Author: Molly

Sugar Shack Maple Themed Winter Dinner Party // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Sugar Shack Dinner Party

I’ve officially added eating at a Canadian sugar shack to my bucket list.  Sadly, most of them are a 15 hour drive from my current location. BUT!  My parents are currently in the process of moving to Connecticut and visits to them would put me within 5 hours.  Completely do-able and completely happening. Sugar shacks are somewhat of an institution in the Quebec.  During the harvest time for maple sap (usually February through April), sugar shacks open their doors and dish out amazing comfort food in a communal setting.  Given the pomp and pagentry of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the dead season that occurs after the holidays and before spring finally appears can be downright dull.  The concept of spending the day in the woods, perhaps on a sleigh ride, learning and watching syrup being made, and sitting down to a hefty meal seems downright divine and the perfect cure for some serious cabin fever.  If you’d like to read more, the New York Times has a great article here. I first learned of these “cabane …

Thank you, Shirley Temple.

The sight of a bright pink glass studded with fizzy bubbles and plump, maraschino cherries sliding across the bar towards me always made me feel like “one of the adults” no matter how childlike and fluorescent my glass was.  With short, little legs swinging, I would belly up to the bar and confidently order my Shirley Temple the way other gents ordered their scotch.  The number of maraschino cherries was absolutely proportionate to the size of the smile I flashed to the bartender too.  One cherry and I felt like I’d been stiffed.  Your first Shirley Temple was almost a right of passage in childhood. According to Shirley herself, she had nothing to do with the mocktail whose origins are somewhat disputed.  Several Hollywood restaurants claim to have created the drink in the 1930s.  Regardless of where it started, most variations of the beverage include either ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (sometimes both), with a  splash of grenadine syrup and maraschino cherries. Growing up, our overnight sitter was a wonderful woman named Jackie.  She was …

Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits

Begging to stay up late, scouring the JC Penney catalog for replica athlete wear, and dreaming of witnessing sport history in the making.  Two weeks every two years were completely preoccupied with Olympic obsession when I was a kid. And I did rock that pink, purple, and white track suit from the ’96 Atlanta games proudly. Not much has changed as an adult.  I’ve traded in my loud-and-proud track suit for more subtle USA mittens but the obsession is the same. I made a huge check on my bucket two years ago when I was lucky enough to attend the London 2012 games and while the summer games will always be my favorite, there really is something to be said for the winter games as well. The artistry of figure skating and hoping this year I’ll learn what a triple salchow is; the knee-gripping excitement of moguls, and the anxiety over the heights reached in ski jumping.  I eat it up. While most parts of the country are exhausted over the snow and cold we’ve …

Bourbon Pecan Pie//Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Top Recipes in 2013

What a year 2013 was!  Below is a list of the top recipes on the blog last year.  It’s fun to look back and see what resonated with readers…and make me crave warmer temperatures seeing summer photos! I’ve got a lot planned for the blog this year and want to say again how grateful I am for each and every one of you.  Here’s to 2014! 10. Fall Sangria with Apple Brandy 9. The Man Burger 8. Grilled Steaks with Bourbon Peppercorn Sauce 7. Fat Elvis & Priscilla Beehive Pancakes 6. Mexican Skirt Steak Tacos with Lime Crema & Queso Fresco 5. Cider Smoked Brined Turkey 4. Easy Peasy Rustic Bread 3. Homemade Marinara Sauce 2. Bourbon Pecan Pie 1. Mimosa Sorbet

Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Merry to You (and a slice of sticky toffee bread pudding)

Merry to you. This was the subject line of a simple email my mom received from her father two years ago.  2011 was the first time in over 50 years that my mother would not be spending Christmas with her father. My parents were living in London that year and had flown my sister, her boyfriend, and my husband and I across the pond to spend the holidays with them. Three days before Christmas, with a simple “ping” sound, “Merry to you” appeared in her inbox.  After reading it, she forwarded it to me and I silently cried in my cubicle during my last day at work before we flew out of Chicago. The email was a collection of thoughts and memories of their relationship and holidays shared over many decades and how 2011 would be the first Christmas apart.  One small paragraph really struck a cord with me that day.  Enough so that I printed the email to forever keep it: Then as I usually do, I’ll play the last of the Christmas music – by myself – …

Palmiers with Serrano Ham, Fig, and Manchego Cheese // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Quick Holiday Appetizer: Spanish Ham & Fig Palmiers with Manchego Cheese

I love appetizers that you can make in advance and throw together at a moments notice.  Palmiers have a big WOW factor given their fun shape and puff pastry crust but are actually quite easy to make. I give a nod to Spanish flavors in this version by using serrano ham and manchego cheese.  Fig jam gives it a hint of sweetness to balance out the saltiness of the ham and cheese. These palmiers would be perfect at a holiday cocktail party or to ring in the New Year! PrintSpanish Ham & Fig Palmiers with Manchego Cheese Ingredients1 box of puff pastry, thawed 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. fig jam 4 oz. pkg serrano ham 2 1/2 c. shredded manchego cheese (about 0.40 lb wedge) 1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tbsp. waterInstructionsRoll each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 11.5″x13″ rectangle. Spread 3 tbsp. of fig jam onto each pastry sheet. Divide the ham and evenly lay the slices over the jam. Sprinkle 1 1/4 c. cheese onto each …

