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The Holiday Cookies Food Network Staffers Can’t Wait to Make This Year

by in Community, Holidays, Recipes, December 6th, 2016

Eggnog MeltawaysHoliday baking season is upon us, and while we’re tempted daily by the prospect of putting together all manner of cakes, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread houses, cheesecake and tarts, it’s really all about the cookies for us. (You, too? It’s not too late to sign up to receive our 12 Days of Cookies newsletter, BTW.) Read on below to see which cookies we Food Network staffers will be baking up first this season, and get the recipes to try them at your home, too.

“Meltaways (aka polvorones, aka Mexican wedding cookies, aka butterballs) have always been my favorite Christmas cookie (my mom called them ‘snowball meltaways’ when I was growing up), but this year I’m making Food Network Kitchen’s new version: Eggnog Meltaways. They really do taste just like eggnog – there’s bourbon, rum extract and nutmeg in the dough — but they’re buttery and crumbly like a meltaway should be.”

— Michelle Buffardi, Director, Digital Programming

Butter Spritz Cookies“Oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies — you name it, my Mama Hynes always has a truly fantastic batch of soft, perfectly baked cookies on her kitchen counter. But as much as I aspire to be just like my grandma, rolling sugar cookie dough is my nemesis; even though you might think having three helpers would make the job easier for me, eight hands are not better than two! But my kids really love to measure, pour and mix, and watching them sit impatiently on the kitchen floor staring through the oven door while something they’ve helped make bakes warms my heart. This year I’m looking forward to trying our hands at Butter Spritz Cookies. The kids can choose their own cookie-press shapes and have fun decorating their creations with sprinkles, and I can have dozens of homemade cookies on the counter without having to roll a single scrap of dough.”

— Meghan Cole, Content Administrator

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies“Giada De Laurentiis’ Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies were the first Food Network recipe I ever made, and maybe the first thing I ever baked, full stop. Back in high school, I’d bake a batch on the Sunday before school let out for the holidays so I could give them out to friends and teachers. Honestly, I don’t know how I parted with them. Packed with chewy, finely chopped oats, toasted hazelnuts and English toffee, these buttery beauties would have me in a sugar coma until at least New Year’s.”

— Allison Milam, Associate Editor

Snickerdoodles“I know that baking is a science and that recipes for baked goods ought to be followed to the letter. But — confession time — when it comes to the cinnamon in things like cookies, pies and tarts, I usually double or even triple the amount called for in the recipe. That’s how much love that spicy, warm, fragrant flavor. (More is more, right?) So it’s a wonder that I’ve never made snickerdoodles before. Not only are these cookies easy to make, but they’re known for their over-the-top cinnamon taste: They’re rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, after all, which guarantees cozy, comforting cinnamon taste in each bite. This year I’ve got my eyes on Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for snickerdoodles — but there’s a good chance I may up the cinnamon there, too.”

— Maria Russo, Online Convergent Editor

Peanut Butter BlossomsPeanut Butter Blossoms are my holiday-season Achilles’ heel — my mother-in-law makes them by the boatload, and I eat just about as many. This year, I want to try Nancy Fuller’s take on the recipe, which incorporates peanut butter chips into the batter. She also suggests spreading a little jelly on the cookies before finishing them off with a chocolate candy. Sounds delicious!”

— Lauren Piro, Food Network Editor

Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies“The best cookies on a holiday cookie spread often look the simplest. You might pass them over for the fancier-looking treats if you didn’t know better. That’s part of the allure of my grandmother’s famous Potato Chip Cookies. The golden rounds look like basic shortbread or sugar cookies, but then you bite into one and the hit of salt and crunch takes you by surprise (and keeps you reaching for seconds, then thirds). I once won a very prestigious interoffice cookie bake-off with these babies, and I’m admittedly not a baker. While Grandma’s recipe is a closely guarded family secret, Ree Drummond has a version that incorporates chocolate, and in my opinion that’s never a bad idea.”

— Sara Levine, Senior Managing Editor

Neapolitan Cookies“I went to school near this warm, low-ceilinged Hungarian pastry shop that always reminded me of the Three Broomsticks from the Harry Potter books — so, of course, every day after class I’d go sit in the corner and read by myself. I only ever got one thing: coffee with almond extract, cinnamon and a tall, dramatic swirl of whipped cream (the kind from a can). Such a good drink. Anyway, one year I was dating this nice Italian boy and brought him there after dinner. He asked if I had ever eaten a rainbow cookie. I hadn’t, of course. He explained how important they were for Italian-American families during Christmas, and how he could eat a dozen in one sitting. So we bought a handful and ate them with the coffee I just told you about. To this day I only ever get that coffee with those rainbow cookies. Some people call them “Italian flag cookies,” “Venetian bars” or even “seven-layer cakes” (after the three layers of almond sponge, the two of jam and the two of chocolate). Valerie Bertinelli calls them Neapolitan Cookies. Whatever they’re called, I like to make them around the holidays for my family because they’re like nothing we grew up with, and because they remind me of Greg.”

