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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,
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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easy Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Haagen-Dazs Rum Raisin Pint

Look for it in stores or make your own Rum Raisin ice cream. Photos courtesy Häagen-Dazs.


Our favorite Thanksgiving ice cream flavor is not Pumpkin, but Rum Raisin. It’s an old-fashioned flavor that seems very American (as rum was produced close to home, in the Caribbean). Actually, its roots are in Sicily; the history is below.

It’s easy to make Rum Raisin from basic Vanilla ice cream:

Marinate the raisins overnight in rum and sugar. Drain and stir the raisins into softened vanilla ice cream. Return the ice cream to the freezer to harden.

Even easier: Use the rum-soaked raisins as a topping on vanilla ice cream, or interspersed in a parfait.

TIP: We usually have a jar of rum-soaked raisins in the fridge, and give jars of it as gifts. It’s better visually to mix purple and golden raisins (sultanas). For Christmas, we add some dried cranberries; and also make a separate concoction of dried cranberries in a mix of rum and cranberry liqueur. All versions are delicious in a cup of hot tea.

If you want to make Rum Raisin Ice Cream from scratch, here’s a recipe from Saveur.

It’s so much more special than vanilla ice cream, with:

  • Apple pies and tarts
  • Sundaes and waffle sundaes with caramel or hot fudge
    Use the marinated raisins themselves as a topping on:

  • Bread puddings
  • Poached pears, compotes and other cooked fruit dishes
  • Rice pudding and other puddings


    In Sicily, where it originated, what we call Rum Raisin is known as Málaga. The Sicilians were the first to create Rum Raisin gelato, which was originally made with the local Marsala wine instead of rum.

    The raisins were soaked overnight in the wine and then mixed into vanilla gelato*. The sweet Málaga raisins with a burst of alcohol were a hit, and led to Rum Raisin/Málaga flavors in other desserts. Bread puddings, cakes (especially fruit cakes and pound cakes), cookies, custards, pastries, pies and puddings were all enhanced with rum-soaked raisins.

    A grass originally from the the Pacific islands of Melanesia and Polynesia, sugar cane was introduced to the Caribbean in 1493 by Christopher Columbus [sugar history and source].

    By the 17th century, the Caribbean had become the major source of sugar for the West. Molasses is a by-product of refining the cane juice into sugar. Rum was first made from fermented and distilled molasses, most likely on the island of Barbados, where plantation slaves discovered that molasses could be fermented into an alcoholic beverage and then distilled to remove its impurities.

    Fast forward to ice cream: As flavors proliferated in the U.S., rum-soaked raisins were as much a hit as they had been in Italy (the history of ice cream).

    According to, alcohol and ice cream were “pondered in the 18th century; commercially achieved in the USA during the 1930s.” A 1932 newspaper display ad in the Ardmore [Oklahoma] Daily Admoreite of January 14, 1932 declared, “Extra Special. Rum Raisin Ice Cream. Entirely New.” In 1970, President and Mrs. Richard Nixon gave a dinner in honor of President and Madame Georges Pompidou of France, which included pistachio and rum raisin ice creams in the shape of a melon.”

    In the early 1980s, Häagen-Dazs made sure almost all Americans could taste Rum Raisin, by launching the flavor—its fifth, after chocolate, coffee, strawberry and vanilla. It became a hit, but the company now has 24 basic ice cream flavors plus 9 gelato flavors, 7 artisan flavors and 4 sorbets. As a result, Rum Raisin has become a fall season flavor.

    But, just keep that jar of rum-soaked raisins in the fridge and vanilla ice cream in the freezer, and you can have it whenever you want.
    *The difference between gelato and ice cream.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Thanksgiving Dessert Could Be Bites

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin cheesecake bites whiteonricecouple 230

    Bountiful Cookbook

    TOP PHOTO: Cut up the brownies, cheesecake and pumpkin, insert toothpicks, and everyone will enjoy dessert more by eating less. BOTTOM PHOTO: The photographers also cook. Take a look at their fruit and veggie-centric cookbook. Photos ©


    You know how you feel at the end of the turkey course at Thanksgiving dinner: stuffed to the gills (although it seems that the expression should be adapted to “stuffed to the drumsticks”).

