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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

FOOD FUN: Cheese Wedge Reindeer

Here’s an easy Christmas snack to make from Laughing Cow cheese wedges, or any cheese you like enough to cut into wedges.

Simply assemble:

  • Cheese wedges for the head
  • Mini pretzels for antlers
  • Halved pimento-stuffed olives for the nose
  • Peppercorn eyes (green peppercorns are very mild and more kid-friendly)
  •  
    The use of a red tray liner sets off the white cheese and adds to the festiveness.

    We found the photo on Pinterest, regrettably with no attribution. But for a fun treat for kids and adults alike, we had to share it here.

     

    cheese-reindeer-applepins.com-pinterest-230

    Turn a cheese wedge into Rudolph. Photo: Pinterest.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Cane Cocoa Rim

    cocoa-cup-ziploc-230

    Warm up your day with peppermint-accented
    cocoa. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     

    For those living north of the Equator, today* is the the winter solstice, shortest day of the year.

    Since antiquity, man has celebrated the winter solstice with feasting, gifts, visiting, drinking and more of the pleasures that counter the daily hardships of life.

    So treat yourself to something special. We recommend a candy cane hot chocolate.

    Start by making a seasonal cocoa cup rimmer with crushed candy canes or other peppermint candies.

    Here’s a recipe for an easy batch of “peppermint dust” from Ziploc. Use it to turn goodies into festive treats all winter long.

    To rim a cup of cocoa, dip the rim in water about 1/4 inch deep. Place the peppermint dust on a plate or in shallow bowl and twist the wet rim in it until it adheres.

     
    HOW TO MAKE PEPPERMINT DUST

    1. PLACE candy canes or other red and white peppermint candies in a Ziploc bag. Gently crush the candies with a rolling pin. Use less pressure for tiny chunks, and more pressure for a fine dust.

    2. STORE the peppermint dust in a a Ziploc bag or other airtight container for easy access.

    3. SPRINKLE on frosted, brownies, donuts, cupcakes. See these and other recipes at LifeLessons.Ziploc.com.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT CHOCOLATE

    Hot chocolate is made by mixing shaved, ground or other form of actual chocolate like beads or pellets (pistoles). The chocolate is mixed with water or milk, plus a sweetener. If you were to eat the chocolate, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.

    Cocoa is made with cocoa powder. Many products made from cocoa powder are called “hot chocolate,” but there is a difference. As chocolate contains far more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, hot chocolate will be smoother and richer than hot cocoa, all things being equal (if both products are made with the same type of liquid—milk, half and half, water, etc.) .

    Check out the different types of cocoa and hot chocolate.
     
    EASY PEPPERMINT BARK

    For an over-the-top treat, have some peppermint bark with your candy cane cocoa.

    Peppermint bark is super easy to make. Simply:

     

    with-rolling-pin-230

    It’s easy to make peppermint dust. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     
    1. MELT white chocolate chips or a white chocolate bar in a microwave safe bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with peppermint dust.

    2. CHILL in the refrigerator for an hour and break into chunks. Voilà: a special treat with little effort.
     
    *Using the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs between December 20th and December 23rd. Based on the rotation of Earth, the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun at the winter solstice (and closest to the sun at the vernal equinox in June). The Gregorian calendar is used in most western countries: 365 days in a year, 366 days in a leap year.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Nutella Latte

    nutella-latte-cherrystreetcoffeehouse-delonghi-230

    The latte for Nutella fans. Photo courtesy
    Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.

     

    To all those who enjoyed our recipe for Nutella French Toast, here’s the drink to go with it:

    It was created by Laila Ghambari, U.S. 2014 Barista Champion, director of coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House, a Seattle mini-chain, and a spokesperson for De’Longhi premium coffee machines.

    She recently developed this easy-to-make Nutella Latte recipe, and De’Longhi shared it with us.

    RECIPE: NUTELLA LATTE

    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 teaspoon Nutella
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, chocolate powder (sweetened hot chocolate mix), chopped toasted hazelnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD 1 tablespoon of Nutella to the bottom of the cup. Combine with prepared espresso and stir, then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate powder or chopped toasted nuts.

