Category Archives: Holiday Recipes

Meatball Madness!

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Meatball Madness

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year simply because it’s a time when the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and you have an excuse to stay inside to watch football with friends and family and gather around the table with some delicious party food!

Whenever I host a party, I like to create a smorgasbord of food that’s easy for people to grab. I love bite-sized finger foods and tapas-style spreads that are fun to make and eat. My idea for a great fall football party is Meatball Madness – an experiment with different types of meatballs paired with unique sauces, fillings and bases to eat them on.

Meatballs are super fun and easy to make with the help of my KitchenAid® Copper Core 12″ Nonstick Skillet and my KitchenAid® Professional-Grade Nonstick Sheet Pans when I’m cooking for a large crowd. Both are great for cooking meatballs easily and evenly with their high quality nonstick coating, and they are both large enough so I can cook big batches of meatballs.

Greek Meatballs

For this post, I decided to make some Greek Beef Meatballs with Tzatzkiki Sauce served on toasted flatbreads,

Asian Meatballs

and some Asian Chicken Meatballs with a Spicy Peanut Sauce served on Gem Lettuce Cups as thought starters for this party idea, but I’d love to hear from you what other themes, flavors and creative ideas you would incorporate when you throw your own Meatball Madness Party!


You can mix and match different themes with different fillings and flavors for the meatballs, for example – you could make Spanish Meatballs made with pork, chorizo and onions and create a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli to dip them in and serve on toasted pita. Or you could make traditional Italian Meatballs with Cheese and Tomato Sauce on mini slider buns topped with fresh basil and parsley. Or make German Meatballs with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut with a Grainy Mustard Sauce served on mini Rye breads – the possibilities are endless and super fun to come up with!


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Pear and Hazelnut Salted Caramel Pie

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Pear and Hazelnut Salted Caramel Pie

Fall has finally arrived – my favorite season of the year! I love the cooler weather and dressing in jeans, sweaters, boots and leather jackets. I love the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. And I love the gorgeous fall produce and warmer, cozier comfort foods that come with the season.

Pears Hazelnuts

One of my favorite things to make in the fall is pie – sweet or savory with gorgeous fruits and veggies and all sorts of lovely ingredients and spices.

Pear Filling

There’s something so soothing about the smell of pie baking in the oven that warms up the home and goes perfectly with the crisp fall air and cooler days and nights.

KitchenAid Stainless Pie Pan

I recently got a KitchenAid® Stainless Steel 8-Piece Set of cookware along with a new KitchenAid® 9” Professional-Grade Nonstick Pie Pan and was inspired to make a gorgeous Pear and Hazelnut Salted Caramel Pie with a Chocolate Graham Crust. The flavors of nuts, homemade caramel, fresh pears, chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg pair perfectly together and scream fall.

Pour Salted Caramel Sauce


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Shrimp & Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

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Seashell Shrimp Salad

One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer BBQ or outdoor party is  Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil, parsley, dill and tarragon, along with a touch Dijon mustard, Champagne vinegar, olive oil and fresh lemon.

I love using big seashell pasta and adding plenty of fresh veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for crunch, and adding fresh sautéed shrimp, which you can also grill if you prefer. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.


First cook your seashell pasta, drain and set aside. Then you can either grill the shrimp or sauté it for a few minutes in a large sauce pan with some fresh lemon, herbs, seasonings and olive oil and let cool while you prep the other ingredients.


Season and grill the corn, shave off the kernels and add to the salad with the rest of the veggies (celery, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, green onions). Feel free to sub whatever fresh veggies you like to the salad to make it colorful and healthy!


Make the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette by whisking together some extra virgin olive oil, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon, salt and pepper and chopped fresh herbs.

Salad Ingredients

Pour over the pasta, veggies and shrimp in a large mixing bowl and fold together. I like to put the salad in the fridge and let the flavors meld together  – you can really taste the fresh herbs and zingy lemon when you let it sit together for a bit.

shrimp veggie pasta salad

So easy, so light and refreshing and perfect for a backyard BBQ or beach party.