    There’s still dessert to be had—delicious dessert(s) handmade with love. But no one really has room for a piece of pie or even that wonderful pumpkin cheesecake.

    Here’s a solution we adapted after seeing this photo from

    The couple comprises Todd and Diane, top professional food photographers who cook at home when they aren’t shooting someone elses’s fare. They also grow vegetables and have almost 40 fruit trees in their garden.

    And no surprise, they’ve written a cookbook, Bountiful, with each recipe featuring a vegetable or fruit as the star of the meal. You can also go to their website and sign up for social media posts. But back to the…

    1. Make desserts that are dense enough to be cut into squares, like bar cookies (that’s the category* for brownies, lemon bars, etc.). Below are recipes for cranberry, pecan, pumpkin and pumpkin cheesecake bars.

    2. Cut the bars into bite size squares, add a fancy toothpick and pass the plate. The theme: Enjoy dessert more by eating less. Even people who “can’t eat another bite” can have a satisfying bite or two. Everyone will thank you for coming up with such a smart solution.


  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
  • Cranberry Bars Recipe
  • Cranberry Curd Bars on Walnut Shortbread Recipe
  • Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Recipe
  • Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
  • Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
  • Pumpkin Swirl Chocolate Brownies Recipe
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies Recipe
    *Bars are categorized as cookies instead of cake because they are finger foods that don’t require a fork.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chicken Or Turkey Stock

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    Enjoy your feast, but don’t toss the carcass.
    Use it to make stock! Photo courtesy Sur La


    Plan ahead: Don’t throw away that turkey carcass. Or the roast chicken* carcass. Or those tops, root ends and stems from trimming vegetables. Save the vegetable trimmings from the week’s meals: carrot tops, celery ends, fennel fronds, herb stems, kale stalks, leek tops, scallion ends, etc.

    Check the freezer for herbs and vegetable scraps you may have tucked away.

    Use all of it to make a delicious batch of chicken or turkey stock, which you can then turn into cooked grains, sauces, soups, stews and other preparations.



  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, cut in half
  • Chicken or turkey carcass
  • Vegetable trimmings† or 1-2 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery
  • Parsley and thyme (leftover stems are fine)
    *Or duck, game hen, quail or any poultry carcass. You can blend them together into one stock as needed.
    †Check the freezer for herbs and anything else you might have tucked away to prevent spoiling.


    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a stock pot (6-8 quarts for a turkey, 4-6 quarts for a chicken) and cover them with water plus one inch. If the carcass doesn’t fit in the pot, use poultry shears to cut it into pieces that do. Don’t salt the water; stock should be unsalted to accommodate any recipe. Place the top on the pot.

    2. BRING to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for minimum of 90 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Once or twice during the simmering, remove the cover and skim off the frothy scum that’s formed on the top of the broth. Add more water if it boils away; the bones should always be covered. When the broth has turned a golden brown color and is rich in flavor…

    3. REMOVE the pot from the heat. As soon as it’s comfortable enough to handle, strain the broth and discard the solids. If it isn’t clear enough for you, strain it again through cheesecloth.

    4. FREEZE the chicken broth in portion-sized containers. We like ice cube trays (once frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag); or in half pint or pint storage containers. If you have a short-term use for it, you can refrigerate the stock for up to a week.

  • A stock pot with a pasta strainer insert is ideal for this purpose.
  • If you don’t want to “watch the pot,” you can use a slow cooker on a low setting.


    Instead Of Water

  • Grains: rice (plain or in risotto), quinoa, couscous and other dishes
  • Soups: use as much stock as you have, then fill in with water
  • Vegetables: steaming and boiling
    Instead Of Butter And/Or Cream

  • Gravy
  • French sauces, such as bercy and velouté
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Purées: use stock to smooth out a bean or vegetable purée
  • Sautés: add some stock and use less butter or oil
  • Soups, from wintry butternut squash soup to summer gazpacho
  • Stuffing, dressing and other savory bread pudding recipes
    Instead Of Wine

  • Deglazing the pan for sauce
  • Marinades
  • Any recipe that requires wine

    Chicken Stock

    Take pride in your homemade stock. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


  • Broth is a finished soup; stock is an ingredient.
  • Broth has a higher proportion of meat.
  • Because stock is made largely from the bones, it contains more gelatin, which gives it a richer mouthfeel.
  • Stock is not salted. Since it is an ingredient, it combines with whatever seasonings the recipes call for.
    What about bouillon?

