Perfect Apple Pie

From family dinners to spur-of-the-moment picnics, pies are easy to make and easy for family and friends to appreciate.

To save time in the kitchen, start with Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts for a flaky, tender base. Just unroll it into your favorite pie plate or tart pan, spoon in a delicious fruit filling, bake and enjoy. Pillsbury has updated the packaging with a fresh, contemporary look and features a recipe for Perfect Apple Pie. For this recipe and more, go to culinary.net. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Pillsbury

Spoon Up Tradition

When cooler temperatures call for something to warm you up, good, old-fashioned soups and stews may be just what you need.

You can create delicious, steaming pots that taste like they’re straight out of mom’s kitchen with flavorful, convenient ingredients such as Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Beets and READ Salads to help streamline preparation. With these contemporary recipes, you’re in and out of the kitchen in under an hour without any long simmering required.

Find more recipes to warm yourself from the inside out at AuntNellies.com and READsalads.com.

German Potato Salad Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 1          cup chopped onion
  • 1          cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1          tablespoon olive oil
  • 2          cans (15 ounces each) READ German Potato Salad, chopped
  • 1          bottle (12 ounces) light beer
  • 3/4       cup reduced-sodium, fat- free chicken broth
  • 6          ounces (1 cup) diced ham, smoked turkey or sliced smoked sausage (optional)
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/4       teaspoon pepper
  • 1          tablespoon chopped parsley
  • rye croutons (optional)
  • crumbled bacon (optional)
  1. In Dutch oven or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and bell pepper in oil until onion starts to brown, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add potato salad, beer, broth and meat, if desired, and stir to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, if desired, pepper and parsley.
  3. Serve topped with rye croutons and bacon, if desired.

Rustic Vegetable Beet Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, drained
  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 2          medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2          medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2          large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2          zucchinis (about 5 ounces each), coarsely chopped
  • 2          cans (about 14 ounces each) vegetable broth
  • 1          teaspoon seasoned salt (optional)
  • 1          can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • Gremolata (optional)

Gremolata:

  • 1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1          tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 2          cloves garlic, minced
  • 1          teaspoon grated lemon peel
  1. Coarsely chop beets; set aside.
  2. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; cook about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add carrots, sweet potato and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add zucchini, broth and seasoned salt, if desired. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas; heat through. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  4. To prepare Gremolata: In small bowl, combine all ingredients.
  5. Stir in parsley and dill. Stir in beets. Serve immediately; top with Gremolata, if desired.

Tex-Mex Bean and Butternut Squash Stew

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Stew:

  • 1          can (15 ounces) READ Southwestern Bean Salad, divided
  • 1          teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2  teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1          clove garlic, chopped
  • 2          cups cubed or chopped butternut squash, fresh or frozen (about 1/2- 3/4-inch pieces)
  • 1          can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2    cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1          teaspoon lime zest, plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • Chipotle-Lime Crema
  • chopped cilantro (optional)

Chipotle-Lime Crema:

  • 1/4       cup plain nonfat yogurt or sour cream
  • 1          teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8       teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  1. To prepare stew: Place half of canned bean salad, cumin, chili powder and garlic into bowl of food processor. Puree until blended but still slightly chunky.
  2. Add remaining bean salad to large saucepan. Stir in butternut squash, tomatoes, broth, pureed bean salad mixture and lime zest. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until squash is tender and stew reaches desired thickness.
  3. To prepare crema: In small bowl, combine yogurt, lime zest and chili powder.
  4. Serve topped with Chipotle-Lime Crema, cilantro and lime zest, if desired.

Notes: If using frozen butternut squash, add to stew during last 2-3 minutes of cooking to prevent overcooking. Orange zest can be used instead of lime zest, if desired. Recipe can be doubled.

