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TIP OF THE DAY: Tree & Wreath Christmas Crudités

Crudites Christmas Wreath

Christmas Tree Crudites

Give the crudités some Christmas spirit. Top
photo courtesy Superhealthykids.com; bottom
photo courtesy MomEndeavors.com.

 

Recently we showed how to Christmas-ize your breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we saved the crudites for last.

At any holiday gathering, it’s a good idea to have a raw vegetable platter (the French term, crudités, pronounced crew-dee-TAY, sounds much more interesting), along with hummus or a nonfat yogurt-based dip.

But what can you do that’s special for Christmas?

Turn the crudités into a Christmas tree or wreath.

You can do it flat on a platter, or turn into a craft project with a styrofoam base: a cone for a Christmas tree or a ring for a wreath.

And, you can assign it to the kids for their contribution to the festivities.
 
WHAT TO BUY

Broccoli florets make the best base because they evoke an evergreen tree; but decorate your tree or wreath with:

  • Celery sticks (for the trunk)
  • Bell pepper strips for garlands (orange, red, yellow)
  • Carrot circles (use a crinkle cutter)
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Ciliegine (cherry-size mozzarella balls)
  • Grape tomatoes (red and yellow)
  • Mini cucumber and/or zucchini slices
  • Pearl onions
  • Peppadews (red or yellow-orange)
  • Pimento-stuffed olives and
  • Red gaeta, niçoise or other red olive variety
  • Starfruit (carambola) or a yellow bell peppers to make a star (an inexpensive mini cookie cutter set is a great asset, with star, heart, raindrop, flower, triangle and other shapes)
  • Water chestnuts
  •  
    Provide toothpicks to spear the mozzarella balls, olives, etc.
     
    WHAT ABOUT DESSERT?

    For dessert, you can serve a low-calorie wreath or tree of fruit, like this fruit Christmas tree we featured previously.

    But it’s only one of the many options that creative cooks have put together. Here are more designs for fruit Christmas trees.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Peppermint Hard Candies

    Peppermint Stars

    Peppermint Christmas Trees

    Use your holiday cookie cutters to make these fun mint shapes from conventional peppermint candies. Photos courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

     

    We love the recipe developers at Reynolds Kitchen, who often surprise us with their creativity. Just by looking at the photos, you can see what they’ve done with an everyday bag of striped peppermint candies.

    The result is like candy canes, but as Elle Woods would say, the shape is more funner.

    It’s also funner to make them with mints in both holiday colors, red and green. Brach’s makes their striped Starbrite Mints in both colors, as well as a sugar-free red and white mint*.

    So pick up the mints and get out every shape and size of cookie cutter that works for the holidays. Then, serve the mints:

  • On a platter, with after-dinner coffee
  • As decorations on holiday cakes and cupcakes
  • Wrapped in cellophane as stocking stuffers or party favors
  •  
    We’d suggest making them as tree ornaments, but can’t figure out how to affix something so that they hang evenly. We tried making holes with an ice pick before the shapes fully hardened, but it wasn’t neat. Ribbon didn’t stick to the peppermint with the glues we had at hand.

    Any other ideas?

    RECIPE: HOLIDAY SHAPE PEPPERMINTS CANDIES

    Ingredients

  • All of your holiday-appropriate metal cookie cutters (borrow as needed)
  • Cookie sheet and parchment paper
  • Baking spray (or bland cooking spray)
  • A bag of red and white and a bag of green and white hard mints
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper.

    2. SPRAY oven-safe, metal cookie cutters with non-stick cooking spray, then place on the cookie sheet. Fill each cookie cutter with peppermint candies. Break the candies into smaller pieces to fill in the smaller areas of the mold (we used a meat mallet).

    3. BAKE for 3–9 minutes until the candies melt into cookie cutter shapes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the candy harden. Stretch the cookie cutter a bit to remove the candy.

     
    TIP

    This concept works for Valentine’s Day, too. Collect a bunch of heart-shaped cookie cutters.

     
    *We haven’t tested the recipe with sugar-free mints, but guess that they’ll melt in a similar fashion to the conventional variety.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Holiday Cupcakes

    December 15th is National Cupcake Day.