— Eric Kim, Programming Coordinator

Maple Stars“A few months ago, I purchased a bag of maple sugar, thinking, ‘I’ll definitely use this at some point.’ It took a while, but I’m finally cracking it open, thanks to this Maple Stars cookie recipe [from Food Network Magazine]. Festive maple-flavored sugar cookies are sandwiched with maple-spiked white chocolate for a breakfast-meets-dessert experience. Plus, who can resist a shimmery dusting of gold sugar for a finishing touch? These will definitely be the stars of my holiday cookie plate!”

— T.K. Brady, Online Editor, Food Network Magazine

Check out Food Network’s complete collection of Christmas cookies right here.

Double Chocolate Pudding Pie — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, December 4th, 2016

Double Chocolate Pudding PieThe holiday season is officially underway, and with it comes all manner of merry treats, most of them decidedly indulgent and full of all the sweet decadence you crave this time of year. But it turns out that it is possible to keep things light while enjoying the best of the dessert course. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, a time-tested pudding pie, delivers all the rich flavor and texture you know and love — with ingredients that are mostly healthful. The secret is using just a bit of butter in the crust and opting for low-fat milk to make the chocolate pudding filling.

For more holiday-worthy dessert ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Bake! board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Orange Foods for 24 Hours

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, November 30th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Ate Only Orange Foods for 24 HoursIn many ways, fall is all about orange. Between society’s perpetual obsession with all things Halloween and the endless supply of festive autumnal vegetables, you can’t turn a single corner without spotting the color.

In an attempt to fully embrace the fall spirit, I decided to eat only orange foods for one full day. When I first accepted this challenge, I feared what my body may go through. I pictured myself loading up on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and aggressively squirting Easy Cheese into my mouth (no shame). And before my short-lived diet even started I was already resenting it. But I made a commitment, and without my good word, I was nothing. I strapped on my booties, put my big girl pants on and trekked all the way to my local grocery store to purchase the goods. And truly, the orange options were endless.

Butternut squash. Sweet Potatoes. Peppers. Pumpkins. Oranges. Apricots. Cantaloupe. Carrots. Peaches. Persimmons. Mangoes. Nectarines. Orange tomatoes. Tangerines. Goldfish. Cheez-It crackers. Cheese puffs. Cheez Doodles. Cheese. Cheese. A lot more cheese. The world was my oyster.

Of course, oysters were off the table.

I moseyed my way through each aisle, deciding to fully embrace the orange life and dive into the challenge head-on. To my surprise, locating orange food was anything but difficult. Finding the right produce to make well-balanced, home-cooked meals on the other hand was much more challenging. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to eat mostly raw vegetables for an entire day; I’m simply not interested in a lifestyle that healthy.

Eating orange was not so bad compared to some of the extremely questionable diets I’ve been subjected to during my 22 years on Earth. In sixth grade I attempted an all-celery diet, which I told myself was a thing, but it definitely was not. I somehow made it through “breakfast” that day, had an emotional breakdown before noon, then binged on an entire box of Mallomars for lunch just to calm myself down.

It’s shocking I was overweight.

Anyway, here’s how I pulled off eating only orange foods for a day.

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Giada’s Easy Limoncello — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, November 27th, 2016

LimoncelloWith Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season is officially underway. And that means it’s time to start looking ahead to shopping for everyone on your “nice” list. But when it comes to finding a gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative, skip the usual gift cards and look to this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. Giada De Laurentiis’ bright lemon-vodka liqueur comes together with just four ingredients, and she says, “It makes wonderful gifts.”

For more party-ready recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Entertain board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Limoncello

Slow-Cooker Spicy Fajita Soup — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, November 20th, 2016

Spicy Fajita SoupThe countdown to turkey day is on, with less than a week until Thanksgiving is upon us. As you prepare for the feast and perhaps the influx of guests that will coming to your house, your to-do list likely doesn’t leave extra time for dinner. That’s where this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week comes in. Thanks to the handy slow cooker, you can simply prep, set and forget this top-rated soup recipe until you’re ready to eat a few hours later. Thanks to the handy slow cooker, you can simply prep, set and forget this top-rated soup recipe until you’re ready to eat a few hours later. The one-two punch of chile powder and a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce strikes an ideal balance between spicy heat and smoky heat in this comforting bowl.

