My mom hosts a Christmas brunch every year. It’s not a huge affair, but she always pulls out all of the stops with a massive variety of delicious breakfast-y goodness. It’s one of my favorite celebrations of the season, and I always roll out her door completely stuffed but happy as a clam. Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of brunch cocktails to round out the meal, but none have ever stuck. So when Freixenet, the “black bottle bubbly”, asked us to sample their newest offering, Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée, I knew my mom’s brunch would be the perfect testing ground.
Do you have a favorite food combination that you will never, ever turn down? For me, that’s chocolate and peanut butter. It’s really no secret how deep my affection runs for chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, who doesn’t love a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? If ever you need to butter me up for something, try giving me some chocolate and peanut butter before you approach; I can almost guarantee it will work. It will, no doubt, get my attention. And we would be instant friends because that’s what friend do, right? Give each other Chocolate and Peanut Butter. And that’s just what is happening here today. I am giving you this Peanut Butter Fudge with Chocolate Ganache.
For the last seven years Kevin and I have hosted a Christmas Party for our friends. It’s always a great evening, full of laughter and catching up with friends over a few cocktails (like these: Ginger Pear Martinis and Pomegranate Tequinis). I’ll admit that the first few years hosting the party was pretty stressful. But now that I am a little more seasoned, things go pretty smoothly. This year, I had all of my cooking done, the house clean and was even able to take a nap before guests arrived. A NAP…are you kidding me? Completely unheard of. The one thing that makes this event so much easier from year to year is keeping many parts of the menu the same and adding in some new dishes here and there. But the star of the show is this Grilled Beef Tenderloin. Kevin grills it early in the day, and we slice it and serve it with sauces and buns for people to make sandwiches. Super simple but ALWAYS a hit and one of the first things gone on the table.
My son, Grady, celebrates a birthday this month. Aside from me being in denial that my baby is turning 8(!!), we’re squeezing in as much birthday fun as possible in between all of the Christmas festivities. Since coordinating a party with family and friends is next to impossible this time of year, we always celebrate on a smaller scale on his actual birthday and save the big party for later. Traditionally the birthday boy gets to choose his dinner and dessert. The decision on what to eat changes almost daily in the weeks leading up to his birthday, but I always know what he wants for his special dessert: a giant molasses cookie sprinkled with chocolate chips. Interesting choice for an 8 year old, isn’t it? Grady has always been his own kid (one of the many reasons we love him), so in honor of Grady’s December birthday and the holiday baking season, I took a spin on Grady’s favorite birthday treat and made these Molasses Kiss Cookies.
Appetizers are my weakness. I love snacking on the little bites before dinner, and, if given the choice between an appetizer and dessert, nine times out of ten the appetizer wins. So when I create a new appetizer that is a little different from my go-to favorites, AND the whole family loves it, I can’t help but do a little happy dance. (It’s the little things in life, right?) Combine that with easy-to-find ingredients and minimal prep time, and I hit the jackpot. That’s just what happened with these Cheesy Chipotle Roll Ups. The smoky flavor and subtle heat from the chipotle peppers makes these a stand out above other Roll Ups. And the best thing? You don’t even need a sauce to go with these as they have enough flavor all on their own. That, my friends, makes these the perfect appetizer to take a party. No oven, no crackers, no dips, just slice the rollups and arrange on a platter. Voila! Easy entertaining at its best.