Anginetti Cookies

anginetti-cookiesAnginetti Cookies (or Italian Lemon Drop Cookies), are a very popular holiday cookie in my native New York, but less known in other parts of the country. Like a lot of Italian cookies, they aren’t overly sweet, and they are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. They are lemon-y, a little crumbly, and without a doubt, one of my favorites!

 

 

anginetti-cookies-2Ingredients (makes 24 cookies):
Cookies:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon (approx. 2 tsp.)
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder

anginetti-cookies-3Icing:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Juice from ½ lemon (approx. 1 tbsp.)
3-4 tbsp. warm water

 

anginetti-cookies-4To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Add eggs, one at a time and beat for one minute until fluffy. Stir in flour and baking soda and mix well to fully incorporate. Roll cookie dough into 1” rounds and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake approximately 18 minutes until starting to turn golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before icing.

To make the icing: Melt butter in a microwave soft bowl. Wisk in sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and 3 tbsp. warm water. Microwave icing for 10-15 seconds. Add additional tbsp. warm water only if needed to brush on to cookies. Top with sprinkles if desired and transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-1Move over macaroni, there is a new cheesy side dish in town. This cheesy, decadent side is lighter on carbs, but I guarantee you won’t miss them. Cauliflower always makes its way onto my dining room table for the holidays, whether steamed, roasted or baked, and this would be a perfect side for Thanksgiving. This recipe makes a large batch, enough for a family gathering, but could easily be halved for a weeknight meal.

 

 

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-2Ingredients (Serves 6-8):
2 heads cauliflower (approx. 2lb), cut into small bite sized florets
4 oz. Colby, Monterrey jack or a Colby-jack blend, cut into cubes
4 oz. cheddar, cut into cubes
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
⅛ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

For the crumb topping:
1 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-3To make the crumb topping: Melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium low, then add breadcrumbs. Stir until just starting to turn golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces and place in a large baking dish. Make sure they are cut small enough to allow an even coating of cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter on low, add flour, stir for 2-3 minutes while bubbling but not brown. Add milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and half of the cheese. Stir for 2-3 minutes until starting to melt, then add remaining cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is melted, being careful not to let the milk boil. Once melted, pour over cauliflower, coating evenly. Let sit 5 minutes (this will let the cheese sauce firm up slightly so the crumbs sit on top rather than sink into the cheese sauce). Add crumb topping and bake for 35-45 minutes until cheese is bubbling and cauliflower is cooked. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Honey Balsamic Jalapeno Poppers

Honey Balsamic Jalapeno PoppersThis take on a classic jalapeno popper gets a twist from using tangy goat cheese and a sweet honey balsamic drizzle. This recipe makes 30 delectable poppers, so perfect for a holiday get together or game day appetizer. Who doesn’t love the combination of bacon with something sweet?  WARNING, these are addictive!

 

 

Ingredients:
10.5 oz. package goat cheese (I used Costco’s Kirkland brand)
15 jalapenos, sliced in half the long way, ribs and seeds removed
1 lb. package of bacon (15 slices), cut in half
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Honey Balsamic Jalapeno Poppers 2Take goat cheese out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before preparing so that it’s soft enough to spread into jalapenos. While preheating oven to 425 degrees, cut stems from jalapenos and slice in half lengthwise, removing ribs and seeds. This will cut down spice considerably from the peppers once they are cooked! Spread an equal amount of goat cheese in each halved pepper and wrap with a half slice of bacon. If the slices aren’t big enough to wrap around completely, they can be secured with a toothpick, but I usually do without. Place jalapenos in roasting pan or cookie sheet in 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until bacon is cooked. Make sure the pan has a raised lip so the oils from the bacon do not spill while cooking! Once bacon is beautifully browned, remove from oven and let drain on a paper towel. Wisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Transfer peppers to a serving platter and drizzle with honey mixture before serving.

Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Homemade Fudge

Fudge 2I recently made a combo of these two recipes with my Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge, but I made them on a larger scale for a holiday party, and was getting tons of questions about the recipes individually. So, without further ado, here are the recipes for Dark Chocolate Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge. These are the basic recipes, but make them with your favorites and add chopped nuts, sprinkles, marshmallows, coconut, or swirl them together for my favorite combo!

