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Archive for Halloween

TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer Cocktails (Beertails)

Pumpkin beer cocktails have sprouted at watering holes all over town. We’ve got two great recipes that use pumpkin beer or ale, plus tips on how to dress up a regular brew in seasonal flavors.

Even people who aren’t beer lovers can enjoy a beertail. As long as you like pumpkin pie, you’ll like these.

First up is a beertail from


Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 parts pumpkin beer or ale
  • 2 parts sparkling apple cider
  • 1 part hard apple cider
  • Garnish: cinnamon stick or pumpkin spice rim (recipe below)

    1. RIM the glass, if using the pumpkin spice rim (instructions below).

    2. ADD the ingredients to the glass, giving the beertail one gentle stir so as not to break the bubbles.

    3. GARNISH with a cinnamon stick (if not using the spice rim).



    Turn a bottle of pumpkin beer or ale into a fall “beertail.” Photo courtesy


    This second recipe, from Herradura Tequila, combines vodka with pumpkin ale, canned pumpkin and orange juice. If you don’t like vodka, you can substitute apple brandy, spiced rum, even a split between plain rum and hazelnut liqueur, like Frangelico.

    This is a sweet cocktail, so test the recipe first. You can omit the agave if it’s too sweet for you.

    Why is this recipe called “punch?”

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. While punch generally contains fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required. A pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    Punch was discovered in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century, some 150 years before sparkling beverages were available to replace the water. From there punch spread to other countries.

    Carbonated water wasn’t available commercially until 1783. Then, J.J. Schweppe developed a process to manufacture carbonated mineral water, based on the the process discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1767.

    The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, “panch.” In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit. The word for “five” in Sanskrit is panchan; hence the name.



    Can’t live without vodka? This recipe combines it with pumpkin beer. Photo courtesy Herradura Tequila.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Herradura Reposado or substitute*
  • 2 ounces pumpkin ale
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 ounce agave
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (or other bitters)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: star anise pod, orange peel or wheel

    1. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and all ingredients except the garnish. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    NOTE: We made multiple portions in a pitcher with pre-chilled ingredients. Instead of shaking, we whisked the ingredients in the pitcher. We then dropped an ice “hockey puck,” frozen in an empty soup can, into the pitcher. The larger the piece of ice, the slower it melts.




  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

    1. COMBINE the sugar and spices in a saucer or low bowl. Moisten the rim of the glass with water.

    2. DIP the moistened rim into the spice mix and twist to coat.

  • Top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Garnish with an apple or pear slice.
  • Spice up with a cinnamon stick or star anise.
  • Skewer candy corn onto a cocktail pick.
    *Reposado tequila, aged up to a year, takes on a light yellow and more complex flavors than blanco, or silver, tequila. Given the number of flavorful ingredients in this drink, you can substitute blanco if that’s what you have on hand.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Apple Party

    Is this your year to host a candy apple party for Halloween? Kids and adults alike will love the opportunity to customize caramel and/or red candy apples.

    First send out the invites, then start to gather the ingredients.

    You prepare trays of candy- and or caramel-coated apples, and guests do a quick re-dip and add their toppings. We’ll provide the caramel- and candy-coating recipes in a separate article.


    Select toppings that are small in size or crushed. Big pieces of candy or nut halves can fall off, especially on smaller apple (recommended—see the next section). That’s why we excluded Gummies, Goobers, Raisinets and Teddy Grahams.

  • Candy corn
  • Chopped nuts
  • Granola
  • Mini chocolate chips or full size (how about a mix of
    butterscotch, peanut butter, mint, dark, milk and/or white


    At a candy apple party, every guest can customize an apple (at least one!). Photo with regular and chocolate caramel apples courtesy

  • Mini M&Ms
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Mini Reese’s Pieces
  • Oreo bits or crushed graham crackers
  • Pretzel pieces
  • Red Hots
  • Shredded coconut, plain or toasted
  • Sprinkles
  • Toffee bits

  • 2 slow cookers, chafing dishes, or other warmers for the two coatings
  • Bowls and spoons for the toppings
  • Individual bowls or plates for apple-coating
  • Ice pop sticks for the apples
  • Plates, napkins

    You do the messy part in advance: dip the apples in their first coat: dark, milk or white chocolate or caramel. Photo courtesy



    Choose varieties that are crisp but not singularly sweet (e.g. Delicious). The tartness or acidity of the right variety is a counterpoint to the sweet coating and toppings.