    The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably, though not correctly.

    Bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantial with the addition of a grain (barley, rice, etc.) and vegetables.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Meyer Lemons

    Meyer Lemons

    A profusion of Meyer lemons at Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.


    You should start seeing Meyer lemons in stores now. The no-pucker lemon’s season is November through March.

    A cross between a true lemon and either a sweet orange or a mandarin, Citrus × meyeri was named for Frank Nicholas Meyer, who brought it back from China in 1908. Meyer worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an “agricultural explorer,” traveling the world to find new foods that might be desirable in America.

    The Chinese had long been growing the lemon variety in pots, as ornamental trees. Meyer lemon trees thus were planted in California yards, and the fruit was enjoyed by the home owners.

    Meyer lemons became a hot food item when they were “rediscovered” by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in the 1990s. Other chefs and personalities like Martha Stewart began featuring them in recipes; groves were planted and the fruits began to arrive in markets.

    The benefit is yours.


    Meyer lemons are much sweeter and more flavorful than the Bearss and Lisbon varieties commonly found in American grocery stores (here are the different types of lemons). They have much less acid, which is why the juice is sweeter and brighter.

    While they are smaller than the Bearss and Lisbon lemons, they are much juicier with a very thin (and edible) peel, and can even deliver more juice per lemon.

    And their fragrance is beguiling.



    You can buy ornamental dwarf Meyer lemon trees to keep in pots indoors or on the patio. Planted in the ground, they can grow to heights of eight feet. Check out the options at:

    The trees produce lovely white blossoms before they fruit, and have glossy leaves year-round. Consider one for your own home or for gifting.

  • Lemonade without the pucker (and just a bit of sugar required)
  • Cocktails, spritzers and lemon water
  • Cakes, pies and other baked goods
  • Ice cream, sorbet, pudding
  • Marmalade, lemon curd

    Meyer Lemon Tree

    This fragrant tree can grace any home. We’d love to receive one as a gift. Photo courtesy

  • In any recipe that calls for lemon juice and/or peel: chicken, ham, fish and seafood, vegetables, salads, etc.
    Here are 30+ ways we use Meyer lemons, plus a recipe for Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc. You can also peruse these recipes from

    Perhaps our favorite Meyer lemon recipe:



  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice

    1. ZEST all the lemons and save the extra (it freezes well). You can add it to salad dressings, baked goods, anything.

    2. BRING the sugar and the water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and zest; stir to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into the canister of a 1-quart ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 25-30 minutes). Transfer to a freezer container and freeze for 4 hours or longer.

    4. SET the container on the counter to stand for 5 minutes before serving.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Duck Fat

    Duck fat has long been a staple in the kitchens of top chefs. Like bacon fat, duck fat enhances the flavor of anything it touches.

    One of the finest animal fats for cooking, it actually is low in saturated fat. As an ingredient, it has a silky mouth feel, subtle flavor and a high smoke point, which makes it valuable for high-heat cooking like French fries or pan searing.

    Other benefits include deep browning and the ability to re-use the fat after cooking with it (strain it into a container).


    Recent studies on duck fat show that it is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, making it one of healthiest animal fats you can eat.

  • Duck fat contains only 33% saturated fat; 62% is unsaturated fat (13.7% of which is polyunsaturated fat, containing Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential oils).
  • Duck fat is closer nutritionally to olive oil, with 75% monounsaturated fat, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linoleic acid, than it is to other animal fats.
  • It’s high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that actually helps keep cholesterol numbers in check (it’s the same fat that makes olive oil heart-healthy).
  • Most of the saturated fat is stearic acid, which is generally considered to be heart friendly.

