Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes)

These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.These cookies will no doubt bring back a flood of memories for many of you. Christmas baking sessions of yesteryear, cookie exchanges of your youth, or church parties in the basement. Few trays of holiday delights would be complete without these little bites of shortbread.

Snowballs are often called Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, or jumbles. All are correct and all refer to the same kind of cookie. Originally from Europe and dating back to the middle ages, these all contain butter, flour, and a bit of sugar. The nuts and flavorings mixed in vary by region and, well, century. These days almond flavoring is often added, but I prefer to let the flavor of the pecans come through. Sometimes these can be hard and dense, but this recipe is light and tender and absolutely melt in your mouth. The pecans inside are like toasted little bits of crunchy goodness. Festive and wonderfully delightful.
These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.Years ago, I was at a family Christmas celebration that was being hosted by my sister-in-law. She had a huge rubbermaid container of these cookies sitting on the counter and while the family tucked into them, I held back. The last I remembered, those cookies were tasteless and dry. Definitely not good eats. But I had one anyway (it WAS Christmas after all…) and it was fantastic. The best little snowball cookie ever. When I started experimenting to get the most perfect version to post here, I compared all recipes to the cookies from that one special Christmas. Turns out, the recipe from Land O’Lakes was the front runner and I never changed it. Classic and simple, these come together super fast. They look festive and absolutely lovely on a platter during the holidays and are a great recipe to make with your kids. Tasty and fantastic, they are great-no matter what you call them!
These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.These Traditional Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) are the real deal. Melt in your mouth and wonderfully light, this version is the best of the best.Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes)
Recipe from Land O’Lakes

2 c flour
2 c finely chopped pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 c (2 sticks) softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325.
In the large bowl of a mixer, combine all ingredients except powdered sugar, just until blended well. Scoop by heaping teaspoonfuls and roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place on a lined sheet pan. These cookies won’t spread so I place them 4 by 5 on the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are just BARELY starting to brown. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and then gently toss in powdered sugar. Set on a rack and let cool completely. If desired, roll again in powdered sugar to achieve a full on white ‘snowball’ look. Store at room temperature, tightly sealed, for up to 5 days, or freeze for several months. Enjoy!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CornishHenHolidays #CollectiveBias
This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This may sound surprising, but cornish hens are kind of nostalgic for me.

My parents are no doubt scratching their heads right now, since I never ate them as a kid. But when my husband and I were first married and moving around during his time in the Navy, I discovered a double pack of cornish hens at the super market. It was cost effective and perfect for just the two of us so I gave them a try. Turns out they were perfect for us. I kept several tucked in the freezer at all times, and when we had company, I just roasted up a few extra. Now, three kids, three states, and three different jobs later, I find that they still make me think of those early honeymoon years.

Of course, I am talking about the Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens. Easily recognizable and just as scrumptious as they were 15 years ago! This is probably due to the fact that they have no added hormones or steroids. Just a fresh, all natural product. They are widely available, but I found mine at Walmart in the frozen food section. Each hen is individually wrapped, protecting it from freezer burn and frost, so naturally, you can find them next to similar products, such as whole turkeys.This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}Look at those beauties! I have been buying this product for a long time, so when they say they are wrapped for protection, they aren’t kidding! Every single hen I have ever eaten has been pulled from the packaging clean and perfect and beautiful. Definitely a sign of quality.

I know they look kind of big in the picture above, but they are just a bit bigger than my husbands hand. Perfect serving size for an adult. We usually cut one in half for my two youngest kids to split, but they love that they each get their own ‘drummie’. They make dinner feel so special but are really wonderfully easy to prepare, which makes them a shoe-in for holiday dinners. When you don’t need to roast (or want to take the time to roast) an enormous turkey, or spiral cut ham the size of Texas, try these cornish hens instead. They cook faster and are much easier to find space for in the oven! They also just naturally have more flavor to them. Wether you roast them like the recipe here, butterfly them and throw them on the grill, or even tuck them in the slow cooker, you won’t be disappointed in your results! This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}I have mentioned before that I like to use coupons and since we don’t get a daily paper, I rely on my iPhone for discounts. I am a huge fan of the IBotta app which is incredibly easy to use. It has to be if I am going to use it! Want to give it a try? Install the Ibotta app today and get $1.50 cash back when you purchase your Tyson Cornish Hens.