    You also want small apples over large ones. Big apples look more impressive, but smaller ones (typically sold pre-bagged) give you a better ratio of apple to topping. And, you can have more than one!

  • For red candy coating: Baldwin, Crispin, Honeycrisp, Idared, Jonathan, Stayman, SweeTango; secondarily, Braeburn, Gala, Fuji.
  • For caramel apples: The tart Granny Smith is the best variety for caramel apples; the tartness works well with the caramel. But any of the red candy apple types will work if you’re not seeking that nuance.
    TIP: Many supermarket apples have a wax coating that can inhibit the coating from sticking to the apple. If you can’t buy your apples from a farmers market or orchard, remove the wax coating by swirling the apples in a pot of boiling water and wiping them dry with paper towels.



    Set the slow cookers, trays of coated apples and bowls of toppings and other materials on a table or sideboard, ideally on a craft paper covering or tablecloth.

    When the guests are ready to create their apples, let them re-dip and add their toppings. Individual bowls for each person help prevent the toppings from spilling on the table.


    What to serve at your candy apple party? Apple-themed drinks:

  • Apple Beer or Ale
  • Apple Cider
  • Apple Spice Tea
  • Appletinis
  • Apple Wine
  • Apple Seltzer (like Polar)
  • Hard Cider
  • Hot Mulled Wine or Mulled Cider
  • Sparkling Cider Punch


    RECIPE: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

    With their seasonal orange color, moist texture and delightful pumpkin flavor, these baked doughnuts are better-for-you, with less sugar and no hot-oil frying. Make them for breakfast, snacking or dessert, with a scoop of ice cream.

    They also freeze nicely. The batter also keeps well in the fridge, in case you want to make a double batch, or prepare the day before to bake in the morning. They are not too pumpkiny—more pumpkin latte than pumpkin pie—so people who don’t like pumpkin can enjoy them, too.

    All you need besides the recipe ingredients are doughnut baking pans. Or, you can make pumpkin muffins in your muffin pan.

  • Wilton Nonstick 12-Cavity Doughnut Pan
  • Fox Run Mini Doughnut Pan (buy 2)
  • Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes, baking time is 30 to 38 minutes.

    For step by step photos, check out the King Arthur Blog.


    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts, 24 Mini Doughnuts Or
    15 Muffins

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar*
  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin purée (plain canned pumpkin)

    Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

    Make the batter the night before, then serve warm muffins at breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour†
    For The Topping

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar or pumpkin-spice sugar

  • For spicier doughnuts, add more pumpkin pie spice or allspice, cinnamon, ginger/or and cloves.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 12-cavity doughnut pans or substitute (mini doughnut pans, muffin pans).

    2. BEAT together until smooth the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

    3. FILL the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15 muffins, so you’ll need to use two muffin pans or bake them in two batches.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin donuts kingarthur 230

    Baked pumpkin doughnuts, close up and delicious. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    4. BAKE the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, bake for 23 to 25 minutes. While the donuts are baking, make the cinnamon sugar or pumpkin spice sugar, by mixing half spice with half superfine sugar. (You can pulse table sugar in the food processor to a superfine consistency.)

    5. REMOVE the doughnuts from the oven. After about 5 minutes, loosen their edges with a knife or spatula and transfer them to a rack to cool. If you plan to eat them shortly: While the doughnuts are still warm, but no longer fragile…

    6. GENTLY SHAKE them in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar. If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar. NOTE that for the best appearance, it’s important to hold the cinnamon-sugar until you’re ready to serve the doughnuts. Store the rest without the cinnamon sugar (see the next step) and add it just before serving.

