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Special For Thanksgiving: Pecan Pie & Pecan Pie Pizza!

Pecan Pie Pizza
[1] The pecan pie pizza and, in the upper left corner, the pecan pie (both photos © American Pecan Council).

Pecan Pie Pizza
[2] Close-up on the pecan pizza—so much more nutritious than pepperoni!.


When we were offered the opportunity to sample a Pecan Pie Pizza…well, of course!

Introducing the first-ever Pecan PIZZA Pie (at least, it’s the first to our knowledge.

A savory holiday treat from the American Pecan Promotion Board and Tony Boloney’s, “not your grandpa’s pizza joint,” on the Jersey Shore (and three more New Jersey locations).

Tony Baloney’s, in New Jersey, is known for out-of-the-box creations (which they ship nationally).

Here, it re-imagines a pizza with pecans instead of pepperoni, and spicy balsamic glaze instead of fresh arugula or basil.

  • A savory buttermilk pizza crust, a thick bourbon-infused tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fennel-dusted pepperoni-flavored pecan halves are topped with a spicy balsamic Pecan Pie glaze.
  • The glaze, which is added when the pie comes out of the oven, is sweet and spicy, and so good we’d buy a bottle of it—if it were available for separate sale.
  • The crust is specially crimped, in a very attractive way we’ve never seen before. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea.
  • It adds some pecan fun before the pecan pie arrives for Thanksgiving dessert.
    This pure food fun is a great option for the night before Thanksgiving when all of the meal prep leads many people to opt for a no-fuss meal.

    This limited-edition mashup is available exclusively on It will be in stock through the Thanksgiving holiday.

    And there’s more: It arrives with an absolutely wonderful pecan pie for dessert.

    We have to give a special shout-out to the dessert pecan pie. It manages to showcase the pecans perfectly, with a center that’s smooth as silk (not sticky) and just sweet enough (not cloying).

    Both pies arrive frozen. The pizza is ready to bake, and the pecan pie needs only to be defrosted.

    Visit for inspiring pecan recipes.

    A true New Jersey original, Tony Boloney’s serves classic pizzas, but also goes boldly into the new frontier: Taco Pizza and Olé Cheesesteak are “new” classics. Not to mention the Ay Dios Mio, Grumpy Gramps, Jewish Cowboy, K-Pop Mic Drop, Pop Leo X, and much more. the Check out the menu.





    Stocking Stuffers: Blue Diamond Almonds In Snickerdoodle & Peppermint Cocoa

    Thank goodness almonds are good for you, because we haven’t been able to stop snacking on Blue Diamond’s “Naughty & Nice Edition” of flavored almonds.

    This holiday season, Blue Diamond Almonds has launched two limited edition holiday flavors, Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa (photos #1 and #2).

  • Snickerdoodle Almonds deliver the taste of the popular cinnamon sugar cookie. Heavenly!
  • Peppermint Cocoa Almonds have a light chocolatey flavor with a hint of peppermint. Delightful!
    They’re both naughty (a bit sweet) and nice (all of the healthful goodness of almonds).

    They’re a seasonal snack and a great choice for stocking stuffers, too (SRP $3.49 for a 6-ounce can).

    The lids are blank gift tags, so you can fill in the “To” and “From.”

    These almonds, tinged with sugar (but only 5g for 28 nuts), are delicious:

  • With coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or a glass of milk.
  • On an ice cream sundae or other dessert garnish.
  • Snacking from the can: A one-ounce serving is 28 almonds!
  • Even tossed into a green salad or grain bowl.

    Find them at retailers including Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods Markets, and on Amazon, through December 2022.

    You may want to buy extras for sweet-yet-nice snacking into 2023 (the shelf life is through June 2025).
    > The history of almonds (mentioned in the Bible!).

    > The history of cocoa and hot chocolate.

    > The history of snickerdoodle cookies.

    > National Almond Day is February 16th. Celebrate with this Toasted Almond, Orange, and Olive Oil Cake recipe.



    Blue Diamond Almonds in holiday flavors: Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa.
    [1] Blue Diamond’s holiday-flavored almonds are both naughty and nice (photos © Blue Diamond Almonds).

    Blue Diamond Almonds in holiday flavors: Snickerdoodle and Peppermint Cocoa.
    [2] Eat them from the can, or get fancy and use ramekins.

    Can Of Blue Diamond  Peppermint Cocoa Almonds
    [3] The can lids feature write-in gift labels.




    LUXURY GIFT: Hennessy XO Cognac, Perfection For A Cognac Lover

    Bottle Of Hennessy XO Cognac
    [1] Hennessy XO Cognac, extra-old for the Cognac connoisseur (photo © Icon Icon).

    Bottle Of Hennessy XO Cognac
    [2] The Holiday 2022 gift set (photos #2, #4, #5, and #6 © Maison Hennessy).