Shrimp & Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup


  • 1 pound of pasta (medium-large shells or rotini)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled, cleaned and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sea salt, to taste (for shrimp and salad dressing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, roughly chopped (tarragon, basil, parsley)
  • 2 fresh sweet corn cobs or 1 cup frozen
  • 1 cup English cucumber, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 lemon wedges, squeezed for garnish


  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions (usually about 9-11 minutes for al dente). Drain, rinse under cool water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice scallions and cook until soft about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add one more tablespoon of oil then add shrimp, red pepper flakes, Old Bay seasoning and sea salt; sauté together stirring constantly until shrimp are opaque, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set pan aside to let shrimp mixture cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add salt and pepper, vinegar, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and zest. Use the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender with the whisk attachment to blend ingredients together and slowly pour in the olive oil in small amounts until the dressing is emulsified and mixed well. Chop the fresh herbs, mix into the Lemon-Herb dressing and set aside.
  4. Prepare the fresh corn by grilling it – add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then char it over a medium-high grill for about 15 minutes. Shuck the cooked kernels off the cob and set aside in a separate mixing bowl. If using frozen sweet corn, simply boil in 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small pot over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, then drain and place into a bowl, set aside.
  5. Add the cucumbers and celery to the accompanying mixing bowl of the KitchenAid® 3-Speed Hand Blender, and pulse a few times until chopped into a small to medium dice. Chop each vegetable separately to avoid overfilling the blender bowl. Chop the roasted red pepper into medium diced pieces. Throw all the chopped veggies into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Pour the cooked pasta, shrimp and scallion mixture, corn and all the prepped veggies into a large mixing bowl and add the Lemon-Herb dressing. Gently mix all the ingredients together with a large spoon. Garnish pasta salad with additional chopped herbs, fresh lemon juice and additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or cooler until ready to serve.
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Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz Cocktail #SunsOutRumsOut

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Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

So it’s that time of year again…Memorial Day weekend has arrived and the beginning of Summer is not too far away!

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

It’s time to soak up the sun, hit the beach, break out the grill and have a cookout and a cocktail on the patio or the beach with friends and favorite time of year!

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

I was lucky enough to be a part of a Captain Morgan Rum promotion this year to sample one of their new flavors and design a cocktail recipe featuring their delicious new Coconut Rum.  It’s a little bit sweet, creamy and has hints of citrus and tropical fruit with a hint of molasses flavor.

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

I wanted to make a cocktail that was refreshing and flavorful but not too sweet and came up with this fun Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz cocktail. It’s made with the Captain Morgan coconut rum, tart cherry juice, key lime seltzer and a splash of fresh Cara Cara orange juice, key lime juice and a few slices of orange and lime for garnish.

Key Lime Cherry Coconut Fizz Cocktail

Kinda like lying on the beach soaking up the sun in the Caribbean – just my style.

Cherry Coconut Key Lime Fizz Cocktail


  • 1 part Captain Morgan Coconut Rum
  • 1 part tart cherry juice
  • 3 parts Key Lime Seltzer
  • Squeeze of fresh key lime juice
  • Squeeze of fresh Cara Cara orange juice
  • Key lime and orange slices, for garnish


  1. Place a generous amount of ice into a glass.
  2. Pour the rum, cherry juice and seltzer into the glass and stir well.
  3. Squeeze the fresh lime and orange juice into the glass and garnish with extra limes and oranges.
  4. Makes 1 cocktail.
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Now get out in the sun and enjoy a cocktail or two! And check out their other two great new rum flavors – Grapefruit and Pineapple!

And just remember, when the #SunsOutRumsOut and it’s time to celebrate the beginning of Summer with the Captain!

Follow Captain Morgan on Facebook

Follow Captain Morgan on Twitter


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A Special Treat for Mom: Glazed Chocolate Orange Tart

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Chocolate Orange Tart

Happy Mother’s Day! What a gorgeous day it is today to celebrate Mom and all the awesome things she does every day of the year.

photo by @dadarocks

I’m posting this recipe today in honor of MY Mom, who loves Chocolate and Orange, in any form, and who I promised to make this delicious thing for when I go home to see her in June.

Chocolate Orange Tart

This gorgeous Chocolate Orange Tart is something I made recently for a photography event at Drift Studio in NYC hosted by eyeFi, a really cool app that allows photographers to upload their photos to the internet via a WiFi enabled SIM card, directly from their DSLR cameras.

Chocolate Orange Tart

They asked me to bring some food and style a lovely still life for the photographers to shoot at the event and it was quite the hit that people actually started eating the tart off the still life set! (LOL- Who can blame them?!)