For more hearty recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook Comfort Food board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Spicy Fajita Soup

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Tried 7 Foods That (Supposedly) Curb Fear

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, November 17th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Tried 7 Foods That (Supposedly) Curb FearAllhallows’ Eve may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean the horror movie trailers aren’t still everywhere. And every time one of them pops into my life, I go into flight mode. Headphones out. TV on mute. Ears covered. Eyes closed. Singing “la-la-la-la” until it’s finally over. I will do this in my home. I will do this on the treadmill. I will do this in public. I do not care. I do all this to prevent what I know will come if I don’t: looking out the shower curtain every 15 seconds, going out of my way to avoid mirrors in the dark, lying awake at night irrationally paralyzed by fear for weeks.

Did I ask for the scary-movie-trailer life? No, I did not. The scary-movie-trailer life asked for me — poor, innocent, fully grown, scaredy-cat me. I am scary movies’ easiest target. I get scared of pretty much everything. Even that rated PG-movie Enchanted — yes, the one about fairy tales coming to the real world — at one point made me jump five feet above my theater seat. The old hag was really ugly, OK?

Needless to say, I do not watch horror movies, save for a total of three in my lifetime. But if I did, all of them would get a rating of 1,000 out of 10 on the scariness scale from yours truly.

Besides making me a hilariously entertaining horror-movie buddy, this scaredy-cat quality of mine also makes me a prime test subject. For what, you ask? What use could I possibly have in the context of horror?

Well, according to Food & Life, a health-focused cookbook authored by Michelin-starred French chef Joël Robuchon and,neuropharmacologist and acupuncturist Nadia Volf, eating certain foods can help curb fear. Yes, apparently other than just willing yourself to be unafraid of fictional monsters and demons, there is possibly another way to get through a horror flick. So I set out to test whether Robuchon and Volf’s prescribed foods could actually fight fear.

Step One: Eat said foods, and only those foods.
Step Two: Sit through one of those gosh-darned horror movies.

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Here Are the Most-Unexpected Dishes at Food Network Staffers’ Thanksgiving Dinner

by in Community, Holidays, November 15th, 2016

Zucchini Corn FrittersThanksgiving is all about traditions, from Mom’s signature turkey seasoning and your aunt’s sweet ambrosia salad to Grandma’s now-famous pumpkin pie. Each family has its own list of dishes that just has to be on the table for it to feel like the holiday — and some of those picks are downright unexpected, going well beyond the requisite mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. We checked in with Food Network staffers to find out the most-surprising items on their turkey day tables.

“It’s my husband’s family’s tradition to serve fried corn fritters at Thanksgiving each year — not the most-traditional dish but so delicious! They like them sweet and drizzled with maple syrup, but I bet they’d love this savory version from Food Network Magazine too. It has zucchini, garlic and buttermilk for a little tang.”

— Lauren Piro, Food Network Editor

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Food Network Staffer Diary: I Did the Baby Food Diet for 3 Days, and Here’s What Happened

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, November 9th, 2016

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Did The Baby Food Diet for 3 Days, and Here's What HappenedThis is a no-tricks, no-nonsense eating plan. The baby food diet is exactly what it sounds like: three or more days of eating pureed baby food and trying your absolute best not to complain (or vomit).

I first read about this diet in 2013 when my girl Jennifer Aniston was rumored to have shed quite a bit of weight from eating like a baby for a while. (This was a confusing moment for me, as it was the first time I ever questioned anything Jennifer Aniston did.) Started by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, the diet quickly became an internet phenomenon as a way to cut cals and drop pounds, fast.

It sounded like absolute torture. I genuinely could not understand why anyone would eat sweet potatoes out of a jar when they have the option to do otherwise. Only an idiot would put their body through that.

Fast-forward three years: I am that idiot.

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Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, November 6th, 2016

Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa VerdeThis just in: Tacos can be healthy — while still tasting good. Yes, really. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to save a few calories, and this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is proof of that. These top-rated shrimp tacos get their craveable bold flavor from a blanket of chipotle powder atop the seafood, which turns tender after just a few minutes on the grill. Skip the usually heavy toppings like cheese and sour cream, and opt for fresh picks instead. This avocado-tomatillo salsa, laced with fresh jalapeno, is just the burst of bright, cool taste and creamy texture to balance the tortilla-wrapped shrimp.

For more lightened-up recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Get Healthy board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde

Duff Goldman Takes Over Food Network’s Snapchat Discover

by in Community, November 6th, 2016

Duff GoldmanIt’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit. And it’s certainly not too early for cake master Duff Goldman. The man behind Charm City Cakes and one of the judges of Holiday Baking Championship is taking over Food Network’s Snapchat Discover channel to get you revved up for the baking extravaganza that is the holiday season.

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