Archive | December, 2012

Almond Champagne for National Champagne Day!

31 Dec


With the last few days of the year winding down, what better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve and National Champagne day with Champagne? Yes, almond flavored champagne! This is my particular favorite since I love both champagne and anything almond-related. I discovered this taste-specific champagne a few years ago when I was in California, and immediately after trying it, I had a bottle shipped home.

Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyard is located in Temecula, California, and produces a gold medal award-winning almond champagne that suits any and all special occasions. Made from white sparkling wine and pure almonds, this champagne is the “must have” when visiting Wilson Creek.

What’s even more unique about this champagne is that you can personalize the label on your bottle. With the online label maker you can make sure that the holidays are extra special by adding signature touches to your own signature drink.

Happy New Year!

Alc. by Volume: 11%

Net Content: 750 ML

Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyard

Since its National Champagne Day, we also need food to eat right?! Here are 3 delicious recipes to help get rid of all that champagne!!

All of my favorite things to eat are in this risotto! Including champagne!

This is the perfect dish to toast to all the amazing things ahead in the new year!

Start your new year with a sweet treat!


#Meatless Monday: Warm tofu with spicy soy sauce

31 Dec


In the midst of all the turkey and ham and casseroles I eat during the holiday season, this dish is a pleasant change of pace.  My boyfriend and I ate this dish alongside salted and lime-juiced edamame.  Have you tried that?  A good friend introduced me to jazzing up your steamed edamame with sea salt and lime and hello.  Flavor to the max.  I think this would be a fun dish to serve as an appetizer when having friends over for dinner.  It really is so simple and don’t let the boring-sounding title stop you from preparing this dish.  A warm block of tofu with spiced soy sauce turns out to be WAY more appetizing than it sounds.

Warm tofu with spicy soy sauce from Alexandra Cooks

1 package of firm tofu

2 tsps of chopped garlic

1/3 cup chopped scallion

3 tsps sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with the side of a heavy knife

3 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp red chili flakes

1/2 tsp sugar


Drain tofu and cover with cold water in medium saucepan.  Bring to simmer over medium-high heat.  Then cover and keep warm over very low heat.  While tofu simmers, mince and mash garlic to a paste with pinch of salt.  Stir together with remaining ingredients.  To serve, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with large spatula and drain on paper towels.  Pat dry and transfer to a dish.  Spoon sauce over tofu and serve warm.  A healthy flavor explosion!  This sauce would also taste really good on just about anything.  Rice, noodles, fish, etc!

[Photo via Cook and Be Merry ]

Good Ol’ Southern Eggnog

24 Dec


Growing up, Christmas meant two things: going to my Grandma Ducky’s house to celebrate with my dad’s family and all of my cousins and watching all of my Aunts and Uncles drink this weird, thick, forbidden vanilla milkshake they called eggnog.  My Uncle Sam would make gallons of this stuff and all of the adults would throughly enjoy imbibing in this frothy holiday concoction.

Eggnog is no longer foreign or forbidden to me.  I am now old enough to drink it any time I want.  But I recommend keeping this recipe special and breaking it out for your friends and family for the holiday season.  In honor of National Egg Nog Day, here is Uncle Sam’s recipe! It’s boozy, rich and delicious and beats the tar out of anything you can buy off the shelf at the grocery store.  One word of warning: this recipe is slap full of raw eggs.  If that sort of thing doesn’t freak you out, then this recipe is perfect for you!

Good Ol’ Southern Eggnog Recipe from my Uncle Sam

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart Half ‘n Half
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 quart whipping cream
  • Dash of salt
  • Nutmeg to taste

Combine sugar and half ‘n half, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.  In a mixer on low speed, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, gradually add liquor  to yolks.  Add half ‘n half and sugar mixture to yolks and liquor, stirring well.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with mixer until stiff.  Gently folks egg whites into yolk mixture.  In another bowl, combine whipping cream and salt.  Combine whipping cream with yolk mixture and chill thoroughly before serving.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

What I Want for Christmas: A Quirky Wish List for the Innovative Baker

22 Dec

bf8b1bd4ef819bd35c28b0e601ff4c57Half the fun of having kitchen gadgets is showing them off. Look! I made a batch of brownies that are all edge pieces. Here’s a list of funky baking goodies for the baker who has everything:

Bake two pies at once, a pie tin for indecisive cravings.

Sample your cake before you share it with this “piece for the baker” cake pan.

Bake a cake in any shape you mold with this innovative cake pan.

Never slice again, or just make many slices differently with this portioned cake pan.

Are you a fan of edge pieces? Exclude the middle with this brownie, blondie or cornbread maker.

Do all your measuring with one cup. Adjustable amounts and easy to pop into the bowl (a great tool for sticky substances like shortening).

Bake a mustache cake for your ironically inclined friends.

Empty your cupcake center neatly and fill it back up.

I didn’t even know cakesicles existed, but now you can make them (handles included!)

Put the baking tray right on a rack, a great cooling method for a tiny kitchen.

Have a great holiday with your new gadgets!

[ Photo via Koyal Wholesale ]

Holiday Cocktail: Brown Sugar Bourbon Sparkler

22 Dec

thumbnail copyThere are a number of traditional holiday cocktails that I just can’t quite get myself to enthusiastically support.  I don’t love spiced/mulled wine; it reminds me too much of a glass of boozy potpourri.  Eggnog is something I enjoy but can only drink so much of, as it’s pretty much a meal in and of itself.  I do love a good bourbon drink during the holidays, though.  It’s a good, warming drink that I can leisurely sip and doesn’t make me feel like i just downed a liquor-soaked milk shake.

