Written on December 4, 2012 at 8:30 am , by Delish Dish Editor
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?
Categories: Delish Dish, In the Test Kitchen | Tags: baked, bread, christmas, classic dinner rolls, dairy-free, December, dinner rolls, dough, Earth Balance margarine, Feather Rolls, flaky, flour, focaccia, freeze, freezer, garlic, herbs, Holiday, homemade, Italian, make-ahead, margarine, non-dairy, potato, potluck, rosemary, Side Dish, sugar, tender, vegan, vegetarian, yeast, yeast bread
Written on December 3, 2012 at 8:37 am , by Lauren Brennan
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:
Main Courses: If you choose to do a main course for your party, here are some festive and easy meat options:
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!
Written on November 29, 2012 at 8:30 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
I love baking cookies. It’s one of the things I really look forward to each holiday season. I usually set aside a day or two and bake up a storm. Since it’s just me here, this leaves me with a lot of cookies. Thankfully, my mom and grandma are able to take some off my hands. Unfortunately, for some of you, this tradition of making a beautiful variety of cookies may have become a dreaded chore. Well, not any more! This year consider having a Cookie Exchange Party.
Here’s how it works. When hosting a Cookie Exchange Party, you bake up one big batch of a particular type of cookie (or fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, candy, etc.) as do your friends. Then everyone joins you at your house with a large supply of treats. During the party (after sampling a few cookies, of course) you swap cookies and recipes. When you leave the party, you have a huge variety of holiday treats and you only had the stress of baking one item. Plus, you had a chance to hang out with your friends. Sounds pretty fun, right?
So whether you are considering holding a cookie exchange or doing all the baking yourself, I found 12 fabulous cookie recipes that will leave your guests satisfied and impressed. Some are classics and some are new favorites.
1. White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread // 2. Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts // 3. Peanut Butter and Mocha Checkerboards // 4. Tangerine Butter Cookies // 5. Mini Raspberry and White Chocolate Whoopie Pies // 6. Ultimate Chocolate-Dipped Cookies // 7. Chocolate Palmiers // 8. Cherry Surprise Crinkles // 9. Roly-Poly Santas // 10. Buried Cherry Cookies // 11. Lemony Star Sandwiches // 12. Mint Meringue Kisses
I also took things a bit further and created a little round up of my favorite holiday-inspired platters, trays, and cake stands. I mean, if you are going to all the trouble of baking these delicious treats, you want them to look as scrumptious as they taste, right? You could even fill one of these delightful pieces with a variety of homemade sweets and you’d have an instant gift. Too perfect!
1. Mikasa Scarlet Vine // 2. White Enamel Cake Stand // 3. Williams Sonoma Vintage Footed Platter // 4. Plaid Platter // 5. Dancing Dreidel Platter // 6. Rectangular Plates // 7. French Bull Ziggy Plate // 8. Williams Sonoma Christmas Tree Platter // 9. Artist Palette Tray // 10. Jadeite Cake Stand // 11. CB2 Clarity Plate // 12. French Bull Black and White Platter
How do you handle all of your holiday baking? Do you host a cookie exchange? What’s your favorite holiday cookie?
Cheers, Michael Wurm, Jr. – Inspired by Charm
Written on November 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm , by Delish Dish Editor
Happy Thanksgiving! Erin from The Forest Feast here, sending greetings from my family’s annual celebration in Santa Barbara, CA. My husband Jonathan and I left the woods and headed for the beach where we’re spending the weekend cooking, eating, and surfing with lots of relatives at my aunt and uncle’s beach house. This is my absolute favorite holiday! We spend all day cooking in their dreamy kitchen overlooking the ocean while the turkey cooks on the BBQ outside.
This year, we are shaking up the menu a bit with this New Cranberry Sauce, which includes persimmons, my favorite autumn treat. Trees full of these ripe, orange fruits are everywhere near where we live right now! A friend was kind enough to let me come and pick some off his tree, and I was excited to be able to use them in this Thanksgiving dish. It’s a fun, seasonal twist on the traditional recipe and adds color and sweetness to the cranberry sauce.
We eat around sunset, and I always take a picture of the turkey as it comes off the grill.
So much to be thankful for as we gear up for a weekend of family fun. Cheers!
Makes: 12 servings. Serving size: 1/4 cup. Yield: 12 (1/4-cup) servings
Prep 10 mins, cook 18 mins to 20 mins, chill up to 48 hours.