Memories are a powerful thing. While this dish makes me think of those first years as a married woman, it will forever remind my kids of cozy meals and the comforting smell of dinners at home. That is a nostalgic as it gets.
This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}Rosemary-Orange Cornish Hens W/Carrots & Onions
This dish has simple flavors with a simple technique. Roast meat on vegetables and glaze. Badda bing-badda boom.

4-Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens, thawed
5 large carrots, scraped and cut to the size of snacking sticks
2 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings or half moons
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 T soft butter
salt and pepper
1 c orange juice
1/4 c pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large roasting dish, smear the softened butter evenly around the bottom. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pull the leaves off of ONE of the rosemary sprigs, trying to leave them in large clumps. This makes it easier to remove later. Sprinkle them evenly over the vegetables and set the pan aside. Remove the packaging from the cornish hens and discard. No need to rinse these birds! Just tuck the wing tips back and under and place them on the vegetables in the roasting pan. It is fine if the hens touch but they shouldn’t be too crowded. Sprinkle the hens with just a pinch of salt and pepper (inside and out) and place the whole pan in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, simmer the orange juice, syrup and remaining rosemary sprig. Leave the herb whole so that you can remove it in one piece later. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the glaze has reduced by half and has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes, but it depends on your juice and your syrup. Set aside. After 45 minutes, check the hens. The drumsticks should move easily when wiggled and the juices should run clear when you pierce the thick part of the thigh. If not, give the hens another 15-20 minutes. When they are just about finished, brush them liberally with the glaze and let them continue to roast for five minutes. Repeat two more times, watching so that they don’t burn. Then remove the pan and set the birds on a serving platter to rest. Remove the veggies from the dish to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. If desired, serve the broth over rice on the side. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Cookbook Guide For Families

This is the Ultimate Holiday Cookbook Shopping Guide For Families! {Brittany's Pantry}The closer we get to Christmas, the more excited I get.

Yes, there are the obvious reasons that make me giddy; the celebration of the birth of Christ, the gift giving, the traditions, the FOOD, etc.  But every Christmas, without fail, I receive cookbooks.  I will proudly state that along with my husband and library shelves full of literature, cookbooks make my heart go pitty pat!

I am not very discriminatory when it comes to books about food, but more and more, I find myself reaching for those that are more suited to family meals rather than, say, a cocktail party or specialty meals.  People ask me every holiday season what kind of cookbooks to buy for their wife/sister/boss/best friend/mailman, and I decided to just create a master list of good ones.  These definitely veer toward the busy parents and children demographic, but nothing is on this list that I wouldn’t (or haven’t) used when I was single or married withOUT kids.  They are just good cookbooks.  And in a time when the internet (read: Allrecipes.com, Pinterest, etc) seem to have replaced our need for written recipes, these beautiful books welcome written notes in the margins and melted butter splatters across their pages.  Try doing THAT with your electronic of choice.

For ease of use, I have broken them down into categories based loosely on need.  I polled my friends, families, other professionals, major foodies, those who hate to cook, families with food allergies, and even cookbook authors.  I also include a section if you are looking for cookbooks for your young chef. This is the BEST I could throw together!  This is BY NO MEANS an all encompassing list and while I hope your find some of your favorites below, I also hope you see something new.  There are thousands of cookbooks out there (and I could not possibly review them all) so please please PLEASE, if you don’t see your go-to choice, contribute to the discussion and mention what you love in the comments below.

All-Purpose, GREAT Cookbooks For Families

Dinner: A Love Story
By Jenny RosenstrachthIf you are familiar with Jenny’s blog by the same name, then it is no surprise that her book makes this list.  The recipes are straight from her family table and the cookbook is easy to use and easy to read.  Much like getting reliable recipes from a good friend while you chat over coffee.  The food is honest, practical, and incredibly delicious.  Yes, it contains tips and food advice, but its less about being a chef in the kitchen, and more about how to get dinner on the table and have it taste great, regardless of who is eating it. You can absolutely read this cover to cover like a novel, but you can cook it all the way through too. Start with the Lazy Bolognese and the Apricot Mustard Baked Chicken. Her second book, Dinner: The Playbook, is just as great.

