christmas

Michael Wurm, Jr.

Peppermint Dream Cake

Written on December 11, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

‘Tis the season for holiday baking. I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to turn my oven into a cookie baking machine. With Christmas just two weeks away, it’s time to let the flour fly and crank out some delicious homemade goodies.

Before baking cookies, however, I just had to have something sweet and pepperminty. This craving surprised me because, in the past, peppermint wasn’t one of my favorite flavors when it comes to dessert.

To satisfy my craving, I decided to try my hand at this recipe for Peppermint Dream Cake. It looked and sounded delicious and I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.

 

It was fun putting this cake together. I especially enjoyed the frosting recipe. I’m accustomed to making icing that consists of butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar, so it was nice to give something new a try. This particular frosting is very light, but still full of flavor.

To make this cake a show stopper, I decided to get creative with the decorations. I used some white chocolate and made a winter wonderland of trees.

The trees are very simple to make. To start, melt some white chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is nice and smooth, pour it into a plastic baggie, snip off a tiny piece of the corner of the bag, and pipe some trees onto wax paper. (The thicker you can get the lines, the better. This will lessen the likelihood of breakage.) Once the chocolate has hardened, tuck the trees into your icing.

These adorable little trees really make this cake special.

If you want to make this cake, you can find the recipe here.

Have you started your holiday baking? What’s you’re favorite sweet treat of the season?

Michael Wurm, Jr – Inspired by Charm


Erin Gleeson

Spiced Pomegranate-Apple Cider

Written on November 21, 2013 at 8:00 am , by

On a recent trip to Granada, Spain, I bought these adorable Moroccan tea glasses, sold all over Granada because of its Moorish history. I drink a lot of tea during the day while working from my cabin in the woods, but I thought I’d mix it up and make some hot cider instead. (Feels very holiday!)

Since the word Granada means pomegranate in Spanish, I was inspired to add fresh pomegranates to the cider. Starting with this BHG cider recipe, I simmered apple juice, pomegranate juice and spices, then garnished each cup with fresh pomegranate seeds and an apple slice decorated with cloves. I think this would be a fun after-dinner drink on Thanksgiving Day to cozy up by the fire with (plus, it can be spiked with bourbon for the adults!).

Cheers…And Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Spiced Apple-Pomegranate Cider

Adapted from BHG’s Recipe, serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of apple cider or apple juice

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or packed brown sugar

  • Peel from 1 organic orange, cut into strips

  • 4 cinnamon sticks

  • 12 whole cloves, plus more for garnish

  • Thinly sliced apple and seeds from 1 pomegranate for garnish

 

Directions:

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine apple cider/juice, pomegranate juice, and maple syrup or brown sugar.

2. To make a spice bag, cut a double thickness of cheesecloth into a 12-inch square. Place the orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cloves in center of cloth. Bring the corners of cloth together and tie closed with clean kitchen string. Add spice bag to the cider pot.

3. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove spice bag and discard.

4. To serve, ladle cider into mugs. Drop 1 T fresh pomegranate seeds into each glass. To make the garnish, slice an apple into ¼ inch thick circles. Then cut each circle into quarters and push whole cloves into the apple slice (see photo above). Make a little slit in each apple slice to hang it over the side of the glass.

 

Photos and Illustrations by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast, a blog and soon-to-be cookbook full of simple recipe and entertaining ideas inspired by living in a cabin in the woods.


Michael Wurm, Jr.

A Family Christmas

Written on December 13, 2012 at 9:00 am , by

 

For me, Christmas has been, and always will be about family. After college, I moved from my small town to a big city. What I missed the most were holidays at home. Five years later, I’m so thankful to be back in my hometown and able to once again spend the holidays with my family. And, if there are two things my family knows how to do, it’s cook and eat! While my family has lots of traditions, the one I probably look forward to the most is our Christmas Eve celebration at my mom’s house. Presents are piled under the tree in order by recipients’ ages, Christmas lights and decorations sparkle throughout the house, and the kitchen is overflowing with desserts, cookies, and my personal favorite, appetizers!