The tart is made with luscious semi-sweet chocolate and cream with a dash of orange flower water and baked in a graham cracker and cocoa crust,then topped with a gorgeous shiny chocolate glaze and homemade candied orange peel made from a Cara Cara orange, for extra citrus zing that balances out the richness of the creamy chocolate center.


I’m wishing all the Moms out there an amazing Mother’s Day today and hope you’re indulging in something sweet and lovely, just like YOU.


Chocolate Glazed Orange Tart w/ Candied Orange Peel

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Serving Size: 1 piece


  • Chocolate Tart Shell:
  • 1 package of graham crackers (9 total)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Tart Filling:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower extract or Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Chocolate Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • Candied Orange Peel:
  • 1 orange (Cara Cara is what I used)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the chocolate tart shell:
  3. In a food processor, crush the graham crackers into a fine crumb, add the cocoa and pour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the melted butter to the cracker cocoa crumbs and stir together until mixed well with no lumps.
  5. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch tart pan, about 3/4 inch up the side of the pan.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes and let cool in the pan on a baking rack.
  7. To make the filling:
  8. Bring the cream to a boil then pour over the chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes until the chocolate starts to melt, then stir together until smooth.
  9. Whisk the eggs, orange flower extract and salt in a separate bowl, then fold into the melted chocolate.
  10. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake until the filling is set about 3 inches form the edge, about 20-25 minutes. (The center should still be a bit wobbly).
  11. Cool the tart in the pan on a cooling rack for about an hour.
  12. To make the chocolate glaze:
  13. Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil, remove from heat.
  14. Pour in the chocolate chips or chunks and stir until melted and smooth.
  15. Stir in the corn syrup and then the warm water.
  16. Pour the glaze over the cooled tart, then tilt the glaze to evenly cover the top. Let stand until glaze is set about 1 hour.
  17. To make the candied orange peel:
  18. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin of the orange into long strips, then cut into thin matchstick pieces.
  19. Place the orange peel in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and drain the peel, rinse out the saucepan.
  20. Add the peel back into the saucepan and add the sugar and water, stirring everything together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes until the peel becomes translucent and the sugar water becomes thick and syrupy.
  21. Remove from heat and place the orange peel with a fork on to a plate and let cool. The orange peel will cool and harden with a sugary coating when ready. Place the candied orange peel on top of the chocolate tart and serve.
  22. Note: orange peel can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to top the chocolate tart. Tart can also be made a day ahead without the chocolate glaze, covered loosely with foil and stored in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before topping with the chocolate glaze if making ahead.


Note: orange peel can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to top the chocolate tart. Tart can also be made a day ahead without the chocolate glaze, covered loosely with foil and stored in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before topping with the chocolate glaze if making ahead. Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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Food Trends of 2014 + Flavor Forecast for 2015

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2014 Food Trends

As the year 2014 is coming to an end, it’s always interesting to see what was hot and what was not in the culinary world and what new food and flavor trends we will see in the New Year 2015. Popular trends seem to come and go each year affecting everything we see: restaurants, blogs, online stores, magazines, TV shows, and even fast food and packaged goods and advertising.

2014 had plenty of interesting ones that went big this year:

Culinary mashups: Cronuts (croissant donuts), Wonuts (waffle donuts), Quesarito (a quesadilla rolled into a burrito), bananas fosters pancakes, bagel burgers, ramen burgers, pretzel subs, Chicken waffle sandwiches, you name it – crazy Frankenfood dishes hit the scene this year.

Spicy burgers: burgers went nuclear this year with everything and anything spicy – Sriracha mayo, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, spicy onion rings, melted pepper jack cheese, harissa, ancho chipotle sauce, Mexican burgers with spicy ranch sauce…the list goes on.

Bahn Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich made with roasted pork, marinated vegetables, and herbs on a baguette

Savory Jams – fig jam, pepper jellies, lingonberry jams topped creative sandwiches everywhere this year.

Paleo Diet – this meat-heavy, vegetable-laden, dairy and gluten free diet went crazy. Huge protein portions, cookbooks, blogs and new restaurants opened with a core focus on MEAT.

2015 Food Trends

And here is the flavor forecast for 2015:

Middle Eastern mezze: hummus, pepper spreads, herb-marinated olives

Creative cookies: decadent makeovers on classic cookies

Umami veggies: savory flavors will infuse new recipes such as tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, nori, sweet potatoes

Smoked spices: deeper richer flavors for foods through smoked spices

Sour notes: coarse salt with sour notes from sour cherry, pickled ginger, mango and lemon zest add zing and bling. Burgers topped with kimchi. Shrubs (preserved fruits with vinegar and sugar) will show up in cocktails.

