Vanilla-Pear Holiday Punch

This holiday punch is unlike any I’ve ever had, and I think you’re going to love it. It’s not too sweet. It tastes like pear, vanilla, spice…

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naturally sweetened punch recipe

This holiday punch is unlike any I’ve ever had, and I think you’re going to love it. It’s not too sweet. It tastes like pear, vanilla, spice and everything nice. It’s a smooth, easy sipper, even with tequila inside. Yep, tequila!

This pitcher of cocktails was inspired by an oldie but goodie, my Pear Nectar Cocktails with Reposado Tequila. That cocktail is proof that simple ingredients can yield a delightfully complex cocktail. If you’re just making one or two drinks, follow that recipe instead.

You won’t need any fancy liqueurs for this holiday punch recipe, just some pear juice, reposado tequila, plus a few basic ingredients—lemon juice, club soda, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

holiday punch ingredients

I know we’re skipping the holiday parties this year, but I just couldn’t keep this recipe to myself until next December. If you’d like to batch some cocktails for your family, this punch is just the ticket.

Or you could drop off a jar of cocktails with friends or neighbors to share some holiday cheer. I wrote the recipe to yield eight drinks and you can divide or multiply as you’d like.

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The New Old Fashioned Cocktail

Who wants a drink? It’s been a long week. Let’s relax with an Old Fashioned, one of the oldest cocktails around. The Old Fashioned is for whiskey…

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old fashioned cocktail with maple syrup

Who wants a drink? It’s been a long week. Let’s relax with an Old Fashioned, one of the oldest cocktails around. The Old Fashioned is for whiskey lovers, certainly, but it also might convince naysayers to become whiskey cocktail drinkers after all.

Like mulled wine, the Old Fashioned is perfect during the holidays, on chilly evenings, and basically any time you find yourself sitting around a fire. It’s a bold, dynamic drink that’s a little citrusy and a little sweet.

I came up with one delicious twist on the classic recipe, which also happens to be a shortcut. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, I bet you can guess what it is.

old fashioned ingredients

That’s right, I used maple syrup instead of simple syrup. Historically, Old Fashioned cocktails are made with a sugar cube or simple syrup. I’m here to tell you that they taste better with maple syrup, which complements bourbon’s caramel notes and stirs in like a dream.

Back when the Old Fashioned gained popularity, maple syrup was not readily accessible. Lucky for us, it is now. I hope you’ll give it a try!

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Classic Mulled Wine

Let’s cozy up with some mulled wine. Turn on some music, build a fire or light some candles, throw some spices and wine in a pot, and…

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classic mulled wine recipe

Let’s cozy up with some mulled wine. Turn on some music, build a fire or light some candles, throw some spices and wine in a pot, and embrace the holiday season. It’s really that simple.

I’ve always associated mulled wine with holiday parties, but a single batch is perfect for two to four people. Mulled wine is unbelievably easy to make, even on a weeknight, and fills your home with holiday fragrance.

mulled wine ingredients

This mulled wine is for wine lovers. I’ve encountered a few mulled wines over the years that tasted like sweet potpourri, but not this recipe. It’s fruity and spiced, but the wine still shines through.

You just might even have all of the ingredients at home! If so, you’re just fifteen minutes away from mulled wine. Let’s make some.

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Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet potato casserole is for everyone, even the people who don’t like sweet potato casserole. I’m serious! If you enjoy sweet potato casserole, I’m confident you’ll…

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best sweet potato casserole recipe

This sweet potato casserole is for everyone, even the people who don’t like sweet potato casserole. I’m serious! If you enjoy sweet potato casserole, I’m confident you’ll love this marshmallow-free version.

If you don’t like sweet potato casserole, this recipe will change your mind. I know it will, because it changed mine. I’ve sworn for years that I only like savory sweet potatoes, but I’m officially eating my words. I love this recipe.

baked sweet potatoes for baked sweet potato casserole

This sweet potato casserole features an ultra creamy, pillowy interior with deep sweet potato flavor. The buttery pecan topping is crunchy-tender and lightly sweet, with optional fresh rosemary.

Overall, this dish is entirely irresistible. I hope it’s a big hit at your Thanksgiving table.

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Creamy Golden Milk (Hot or Iced)

If you’re a fan of chai lattes and turmeric, you’re going to love this recipe. This ultra creamy golden milk is inspired by traditional Indian turmeric milk…

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golden milk recipe

If you’re a fan of chai lattes and turmeric, you’re going to love this recipe. This ultra creamy golden milk is inspired by traditional Indian turmeric milk (haldi doodh), but it is by no means authentic.

In its most basic form, haldi doodh is made with turmeric (haldi) stirred into milk (doodh) or tea. Typically, households will add more warming spices to the mix, including ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

golden milk ingredients

Indian mothers prepare turmeric milk for colds, coughs and sore throats, and aches and pains. It’s warming, soothing and supports the immune system, which is exactly what we all need right now.

This recipe uses cashews instead of milk, which makes it lusciously thick, yet dairy free and vegan. Serve it warm in a mug, or cold over ice!

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Perfect Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Have you carved your pumpkin yet? Let’s roast some pumpkin seeds to make a night of it! When I was growing up, we carved our jack o’lanterns…

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best roasted pumpkin seeds recipe

Have you carved your pumpkin yet? Let’s roast some pumpkin seeds to make a night of it! When I was growing up, we carved our jack o’lanterns every year before Halloween, and my mom always roasted the seeds for a tasty snack.