 

 

Making fudge traditionally can be a bit of a daunting task, involving precise temperatures, candy thermometers, and a bit of culinary finesse. These recipes are only a few ingredients and can be prepped in less than 5 minutes (plus time to set). It’s no wonder why these easy recipes are my go-to for quick and easy desserts and holiday gifts!

Dark Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz. can condensed milk
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:
12 oz. white chocolate chips
14 oz. can condensed milk
⅔ cup peanut butter
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Fudge 1For both recipes, place ingredients except for vanilla in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 second increments, until chips are melted and no lumps remain, stirring in between each heating. Stir in vanilla and spread into cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add toppings and let set in refrigerator, about one hour for dark chocolate fudge, a bit longer for fudge made with white chocolate. Once set, cut into squares and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark 4There are fewer treats that taste more like Christmas than peppermint bark! Dark chocolate is layered with peppermint-spiked white chocolate and topped with crunchy candy canes. The best holiday gifts are made of chocolate and this is no exception. The best part – it’s so easy! The chocolate can be melted using a double boiler on the stove top, but I like to pop it right in the microwave. The key to melting chocolate in the microwave is to use medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between to make sure it doesn’t get overheated.

 

Peppermint Bark 3This recipe takes all of 10 minutes (plus time for the chocolate to set) and is a majorly impressive holiday dessert. Williams-Sonoma sells this stuff for $28.95/lb., but you don’t have to tell anyone you didn’t spend that much!

Ingredients:
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. canola oil
12 oz. good white chocolate
1 tsp. peppermint extract
4 candy canes, crushed

Peppermint Bark 1Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and canola oil for 30 second intervals until smooth. Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate in an even layer on lined cookie sheet. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to partially set while prepping the white chocolate. Melt white chocolate in microwave, also stirring every 30 seconds. When smooth, stir in peppermint extract and pour in an even layer, carefully smoothing white chocolate to edges of dark layer. Top with crushed candy cane pieces and let set in refrigerator until completely hardened, approximately 1-2 hours.

Peppermint Bark 5Break into pieces and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter FudgeIs there a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter? I don’t think so. One of my favorite treats to make during the holidays is fudge. This recipe is extremely easy, takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, but tastes like you’ve been slaving away for hours. Your friends and family will be impressed!

Ingredients:
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, divided equally
6 oz. dark chocolate chips
6 oz. white chocolate chips
⅓ cup peanut butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla (divided ½ tsp. in each)

In microwave safe bowls, put half condensed milk and dark chocolate in one bowl and the other half condensed milk, white chocolate and peanut butter in a second bowl. Put a pinch of salt in each bowl. Microwave for 20 second increments, until chips are melted and no lumps remain, stirring each time. Stir 1/2 tsp. vanilla in each bowl and spread into 9×9 container lined with parchment paper, using a toothpick to make swirls in top.  Let set in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then cut into pieces and store at room temperature.

It doesn’t get any easier than that. This recipe can easily be changed to make all chocolate or all peanut butter fudge. Play around with different ingredients like walnuts, pecans, marshmallows, sprinkles… The options are endless!

Enjoy!

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Bites

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Bites 1These make a tasty appetizer for the holidays and they are also great for a snack or light lunch if you are looking to use up some leftover ham or turkey. I made these with ham, but turkey can easily be substituted. Buttery, flaky crescent rolls are filled with ham, cheese and broccoli and baked to golden perfection. Who knows, you might even trick someone into eating broccoli!

 

 

 

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Bites 2
Ingredients:
1 tube crescent rolls
4 oz. ham, diced
8 oz. steamed broccoli, chopped
3 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. onion, minced
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

 

Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Bites 3Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ham, broccoli, cheese, onion, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Lay out crescent rolls and spoon an even portion of the ham mixture into the center of each roll. Carefully fold edges to center so you have what resembles a knot. It’s OK if some of the filling is poking out. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with mustard for dipping.

Enjoy!