Holidays/Special Occasions

Fast Idea Friday: Cran-Raspberry Truffles

We know the days leading up to Valentine’s Day can be a bit hectic, especially if you’re trying to plan the perfect meal for your sweetie. Stressing over stroganoff? Going crazy over creme brulee? Here’s a dessert idea that’s quick, easy and just as easy to look at as it is to eat: Cran-Raspberry Truffles.

 

 

Creamy raspberry-tinted white chocolate gets coated in a bittersweet chocolate blanket and topped with dried cranberries for the ultimate after-dinner treat. The best part is you freeze ‘em in between steps, giving you plenty of time to work on your other dishes! Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Spice Up Your V-Day: Chocolate-Covered Jalapeños!

Bacon lattes, crazy guacamole combinations and Vegemite Toast: When it comes to trying exotic foods and flavor combos, the staff at Every Day with Rachael Ray is always down. But this idea had us a little mind-boggled (not to mention sweaty after consuming): Chocolate-covered jalapeño peppers!

 

 

FTD is an online flower and gift shop that, just like most retailers, is gearing up for Valentine’s Day. These spicy treats definitely caught our attention! Each pepper is hand-dipped in milk, dark or white chocolate and arrives perfectly chilled and fresh. But beware! Each pepper is raw, so watch out for a mouth full of seeds, the spiciest part of the pepper.

 

The thought of eating spicy peppers with chocolate was pretty foreign to us, but after one bite we knew we had found a winning flavor combination. The chocolate cuts through the raw heat of the pepper, but still leaves your mouth a little toasty (depending on your spice tolerance). This is a treat we’d love to share with our Valentine — as long as they’re just as open to trying to new things as we are. Click here to save $10 on your purchase, and still get it in time for the big day!

 

 

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Fast Idea Friday: English Danishes

We’re at the 1-week countdown to the most romantic day of the year! We know proving to your sweetheart just how romantic you can be can seem intimidating, especially when Valentine’s Day lands on a weekday, but here’s a fast idea that’s impressive, yet simple enough for any rushed morning. Send your honey to work with a homemade English Danish in hand. They might even forget that it’s a weekday, after all!

 

 

Wouldn’t it be cute to cut out hearts in the center? They always say everything tastes better with love! Get the full recipe here.

 

 

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A Sweet Reason to Celebrate February (That’s Not Valentine’s Day)

If you’re not looking forward to a chocolate-filled Valentine’s Day, here’s a reason to get excited for February that can last all month long: It’s National Sweet Potato Month AND National Snack Food Month! Don’t get us wrong, we love both foods separately just the way they are (hello, Maple-Mashed Sweet PotatoesHoney-Bacon Snack Mix and Chocolate-Banana Melts), but why choose one or the other when you can have both in the form of Sweet Potato Chips? All it takes are three ingredients and a little TLC, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly healthy snack (that, in our opinion, wins over a box of chocolates any day). Get the recipe below, and happy snacking!

 

 

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and halved crosswise

Fine sea salt

Olive oil cooking spray

 

Directions

1. Using a mandoline or handheld slicer, slice the potatoes 1/16 inch thick.

2. Place the potato slices on paper towels in a single layer; sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand for 15 minutes, then blot dry. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

3. Working in batches, place potato slices in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes; sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe the baking sheets clean. Repeat with more cooking spray and the remaining potato slices.

 

 

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Fast Idea Friday: Buffalo Dip

It’s the Friday before the Super Bowl and if you’re still searching for that perfect snack or app, have no fear: It’s Fast Idea Friday, and we’ve got a recipe  you can’t refuse! Creamy, tangy and just the right amount of spice, our Buffalo Dip is sure to please any palate, no matter what team they’re rooting for! Serve it alongside crunchy veggies and you’ll have a winning dish in no time.

 

 

Get the Buffalo Dip recipe here, and have a delicious Super Bowl Sunday!

 

 

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Dinner with Strangers

As a child of the decade that birthed the term “stranger danger”—and a thousand related after-school specials—I just did something that flies in the face of my upbringing: I went to the apartment of people I’d never met, in a place I’d never been, to eat with 10 perfect strangers.

