It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Entangled Staff shared their favorite holiday recipes, now it’s time to find out what some of our authors love to cook up in the kitchen this time of year.
Favorite Holiday Recipe: Pizzelle
When I was a senior in college, I did a study abroad Siena, Italy, a small hilltop town in the heart of Tuscany. Along with the gelato, I fell in love Italian baked goods, like pizzelle, which are big, thin cookies that look and taste a lot like a flat waffle cone.
Following graduation, a pizzelle iron (very similar to a waffle maker) was one of my first grown-up kitchen tool purchases and I still use it today. Pizzelle are perfect for the busy holiday potluck season because you don’t have to make a trip to the store to buy any special ingredients, and baking cookies on an iron is a lot less hassle and mess than other oven-required holiday goodies.
My go-to pizzelle recipe:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla*
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Set eggs out ahead so they come to room temperature. Melt, then cool, the butter. Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Beat the eggs and sugar, then add the butter and vanilla. Add the flour mixture. Batter should be stiff. Put approximately one teaspoon of batter on the preheated pizzelle iron just behind center and close the lid until the dough stops steaming (usually 30-40 seconds). Lift finished pizzelle off with a spatula and lay flat to cool.
*Personally, I love pizzelle that have anise (licorice) flavoring and that is something you’ll have to pick up from the grocery store baking aisle. Add 1Ž2 tsp of it along with the vanilla
My award winning Oreo Balls. I’ve won my neighborhood cookie exchange for best cookie five years in a row with this recipe. Simple ingredient list and fabulously delicious!
1 Package of Oreos,
8 oz brick of cream cheese (I add a little more for extra creaminess)
Chocolate to melt (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips melted in a cast iron pot on LOW)
White chocolate to decorate
- Crush Oreos
- Soften cream cheese and mush together with crushed Oreos (I wear disposable gloves)
- Make Oreo “meatballs” and refrigerate for 10 minutes (better to make these small rather than large – 1 inch diameter)
- Dip “meatballs” in melted chocolate and refrigerate
- Melt white chocolate and drizzle over top (I use an icing piping bag for clean, beautiful lines)
It’s hot in New Zealand for Christmas, which is a little crazy for many of you over the other side of world to comprehend. But it means that Christmas lunch is often eaten at the beach rather than at the table. It also means PAVLOVA: the most delicious ball of sugary goodness on the planet. This puppy has less sugar and the sugar is folded in, not beaten, which gives the pavlova a kinda dense, marshmallow centre and chewy crust. Yum.
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence/paste
- Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl. Beat until they form a dense white foam and stiff peaks, but aren’t dry.
- Sift the caster sugar and cornflour over the egg whites and pour the vinegar and vanilla essence down the side of the bowl. Use a slow speed to incorporate all the ingredients. Do not beat or over-mix. You can use a holed spoon instead of beaters.
- Spread the mixture on to a baking paper-lined baking tray to a circle of 18 cm diameter or pile into a well-greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin
- Place on the middle shelf of a preheated 220⁰ C oven, immediately turn temperature down to 120⁰ C and bake for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the oven and allow to cool thoroughly before removing it from the oven. The centre of the pavlova will crack and drop, leaving a perfect hollow for filling with whipped cream and seasonal fruit.
Next year my Lovestruck title Her Hottie Highlander will be released out in the world and there is sunshine a plenty for the heroine. Janie Milan has escaped her ex’s wedding in small town Texas, only to find herself entangled with a Scottish TV star who is on the run from the press. But it’s when she finds out just what he’s hiding under his kilt that things get interesting!
N.J. Walters, author of Drakon’s Promise
My favorite holiday recipe is Carnation Five-Minute Fudge. My mother made it when I was a child and it was always a family favorite. I’ve been making this recipe for decades and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. It’s fast and easy and always tasty.
Carnation Five-Minute Fudge
2/3 cup of Carnation milk
1 2/3 cup of sugar
Bring milk and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (I use dark semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups of mini white marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla flavouring
Stir until smooth and pour into a greased 8″ X 8″ pan.
Cool and cut into squares.
Hummus for the Holidays
I’m a first-generation Armenian-American and my husband’s family can trace their roots back to the Mayflower. We’ve meshed cultures and traditions, and one of our favorite appetizers is hummus for the Christmas table. It can be served as a dip with wedges of pita bread or vegetables, and goes well with broiled or grilled meat. I love to make it myself, and even my young daughters—who can be quite picky—enjoy it. Here’s my hummus recipe:
1 can (15 oz) chick peas – drain and reserve ¼ cup fluid
3 cloves minced garlic (1 ½ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 ½ teaspoons tahini (sesame seed puree)
Drain can of chick peas and reserve ¼ cup fluid. Mix tahini thoroughly before using to incorporate oil that separates during storage. Using a food processor or blender, combine and blend all ingredients until smooth. If hummus is too thick, add a few tablespoons of reserved fluid and blend again. Pour in serving platter. Enjoy!
