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The Kiddie Cookie Factory

The holiday cookie factory is a really efficient way to get a ton of baking done and keep the kids happy.

More tips and hacks that are Good to Know.

Thirsty Thursday: Gin and Cranberry Sauced

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Let’s talk about cranberry sauce for a moment. It’s the wonderful sauce that anoints turkey. It’s the ruby-hued, sweet relish that adds texture, color and diversity to the holiday plate. It’s an excuse to have a little something sweet for dinner. For those who could consume a bowl of cranberry sauce like it’s a bowl of cereal, here’s a boozy way to get your fix.

For this Gin and Cranberry Sauced cocktail, add gin, lime juice, bitters and, of course, some cranberry sauce to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float a sprig of rosemary on top, and the opulent fragrance will make you think of Christmas. It’s hard to go wrong with these well-balanced sweet, tart and herbal flavors.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Ho Ho Holiday Weeks on Cooking Channel

Hey, it’s the holidays! It may be cold outside, but it’s also a time for celebration, indulgent foods and festive drinks. Get ready for some holiday entertainment here on Cooking Channel from Sunday, December 8, to Saturday, December 21, every night starting at 8pm ET.

Start the feasting with G. Garvin’s Southern Holiday this Sunday, December 8, at 8pm ET. G. Garvin throws together a delicious, Southern-inspired holiday meal with the help of his family. The feast starts with appetizers, including G’s Deviled Eggs and Pimento Cheese Toasts. For the main course, G makes show-stopping Glazed Orange and Honey Ham, Roasted Cornish Hens and slowly braised Short Ribs.

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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Holiday Appetizers

hummus

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?
For every holiday party I’ve been invited to, the host instructions are to bring “an appetizer or dessert.” As much as I love baking, I prefer to bring the former. There are always plenty of sweets at a holiday gathering, but no guarantee that there will be meatless pre-dinner snacks. If I bring one or two vegetarian appetizers, it guarantees that I’m able to snack while I’m mingling and if dinner happens to be a whole bunch of ham and prime rib, then at least I can continue to nibble on my own apps.

The best bring-to-a-party appetizers are those that pack well so they won’t get all mangled in your travels and that can be made ahead — don’t count on being able to do a lot of last-minute prep or assembly at the party. If you’re bringing a hot dip or something that needs to be cooked (even re-heated) before serving, check with the host to make sure you’ll have access to the stove, oven or microwave.

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Tips for Easy Entertaining from Chef Michelle Bernstein

Michelle Bernstein

Want to make sure your 4th of July bash goes off without a hitch? Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, who knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd, has four tips to make entertaining easier.

Michelle Bernstein’s Tips for Easy Entertaining:

  • Make dishes that sit well. “I want to hang out, too,” she says. “Make things in a thoughtful way beforehand, and then prepare fully the day of.” For instance, if you’re putting together a Greek salad, chop all of the cucumbers, tomatoes and seasonings the night before.
  • Let your kids join in on the fun. Give them prepared tasks like setting up the table so they feel like part of the action, too.
  • Use the freshest ingredients possible, especially for the finishing touch. If you prepare the salad a day or two ahead, add a pop of flavor with fresh cilantro and citrus. “It will taste like you made it that day,” Michelle says.
  • Taste everything before you serve it. Seriously, this one is a must. Get approval from yourself for each dish.

Michelle’s last tip? Mix up your menu.

“I like to change things up and play in the kitchen,” she says.

So skip the burgers this year and bring in some Latin flavors with Michelle’s recipe for chorizo tacos:

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Giveaway: The Whole Hog Cookbook

Bacon and Cheese Puffers

Get your holiday party started with savory, irresistible Bacon and Cheese Puffers from The Whole Hog Cookbook. Photograph by Chia Chong.

For cool new holiday recipes or a last-minute gift for the pork lover in your life, The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers is a great find. Libbie is a recipe developer and food stylist for Paula Deen, and I was excited to chat with her about her unique new cookbook.

Libbie was inspired by her hog-farmer grandparents, especially her “sassy grandmother,” to write a book covering the whole hog, not just bacon and pork chops. “I have no recollection of them throwing anything away,” she says. But it’s also about the rich flavor and fat that runs through unexpected pig parts, like the shanks and the hocks. Of all the unusual recipes in her cookbook (chitlins, anyone?), Libbie hopes people will try making pork cracklings – she takes a bucket of them on the road with her to book signings and they’re a sure crowd-pleaser.

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The White House’s Molasses Spice Cookie “Gingersnaps”

Gear up for holiday baking with Cooking Channel. Your favorite celebrities, chefs & Food People have opened their kitchens to share their best cookie recipes. From Cookie Monster’s sugar cookies to Kelsey’s Peppermint Meltaways, we’ll keep you baking all season. Visit our All-Star Cookie Swap, then head over to FoodNetwork.com for great takes on holiday baking from Food Network chefs.

Curious what President Obama and his family are eating for the holidays? After dinner, they’re definitely sampling one of White House pastry Chef Bill Yosses‘ delicious desserts. After attending cooking school at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn, Chef Yosses’ first job was at La Foux d’Alose in Paris. He now works with the First Lady on her Let’s Move! initiative to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation.

His special holiday confection, Molasses Spice Cookies, are full of cinnamon, allspice and molasses — a new, delicious take on the traditional gingersnap cookie.

Get the Recipe: White House Molasses Spice Cookies

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Spiced Cookies From Michelle Branch

Gear up for holiday baking with Cooking Channel. Your favorite celebrities, chefs & Food People have opened their kitchens to share their best cookie recipes. From Cookie Monster’s sugar cookies to Kelsey’s Peppermint Meltaways, we’ll keep you baking all season. Visit our All-Star Cookie Swap, then head over to FoodNetwork.com for great takes on holiday baking from Food Network chefs.

I still know all of the lyrics from Michelle Branch‘s “Everywhere” from her 2001 platinum selling album, The Spirit Room. She followed up that release with her 2003 album, Hotel Paper. When she and Nashville singer/songwriter Jessica Harp decided to part ways after forming the country music duo The Wreckers, Michelle released a personal EP, Everything Comes and Goes, in August 2010.

While she’s currently in the studio in Los Angeles working on an album, I suspect she’s also finding time to make her delicious Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies.

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Cookbooks for Gifting (and Trying)

Cookbooks for Gifts

Our desks have been overflowing with mountains of amazing new cookbooks this year, covering all cuisine and every niche imaginable (like biscuits and mini pies). So we were thrilled to see the New York Times editors’ top cookbook picks for 2011 – great for holiday gifts or for adding to your own collection.

We’ve covered a few of their picks ourselves, plus we have sample recipes. So before you start buying, get cooking!

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Christmas Tree Cheese Ball

O Christmas cheese, O Christmas cheese.

No holiday is complete without a whole bunch of cheese. In fact, no day is complete without cheese. This holiday season, your obligatory cheese can double as your obligatory holiday decor, if you play with your food a little and transform it into a Christmas tree.

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