Keepers
By Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campione227ebb8fcb19e9aa124376cebb40dfeDo you see that subheading at the top of the cookbook?  Yeah.  They aren’t kidding.  Every recipe in here is simple and easy and delicious. None of them take a ton of time (hallelujah) and the ingredient lists are small.  Think of it like a cookbook of staple recipes you will just rotate through over and over.  You learn one recipe and then they explain how to turn that a different meal with one little tweak.  They also cover the bases of good cooking, like why you should be roasting your veggies and how to make your own breadcrumbs.  The Sausage and White Bean Gratin sounds fancy but is simple and hearty so be sure to give it a try! The Farfalle (Bow Ties) With Gorgonzola, Ham & Peas is crazy good and ridiculously easy.  Weeknight cooking at its best. Or in my case, I will be making that after my Christmas ham has been picked over!

America’s Test Kitchen-Healthy Family Cookbook
By America’s Test Kitchen Brittany's PantryThis book has it all. Healthy recipes that are easy to make and basically no-brainers for you and your family. With over 800 of them, you are bound to find foods in here for everyone. It covers main dishes, appetizers, etc, and is an easy, spiral bound book. Much like their other in this series, ATK has included tried, true, and simple dishes, making this a cookbook you will reach for again and again. The New Family Cookbook and the ATK Quick Family Cookbook are fantastic as well.

Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
By BHG 
Cookbooks For FamiliesI would be remiss if I didn’t mention this cookbook. If you don’t have some version of this on your shelves, PUT IT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST! This inexpensive paperback would even make a great hostess gift if you knew someone who didn’t have it. Time and again, this book gets mentioned by every kind of cook I know-including those who don’t like to spend time in the kitchen. It gets reached for over and over as the go-to, all-purpose, reach for when you don’t know what to do, kind of book. Its a classic for a reason people.

Great For Young Families or New Parents

Parents Need To Eat Too
By Debbie Koenig
parents-need-to-eat-tooAMEN! This book is bursting with easy to read, easy to make recipes. The author shares a bit of her experiences as a new mom, as well as encouragement and support. Recipes include the slow cooker, food to eat while holding/nursing a baby, meals that can be made in stages, and even how to turn adult food into baby or toddler food. A useful resource for sure!!

The Homemade Pantry
By Alana ChernilaFamily Cookbooks This cookbook made quite a stir when it was released. With a theme of practicality and frugalness, this book covers basic food items that have become staples in many kitchens. Here, Alana shows you how to make them yourself, forgoing the chemicals and packaging, and boosting the flavor. The cover picture of her homemade pop tarts are quite popular, but with a recipe to make your own chai tea, pickles, and even an incredible hot sauce, you won’t want to limit yourself. Don’t misunderstand-these are easy and straightforward. In addition, it makes a great resource for homemade gifts.

Good Cheap Eats
Jessica FisherGood Cheap EatsWhen I started polling friends and family about their favorite and most used cookbooks, this author was mentioned again and again.  I don’t personally have any of her books, but they are now on my Christmas list! This one is a favorite I have flagged and from the research I have done, I can’t wait to start cooking from it! Users shouted praise from the rooftops, claiming ease of use and no-nonsense ingredients. Great photos and recipes with limited steps (bonus!) make this a cookbook that can be navigated easily. And with chapter heading such as Meals On The Run, Stretching It, and Breakfast For Dinner, she already seems to pinpoint exactly how a busy family operates. I’m going to start with her Potato and Corn Chowder!

The Mom 100
By Katie Workman
mom100The title says it all. With a solution for nearly every dilemma, Katie Workman gives you easy to make meals that are perfect when kids (or life in general) has you busy. Basic recipes with tons of room for variety will guarantee that you will be able to adapt meals to suit your families tastes and dietary needs while still expanding their horizons. Largely broken down by specific family food issues, this book is an incredible resource to plan your weekly meals and save you some time! Make-Ahead Parmesan Turkey Meatloaf? Yes please!!!

Specialty Cookbooks For Families W/Food Sensitivities

The Skinnytaste Cookbook
By Gina Homolka
Best-cookbooks-for-families-2014-Skinnytaste-Cookbook-Gina-Homolka_zps9fd5095bNot a cookbook specific to any food issues, but definitely a great one if you are limited. This book includes vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy free, and  so much more. You can easily expand your taste buds while keeping within whatever guidelines you can. I love the recipes because they are good for you and it gives my family variety, making especially easy to incorporate them into the our weekly menus and cooking for company. Don’t worry. The recipes are familiar, like Double Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies and Chicken Alfredo W/Broccoli, but they just have a little healthy tweaking. Gina’s blog is an expansion of the book so be sure to search her out!