I’ve been making gingerbread boys since I was sixteen, which is quite a while ago. While my mom liked to cook, baking was not her preference. Her friend down the street from us loved to bake, and since I showed an interest in it, my mom asked her to show me how. I’ve been making these gingerbread boys every year since, except for one, when I was sick with the ‘flu and expecting my second son. This recipe takes a lot of time, but it is so worth it! The gingerbread is soft, and so delicious; not overpowering. Little children love the colors, and are eager to help create them. My sons have helped me every year, and now they are grown and still help me. They tell me it’s not Christmas if I don’t make these gingerbread men!
Mix thoroughly: 1/3 C. soft butter or margarine
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 C. dark molasses
Slowly stir in: 2/3 C. cold water
Sift together & stir in: 7 C. sifted flour
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves (ground)
1 tsp. cinnamon
Cake decorating icing tubes (for later): 2 red, 2 white, 2 green
Chill dough a couple hours
Roll out very thick (1/2”). Use gingerbread boy cookie cutter. With a spatula, carefully transfer gingerbread boys to lightly greased sheet. Bake. Cool slightly, then carefully remove from baking sheet. Allow to cool. (I wait overnight). With cake decorating icing (I use Betty Crocker or Cake Mate, but you can make your own), make hat, eyes, mouth, tie, cuffs, belt & buckle, shoes, buttons, and any other designs. You may use candies and raisins instead of icing.
Time: about 15 min.
Hint: If you do happen to bake these a bit too long and they get crunchy, you can slice up an apple and put a few pieces in with the cookies overnight in their air-tight container. This will soften up the cookies to the perfect consistency!
At Christmastime, I love dessert, and especially cookies—the more the merrier! My favorites are Peanut Blossoms. They’re easy-peasy to make. And here are a couple of tips I’ve learned from many years of baking them:
When they’re hot out of the oven and you add the chocolate kiss on top, put the entire baking sheet of cookies in the freezer for a few minutes to keep the chocolate from melting too much. (If the sheet’s too big to fit, you can also quickly transfer the cookies to a freezer-safe platter or the lid of a decorative cookie tin and then pop those into the freezer.) Also, when you’re ready to eat, microwave the cookies just until the kiss on top begins to soften. They will be unbelievably delicious!
Here’s one version of the recipe:
(Recipe and photo from www.pillsbury.com.)
My favorite holiday recipe:
One of my favorite memories of Christmas as a child was hanging out in our country kitchen with the whole clan, laughing and talking over each other while holiday songs played in the background. My mother would put out quite the spread. I loved her homemade fudge and sugar cookies, but my absolute holiday favorite was the salty-sweet mix of peanut brittle.
Donna’s Peanut Brittle
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
Dash of salt*
1 cup peanuts
Throw butter and sugar in a cast iron skillet and heat until it turns liquid then cook about four minutes, stirring constantly. Add peanuts to the mixture while stirring and cook a few more minutes. Add baking soda, stirring gently until the mixture is light and foamy. Remove from heat and immediately pour mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet. Spread mixture thinly and allow to cool. Break into small pieces and serve.
*dash= 1/8 teaspoon
Confession: I didn’t even wait until after Thanksgiving to start making it this year. We’ve already devoured three whole batches, and I haven’t given any to my mother-in-law yet. I always give her too much, and she eats it all and gets a bellyache. Every year. It’s tradition!
What is it? We call it Party Mix. (I think the rest of the world might call it Chex Mix.) And it’s so simple, I can’t believe it’s so good. I don’t even EAT cereal the rest of the year, but in December, I’m pretty sure I eat four boxes by myself, although I have plenty of helpers. I made this batch last night at about 8 pm, and when I got up this morning, this is all that was left. Now I’ll either have to hide it or make more!
Over the years, my recipe has morphed a bit from what you can find on the cereal manufacturer’s website. I’ve lightened it up calorie-wise because I can’t bring myself to put that much butter in something I’m going to consume by the box for four weeks. This year, I discovered something new and brilliant when my friend Chef Krista gave me a bottle of her fancy Jerkalicious Hot Sauce. At first whiff, I smelled Worcestershire Sauce (although there is none in her recipe), and I knew that little bottle was destined for Party Mix heaven. If you like it spicy, replace some or all of the Worcestershire Sauce in the following recipe with Jerkalicious Hot Sauce. If you do, add a Tablespoon of water to thin it out a little. Completely awesome!
Get a big bowl and measure:
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup pretzel rods (or pretzel anythings)
3 cups Rice Squares cereal
3 cups Corn Squares cereal
2 cups Wheat Squares cereal
On the stove in a small saucepan, melt:
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Seasoning Salt
a squirt of Sriracha (optional)
Whisk the sauce and pour it over the cereal/pretzel/nut mix.
Toss to coat.
Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Enjoy with a refreshing beverage and a good book.
May I recommend one of mine? My chef heroine in IMPULSE CONTROL, the first book in the Men of the Zodiac series would love to eat Party Mix with you!
Our authors have shared their holiday food addictions, now tell us yours!
What treat can you just not get enough of during the holidays?