     

    If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like Nutella, here’s another recipe Laila created. There are no chestnuts or pecans (the typical nut for praline) in this drink, but she created it to evoke those flavors.

    RECIPE: MOCK CHESTNUT PRALINE LATTE

    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey or caramel syrup or hazelnut syrup
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, shaved chocolate or mini chips, chopped toasted hazelnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM up the peanut butter and sweetener. Combine with the prepared espresso then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate or chopped toasted nuts.

     

    chestnut-praline-latte-cherrystreetcoffeehouse-delonghi-230

    Mock Chestnut Praline Latte. Photo courtesy Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Tree Eggnog French Toast

    This recipe from Driscoll’s Berries tastes best when using slightly stale bread and soaking it overnight in the eggnog mixture. You can, however, make it at the last minute without the advance prep work.

    For Christmas breakfast, most of the prep can be done the night before. In the morning, just brown the toast and trim to assemble your tree. Place it on the dining table and watch the tree disappear quickly!

    You’ll have more berries than you need to decorate the Christmas tree, so serve them in a bowl on the side. Find more berry-laden recipes at Driscolls.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS TREE EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 thick slices dense, stale bread* (country white or wheat
    bread)
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • Optional: maple syrup
  •  
    *If the bread is fresh, let the slices sit uncovered for a few hours to dry out.

     

    christmas-tree-eggnog-french-toast-driscolls-230

    Turn French Toast into a Christmas tree. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. LINE a large, shallow baking pan with bread slices. Mix the eggnog with the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the eggnog mixture over the bread, turning the slices once to coat both sides. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

    2. HEAT a greased griddle over medium heat. Cook the bread slices about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan then cut the 2 bottom corners off at an angle leaving the top crust intact. Bottom of the slice should now be in a V pattern.

    3. PLACE the slices on a platter and create a berry Christmas tree by layering berry slices V side up to form a pyramid shape. Arrange a single blackberry as a stump, sliced strawberries for the tree skirt and 6 raspberries as a tree topper. Then create a garland of small blueberries. Top with dusting of nutmeg and powdered sugar for snow. Serve with an optional side of maple syrup, and a bowl of the extra berries.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Red Cabbage

    red-cabbage-bacon-foodswinesfromspain-230r

    Red cabbage with sausage and pork. Photo courtesy Foods And Wines From Spain.

     

    This red cabbage dish is a Christmas specialty in Spain, where it is called Lombarda navideña. To make it festive, sausage and bacon are added.

    All over Europe, red cabbage is a delicious pairing with duck, goose, ham and pork roast. This recipe has Spanish touches of chorizo, Spanish olive oil and sherry vinegar.

    Daisy Martinez, who cooks Puerto Rican style, makes a Lombarda navideña with more layers of flavor, including brandy, lemon, pears and raisins, plus bay leaf and thyme. Here’s her recipe. We adapted the recipe below to include the thyme.

    Foods and wines From Spain recommends enjoying it with a dry Cava, Spain’s famed sparkling wine. It’s one of the few wines that can be matched with red cabbage, they say.

    RECIPE: RED CABBAGE WITH CHORIZO & BACON

    Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chorizo, finely diced (substitute: andouille
    or any smoked, garlicky sausage)
  • 2/3 cup bacon, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    (substitute: cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Preparation

    1. FINELY CHOP the cabbage and wash it thoroughly. Add it to a pan full of boiling water and cook until it becomes soft. Drain the cabbage and place it in a saucepan.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic briefly. Add this mixture to the red cabbage followed, by the chorizo and the bacon. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

    3. ADD the vinegar and thyme, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary before serving.
     
    This recipe was adapted from the original by Sonia Fuentes/©ICEX. Find more delicious recipes at FoodsWinesFromSpain.com.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pomegranate Panna Cotta

    Italian for “cooked cream,” it is a light, silky-smooth egg custard made with heavy cream and gelatin and typically served with fresh fruit or a fruit purée. Panna cotta originated in the Piedmont area of northern Italy, a region known for its cream.