Cheese Gift Guide//Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Holiday Gift Guide for the Cheese Lover

Being a Wisconsin girl, I would be remiss to not include a gift guide for the fellow cheese lover in your life.  Here’s my list of the best of the best when it comes to fromage. 1. Cottage Delight Cheesemaker’s Pickle A delicious chutney full of rhubarb, plums, blackcurrants, blackberries, carrots and onions.  I purchased a jar of this at Borough Market in London and fell in love.  Well worth the international shipping. 2. Formaticum Cheese Papers Good quality cheese deserves to be wrapped in these cheese papers.  Specially designed to allow oxygen flow and wick away excess moisture to keep your cheese fresher, longer. 3. Sundance Artisan Cheese Knives I love the rustic look of these knives!  Perfect for a well assorted cheese platter. 4.  Crate & Barrel Slate Boards Slate boards are perfect for serving, clean up well, and you can scribble the flavors in chalk. 5. Roelli Dunbarton Blue Cheese By far and away my most favorite cheese of all time.  A cheddar laced blue, the flavor is creamy, sharp, and fantastic all at once.

Gingerbread Cookie Cups with Marmalade, Cranberries, & Pecans // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Gingerbread Cookie Cups with Orange Marmalade & Cointreau Spiked Cranberries

Last week I posted my favorite new Christmas cookie.  Today is another version…kinda like her twin sister with a spicy, citrus twist. I can’t emphasize how easy cookie cups are and the filling possibilities are endless.  These gingerbread cups with orange marmalade, cranberries, and pecans are like a little bite of Christmas in your mouth. PrintGingerbread Cookie Cups with Orange Marmalade, Cranberries, & Pecans Ingredients1 pkg gingerbread cookie dough, prepared to package instructions 1/3 c. dried cranberries, diced 1/4 c. chopped pecans 1/4 c. orange liqueur (Cointreau) 1 tbsp. brown sugar 1/4 tsp. cinnamon Pinch of kosher salt 1/2 c. orange marmaladeInstructionsPreheat the oven to 375° and spray a 24 cup mini muffin tray with nonstick spray. Prepare cookie dough per package instructions and roll into 24 balls. Place a ball of cookie dough into each muffin cup and bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges are set. While the cookie cups are baking, combine the next 6 ingredients (cranberries through salt) in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Simmer the mixture …

Ginger Curd Cookie Cups with Macerated Pears & Sugared Hazelnuts

I wish I had something witty to say today or a great story behind this cookie. I don’t. This cookie sounded good in my head, I tested it out over the weekend, and I’ve been chewing ever since. This might just be my new favorite Christmas cookie.  Don’t be scared by the ginger curd.  It may be hard to track down but it’s so worth it.  I’ve seen it in a few specialty stores including  The Fresh Market and it is available online too. Next week I’ll share the recipe for her twin sister in gingerbread form.  Clearly they’re fraternal. PrintGinger Curd Cookie Cups with Macerated Pears & Sugared Hazelnuts Serves 24 cookie cups Ingredients1 pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough (24 dough squares) 1/3 c. diced dried pears 1/4 c. chopped hazelnuts 1/4 c. apple juice or cider 1 tbsp. brown sugar 1/4 tsp. cinnamon Pinch of kosher salt 1/2 c. ginger curd (available in specialty markets and online)InstructionsPreheat the oven to 375° and spray a 24 cup mini muffin tray with nonstick spray. Place a …

Tea Lovers Guide//Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles

Holiday Gift Guide for the Tea Lover

My obsession with all things British and ability to make it through college without becoming a coffee addict have resulted in a strong love of tea. When my parents lived in London, I frequently visited the tea shops and my Christmas stocking was overflowing with different boxes my mom acquired throughout the year. If anyone on your list is a tea lover as well, here are my gift ideas!   1. Classic White Isotherm Teapot  The combination of ceramic and stainless steel keeps tea hotter, longer.  The cute, retro design is just the icing on the cake. 2. Vera Bradley Mug with Lid  Adorable patterns with a lid that can keep your tea warm or serve as a coaster. 3. WishingwellArt Maple Cinnamon Flavored Turbinado Sugar Cubes  Clever way to sweeten your tea in cute shapes. 4. Tupelo Honey Packets from Honeypax  Famous Tupelo honey in single serve packets.  Perfect for your bag, desk, or when traveling to sweeten your cup of tea. 5. Lemon, Ginger, & Echinacea Tea from Whittard My favorite flavor from …