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1 12 ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup pomegranate juice or cranberry juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 fuyu persimmon or apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Rosemary sprig (optional, as garnish)
Directions: In large saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Add cranberries, pomegranate juice, sugar, and ginger. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 16 to 17 minutes, or until mixture is just thickened. Stir in persimmon for the last 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature or transfer to a storage container. Can be covered and chilled up to 48 hours. If desired, top sauce with a rosemary sprig as a garnish. Makes 12 (1/4-cup) servings.
Kitchen Tip: There are two types of persimmons: Fuyus and hachiyas. For this recipe, use fuyus, which are tomato-shape, and can be eaten when firm or slightly soft. The fruit, available from October to December, should be evenly light orange, not yellow or green. Store in the fridge up to 14 days.
The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, vegetable based recipes that are presented visually, with handwriting, illustration and photos to describe the steps.
Categories: Delish Dish, In-Season Eats | Tags: autumn, christmas, Cranberry, cranberry sauce, fall, fruit, garlic, Holiday, onion, persimmon, seasonal, Side Dish, Thanksgiving, vegetable, vegetarian
Written on November 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm , by Delish Dish Editor
Hi everyone, Carlos here! I’m one of the senior food editors at Better Homes and Gardens. Years ago, one of my first work assignments after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America was to develop the ultimate Thanksgiving Day turkey recipe. Talk about a daunting task!
See, the problem with poultry is that white meat and dark meat taste best when cooked to different temperatures. The white breast meat is moist and succulent at about 165°F, while thighs and drumsticks are much better at 180°F. But the oven roasts everything at the same temperature so that’s impossible, right?
Well, turns out it is possible. It took me three weeks and 20 turkeys to crack this holiday nut, but I eventually hit upon several unique strategies that can help every part of the turkey cook to perfection. Start with this Classic Roast Turkey recipe, then try one or more strategies from my personal bag of turkey tricks.
- Help the drumsticks cook.When preparing the turkey, use a sharp knife to cut through the skin and tendons all the way around the bone just below where the drumsticks end. This allows the skin and meat to pull away during cooking, exposing bone. The bone conducts heat deep into the meat of the drumsticks, which makes them cook faster.
- Dive in, legs first.Position the turkey’s legs toward the back of the oven, if your roasting pan will fit that way. The back is hotter, which will help cook the legs a little faster.
- Flip the bird.My favorite technique is to start cooking the turkey breast-side down on the roasting rack. This slows the cooking of the white meat because it’s under the body, while elevating the hard-to-cook hindquarters so they can roast faster. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the turkey in the roasting pan to your stovetop or a secure spot on the counter. Then, use kitchen towels or oven mitts to grab hold of the turkey at the tail end and gently pivot the bird up and over until the breast is facing up. That way, it can get golden brown and crispy. (Note: I recommend limiting this maneuver to smaller, 12- to 14-pound turkeys. Larger birds can prove difficult to turn).
By implementing these tactics, the dark meat will have an internal temperature up to 15° hotter than the breast meat. All that’s left to do is finish cooking per your recipe’s directions and then carve and enjoy a perfectly cooked turkey! To round out your Thanksgiving Day meal, find more excellent holiday recipes at BHG.com.
Written on November 9, 2012 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
Hi BHG readers! Michael here from Inspired by Charm. As soon as the first of November roles around I am in full Holiday mode. Despite the madness of the season I attempt to spend as much quality time as possible with family and friends. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s often difficult to plan the downtime needed to relax and refresh our spirits. I think the holidays offer an excellent excuse to push the pause button on our crazy-busy lives and revel in the company of the people who are dear to us.
While Thanksgiving is typically family time, this year I suggest celebrating a new tradition – Friendsgiving. This is a special time around Thanksgiving when you gather with friends (like you would with family) to spread a little holiday cheer, and of course, to consume large amounts of your favorite comfort foods. It’s a chance to let loose, escape the usual holiday chaos, and just enjoy!
1. Hearts of Romaine with Creamy Feta Dressing // 2. Candied Sweet Potato Casserole with Parsnips and Carrots // 3. Twice-Baked Pesto Mashed Potatoes 4. Glazed Carrots with Pistachios // 5. Lemon-Thyme Split-Roasted Turkey // 6. Porcini-Chestnut Stuffing // 7. Caramel Apple Pie // 8. Cranberry-Orange Spread // 9. Pumpkin Sandwich Cake
To make this as easy as possible, I’ve searched through the BHG recipe archives and put together a delicious, stress-free Friendsgiving feast that will wow your friends and still give you time to enjoy this new tradition. So call your friends, pick up some wine, get cooking, and have a fabulous and memorable Friendsgiving!
Michael Wurm, Jr. - Inspired by Charm