Have you ever heard people say they could make a meal of appetizers? Well, I am one of those people. If you can dip it or pick it up with a toothpick, count me in! So, in celebration of Christmas, our families, and my love of appetizers, I dug through the BHG recipe archive and found recipes for twelve mouthwateringly delicious appetizers. I know these recipes will keep your family coming back for more.

1. Pimiento Cheese Poppers // 2. Bourbon-Glazed Cocktail Sausages // 3. Olive-Cherry Bruschetta // 4. Tomato Quiche Tartlets // 5. Asiago Cheese Dip // 6. Jalapeno, Crab, and Corn Dip // 7. Meatball Sliders // 8. Cranberry-Barbecue Meatballs // 9. Double-Quick Shrimp Cocktail

Scrumptious, right? No wonder most of us pack on a few pounds over the holidays. It’s hard to resist all that goodness.

Speaking of family, I wanted to share a quick and easy project that I created at my house to remind me of how much my family means to me. I’m calling it my Instamas Tree.  Instagram + Christmas. Get it? Anyway, I printed out my most meaningful Instagram photos from this past year and simply clipped them on a silver tinsel tree.

My little tree is now a memory book with lots of special moments, from hanging out with my nieces and nephews to a few personal memories. And it has easily become one of my favorite Christmas projects.

For all the details and more photographs, swing by my blog, Inspired by Charm, and say hi!

Now, I’m off to fill my plate with appetizers and clip some more pictures to my tree!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm


Erin Gleeson

Ingredient Obsession: Edamame Hummus

Written on December 6, 2012 at 8:30 am , by

Hello from The Forest Feast! Lately I have been really into edamame. Since I don’t eat much meat, I am always looking for different sources of protein, and there is a lot you can do with these bright green little beans. Using this Edamame Humus recipe, I whirred them up in my food processor to make a colorful, healthy dip. Out here in the woods, we love having snacks with our cocktails before dinner, and this is a fun alternative to regular hummus. Considering its color, if you serve it with red bell peppers it’ll be a festive appetizer to serve at a holiday party this time of year.

A great cocktail hour snack! And easy to make ahead for holiday entertaining…

 

Edamame Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 10 ounce package frozen sweet soybeans (edamame)
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (I left this out since I am not a big parsley fan, but you could alternatively add basil or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (lime also works)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika (optional, for garnish)
  • 8 cups assorted vegetable dippers, such as sweet red bell pepper pieces, cucumber slices, baby carrots, snow pea pods, and/or celery sticks

Directions

1. Shell and cook edamame until tender according to package directions; drain. Several grocery stores sell pre-cooked shelled edamame beans in the frozen section.

2. In a food processor combine edamame, parsley, lemon juice, the water, tahini, garlic, salt, and cumin. Cover and process until smooth. With food processor running, slowly add oil in a thin steady stream, processing until smooth. Add additional water if necessary to reach desired consistency. If desired, sprinkle with paprika. Serve with vegetable dippers or crackers.

The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods last summer where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook.


Delish Dish Editor

Make-Ahead Holidays—Now’s the Time to Start!

Written on December 4, 2012 at 8:30 am , by

Seasons greetings, everyone! Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens special interest titles here to welcome you to December—the busiest baking time of the year. I love baking during the holidays (and any time, really) but with my 9-month-old son demanding the majority of my time this year, my baking is going to be more structured and organized—as in make-ahead everything!

Which leads me to last weekend. When my son’s nap time rolled around, I set to work on a batch of rolls to freeze for Christmas dinner. My choice: Feather Rolls, a time-tested recipe from our BH&G archives. Like the name implies, these rolls are soft, tender, and light as a feather (thanks to the secret ingredient of mashed potato!).