    Smooth, silky and creamy, panna cotta is less rich than other types of custard because it’s made without eggs. (Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.)

    Panna cotta is a gluten free dessert, and this version with pomegranate adds a festive holiday touch. This recipe is from Karen Tedesco of Family Style Food and Go Bold With Butter. Find more delicious recipes at FamilyStyleFood.com.

    RECIPE: POMEGRANATE PANNA COTTA

    Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2-1/2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
  •    

    pomegranate-panna-cotta-familystylefood-2-230r

    Bright panna cotta for the holidays. Photo courtesy Family Style Food.

     

    halved-pomegranate-pinkberry-230

    The arils (seeds) inside a pomegranate. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY COAT 6 x 1/2-cup molds or ramekins with neutral-tasting oil or spray.

    2. SPRINKLE 1/2 teaspoon of the gelatin over 2 teaspoons of water in a small dish, and let stand a few minutes to soften and dissolve.

    3. MAKE pomegranate jelly: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice with the granulated sugar in a small saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar and heat just to a simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture over low heat until it dissolves in the juice, then divide into the molds (about a scant tablespoon in each). Place the molds on a baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

    4. DISSOLVE the remaining 2 teaspoons of gelatin in a small dish with 1 tablespoon water.

    5. HEAT the cream, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Heat until very warm, but not boiling. Stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Pour the cream through a fine strainer into a container with a pouring spout, such as a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside to cool completely.

     

    6. POUR the cream over the pomegranate jelly in the molds, dividing evenly. Cover gently with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill and set, at least 4 hours. About an hour before serving…

    7. PUT the remaining cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until reduced in volume by half (you should have 1/2 cup syrup); cool.

    8. TO SERVE: Dip the molds in very hot water for about 30 seconds (be careful not to submerge). Run a small offset spatula or blade of a small, sharp knife around the edges of the panna cotta, then invert onto plates. Drizzle some pomegranate syrup over each, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Gourmet Grocery Store Gift Card

    If you can’t think of a gift for people who like good food—because you don’t know exactly what they’d like—consider a gift card.

    A gift card to a premium market enables recipients to try new things or buy luxury items like artisan cheeses.

    Many of us our space-challenged at home, cramming those gift sweaters and bath products into already crammed drawers and closets. Unlike most gifts, which require space to store, a gift card can be spent and consumed in the same day.

    You can purchase gift cards in-store, of course. Some retailers, like Whole Foods, let you buy the cards online as well, with the option to send them digitally with a personalized holiday message.

    The photo is actually the 2014 limited edition holiday gift card from Whole Foods.

    Solved: what to get your favorite cook or foodie.

     

    whole-foods-gift-card-230

    The limited edition 2014 holiday gift card from Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Martini Taste-Off

    You can make a Cranberry Martini with cranberry liqueur, or you can use cranberry sauce to make a novelty version of the drink.

    We adapted this recipe from Cooking Channel mixologists Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark.

    Why not have a Cranberry Cocktail Challenge at your holiday celebration? Mix up a batch of Cranberry Sauce Cocktails and another of Cranberry Martinis (made with cranberry juice—recipe below) and let the guests choose their favorite.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY SAUCE COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce (without whole berries)
  • 2 ounces vodka (you can use gin or tequila if you prefer)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: sprig of fresh rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry sauce, vodka, lime juice and bitters in a shaker.

       

    cranberry-sauce-cocktail-ward-hardstark-230

    Turn leftover cranberry sauce into a cocktail. Photo courtesy Alie Ward | Georgia Hardstark.

     
    2. ADD the ice and shake very vigorously for 45 seconds. Strain into a chilled Martini or coupe glass.

    3. GARNISH with a sprig of rosemary.

     

    Cranberry-Martini-Penny Burt-IST-230

    A classic Cranberry Martini. Photo by Penny Burt | IST.

