Holiday

BHG Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger: Coordinately Yours by Julie Blanner

 

 

Julie Blanner is the voice behind Coordinately Yours, a stylish lifestyle blog filled with do-it-yourself inspiration for effortless entertaining, home design and thoughtful gift-giving. As a seasoned event planner, her approach is warm and simple: entertaining and design that celebrates life.

best chocolate cake

I’m a fan of anything chocolate – and easy! I was looking for recipes I could make for Halloween and came across this hot cocoa brownie cake with marshmallow frosting recipe on BHG. It was quick, easy, and these little ghosts vanished nearly as quick as they appeared, making this a new family favorite recipe.

I chose a fudge brownie mix to give it a great, chewy base. Spray your pan well, lining it with parchment paper for easy removal.

baking tip: how to remove cake from pan easily

Confession: I don’t own a double boiler or a hand mixer. As much as I love baking, I’m a minimalist in the kitchen. To create a double boiler, just place a saucepan that fits well into a large pot of boiling water {water shouldn’t touch pan}. I warmed the marshmallow topping ingredients accordingly, transferring it to the metal bowl of my stand mixer {which kept them warm} and beat until stiff. To make this recipe a little more child friendly, I eliminated the coffee and liquor.

diy double broiler

I piped the marshmallow cream on to create ghosts with standard disposable icing bags. I didn’t worry about them being perfect – ghosts sway in the wind, right? I used store bought gel icing in a tube for the eyes. Next time I make this recipe {which will be sooner than later}, I will reduce the bake time for the ghosts to 4 minutes for a whiter appearance.

easy cake for Halloween

halloween dessert

This cake fits into my chic black and pink Halloween decor.

best chocolate cake recipe

Aren’t they adorable?

Halloween cake

piping ghosts on a cake

but definitely not too cute to eat!

marshmallow icing

Summer may be over, but toasted marshmallows and chocolate are here to stay!


BHG Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger: Just a Taste

Kelly Senyei is a food and lifestyle journalist, on-camera host, professionally trained chef and author of Food Blogging For Dummies. Her food blog, Just a Taste, serves up inspiration for every meal and any occasion with creative recipes, entertaining tips, step-by-step photo tutorials, and instructional videos that help you save time and up your game in the kitchen.

Fall hasn’t officially arrived in my home until I whip up a towering stack of pumpkin pancakes topped with a pat of butter and plenty of maple syrup. And while I’m all for the festive flavor of classic pumpkin pancakes, I decided to add a tropical twist to my latest stack of flapjacks. The result? Light, fluffy pumpkin coconut pancakes made with coconut milk and toasted coconut flakes.

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

Pumpkin and coconut may sound like a surprising combination, but one taste of these pancakes and I guarantee you’ll be sold on this delicious duo. The coconut milk lends a touch of richness while the toasted coconut flakes provide a sweet crunch in every bite. And if you’re a pancake enthusiast like myself, then you’re constantly on the hunt for ways to improve your performance, from how to prepare the batter to when to flip each flapjack. Tune in to the video below to discover my tips and tools for perfecting your pancake technique.

Ready to put your skills to the test? I used this basic pumpkin pancake recipe and made the following tweaks to transform them into pumpkin coconut pancakes:

  • Rather than 1 3/4 cups milk, use 1 cup milk and 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • Toast 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes for a sweet and crunchy topping

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

Begin by whisking together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, coconut milk, pumpkin, eggs and oil.

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Don’t overmix the batter (a few lumps are good!) or the gluten in the flour will overdevelop and cause the pancakes to be dense and tough. It’s also important to let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, which gives the baking powder a head start on fluffing up your flapjacks.

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

While the batter rests, toast the coconut flakes by spreading them in a thin layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake the coconut at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s golden brown. Coconut burns quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on it and stir often.

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

When you’re ready to cook your pancakes, preheat a griddle or nonstick pan and add a small amount of vegetable oil, butter or a combination of both. Next, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle, spreading it around, if necessary. Allow the pancakes to cook undisturbed until small bubbles form all over the surface of the pancakes, and then using a spatula, flip them once and continue cooking them for 1 to 2 more minutes.

Pumpkin Coconut Pancakes

Now all that’s left to do is transfer the pancakes to your plate and top them with the toasted coconut, chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup. And it’s as easy as that! Try this tropical twist with your next batch of pumpkin pancakes and feel free to share your tips for perfect pancakes below.


Delish Dish Editor

last-minute snacks for new year’s eve

Whether you’re a strap-on-your-party-shoes New Year’s reveler or tucked-in-bed-by-ten New Year’s dreamer, there’s no doubt that there’s something special in the air on the last night of the year. It’s a time to reflect on a year’s change and a time to plan for the clean slate ahead.

Jessie here, senior nutrition editor at Diabetic Living magazine, a health brand developed by Better Homes and Gardens. This year I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in a cabin in the woods drinking hot cocoa, cross-country skiing, and leisurely putting puzzles together with my husband and some of our closest friends. It’s exciting to have plans for the big night, but it also has me busy making lists of all the things I’ll need to pack so we have plenty of food and fun for the weekend. That’s where these easy-peasy snack recipes come in handy. They require minimal ingredients and prep, but they’re also special enough for a holiday get-together.

1. Easy Bake
Mix together a container of ricotta, half a package of thawed, drained frozen spinach, olive oil, a sprinkle of sage, a clove of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Served with toasted baguette slices.

2. No Cook
Wrap pear slices and white cheddar pieces with prosciutto (or use any combo of your favorite cheese and charcuterie).

3. On a Stick
Skewer cooked mini meatballs and cooked tortellini and serve with your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara.

Click here for 20 more simply delicious New Year’s appetizer recipes and click here for a collection of our 10 best New Year’s Eve cocktail recipes. From all of us at Delish Dish and Better Homes and Gardens, cheers to a happy and healthy 2013!


Erin Gleeson

Ingredient Obsession: Edamame Hummus

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!

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

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!