    7. COOL the doughnuts completely and store at room temperature for several days. Do not wrap them tightly or enclose them in a plastic bag: Because these doughnuts are so moist, they will become soggy. We put ours in a plastic storage container, which allows air to circulate. You can also use a cake dome or a plate with an upended bowl; or use a baking pan covered with wax paper.



    *The original recipe used 1-1/2 cups sugar, but cutting back to 1 cup is just as delicious (although slightly less tender—no big deal).

    †To use self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour (e.g. King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour), reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon; omit the baking powder, and substitute 2 cups (8 ounces) of self-rising flour. Bake the doughnuts for about 18 minutes.



    RECIPE: Apple Sangria


    Ready for a glass? You can use red and
    green apple slices, in addition to the
    strawberries, for extra color. Photo courtesy
    U.S. Apple Association.


    It’s so hot here today (87°F) that we can’t get into fall recipes. But this Apple Sangria recipe is a compromise, turning the most popular fall flavor into a refreshing drink.

    There are actually two recipes below: the first, sangria with Calvados and sparkling wine; the second, a mocktail.

    The first recipe makes eight 8-ounce servings or ten 6-ounce servings. If you don’t have Calvados (apple brandy), you can substitute plain brandy or Cognac.



  • 1/4 cup Calvados
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 5 cups apple juice or cider, chilled
  • 1 medium crisp* apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1 750-ml bottle extra-dry chilled Cava (Spanish white sparkling wine) or Prosecco (Italian white sparkling wine)
  • Ice
  • Preparation

    1. MIX the Calvados and brown sugar in a large pitcher until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the sparkling wine just before serving and gently stir (you don’t want to break the bubbles). Pour into ice-filled glasses.
    *Crisp green apple varieties include Crispin/Mutsu, Ginger Gold, Granny Smith, Newtown Pippin. Crisp red apple varieties include Braeburn, Cameo, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonathan.



    This recipes makes eight 8-ounce, or ten 6-ounce, servings of non-alcoholic sangria.


  • 3-1/2 cups apple juice
  • 1 medium crisp apple (such as Crispin or Honeycrisp) cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup halved white or red seedless grapes
  • 1-1/2 cups club soda, chilled
  • 1 bottle (25-1/2-ounces) non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider, chilled
  • Ice

    1. COMBINE the apple juice, apple, strawberries and grapes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

    2. ADD the club soda and sparkling cider just before serving and gently stir. Pour into ice-filled glasses.



    The Crispin apple, also known as Mutsu, has a green skin. Honeycrisp apples have a red skin. Photo courtesy New York Apple Association.


    Around 200 B.C.E., the conquering Romans arrived in Spain and planted vineyards. They soon discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine in the local soils. While some was enjoyed locally, the majority of the wines were shipped to Rome.

    The locals created fruit punches from the wines and called these drinks sangria after the Spanish word for bloodletting.

    While sangria was drunk in Spain for more than 1,000 years, it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1964—at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. It was quickly adopted by Americans.

    Since January 2014, the use of the word “sangria” on bottle labels is restricted by the European Union. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal can be sold under that name.

    Sangaree, a fruit and wine punch from the West Indies, is the same drink. The name is an archaic English term for sangria.

    December 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s more about sangria.



    RECIPE: Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice

    September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. If today’s weather is to warm for roasting, plan to make it on the next cool day.

    You can serve stuffed acorn squash as a first course, or as a main along with a protein and a green vegetable or salad.

    This recipe is from USA Pears, which has many recipes on its website.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 acorn squash
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • ¾ cup wild rice
  • 1½ cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pear stuffed acorn squash USAPears 230

    Baked acorn squash is stuffed with wild rice, nuts, fruits and herbs. Photo courtesy USA Pears.

  • 2 firm Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (substitute
    Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Toast the nuts to bring out their full flavor. Place the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. When the nuts come out, the squash goes in.

    2. CUT each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim the top and bottom so that the squash will be level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up.

