Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Creamy Eggnog Pudding

Sometimes I feel like it is my personal mission to add booze to just about everything I bake. And more often than not, that booze is bourbon. Perhaps it’s my Southern surroundings, or more likely, it’s the lovely notes of vanilla that I feel complement just about anything.

This recipe originally started as an attempt at a bourbon cream pie. But soon we realized that (1) the custard would just not set firmly enough to slice, and (2) it tasted almost exactly like eggnog, so we adjusted our original intentions and called it Eggnog Pudding.

Don’t be fooled, there’s nothing innocent about this pudding. The bourbon flavor is front and center, offset with cream and nutmeg undertones. Sure you could leave the bourbon out, but where’s the fun in that?

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Posted in Dessert, Holiday, Love & Olive Oil, Nutmeg, Vanilla Extract | Comments Off
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Gingerbread Floats

Most of my holiday memories revolve around gingerbread in one way or another. My go-to gingerbread cookie recipe comes from my grandma, Bettie. Her cookies are satisfyingly spicy, and soft and chewy, just the way I like them. Granted, the recipe was incredibly cryptic when I first received a copy from my aunt. I’m talking about no time or temperature mentioned and vast variances in flour quantity from one version to the next. But I will never stray from her tried-and-true techniques. There’s more than just spice in those cookies: there’s love and tradition and family mixed into the dough as well.

Maybe that’s why gingerbread is always one of the first things I yearn to make when the temperatures begin to drop.

This holiday season, why not mix it up a bit with a festive twist on a soda fountain classic: the root beer float. Extending that love of gingerbread to the beverage category, we’ve replaced the root beer with vanilla cream soda and added a spiced molasses syrup that makes this drink taste like liquid gingerbread.

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Posted in Allspice, Cinnamon, Dessert, Ginger, Holiday, Love & Olive Oil | 1 Comment

California-Style Apple Crisp

How many of us spend the month of November looking forward to that decadent piece of pie, or two, we get to have on Thanksgiving? I know I do! I get so excited about Thanksgiving dessert that I forget that there are so many other wonderful dessert opportunities leading up to Thanksgiving. This California-Style Apple Crisp is one of them.

My mother’s parents are German, and they typically come to spend the holidays with us. This is exciting to me for many reasons, but one of the sweetest reasons is that my Omi (that’s German for grandma) makes the absolute best apple crisp in the entire world. It’s a simple recipe that’s been passed down to her from her family, and now I’ve tweaked it here and there to make it my own. One main difference is that I add a handful of cranberries to the dish to brighten things up a bit! And it makes it even more festive-looking with the bursts of cranberry red dotted throughout the dessert.

I’ve started serving this for dessert the night before Thanksgiving when the whole family is in town. I almost always have a little bit left over, so I can heat it up the morning of Thanksgiving for breakfast too! It’s a holiday after all, so we are totally allowed to have dessert for breakfast, right?

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Posted in Cinnamon, Gaby Dalkin, Holiday, Vanilla Extract | 2 Comments
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Spiced Cranberry Spritzers

So much of the holidays are heavy – creamy pies and potatoes and thick gravies and rich eggnogs and robust spiced ciders. But sometimes during the days and weeks full of heavy foods and even heavier drinks, you just want something light. You still want something alcoholic (that’s a given), but you also want something refreshing that will lift you up rather than weigh you down in a season full of heavy.

This cranberry spritzer features a lightly spiced syrup, with subtle notes of allspice and star anise, in a fresh and bubbly beverage. The syrup can be made days ahead of time, making it a breeze to whip up a pitcher if, or when, unexpected company arrives.

Make the extra effort to find pure, unsweetened cranberry juice for this recipe, which is a completely different beast than the cranberry juice cocktail you’re used to (take a sip and you’ll quickly see why). It’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way. One bottle will make countless pitchers of these spritzers, or you can use it in place of water in your homemade cranberry sauce, add a little punch to your morning smoothie or simmer it with equal parts sugar and freeze for a tangy and refreshing holiday sorbet.

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Posted in Allspice, Cocktails, Cranberries, Holiday, Love & Olive Oil, Star Anise | 1 Comment
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Mini Chicken-Ricotta Phyllo Pies

The holidays are all about entertaining. The key is making it look easy while actually having it be effortless. That means quick and fancy-seeming appetizers, much like these little bundles of joy.

Inspired by Greek spanakopita (or spinach phyllo pie), these mini hand-held versions have a hearty dose of shredded rotisserie chicken added for good measure. That addition makes them perfectly filling to satisfy your guests’ rumbling bellies until the main event.

With creamy ricotta, salty feta, savory garlic and a unique blend of not-quite-traditional Greek spices, these mini pies can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven just before serving.

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Posted in Crushed Red Pepper, Holiday, Lemon Peel, Love & Olive Oil, Marjoram, Sea Salt | 1 Comment
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Panna Cotta with Meyer Lemon Black-Pepper Marmalade

Panna cotta is one of the easiest, most impressive desserts you’ll ever come across. You can make it a day ahead of time and stash it away in the fridge, and then pull it out at the perfect moment to wow your guests.