Bacon-Apple Red Cabbage Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 2          slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1          medium red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1          clove garlic, minced
  • 1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage, not drained
  • 2          cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1          medium apple, chopped (about 1 cup), plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4       teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
  • crumbled cooked bacon (optional)
  1. In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through and crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; reserve. Drain drippings; return 1 tablespoon to pan; discard remaining drippings.
  2. Add onion to pan. Cook about 2 minutes, until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook and stir about 30 seconds. Add red cabbage and liquid from jar, broth and chopped apple. Stir in cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time, if soup is too thick. Add bacon to pan. Continue simmering about 3-5 minutes, until apples are tender and soup reaches desired consistency.
  3. Spoon into bowl. Garnish with apples, yogurt and crumbled bacon, if desired. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Aunt Nellie’s

Throw a Festive Season Cookie Party

The next best thing to baking cookies for many home chefs is baking cookies with friends. Dust off your favorite recipes, create a festive playlist and fill your home with the tantalizing aroma of baked goodies for the ultimate Festive Season cookie party.

Turn things up a notch and swap classic sugar cookies for these festive Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, Peppermint Truffle Cookies and Almond Gingerbread Cookies. Along with those tasty treats, don’t let your guests go thirsty. Add peppermint extract to a slow cooker hot chocolate so guests can sip and be merry throughout the party.

Find more holiday recipes at McCormick.com.

Peppermint Truffle Cookies

  • 8          ounces bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1          cup sugar, divided
  • 1          egg
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 2          cups flour
  • 36        milk chocolate kiss-shaped candies, unwrapped
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In large, microwavable bowl, heat chocolate and butter on high 1-2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add 1/2 cup sugar, egg and peppermint extract. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually beat in flour on low speed until well mixed.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Press chocolate candy into center of each ball, forming dough around candy to enclose it. Roll in remaining sugar to coat. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Almond Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3          cups flour
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Ginger, Ground
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
  • 1          teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4       teaspoon McCormick Nutmeg, Ground
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 3/4       cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4       cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup molasses
  • 1          egg
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/3    cups sliced almonds
  1. In large bowl, mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In separate large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla extract; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into thick, flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours, or as long as overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 350° F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sliced almonds, pressing almonds into dough. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until edges of cookies just begin to brown. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • 1/2       gallon (8 cups) whole milk
  • 1          can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1          package (12 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  1. Place whole milk, condensed milk, chocolate chips and peppermint extract in slow cooker. Cover. Cook 60-70 minutes on high, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is heated through, stirring every 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to warm or low to serve.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

  • 1 2/3    cups flour
  • 1/3       cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4    cups granulated sugar
  • 2          eggs
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, food color and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Refrigerate 4 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar to completely coat. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are puffed. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
McCormick

Prepare the Perfect Turkey for Your Festive Season Meal

Festive Season

Think of the festive season and answer this question: The festive season is the only time of year I do … what?

Maybe it’s the only time of year you set up a Christmas tree, hang mistletoe or travel to a certain destination. For many, the festive season is also the only time of year that you prepare the traditional festive season meal.

And that can lead to trouble.

Each year in the U.S., one in six people will experience food poisoning. There are 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 patient deaths that can be traced back to foodborne pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s especially dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

Improper food preparation is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and the risk increases during the festive season when people try to make lavish meals they would otherwise not prepare. To help keep you and your family safe this season, The Partnership for Food Safety Education — supported by Cargill, Costco Wholesale and the Frozen Food Foundation — is launching The Story of Your Dinner campaign and sharing safe preparation tips for a festive season staple: the turkey dinner.

Preparing the perfect turkey this festive season

* Plan for one pound of meat per person. If a frozen turkey works best for you, allow the bird to thaw for several days in the refrigerator. Generally, you will need to plan one day for every four pounds of turkey to ensure your bird completely thaws. While your turkey is thawing, keep it on the bottom shelf in a rimmed baking pan to prevent juices from spreading.

* Do not rinse your raw turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not a safety step and can increase the risk of spreading bacteria to the sink and other surfaces.

