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holidays

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What is the difference between spearmint and peppermint?

With the holidays here you can be sure of one thing — mint, mint, mint, and more mint. Peppermint is practically the poster child for the entire winter season, with candy canes, peppermint patties, peppermint bark, and peppermint flavored hot chocolate. Peppermint might steal the show, but actually, there are over 15 types of mint including orange mint, apple mint, and of course, spearmint. Peppermint and spearmint are, by far, the most popular. Peppermint vs. Spearmint So, are the two interchangeable? Well, all mints are not the same. You’re likely to notice right away if someone switches the spearmint in your mojito with peppermint or if your barista were to replace the peppermint in your mocha with spearmint. That’s not saying they wouldn’t be good — just noticeably different. Both have square stems and spear-shaped leaves, and both are great for cooking, but the two have distinct difference in terms…

Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill

This elegant appetizer is easy enough to prepare, you’ll whip it up party after party. Pour your guests some Chardonnay and snack on these salmon bites to get the engagement going! Notes: Substitute Italian bread if that’s what you have on hand. Also, you can use goat cheese instead of butter, or chives or capers instead of dill — all delicious alternatives. Smoked salmon crostini bites with mustard butter and dill Ingredients 1 stick butter, softened  1 tbsp stone ground mustard 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp lemon zest 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill + 1 tbsp chopped dill for garnish 1/8 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper 1 long, thin French baguette, sliced about 1/4-inch thick About 10 ounces of best quality smoked salmon, thinly sliced and cut into 1-to 2-inch pieces Lemon wedges (for serving) Directions Preheat oven to 375ºF. Position baguette slices in a…

10 things you never knew about eggnog

It’s that time of year when people all over the world get a hankering for holiday eggnog. You already know it’s delicious, but did you know it was responsible for a riot at West Point? Or that it was prescribed as medicine by doctors in the 1800s? Read on to learn more about everyone’s favorite way to imbibe during the holidays. 1. Americans love of eggnog adds to its waistline. According to Indiana University, Americans consume over 135 million pounds of eggnog every year — almost all of that between Thanksgiving and New Years. Recipes will vary, but a one cup serving of eggnog has approximately 210 calories and 11 grams of fat. Some eggnog brands can cram as many as 450 calories and 58 grams of sugar into a single serving. Add rum and whipped cream and you’re basically drinking dinner. 2. George Washington left us his favorite eggnog recipe.…

Winter white hot chocolate with cinnamon

Living in Pittsburgh, it seems hot chocolate is everywhere — and that, in my opinion, isn’t always been a good thing. Those watered-down styrofoam cups at freezing cold football games or the overly sweet stuff handed out after cold weather 5Ks, are really consumed out of a need to stay warm, more so than for the enjoyment. It had been a long time since I had a cup ‘o chocolate that I actually enjoyed. But I was feeling a bit Christmassy decorating the house, so I thought I’d whip up something warm and delicious to sip on as we watch holiday movies on repeat. This Winter White Hot Chocolate has a dash of cinnamon to give the cup some complexity. You can add more or less, if you like. Even some nutmeg would taste pretty good. The best part of making drinks like this is always the extras, so if you’re…

8 Best Subscription Gift Boxes for food lovers

Subscription boxes are so much more than just Jelly-of-the-Month-Club nowadays. If you’re not sure what to get that hard-to-buy-for someone, why not leave it to the pros? Each of these subscription boxes is curated by a team of experts in the category, to deliver just what your snack-loving sister or healthy-eater husband need. So give everyone with a big question mark next to their name one of these gifts and have them be thankful for you all year long. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb923u_jXp7/ For the coffee obsessed: Mistobox Cost: $20 per month What you get: When you sign up for Mistobox, you’ll tell the company your coffee preferences and an expert coffee curator will get to work selecting the coffees that best match your tastes from over 300 fresh-roasted blends. Then, every 30 days you’ll get to open a new 12-ounce bag of whole beans. More info here: Mistobox.com https://www.instagram.com/p/BjpiLq7HXWI/ For the snacker:…

3 fun napkin folding ideas for your Christmas table

The holidays are the perfect time to kick your table decorating game up a notch. You’ve spent hours scouring Pinterest to help you create the perfect holiday menu. You’ve dropped serious dough on extra serving platters, and you’ve cleaned corners of your house you never knew needed cleaning. Now is no time for holding back. Folding napkins is such a festive way to add some extra fun to the party. It’s quick, easy, and can make you feel like you really have it all together. If you need some inspiration, here are three holiday napkin folding ideas that will impress your guests — even if you’re drinking out of plastic champagne flutes. We can’t win them all, but you can have cute napkins! Christmas Tree Will work with either cloth or paper napkins. This fold works best for sit-down dinners.  1. Fold your square napkin in half. Then fold it in…

3 Easy steps to picking the right bottle of champagne for you

Christmas and New Years are right around the corner meaning one very exciting thing — it’s solidly champagne season. We associate the pop of the cork and those sparkling flutes with fun and celebration. But while you may want to down a glass, or two… or three, over the holidays, sometimes all of those choices at the store can be confusing. If you’ve ever hit the wine store and didn’t know what to buy, or feel like an amateur this time of year in the alcohol department, read on for a beginners guide to shopping for champagne. Remember, whichever you choose, make sure it’s in a dark bottle to help keep light away and preserve the intended flavors of the drink inside, but relax. It’s champagne! And no one should ever take a drink this fun and fizzy too seriously. Also see, Tips to prevent a champagne hangover. Step 1:…

Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

What, exactly, are sugar plums?

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore paints a peaceful Christmas Eve scene, with new-fallen snow, carefully hung stockings, and visions of sugar plums. And you’ve probably heard of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from “The Nutcracker.”  But have you ever stopped to ask what, exactly, is a sugar plum? While the recipe for sugar plums has varied, what they’re not, and never were, is sugar-coated plums. The truth is that sugar plums are not linked to fruit or any plum-like substance. According to the Oxford English Dictionary of the day, a sugar plum is a comfit. Comfits are seeds, nuts, or piece of spice coated with a hard sugar shell — not unlike the outer crunchy shell of an M&M or Jordan almond. The first sugar plums date back to the 1600s when popular centers for comfits would have included caraway, fennel, coriander, almonds, walnuts, ginger,…

Holiday Ornament Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats might already be your go-to when you need a quick treat for a kid’s birthday party or snack for the class, but this holiday season, dress them up a bit for a brand new take on the old classic. They’ll look just as good in your kid’s lunchbox as they will on the buffet table at your holiday party. I made red and green Rice Krispie ornaments, but you could easily adapt to make them match the color scheme of your holiday decor — blues or purples. Leave some without food coloring for an all natural golden ornament look. I sprinkled in some golden sugar sprinkle for extra shine, but the photo doesn’t pick up on it well. Add sprinkles in the colors of your choice for extra customization.  I could even see them decorated with piped white chocolate for more fun and flavor. The Rolos were…