holiday

basil cardamom apple brown betty

I am once again partnering with Cooking Light and The Chew, working with recipes from the show. This time I chose a dessert from Mario Batali, and I was asked to recreate the recipe and make it my own.

Make it my own is exactly what I did.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

Using my favorite herb and spice (basil and cardamom), I made a savory biscuit that pairs well with sweet fruit. I bet adding a cheddar to those biscuits would be. even. better.

Batali’s recipe called for a very simple apple mixture. I made my apples caramely with some dates and butter. Divine.

I also switched the order of baking the biscuit pieces then tossing in melted butter – I tossed them with melted butter before I baked them. Double divine.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

basil cardamom apple brown betty

adapted from Mario Batali’s Apple Brown Betty

dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free, vegan

makes four 8 ounce ramekins

4 basil cardamom biscuits (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons butter (dairy + soy free margarine), melted
6 Medool dates, pitted
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon butter (dairy + soy free margarine)
1-2 tablespoons water as needed
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
4 large apples, cored and chopped

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Cut biscuits into bite size pieces, toss with melted butter. Arrange in single layer on prepared (parchment / silpat) baking sheet, bake at 300 for 10-12 minutes, turning after 6.

In saucepan over medium heat, combine pitted Medjool dates with lemon juice and butter. As the dates warm, continually stir and mash into a paste, adding water by the tablespoon as needed until a smooth paste forms. Reduce heat to low, add cardamom and chopped apples, stirring to coat. 

Arrange layer of toasted biscuit pieces in bottom of ramekins. Top with Medjool apple mixture, repeat with another layer of biscuit, another layer of apple, until ramekins are full (ending with pieces of biscuit on top). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until top is crunchy and apple caramel is bubbly.

Serve warm with ice cream.

basil cardamom biscuits

dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free, vegan

2 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup more for kneading
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup cold butter (dairy and soy free)
handful fresh basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (coconut in carton) 

Sift together flour, baking powder, cardamom, xanthan gum and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or fork), cut butter and basil into dry ingredients, combine until crumbly. Add milk 2 tablespoons at a time until dough comes together. On floured surface with floured hands, knead dough several minutes, until no longer sticky. 

With floured rolling pin, roll dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter (or drinking glass), cut biscuit and place on prepared (parchment / silpat) baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 12- 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

Buttery salty sweet comfort food.

 

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During the holidays our schedules can get crowded – multiple events on the same day, friends and family in town while those multiple events are going on, and the want to do all of the things.

That is where the pre-party comes in.

Back in college we would “pre funk” – get together before the function of the night. This is kinda like that – more grown up and most definitely more toned down. Probably.

This past weekend we had a friend in town, had plans with another group of friends, and there was a show we wanted to see. We had a pre-show party at our place and did not not miss a thing.

Just because it is a pre-party doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with it. There are quick and easy things I did to make our little pre-funk every bit as cool as one of our normal shindigs. We had several small bite appetizers and sweets, pitchers of homemade Irish cream, and I even decorated!

The night before our pre-party I printed out some fun party decor pieces, then sat on the couch cutting and assembling them while watching a movie.

The printables I chose were from two different sources:

fun designs in pink, red and light blue from Hostess With The Mostess

more traditional red and green decor from The Party Dress.

There are toothpick labels, lettered garland to hang, large and small signs, even wrapping papers.

I also used some gift tags for some holiday gifts – they look great on my classic spabettie hounds tooth wrap, yes?

I will be using other pieces from these printables for upcoming events and gifts throughout the holidays – there are many labels and signs I will be adding to my cookie gift platters too. If you need some fun gift tags or party garlands for the holidays, visit the links above to print yours!

This holiday season, let loved ones know how much you care.  Use your favorite photos to create something personalized and unique for everyone on your list.  Make it memorable.  Make it meaningful.  Make it matter.  Go to hp.com/holiday for inspiration and ideas.

Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of spabettie and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.

 

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A high school friend recently wrote about Finding Focus at 100mph, referring to his motorcycle.

I kinda sorta relate to that, as I love to drive fast and have lately thought of racing (cars!) classes. While driving fast laps around a racetrack, I believe I could easily find that flow, that peace, that calm.