* For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. Because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it’s important to handle it safely and cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature (at least 165 F) as measured with a food thermometer.

* Cook your turkey to at least 165 F and always use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches this safe internal temperature.

* When checking to see if your turkey is done, insert the food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

* Put extra turkey, stuffing and other leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours. Consume, freeze or discard leftovers within 3 or 4 days.

The annual turkey dinner is a seasonal staple. A little extra preparation can make the meal as satisfying and enjoyable as the rest of the festive season. To learn more about safe food preparation and find a complete turkey roasting chart, visit StoryofYourDinner.org. (BPT)

A Sicilian Twist on Festive Season Entertaining

When it comes to preparing a spread for a festive season gathering, some may look to traditional wine varieties such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, as holiday traditions become less traditional, you can also branch out in your selection of wines.

Produced from the indigenous grapes of Sicily, wines from Sicilia DOC offer fresh taste, quality and variety. The wines come to life when paired with a variation of holiday dishes.

These three tips can help you pair Sicilian wines with the dishes you may serve as part of your festive season spread:

For the Light White Wine Fan

With a low alcohol percentage and fruity notes, an option such as Grillo can be a fan favorite at any holiday gathering and makes for a perfect hostess gift. This white wine features notes of white peaches and grapefruit and can pair well with seafood appetizers, baked casseroles, vegetarian sides or a well-known Sicilian dish like this Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad.

For Guests Looking for a Graceful Red Wine

A modern take on Pinot Noir, Frappato is a light-to-medium-bodied wine with a lingering freshness that’s persistent and balanced with notes of cherry and strawberry. This wine pairs well with both white and dark meat of flavorful holiday turkeys as well as pastas, pizza, roasted meats, potatoes and cheeses.

For Friends Who Favor a Complex Red

For guests who favor Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, an option such as Nero d’Avola is a nice alternative, with aromas of ripe cherry, rose, sweet spices, licorice and cocoa. As a go-to red wine, it pairs well with a hearty charcuterie platter, roasted meats, lamb, pizza and pastas.

For more holiday wine pairings and recipes, visit winesofsicily.com.

Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad

Recipe courtesy of Wines of Sicilia DOC Servings: 8

  • Salt
  • 2 pounds thin green beans
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • maple syrup
  • almonds
  1. Add salt to large pot of boiling water. Add green beans and cook until tender and bright green. Drain beans in colander and transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Once cool, drain and pat dry with towel.
  2. Peel four oranges and remove white pith. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release sections into bowl. Zest one remaining orange and juice both uncut oranges; reserve zest. Transfer juice to saucepan and add vinegar, honey and pepper flakes. Bring to boil then simmer over moderate heat until reduced to syrup, 10 minutes. Season with salt.
  3. In large bowl, toss beans, orange sections and 3 tablespoons vinegar syrup. Transfer to serving platter; drizzle with maple syrup, almonds and orange zest.

Pair each serving with a glass of Grillo. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Wines of Sicilia DOC

Helpful Festive Season Recipes for the Home Chef

With everything that goes into creating a full festive season menu for guests of different ages and palates, taking on that task can be a challenge for any host. However, simple recipes that please the masses can help make life easier for home chefs.

From the main dish all the way to dessert, plus the drinks in-between, put these recipes to the test to help make your festive season gathering a breeze. Put your adult guests at ease with a cranberry-flavored cocktail, followed by a main course made sweet thanks to this turkey brine. As things come to a close, finish off any leftover appetites with a quick cookie recipe.

To help make your festive season hosting easier, find more tips and recipes at Culinary.net.

Dessert in a Snap

After spending hours preparing appetizers, drinks and the main course for holiday get-togethers, many hosts are ready to call it quits in the kitchen. However, that won’t stop guests from getting those late cravings for a tasty treat. If you’re looking for a reprieve from being the lead chef, go for a quick dessert like these Gingersnap cookies, which take just 10 minutes to bake and can leave hosts with more time to mingle. For more quick, nutritious recipes for every meal, visit AICR.org.