    Duck Fat Uses

    TOP PHOTO: Duck Fat-Potato Galette with Caraway and Sweet Onions from Bon Appetit. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: A French classic: confit leg of duck in cassoulet, with duck bacon. Photo courtesy Payard | NYC.

  • Duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, (which has 51%).
  • High use of duck fat equals lower heart disease. In the southwest of France, where duck is the go-to cooking fat, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is about half that of the rest of France—which, per the French paradox, is already less than half that of the U.S.
    While the USDA may never declare duck fat to be heart-healthy like olive oil, you can use it without guilt. You have plenty of time to try it: It keeps frozen for six months or longer.

    Use duck fat as you would any other animal fat, in the same quantity and manner (melted vs. solid, cold vs. room temperature, for example) as the fat you’re replacing.

  • In place of a stick of butter, use a half cup of duck fat.
  • For a drizzle of oil, use a drizzle of slightly warmed duck fat.
  • When using duck fat for deep frying, gently melt the solid fat over medium-high heat until it completely liquefies; then raise the temperature to high to bring the fat up to the proper frying temperature.
    Use Duck Fat At Breakfast

  • Eggs: fried or scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, etc. cooked in duck fat.
  • Potatoes: hash browns cooked in duck fat.
    Use Duck Fat At Lunch & Dinner

  • Biscuits and popovers.
  • Classic French dishes such as cassoulet, confit de canard and rillettes.
  • Potatoes: French fries, galettes and roasted potatoes will be even crisper. Use it instead of butter in mashed potatoes.
  • Poultry: Instead of rubbing the bird with butter or oil before roasting, use duck fat for crisper skin. Rub some softened duck fat under the skin of the breasts and inside the cavity; massage it into the skin; then seasoning and roast in a hot oven.
  • Salad dressing: Substitute heated (liquid) duck fat for the oil, and pair with a fruity vinegar. Serve immediately after tossing with greens.
  • Searing: Give fish and seafood, meats and poultry, fish and shellfish an evenly browned, flavorful crust.
  • Vegetables: Sautéed or roasted, a little duck fat goes a long way in adding richness and facilitating caramelization.
  • Savory pie crusts: pot pie and quiche.

    D'artgnan Duck Fat

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/open tub dartagnan 230

    You can buy duck fat from companies that specialize in pates and charcuterie, like D’Artagnan and Aux Delices. Photos courtesy


    Use Duck Fat To Make Desserts & Snacks

  • Donuts: Fry them in duck fat—really! It adds a depth of flavor.
  • Popcorn: Pop the corn in it duck fat.
  • Pastry: It makes crisp, golden puffed pastry, tender, flaky pâté brisée and short crust pastry. Use a 50:50 duck fat:butter blend for most baking recipes. If using it as a replacement for lard, use an equal measure.


  • Gourmet/specialty food stores.
  • Your local butcher or anywhere raw or cooked duck* is sold.
  • Your local poultry farmer.
  • Online: from D’artagnan.
    *Gourmet take-out shops that sell rotisserie duck should have lots of it.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Sangria

    For the holidays, we like Cranberry Sangria. In addition to making pitchers of it to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we keep a pitcher of Sangria in the fridge for daily apéritifs and impromptu visitors.

    In the first recipe, tart cranberry juice is pared with a sweet wine and orange liqueur. It takes only 10 minutes to make this recipe, from McCormick. The result: a flavorful, well-balanced holiday refreshment.

    Plan ahead: November 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s the history of sangria.


    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 orange
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine, such as Moscato or Riesling
  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur*, such as Grand Marnier
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Cranberry Sangria

    Steep orange slices studded with cloves, plus cranberries and cinnamon sticks, in sweet white wine and tart cranberry juice. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    *Here are the different types of  orange liqueur.


    1. CUT the orange into 8 wedges. Press 2 cloves into each wedge. Set aside.

    2. MIX the wine, cranberry juice, cranberries, liqueur, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in large pitcher until well blended. Add the orange wedges.