Back in high school and college, this was skiing for me – being out alone on the mountain (well, I wasn’t alone, was I – it simply felt this way) with that silence that can only come from the layered padding of snow.

Now I find that peace while running – it takes a little bit to find my breathing pattern and get into my groove, but once I do, there’s nothing like it. I can process, I can think, I can just be.

I also turn to cooking, specifically baking, when I’m stressed, worried, need to focus or simply zone out.

Dad and I have had some long exhausting hospital days lately – some of it has been good news and some news is still up in the air. I am tired, I am distracted, I am hopeful, I am scattered.

Good thing it is the holiday season, I have been baking a lot these past few days.

Yep, up baking midnight.

sparkly apricot rosemary jewels

makes 14-17 cookies

1/2 cup butter (dairy and soy free)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 sprig fresh rosemary, stemmed and finely chopped
1 cup flour (gluten free all purpose), plus up to 1/3 cup for kneading
2-3 tablespoons milk (vanilla coconut)
apricot preserves
colored sanding sugar (optional)

Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and rosemary. Stir in flour, adding milk one tablespoon at a time until dough forms. Knead into a ball, cool in refrigerator 20 minutes. Roll dough into one inch rounds, place on prepared (parchment/silpat) baking sheet, make a thumbprint.

Bake at 300 for 25 – 28 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely. Spoon apricot preserves into thumbprint, sprinkle with sparkly colored sugars.

I will have more of an update on Dad soon.

When do you find your focus? What is your 100mph calm?

 

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I guess it all began at a very early age, really – the gifting of food.

My Uncle Dudley bringing us fruit baskets and gift towers of cheeses and candies. My mom sending me with a pan of brownies when I was invited to a friend’s house.

Making assorted cookies for our mail lady. She drove this HUGE station wagon, sitting in the passenger seat so she could reach the mailboxes, while steering the wheel with her left hand. Good thing we lived in a quiet area…  that was some skilled driving.

Now the list is longer – not only do I have a mailman to give cookies to, I have Fed Ex and UPS drivers that ahem know me well. We have hairdressers and (well, I have) a manicurist who come to expect holiday treats now.

I have friends across the country I send surprises to. We have many holiday events and nights out with friends, and I always show up with a bakers box of something.

These are a quick and easy addition to any cookie plate this holiday season - and they are just so fun. Dark chocolate with salty pretzels are an irresistible combination most anyone will enjoy, and these mini M&M candies in holiday colors take the festive fun over the top.

It is as if Rudolph’s antlers were strung with glittery lights, and the red M&M makes a good nose…

reindeer antlers

recipe from bright ideas

1 3/4 cups Dove® Chocolate
3/4 cup M&M’S MINIS®
1 bag pretzel sticks, broken into various sized pieces
Reynolds® Parchment Paper

Remove 3/4 cup red and green M&M’S and set aside for decoration.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water. Stir the mixture as it melts. When mixture is shiny and smooth, turn off the heat.

Once all the chocolate is melted, dip the pretzel pieces one at a time and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet into an antler shape. Place the M&M’S on each antler as it is finished.

Repeat this same process until all the antlers are finished.

Let the chocolate cool completely and get firm. You can refrigerate to firm the chocolate more quickly.

Once firm, remove them from parchment paper.

If desired, wrap each one in a sheet of cellophane, tied with a ribbon or simply put them on a cookie plate.

Click to sweeten the holidays with Silky Smooth Dove Chocolate.

Compensation was provided by Mars via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of spabettie and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mars.

 

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This time of year, in addition to the normal fun holiday buzz, there is the extra excitement of celebrating with friends. Everyone seems to be focused on the festivity of the holiday season, and the giddy smiles and happy laughs happen even more right now.

One of those giddy happy feeling friends is Lora – her friendship continually reminds me of why I love this online community so much.

Lora recently mentioned my fudge recipes from last year, so I created one just for her.

and I made it extra fun.

Lora is so supremely talented and it shows in her culinary creations – I am beyond honored to be a guest at her place today!

Please go visit Lora and my mandarin orange fudge recipe!

