Better Homes & Gardens December 2013 Recipes

Vanilla Holiday
The newest recipes from Better Homes and Gardens include easy weeknight dinners, a few new twists on classics to make for the holidays, and what you've all been waiting for: holiday desserts. With coconut-covered cake balls, gingerbread houses, star-shape cookies, and peppermint candy-studded ice cream, we have a lineup of creative holiday desserts from Gesine Bullock-Prado that you won't want to miss.

Peppermint Candy Ice Cream

Get creative with plain vanilla ice cream by letting it stand at room temperature until soft, then adding fun mix-ins such as white chocolate and chunks of peppermint candy. Use vanilla bean paste the same way you'd use vanilla extract in this recipe -- it will give you the same amount of flavor but add visible flecks of vanilla bean.

Rich Beef Stew with Plums

This isn't your average beef stew. Applewood-smoked bacon, leeks, and butternut squash elevate this dish to a holiday-worthy main course. The deep, luscious flavor is worth the bit of extra effort this longer recipe requires. To cut down on holiday stress, you can make this hearty stew up to two days in advance.

Gingerbread Snow Globe City

Perfect for a dazzling centerpiece, this snowy gingerbread city is easier to make than you might think. Use our gingerbread recipe, and add details like brickwork to your houses. Create a wintry look by rubbing powdered sugar on the finished cookies and using granualted sugar as the foundation.

Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes

Boneless short ribs are an effortless dinner option when you involve the slow cooker -- and this 10-minute-prep recipe proves it. The longer cooking time results in supremely tender ribs and a luscious broth perfect for spooning over egg noodles.

Turn boneless short ribs into an easy dinner option with the aid of your slow cooker. See our serving secrets.

Slow Cooker Secret: Beef Short Ribs

Watch our food editor Maggie Meyer show you how to turn short ribs into an easy dinner option with the help of a slow cooker.

White Bean Arugula Crostini

Ready in just 30 minutes, these flavor-packed crostini take the effort out of entertaining. The star ingredients -- cannellini beans and peppery arugula -- go hand in hand with sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed red onion. A squeeze of lemon juice before serving adds a tangy kick.

Holiday Wassil

Think of wassil (both an Old English saying and a traditional hot drink) as hot apple cider with a boost. A mix of apple, orange, and lemon juices gets deep, spiced flavor when simmered with a bundle of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. Serve each mug with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick for holiday-party flair.

Tomato, Greens, and Chickpea Skillet

This one-pan vegetarian dish doesn't skimp on flavor. Vibrant and aromatic curry powder, garlic, and onions envelop chickpeas, tomatoes, and Swiss chard for a healthy midweek meal that's easy to make. We added a sunny-side-up egg for extra protein; swap in a poached egg to make it your own.

Roasted Broccoli and Olives

Tender yet crunchy, this roasted-broccoli recipe will satisfy even the veggie-averse with the sharp flavor of garlic and olives and a bright hit of lemon juice. Using a mix of olives gives the dish both visual appeal and complex flavor.

Editor’s Tip: Serve the broccoli at room temperature -- it gets even more flavorful after it's been out of the oven for about an hour.

Cornmeal Spoon Bread

This spoon bread may look like a souffle, but it comes without the stress. Closer in consistency to savory pudding than bread, this recipe is made with just seven ingredients. (Bonus: They're all pantry staples!)

Editor’s Tip: Resist the urge to serve the bread directly out of the oven! Letting it sit and cool slightly for a few minutes ensures the best taste.

Buttermilk Pudding with Pomegranate Compote

A silky buttermilk pudding topped with a citrus-pomegranate compote makes a pretty and sophisticated holiday dessert.

Editor's Tip: When making the pudding, the softened gelatin and milk mixture will look lumpy -- don't worry! This step is key because it helps the gelatin dissolve into the hot cream.

Zesty Bean Posole

Posole is a traditional Mexican stew with chiles and hominy (hulled corn kernels). Our version is easy enough for a hearty weeknight meal with just 10 minutes of prep time and a few hours in the slow cooker.

Editor's Tip: You can control the heat in this recipe -- if you like things a bit spicier, choose a hotter salsa when buying ingredients.

Greek Chicken with Cucumber Salad

Slow-cooking chicken breasts in broth is a healthy alternative to frying or grilling and yields tender, juicy meat when finished. A garlicky lemon rub gives the chicken its bright, robust flavor, which pairs nicely with the Greek-inspired yogurt sauce.

Editor's Tip: For a quick and easy lunch, shred any leftover chicken and put it in a wrap along with the cucumber salad and yogurt sauce.

Wonderfully seasoned chicken breast is cut-with-a-fork tender when you make it in the slow cooker. See our recipe in action, including a homemade Greek yogurt sauce.

Slow Cooker Secret: Greek Chicken

Get fork-tender chicken that bursts with flavor when you cook it in the slow cooker. Our food editor Maggie Meyer takes you through the easy recipe.

Hidden Snowman Cake

The trick to making this snowman cake is to use two cake batters with different consistencies. Briefly freezing a dense vanilla cake yields sturdy snowman cutouts that can be baked a second time inside the chocolate cake batter.

Editor's Tip: Look for a snowman cutter with simple shapes and a large head -- avoid fine details, which won't transfer to the finished result.

Ruby Cocktail

Deserving of a special occasion, this cocktail gets its name (and color!) from two of the ingredients: ruby red grapefruit and pink prosecco. A lemon-peel twist adds sophistication, and red-and-gold sugar-rimmed glasses are the finishing touch.

Pinecone Cakes

While this dessert looks almost too pretty to eat, you'll have to dig in to discover the rich vanilla-buttermilk cake underneath all of the show. To get the frosted almond tips just right, we used a small paintbrush to add edible glitter. But you can also sprinkle on powdered sugar before serving.

Snow-Capped Pie

Tart apples, pears, and cranberries form a nearly 5-inch-high filling for this mounded pie. It's easy to pull off -- just bake the bottom crust, pile on the filling, and drape the second crust over the top before baking again.

Coconut Snowballs

Coconut-covered cake balls make for a unique and festive holiday treat. A sweet frosting surprise on the inside will make these snowball lookalikes disappear almost as fast as you serve them.

Editor's Tip: We used a purchased mini ball pan for this recipe, but you can also use twenty 2-1/2-inch muffin cups.

Salty-Sweet Snowflakes

Elaborate icing makes these snowflake Christmas cookies great for decoration -- but they're too good not to eat. Don't be afraid to work with a new ingredient! Ground white pepper gives this sweet treat a little kick, but it's much gentler than black pepper.

White Chocolate Mocha

Satisfy the need for a coffee-shop run with this easy homemade mocha recipe. Strong brewed coffee is added to melted white chocolate and milk along with a bit of vanilla and a dash of rum. If you're feeling extra ambitious, top it off with a flavored marshmallow (recipe on the next slide).

Flavored Marshmallows

Experiment with as many flavors as you want -- including salted caramel and peppermint -- by adding purchased syrup to these homemade marshmallows.

Editor's Tip: Make sure you have a candy thermometor on hand before starting; the recipe calls for specific temperatures in a few steps.

Vanilla Holiday Cookies

If you need to whip up a batch of festive cookies in a pinch, remember this recipe. Shimmery star sprinkles add easy elegance to this no-fuss Christmas cookie, while the four-ingredient dough and powdered-sugar icing couldn't be easier to make.

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