7 Sweet Symbols of the Holiday Season

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 15th, 2015

Fragrant pine branches layered with ribbon and candy canes, a freshly cut yule log smoldering in the fireplace, winter-white landscapes come to life with merry snow people: These are the season’s defining emblems, and you can always rely on them to set a festive scene at your holiday party. Even better is when they’re manifested in sweet, edible form. Here are seven of winter’s familiar symbols transformed into whimsical desserts, including delicate snowflake cookies, classic French yule log cake and a tower of cupcakes fastened in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Cupcake Christmas Tree (pictured at top)
Transform basic chocolate cupcakes into a stunning centerpiece for your Christmas dessert spread by generously coating the frosted tops with green sprinkles or jimmies and fastening them onto a Styrofoam cone using toothpicks.

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Meet Your New Party Planner: Giada De Laurentiis to Help You Throw Your Best Events Ever on Giada Entertains

by in Shows, December 15th, 2015

Giada De LaurentiisIf the mere thought of opening up your home to guests and hosting a party sends chills down your spine, you’re not alone. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play for you as the host. On her all-new series Giada Entertains, Giada De Laurentiis is out to prove that throwing a party can be downright easy — and also enjoyable for both you and your guests. All you need are a few good-to-know strategies and tried-and-true recipes, which Giada is set to share.

Premiering Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, at 11a|10c, Giada Entertains proves that the season of celebration doesn’t have to end with the holidays. No matter if you’re inviting the gals over for a casual night in or you’re gathering fellow football fans for a tailgate of epic proportions, Giada has the tricks to help you execute the party with ease. In each episode she’ll dish out crowd-pleasing eats and drinks, as well as offer her secrets for setting up and maintaining the best vibe for the event you’re hosting. With her simple how-tos in your back pocket, you’ll not only feel comfortable entertaining but also look forward to it.

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Coconut-Almond Baked Doughnuts — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, December 15th, 2015

Baked Coconut-Almond DoughnutsBaked doughnuts have basically taken over the Internet. I understand. The opportunity to indulge in a homemade doughnut without having to heat up a big pot of oil is appealing. That said, I think that baked doughnuts are in a completely separate category from regular doughnuts. They’re wonderful but more in line with cakes and cupcakes than true doughnuts.

That’s not a bad thing. Baked doughnuts are incredibly easy to whip up. The batter comes together in minutes, bakes quickly and makes just enough doughnuts to enjoy for brunch without leftovers.

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The Ultimate Sugar Rush: Best Desserts in America, Courtesy of Top 5 Restaurants – Vote for Your Favorite

by in Shows, December 15th, 2015

Banana SpecialThere’s just something about dessert that makes life so much more meaningful. The genius minds behind Food Network’s Top 5 Restaurants agree. This past week, hosts Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian revealed the best places to visit when you’re in need of something sweet.

Read on for the list and vote on your favorite dish

Cookbooks for Every Food Lover on Your List

by in Holidays, December 14th, 2015

Holiday shopping for your ever-growing list of family and friends can be stressful. But if you, like us, have a number of food-obsessed people in your life, it’s about to get a lot easier. It was a great year for cookbooks, with a wide variety of new titles that’ll appeal to serious cooks, newbies and those who simply enjoy displaying gorgeous food photography on their coffee tables. Here are cookbook recommendations for pretty much everyone on your list. Bonus: Cookbooks are super-easy to ship anywhere via Amazon or the Food Network Store. Read more

The Do’s and Don’ts of Edible Holiday Gifts, According to Food Gift Love’s Maggie Battista

by in Books, Holidays, December 14th, 2015

Peanut Butter BallsWith the holiday season in full swing, chances are good you’re making your list and checking it twice — and trying to figure out what to give all the important people in your life. From hostess gifts to something for your children’s teacher or your friends from book club, one thing rings true: Everyone loves a delicious holiday treat. Maggie Battista’s new book, Food Gift Love, has you covered on all edible gift fronts.