 

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Sweet and savory, sweet and salty, sweet and spicy.

Sweet.

Pillowy doughy… sweet.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Those two up there were my taste testers.

The rest magically stayed intact. You need a couple taste testers, right?

You need to eat melty cheese every day now and then.

You all know I love my vegan havarti cheese. Not only is it a deliciously flavored havarti – it is a jalapeno garlic havarti. Such a great creamy savory flavor with a slight spicy kick, and it pairs perfectly with the sweet tart apricot.

These are the easiest thing to fling together 20 minutes before guests are set to arrive – ready to take out of the oven right as they walk in the door.

apricot havarti puffs

inspired by apricot blue cheese angels

dairy and egg free, vegan

makes 16 puffs

1 package vegan puff pastry / pastry dough
1/3 cup apricot preserves (about 1 teaspoon each puff)
2-3 ounces vegan havarti cheese 

Roll out pastry sheet, cut into squares (approximately 2-3 inch square). Slice havarti into one inch pieces. Spoon preserves into middle of square, top with havarti, fold all corners of dough into middle, pinching to close. Place in mini tart molds or directly onto parchment lined baking sheet, pinched edges down. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Three ingredients, couldn’t be easier or taste more decadent.

Cheers!

 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

This weekend the outside lights on the house went up, the (new! fake!) tree went up and is lit and decorated, and I’ve already watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation eleventeen times.

I’m watching it as I type this.

…if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised

One recipe I will be making a lot of this holiday season is chocolate bark. The flavor possibilities are endless, it is easy, looks festive, and who does not like chocolate? Hopefully our mailman, Fed Ex and UPS guys, Jason’s hairdresser and girls at the salon, family and friends do…

This bark is superfood super good. Goji berries and dates give some extra sweetness, and almonds and salt always go well with chocolate. The hemp seeds simply look pretty sprinkled throughout, and add some extra superfood oomph.

To borrow a phrase from Cousin Eddie, it’s Gooo – oood! 

dark chocolate superfood bark

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

2 jumbo Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon water
15 ounces dark chocolate (72-88%), chopped
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup goji berries
1-2 tablespoons hemp seeds
sprinkling sea salt 

Line a baking sheet with parchment. In saucepan over medium heat, combine dates and water, stirring into a paste. Reduce heat to low, add chocolate, stirring until melted and fully combined with date paste. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour onto parchment; using an offset spatula, spread in an even layer to desired thickness (this recipe is about 1/8 inch). Sprinkle with sea salt. Add toppings: almonds, goji berries and hemp seeds, in uniform pattern so each piece of bark is covered. Allow to cool, break or cut into pieces. 

I leave my bark overnight on counter – it is set but still semi soft – I cut into squares with a knife, then transfer to refrigerator to set completely.

*edited to specify percentages of the dark chocolate I used in this recipe.

disclosure: Oh! Nuts provided products to add to my chocolate bark.

 

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Happy Holidays, everyone!

I can officially say that now, right? Thanksgiving is complete, so now can we focus on the rest of the holiday season?

I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, or if you were not celebrating, simply a nice weekend.

Our holiday was so lovely – as I mentioned, my dad joined us at my mom and step dad’s house, and I could not have been happier. I definitely missed having my sister and her husband there that day, they were out of town. We often go to Missouri on Thanksgiving, to see Jason’s family, and the only thing that could top this weekend would be having both families together. Perhaps someday.

Thanksgiving began with a brunch at my other sister’s house, where Dad also joined us. Jason and I then stopped back at our house to pick up Basil and all the food I had made, and we headed to my mom’s place right away. I like to spend the whole day at my moms…  I used to spend the night the day before!

We avoided shopping crowds the next day, opting for a fabulous lunch and movie instead. Saturday the Ducks won our Civil War game, and I had a super fun girls night out with a show at Tony Starlight’s Supperclub.

The holidays and merriment begins!

More holiday festivity – all month long, my friend Roxana has a holiday series where she is featuring delectable holiday goodies and some fantastic giveaways.

To see my orange creamsicle shortbread, please visit #25RecipesToXmas.

 

Happy Holidays! 

 

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