    3. REFRIGERATE for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve straight up or on the rocks.

    This recipe also celebrates the flavors and colors of the season—with cinnamon, clementines and cranberries. They compliment the rich red-fruit flavors of Ruby Port (there’s more about Port below). The recipe was developed by Sandeman, using their Founders Reserve Ruby Port.
    Don’t worry about buying a bottle just for this recipe. Port is delicious served alone at the end of any dinner, with the cheese course (especially blue cheeses and washed-rind cheeses). or accompanying a rich chocolate or caramel dessert or candy.

    Serve Ruby Port with a side of salted or smoked nuts, and with smoked meats. The next time you make barbecue, serve Ruby Port on the rocks with a twist of lime!


    Sangria With Ruby Port

    Keep a pitcher in the fridge. Photo courtesy Sandeman.



  • 1 bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto or other Ruby Port
  • 4 ounces cinnamon schnapps† (Goldschläger is relatively easy to find)
  • 3 clementines, quartered or sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 18 ounces sparkling clementine juice or clementine soda‡
  • 6 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • Ground allspice to taste
    †Cinnamon schnapps is also delicious in coffee, after dinner drinks, atop vanilla ice cream, and so on. You can also make cinnamon simple syrup.

    ‡San Pellegrino and Izze make clementine sparkling drinks. Otherwise, substitute orange soda.


    1. COMBINE the Port, cinnamon schnapps, clementine pieces, cranberries, cranberry juice and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

    2. TO SERVE: Add the sparkling clementine juice/soda and sprinkle allspice on top, to taste.

    Porto (sometimes written as Oporto, “the Porto”) is the second largest city in Portugal. Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Port wine is produced in the region.

    Port is made in several expressions: Crusted, Colheita, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Ruby, Single Quinta, Tawny, Vintage, Vintage Character and White. Here’s an explanation of each type of Port.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Leaf-Shaped Veggies For Thanksgiving

    You can be very artistic with vegetables. It just takes a bit of planning. While it takes some dexterity to make this “rose tart”, here is a simple alternative.

    It comes from one of our favorite creative cooks, Vicky of She cuts up vegetables with a leaf cookie cutter before roasting them. She then tosses the cooked veggies in a mustard and maple syrup vinaigrette.

    Cookie cutters make vegetables fun any time of the year. You can make stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and so on. Check the size of you cutter to be sure it isn’t larger than the beets and potatoes. You may need to use two sizes: medium and small. Here’s a good set of leaf cookie cutters from Wilton: three different leaves, each in small, medium and large.

    After you’ve cut out the shapes, keep the vegetable scraps to make stock; or chop them and steam them lightly to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, grain salads, etc. Stick them in the freezer if you’re too busy to think about it now.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Vegetables

  • 9 ounces/250g uncooked red beets, skinned and trimmed
  • 18 ounces/500g butternut squash, peeled


    Volunteer to make the vegetables; then cut them with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Photo ©

  • 14 ounces/400g Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian or other all-purpose* potatoes, washed and peeled
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
    *Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and/or Purple Peruvian potatoes will give you the color you want. You can substitute other all-purpose potatoes such as Katahdin or Kennebec (a leading chipping potato). Check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or substitute†
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Garnish: 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • Garnish: a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    †Substitutes in order of preference: rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar. See the different types of vinegar.



    Headed for the oven. Photo ©



    1. LINE two baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

    2. SLICE the potatoes and butternut squash into 1/8-inch thin slices, using a very sharp knife or a mandolin on its thickest setting. If cutting with a knife, ensure the slices as even as possible.

    3. SLICE the beets the same way. Use a separate chopping board or cut the beets last, or they will bleed into the other vegetables.

    4. USE a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the leaves. For more visual interest, use different shape leaves (maple and oak, for example). Once again, keep the beets on a separate chopping board so they don’t bleed on the potatoes and squash. TIP FROM VICKY: Raw root vegetables are a lot tougher to cut than cookie dough, so protect your palms by placing a small towel underneath your hand when you press down on the cutter.

    OPTIONAL: You can make the leaves even more decorative by scoring some veins with a knife. This is labor intensive and a task ideally delegated to a helper.

    5. PLACE the potato and squash in a bowl and toss in most of the oil, paprika salt, pepper and some herbs. Move the oiled squash and potatoes to one of the lined baking sheets. Place the beets in the same bowl, toss them in the remaining oil, paprika, salt, pepper and herbs, and add them to the other baking sheet.