Liquid revolution: juice blends from fruits and vegetables to make healthy flavorful sauces

Global blends: Japanese 7 spice (aka shichimi togarashi) combines chilies, sesame, orange zest and nori. Shawarma Middle Eastern blends made with cinnamon, cumin and black pepper are also going big.

Tacos: regional and modern taco joints and pop ups are going to be everywhere

Scrambled eggs: forget poached and deviled – scrambled eggs for dinner with savory sauces and ingredients are hot.

Spicy flavors: Sriracha will still be in style, as well as international spices like Thai bird chiles that give a serious kick.

Flavor without fat: Chefs are now infusing meats and vegetables with flavor by grilling, rotisseries and smoke.

Meat spreads: Nduja is an Italian meat spread made with ground pork and spices, great for spreading on toast or filling ravioli.

Artisanal candies: Bourbon and sea salt caramels, ice cream gummies and other creative confectionaries will be everywhere.

Soft serve ice cream: seasonal flavors and innovative sundae creations are another hot item in the dessert scene.

Spanish cuisine: Tapas and small plates from the Spanish region will be hot in the fast-casual restaurant world.

Savory pancakes: think potato pancakes on steroids – infused with different vegetable flavors and creative toppings and sauces.

Patty melts: this classic diner dish heats up the food scene with innovative twists on this half burger / half grilled cheese sammie.

Mini cocktails: smaller versions of cocktails served in half portions are popping up to give customers the opportunity to taste more varieties

Artisanal hard cider: move over craft beer, the new trend is using artisanal hard cider to create libations with unusual ingredients such as bourbon, house-made Dijon syrup and thyme.

Gin: new places opening up that solely serve the classic Gin and Tonic in different ways

High-end daiquiris and frozen drinks: new twists on the daiquiri and slushie drink infused with fun flavors and alcohol combinations

Meals to go: restaurants and food brands understand the consumers shrinking leisure time by creating high end meals to go making it easier to eat gourmet food without spending hours eating out or cooking at home.

Family-style dining: more restaurants will be serving meals family style with larger portions to share around the table.

Sources: McCormick and National Restaurant News


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Top Ten {Things I Love} :: Holiday 2014

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Things I Love-holiday 2014

These are a few of my favorite things…food, wine, cooking tools, home and barware, recipes, cookbooks, etc…just simply places and things I love that I think are notable and worth a big shout out for their awesomeness! And they make great gifts for the holidays as well..Happy Holidays everyone! 

Kitchen in France Cookbook

1. A Kitchen in France: A year of cooking in my farmhouse – cookbook by Mimi Thorisson

This is a gorgeous full color cookbook by Mimi Thorisson of Manger, one of my favorite food bloggers. It’s full of beautiful photos by her husband and lovely recipes from her farmhouse in France. Enough to make you want to quit your job and move there and bake tarts all day long.

Grab a copy on here.

west elm pillows

2. West Elm Velvet, Metallic and Mongolian Lamb Pillows

These beautiful pillows by West Elm are a great gift idea for that person who has everything – a little indulgent, but so pretty and festive for the cold Winter months.

Pick up a few of these beauties online here.

english toffee

3. English Toffee

English Toffee is one of those things I absolutely crave during the holidays! It’s rich, buttery, crunchy and chocolatey and makes the perfect gift, whether you make your own or get some pre-made it’s absolutely delicious and addicting. In fact, I’m planning to make some myself this year for stocking stuffers!

Here’s a great recipe for it on, or pick up a batch at Williams-Sonoma which comes in a festive holiday tin.

photo: Delicious as it Looks

holiday cocktail party set -

4. Holiday Cocktail Party Collection –

Everyone loves a cocktail party but sometimes it’s more work than  you expect it to be., a specialty indie food store has a Holiday Cocktail Party set that has all the essentials packaged up by local food producers to get your holiday party in gear. It comes with a variety of cheeses, Ginger Caramels, Old Bay peanuts, Vanilla Pickled Cherries, Sesame Lavish Crackers, Dark Chocolates and more. YUM.