    When a holiday like this falls right before Christmas, there’s only one direction to pursue: Christmas cupcakes.

    Whether you bake them from scratch or buy plain cupcakes to decorate, here are 10 easy approaches:

  • Candy cane cupcakes: Crushed red and white peppermints on chocolate or vanilla iced cupcakes (see photo).
  • Coconut “snowball” cupcakes: Chredded coconut on vanilla icing, plain or decorated with a mini candy cane or other Christmas candy.
  • Cone Christmas tree cupcakes: Cover a small ice cream cone with green frosting and invert on top of a cupcake. Add sprinkles or dragées for “ornaments.”
  • Dragée-dotted cupcakes: A sophisticated approach using metallic-colored gold and/or silver balls.
  • Frosty The Snowman cupcakes: Use black and orange gels or icing to create Frosty’s face atop flat-iced white cupcakes: eyes, nose and mouth (see photo).
  • Holly cupcakes: Use real or candy mint leaves and mini red candies to create a holly sprig.
  • Red and green icing: Use food color to tint icing, store-bought or homemade. Serve as is or with decorations of choice. Check out the special Christmas-wrap Hershey’s Kisses.
  • Rudolph cupcakes: To a chocolate-frostrf cupcake, add white frosting eyes or candy eyes, a red candy nose and pretzel antlers (see photo).
  • Sprinkles cupcakes: Garnish iced cupcakes with red and green sprinkles, confetti, stars or Christmas trees.
  • Star cupcakes: Crown cupcakes with foil-wrapped chocolate stars or red and green gummy stars.
  •  
    CUPCAKE HISTORY

    Before the advent of muffin tins, cupcakes were baked in individual tea cups (hence “cup” cakes) or ramekins. The first reference to the miniature cakes dates to 1796, when a recipe for “cake to be baked in small cups” appeared in the cookbook, “American Cookery.” The earliest documentation of the term “cupcake” was in Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook in 1828 (receipt is an earlier term for recipe). [Source]

    Back then, cupcakes were easier to make than cakes because they cooked much faster. It took a long time to bake a cake in a hearth oven; cupcakes were ready in a fraction of the time. [Source]

     

    Candy Cane Cupcake

    Snowman-Cupcake-c-createdbydiane-230b

    Reindeer Cupcake

    TOP PHOTO: Crushed peppermint and a mini candy cane, at Trophy Cupcakes. MIDDLE PHOTO: Snowman cupcakes © CreatedByDiane.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: Rudolph cupcake at Trophy Cupcakes,

     
    Muffin tins (doing double duty as cupcake tins) became widely available around the turn of the 20th century, and offered a new convenience to bakers of muffins and cupcakes. But the next convenience took a while longer:

    For easier removal of cupcakes from the pan, paper and foil cupcake pan liners were created after World War II. An artillery manufacturer, the James River Corporation, began to manufacture cupcake liners when its military markets diminished. By 1969, they left artillery manufacturing behind and became a paper manufacturer.

    During the 1950s, the new paper baking cup gained popularity as U.S. housewives purchased them for convenience. Their flexibility grew when bakers realized that they could bake muffins as well as cupcakes in the baking cups. [Source]

    Cupcakes evolved into children’s party fare, but in the last decade have taken a more sophisticated turn. First, some younger couples began to choose “cupcake trees” instead of conventional wedding cakes. This prompted a flurry of cupcake articles and recipes, and ultimately the opening of boutique cupcake bakeries nationwide, offering what has become an everyday treat.

    In 2005, Sprinkles Cupcakes, the first cupcakes-only bakery in the world, opened in New York City in 2005. Now, cupcake boutiques are ubiquitous. Get your share, and have a happy National Cupcake Day.
     
    ___________________________

    *Both receipt and recipe derive from the Latin recipere, to receive or take. Receipt was originally used in medieval English to designate a formula or prescription for a medicinal preparation, and the symbol Rx emerged in medieval times. The sense of receipt as a written statement that money or goods have been received emerged later, at the beginning of the 17th century. In terms of cooking instructions, recipe became an alternative to receipt in the 18th century, gradually replacing it over time. Here’s more.