This version starts with a simple, sensuous base: creamy and dreamy with just a hint of vanilla, and then gets topped with a sassy Meyer lemon and black-pepper marmalade.

Hold up.

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Posted in Dessert, Holiday, Love & Olive Oil, Peppercorns, Vanilla Extract | Comments Off

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Panko Herbs de Provence Sprinkle

As a chef, I feel like it’s my duty to expose people to new kinds of foods and change some of their preconceived notions about food. Take my uncle, for example. Last year we were in Chicago for the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I wanted to make a fun meal for my grandparents, nieces, nephews and my uncle. When I announced that the menu was going to include Brussels sprouts, my uncle nearly fell out of his chair and put up a huge fight. He was insisting on green beans instead. I knew in the back of my mind that he clearly didn’t have a good Brussels sprout experience as a child, and it was now my duty to change the way he thinks about them.

And that’s exactly what I did! The key to making Brussels sprouts extra delicious is roasting them. They almost become sweet. And who doesn’t like eating a side dish that tastes good enough to be dessert! Another secret to making Brussels sprouts a popular dish in your house? Add some Panko bread crumbs and Spice Islands Herbs de Provence topping on top! It’s crunchy, savory and adds an extra element that people will devour! Then top it all with some Spice Islands freshly cracked black pepper and salt, and call it a day! This is a simple and easy side dish that you can serve for any kind of gathering, whether it is a party leading up to the holidays or the actual holiday itself. In fact, people might be begging you to make it for multiple occasions once they’ve had a taste!

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Posted in Gaby Dalkin, Herbs de Provence, Holiday, Sea Salt | Comments Off
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Taco Seasoning

Tacos. The ultimate crowd pleaser. Both for those on the receiving end, as well as for those in the kitchen, as there are few things easier to prepare.

What’s even better is the versatility, especially for a big group when tastes and preferences are as varied as personalities. And this seasoning reflects that. With a bit of spice (but not too much) and a depth of savory, sensual flavors that will tantalize your taste buds, it is gut-wrenchingly satisfying, whether prepared with beef, chicken or turkey. Heck, toss it with some refried black beans for a vegetarian alternative even carnivores would devour.

Mix up the tortillas, offering soft flour, corn and crispy shells (and don’t be surprised when your guests go for one of each). Once the foundation is in place, it’s all about the toppings. From salsa to cheese to fresh avocado to sour cream, or mix it up with some fresh cilantro or even a sweet fruit salsa. The possibilities are truly endless. Serve them buffet-style in bright colorful bowls, and let your guests channel their inner “Taco Picasso” by creating their own savory masterpiece.

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Posted in Ancho Chile, Arrowroot, Cinnamon, Cumin, Garlic, Holiday, Love & Olive Oil, Onion Powder, Oregano, Sea Salt, Smoked Paprika | Comments Off
Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Double Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

Sugar and spice and everything nice: that’s what these cookies are made of. Think of them as dark, delightfully chewy chocolate cookies, but with a kick.

It’s the kind of spice that you don’t recognize right away, but rather a surprising and satisfying burn on the back of your tongue. It’s just enough heat to perk up your taste buds, but not overpowering, even for those who may not be keen on spicy food. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to have a glass of milk handy.

The richness of chocolate seems to invite a pairing with spice, so it’s no wonder humans have been doing it ever since chocolate was first harvested over 3,000 years ago in what is now Mexico. Then it was made into a bitter chocolate drink flavored with vanilla, cinnamon and chili pepper. Sugar wasn’t added until the drink made its way to Europe centuries later, but even then, the spice remained.

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Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

As a Spice Islands Flavor Explorer, I get to try all sorts of fabulous spices that I might not have ordinarily come across. One of those spices that caught my attention is the Spice Islands Crystalized Ginger. Holy moly is that stuff good! I would add it into just about every baked good if I had enough of it on hand. I racked my brain for the best recipes to incorporate the crystalized ginger and ultimately settled on a chewy Ginger-Spiced Molasses Cookie.

And let me tell you, these are probably the best molasses cookies I’ve ever made. They are chewy, as every molasses cookie should be. They are spicy, as there is a combination of Spice Islands Ground Saigon Cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger and crystalized ginger. And there is a depth of flavor from the combination of molasses and Spice Islands Pure Vanilla Extract. It’s basically everything you could want in a cookie and even more!

Molasses cookies are easy to make, fun to bake and keep really well. I make a double or triple batch of these once a month in October, November and December. Once they are fully baked and then cooled, you can transfer them to a plastic zip-top bag and place them in the freezer for a few weeks. Then all you need when you’re having a little party is grab the bag, or some of the cookies in the bag, let them come to room temperature and serve. And you and your guests are going to love the extra spice the Spice Islands Crystalized Ginger brings to these cookies!

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Posted in Cinnamon, Cloves, Gaby Dalkin, Ginger, Holiday, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract | 4 Comments