Pick one up online here, and check out their other fun collections while you’re at it!

beaded table linens Neiman Marcus

5. Capiz Shell Beaded Table Linens – Neiman Marcus

Absolutely love these gorgeous Capiz shell beaded table linens by Kim Seybert at Neiman Marcus. It comes in a table runner and placemats with matching napkin rings. Festive enough to feast at Christmas like Queen Victoria. LOVE.

Get them online here.

Il Buco Vita

6. Il Buco Vita 

Il Buco Vita is a hidden gem, above the Il Buco Italian restaurant in NoHo NYC. It’s a showroom full of gorgeous handmade Italian and Mediterranean ceramics, linens, glassware, home furnishings and antiques that will make you swoon.

Visit their store online here and their showroom at 51 Bond Street, NYC

Swedish Meatballs

7. Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs are one of those appetizer dishes perfect for a holiday cocktail party. My Mom makes them every year for New Years Eve and I just can’t get enough of them. Try this recipe by BBCGoodFood, Bon Appetit or Food & Wine. For a cool twist, try this recipe for Nut-and-Seed Crusted Sausage Meatballs with Mustard Sauce. Totally indulgent and pure YUM.

Caramel Chocolate Tart

8. Dorie Greenspan’s Golden Caramel and Chocolate Tart

I love making tarts during the holidays, especially luscious ones made with caramel and chocolate. Dorie’s has a simple recipe for making a perfect tart dough, and the filling is perfect too, with melted bittersweet chocolate lining the crust with a silky, creamy homemade golden caramel on top. Divine.

Get the recipe here

foodie dice

9. Foodie Dice and Mixology Dice

As foodies, I know we all love to cook. But sometimes we get stuck in a rut and need a boost for some new creative ideas for our cooking. Same goes for cocktails – we drink the same old thing and how fun would it be to toss a few dice and get some fresh ideas for your mixology? Check out the Foodie Dice and Mixology Dice – with just a simple toss, you’ll get suggestions for making your own fab creations with fresh ingredients and combinations of your own.

Get ’em online here.

vintage champagne flutes

10. Vintage Etched Champagne Flutes – Williams Sonoma

What kind of holiday celebration would it be without some bubbly? Get these gorgeous vintage etched champagne flutes from Williams-Sonoma for the party, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up some bubbly to fill them with! If you’re in the mood to splurge, try a vintage 2004 Dom Perignon ($160), or try a Cremant de Bourgogne, a little less expensive than Champagne made in a Brut Rose, but just as tasty and bubbly ($24). Or try some sparkling wine (Blanc de Blancs) as an option- Gloria Ferrer has a great one from Sonoma CA.


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Entertaining with Ease: Holiday Brunch Strata w/ Ham, Spinach and Cheese

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Holiday Brunch Strata Hero1

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and that means plenty of parties, get-togethers and entertaining with family and friends which is why this is my favorite time of year! I always love to get together with friends and family and have a holiday brunch where we all bring a lovely dish, and sit around the table eating, drinking and talking for hours as we catch up on each other’s lives and laugh a little. That’s what the holidays are all about in my opinion. Sharing, laughing, loving, eating and drinking.

Holiday Brunch Strata Ingredients

One of my favorite things to make for brunch is a Holiday Strata, a delicious breakfast casserole, made with bread, milk, cheese, eggs, ham or bacon, and some fresh sautéed veggies all baked in to a big pot of goodness. It’s rich, creamy, hearty and incredibly delicious, a savory bread pudding, if you will – and a great way to use some of your leftover holiday ham, veggies and cheese! It goes great with a green salad, some fresh fruit and mimosas (and of course lots of coffee, tea and holiday pastries on the side!)

KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer Shot3

This recipe is really easy to make, especially with my amazing KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer. The best part about making a Strata is that you just throw all the wet ingredients and spices in the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk it all together on low speed for a few minutes to beat the eggs, milk and cheese together. Then you layer all the ingredients in the casserole dish the night before, allowing the bread to soak up all the luscious custard and flavors overnight, and then you just pop it in the oven and bake it in the morning. (And maybe even get to sleep in a little or go back to bed while it’s cooking!)