Pumpkin carving night is still one of my favorite nights of the year, and now I carry on the tradition with my husband and a glass of wine. While I’m only a mediocre pumpkin carver, I’ve perfected my roasted pumpkin seed technique over the years. I’m sharing all of my tips with you today.

removing seeds from pumpkin

Roasting pumpkin seeds is really fun and easy when you know how to do it. When you don’t, you can make a big mess and end up with seeds that are either burnt, or never golden.

This foolproof recipe yields perfectly golden pumpkin seeds, every time! Keep reading to learn the easiest way to clean those slippery seeds.

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Caponata

Let’s make homemade caponata! This classic Sicilian appetizer or side dish is perfect for late summer meals. This recipe combines roasted (not fried) eggplant with sautéed bell…

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caponata with roasted eggplant

Let’s make homemade caponata! This classic Sicilian appetizer or side dish is perfect for late summer meals. This recipe combines roasted (not fried) eggplant with sautéed bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, olives and capers. Red wine vinegar and honey make it irresistibly tangy and sweet. If you generally enjoy these bold flavors, you’re going to love caponata.

Since international travel is largely off the table, I’ve been traveling vicariously through my food. This caponata is the perfect example. I’ve yet to make my way to Sicily to sample authentic caponata, but learning to make this dish has deepened my desire to explore the island. Mark my words, I’ll get there someday.

caponata ingredients

Caponata recipes vary from region to region and household to household. This recipe is where I landed. I took some cooking cues from my ratatouille recipe, which also features roasted eggplant stirred into a simmering tomato sauce. Caponata’s flavors are even deeper and more complex largely due to the intense agrodolce factor, or the interplay between sweet (honey and raisins) and sour (vinegar and capers).

I can’t claim this recipe is entirely authentic, but I hope it offers you a little taste of Sicily.

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Tom Collins Cocktail

Do you know Tom Collins? The cocktail? If not, you’ve been missing out. I used to serve Tom Collins way back when I was a bartender, and…

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best tom collins cocktail recipe

Do you know Tom Collins? The cocktail? If not, you’ve been missing out. I used to serve Tom Collins way back when I was a bartender, and I believe this classic drink deserves some more attention.

Tom Collins cocktails taste like grown-up lemonade. They’re irresistibly citrusy, fizzy and refreshing, with herbal notes from the gin. While lemonade can be cloying, Tom Collins need not be too sweet—I like mine with just a splash of simple syrup to round out the flavors.

tom collins ingredients

If you enjoy a cold French 75 or Bee’s Knees, you’ll definitely enjoy a Tom Collins. They all share a similar flavor profile. Tom Collins are the perfect cocktails for hot summer afternoons, since they’re served over ice and full of hydrating club soda. I’ll always choose a Tom Collins over a gin and tonic.

To make a Tom Collins from scratch, you’ll need a few basic ingredients (gin, lemons, club soda, and sugar or honey), a cocktail shaker and plenty of ice. Add a fancy cocktail cherry if you really want to do it right. Cheers!

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Easy Homemade Pickles

What took me so long to make classic pickles? As it turns out, homemade dill pickles are simple, easy and delicious. They’re the perfect little summertime project,…

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best cucumber pickles recipe

What took me so long to make classic pickles? As it turns out, homemade dill pickles are simple, easy and delicious. They’re the perfect little summertime project, if you even want to call it that. These pickles are ready after a short chill in the refrigerator (as little as one hour), and they keep for several weeks.

These pickles are tangy and refreshing, nice and crisp, and offer garden-fresh flavor. They remind me of Claussen or Grillo’s pickles—but they’re even better. In short, I’m in love with this refrigerator pickle recipe and I think you will be, too.

how to slice cucumbers

These pickles are made with simple ingredients, including vinegar (I prefer rice vinegar’s mild flavor), fresh dill (technically optional, but delicious), a couple cloves of garlic, and a few basic seasonings.

I added a touch of sweetener, too—just enough to cut the bite of vinegar. These pickles are decidedly tangy, and nowhere near “bread and butter” territory. However, the sweetness level is entirely up to you.

These pickles aren’t overwhelmingly salty, either, yet they’re fully seasoned. They are irresistibly just right—perfect for burgers, for snacking, and more.

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Refreshing Hibiscus Mocktail

I’ve indulged in my fair share of cocktails this year, but sometimes, I just want a fun, fizzy, non-alcoholic drink. Something cold to savor on a hot…

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sparkling hibiscus mocktail recipe

I’ve indulged in my fair share of cocktails this year, but sometimes, I just want a fun, fizzy, non-alcoholic drink. Something cold to savor on a hot afternoon, or an enticing alternative to chilled wine in the evening. Something party-worthy to offer my friends and family members, and all the cute kids who come with them.

This beauty is refreshing and hydrating, and so colorful that it makes a slow afternoon seem downright festive. The outrageous pink color comes from hibiscus tea, which is easy to find at the grocery store if you look for Tazo’s “Passion” blend.

how to make a mocktail

Once the tea has had a chance to cool, we’ll fill our glasses (or a pitcher) with ice. We’ll finish off these drinks with some honey simple syrup (as little or as much as you want), a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a gentle glug of Topo Chico, the finest of sparkling waters.

I’ve been on a Topo Chico kick this summer, but really, any sparkling water will do. The end result is full of flavor, lightly sweet, and irresistibly bubbly.

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