You know what will clear a cold right up? Mulled wine. Okay, not really. That’s an old wives tale. You also shouldn’t give your crying baby whiskey. However, mulled wine is pretty glorious for chilly winter get togethers. It’s especially delightful when sipped fireside with friends. You might think warm wine sounds ridiculous, but I promise that once you give mulled wine one sip (or two, or three…) you’ll have a new favorite winter cocktail. It’s also pretty easy to make (and double for bigger parties).
- 2 large oranges
- 12 whole cloves
- 12 allspice berries
- 12 whole black peppercorns
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bottles (6 cups) fruity red wine – Might I suggest merlot?
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brandy
- With a fine grater, zest, then juice the oranges.
- In a large pot (not aluminum), combine zest, juice, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon.
- Pour in wine, sugar, and brandy.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low; simmer until flavors have melded, about 30 minutes (or until it smells more like cider than well, bad).
- Pour through a fine-mesh sieve and garnish with cinnamon stick, if you’re fancy.
- Serve immediately in a mug (a glass will not do- we learned this the hard- and hot- way).
No need to mull this over any further.
For upcoming holiday parties, what’s better than a candy coated creation that can not only act as a centerpiece, but also as a party favor? That’s right. Absolutely nothing. Precisely the reason why my lovely lady friend, Katie (who also guest DJ’s from time to time), whipped up some beautiful and festive candy apples for a party she was hosting. (Is there anything this girl can’t do?). Anyway, I was lucky enough to witness (and document) her working her wonders in the kitchen and have for you the secrets to creating the prettiest candy apples ever. This isn’t rocket science, BUT it is a little tricky so follow directions closely and be sure to be patient (it’s a virtue, afterall).
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- Wax paper
- Candy thermometer
- 6 medium apples (we used Granny Smith)
- Wooden dowels
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
- Wash apples, remove stems, insert wooden dowels.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, 3/4 cup water, corn syrup, and food coloring.
- Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-high. Insert candy thermometer and continue to boil until temperature reaches between degrees 310 degrees (about 20 minutes).
- When mixture reaches 310 degrees, immediately remove from heat. Working quickly (seriously), dip apples in sugar mixture until completely coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; allow to cool.
How d’ya like them apples? As a disclaimer, I have to suggest that you don’t actually bite into these apples. You will crack your teeth… and that’s not the kinda look you’re probably going for.
You know what goes really well with wine? Cookies. Okay, maybe not (but kind of). Ever since I was little, my favorite cookies were the delicious cookies my mom made from a much fabled recipe. The Neiman Marcus cookies. You see, there’s quite a bit of urban legendry behind the recipe. Stories say that a woman and her daughter were duped into paying $250 for the recipe and when Neiman’s wouldn’t budge on the bill, she sent out the recipe to anyone who could read. Whether fact or fiction, this is a pretty perfect cookie recipe and a bit more traditional than hamantaschen. So grab a glass of wine and head to the kitchen to start baking.
- 2 cups butter
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 cups blended oatmeal
- 24 ounces chocolate chips
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (8 ounce) Hershey Bars (grated)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups chopped nuts walnuts
Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.
Cream the butter and both sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda.
Add chocolate chips, grated Hershey Bar and nuts.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2-inches apart on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 375° or until golden.
Couple things: This recipe yields 96 cookies. I cut it in half, but if you feel like you wanna house 96 cookies, more power to ya. Also, depending how big you make the cookies, you may have to adjust the baking time. Mine were kinda giant and baked for 15 minutes.
Because your cookies should be as fabulous as you are.
With the holiday music comes the holiday baking. While many opt for gingerbread and sugar cookies, I happen to be quite fond of hamantaschen. I’m a little late to the game on these (or at least I never knew how to pronounce the name of these sweet treats), I’ve fallen hard and fast. A traditional cookie made during the Jewish holiday of Purim, they are sure to delight any sweet toothed cookie lover. While they look pretty fancy and complicated… again, I made them. If I can do it- so can you.
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- dash of salt
- Fruit filling (I used apricot, raspberry, and almond)
- Cream the butter with sugar. Add egg and continue creaming until smooth.
- Add the vanilla.
- Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until a ball of dough is formed (a food processor would have been helpful for this).
- Chill for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Taking 1/4 of the dough, roll out on a lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
- Cut circles of dough with a drinking glass or round cookie-cutter.
- With your finger put water around the rim of the circle. Fill with 1 teaspoon of filling and fold into three-cornered cookies. (Press two sides together, and then fold the third side over and press the ends together.)
- Bake on a well-greased cookie sheet 10-16 minutes, until the tops are golden. (I prefer for them to be a bit lighter, so stay near the oven- they cook fast).
Be sure to let these cool before boxing up or trying to serve/eat. It takes a little bit of time before the fruit filling goes from molten lava back to solid again. I may or may not know this because I splattered it down the front of my face and shirt. Patience is a virtue, my friends. You also might notice I rolled out the dough on tin foil (DOH!). Wax paper would be a more prudent choice- but beggars can’t be choosers and it all worked out in the end. So, be sure to add these delicious (and impressive) cookies to your holiday baking repertoire.
It seems like during this time of year pumpkins get all the attention. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cupcakes… the list goes on and on and on. Now, let’s be serious, I love pumpkins as much as the next gal, but sometimes you (and your sweet tooth) crave something a little different for dessert. Boy, do I have a treat (literally) for you. I stumbled upon a super easy, super delicious recipe for baked apples that will blow your mind. Now, I am no pastry chef, but I can read directions. At first, this recipe may seem daunting, but I promise it’s easier than pie (did you catch that one?). It takes a bit of attention, so you are gonna have to get up during commercial breaks of Real Housewives of ______, but it will be well worth it.
For Baked Apples
- 8 sweet apples, Gala or Fuji
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 orange, zest only
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup brandy
For Crumble Top
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 ounces butter, cold
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Generously spread butter on a 9″ x 13″ baking tray.
- Slice top and bottoms of each apple to make level. Hollow apple with a core to remove stems and seeds. Cut skin in vertical or horizontal stripes to give a decorative look, if desired.
- Make crumble by combining flour, brown sugar, salt, and sugar in a mixer bowl. Cut butter into smaller pieces. Combine butter and dry ingredients until crumbly and sandy. Keep in refrigerator until needed.
- For the filling, mix mascarpone, brown sugar, dried fruit, salt, cinnamon and orange zest until combined.
- Fill apples tightly with filling and place in buttered pan.
- Top with crumble. Pack it well on top, cut portion of apple.
- Pour apple cider and brandy around the apples.
- Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Baste apples with juice every 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Drizzle with cider and brandy baking liquid.
Served with vanilla bean ice cream and perhaps a drizzle of caramel… Mind. Blowing. So, seriously, how do you like them apples?