 

Um, why?

 

I’d started to hear things—very, very good things—about a certain EatWith. A “global community that invites you to dine in homes,” it launched last February in Israel and Spain, and has since expanded into 31 countries and 15 US cities, with many more outposts to come. So in the not-too-distant future, you may well visit—and/or inhabit—an EatWith-colonized territory where you can go online, find a good-looking homemade meal, fill out a profile (mammal-avoidant Urdu speaker? mayo-phobic spice lover? get as detailed as you want), pay the suggested donation ($17-$150) and show up hungry at the appointed time and place.

 

And here’s the key: An EatWith rep has likely been there already to assess the cleanliness, yumminess and—yes, ma—the safety factor. (If so, you’ll find an “EatWith Verified” icon in the profile, and even if not, other guests may have been there and written reviews.) Hosts, for their part, are granted a million-dollar insurance policy—in case, I suppose, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Love and every last member of the Wolf Pack sign up for the same dinner, whether Flautas in Flagstaff, Brazilian in Barcelona, or anything in between.

 

For me, couscous in Crown Heights was the big draw. And shortly after I signed up, my inbox informed me that “Ron + Leetal want to EatWith you too!” I was surprisingly relieved, and not a little curious about what would have happened had my prospective hosts turned me down. So I went to the FAQ on that very topic:

 

What happens if my booking request is declined or expires?

…You can contact the host to find out what happened [all contact happens through the site, by the way; not through your personal email]. The host might not have been available to check your request within 24 hours. He or she may also not have been able to cater to your needs (as stated in your profile, e.g., you may be a vegan and the host only does BBQ events). But don’t get discouraged. Look for other offerings in that location. We promise you will find something special just for you! You can also contact us for assistance in booking or to get recommendations at support@eatwith.com.

 

Now extra grateful to have a place at the table, I used the directions in the confirmation email to find an out-of-the-way, old-school Brooklyn apartment building where—though comforted to see someone by the front door who looked as tentative as I felt (clearly, the guy was another EatWith guest)—I was shamed by what he had in hand: a bottle of wine.

 

What was I, raised in a barn?

 

I felt slightly less mortified when I figured out that almost everyone else in attendance had showed up empty-handed—in fairness, after paying $86 to be there in the first place—but my note to self that night was to err on the side of generosity next time.

 

 

Apparently, I got over my shame just fine: 15 minutes in, I was already Power-Vac-ing my way through course after course of what was unequivocally one of the best meals of my life. Granted—like a surprising number of EatWith hosts—mine were professional foodies. Known for small-batch, hugely addictive harissa and other Middle Eastern goodness, the duo behind NY Shuk—28-year-old Leetal and 32-year-old Ron Arazi—grew up in Israel on a mix of Turkish, Iraqi, Moroccan and Lebanese food, thanks to their family backgrounds. “We feel that this type of food just feels and tastes better at home, where you feel relaxed,” says Leetal. “We enjoy having guests in our home so why not share with them what we enjoy most of all?”

 

 

 

And the night of our dinner, “what we enjoy most of all” translated to the following: a cured lemon and arak cocktail; freshly baked challah with slada de chizo (braised carrots, cilantro, parsley, lemon and l’ekama, a spice-and-oil mix that was also given to us as a parting gift, and that didn’t last 24 hours in my possession); sautéed carrots rubbed with l’ekama; baked beetroot with herbs and walnuts; matbucha (tomato and garlic salad); chirchi (roasted squash, raisins and spices); oranges and black olives with harissa; charred red pepper salad; garlic-sautéed cauliflower with “Ronesco” (Ron’s twist on romesco) and a Lebanese green onion salad; Jerusalem artichoke and fresh turmeric; pickled fennel and carrots; and stuffed puff pastry.

 

Then came the star of the show: hand-rolled couscous, served in my case with Tunisian-style black spinach (I’m EDWRR’s resident vegetarian) and in the case of everyone else, ka’aboorot (a seemingly fabulous chicken dish), plus chickpea stew and baked pumpkin with caramelized onion and tanzeya (slow-cooked dried fruit and spices).

