I’m feeling like I’m on a little vacation this week with my work wrapping up for the year and my last book signing of the holiday season behind. And since this feeling is so very rare for me, I’m all about having a festive little cocktail to celebrate. I mixed up this tasty seasonal drink that can be made in a small batch to share with a few friends. The ginger ale and apple cider give it both sweetness and bite that balance the bourbon flavors, and I’ve garnished it to the max with cranberries, rosemary, and a fragrant orange peel. Get the full recipe below, and cheese!  read more

I have been scribbling a long shopping list and menu ideas this week to prepare for our Christmas Eve dinner at my parents house! I’m making some recipes from my cookbook (the penne a la vodka in the Christmas chapter was requested), but I always love to mix in some new dishes too. I decided to upgrade my cheese plate with a dressed up goat cheese spread; it’s easy to make ahead of time and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. It’s dotted with sweet candied pecans and dried fruit, and gets tons of seasonal flavors from fresh rosemary and thyme. I liked how pretty it looks with the colorful flecks in the cheese, and I garnished it for the holidays with a little wreath of rosemary sprigs around the base and a small sprig on top with dried cranberries to look like holly! Get the full recipe below:  read more

Since writing my cookbook, I’ve been asked a lot of the same questions about entertaining at each event I go to. One of the most common ones has been “what’s your favorite type of party to throw?” and my answer is always a brunch! Brunch to me always feels cozy and casual, and an easy way to get folks together to celebrate. I especially love it now that we have a toddler – we can have our party and our afternoon too. I have a handful of go-to menu items I always rely on for brunch like maple brown sugar bacon, cheddar chive hashbrowns, and a big hearty breakfast strata. If I’m hosting a bigger event – like a bridal or baby shower brunch – I always add quiche to the menu. read more

We’re in the thick of holiday season, and today we have one more holiday to celebrate: National Cake Day! My blogger buddy Melissa of Lulu the Baker alerted me to this delightful (definitely made-up) holiday, and we decided to celebrate with a little cake-swap! Today Melissa is sharing my favorite cake recipe from my cookbook over on her blog, and I’m getting my cake-consumption on over here with a Spiced Pear Bundt Cake (with homemade caramel sauce!!) from Melissa’s beautiful book: Scandinavian Gatherings. It’s hard to decide what is more lovely, this flavorful cake full of spices and bits of fruit, or her book which is packed with Scandinavian recipes, crafts, and traditions. I served this cake over the holiday weekend and it was hit — we ate it for breakfast, snacks, and dessert, and I know I’m going to be pulling it out again at Christmas. Get the full recipe below, and be sure to check out Scandinavian Gatherings! read more

OK friends, it’s officially pie season and I’m ready with a tasty new recipe that you’re going to want to bring to every holiday party this season! My friends at Martha Stewart Living and California Walnuts partnered up and challenged me to make a beautiful recipe that would “wow” holiday guests using the nutritious goodness of California walnuts. I love texture and flavor of walnuts (especially in holiday recipes!) and decided to incorporate them into a fresh twist on the classic pumpkin pie. read more

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I always find when I make a dessert “mini” sized that people are more likely to grab a bite – and these cheddar apple hand pies are no exception. They’re a bite-sized take on the traditional apple pie with just a few adjustments to make them feel exciting and new. I served them with a spiced caramel whipped cream that acts as a dipping sauce for the hand pies – made with cinnamon, nutmeg, and rich caramel swirled into a homemade whipped cream made with Hood Heavy Cream. read more

I have a super easy appetizer idea for your holiday celebrations today: Butternut Squash and Ricotta Crostini. It takes just a few simple ingredients to put this together; sweet roasted cubes of butternut squash, creamy whole milk ricotta, and crusty toasted slices of bread. Then these little bites are finished off with a garnish of chopped fresh sage and the star ingredient: a sprinkle of Sel Marin. Louis Sel is the most delicious sea salt blended with provencal herbs. A good friend of mine, Karen, found out about this amazing salt at a Parisian food fair and could never quite find something similar back here at home. She decided to bring Louis Sel to the US and I’m so glad she did because now I put it on everything (I call it magic salt, because it magically makes me crave vegetables when I add it on top of a dish!). If you have any foodie friends or family, it would make a lovely holiday gift (maybe pair it with a nice cookbook, I have one you might like, wink wink!). Or grab some for yourself and get making this tasty appetizer for the holidays — full recipe below: read more

This is my season to shine! I love coming up with new recipes for the holiday season, and this year I have so many fun ones to share. When I’m brainstorming recipes ideas I’m always thinking about how I can create tasty dishes that can be prepped ahead of time. While I love cooking for friends and family, I also like to actually hang out with them too and don’t want to spend the whole time they’reover in the kitchen. Today’s holiday appetizer idea is a Garlic and Herb Crab Pinwheel – it’s very easy to prepare, and you can make most of the recipe in advance; just slice and bake when you’re ready to serve them! read more

The countdown to turkey day is on, and I have a one-stop-shop for all of your Thanksgiving menu planning needs! I rounded up everything from easy appetizers to decadent sides, turkey tips, batch cocktails, and some sweet treats to end your meal. I even a tasty idea for eating those leftovers the day after too! Scroll down to browse over 20 of my favorite Thanksgiving menu recipes and ideas. read more

We aren’t very big on appetizers at Thanksgiving, because the main event is such an event, but one or two little bites might be passed out to keep everyone huddled around the coffee table instead of buzzing around the kitchen for a taste! These mini baked brie pie bites are as simple as can be, and you can tweak the recipe to work with ingredients you have on hand. You can take some leftover pie dough from you holiday pies (or pre-made is fine!), and cut them into small discs to fit inside a mini-muffin tin. Then you just top fill them with a slice of brie, a jam or fruit butter of your choice (I use homemade pumpkin butter from my cookbook, but apple butter or a berry jam work too!),  then finish them off with a pecan. Bake them for just a few minutes and they’ll come out of the oven ooey-gooey and oh so delicious. Get the full recipe below: read more