    Riedel Cognac Glass
    [3] An improvement over the traditional balloon-shaped Cognac glass, Riedel has worked with wine experts to develop these fluted stems in 24% lead crystal. They are formed to capture, condense, and release the unique undertones of Cognac. The elongated bowl leaves less surface area for evaporation, releasing the delicate aromas (photo © VinePair).

    Bottle of Hennessy XO Cognac in a presentation gift box.
    [4] Year-round, Hennessy XO is sold in luxurious boxes made from heavy, embossed paper and cardboard stock (we repurposed ours to hold greeting cards).

    Copper Stills Distilling Hennessy Cognac
    [5] The huge copper stills at Hennessy.

    Hennessy Cognac Barrels Aging In The Cellar
    [6] Hennesy has the largest number of reserve casks of Cognac in the world, more than 350,000 barrels!

    A portrait of Richard Hennessy, founder of Hennessy Cognac
    [7] Richard Hennessy (photo via Wikipedia).


    There’s Cognac, and there’s Cognac. At the top of any Cognac drinker’s wish list is a bottle of Hennessy XO (Extra Old), now available in a holiday gift set (photo #2).

    For the 2022 holiday season, Hennessy X.O is presented in a bold and stylish package, making the outside of the gift as appealing as the beautiful bottle inside.

    This Limited Edition is in a rose-gold copper metallic gift tin. It comes with a matching copper metallic ice stamp, for embossing the Hennessy logo in your ice cubes. (Embossed ice cubes are a swanky restaurant trend.)

    Everything else aside, the flavor of this beautiful amber liquid is a rare treat, deep and powerful. One sip leaves you contemplating the aroma, the nuances on your palate, and the exquisite finish‡.

    Hennessy X.O Cognac is aged in young barrels‡‡ that help to create its luscious roundness. It’s a dream gift for a Cognac lover, perfected over 150 years by the Hennessy family and meant to be enjoyed on special occasions.

    Richly complex, with layers of fruit, spice, and chocolate**, it is a blend of 100 aged eaux-de-vie* from the Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois regions [source].

    Hennessy X.O is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

    The suggested retail price is $255. It will be at retailers in December.

    > What is Cognac.

    > The different expressions (varieties) of Cognac.

    > The history of Cognac.

    > The history of Maison Hennessy is below.

    > Discover more on the Hennessy website.

    > Why do we capitalize Cognac? Because it’s a proper noun, the name of a city (like Paris or Chicago).

    > National Cognac Day is June 4th.

    Let’s go back to the very beginning of XO Cognac.

    In 1870, founder Richard Hennessy’s grandson Maurice created Hennessy XO for his family and friends. It was a new style of Cognac to be appreciated by connoisseurs: more bold, rich, and complex than his “house” Cognac.

    Yes, Hennessy X.O is the original XO Cognac, Maurice, and his master blender (also known as the cellar master). The style was emulated by other Cognac houses. XO became the “gold standard” by which Cognac houses are typically judged.

    XO, “Extra Old” describes a Cognac made with eaux-de-vie* that have been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years†. Hennessy XO is made from eaux-de-vie that are 15 and 20 years old (sometimes older, per the selection of the master blender).

    By comparison, the law requires that VS Cognac (Very Special) be aged for a minimum of two years, and VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) be aged for a minimum of four.

    However, most Cognacs are aged longer than the law specifies, depending on the palate of the master blender of each individual producer.

    Most Cognacs are a blend of eaux de vie, the oldest of which can be decades old. (Most houses still have barrels of Cognac dating back to the 19th century sitting in their cellars waiting for fine blending by the cellar master [source].

    Each producer determines the “added age” beyond that required by law.

    VS and VSOP are great “starter Cognacs,” and a VSOP is often the “house Cognac” of many people.

    But they can’t touch the silky smoothness and complexity of XO.

    And by the way, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Brandy can be made anywhere in the world; Cognac is a protected name (PDO) that can only be made in the environs of the city of Cognac.

    Why does a French product like Cognac use English terms like “Very Special” and “Extra Old?” In the early days of Cognac production, the British were the main consumers and also became some of the main producers of Cognac, using techniques they acquired from the distillation of Scotch whisky.

    In the 18th century, an Irish Jacobite officer in the service of King Louis XV of France, Richard Hennessy (1724–1800), retired from the army to begin the next phase of his life.

    He traveled to the Charente (a department in southwestern France) and the town of Cognac, which had developed as a center for the production of wine and brandy. He began training as a merchant.

    In 1765 he founded his own distillery and began distilling and exporting brandies, first to Great Britain and his native Ireland, closely followed by the U.S. His army connections led to the arrival of his Cognac in the French court.

    Hennessy became the world’s leading exporter of brandy in the 1840s, a status it has never lost [source]. By 1860, it produced one out of every four bottles of Cognac sold internationally.

