Perking Up the Holidays

Every family has their traditions and traditional dishes. Food doesn’t need a major change to bring something new to the table. Subtle changes work wonders for brightening up the expected fare.

For example, buttery yeast rolls pair well with almost every savory dish. From the bread service at Thanksgiving to the making of slider sized sandwiches over the rest of the weekend. these rolls are a treat for many of us. A simple cinnamon honey butter will spice them up with a slightly sweeter take on the traditional butter, and stay in keeping with the scents and sensations of the season.

Cinnamon Honey Butter
Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey (agave also works well)
1tsp ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Store in an airtight container until it’s time to serve. May also be kept frozen for up to 1 month.

For a sweeter blend, add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the mix.

 

Speaking of sweet accents, if you are serving desserts and want a whipped topping but are tired of the stuff available in the grocery coolers, try making your own.

Vanilla Whipped Cream
Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Seal in airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir before serving.

Variations on this theme include adding a bit of pumpkin pie spice, just cinnamon, or any of a number of extracts like orange, lemon, maple, or rum.

 

Nuts, be they raw, candied, in stuffing, or in pie, are a staple ingredient for many holiday feasts. With the popularity of spicy dishes on the rise, adding a kick to candied pecans or almonds is popular. They can be served as a snack, a salad accent, or added to various other dishes such as yams or pie.

Spicy Candied Pecans
Ingredients:
3 tbsp corn syrup
2-1/4 tsp cinnamon
2-1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
1-1/2 cups whole pecans

Combine corn syrup and spices in a medium bowl. Gently fold in nuts, continuing until well coated. Transfer to parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a foil sheet and separate while still warm. Allow to cool thoroughly and transfer to an airtight container. Nuts keep for about 3 weeks.

The spiciness of this treat can be revved up or down according to the tastes of your family. Pumpkin pie spices also make a tasty variation!

 

Pumpkins are good for more than just jack-o-lanterns and cooking. This quick arrangement is useful on the table and in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Table Accent
Ingredients:
1 medium pumpkin
1 bunch of flowers (seasonal bouquets, mums, or carnations all work well)

Cut the top of your pumpkin around the stem, making a hole large enough to be able to scrape out the inside. Remove the seeds and reserve them for roasting. Scrape out the pumpkin meat in strips, reserving for later cooking. Don’t make the walls of the gourd too thin, or they may not last as long as you would prefer. Insert a plastic cup with water for the flowers. Arrange the flowers to please the eye and viola! You have an accent or centerpiece for your holiday entertaining.

The seeds may be roasted for snacking as with the nut recipe shown above. The pumpkin meat should be rendered and used in muffins, pies, or whatever you like using pumpkin for, or frozen for later use. Pumpkin will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

I hope these suggestions help to make your holidays a little more interesting!

–Ann Cathey

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