drinks menu, here’s an idea that requires no mixing: flavored shots.

    The flavored spirits category is “on fire,” according to a website for industry professionals. You can now find flavored bourbons and ryes*, in addition to the pioneer category of flavored vodka and the flavored tequilas† that followed vodka’s success.

    Now before the angry comments begin, let us emphasize that this is not a lets-get-loaded shots party. It’s a responsible let’s-taste-some-flavored-spirits-straight opportunity. The novelty for many people is tasting flavored spirits outside of a mixed drink.

    In fact, sipping from a shot glass is our favorite way to enjoy flavored spirits. And for planning purposes, four different flavors are about as much as people should have in an evening, even with designated drivers. While a standard shot is 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) for 80 proof distilled spirits, take it down to 1 ounce.

    What if people want more than four ounces? Flavored club soda or spritzers.

    You can buy clear one-ounce plastic shot glasses or two-ounce shot glasses. They can be washed and reused for another occasion.

    But if you’re serving vodka or tequila, since the sprits are clear, we think colored shot glasses are all-around better. Not only are they festive, but you can color-code the pours.


    Your options are based on what spirit you choose. Pinnacle, for example, has more than 40 flavors of vodka. There are large numbers of flavored tequilas, and the numbers get smaller with whiskey.

    For vodka, you can choose four different fruits from the many options, or make the party more holiday-focused with specialty flavors like Pinnacle’s Caramel Apple, Peppermint Bark, Salted Caramel, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Whipped Cream.

    But wait: There’s also Cookie Dough, Pecan Pie Vodka and Pumpkin Pie.

    Pinnacle doesn’t make a cranberry vodka, but other distillers do, including Bear Hug, Deep Eddy, Smirnoff and Sobieski.

    And then there’s what your local liquor stores carry—or don’t.

    Both shooters and shots are served in shot glasses. Shots are 100% spirits; shooters are mini-cocktails, combining spirits and/or liqueurs with non-alcoholic mixers.

    Traditionally, both are consumed in one gulp, but we recommend breaking with the tradition of chugging. Chugging is for people who want to make a certain statement; sipping is for people who want to taste what they drink.

    As always, plan ahead for designated drivers and don’t forget the plain or flavored club soda for in-between.
    *Flavored bourbons include Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon and; Red Stag Black Cherry, Hardcore Cider, Honey Tea and Spiced; and Wild Turkey Spiced Bourbon. Flavored ryes include Pow-Wow Botanical Rye (saffron and orange peel), Even Dewar’s has Highland Honey Scotch. And Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn produces the makes chocolate whiskey. Also look for Bird Dog Maple, a best-seller, and Canadian Mist Peach, among others.

    †There are numerous flavored tequilas: almond, banana, chile, chocolate, coconut, coffee, lime, mandarin, mango, pear, pomegranate, strawberry and watermelon. Check out these.


    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.



  • 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


    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.



    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.


    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


    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.



    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)

    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.


    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)

    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.



    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.


    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.


    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.



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



    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.



    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.




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

  • 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!



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


    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.


  • 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)

    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.



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