Holiday Brunch Strata Hero2

I used a baked white loaf for the bread, but you could also use whole wheat or even Challah bread for a touch of sweetness. You can also substitute crumbled sausage, bacon or pancetta for the ham, and experiment with using some different cheeses if you like (I used shredded mozzarella, but any cheese that melts well like a Gruyere, Swiss or Cheddar will work great). You can also substitute broccoli instead of spinach, or throw in some colorful peppers to add some extra color – the possibilities are endless, and all tasty using the same base recipe I created.


Other Brunch Casserole and Strata recipes you might enjoy:

Martha Stewart’s Fontina, Speck and Onion Strata

House Beautiful’s Strata Recipe

Southern Living’s Brie and Veggie Breakfast Strata

Taste of Home’s Brunch Strata Recipe

Williams-Sonoma Bagel Strata with Sausage and Spring Vegetables

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A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Side: Fall Harvest Galette w/ Maple Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Bacon & Gruyere

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, simply because it’s a time to spend with friends and family and a great excuse to gather around the table and celebrate our blessings with some delicious bountiful food!

Whenever I go home to cook with my family, my mom takes care of the turkey and dressing, my sister makes a dessert, and I am in charge of making all the delicious side dishes. We normally make the usual green bean or broccoli casserole, squash, Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes, and have enough food to feed the entire neighborhood!


I recently got a gorgeous new KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer and decided I wanted to use it to make a non-traditional Thanksgiving side dish this year. The Stand Mixer comes in 30 vibrant colors (I got Grape – my favorite) and makes cooking for the holidays so much easier, especially when it comes to making pie, tart dough and sauces. It comes fitted with a ceramic flat beater, dough hook and a wire whisk, has 10 speeds, and also has a plastic one-piece pouring shield to help keep ingredients in place when you’re mixing. And I also got the new KitchenAid® Ceramic Bowl in white to replace the metal one, which is a great accompaniment. The KitchenAid® Stand Mixer also has plenty of cool attachments that are available including food grinders, ice cream and pasta makers, juicers and more!


Using my new KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, I decided to make a beautiful Fall Harvest Galette, with roasted maple sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, crispy bacon, sage and Gruyere cheese. The pastry dough was made in my Stand Mixer in less than 10 minutes and came out perfectly. The galette has the delicious warm flavors of fall and it’s a lovely addition to the Thanksgiving table as a colorful, healthy side dish that will blow that green bean casserole away.


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Luscious Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie

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Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie

This is a delicious, luscious custard pie that is one of my absolute favorite pies to make for the Thanksgiving holiday, and it is really simple to make.

The filling is made with buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and browned butter; it has a creamy consistency similar to pumpkin pie but without the pumpkin. It includes a simple recipe for a buttery homemade pie crust, but you can also use a store-bought frozen crust to save some time and effort (Pillsbury is great). Another option is to make the pie crust with whole wheat or buckwheat flour for a nuttier taste. Throw in a tablespoon of maple syrup and a dash of sea salt to the filling and sprinkle the pie with some large grain sugar to bring out the flavors even more. Then just top it with some bourbon vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and you’ve got yourself a prize for the won’t last long, I promise.

Wishing you a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday…Enjoy :)

Make the crust

Roll out the dough

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12 inch round.

Prick the dough in a pie plate

Place in a 9 inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Prick dough all over with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake pie crust until golden brown

Bake until edge is light golden brown about 15 minutes; remove parchment and weights.

Make the filling

Whisk together the pie filling ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon until combined. In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown and most of the foam has subsided, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately whisk brown butter into buttermilk mixture.

Pour pie filling into baked pie shell

Pour filling into pie shell and bake until set but still wobbly in center, 25-35 minutes. Sprinkle pie with sugar (if desired) and let cool completely on a wire rack, 2 hours before serving. Can be refrigerated and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.

Serves 8.

Luscious Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie

Yield: 9

Serving Size: 1 slice


  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3-5 tbsp ice cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • large grain sugar for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Make the crust: 
  2. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (you can add additional ice water if necessary, up to 2 tbsp, 1 at a time); do not overmix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12 inch round.
  5. Place in a 9 inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Prick dough all over with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  6. Bake until edge is light golden brown about 15 minutes; remove parchment and weights.
  7. Make the filling:
  8. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon until combined. In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown and most of the foam has subsided, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately whisk into buttermilk mixture.
  9. Pour filling into pie shell and bake until set but still wobbly in center, 25-35 minutes. Sprinkle pie with sugar (if desired) and let cool completely on a wire rack, 2 hours before serving. Can be refrigerated and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.


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