      

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    RECIPE: Holiday Oysters With Cranberry Cocktail Sauce

    Make cranberry cocktail sauce for the holidays. Photo courtesy Willapa Oysters, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

     

    The Pilgrims may well have had oysters at their first harvest feast. We know that mussels were easily picked from rocks along the shore, and oysters were native to the local estuaries, where rivers and streams flowed into the sea.

    Oysters are one of our favorite foods, and a very easy course to prepare. We often serve them as an appetizer at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners.

    Instead of cocktail sauce—ketchup with horseradish—make it seasonal by mixing cranberry sauce with the horseradish. In addition to oysters on the half shell, you can use it as a condiment with fried or roasted oysters.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY COCKTAIL SAUCE

    You can use any cranberry sauce. For this particular recipe, we use store-bought cranberry sauce since the strong horseradish flavors covers over the flavor nuances of homemade sauce.

    You can purchase prepared horseradish plain (off white color) or red (enhanced with beets). We tend to buy the red version for color, but you can use either.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • Optional: splash of vinegar*
  • Optional: lemon zest
  • Plate garnish: whole raw cranberries, baby arugula or baby spinach
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PULSE the cranberry sauce and horseradish to combine. Taste and add more horseradish or a splash of vinegar as desired.

    2. TOP the plated oysters with the cocktail sauce. Garnish with lemon zest. Garnish the platter with whole cranberries and greens (we like spinach leaves for a holiday look) and serve.
     
    *You can use any vinegar, but balsamic or flavored vinegar (balsamic, fruit or herb vinegar) will add another nuance to the cocktail sauce.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Sausage Sliders & Winter Lager

    Sausage Sliders

    Samuel Adams Winter Lager Tap

    TOP PHOTO: The National Pork Board recommends these sliders with your lager. BOTTOM PHOTO: Samuel Adams Winter Lager, in bottles, cans and on tap.

     

    December 10th is National Lager Day; the entire second week in December is Lager Beer Week. Here’s a special slider recipe from the National Pork Boardto go with your lager.

    The recipe combines the retro appeal of deviled eggs with the modern fondness for sliders, although the recipe makes an egg salad instead of a filling for hard-boiled egg white halves.

    You can make the sliders for brunch, lunch or game day snacking.

    Don’t like sausage patties? Substitute bacon, Canadian bacon or thick-sliced ham for the sausage. Don’t like cilantro? Use baby arugula or watercress.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: SAUSAGE & DEVILED EGG SALAD SLIDERS

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 8 breakfast pork sausage patties (about 12 ounces total), about 3 inches in diameter*
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce, or more to taste
  • Salt
  • 2 cups cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stems)
  • 8 soft dinner rolls, split horizontally
  • Optional garnish: gherkins or olives (with toothpicks)
  •  
    *If you can’t find ready-made patties, shape 12 ounces of loose breakfast sausage into eight 3-inch patties. Or substitute bacon, Canadian bacon or thick-sliced ham.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK the sausage patties in a large skillet over medium heat, until browned and cooked through (2 to 3 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and cover loosely to keep warm.

    3. DRAIN the eggs and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop the eggs. In a large bowl, combine the chopped eggs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard and sriracha. Season with salt, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside.

    4. ARRANGE the cilantro sprigs on the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the sausage patties, egg salad and top halves of rolls. Add the optional olive or gherkin and serve.

    NOW FOR THE LAGER

    We’ll publish an article on winter beers on the first day of winter, but here’s an advance preview of winter lager. Numerous craft breweries make them.

    The easiest one to find is Samuel Adams Winter Lager; but also look for Mustang, Wolverine, Stark and possibilities from y your local breweries.

    You’ll also find “Christmas ale” or seasonal beers and ales from other brewers that are similar: brewed with winter spices (cinnamon, orange peel, maple syrup, nutmeg or whatever the brewer favors). A quick search turned up beers from Blue Moon, Brooklyn Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co.

    Other beer types are also “wintrified,” including the fancifully named Abominable Ale from Hopworks, Old Man Winter White Ale from Southern Tier Brewing, Brrrr Red Ale from Widmer Brothers and Siberian Night Imperial Stout from Thirsty Dog.

