Happy Holidays! If you’re in holiday party prep mode, I’ve got a great round up of recipes for you. I’m a huge fan of puff pastry and always have a box tucked away in my freezer just in case. Below you’ll find 5 different recipes that include this favorite “freezer staple.” I particularly love the cinnamon sugar puff pastry spoons! So perfect for a party.


Curry Puffs. Recipe here.

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Puff Pastry Wrapped Olives. Recipe here. 




Fig Tart with Bacon and Bleu Cheese. Recipe here. 



Parmesan, Black Pepper, and Rosemary Cheese Straws. Recipe here. 



Cran-Apple Relish on Cinnamon Sugar Spoons. Recipe here. 


Photos by Kylie Whiting.

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The holidays are a great time for cookies!  They make for the perfect party theme, treat at home,  and even great neighbor gifts.  I made it my mission to find the perfect sugar cookie recipe that would be perfect for variations. After a few rounds of testing, I nailed it down and came up with 4 super tasty variations on the beloved classic sugar cookie.  For my basic Holiday Sugar Cookie recipe, click here.


The first variation is a Peppermint Twist Candy Cookie. It’s amazing how far a little peppermint extract goes. I love it in this variation – it’s just enough, but not too much. Get the recipe here.



The next variation is my Snowflake Snickerdoodle.  Who can resist cinnamon and sugar during the holidays? Especially when it comes to baking. I really love these as snowflakes as well. A little royal icing detail really makes them pop. Get the recipe here.


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Next up is the Maple Pecan Present Cookie with Penuche Icing. This might just be my favorite. Maple and pecan go together like butter and toast. The Icing is also a favorite. I use it all throughout the holiday season and it was especially good on these cookies. Get the recipe here.


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Finally, we have the Salted Caramel Chocolate Stockings.  Salted caramel on a chocolate cookie?! Sold!!! This recipe is a perfect example of how switching up just a few different ingredients can completely transform a recipe while keeping the method nearly identical. I had a lot of fun with this one. Get the recipe here.


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Now if those recipes don’t inspire you to get baking, then I don’t know what will!  Happy December!



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I hope everyone is feeling well fed today after a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you’re like me, leftovers are one of the things that I look forward to most. Hands down my favorite Thanksgiving day leftover recipe is my Apple Pie Shake. It comes together in no time and the perfect way to reinvent your favorite slice of pie. Apple pie is always a staple in my home for the holidays, but this recipe would work with any flavor of pie. What’s most popular in your home when it comes to leftover pie slices?


Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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This is about the time of year when I start to consume an absurd amount of cookies – and for good reason. There is no better time of the year to enjoy the delight that is a cookie than during the holidays. For the past couple of years I’ve participated in Cooking Channel’s  holiday cookie round up. Each year I look forward to it and the recipe testing that precedes it. Unless of course things go awry, like last year when I learned that crushed peppermint candies cannot be mixed into cookie dough. What a mess, trust me.


Cooking Channel just released their lineup of holiday cookies for 2012 and it looks really good. I contributed an Almond Butter Shortbread Cookie (“Mandelmusslor”) that is perfectly traditional and delicious. Robby’s favorite cookies are always shortbread and he’s also got a thing for almond, so these were right up his alley. My dear sweet Grandma Karen passed along this recipe and it has instantly become a hit!


Last year were the infamous Peppermint Meltaways that required 27 re-tests in my home kitchen. Delicious, and worth all of the blood, sweat, and tears that I put into that recipe.


I also shared my family’s famous Pumpkin Penuche Cookies on the Holiday Cookie Swap special that aired last year. (look for it re-airing this month on Cooking Channel! I got to feed fancy people like John Legend and his gorgeous bride-to-be Chrissy Teigen cookies all night long!) We also made these this year for Thanksgiving and they were as delicious as ever.


Finally, two years ago I shared my Peppermint Fudge Crinkle Cookies and they are awesome. They look as good as they taste and when fudge meets peppermint all of the world’s problems can be solved.


What are your favorite cookies to make (or eat!) during the holidays? Do you have family recipes that you make year after year? Check out Cooking Channel’s full cookie lineup this year – the recipes look fantastic and festive!


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Yield: 2 dozen



2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar, mixing until pale yellow and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Using slightly wet hands, roll the dough into heaping tablespoon-size balls (or use a small cookie scoop) and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake just until the edges start to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (Bake one sheet at a time for even cooking and browning.) Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


To print this recipe and read reviews, click here.

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