December 2011

Decadent Italian Desserts You Must Try: American Apple Cannot Even Compare

Tiramisu, Cannoli, Pizzelles, and Gelato

When it comes to delicious, decadent desserts, the Italians have it mastered. Show me an Italian dessert, and I will show you an empty plate very quickly. Italians tend to think beyond the traditional cakes, cookies and pies that Americans have grown accustomed to. Italian desserts have unique textures and flavor profiles and are prepared with ingredients that blend to produce a dessert that is nothing but extraordinary. Here are some of the most delicious, decadent Italian desserts that I have had the pleasure of trying:

Mint Chip Sugar Cookies

A minty twist on classic cookies

I decided to try something a little different this holiday.  Not that these cookies are anything spectacular or mind-blowing, but it was something different for me.

Instead of making plain, boring sugar cookies, I decided to experiment. I added a package of mint chips to the mix, and made mint chip sugar cookies. They turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. And, they were a hit with the office gang, and on Christmas Day with the family.

Top 5 Flaming Desserts

Celebrate New Year's in Style

 

To me, ringing in the New Year always includes an over-the-top dessert. I do not venture out into the craziness. My family and friends prefer to celebrate at home with a dinner of filet mignon and lobster tail, Caesar salad and an equally impressive dessert. Preferably one that is set ablaze in jubilation. What a way to end one year and start another. Here are 5 top flaming desserts for inspiration.

1.    Bananas Foster: I am not a huge fan of bananas but pour some rum on top and I am there. I gobble away faster than you can figure out how many a’s are in the word banana.  

How Often Do You Enjoy Dessert?

My husband and I often argue about how frequently we should enjoy dessert after dinner. In his mind - which is sometimes crazy and always wrong - dessert should only be an occasional treat. On the other hand, I believe that dessert should be served at almost every meal - dinner, lunch, breakfast (cinnamon roll anyone?). I mean, if you just ate a plate full of vegetables, then you should be able to treat yourself to giant bowl of ice cream, right?

20 Foods To Dip In A Chocolate Fondue

 

OK. Maybe I am caught in a time warp, but I love fondue. It just screams Christmas to me. As a child, my family attended a late Christmas Eve service each year and then returned home hungry, yet too late to cook. My moms’ solution was appetizers. We always had quite a spread. My mom set everything up and my dad made a fire. We all just kind of nibbled and talked until the kids needed to head to bed before Santa’s big arrival. There was always a chocolate fondue on that spread. I remember it fondly. What do you exactly dip in chocolate fondue? Your finger? A spoon? All viable solutions, but the following list works, too.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Drops

A sweet, low-fat treat

I first discovered these wonderful cookies when I was in junior high school. Our neighbors across the street from us had kids my brother’s and my ages, and we spent a lot of time at each other’s homes. Our friends’ mother always had these cookies in the cookie jar.

Meringue is a sweet, low-fat treat made of egg whites and sugar. Meringue is best known as pie topping and candy, but it makes a great cookie as well. Making a good meringue can be tricky.

Tips for making meringue:

Eggs should be cold and fresh.

Separate the eggs making sure there is no trace of yolk in the whites when separated.

Bring egg whites to room temperature prior to beating.

It is important to not under beat the egg whites. Use an electric mixer for best results. Beaten egg whites should form a stiff peak when making a proper meringue. It is equally important not to over beat the egg whites. Over beating can cause the meringue to spread and flatten when baking.

These tasty, low-fat cookies are easy to make, and are sure to be a hit with your family.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

A Winning Holiday Dessert Combo

 

First off, I must begin by acknowledging that the topic of cheesecake is a somewhat contentious one. I myself love cheesecake, and would happily eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But many people loathe cheesecake, either on general principle, or because they dislike the texture, or because they dislike the sour notes of cream cheese. Nothing wrong with that, but it is something to take into account. 
 
I wouldn't make pumpkin cheesecake as the sole dessert for Christmas dinner, in other words. But if you are asked to bring something, and you know that other people will be bringing more traditional fare (to satisfy those who require pecan pie, for example), then why not go a little way off the beaten path and whip up a pumpkin cheesecake?

Rold Gold Dark Dipped Bavarian Twists

Tasty, if a bit tricky to eat

 

This holiday season, Rold Gold has released  a few special treats. I decided to pass on the "white dipped" pretzel sticks, because ew. But when I spotted the dark chocolate covered Bavarian twists (find them near you!), I was intrigued. 
 
Chocolate with salt is kind of a "thing" these days. No doubt it is one of those fads that we will all look back on and shake our heads, like quiche in the 1980s, or sushi in the 1990s. (Wait - sushi is awesome, I take that back!) I have been keeping an eye out for chocolate covered salty snacks for a few months now. 

Serving Rice for Dessert

Rice is one of the most consumed foods on the face of the planet. It is relatively inexpensive to make, and a little really goes a long way. Try to eat anything else after eating a huge bowl of rice - your tummy will be too full. Now, unlike most people, I detest savory rice. It does nothing for me, and I will turn down a dinner invitation if I know that it will be served.

Not too long ago, however, I was introduced to several different rice desserts. Really? Rice for dessert? At first, I was sickened by the thought, but being a lover of anything sweet, I decided to try out some of these treats. And boy, was I surprised. They were actually tasty, and quite easy to make! Now whenever the budget is tight, but I am craving something sweet, I whip up one of these concoctions.

Top 5 Decadent Desserts For The Holidays

Calories? Who said anything about calories?!

Sick of cookies? Wanna indulge? Try one of these for your next holiday celebration.

