Tag Archives: Holidays

What I Drank Wednesday: Holiday Edition

Look at me, posting a WIDW two weeks in a row! This week’s theme is Holiday drinks, and includes beer, coffee, and tea. I’m a sucker for themed drinks, and like to try them all. A lot of times, though, I find that themed and overly marketed drinks are average at best. The ones below are the exception to my made up rule in that they are themed, and they’re good. We should probably start off with the good stuff (the beer) first, right?!

Harpoon’s Winter Warmer: I had this beer for the first time at the end of the season last year and loved it, so I knew that as soon as it became acceptable to talk about the Holidays, I had to get my hands on some. In simple terms, it tastes like the Holidays (cinnamon, nutmeg), but not in an overpowering way. It manages to be light, but also warm you up, as the name suggests. This is definitely the kind of beer you want to have on hand for Holiday get togethers! [Spiced Ale, 5.9% ABV]

Winter Warmer

This will warm you up!

Shiner’s Holiday Cheer: Despite having “Holiday” in the name, it’s far from what you would expect as a traditional Holiday beer (at least for me). When I think of Winter Holidays, I think of the spices found in the Winter Warmer. This brew, however, throws that logic out the window and instead you get the taste of peaches and pecans. It is so delightfully fruity and light, and reminds me a lot of Magic Hat’s #9. Despite the summery flavors, it definitely works as a Holiday beer, and I can just picture sipping it in Shiner, Texas (where it likely makes sense to have such a light and fruity beer for winter). [Dunkelweizen, 5.4% ABV]

Holiday Cheer

Peaches & pecans are needed in the snow

Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée: Oh man. I should preface this by saying up until a few weeks ago, I was very much not a stout fan. I could drink a Guinness if it was given to me, but it was never my drink of choice. They were always just a little too heavy and bitter for me. But after finally trying Founder’s Breakfast Stout a few weeks ago while out after work, and really liking it, I decided it was about time to try more. So when Jenny suggested I give Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée a try (with some dark chocolate), I made sure to pick it up when I went to the liquor store… and I got the last one! As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell the vanilla and caramel; it smelled like dessert. I was nervous to give it a try because I had such high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was so good. Not only could I smell the vanilla and caramel, but I could taste it. It’s a perfect “dessert beer,” or a beer to have when you want something a little heavier and sweet, rather than a light sweet beer (such as the Holiday Cheer above). [Imperial Milk Stout, 9.5% ABV]

Creme Brulee

Slowly becoming a stout lover

Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee: No more beer! Starbucks puts out this blend every year, and it’s really good. I actually love all of their seasonal blends (Thanksgiving, Holiday, Christmas, etc.), but this may be my favorite. Made up of beans from a bunch of different regions (South America and Indonesia), I enjoy it every morning, but find it also pairs well with desserts. It’s a darker roast, but isn’t overpowering, and smells fabulous.

Starbucks Christmas Blend

Jingle jingle

Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea: I had heard of this tea for a few years before actually trying it. I couldn’t  believe that there was actually a tea flavor that tasted like sugar cookies. When I finally tried it last year I was in shock; not only did it taste like sugar cookies, but it tastes like my favorite frosted cake-like sugar cookies (like the one pictured below)! Well, the people were right – it tastes like a sugar cookie. This is a perfect tea for when I’m craving something sweet but don’t have anything around. The smell is phenomenal, and I promise it tastes as good as it smells. It’s perfect for someone like me that will almost always choose coffee over tea, but actually wants tea every once in awhile.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

Sugar cookie, sugar cookie tea. Both delicious.

I love taking advantage of different food and drink based on the season, and have been lucky enough to discover some really great ones.

Tell me…
Do you have any favorite Holiday themed drinks?
Any Holiday themed drinks I should try?

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Super Sides

Every year it takes me by surprise just how quickly the Holidays come and go. Only a few days ago I was echoing the sentiment I do every year; “I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. It doesn’t feel like it.” The next thing I knew we were at my husband’s parent’s house enjoying Christmas Eve dinner, and then in the blink of an eye we were leaving my family after Christmas dinner. This year has flown by and been one of the biggest years of my life yet. There will certainly be a recap of sorts coming tomorrow!

I had the honor of being a Hormel Foods Extended Family Food Blogger for part of the year, and our last challenge was side dishes. For me, side dishes are often times my favorite part of a meal, becoming the star on the plate. Growing up, we always had a few things on our plates (meat, vegetable, maybe a starch), but I’ve found myself in the kitchen mostly making meals that can all be enjoyed in a bowl, or on a small plate. This isn’t to say the dishes themselves don’t require a lot of pots and pans to get to the end result, but it’s usually just one thing.

After looking through Hormel’s website for some inspiration, I decided to make two side dishes. Growing up, I was (and still am!) a huge mashed potatoes fan. Call me crazy, but I love instant mash just as much as homemade mashed potatoes. Sure, the homemade thing is better, but in a pinch the boxed flakes aren’t half bad. So, I made bacon-ed up mashed poatoes, and a veggie loaded chili dish (because I love everything chili related). Even though chili is usually the key player, this is a perfect side to have with pork, beef, or some marinated and grilled chicken, or you can enjoy it as your main. Maybe even over some mashed potatoes!

