Tag Archives: holiday recipes

Simple, time-saving secrets to add a unique twist to your holiday recipes

| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com


When entertaining during the holiday season, time is of the essence. Between cleaning, shopping, decorating and mingling with friends and family, there’s hardly enough time to cook let alone prepare an elaborate seven course meal. However, the lack of time doesn’t mean your food or your guests have to suffer. By combining classic dishes with unique ingredients, you can enhance the flavor of your recipes without having to spend the entire evening in the kitchen.

Instead of preparing an over-the-top feast, try opting for simple and satisfying fare with a subtle modern twist to wow your guests. Often, it’s just that extra ingredient that can really tie together your favorite appetizers, entrees and desserts. Jessica Segarra, of The Novice Chef food blog, offers three simple tips to create standout holiday dishes.

* While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, don’t let the holidays sidetrack your guests from eating healthy. Instead, make wholesome, lighter options the life of the party by adding unexpected ingredients to otherwise bland dishes. Serve protein packed, homemade sweet potato hummus with veggies and low-fat pretzel crackers, the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors for fall and winter entertaining. Not only will the hummus keep your guests satisfied, it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

* Sweet-and-savory never fails. Look for recipes that combine both elements to add a well-balance boost of flavor. This holds true for both desserts and entrees. “Pretzels are my go-to ingredient for adding crunch and just the right amount of salty goodness to my sweeter dishes,” says Segarra. “They can be easily paired with my favorite holiday desserts, including beautifully layered trifles.”

* Select dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Entertaining is no fun if you’re confined to the kitchen while your meal cooks. Choosing a baked entree like pork medallions or chicken breasts that can be prepped before your guests arrive can help to free you up to socialize.

Holiday gatherings are supposed to be fun for everyone, including the hosts. By adopting some simple time-saving secrets to make your food shine, both you and your food can be the life of the party. So, rethink the holidays and celebrate with these seasonally inspired recipes at your next gathering.

Everything Pretzel Crisps Crusted Pork Medallions with Sweet Maple Gravy

Makes 4 servings


1 pound pork loin, sliced into 1 1/2-inch rounds

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, whisked

3 cups Everything Pretzel Crisps, crushed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the gravy:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup whole milk


Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Set aside. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Place eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Spread crushed Pretzel Crisps on a rimmed plate. Working with one pork medallion at a time, coat pork in flour, dip into eggs and then press into pretzels. Repeat process until all pork medallions have been coated. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add four to five pork medallions at a time, cooking until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer browned pork medallions to prepared baking dish. Repeat process until all pork medallions have been browned. Place pork medallions in the oven and bake until cooked through, or until internal temperature reaches 140 F, about 8 minutes. Let chops rest for 5 minutes after baking. While pork is in the oven, melt butter over medium-high heat in the skillet used to cook the pork. Whisk in flour, scrapping the edges to include any of the browned pork bits in the pan. Stir continually with a wire whisk until the flour has thickened and started to brown, about 3 minutes. Pour in maple syrup and 1/2 cup of milk, continually whisking. After about 30 seconds, gravy should start to thicken again. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk and whisk until combined. Remove gravy from heat and serve drizzled on top of pork medallions.

Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Pretzel Crisps Brownie Trifle


1 box fudge brownie mix

1 – 4 ounce bag Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Pretzel Crisps

3 cups whole milk

2 packages (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding

1 tub (11 oz.) whipped topping, divided

Crushed peppermint, for garnish


Heat oven to 350 F (325 F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease pan with butter or nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, mix brownies as directed for fudge brownies, using water, oil and eggs. Bake as directed. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Once brownies are cooled, cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside. Then in a medium bowl, beat milk and pudding mixes with whisk for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in 1 cup whipped topping. Place 1/2 of brownie cubes in 2-qt. bowl. Top with a layer of Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Pretzel Crisps, followed by half of the pudding mixture and another layer of whipped topping. Repeat all layers. Sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint and one whole Pretzel Crisps. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tips for going nuts with your holiday recipes this year

| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com


Whether you’re roasting them over an open fire or cooking them into your holiday favorites, nuts can be used to enhance almost any recipe. You’d be hard-pressed to find an ingredient with more versatility, as nuts can be used to create a flavor accent or to provide some extra crunch and texture while keeping dishes fresh and light. Whether you’re using almonds, pecans or roasted peanuts, the possibilities are limitless.

For celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, regular judge on Food Network’s “Chopped” and executive chef at The Darby and Butter in New York, the holiday entertaining season provides a great opportunity to share some of her favorite recipes.

“I’m a chef, but I’m also a mom and I want time to spend with my family during the holidays,” says Guarnaschelli. “Nuts are one of those special ingredients that give a dish an extra special touch, but still allow me to keep it simple.”

This holiday season Guarnaschelli has developed a series of exclusive recipes and tips to show at-home cooks how ingredients like nuts can easily create a chef-caliber dish.

* Healthy holiday snack: Nuts add wonderful flavor and texture when mixed into recipes, but they can also be a healthy snack; season nuts with a little cayenne and quickly roast them in a little olive or nut oil.

* Simply delicious dessert: For a great addition to your holiday dessert table, melt some sugar in a pan until golden brown and stir in some nuts. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet to cook and then break into pieces for a quick and simple nut brittle.

* Top off a side dish: Parsley and basil are great flavors to finish many holiday dishes. Try chopping parsley with some Fisher almonds for added texture and taste.

* Spruced-up spice rub: For this year’s holiday roast, try adding some ground nuts to the spice rub. The nuts can mellow some of the heat from the spice and add needed richness to the mix.

Braised Parsnips with Maple Syrup and Fisher Pecans

“I grew up eating braised carrots with brown sugar, so I always associate them with the holidays,” says Guarnaschelli. “I love the freshness and unusual sweetness parsnips have and they seem to naturally gravitate to pecans. It’s also great to feature pecans in other places besides pecan pie for the holidays.”

8 medium parsnips, ends trimmed and thoroughly peeled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed

1/2 cup Fisher Pecan Halves

Kosher salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

2-3 cups water

Place the peeled parsnips on a flat surface and cut them in half lengthwise. Heat a skillet large enough to hold the parsnip halves in a single layer and add half the butter. When the butter melts and starts to get brown, add the pecans, cumin and coriander. Stir in the pecans and ‘toast’ them with the spices for a minute. Strain out the pecans and set aside. Add the parsnip halves and remaining butter to the pan. Season with salt and add the maple syrup.

Continue to cook the parsnips over medium heat for another minute of two. Add some water and continue cooking the parsnips until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Parsnips can vary in size so feel free to add a splash of water to finish the cooking process, if needed. Stir the nuts back into the parsnips. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.