    3. SPRINKLE each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Dot each half wit butter, using 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/acorn duo beauty goodeggs 230

    The first acorn squash of the season. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    4. COMBINE the rice, broth, salt and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. When the rice is done most of the water should be evaporated.

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pears and sauté 2 minutes longer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

    6. COMBINE the cooked rice, sautéed vegetables, pears, walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.


    Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, which also includes cucumber, gourds, other winter squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (including zucchini and yellow squash) and watermelon.

    Known for its acorn shape, hard green skin (often with a splotch of orange) and deep, longitudinal ridges. Inside is sweet, yellow-orange flesh. While the most common variety is dark green in color, newer varieties have been developed, including the yellow- and white-skinned varieties.

    Acorn squashes typically weigh one to two pounds and are between four and seven inches long. Before modern refrigeration, acorn squash was a hardy variety to store throughout the winter. It kept for several months in a cool dry location, such as a cold cellar or a root cellar.

    Acorn squash are indigenous to Central America, and were cultivated by pre-Columbian natives (Mayas, Aztecs and their predecessors) as long as 8,000 years ago. Initially, only the seeds were eaten since the flesh was considered too hard. The flesh layer at the time was much thinner than modern-bred varieties, so not worth the trouble. Today, it is flesh that is prized and the seeds that are typically thrown away!

    Squash traveled north and across what is now the U.S., where it was cultivated and highly prized. The seeds were dried for eating during lean times, or as portable food for travelers.

    The Pilgrims encountered it upon their arrival in Massachusetts. The locals called the fruit askutasquash, which gave way to the English word “squash.”

    Squash became a staple of colonial gardens. Both Washington and Jefferson, among many others, grew squash on their plantations and farms. Today, while other Colonial garden items have come and gone (horehound, lovage, orach and peppergrass, purslane, sea kale and others), squash remains on the popular vegetable list.




    FOOD FUN: Confetti Cake

    With the success of The Flintstones television series, Post Foods obtained a license from Hanna-Barbera for Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereals. Introduced in 1971, the crisp rice cereal bits are still going strong.

    And not just for breakfast, either. They’ve made their way into a variety of baked goods, from donuts to Rice Krispie Treats. Fruity Pebbles, in particular, provides a rainbow of six colors to add brightness and crunch. The cereal has generated a plethora of Fruity Pebbles cakes.

    Depending on your crowd, you may prefer to call them confetti cakes.

    It’s spring, it’s almost Mother’s Day: It’s time to think of making a confetti cake:

  • Bundt cake (recipe)
  • Cake roll (recipe)
  • Cheesecake: as a topper, mixed into the batter or both.
  • Cupcake toppers (recipe)
  • Ice cream cake (recipe)
  • Ice cream pie (recipe)


    Sophisticated: a Fruity Pebbles bundt. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Le Creme De La Crumb.

  • Layer cake: top only, sides only, atop the filling layer(s) inside, or over the whole surface of the cake; mixed into the batter and atop the frosting (recipe)
  • Sheet cake: mixed into the batter and as a garnish atop the frosting


    Check out Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix.

    We love these neon confetti cake decorations.

    The easiest default: mixed sprinkles.



    PRODUCT: Tribe Harvest Carrot & Ginger Hummus

    Kudos to Tribe Hummus for advancing the enjoyment of this healthful spread and snack. In addition to a hefty standard line-up, the company continues to produce limited edition flavors to please the palate.

    The current limited edition, Limited Batch Herb Infused Olive Oil, is a delight, spiced with sesame seeds and za’atar† (also spelled zahtar), a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, including Israeli.

    Then there’s the new Farmers Market line, which currently includes:

  • Cucumber Tzatziki Hummus, with cucumber and dill
  • Harvest Carrot & Ginger Hummus, a favorite combination in winter soups
  • Vine Ripened Tomato & Basil Hummus, a newer version of the brand’s Sundried Tomato & Basil flavor


    Harvest Carrot & Ginger, one of Tribe’s new Farmer’s Market flavors. Photo courtesy Tribe.