     

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY MARTINI

    At its simplest, the Cranberry Martini, a.k.a. Crantini, is a simple variation of a Cosmopolitan, which combines vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec and lime juice. The simplest Cranberry Martini recipe leaves out the last two ingredients. Whether you like a gin or vodka Martini, there are several ways to approach this cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce vermouth (optional)
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry liqueur or 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • Fresh, frozen or dried cranberries for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with 2 ice cubes. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

    2. FLOAT 3 cranberries for garnish.

     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY LIME MARTINI

    This citrusy variation showcases the flavor synergies between lime and gin.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 parts gin
  • 2 parts freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 parts cranberry juice
  • Lime wedge or wheel for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.

    2. STRAIN into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
     
    Let us know which recipe wins at your house!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Panettone Stuffing

    We love panettone, an Italian yeast bread filled with candied citron, lemon zest, and raisins (and sometimes other ingredients).

    If we get too much of it to toast for breakfast or top with ice cream for dessert, we make other favorites, such as Panettone French toast, Panettone grilled cheese and panettone PB&J sandwiches.

    And then, there’s Panettone stuffing or dressing*. While stuffing is most commonly prepared with days old white bread, you can use panettone to give your stuffing a sweet edge.

    This recipe is courtesy Bauli Panettone.

    PANETTONE STUFFING

    Ingredients

  • 1 loaf panettone (2.2 pounds)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 bunches fresh sage, leaves minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1-1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup minced celery or fennel
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • Up to 2 cups chicken stock or turkey stock
  • Optional: 2 eggs for a firmer stuffing
  •    

    pannetone-stuffing-bauli-230

    Cut a loaf of panettone into cubes to make the stuffing. Photo courtesy Bauli.

     

     
    *The difference: stuffing is cooked inside the bird and dressing is cooked in a separate dish.

     

    panettone-box-sliced-2014-230

    Panettone can be found in most supermarkets during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Bauli.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the panettone into 3/4-inch squares and place in large bowl. Melt half of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and continue to cook until light brown, about 5 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat and add half the sage. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sage butter over the bread and toss gently but swiftly. Spread out on 2 cooking sheets and place in the oven until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place back into the bowl. Meanwhile…

    3. PLACE the dried fruit in a large bowl; add boiling water to cover and then set aside for at least 10 minutes. This will plump and soften the fruit for cooking. Drain the fruit once it is plumped.

    4. RAISE the oven temperature to 375°F. Melt the remaining butter and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté on medium-low heat until soft. Add dried fruit and remaining sage. Toss into cooled croutons. Gently toss and add chicken broth to moisten; add more broth if you like a softer stuffing. Stir in beaten eggs now, if using. Adjust salt and pepper, to your liking. Turn out into an oven-proof casserole.

     

    5. BAKE uncovered until golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Beer Menorah

    For 18 years, the Shmaltz Brewing Company has been handcrafting HE’BREW, classic beers with culturally-relevant names (certified kosher, of course, by KSA).

    Chanukah begins tonight, so take a look!

    THE CHOSEN BEERS

    The brewery currently makes:

  • Barrel Aged Funky Jewbellation
  • Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.
  • Chanukah Beer
  • David’s Slingshot
  • Death Of A Contract Brewer
  • Genesis Dry Hopped Session Ale
  • Hop Manna IPA
  • Jewbelation 18 (18 malts, 18 hops)
  • Messiah Nut Brown Ale
  • Origin Pomegranate Ale
  • Rejewvenator Dubbel Doppel
  • Reunion Ale 2014
  • St. Lenny’s Belgian Rye Double IPA
  •  

    he-brew-beer-menorah-230

    Chanukah beer. Photo courtesy Schmaltz Brewing Company.

     

    There’s a He’Brew Gift pack of eight different styles that includes a custom glass an Chanukah candles to build your own beer menorah, and possibly enter it in the annual contest.

    This is non-denominational enjoyment: Feel free to participate no matter what your religious beliefs.

    To find a retailer in your area, contact your local distributor.

      

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