A friend sent me this recipe from Cooking Light magazine over the summer.  While it was published in the height of August, I really think this is the perfect cocktail for all of those cold December holiday parties you’re attending.  One of my favorite holiday cocktail-criteria is met by this recipe: it uses ingredients you likely have on hand this time of year.  Who isn’t swimming in brown sugar and bourbon from all those bourbon balls and fruit cakes you’ve made during the Christmas season?

Brown Sugar Bourbon Sparkler from Cooking Light

Ingredients (yields 4)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilled fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 cup chilled dry sparkling wine
  • 8 to 12 dashes of bitters
  1. Combine sugar and water in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high until sugar dissolves (2 to 3 minutes).
  2. Let cool and then place in fridge to chill.
  3. Stir fresh lemon juice and bourbon int sugar mixture.
  4. Divide evenly into 4 glasses and top with 3 to 4 tablespoons of sparkling wine and 2 to 3 dashes of bitters.  Serve and enjoy the holidays!

What I Want for Christmas: The Ultimate Gift

20 Dec

Photo via Neiman Marcus

With Christmas time being right around the corner the entire team here at Cookbook Create has one thing on all of our minds …. what foodie gifts do we want for our Christmas wish list! I thought long and hard about what I on my wish list. Everything from engraved knives, a monogram cutting board, and luxury teas from my favorite chef, all ran across my mind, but then I came across the ULTIMATE gift!  “A Taste of Greatness,” via Neiman Marcus Holiday Fantasy Guide 2012 is the perfect gift for anyone that has say… $250,000 just laying around. A Taste of Greatness is exactly what you will be getting, with a 10 person dinner party planned and prepared in your home by a personal event planner and a meal cooked by 4 of the worlds greatest chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse, and Richard Rosendale. These chefs are in a class of their own with superb culinary knowledge, skill, and expertise, and the meals they prepare for this dinner party will be like none you have ever tasted.

Also included in this event package is a tequila tasting from Casa Dragones tequila, brought to you by Bertha Gonzalez,co-founder and CEO of Dragones Tequila, who is also the worlds 1st female maestra tequilera. Ms. Gonzalez, isn’t only bringing the art and craftsmanship of this prestigious tequila to dinner, she is also bringing personalized engraved crystal bottles along with her for each guest!

With this hefty price tag..also comes a good deed and thats also a large part of why I chose this for my christmas wish list (besides the amazing food of course!)  All the proceeds from this event go to the Bocuse d’Or USA  Foundation, and organization dedicated to inspiring culinary excellence in young professionals. Of course this gift is on my wish list but the idea is perfect and it also makes other happy and feel accomplished. And that to me is what spreading Christmas cheer is all about!

[ Photo via Neiman Marcus  ]

What I Want For Christmas: Kitchen Edition

17 Dec

largeLiving in a small Brooklyn apartment with extremely limited space means there are kitchen items I dream of having and items that could realistically be mine all mine.  Over the years I’ve learned few gadgets actually make the cut for counter space priority and regular use.  Sure, that juicer I bought two years ago seemed like a healthy and practical purchase, and in someone else’s spacious kitchen with miles of counter space I am sure I would have used it on a daily basis.  But room in my kitchen is a precious commodity and I need cooking tools that will improve the way I cook not only as far as taste goes but in regards to the space they don’t take up.

I learned the importance of using a good chef’s knife when preparing dinner a number of years ago.  A friend came over to help make homemade lasagna and, while trying desperately to dice tomatoes with my poor excuse for a knife, he explained to me the importance of owning a quality knife.  And then he talked my boyfriend into getting me one of Christmas.  I now have a wonderful knife that does an impeccable job and takes up little to no space because it lives on a magnetic strip on the wall above my stove.  What I do not have and what I desperately need is a knife sharpener.  Not only does this Furi FUR626 knife sharpener have great reviews but it measures 1″ x 3.5″ x 4.5″ when folded up and will only set you back about $16.00.  It’s manual, so no electric parts to break or batteries to replace.

Norwegian Crunch

17 Dec


The holidays are a great time to let yourself indulge in all of those rich foods and sweets you probably wouldn’t normally eat with frequency.  Norwegian Crunch is one of my favorite holiday indulgences and a special treat I have enjoyed since my mom scribbled down the recipe from a friend years and years ago.  Now, I am in charge of making this delicious toffee-like bar.  It’s an easy recipe that yields an abundance of this decadent dessert.  Norwegian Crunch is also the perfect treat to wrap up in a box or tin and give out as a gift to loved ones during this time of year. Continue reading

The Best Hanukkah Recipes – Mom’s Matzo Brie

12 Dec

In honor of Hanukkah, I asked my Mom to share her amazing recipe for Matzo Brie with the Cookbook Create community. It’s not technically a Hanukkah dish, but it became such a hit in our household that we requested it year-round.


Lighting the menorah with my family in Northern California, circa 1989.

Take it away, Mom!

Barbara Richter: This dish is traditionally eaten at Passover, but it’s so delicious, that my family loves to eat it at other holidays, as well. I usually make it for breakfast, making sure to have plenty of ingredients on hand, because everyone is sure to want seconds!  The recipe comes from a Jewish cookery book that I found in Vienna, Austria, back in the 70’s, when I was a student studying there at Academy of Music.

Continue reading

Cookbook Review: Come In, We’re Closed

11 Dec


In the restaurant world, chefs are rockstars. Through their cookbooks, they are teaching all of us including you enthusiastic home cooks, how to eat better. Most professional chefs and cooks are working away from their families everyday. They spend so much time in their kitchens that Continue reading

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