    Hennessy also created several of the conventions now used across the Cognac industry.

  • It was one of the first marques (brands) to sell bottles rather than casks of Cognac.
  • It was the first Cognac house to use star ratings, and the gradings VSOP and XO.
    The VSOP designation was created in 1817 when the Prince Regent (later King George IV) of Great Britain asked Hennessy to create a “very superior old pale” Cognac, a description that had previously been applied to sherries.

    Skipping ahead to the present: In 1971 Hennessy merged with Moët et Chandon, to create Moët Hennessy, followed by the 1987 merger of Moët Hennessy with Louis Vuitton, creating the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerate: Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy, or LVMH.

    Today it is co-owned by LVMH (66%) and Diageo (34%).

    Yet, Maison Hennessy remains a family-run distillery, passed on from generation to generation for 257 years.
    *Eau-de-vie (oh duh VEE) means “water of life”; the plural is eaux de vie. It is a French term for either:

    (1) Brandies made from a fruit other than grapes (e.g. Poire William (pear), Framboise (raspberry), Kirsch (cherry), and Slivovitz (Central and Eastern European plum brandy). Eau de vie distilled from apples is called apple brandy; Calvados is an apple brandy made in the Normandy region of France.

    (2) The term “eau de vie” is also used (confusingly) for young brandy made from grapes, that will become Cognac and Armagnac once it has matured.

    **If you’re a super-taster, you’ll find woody (oaky), spicy, and leather aromas, with spice, toffee, chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit (figs, prunes) on the palate.

    †In 2018, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) increased the minimum XO Cognac age for the youngest eau-de-vie from six to ten years, in an effort to improve the quality of the spirit across all brands [source].

    ‡Finish is wine terminology for aftertaste, the flavors that linger on your palate after the beverage or food has been consumed.

    ‡‡The wood of young barrels delivers more mellowness to the spirit and adds nut-like tones. Barrels that have been re-used many times and no longer have any flavor to give.





    Imitation Crab Salad Recipe Turned Vegan For National Kamaboko Day

    If you’re a sushi fan, chances are good that you’ve had surimi, a paste made from fish and turned into products used in U.S. sushi bars where it is called kani (photo #1). It’s also used as an inexpensive substitute for crab in imitation crab salad and elsewhere. American brands are called crab stick, imitation crab, or sea leg.

    In addition to kani, surimi is also made into other forms that are popular in Japan. It is cousin of kamaboko, which also appears in Japanese restaurants and grocery stores, under the English name of fish cake (photo #3).

    Both kani and kamaboko are made from puréed white fish. The purée is then shaped and flavored differently.

    Kamaboko has its own holiday in Japan, National Kamaboko Day, celebrated on November 16th.

    But there’s is no holiday for kani or surimi (or even the California Roll), so we’re appropriating its cousin kamaboko’s holiday to give you a delicious “vegan kani” recipe. (Full disclosure: There is a National Crab Day, March 9th, but we could never use it to discuss fake crab.)

    Head here for a more general discussion of kamaboko.

    Here’s some insight from our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog. She’s created the recipe for vegan kani salad below, using real tofu instead of imitation crab (you can, however, use crab, imitation or real, in the recipe).

    “It’s no secret,” says Hannah, that “crab” (a.k.a. “kani”) in your California roll at most sushi bars is anything but. [It’s also often sold in the prepared foods section of your grocer as “imitation crab salad.”]

    “Surimi has been the go-to crustacean imitation treasured by restaurateurs for its low cost, touted by nutritionists as being higher in protein than the real deal, and willingly accepted by sushi bar patrons.

    “While that may be true, let’s not forget what surimi really is: cheap, highly processed white fish (typically pollock) with added sugar, color, preservatives, and fillers. If you’re looking for a healthier or more ethical choice, that really doesn’t fit the bill.

    “You know what always gets high marks for nutrition, sustainability, and versatility? Tofu!

    “It’s ‘the other, other white meat’ that’s the chameleon of the plant-based protein world. Most people think of tofu as a meat substitute, but let’s not forget that it works just as well to curb seafood cravings of all sorts.

    “Super firm tofu is strong enough to withstand a fine julienne cut, reminiscent of the shredded, stringy texture of torn surimi. I’ve used it in the recipe below.”

    “Don’t be crabby about fake surimi salads,” says Hannah. “Make your own plant-based kani salad instead. This version is higher in protein and fiber, comes together in minutes, and is full of flavor.”

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

    Editor’s note: If you want to use kani for an imitation crab salad and regular mayonnaise instead of vegan mayo, go for it!