Gingersnaps

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research

Yield: 24 cookies

  • 3/4       cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2       cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4    teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/3       cup dairy-free butter shortening sticks
  • 1/2       cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2          tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • 1          large egg white
  • Glaze (optional):
  • 1/3       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2          teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, use electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat shortening sticks with 1/2 cup sugar 2 minutes. Add molasses and egg white; beat 3 minutes. Set mixer on low speed and mix in dry ingredients to combine. Don’t over-mix. Batter will form soft ball.
  4. Place remaining sugar in wide, shallow bowl. Pinch about 1 tablespoon batter and roll it between palms, forming 1-inch ball. Place ball in bowl with sugar and roll to coat then place on light-colored, ungreased baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 2 inches apart. Discard leftover sugar. Using bottom of a glass, press to flatten each ball into 1-by-3-inch disks.
  5. Bake cookies 10 minutes.
  6. To make glaze, if desired: While cookies bake, in small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar with lemon juice, mixing until sugar is completely dissolved.
  7. When cookies are done, immediately use spatula to transfer to wire cooling racks. Using tip of knife, spread 1/4 teaspoon glaze on top of each warm cookie. Cool completely.

Note: Can be stored in cookie tin up to 1 week.

Cranberry Cocktail Cravings

If holiday cocktails are on your menu, give guests a twist on a classic with this Cranberry Moscow Mule made with Nemiroff Original Vodka. This premium vodka is bold with a smooth, full-bodied finish that hints of citrus and fruit. Combined with cranberry juice and ginger beer, it’s an ideal holiday cocktail. Find more holiday cocktail options at nemiroff.vodka.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

  • 1          part Nemiroff Original Vodka
  • 1          part cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2          parts ginger beer
  • 1          tablespoon lime juice
  • ice
  • orange wedges, for garnish (optional)
  • fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
  • rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
  1. Pour vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, ginger beer and lime juice into copper mug filled with ice. Gently stir to combine.
  2. Garnish with orange wedges, fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs, if desired.

A Sweeter Centerpiece

A holiday meal is only complete with the centerpiece of the table: a tender turkey that side dishes and desserts can complement for guests of all palates. For a new twist on a holiday classic, add some sweetness to your main course with a Sweet Tea Turkey Brine, featuring Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea. It’s freshly brewed from real tea leaves using simple, quality ingredients free from preservatives, colors or added acids. The family- and certified women-owned business offers a multitude of beverages, all with the same dedication to quality and excellence. Find more information and recipes at drinkmilos.com.

Milo’s Sweet Tea Turkey Brine

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes per pound

  • 1          gallon Milo’s Sweet Tea
  • 1          cup kosher salt
  • 3          large sweet onions, quartered
  • 4          lemons, sliced
  • 8          garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5          sprigs rosemary
  • 10        cups ice
  • 1          turkey
  1. In large stock pot over medium heat, combine tea and kosher salt. Stir frequently until salt is dissolved. Add onion, lemon, garlic and rosemary. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. When brine has cooled, pour into food-grade, 5-gallon plastic container. Stir in ice.
  3. Wash and dry turkey. Remove innards. Place turkey, cavity-side up, into brine, making sure cavity gets filled. Cover and place bucket in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350° F.
  5. Remove turkey from brine, draining excess, and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
  6. Cook turkey 15-20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F on instant-read thermometer, reserving drippings for gravy. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Culinary.net

Festive Season Guesting 101

If you manage to avoid hosting duties this festive season, you may be dodging some of the hardest work, but remember that being a good guest goes beyond arriving on time and taking your shoes off at the door. This festive season, ensure your host gets to enjoy the festivities by putting these ideas to practice – it may earn you an invitation for years to come.

Make a festive season playlist.  Offer to put together a festive season playlist for the host who will undoubtedly have his or her hands full prepping for the festive season celebration. Try to choose songs specific to the guests, host and overall theme. A good playlist can be a conversation starter for everyone at the party.