Gluten-Free On A Shoestring
By Nicole Hunn
Best-Cookbooks-For-FamiliesStraight up, easy to make recipes that are gluten-free and won’t break the bank.  A fantastic staple cookbook for anyone new to celiac disease or a newly diagnosed gluten sensitivity. Tips and tricks to make the basics (Chicken Stock) and some specialty items (Apple Cake) along with strategies that help your bottom line-regardless of your menu choices.

Against All Grain
By Danielle WalkerCookbooks For FamiliesA #1 bestseller, this cookbook includes grain-free and dairy-free recipes but keeps the emphasis on flavor. Focused on the foods that we all want to eat, regardless of dietary needs, this book is a paleo persons dream. There is even a special section dedicated to kids so that no one is left out. The recipes have fantastic pictures that will make you WANT to cook them, a detail my kids like when they page through books and request meals. 🙂 No refined sugars makes this a great book to use with kids, making sure to guide young tastebuds toward whole, natural foods. It is simple and healthy. Period.

The Forest Feast for Kids
By Erin Gleeson
The Forest Feast For KidsI can’t even tell you how much fun it is to page through this book.  Vegetarian recipes that practically beg to be made and eaten. The food is simple and straightforward, while still exposing you to things you may not normally choose. Beautiful pictures and whimsical writing make this book a blast for anyone who excludes meat, or just wants to expand menus a bit. Great for adults or kids alike. I could have put this below in the Kid section, but I love it as much as my kids, so here it stays. Strawberry Salsa anyone?

Cookbooks For Kids

Betty Crocker Kids Cook!
By Betty Crocker
Betty Crocker Kids CookMy family received this book years ago and it has been through a lot. My kids love it and often page through to find something to surprise me with. Easy to read and with extra silly illustrations over the pages, my kids KNOW that it is designed for them. Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies are a staple in our house and Mouthwatering Cinnamon Muffins are pretty darn fantastic. All with paired down ingredients and streamlined steps. A great cookbook that will grow with your kids and their skills!

The Cookbook For Kids Who Love To Cook
By Lisa Atwood
51zw49Fo9WL._SX434_BO1,204,203,200_This cookbook is fantastic for kids that are a bit more advanced in the kitchen, but still has a few easy ones for beginners. Straightforward recipes that are easy to follow but with grown up methods. Think yogurt and fruit parfaits instead of just a smoothie. Or Cinnamon Swirl French Toast. I love that it pushes kids to be creative and builds skills with food KIDS can make but ADULTS will want to eat too. Perfect to instill confidence and foster independence!

Mom and Me Cookbook
By Annabel Karmel51bnPhPxBRL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_You will see this cookbook again and again for a lot of reasons. It is a fantastic book for introducing toddlers and preschoolers to the art of cooking and gets them interested in what they are eating. This definitely falls into the ‘cute’ category.  Fun recipes that are perfect for little fingers and would be a fantastic present for a little one, wrapped up in an apron!

Kitchen For Kids
By Jennifer Low51CZM2Mm66L._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_This is another cookbook on my ‘need to pick up’ list. Actually, it will be marked FAMILY and tucked under the tree! Sssshhhh.  Don’t tell. 🙂 My kids love to try new things and this book, which boasts no sharp knives and no flame cooking, is perfect for my children and I to cook from together. The recipe for Oven Baked Pad-Thai is at the top of my list to make. Perfect meals for after school prep and ready in time for dinner!

Of course, cookbooks and preferences are very personal and change from family to family. My hope is that you get some great ideas for the holidays and perhaps, make your shopping a bit easier! If you didn’t see your favorites above, please note that I tried to avoid the ever popular suggestions that were no brainers when it came to cookbooks. Here are a list of some of the cookbooks that are overwhelmingly loved.

Any Barefoot Contessa Cookbook that was ever written. Because Ina Garten is…well…Ina Garten

Any of the classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, especially this one

Pioneer Woman Cookbooks

Any of the How To Cook Everything series by Mark Bittman

The Joy Of Cooking by Irma Rombauer

I want to hear about YOUR favorites in the comments below! Hit me with the cookbooks you dog ear, splatter with stains, singe on the stove, and otherwise reach for in the kitchen! What do YOU cook from?

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