  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (3.5-ounce) package sweet potato glass noodles (substitute rice noodles)
  • Boiling water
  • 10 ounces super firm tofu, julienned
  • 1 sheet toasted nori, shredded, divided
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted black and/or white sesame seeds

    1. PLACE the cut cucumbers and carrots in a large bowl and toss with the salt. Set for about 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile…

    2. BREAK the glass noodles in half and place them in a heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling water on top to cover. Let stand until rehydrated; about 7 minutes. Drain thoroughly and rinse in cold water before adding to the bowl of vegetables.

    3. ADD the tofu, half the nori, and half the scallions to the bowl and very gently toss to combine.

    4. WHISK together in another bowl the mayo, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and fold carefully with a wide spatula to incorporate.

    5. TRANSFER to a serving bowl and top with sesame seeds and the remaining nori and scallions. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.


    Surimi, a.k.a. imitation crab, crab stick, and sea leg.
    [1] Surimi, imitation crab leg also known as crab stick or sea leg (photo © Fresh Direct).

    California Roll Uramaki (Reverse Roll)
    [2] What looks like a large piece of crab leg at the right side of this California roll is surimi, imitation crab (photo © Umami Information Center).

    Slices of kamaboko, fish paste, prepared like sasjimi.
    [3] Kamaboko: here, slices of kamaboko (fish cake) beautifully arranged as sashimi, topped with salmon roe and shiso leaf. Here’s the recipe (photo © Just One Cookbook).

    Imitation crab salad recipe with tofu instead of surimi.
    [4] Vegan kani salad, with tofu replacing surimi/imitation crab leg (photos #4 and #5 © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    Vegan Kani Salad Recipe With Tofu
    [5] Close-up on the salad.

    *Super firm tofu is my top pick, since it’s ready to use right out of the package, no draining needed. If you can’t find this, extra firm is also great after pressing for 10 – 15 minutes. This helps remove a bit more of the water and create a more compact texture. My favorite brands are Hodo Organic Extra Firm Tofu, Nasoya High Protein Super Firm Tofu, and Wildwood Organic High Protein Tofu.”





    FOOD FUN: Holiday Edition Figgy Pudding SPAM

    Can Of Figgy Pudding Spam
    [1] New Figgy Pudding SPAM, a limited edition for the holidays (all photos © SPAM Brand).

    Slices Of Figgy Pudding Spam Elegantly Plated
    [2] Slices of Figgy Pudding SPAM on a cake stand for a buffet.

    Figgy Pudding Spam & Brie On Crackers
    [3] An hors d’oeuvre: Figgy Pudding SPAM and Brie.

    Christmas Pudding, also called Plum Pudding and Figgy Pudding
    [4] An actually figgy pudding. Here’s the recipe (photo © California Figs).


    There are currently 11 flavors of SPAM, from Jalapeño to Portuguese Sausage Seasoning; and, as limited editions for the holidays, Oven Roasted Turkey and Pumpkin Spice SPAM.

    Now, SPAM is debuting a new holiday flavor, Figgy Pudding SPAM.

    A few words on figgy pudding: It’s not what Americans think of as pudding. Rather, “pudding” is the British term for dessert. It can be anything sweet.

    Figgy pudding is a steamed cake, soaked with brandy or rum and studded with dried fruit (dates, figs, plums). How much alcohol is in it? It’s often flambéed!

    Here’s more about it and a recipe.

    But back to the main topic.

    Inspiration for the new flavor was a recent survey of 2,000 American adults. It revealed that 69% of consumers do know what Figgy Pudding is or have heard of it, but only 17% have had it.

    Not surprising: It’s not really an American custom.

    But that’s why the SPAM® Brand created its own fusion Figgy Pudding, giving SPAM the flavors of Figgy Pudding and adding another classic holiday flavor.

    With both savory and sweet notes, SPAM® Figgy Pudding evokes a sense of nostalgia added as a slice with:

  • Breakfast eggs
  • Burger topping (a slice with or without a fried egg)
  • Hors d’oeuvre or appetizer plate (see below)
  • Hors d’oeuvre or snack skewers with cheese and gherkins
  • Salad course topper (or skewer on the side)
  • Snacks (how about musubi, SPAM sushi—see see photo #2)
    Imagine a food-fun hors d’oeuvre tray or appetizer plate with Figgy Pudding, Pumpkin, and Oven Roasted Turkey spam, with fancy crackers and a side of cranberry relish. Serve with sparkling wine and you’ve got a memorable dish. Also, see photo #3.

    Get Figgy Pudding SPAM while supplies last at, and Walmart.

    Also tune into a video animation of Santa and elves singing “We Wish You a Figgy Christmas” (And A SPAMTASTIC New Year!).

    For additional photos/videos, fact sheets, recipes, additional survey data, and more, please see HERE.

  • What is SPAM?
  • The history of spam
  • How SPAM got its name.
  • Yummy SPAM recipes
  • Why is junk email called spam?

  • The history of figgy pudding.

  • National SPAM Day is July 31st.
  • National SPAM Musubi Day is August 8th.




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