    *Flavors from the Tribe Originals Line: Classic Hummus, Cracked Chili Peppers, Everything Hummus, Extra Smooth Classic, Forty Spices, Lemon Rosemary Focaccia, Mediterranean Olive, Mediterranean Style, Roasted Garlic, Spicy Chipotle, Spicy Red Pepper, Sweet Roasted Red Peppers, Zesty Spice & Garlic. Classic, Roasted Garlic and Sweet Roasted Red Peppers are also available in organic versions.

    †Za’atar is actually the Arabic word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, that was known in antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend will vary by the blender, but includes dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds and salt. Some blends add coriander, cumin, fennel seed or savory. A Palestinian variation includes caraway seeds. To these spices, the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries are added. The sumac, ground into a reddish-purple powder that is a popular spice in Middle Eastern cuisine, imparts a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends.



    Tribe’s Harvest Carrot & Ginger Hummus. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.


    The Harvest Carrot & Ginger Hummus, in particular, has a festive orange hue that looks especially nice for holiday snacking. Served with a platter of crudités, it’s a better-for-you option among the rich holiday fare.

    The orange color also fits right in with Halloween and the entire harvest season.

    If you’d like to make your own, here’s a reicpe:


    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 5 minutes.

  • 1 cup well-packed shredded carrots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about two lemons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Garnish: snipped cilantro or parsley
  • Dippers: pita chips, baby carrots and other crudités
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times to coarsely chop. Then let food processor run for about 2 minutes until smooth.

    2. REMOVE hummus from food processor bowl to serving bowl, using a spatula. Serve with dippers of choice.


    Contrary to popular belief, baby carrots are not grown bite-sized. They are bred long and slender, and then cut into two-inch pieces and lathed to a uniform width.

    According to Web MD, carrots do, in fact, help with vision. They are high in vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. Eating carrots provides the small amount of vitamin A needed for good vision. (Vitamin A is also be found in cheese, egg yolks, liver and milk.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Sangria


    Celebrate fall with Apple Cider Sangria. Photo courtesy


    Sangria is a popular party drink, and you can moderate the amount of alcohol or use none at all.

    Here’s the version we’re serving at Thanksgiving, compliments of Zulka Sugar. Fall is apple cider season, so Instead of fruit juice, this recipe uses apple cider and sparkling apple cider.

    Cider s available in alcoholic and non alcoholic versions. In the U.S., alcoholic cider is known as hard cider. (See details below.) Find more delicious recipes at



  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup Calvados or other apple brandy
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work best)
  • 1 bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 5-6 apples, cored and sliced thin (use red apples for better color, or a combination of red and green)
  • Garnish: Cinnamon sticks
  • Optional: ice cubes


    1. COMBINE the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Pour a little of brandy in another small bowl. Dip the glass rims in the brandy and then the cinnamon sugar. Add a few apple slices to each glass. Set aside.

    2. ADD the remaining cinnamon sugar to a large pitcher. Add the apple cider and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Top with the brandy and wine and mix. Add the rest of the apples. Chill until ready to serve.

    3. ADD the sparkling cider right before serving. Garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Serve chilled. Add ice if desired.

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff: It’s an alcoholic drink that many prefer to beer.



    One of our favorite cider brands. Photo courtesy Crispin Cider.

    Usually made from fermented apple juice (although pears can be used—pear cider is known as perry in the U.K.), the juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, is blended, filtered and carbonated.

    The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples. As with beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

    In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, and it’s becoming more popular. Like wine, it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants—but enjoy it for the crisp, refreshing taste!

  • Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.
  • Cider is naturally gluten-free.
  • Cider is less filling than beer.
  • The apple flavor is all-natural (as opposed to artificially-flavored malt beverages).


    PRODUCT: Nonni’s Biscotti In Holiday Flavors


    A holiday treat from Nonni’s. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    We are fans of Nonni’s Biscotti, and even more so with the new holiday flavors.

    Nonni’s limited-edition holiday biscotti are available in Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice, both with cinnamon icing. The biscotti are individually wrapped for easy grab-and-go.

    Delicious for snacking or for gifting, they also pair well with the season’s pumpkin and gingerbread lattes.