However, since I don’t eat dairy products (long story), I had to find a substitute for the butter. My solution to that problem: Earth Balance margarine, the best non-dairy, high-fat margarine on the market for baking. It contains 100 calories per tablespoon, just like butter, so it behaves in much the same way. It’s also free of hydrogenated oils, which is not true of most margarines.The dough came together beautifully—made from flour, sugar, margarine, mashed potato, water, salt, and yeast. Once the ingredients were mixed together, it was a simple matter of kneading the dough until it formed a smooth ball.

Now here’s a big perk of the Feather Rolls recipe—the dough can rise in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours. So when I got completely distracted for the rest of the day playing an endless game of peekaboo, it was no big deal. The next day I turned the dough out, cut it into 16 pieces (the recipes says 15 pieces, but it’s much easier to get equal sizes from an even number of bread pieces), formed each piece into a rough ball, and placed the pieces in a 13×9 pan to rise for 40 minutes. The awkward 16th piece of dough had to squeeze in on one end of the pan, but I’m OK with that. Then it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to hot and yeasty baked rolls.

Once the rolls were cool, I wrapped them up in a layer each of plastic wrap and foil, and then placed them in a larger baking dish with a tight fitting lid. Then off to the freezer they went, where they will stay until the big holiday festivities later this month. I plan to pull them out of the freezer the morning of the feast to thaw and then bake them for about 10 minutes at 350°F to warm them up.

Then, because I was “on a roll” I decided to make up a double batch of Mini Focaccia.  I used half of it to make a large focaccia round, and then split the other half of the dough up to make mini focaccia. I topped it with fresh rosemary (from a summer plant I brought inside that is now struggling to survive in my window). I learned long ago that this recipe needs to either be eaten immediately or frozen to keep it from getting tough and dried out. Fresh bread doesn’t last nearly as long as store-bought. So after it was baked off to the freezer it went.

Three cheers for planning ahead! What baked goodies are you going to prep and freeze for the holidays this year?

 


Lauren Brennan

Let’s Party: Low Stress Holiday Parties

Written on December 3, 2012 at 8:37 am , by

Happy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for parties and more parties. Are you planning on throwing a shindig? Well, if you are or even if you’re not, I’ve searched the BHG recipe archives for some of the tastiest and easiest party recipes that are sure to be a hit with family and friends no matter what the occasion is.

Appetizers: I think for the most part, holiday parties are made up of mostly appetizers. It’s so much easier to throw some of these together than a sit down dinner and you can have more of a variety laid out for your guests. All of these can be made in advance so you can keep things as organized and low stress as possible.

1. Crunchy Cracker Snack Mix/ 2. Roasted Garbanzo Beans/ 3. Wrap & Roll Basil Pinwheels/ 4.Gorgonzola-Thyme-Stuffed Olives/ 5. Sugared Bacon-Wrapped Smokies/ 6. Mini Puffs with Goat Cheese and Herbs/ 7. Fresh Arugula Bruschetta/ 8. Stuffed Mushrooms/ 9. Crab Cakes

Drinks: Any party you go to or throw is bound to have a tasty drink or two! These are some of the more popular options I found on BHG:

1. Hot Scarlett Wine Punch/ 2. Raspberry Mojito Punch/ 3. Rosy Cheeks/ 4. Citrus Cider/5. Minty White Chocolate Egg Nog/ 6. Chocolate Blitzen

Main Courses: If you choose to do a main course for your party, here are some festive and easy meat options:

1. Easy Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin/ 2. Holiday Roast Goose/ 3. Cherry Stuffed Ham/ 4.Pecan Parmesan Pork with Port Sauce

Dessert: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some sort of cookie!  Here are some fabulous options perfect for any party that can all be made days in advance:

1. Eggnog Kringla/ 2. Gingersnap Logs/ 3. Giant Ginger Cookies/ 4.  Cherry-Almond Ornament Cookies/ 5. Chocolate-Peppermint Meringue Kisses/ 6. No Bake Lemon Drops/ 7. Spritz Blossoms/ 8. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies/ 9. Almond Biscotti

 Happy Holidays from my kitchen to yours!