If the idea of making edible gifts is daunting for you, Food Gift Love is the book to guide you through the holiday season. (It’s also a wonderful gift if you’re not inclined to make edible gifts yourself, but you have friends who enjoy that sort of holiday cooking and baking.) The recipes are elegant and sophisticated without being fussy or difficult to produce. Each one comes together wonderfully easily, and the helpful gift-packaging advice will leave you looking like a holiday rock star with minimal effort. Battista shared her top do’s and don’ts for holiday season edible-gift making with us:

Do:

  • Host a food-gift-making party. Turn a holiday get-together into a marmalade-making session or chocolate-dipping feast. Attendees can contribute food and gift-wrap supplies. Share the expense, the work, the bounty and the holiday spirit!
  • Put a label on it. Be sure to put the name and date prepared (and, if you like, a date by which to consume it) so your recipient knows exactly how long she or he has to enjoy the edible treat this holiday season.
  • Regifting gift-wrap is OK. Save old but clean gift-wrap and reuse it for new gifts. Making use of old ribbon and paper multiplies your holiday gift decor options and lengthens their lives before they’re recycled.

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Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, December 14th, 2015

Kale and Pistachio Pesto SpaghettiWhile basil often claims the starring role in traditional pesto recipes, this vibrant green sauce can surely be made with just about any other green, which means that even when fragrant basil is out of season, like it is now, post-steamy days of summer, you can enjoy this quick-fix favorite. Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti not only calls for kale as the leafy green, but it also puts pistachio nuts to work in place of the classic pine nuts.

“Kale adds a rich earthy note and brilliant green color to this hearty pesto,” the chefs in Food Network Kitchen said, and because this top-rated recipe comes together in only 35 minutes, it’s a go-to pick for those nights when you’re strapped for time. To boost the healthy factor here, Food Network Kitchen chefs opt for whole-wheat spaghetti, but they don’t compromise on flavor: Bold garlic and nutty Parmesan cheese round out the flavor of the sauce. According to the chefs, “This makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups pesto, which would also be good on fish, chicken, pork or steak,” so keep this recipe in your back pocket even when you’re cooking for Meatless Monday.

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Wake Up to Holiday Cheer: The 6 Best Christmas Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 14th, 2015

Panettone Bread PuddingIf the seasonal tradition in your home calls for a wake-up-worthy breakfast or brunch on Christmas morning instead of a grand feast at dinnertime, you’re in luck, because these savory and sweet recipes will start your holiday on a hearty note. Read on below for classic picks like baked eggs as well as crowd-pleasing ham, dressed-up bacon and cornbread casseroles.

Panettone Bread Pudding
A favorite among many Italians during the holiday season, panettone is a sweet, soft-inside bread often studded with dried fruits. Here Ina Garten lets the bread sop up a rich, creamy custard laced with almond extract, so when it bakes, it’s full of moisture and flavor. For welcome crunch, she blankets the top of the bread pudding with sliced toasted almonds before it goes in the oven.

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Simon’s Journey ‘Round the Rotisserie — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, December 13th, 2015

“You got to learn to twist the core.” That was Alton Brown‘s advice to a less-than-enthused Simon Majumdar as he took his turn — literally — around what Alton called “the human rotisserie.” This downright diabolical sabotage made its return to tonight’s all-new Cutthroat Kitchen episode for the gyro challenge, and in true After-Show fashion, Alton forced the judge of the day, this time Simon, to get a hands-on feel for the demands of eviliciousness.

“I’m getting a little cramp here,” Simon admitted as he strained from side to side and attempted to reach the prep and cook stations while the rotating spit was in motion. It didn’t take long, however, for Simon to realize that perhaps the most-efficient way to cook his dish — a crab cake instead of the challenge gyro — was to simply carry the pan as he turned. He managed to fry the crab cake and watch over it, instead of risking burning it in what was a screaming-hot skillet. “I suggested that she do this as well,” Alton told Simon of Chef Melanie, who was saddled with this sabotage during the competition. “But she didn’t. She wanted to keep the pan on the heat the whole time.”

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Drinks by the Numbers

by in Entertaining, Holidays, December 13th, 2015

For this year’s December issue, Food Network Magazine took the guesswork out of figuring out how much alcohol to buy for your holiday soiree. With the handy “beverage formula,” you can easily calculate the number of drinks you’ll need. Wondering why there is an asterisk? It’s simply there to explain that guests generally consume two drinks in the first hour of a party and one drink for each additional hour. So pour yourself a drink, relax and enjoy your own party.

Scroll down below for affordable champagne alternatives and festive big-batch cocktail recipes. Each of the pitcher drinks can be made in advance and serves about 16.

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