    Be sure to get enough for stocking stuffers!

    If you can’t find the biscotti locally, you can get them online:

  • Nonni’s Gingerbread Biscotti
  • Nonni’s Pumpkin Biscotti
    Don’t want spiced biscotti? Try the addictive Salted Caramel Biscotti, embedded with chunks of salted caramel.


    The biscotti are certified kosher by U.S Kosher Supervision. Learn more at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

    Italian-American families often have a festive pasta dish such as lasagna at the Thanksgiving table, along with traditional Turkey Day foods.

    We’ve got two options for Pumpkin Mac & Cheese, a treat throughout the holiday season. Both recipes are courtesy of Cabot Creamery, makers of our favorite supermarket Cheddar.

    This first recipe is courtesy of Kristina LaRue, RD, LDN, for Cabot Creamery. It uses better-for-you whole grain pasta and flour. Note that in this recipe, you can substitute white pastry flour and conventional elbow macaroni; but in baking cookies, cakes, muffins, etc., the substitution proportions will differ.



  • 14 ounces whole grain elbow macaroni
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 ounces Cabot Alpine Cheddar*, shredded and divided
  • 6 ounces Cabot White Oak Cheddar*, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt


    Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. Photo courtesy Cabot Creamery.

    *The recipe used Cabot Alpine Cheddar and Cabot White Oak Cheddar, but you can substitute Sharp Cheddar or Extra Sharp Cheddar.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Coat a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

    2. COOK the macaroni to al dente according to package directions. Rinse and drain.

    3. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange bacon. Cook bacon for 10 minutes and blot dry. Crumble and set aside.

    4. MELT the butter in large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and slowly add the milk until the mixture is smooth and the ingredients are incorporated.

    5. STIR in the canned pumpkin and continue to whisk until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the spices, cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping) and yogurt, whisking quickly to combine until the cheese is melted.

    6. POUR the macaroni into the prepared baking dish and coat evenly with the pumpkin cheese sauce. Top with the remaining cheese and bacon.

    7. BAKE for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.



    Your favorite mac and cheese recipe can served in a baked pumpkin. Photo courtesy Cabot Creamery.



    This recipe is baked in a pumpkin, but there is no pumpkin flesh in the recipe. Instead, you can use the recipe above for a pumpkin-in-pumpkin dish.

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 large pumpkin, about 11 inches in diameter, preferably with one flat side
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups small elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Large pinch ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups whole milk, heated
  • 2 pounds (about 8 cups) Cabot Sharp Cheddar or Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated & divided
  • 1 cup buttered bread crumbs
  • Optional garnish: sprigs of fresh thyme


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375ºF.

    2. PLACE the pumpkin flat-side-down or remove thin slice from one side so the pumpkin will be stable. With a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half horizontally, slightly above stem, to form a bowl. Remove the fiber and seeds. With a spoon or an ice cream scoop, scrape out some of the flesh so shell has a thickness of 3/4 to 1 inch.

    3. SPRAY the top edge of the pumpkin with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil; then place it cut-side down on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the pumpkin still holds it shape but the flesh is cooked and can be pierced easily with a toothpick. While pumpkin bakes…

    4. COOK the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

    5. MAKE the cheese sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and whisk constantly until there is a thick, smooth paste with nutty aroma (about 5 minutes).

    6. ADD the mustard, red pepper and Worcestershire. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue stirring until the sauce thickens and returns to a simmer.

    7. REDUCE the heat to low. Add 7 cups of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the macaroni, stirring until well coated; remove from the heat.

    8. TURN the baked pumpkin over with oven mitts. Place it in a large shallow baking dish (from which you’ll serve it), or leave it on the baking sheet. Fill the pumpkin with the macaroni mixture and top with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. (Put any mac and cheese that won’t fit into another small baking dish).

    9. BAKE until the filling is puffed and golden, about 40 to 50 minutes longer (a smaller baking dish will be done sooner). Let stand for about 10 minutes to settle before serving. Garnish and serve.



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