Don’t arrive empty-handed. Even if your host shrugs off an offer for help, a gesture of appreciation is always appropriate. It may be a bottle of wine, a seasonal flower arrangement or, better yet, an appetizer or dessert to share, such as this mouthwatering Slow Cooker Banana Cake. This crowd-pleasing cake is made using a Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker, which has a locking lid and travel clips to help you get to your festive season celebration without making a mess. The 6-quart, removable pot can be used as a serving dish, and is dishwasher safe to make clean-up a breeze.

Stay off your phone. It may seem obvious, but these days, looking at your phone is almost as habitual as breathing, and chances are you don’t mean to appear standoffish or rude by sneaking a quick peek. However, playing with your phone can detract from time you get to spend with family and friends, many of whom you probably don’t get to see often. Tuck away your phone for the party and live in the moment.

Pitch in to help clean. No host likes to be stuck in the kitchen while the rest of the party carries on. After the meal, offer your help to clear the table, put away perishable items and get the kitchen back in order so your host can join the merry-making. If you’ll be opening gifts, grab a garbage bag and collect debris to help keep the mess under control.

Find more festive season recipes and tips at Crock-Pot.com.

Slow Cooker Banana Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours

Servings: 12

  • Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 3          cups flour
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4       ripe bananas
  • 2          lemon wedges, juice only
  • 3/4       cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2    cups honey or 2 cups white sugar
  • 3          eggs
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2    cups almond milk
  • cream cheese frosting
  1. Grease slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mash bananas and lemon juice together; set aside.
  4. In large bowl, use mixer to cream butter and honey. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla then milk. Gradually add flour mixture. Once combined, stir in mashed bananas.
  5. Pour into slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until center of cake no longer looks gooey.
  6. Uncover and let cake cool. Once completely cooled, frost cake and, if desired, top with sliced bananas and walnuts.

Notes: If adding bananas, do so just before serving or they will brown. If using a non-oval slow cooker, cook 1 hour less on high heat or 2 hours less on low heat. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Crock-Pot

Popping Up a Winter Wonderland

Edible, handmade festive season decor perfect for gifting

’Tis the season to pop up some festive season fun by creating a scenic winter wonderland that tastes as great as it looks.

Gather the kids and make a hands-on family festive season tradition out of crafting festive, edible decorations. Popcorn is the perfect choice to pop up and eat while trimming your popcorn tree and decking out your creations. At 30 calories a cup, whole-grain, freshly popped popcorn offers a nutritious alternative to traditional festive season party nibbles. Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO, gluten-free, has no artificial additives or preservatives and is sugar-free.

These clever recipes can help you make edible decor or gifts to give to friends, family and co-workers. Find more creative festive season recipes at popcorn.org.

Festive Popcorn Trees

Yield: 10 trees

  • 10        cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1          bag (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows
  • 2          tablespoons butter
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • green decorating sugar
  • blue decorating sugar
  • 1          tube white frosting with decorating tip
  • small, colorful candies (such as sprinkles and miniature silver dragees)
  1. Place popcorn in large bowl.
  2. Place marshmallows and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour mixture over popcorn in bowl. Toss well to coat popcorn evenly.
  5. Line baking sheet with foil.
  6. Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray then scoop up about 1 cup popcorn mixture.
  7. Shape mixture into cone, keeping base flat to form tree.
  8. Sprinkle tree with decorating sugars; place tree on baking sheet.
  9. Make nine additional trees.
  10. Pipe frosting on trees to make garland then decorate with sprinkles and silver dragees, as desired.

Serving suggestion: Place each tree on sugar cookie and decorate serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow.

Notes: For best flavor and color, start recipe with unflavored white popcorn. You can make your own colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar then stirring in bowl or shaking vigorously in sealed container. Add additional food coloring for more intense tones.

