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31 Days of Cookies: Pecan Jewel Cookies with Spicy Jam Filling

On this 10th day of cookies, Nadia G kicks things up with her pecan jewel thumbprints. These crumbly winning cookies are filled with a cayenne-spiced raspberry jam filling. Nip any fiery flavors in the bud with a glass of sparkling wine.

Pecan Jewel Cookies

Click here for the Pecan Jewel Cookies with Spicy Jam Filling recipe.

More cookies:
Cooking Channel’s All-Star Cookie Swap
50 All-Star Holiday Cookies
Unique Cookie Recipes
Food Network’s 12 Days of Cookies

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31 Days of Cookies: White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Why stop at just a few days of cookies when we can celebrate the season with an entire month of nonstop sugar? To kick things off, we’re diving into the ice-chilled winter spirit with G. Garvin’s White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. They’re perfect for the first day of cookies.

Click here for the White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe.

More cookies:
Cooking Channel’s All-Star Cookie Swap
50 All-Star Holiday Cookies
Unique Cookie Recipes
Food Network’s 12 Days of Cookies

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A Few Favorite Thanksgiving Family Recipes

Grandma Tissy's GravyHappy as we are to dream up exciting new Thanksgiving recipes (every side dish in pot-pie form, anyone?), one of our favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the tradition of favorite family recipes. In a quick survey, we found that office favorites include Grandma’s crazy-addictive stuffing, bourbon chocolate pecan pie (booze in everything, please) and my own mom’s sweet-potato praline casserole (No marshmallows. Ever.), which is quite similar to this recipe.

We also wondered what chefs would pick, so we reached out to one who’s built his restaurant around his appreciation of family tradition. Ian Boden, chef and owner of the Shack in Staunton, Virginia, was inspired by the culinary traditions of his wife’s grandmother, Tissy, who made Appalachian and Southern food in her own home (which she called “the shack”). In talking about Grandma Tissy’s legacy, Boden mentioned her turkey gravy, a recipe that Boden’s wife tasked him with recreating based on her descriptions of it after Tissy’s death. So in honor of Thanksgiving family favorites, he agreed to share the recipe and its story. (Note: If you’re nervous about making gravy from pan drippings, here is a primer.)

Grandma Tissy’s Turkey Gravy

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Cookbook Giveaway: Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

cheese pie

Ready or not, we’re careening into the holiday season, with a battery of meaty roasted centerpieces fitting of a Norman Rockwell triptych (or a cholesterol commercial).

Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Whether you’re meat-averse or preempting the onslaught with some healthy vegetables, Aglaia Kremezi has an idea.

The Greek cooking expert has a new book, Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, featuring 150 simple, flavor-packed meatless recipes. Like a tastebud vacation to Santorini, the recipes showcase light, bright ingredients like olives, lentils, herbs, yogurt and spices.

Arm guests’ taste buds for hearty winter stews with a light orange-olive salad with baby leeks and a tarragon-lemon dressing. Or swap in a quick 25-minute “Lazy Woman’s” cheese pie for the usual grilled cheese to serve with tomato soup.

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Hump Day Snack: Dinner in a Pumpkin

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Pumpkin gets a lot of love in the sweet category. And happy as we are to dive into pumpkin pie, sticky buns or cheesecake, it’s time to give a little love to the savory side. Witness: dinner in a pumpkin. This clever, ultra-homey idea bakes a classic casserole (think: cream of mushroom soup, wild rice, water chestnuts, ground beef or turkey) into an actual (medium-size) pumpkin. Pop it in the oven on Halloween night, draw a face on the finished gourd (preferably better than we did here…) and dish it out with the now-softened pumpkin for maximal heartiness before trick-or-treating time. Or make it the throw-back main course for your adults-only party, since it pairs well with pumpkin ale and a sensible kale salad. (Full disclosure: This is stock art, not the actual dish. We completely failed to take a picture when we made this dish ourselves.)

More Savory Halloween Meals:
Jack-O’-Lantern Cheese Ball
Bocconcini Eyeballs with “Blood” Salsa
Double-Decker Coffin Sandwiches

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You Should Go to South Beach Food & Wine Festival

We’re still stuffed from last weekend’s 2014 New York City Wine & Food Festival, but it’s already time to start thinking about flying south for the winter. The 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Festival is coming quickly (February 19-22), and trust us: Feasting in Florida in February is a genius idea.

For four days, top Cooking Channel and Food Network talents will converge on the warm, sunny Miami coastline to cook, drink and hang out. The events hit on nearly every taste, whether you’re a yogi, an unstoppable carnivore or an unabashed cupcake fiend. And you’ll be doing it all alongside the food industry’s top talents, including Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, Rev Run, Aarón Sánchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Rachael Ray, Giada de Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and more.

Tickets are already selling out, so get on it. There are tons of events to choose from, but if we had to play culinary concierge, here’s what we’d recommend.

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Fall Fest: A Week of Apple Recipes

Apple Crisp Recipe

You know what they say about an apple a day. So why not commit to getting in your red (or green) all week long. We’ve developed the perfect meal plan for a week of all-apple eating.

Sunday: With an eye toward Monday breakfast, make a giant apple crisp. Kelsey’s 5-star apple crisp recipe (pictured above) comes together quickly and is ideal for a dinner party or leftovers.

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Summer Soiree: 6 Dips to Make in a Dash

Pimento Cheese Dip

When company is coming and time is short, keep one mantra in mind (admittedly inspired by the band Devo): Dip it. Dip it good.

These no-fail ideas all come together in mere minutes, and are guaranteed to cover you through all seasons, types of gatherings and guest dining preferences. The key is to always have a mix of vegetables and crackers on hand. Then just go ahead and take a dip:

Sriracha-Pimento Cheese Dip: It’s hard to improve on classic pimento cheese dip, but this one (pictured above) actually does. A dose of sriracha is just the thing to cut the rich cheddar-mayonnaise combination. The spice averse may need to keep a drink on hand.

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Summer Soiree: Why You Should Eat Avocados All Day Long

Flautas

We think avocados are pretty great. They’re the basis for guacamole, which might be the world’s most perfect food, and the ideal companion to a margarita. They’re pretty versatile, too. They’re versatile enough, in fact, that we’d eat them all day long if we could. If you feel the same way, here is our suggestion of how to eat avocados from breakfast through dessert.

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Summer Soiree: 4 Ways to Shake Up Your Sandwich Routine

No matter how clever you get with your nut butter and jam, the sandwich routine can get stale pretty quickly. Shake up your back-to-school (or work) lunch options by swapping out bread for tortillas*. Here are a few filling suggestions to get you rolling. And then keep the cylindrical theme going with Kelsey’s homemade fruit leathers. That’s a wrap!

Bacon-Hummus Roll-Ups: Hummus with carrots and cucumbers is no ultra-creative concept. But these roll-ups take the idea a bit further by tucking them into bread with slices of crisp bacon (pictured above). The meal should keep for four hours. If you’re serving vegetarians, try this hummus-grilled vegetable alternative.

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