All posts filed under: Holidays

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 …






Holiday Cocktail Sausages--Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Nigella Nosh: Sticky Holiday Cocktail Sausages with Maple Syrup & Whole Grain Mustard

My mother consistently rolled her eyes whenever she saw a bag of chips in our house.  My father and I had a bad habit of opening the bag from the BOTTOM in order to get to all the seasoning-coated chips first.  If you’re a lover of Tostitos lime chips like I am, open the bag from the bottom and it will make your day a whole lot better. I bet Nigella Lawson opens her bags from the bottom too.  If there is one thing Nigella does well and appreciates, it’s flavor.  I could tell she was a fellow bottom bag opener when I watched her make cocktail sausages in her holiday episode  a few years back.  After baking the little sausages in a sticky sweet and savory sauce, she poured the whole lot into a scooped out bread bowl.  The episode ended with her comfortably sitting in an armchair, her shoes kicked off, and her guests long gone.  She smirked at the screen as she picked away at the crusty bread bowl now lined with …






Della's Caramel Soaked Apple and Walnut Cake//Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Thanksgiving Dessert: Della’s Caramel Soaked Apple and Walnut Cake

While searching for inspiration and a fix for my sweet tooth, I dug through my recipe box and found a card I’d scribbled on years ago when I had my first panic attack. At the age of 16, out of the blue, it occurred to me that if our house were to ever burn down, my mother’s recipe box and all the familial culinary lore kept inside would be lost to the embers.  I spent that summer break watching soap operas on rainy days and copying over recipes of significance onto new cards for my own box.  Never mind the fact that a scanner printer was 20 feet from me at the time. I now held the same card in my hand for Della’s Apple Cake.  I’d never eaten this cake before but I knew Della.  She’s my great grand aunt and at the time I hadn’t seen her since I was six years old but I grew up hearing her name with the words “amazing” and “cake” along with phrases like, “Boy, can she …






Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots--Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Thanksgiving Side: Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Sorghum and Shallots

Every Friday leading up to Thanksgiving, I’m posting a new side dish recipe.  If you’d like to see my recipe for what I consider the BEST way to make turkey, click here. I feel like there are two very divided camps when it comes to sweet potatoes. Either you REALLY love them or you REALLY hate them. I belong to the first camp; my husband belongs to the second. I seek out sweet potatoes in the store and on menus. He once, at the age of 10, had a 4 hour stand-off at the dinner table over eating sweet potatoes.  His mother finally allowed him to add peanut butter and that’s the only way he was able to clean his plate.  Needless to say it scarred him a bit and a sweet potato hasn’t passed his lips since. I love them roasted and I love them mashed.  I did both here.  Roasting adds great caramelization, which is only amplified by a drizzle of sorghum just before the potatoes are done roasting. The other perk about these …