Brittany wrote this on 16 December 2014
I love it when bloggers make lists of recipes this time of year. Don’t you? It is so handy to have such fun foods all in one place! I am no exception and this collection may be my favorite ever. A little bit sweet and a little bit savory, this has some of everything from the Brittany’s Pantry archives so that you can add in a dish or two to aid in your menu planning! Hope this gives you some ideas! Enjoy!
Appetizers & Starters
Roasted Pepper Hummus – So pretty, so healthy, and so easy. A great snack to set out that accommodates picky eaters and those with food sensitivities alike!Mini Corn Muffins – A great little two bite snack that you can bake up and tuck in the freezer. Defrost and serve for a no mess nibble that sits perfectly on a cocktail plate!Instant Veggie Dip – This genius dip gets mixed up ahead of time so the flavors meld. It also doubles as a gift! Mix up the spices, pour them in to a jar, and top with a ribbon and the completed instructions. Who wouldn’t want that under the tree?!Roasted Shrimp W/Two Sauces – Shrimp and dip are a party staple, but this version turns it up a notch! Roasting brings out the sweet flavor of the seafood, and the Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce and Tangy Mango Sauce gives your guests two spectacular choices!Sun-Dried Tomato Dip – I cannot say enough good things about this dip. Trust me when I tell you it is absolutely spectacular. And gorgeous too, yes?
Drinks & Beverages
Spiced Tea Mix – Tea, orange, and Christmas spices come together for this hot drink. Also fantastic for a gift, I am particularly in love with this recipe since it lets me rock out all retro and use TANG. Remember Tang?
Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate Mix – This recipe is just what it says. Make a big batch out of ingredients in your pantry (that you can actually pronounce) and use it all season long.Hot Apple Cider – Simple, classic, and you can make it in your crockpot. Score.Holiday PUNCH – Such a gorgeous beverage! This tangy punch is appealing to the eye, as well as being darn tasty. One of my favorites! Set out a bottle of spirits on the side for those who wish to make it a full on cocktail!
Main & Sides
Roast Pork W/Mustard & Peach Glaze – I make this year round, but the flavor is certainly worthy of a holiday meal. The best part? It is incredibly easy, leaving your mind to focus on other things. Like what to get your Secret Santa.
Pomegranate Glazed Carrots – Few recipes are as universally pleasing to the masses as this one is. Gorgeous on a buffet and beautiful on the plate, these jewel-like veggies are a stunning-and healthy-addition to any menu! Lemon Potatoes – Take advantage of the citrus in the supermarkets right now and make this light dish!
Pork & Prune Stew – Served with creamy polenta or mashed potatoes, this stew is a showstopper. Easy, surprisingly low fat, and absolutely bursting with flavor. Just right when you need a comforting dish that can be gently reheated when company shows up.Creamy Penne W/Shrimp – This pasta is so special, we made it a New Years tradition. We look forward to it every year and it never disappoints. Positively drool worthy.
Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Can’t. Stop. Eating. Them.Pioneer Bread – Think of this quick bread as a healthy, less intimidating, more attractive cousin to the fruitcake.Honey Buns – Served for breakfast, brunch, or snack, these beauties will disappear faster than you can say Rudolph. Make a double batch.
Baked Doughnuts – This no frills recipe allows you to top or dust these as you choose. Straight out of the pan is an option I select often. Apricot Scones – I try not to pick favorites, but these may top my list of scones that I can’t live without. Tender and flakey, these will ensure that you will never head to a bakery again.
Dessert & Treats
Sour Cream Cherry Bars – The recipe says ‘bars’ but it is really just a super simple delivery system for an outrageous pie. This big batch is great for a crowd but you will want to keep them for yourself!
Chocolate Eclair Dessert – You need this in your life. No bake and make ahead, I will understand if you make nothing else all Christmas season. It is that good.
Christmas Munch – When you make this, be sure to pace yourself. Keeping it under lock and key may be necessary. Then again, it IS Christmas… On second thought, just make double.
White Chocolate Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake – This incredible dessert has a bunch of steps but really isn’t that difficult. It is however, simply superb. An incredible centerpiece to a table.Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies – These get an easy boost from using a packaged mix. Making these are a family tradition each year as they are super easy for my kids to do almost entirely on their own!
Maple Nut Cookies – Perfect for an exchange or carefully packaged for a friend or neighbor. The smell alone will warm your heart.
Chewy Ginger Cookies – Hands down, this is easily one of the best cookie recipes of all time. Chewy and full of flavor, these top the list of holiday treats. And year round treats, for that matter…
Ginger Chai Blondes – Add a cup of tea with one or two of these bars and you have a perfect treat. They are soft, but still chewy, and perfectly sweet. The flavors are subtle but spectacular and absolutely worthy of being wrapped in paper and taken to someone you love.