Festive Season Popcorn Snowman

Yield: 5 snowmen

  • 1          package (1 pound) large marshmallows
  • 1/4       cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, plus additional
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 10        cups popped popcorn
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • licorice (optional)
  • gum drops (optional)
  • cinnamon candies (optional)
  1. In large saucepan, melt marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Pour over popcorn and stir mixture.
  5. Butter hands well and form into balls.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles, licorice, gum drops and cinnamon candies, as desired.

Festive Season Wreath Popcorn Treats

Yield: 8 wreaths

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3          quarts popped popcorn
  • 4          tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 3          cups miniature marshmallows
  • 3          tablespoons lime gelatin dessert mix
  • small red candies
  • jellybeans
  • red fruit leather
  1. Lightly spray large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
  2. In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows and gelatin dessert mix until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix until coated.
  3. Spray hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form into 9-inch logs then bend to form wreaths.
  4. Place wreaths on wax paper. Press candies and jellybeans into wreaths as decorations; cut fruit leather to make ribbon and add.
  5. Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage. Add ribbon tie to plastic wrap as decorative closure.

Tip: Soak saucepan before cleaning.

Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer

Yield: 8 reindeer

  • 8          cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
  • 2 1/2    cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2       cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • 2          tablespoons butter or light olive oil
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 16        pretzel sticks
  • 16        eyeball candies
  • 8          red candy-coated chocolate candies
  1. Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
  2. In saucepan set over medium heat, heat marshmallows, chocolate, butter and salt, stirring often until smooth. Toss marshmallow mixture with popcorn until well combined.
  3. Scoop 3/4 cup popcorn mixture into ball. Repeat with remaining mixture to make eight balls total. Place each ball in paper muffin cup liner.
  4. Insert pretzel stick on each side of ball to resemble antlers, attach two eyeball candies for eyes and red candy for nose. Let cool completely.

Tip: Eyeball candies can typically be found in baking aisles of supermarkets or bulk food stores. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
The Popcorn Board

Festive Season at Hotel Ella!

Photography courtesy of Jake Holt.
Hotel Ella

Hotel Ella

The festive season is ramping up at Hotel Ella and we have all the delightful details.
Goodall's Kitchen

Goodall’s Kitchen

  • Thursday, November 23rd from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Featured dishes include herb roasted turkey breast, grilled acorn squash and sourdough stuffing.
  • $72 per person or $25 for children 12 and under.
  • Price includes buffet, soda, iced tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
  • Complimentary valet parking. 
  • For reservations, email goodalls@hotelella.com or call 512-495-1800.
Parlor Bar

Parlor Bar

  • Sunday, November 26th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Drink and be merry at the Holiday Trunk Show while shopping for the perfect gifts for your loved ones at pop-up shops housed in Hotel Ella.
  • Free to attend.
  • Drink specials available as well as champagne from the Champagne Supply Co. truck.
  • Mini manicures offered by tenoverten.
  • Includes a special takeaway gift from Hotel Ella.

Salon Series: Turk Pipkin’s Book of the Every-Other Month Club

  • Tuesday, November 28th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Presented by Austin Way and The Nobelity Project.
  • Hotel Ella welcomes author, actor, filmmaker and activist Turk Pipkin for an evening of selected readings from his new book project.
  • Free to attend.
  • Turk Wine will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to The Nobelity Project’s Kenya Schools Fund that provides clean water and electricity to children in Kenya.

These Wreaths are Bananas: Recent Works by Maggie Stephens

  • Friday, December 1st from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Join us as we deck the Parlor Bar walls with one-of-a-kind handmade wreaths by local artist Maggie Stephens.
  • Wreaths are on display and available for purchase from December 1st to January 2nd.
  • Free to attend.
  • Complimentary bites and valet parking. Drinks available for purchase.
Santa’s Workshop (Ticket link coming soon)
  • Sundays, December 10th and 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Free photos with Santa and holiday kids crafts.
    • Toy donations to Caritas.