    But it’s National Lager Day. We raise a glass to the German and Bohemian immigrants who brought lagering to the U.S.A., which previously had only ale†. The first lager brewmaster appears to have been one John Wagner from Bavaria, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1840, carrying with him a supply of lager yeast. The rest is history.

    †Yeast that enables lagering was not discovered until the 1700s, believed to have been unwittingly transported on a ship from South America. The written record on ale dates to ancient Mesopotamia.
     
      

    Comments

    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.
     
    RECIPE: CHEESE STAR

    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])
  •  
    Ingredients

    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.
     
    HOW ABOUT A CHEESE CHRISTMAS TREE?

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

      

    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 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

    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

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Lemon Cream Pie Day

    Lemon Cream Pie

    Frozen lemon cream pie with a hit of lemon-flavored vodka.

     

    National Lemon Cream Pie Day is November 29th. This year, we’re serving up something special courtesy of a recipe from New Amsterdam Vodka: a frozen pie with vodka.

    Don’t want the alcohol? Don’t want a frozen pie? There’s a very creamy lemon cream pie recipe below.

    RECIPE: FROZEN LEMON VODKA CREAM PIE*

    Ingredients For 1 Pie

  • 2 cups lemon sherbet
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 ounces frozen lemonade
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored vodka or plain vodka
  • 1 pie crust (we used a graham cracker crust)
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Optional garnishes: berries, lemon zest, mint leaves
  •  
    *A.K.A. New Amsterdam Frozen Lemonade Pie.

     
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ingredients together thoroughly, and scoop into the pie crust. Freeze.

    2. SERVE with whipped cream and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Berries are optional but they provide a nice hit of color.

     

    RECIPE: LUSCIOUS LEMON CREAM PIE

    This recipe from Pillsbury gets its creaminess from sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream (whippping cream).

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 pie crust (9 inches)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 medium lemons)
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 4 drops yellow food color, if desired
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 450°F. Bake the crust 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

     

    Lemon Cream Pie - Pillsbury

    Now that’s a lemon cream pie! Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     
    2. MIX the condensed milk, lemon peel and lemon juice in a medium bowl; set aside.

    3. BEAT beat 2 cups of the whipping cream and the food color in large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, until stiff.

    4. FOLD the lemon mixture into the whipped cream until just blended. Spoon it into the crust. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours until set.

    5. BEAT the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, until stiff. Spoon dollops on top of the pie or on slices of pie when serving. Store the pie covered in the refrigerator.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EVAPORATED MILK AND SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

    The quickest explanation is in the names: sweetened condensed milk has added sugar and evaporated milk doesn’t. It is also much thicker: Evaporated milk pours like regular milk, but sweetened condensed milk pours like molasses. They are not interchangeable in recipes, but both can be used in coffee.

  • Evaporated milk is fresh cow’s milk from which about 60% percent of the water has been removed by evaporation. It’s then homogenized, fortified with vitamins and stabilizers, canned and sterilized. The heat from the sterilization gives the milk a bit of a caramelized flavor, and makes the color slightly darker than fresh milk. Evaporated milk was originally called unsweetened condensed milk, although that term is no longer used.
  • Sweetened condensed milk also has about 60% percent of the water removed, then sugar is added as well as vitamin A. Condensed milk contains 40% to 45% sugar, but it means that no (or less) added sugar is required in the recipe. Condensed milk requires no sterilization, since sugar is a natural inhibitor of bacteria growth. It is darker and more yellow in color than evaporated milk.
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    WHO INVENTED EVAPORATED MILK & SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK?

    Both were invented by Gail Borden, who subsequently formed the dairy company that bears his name. In 1852 he was traveling transatlantic when the cows aboard ship became too seasick to provide milk (and there was no refrigeration in those days to keep milk fresh). He began to experiment, and two years later produced a canned milk that did not go sour at room temperature for three days after the can was opened.

    Borden received a patent for sweetened condensed milk in 1856 and began commercial production the following year. Unsweetened condensed milk, now called evaporated milk, took more time to perfect since it didn’t have the sugar to inhibit bacteria growth. It was finally canned successfully in 1885.

    In the days before refrigeration, both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk were used more than fresh milk because they were less likely to spoil and harbor harmful bacteria.

      

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