Brittany wrote this on 9 December 2014
My husband just walked by the computer and glanced at this photograph. He stopped, looked closer, and stated. “Wow, Babe. That photo is amazing.” As he strolled away, I growled under my breath, “I want to eat it…”
The truth is, I did eat it. Last week. I snacked, dipped, nibbled, and devoured with gusto. And it was good. But I look at this and I want more.
Who can resist the classic combination of chocolate and cherries? I blame my addiction on my Dad. For as long as I can remember, he has received a box or two of Queen Anne Cherries at Christmas, wrapped and tucked under the tree at the last minute by the enthusiastic hands of his children. He somehow managed to convince us that he was surprised to open them each year. Christmas makes us gullible I guess… We aren’t often able to be together for Christmas these days but the tradition lives on. I have never told him this, but I still buy a box every year and break into it on Christmas Eve, handing one to each of my kids just as he did to my siblings and I all those years ago. One bite and I could be sitting Indian style on the living room floor of my childhood home, waiting for gifts to be passed out.
I feel as though I should mention that I am listening to Francesca Battistelli’s Christmas Album as I type this. One of my most favorite holiday albums ever. Beautiful music, coupled with writing the memory above is making my heart positively ache with missing my family this holiday season. Who knew chocolate covered cherries could make this momma weep with nostalgia?
Anyway. Enough with the sappy stuff. Back to this dip. It is officially my go-to, bring along treat of the Holiday 2014 season. Its beautiful, simple, fun, and just kind of screams the word ‘party’, don’t ya think? It is basically a low effort, less messy way to serve these familiar flavors. I realize that there are a bazillion versions of this recipe out on Pinterest right now, but I felt the need to make it come together a bit faster and with less fuss. I have enough things to do these next few weeks without wasting time on unnecessary steps in a recipe. I would much rather channel that energy into something useful. Like eating that recipe.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip
Adapted from Shugary Sweets
This can be made a day ahead and wrapped tightly in the fridge. Keep cold while serving and dip whatever sounds good in it. I am partial to pretzels. The sweet and salty combo is stellar.
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, slightly softened
1/4 c (4 T) soft butter
1/2 chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 c maraschino cherry juice, right from the jar
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
Combine the cream cheese, butter, and cherry juice until combined and smooth. Fold in the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips. Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or anything else you can think of!
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Brittany wrote this on 5 December 2014
Of course, what she really meant was the toasted, sugar coated walnuts, almonds, or pecans that seem to crown so many restaurant salads. While I am a fan of sugar (and nuts, for that matter) I never really liked them on my salad. They were a hunk of sweetness when what I wanted to eat was supposed to be light, fresh, and wholesome. Salad=guilt-free health food. Yes? Yes.
Enter the Savannah Chopped Salad at McAlister’s Deli. I luuuuuuuurve it. I have yet to tire of eating it and just writing about it now is making my mouth water. I have been completely converted to a ‘nuts on my salad’ person. My favorite part? When I am almost done with it and the last bites are of cranberries, cheese, and the honey roasted almonds. It is tangy and tart, creamy and sweet, and crunchy and chewy. The best combo of textures and flavors from three little ingredients. When I was at a food conference in Virginia a few weeks ago (Read: Mixed Conference. Best time ever!), I had a salad with those exact same elements to it and thought to myself, “Self? Why have you not made this before?” So I did! I started making it myself. The salad I will post later, but the sugared almonds above are my nut of choice when it comes to topping my greens. Sliced, to be exact, as they look pretty and add texture and crunch without sticking a whole nut in your mouth.
So how do you make these delectable slivers of deliciousness? Ha! Say that three times fast… It is ridiculously easy. And fast. And did I mention easy? Wait, what? I meant the recipe was easy, not repeating that three times fast. Was that clear? I’m so tired…
The possibilities with these babies are endless. Top a salad (duh) or ice cream (be still my heart) or a no-bake pie (MOMMY!) for a little crunch. Or you could just eat them. Add them to yogurt, pudding parfaits, trail mix, or garnish a smoothie! Or just eat them. Sprinkle these beauties over a bowl of fresh fruit to give it a bit of texture or crumble them over a dessert pizza just before serving. Oh! And you know what?! You could just eat them…
1 c sliced almonds
1/3 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a small sauté pan and place over medium-medium high heat.
Let warm and melt while stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. The sugar will start to melt and stick to the nuts. If some of it never melts, that is ok.
Keep going for another 5 minutes or so, or until the nuts are coated and toasted. Spread out in a single layer on a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
Once cool, crumble into smaller pieces of needed. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Be ready to make more than one batch due to snacking.