1.    Cheesecake: I admit that I am a cheesecake snob. If it’s not mine, it better be from Carnegie Deli in NYC. That’s just how I roll. No fruit. No sour cream goo spread on top. Everyone has their own preference though and what better time to have a friendly debate than a family get-together, right?!

Twinkies And The Zombie Apocalypse

Food is the culture that surrounds us, that we share on a daily basis. So ubiquitous that you barely even notice it until it's gone.

 

Last week I watched the movie Zombieland, which is an action comedy about the Zombie Apocalypse. Woody Harrelson plays a deranged zombie killing bad-ass whose current life's quest is to find and eat the last Twinkie. 
 
"Some day very soon, Life's little Twinkie gauge is goin' to hit Empty."
 
Food is civilization. Food is culture. Ask someone from England how they feel about HP brown sauce. Ask a Russian how they feel about borscht. Ask an American how they feel about cheeseburgers. Food is the culture that surrounds us, that we share on a daily basis. So ubiquitous that you barely even notice it until it's gone.
 
And once it's gone, you want it so very badly. 

Chocolate Mousse Flavored Peeps

"The after-burp: it still tastes like marshmallow."
Holiday Peeps are nothing new, of course. They have been putting out new Peeps for every holiday for a while now. And I thought we had reached the pinnacle of special purpose Peeps with the chocolate covered Peeps that are released for Easter. (So delicious!)
 
But that was before I found chocolate mousse flavored Peeps.
 
Is this the first Peep in a new flavor? A flavor other than… um… "Peep-flavored"? (I guess that flavor would just be "marshmallow.") Certainly it is the first time I have encountered them.
 
Each of these new Peeps is shaped like a reindeer head - clearly that of Rudolph, given the bright red nose. (Although it is simply unfortunate, the way that two of them side-by-side look so much like large, pendulous breasts.) In this, Just Born has clearly missed a can't-lose proposition: moose-shaped chocolate mousse Peeps. I mean, that's an obvious one, right? 

Cool Whip Vs. Whipped Cream: Which is Your Favorite?

Let's face it, almost no desert is complete without a great, big dollop of whipped topping on it. I come from a family that always used Cool Whip when a delicious dessert topping was desired. I would always admire whipped cream in a can when I was a child, though, because it obviously looked so fun to squirt out and make fun designs out of. I then went through a stage in high school when whipped topping was whipped topping. It all tasted the same to me, and I could not have cared less which one I ate because they were both delicious to me. I now can tell a great difference in the tastes, and love whipped cream on ice cream and Cool Whip on pie. I do not know why. There is that new commercial out for a brand of real whipped cream where the restaurant waitress asks the customer whether she wants "oil or cream" on her pie. Yes, Cool Whip does contain oil. Oil is on the no-no list of many Americans. The truth is that I believe that both toppings have their place in our society, and here is why:

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Soft, Chewy, and Delicious

I'm picky about my chocolate chip cookies.   I like them to be soft, but not too soft.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Milk chocolate won't work; I need semisweet or dark chocolate chunks. 

I tried tons of chocolate chip cookie recipes before finding a winner on AllRecipes.com.  My friends swear they taste just like the cookies you get at Mrs. Field's.  Hey, works for me.  

Chocolate Cookies

For the Holidays

A quick way to the heart of a cookie lover is these amazing chocolate drop cookies.  Their warm, melty scent fills the air with all kinds of happy thoughts. The recipe is over 50 years old and has been passed down from generation to generation with great success creating a family favorite.  They have been baked in my household since I was a little girl watching my grandmother in the kitchen.

These delicious cookies also make for a great gift whether it is around the holidays or simply because you want to say thank you. Just place in a decorative air tight container, put a bow on it and you have a memorable gift.

Ode to Fruitcake

Fruitcake can perhaps best be understood as a deconstructed, inside-out Fig Newton.

 

Fine, I will confess it: I like fruitcake.
 
Fruitcake. Is there any more reviled concoction in the history of dessert? (Well… maybe that Ambrosia salad with Jell-O, whipped cream, and mini marshmallows. But I like that, too.) The butt of every holiday joke. The ever-present gift at the white elephant exchange. Sturdy enough, time-proof enough to be regifted from one year to the next.
 
Back before I struck out on my own as a freelancer, I used to relish the opportunity to secretly nibble the office fruitcake. Every year, it doesn't matter what office I was at, a fruitcake would appear. Maybe it would be sent by grateful (and pandering) clients. Maybe it would be brought in by someone who thought people could use some cheering up. Or maybe it was the ultimate back-handed gift. "Here, you moronic cogs in our corporate machine: have some fruitcake."

Can Holiday Desserts Be Healthy and Delicious?

It is the time of year when every place you visit will be filled with little, delicious holiday indulgences. A cookie here, a fudge square there; it is one of my favorite aspects of the holidays -- the delicious treats to be found almost everywhere I go.  While many indulge all season long and end up ten pounds heavier to show for it, I have made it my goal this holiday season to enjoy all of the delicious holiday desserts available, while still keeping my waistline in check.

The way I have decided to do this is to indulge in those little, delicious holiday treats when at a friend’s house or at a gathering, but to make (or buy) my own healthy holiday desserts to enjoy after a dinner at home.  Moderation is the key to anything, and when enjoying healthy desserts at home, I can make room for those delicious, full-fat and high-calorie desserts when at a party or holiday dinner. Here are some of my favorite healthy, holiday desserts:

Give the Gift of Food This Holiday

Save Money With Delcious Presents

Most of my friends and family are looking for ways to cut costs this holiday season. The economy has been tough, but we still want to find the perfect present for everybody on our list. Instead of going broke buying expensive gifts, I am going to give the gift of love - baked goods. They look pretty, taste yummy and best of all, they don't cost very much to make.