ST. NICK'S CHRISTMAS FAVORITES
It's our favorite time of the year - Christmas baking season is finally here! I'll be kicking this year off with Twelve Days of Christmas Sweets & Treats - you'll be sure to find your old favorites, and maybe something new this year!
Time to tie on your favorite holiday apron, pull out your favorite holiday sprinkles, crank up the Christmas playlist, and get ready for some baking fun!
The fun starts tomorrow!
CREAMY TACO SOUP (Slow Cooker)
There are days when I get so involved with recipe development, photographing and blogging that I almost forget to make dinner! And now that the holiday baking season is in full swing, and my baking list is long, I wanted something that took only a few minutes to throw together and have simmering away in the slow cooker.
And this Creamy Taco Soup is PERFECT! Some of my little ones aren't totally crazy about Chili, but they absolutely DEVOUR this wonderful Creamy Taco Soup!
Are you getting ready for Valentines Day? I don't know about you, but I'd rather make a wonderful dinner at home with our Valentine favorites than fight the crowds for a mediocre meal. Call me crazy, but its just so much more relaxing to cook a meal together and be able to relax and enjoy it at home. And for the perfect finish, all you need is some of these French Silk Mousse Tartlets with Fresh Berries! A picture is usually worth a million words, but every silky bite of these is better than the last!
I was so happy when Skipper got me a new commercial tart pan for Christmas...and I think this will be a nice reward for him, don't you think? These little tarts are so very easy to make, and so very perfect for all my little loves - and my big guy too! We love the flaky, buttery homemade pie crust, but if you're rushed for time or need a shortcut, you can always use refrigerated pie dough, or frozen pre-made tart shells or puff pastry. And the French Silk Mousse filling? GAH! It's so rich, creamy and silky that you will want to devour it with a spoon!
This creamy Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli & Wild Rice Soup is simple, easy and delicious – it will remind you of your favorite cheesy chicken broccoli casserole, but in creamy and soothing soup form! Tender chicken, wild rice, fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs, and both cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese make this homemade soup wonderfully rich and flavorful – and easy to make in your slow cooker!
If you only make one baked dessert this year, please let it be this one! Don't let the name fool you...Plum & Apple Cardamom Crumble with Pistachios is probably the best tasting crisp or crumble on the planet! High end restaurant quality, but so simple to make at home. Everyone will be BEGGING you to share your secret for making this, and lucky for you, I'm sharing it with you today!
When I was a little girl, I remember my Mom cracking open cardamom pods at Christmas time for her special Norwegian Christmas cookies. She would always quietly grumble about how hard they were to find and how expensive they were, for something that she only used during the holidays.
Cardamom, combined with harvest-ready apples and plums, with a sprinkling of fresh pistachios are hardly something you will throw together every day, but the first time I made this for my Mom, her eyes lit up and she sure had a big smile!
MAPLE GLAZED PUMPKIN BANANA BREAD
Is it Banana Bread, or is it Pumpkin Bread? This perfectly spiced Pumpkin Banana Bread is the best of both! So moist and tender, loaded with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla, and topped with a Maple Glaze that melts in your mouth...your family will fall in love with this too!
A family-favorite for years, my girls have told me so many times that I should be selling loaves of this to Starbucks, where they would be charging everyone BIG BUCKS for every slice! But nah, we'll keep it our little secret, and share it only with special people - like you!
FRESH CHERRY PIE
What is there about February that makes everyone think about chocolate and CHERRIES? You have to admit, when you think of February, you think of Valentine's Day (chocolate covered cherries, roses and wine) and the first long weekend of the year - Presidents' Day - and the lore of chopped-down trees and cherries!
Even though cherries are not a fresh crop until the middle of summer, we usually try to save some for a cold winter day! This fruity and delicious cherry filling is not only perfect for a homemade fresh cherry pie, but also good on cheesecake or drizzled over creamy vanilla ice cream.
Now that the Fall cooking season has officially kicked off, I've been having fun running thru some of our family favorite recipes, when it dawned on me - why in the world do I only seem to make these in Fall?
Sweet Potato Gratin with Gruyere & Parmesan is probably the most perfect way to enjoy sweet potatoes or any kind of gratin potatoes! Move over sweet potatoes with sweet toasty marshmallow tops, or roasted sweet potatoes - there is a new kid in town!
And these are so crazy good that you could very well decide to go without any type of meat and just make this your meal!
My family is either blessed or cursed...
It's hard having a food-blogging Mama, and probably harder being a guinea pig for EVERYTHING!
I am finalizing my Thanksgiving Day menu, and before I add anything to the big day menu, I have to try it out ahead of time and tweak it just to make sure that it is perfect!
And my family is just so darn picky about corn! I always save fresh sweet corn and fresh raspberries from the summer for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners - thank goodness for my Foodsaver!
CARAMEL GLAZED APPLE BUNDT CAKE
Homemade Apple Bundt Cake, drizzled with a buttery Caramel Sauce. Tender and moist, filled with tender apple bits and homemade buttery caramel flavor – this will be your new favorite cake for crisp fall weather! The perfect recipe to try after your autumn trip to the apple orchard!
TURKEY & CRANBERRY PINWHEELS
One of our favorite family traditions is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning, everyone munching on a short assortment of appetizers while I get dinner going in the kitchen. And these Turkey & Cranberry Pinwheels have been part of that tradition for many years. We usually only have them on Thanksgiving morning - don't ask me why! Something this wonderful deserves to be shared much more frequently than that.
This year was an exception to the rule. We had to make an unexpected trip out of town the day after Thanksgiving, and my kiddos and I had prepared a half dozen of these and had them chilling in the fridge. While we sliced a few up on Thanksgiving morning, I put the remaining wraps in the cooler for our road trip to Minneapolis. And they were FABULOUS - sliced up as pinwheels for an appetizer, or cut in half and served as a wrap sandwich on the road.
APPLE CIDER TURKEY BRINE
Days before Thanksgiving I prepare Apple Cider Turkey Brine, and the scent of it while it's simmering on the stove creates a wonderful potpourri of scent that fills our home - a blend of apple cider, brown sugar, fresh sage, thyme, bay leaves and juniper berries, with a handful of fresh cranberries and ribbons of fresh orange peel - it is so colorful, so flavorful - the scent of Thanksgiving!
Looking back, I can't remember a time when I didn't brine my turkeys. All I know is that after the first time I brined our Thanksgiving turkey, it was such a game changer that I've never looked back. Over the year's I've perfected the recipe that I use, and this Apple Cider Turkey Brine is the combination that never fails me - the moistest, most flavorful roasted turkey every time!
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