    6. PLACE both baking sheets in the oven. Cook the smaller leaves for 20 minutes and the larger leaves for 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking…

    7. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Next, whisk in the maple syrup.

    8. PLACE the cooked vegetables on a warm serving dish. Pour on most of the dressing, reserving some in a jug for those who’d like more. Scatter the capers on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs before serving.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

    Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

    Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

    Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

    Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

    Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.



    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A Brownie Sandwich Party

    For a party dessert, offer several spreads and let guests fill their own brownie layers at the “brownie bar.” You can ask others who want to pitch in to bake different types of brownies. In addition to the original chocolate brownie, consider blondies, butterscotch brownies and peanut butter brownies. Guests on gluten-free diets can bring gluten-free brownies.

    Multiple brownie flavors allow for mix-and-match: a blondie top with a brownie bottom, for example.

    Bake the brownies using one of these techniques:

  • Make a pan of brownies and slice them in half.
  • Make dropped brownie cookies, no slicing involved.
  • Divide the brownie batter into two pans, so each layer will be half the height.
    For special occasions, you can use a cookie cutter to make shapes—for example, hearts for Valentine’s Day. Stick the leftover scraps in a freezer and use them on sundaes or for snacking.

    Guests fill the “sandwich” with their spread(s) of choice. We have more than 30 suggestions; all can be homemade or purchased. Unless you want to go crazy, select six or so options.

  • Bacon jam
  • Biscoff spread/cookie spread
  • Buttercream (chocolate coffee, strawberry, vanilla, anything)
  • Cannoli filling
  • Caramel/salted caramel
  • Cheesecake spread
  • Chestnut spread
  • Chocolate spread
  • Cinnamon honey butter
  • Clotted cream/double Devon cream
  • Coconut spread
  • Creme honey
  • Custard/pastry cream
  • Date spread
  • Dulce de leche
  • Flavored cream cheese
  • Fruit curd/preserves/spread


    Brownie Sandwich With Peanut Butter Filling

    TOP PHOTO: Brownie sandwich with pistachio filling. Get the recipe at SprinkleOf BOTTOM PHOTO: Peanut butter-filled brownie sandwich. Here’s the recipe from


    Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownie Sandwich

    How about a Peanut Butter and Jelly Brownie Sandwich? Get the recipe from Betty Crocker.

  • Ginger spread
  • Halvah spread
  • Holiday fillings (pumpkin, peppermint, etc.)
  • Ice cream (though it can get messy in a party setting)
  • Maple cream
  • Mascarpone
  • Marshmallow cream
  • Nutella/hazelnut spread
  • Maple cream
  • Peanut butter/other nut butter
  • Pecan honey spread (like pecan pie filling)
  • Pistachio spread
  • Toffee spread
  • Whipped topping
    We’d suggest decorations—crushed nuts, mini-chips, sprinkles, etc. But frankly, it’s overkill (and guaranteed to create a mess).
    Are you having fun just thinking about a brownie party?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Harvest Topping, A Fall Garnish

    What’s Harvest Topping, you ask?

    As created by Country Crock, it’s a universal topping that can garnish anything from a baked Brie to a sundae to a crumble.

    Not to mention oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, waffles and yogurt. It’s also a salad topping. And we even mixed it into rice!

    Country Crock recommends it with mascarpone cheese on sliced multigrain baguette (toast the slices), garnished with Harvest Topping over top for a delicious snack. It works with cream cheese and ricotta, too.

    Sweet and spicy, it can be your go-to garnish for the rest of the season. The allspice is a nice change of pace from the ubiquitous seasonal cinnamon.

    Harvest Topping is easy to make, and it will keep in an airtight container for a month or more. You can turn it into a house gift with a mason jar and a ribbon.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Country Crock Spread, unsalted butter or oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    crop Country Crock_Harvest Topping_dailymeal-230

    One garnish has many uses, from a Brie appetizer to dessert. Photo courtesy Country Crock.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well. Arrange in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden brown.

    3. USE immediately, or let cool before storing in an airtight container.
    Find more holiday recipes at



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