We recently hosted a holiday cocktail party with a few family members, co-workers and neighbors. Hosting and welcoming friends into my home is one of the greatest joys in my life. I enjoy providing delicious food, lively conversation and a beautiful atmosphere which I have been doing for many years. Over the years, I have learned what works and what does not. With many successes and a few colossal failures, my guests seem pleased and return year after year.
In our family, holiday tradition dictates that Santa is left a plate of cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. As parents, we drink half of the glass of milk and take a bite out of a cookie and place it back on the plate. For many children, part of the wonder of Christmas is seeing the half eaten treat that they left for Santa and believing that he was there.
You have spent all day shopping for the perfect gifts to give to love ones and family. Upon arriving at home you have to create a perfect dinner for your guests, make the house presentable and, oh yes, you need to end your perfect dinner with a delectable dessert!
Certain foods evoke memories of holidays; peeps for Easter, candy corn for Halloween and, of course, candy canes for Christmas. Each year, as Christmas draws near, my son asks to make peppermint bark; a tradition I am more than happy to continue with him. I always encourage parents to cook and bake with their children, and peppermint bark is an easy recipe to create with just about any age child.
Many of you may not know that the Farmers Market is a constant source of inspiration in my recipes and cooking. Many culinary trends begin within the famers market stalls. I often can be found wandering the market in search of photo ops and new trends. Each week I gather some interesting produce and of course an arm load of fresh flowers for the holiday table. These items often include pink lemons, baby squash, truffle oil, some beautiful aged balsamic vinegar and of course Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes.
My husband is not a dessert fan, which always bewilders friends and acquaintances when they learn I am a pastry chef. He would happily eat pizza in place of dessert any day. Me, on the other hand, I could live on sweets and vegetables. One of the few desserts that he loves is chocolate cream pie; I can see the allure that it has for him. Rich creamy chocolate mousse, sweet flaky pie dough topped with sweet whipped cream. What a perfect dessert!
There are two different variations of macaroons; French and American. American macaroons are usually coconut based, sometimes dipped in chocolate and are delicious. French macarons are light and crunchy but with a soft interior. They can be filled with just about any flavor of buttercream you can create.
Are you looking for a holiday gift for a teacher, personal trainer, landscaper or even your neighbors? Nothing is more appreciated than a homemade gift of cookies. Everyone loves cookies, and the fact that you took time out of your busy schedule to create a gift especially for them makes it even more special.
Christmas is slowly creeping upon us. Have you started your naughty or nice list yet? Store bought gifts are nice, but a handmade gift is so much more thoughtful and personal. Beanilla is the perfect place to start! Whether you are making Christmas cookies for your neighbors, vanilla-lime infused vodka for your dad, or homemade vanilla extract for your friends and family that love to bake - we have the perfect products and gifts that will have your friends and loved ones thinking you are the next Martha Stewart.
The Thanksgiving holiday is over and I bet you ate way too much just like me! For those of you that braved the mad shoppers this past weekend; I have a simple but hearty dish to warm you up and keep you going this week. Risotto is a staple in our family. Its versatility and delicious texture and flavor is a hit with both my children and husband. It is also a very elegant dish to serve to your guests. Simple additions of items such as peas and lobster make for a stunning and satisfying meal for any culinarian.