I had seen a recipe for Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes on How Sweet Eat’s blog, and had been jonsing to try them. I was going to make it for Thanksgiving, but my mother-in-law’s plain ‘ol milk, butter, and hand mashed  potatoes just can’t be replaced. In honor of Jessica and her love for bacon, I thought she’d appreciate me adding some bacon to the potatoes. And let me tell you, this was a delicious addition! (recipe below).

As for the loaded veggie chili, it’s close to my heaven. Sauteed veggies (onions, peppers, etc.) are some of my favorites, smothered in spices and combined with some Hormel chili couldn’t be easier, or tastier. I actually think this would be a great burrito filler as well, or over rice or mashed potatoes if you’re looking to have it as the star of the show. But, it’s a great side dish as well, and sneaks in a lot of vegetables without you even realizing it. Of course I’m not one to hide my vegetables, but for those of you that are veggie shy or have dining companions that are, this is a great way to get them in.

Browned Butter & Bacon Smashed Potatoes – adapted from How Sweet Eats 
– serves 6 –

Ingredients:
3lbs yukon or russet potatoes (I used russet)
1 cup milk
6 Tbsp butter
4 slices of bacon (I used hormel)
3 Tbsp of bacon fat
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Chop potatoes (I left the skin on, but you can peel them first if you’d prefer) and put in a large pot, filling just above the potatoes with water. Boil for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender
2. Meanwhile, cook 4 pieces of bacon in a medium pan, about 4-5 minutes on each side until they’re nice and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate when done.
4. Keep the pan on, and add the butter, stirring it constantly until it begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.
3. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and then return them to the pot. Using either a potato masher or hand mixer depending on if you liked smashed or mashed, mash the potatoes until they’re to your liking.
4. While mashing, add in browned butter, bacon fat, crumbled bacon, and milk. Season with salt and pepper

Veggie Loaded Chili
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
1 yellow onion, diced
2 green peppers, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1 15 oz. can of corn
1 15 oz. can of chili with beans (I used Hormel)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp taco seasoning (I used Chipotle)
1/4 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Directions:
1. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil, and once glistening add in onion, pepper, and jalapeño. Cook until all is just about tender, 5-10 minutes.
2. Add in spices and allow to cook together, about 2 minutes.
3. Add in tomatoes and corn, cook an additional 5 minutes.
4. Add in chili and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Serve over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or by itself. Top with cheese if desired.

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Holiday Cookies

The end of the year is always crazy, and this year is no exception. Between holiday parties, shopping, and decorating, throw in a job in an industry that has a lot to get done at the end of the year, plus end of semester school-work, and you’ve got one busy lady. But enough about me, this post is about cookies!

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the second annual cookie exchange party hosted by my co-worker’s sister. Last year, I made yummy choco-hazelnut cookies that were a huge hit. This year, I decided to make something a little more simple, but still different. I’ve had RecipeGirl’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies recipe hanging around in my recipe folder for over a year. Since I still had a can of pumpkin left, and am not yet ready to say goodbye to pumpkin season, I figured these cookies would be a perfect last hurrah. Not to mention, until only a few weeks ago I had never had a snickerdoodle cookie (I don’t like sugar cookies – they’re boring). So, the idea of adding pumpkin flavors to a cinnamon and sugar cookie seemed perfect. Maybe next year I’ll get creative and make my very own cookies. But I knew I was in good hands with RecipeGirl, as she’s yet to let me down!

We had the cabinets and flooring in our kitchen completely gutted and re-done on Saturday, so the day was spent laying in bed, running, and doing homework. Since I was banished from the kitchen all day, this meant I needed to wake up early on Sunday to prep my cookies for the 1pm party. My fiancé came downstairs to the smell of cookies baking in the oven – what a perfect way to wake up! Aside from having to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for an hour, the recipe was pretty straight forward. I’m still counting down the days until I have a KitchenAid stand mixer though; my hand mixer just isn’t cutting it!

I tried my best to make the cookies as cylindrical as possible by using a pint class to flatten the balls of sugary dough, but I definitely had a few that were misshapen. The cookies were only partly about presentation, though, because we all know everyone is at a cookie party to eat! And now that I have a solid 10 cookie recipes to add to my ever growing arsenal, eating is just what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks when I try to recreate these! But before that, I have to cook and bake for our Festivus Party this coming Saturday. I’m sure there will be epic stories about that to come.

But in the meantime, if you have some canned pumpkin laying around and are in need of a sweet treat, take a stab at these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
– From the delicious RecipeGirl.com

Cookie Ingredients:
2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Rolling Sugar Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.
3. Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix rolling sugar in a small bowl.
5. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tbsp.) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they’re coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to dip in sugar and flatten the balls.
6. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: About 3 dozen

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