 

Evidently, someone then slipped us a collective mickey and pumped our stomachs, because there’s no other possible explanation for how anyone managed dessert: Turkish coffee-flavored chocolate pudding with whipped cream and pistachios, plus milk chocolate and honey truffles, sage butter cookies and homemade marzipan.

 

 

 

 

Of course, however spectacular the food, the company made the meal. From the baker to the businesswoman, everyone in this international crowd of 20-somethings to 40-somethings was interesting and friendly—and had all kinds of crazy commonalities. At first, I thought the craziest was that there were two Anglo-Israeli documentarian/video producer guys sitting directly across the table from each other. But here’s what was even crazier: When I wanted to set one of them up with a friend, I learned she’d already been fixed up with him. By someone else at the table. At which point I realized: Ron and Leetal should have hung the same framed Yeats quote that so many Irish pubs do:

 

“There are no strangers here, only friends that have not yet met.”

 

Happy Three Kings Day!

Not ready for the holiday season to be over? You’re in luck! Today is Three Kings Day! This traditional Mexican and Latin American holiday celebrates the day the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem. A traditional King Cake is baked, and a small plastic doll is hidden inside to symbolize baby Jesus. ABC’s The Chew’s Evette Rios shared her fabulous Cream Cheese King Cake with us, and we’ve pulled a few other sweet treats that can help you enjoy one last celebration.

 

Cream Cheese King Cake

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Fast Idea Friday: Shrimp Salad Spoons

The new year is right around the corner, but before you collect your champagne, party hats and confetti, make sure you have a quick and delicious appetizer to serve or bring to whatever festive party you’re attending. These Shrimp Salad Spoons are easy to put together, require little to no cooking and are elegant enough for even a black tie affair. Plus, the shape of the edible “spoon” is perfect for cheers-ing with all your friends.

 

 

Creamy, crunchy, shrimpy goodness. What could be better on the last night of the year? Get the recipe here. Cheers!

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Drink to Your Luck!

They say how you spend your New Year’s Eve will tell you how you’ll spend the rest of the upcoming year. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want a New Year’s Eve full of good food, friends, and of course, luck! We’ve found a way to fulfill all of your hopes and dreams for the new year: Make, share and drink cocktails that’ll bring you good luck!

 

In Spain, eating 12 grapes as you count down the seconds to the new year is a common good luck tradition. Rather than stuff your mouth full of grapes, try this Sparkling Grape Cocktail.

Europe in general considers eating 12 round fruits before New Years good luck. So drink up your luck with this Pink Grapefruit Martini, too.

Pomegranates are considered good luck in Turkey, because their red, bloodlike color denotes life and fertility and their abundant, round seeds represent prosperity. The fruit is also eaten during the Jewish New Year to ensure that one’s merits increase as abundantly as the pomegranate’s seeds. Get your fix of prosperity by way of Tangerine-Pomegranate Sparklers.

Cheers, and happy new year!

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12 Days of Cookies Day 12: Ginger & Marmalade Sandwiches

Merry Christmas! For our final cookie recipe for the #RRCookiecCountdown, we’re sharing a spicy, sweet sandwich cookie that’s sure to impress any guest, family member or even Santa himself! Be sure to check out all of our Cookie Countdown recipes and have a happy holiday!

Ginger & Marmalade Sandwich Cookies

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

orange marmalade

melted chocolate

1. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium until pale and fluffy, 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Beat in the yolks and vanilla until just combined.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ginger and salt, then combine with the butter mixture on low speed until just incorporated. Mix in the crystallized ginger.

3. Halve the dough, form into 1.5-inch-diameter long logs, tightly wrap in parchment paper and chill 2 hours.

4. Trim off the ends, then slice the logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Transfer cookies to cookie sheets.

5. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies on racks.

6. Spread half of the cookies with 1 tsp. orange marmalade each. Top with the remaining cookies. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

 

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