White Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

Festive biscotti laced with the cool, zinginess of peppermint and balanced with the sweetness of white chocolate, perfect for Christmas morning and worthy of gracing your holiday cookie platter.

Biscotti are dry, crunchy cookies destined for dunking into coffee, tea or dessert wine. They were traditionally made without fat and twice baked to produce a hard cookie. The cookie dough is baked into a long loaf the first time, cooled, then sliced and baked a second time to make them nice and crunchy…. 

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Stuffed Squash with Brie, Cranberries and Greens

Fresh cranberries, brie and greens come together to make a festive and flavorful filling for kabocha or acorn squash.

The cranberries add a tangy pop of sweetness to the gooey brie, tender greens and mild-mannered squash.

The best bite is when you dig deep and not only get the creamy greens but some of the dense squash on your fork too! The difference in textures is just as important as the flavors in making this surprisingly delicious…. 

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Gingerbread Cheesecake

A dreamy gingerbread cheesecake baked on a gingersnap crust! It’s laced with rich, warm spices that dance across your tongue and fill your house with the welcoming smell of Christmas.

A holiday season without Gingerbread would be like Christmas without Santa! A criminal offense as far as I’m concerned. Being one of the most loved flavors of the holiday season with a permanent place in my heart…. 

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Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Almond Crescent Cookies

Vanilla Crescents or Vanillekipferli are an old Viennese traditional cookie made with ground almonds and fresh vanilla beans. The dough is shaped by hand into crescents before baking and then dusted with copious amounts of vanilla sugar after. They’re buttery like shortbread, nutty and soft, much like a Mexican wedding cookie or a Russian tea cake.

If you have vanilla sugar already on hand you can use that to dust them. An easy way to make vanilla sugar is to use your scraped out vanilla beans. Fill an airtight container with sugar and immerse the beans in it. The vanilla sugar will be ready to use in a day or two but the longer you leave it the better. This way you can always have vanilla sugar on hand!

I love that such a delicious cookie comes out of so few ingredients! I hope Santa likes them!

Almond Crescent Cookies
Vanilla Crescents
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup blanched almonds
pinch of salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 moist vanilla bean
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 moist vanilla bean

1. Pulse the flour, almonds and salt together in food processor to coarsely chop nuts, then process until nuts are finely ground.

2. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla beans and beat for 1 minute, add confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk. Add about one-third of flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour mixture mixing until just blended.

3. Scrape dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a large, flat disc, cover well and refrigerate until firm about 1 hour or overnight.

4. To make topping pulse sugars and vanilla together in food processor and add to a small bowl; set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

6. Roll dough between your palms or on a lightly floured surface into 1/2-inch wide x 2 and 1/2-inch long logs with slightly tapered ends. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bend into a crescent shape. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

7. Bake until light golden brown around edges and on bottom about 15 minutes. Slide parchment onto wire racks and cool for a 1-2 minutes, then roll in vanilla sugar, put back on parchment to continue cooling.

Almond Crescent Cookies
Merry Christmas! xoxo

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Easy Christmas Stollen

Stollen is a German sweet bread filled with dried fruit, nuts and sometimes marzipan. It’s typically a yeast bread, but baking powder is used instead to make this quick and easy version from King Arthur Flour…. 

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Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry Cheesecake

I hope you all had a lovely family and food-filled Thanksgiving! My Mom’s table was a heavily laden carb fest of deliciousness; broccoli/velveeta casserole, streusel-stuffed baked sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing, potato-rutabaga-cheese casserole, buttermilk biscuits, cranberry sauce, and of course a giant turkey. We gobbled gobbled our way through that and then for dessert we had this cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and fruitcake.

The cheesecake was scrumptious and so gorgeous with the vibrant cranberry sauce on top! And is there a more fitting topping than cranberry sauce at this time of the year? The cheesecake bakes up light but dense with the creamiest consistency I’ve ever tasted in a cheesecake. There’s no excuse for not making your own cranberry sauce – it’s so simple and so much fresher tasting and healthier than the high-fructose canned variety. This is perfect to bring to a holiday party or potluck. And I think it will find it’s way onto our Christmas table.

Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry Cheesecake
(adapted from Good Old Food by Irena Chalmers)
1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 and 1/2 pounds Cream Cheese
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 and 1/2 cups Sour Cream, at room temperature
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter in a small bowl. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the springform pan.
3. Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the sugar and the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and sour cream.
4. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake* for 55-60 minutes until cheesecake is puffed and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and run a thin knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Let cool completely and chill for several hours or overnight before serving.
5. Serve with cranberry sauce and whip cream.
*I recommend cooking this in a bain marie to prevent cracking. Put the uncooked cheesecake/pan into a larger baking pan, put on oven rack and fill halfway up sides of springform pan with boiling water. Bake as directed.
Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh Cranberries
To flavor add one or a combo:
orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
In a medium sauce pan dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat. Add cranberries and continue to cook, stirring, carefully, the cranberries will pop, about five – seven minutes. Add your flavoring element. Combine well. Remove from heat. Cool. Store in fridge.

Cranberry Cheesecake

Kale with Garlic and Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

My friend Heather of Girlichef is hosting this weeks BSI (blogger secret ingredient). Heather chose greens; a much overlooked source of stupendous veggie power. I did my shopping for the week and totally spaced out on this one. I came home without any greens. Shame on me. I was lucky to find a package of chopped kale in my freezer, the next best thing to fresh. I don’t have many recipes for greens, aside from adding them to soups my go-to is a saute of garlic and olive oil. I did a search and found some really good ideas like this one with dried cranberries. One of my loves. The heat really worked in plumping them up to bring out their sweetness and along with a little drizzle of honey the kale lost any bitterness it might have had. Hints of garlic are offset by the juicy berries and salty Parmesan. I imagine this as a perfect side-dish for Thanksgiving. Or anytime!

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic and Cranberries
(loosely adapted from Epicurious)

Frozen chopped Kale, 16 oz.
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1-2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and fresh pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh grated, for serving

Steam the kale in a steamer basket pan for 10-12 minutes until thawed out and tender. Let cool slightly and using a large spoon press the water out of the kale so that it drips through the basket into the pan.

In a large skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil over low-medium heat until the garlic begins to turn light brown. Add the cranberries, kale and honey to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until kale is reheated through and cranberries are plump and warm. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Printable Recipe

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries