For us… the ” Grown-ups”- the holidays are a festive time. We travel to the homes of family and friends, or invite them into ours. We show off our children and indulge in recipes from our own childhoods. While we like to think the kids are enjoying themselves, that’s often not the case.
Unfortunately, for some children this is a time of crazy chaos, uncomfortable clothes that need to stay neat, sitting still for photographs, lengthy car rides and of course, getting kissed and hugged on by family members they may only see once or a twice a year. To them, – strangers. Children’s physical appearance and academic growth are usually in judgment during these annual meetings. Height, weight, age — grades, social standings. All these factors are what many people talk about when they don’t really know the child well enough to talk about anything else. To kids, it’s placing them in the hot seat.
Let’s face it – children would rather be grounded to their rooms for life than endure these holiday horrors. It’s not hard to imagine how all of this can cause the holidays to be a hassle and bring out the worst in them. This time of year should be fun for all! Grown-ups and children alike. Manners can be taught in a relaxed and fun way that offer up much better results than high expectations and awkward questioning.
Grandparents, parents and friends can help ease the “agony” of holiday gatherings by following some of these helpful hints on teaching children proper etiquette and good manners in a way that is beneficial to all.
1. The Menu- Face it, we would like them to try all the different and sometimes foreign dishes on the table- but having a few “kid friendly” and familiar dishes like homemade mac & cheese will bring a smile to their face. This also assures that they eat something that’s a little better for them than cake and without ensuing an argument with force feeding tactics.
2. The Attire – Allow them to bring a change of clothes along. Try to get picture-taking out of way as soon as possible and always before food is served. They’ll be much more comfortable and you’ll know for sure that there won’t be any punch on the front of that dress shirt.
3. Participation- Encourage children to participate in some of the meal preparation. This can become messy and slow things down a bit, but the pride they show when that dish comes to the table is worth it. Cooking together is a great way to enjoy spending time with your child. It allows you to teach them a valuable life skill – and even get a jump-start on passing down family cooking traditions.
4. Education – Teach them an etiquette rule for the day. A fun example would be how to make a toast. Explain to them that a toast should last only a few seconds and is meant to make others feel good. They can make a toast to welcome the family, to show special appreciation to a particular family member, or tell what they are grateful for. Remind them that the person being toasted should never drink to themselves.
5. Decorations – Let them be a part of decorating the holiday table. Send them on a scavenger hunt for holiday decorations to accessorize the table with. Go along with what they choose, it won’t be the perfect table but it will show creative holiday character and your family’s ability to work together.
6. Relaxation – Try to keep things light-hearted. Your children want to enjoy the holiday, so let them! If you’re hosting the get together- don’t use linens or tableware that will cause you to go into a panic when sticky fingers stain it or drop food on it. Before correcting your child for any behavior make sure that it’s truly warranted. Punish in private, praise in public. Expecting them to exude the same decorum as an adult is probably not very realistic. If you feel something must be addressed do so quietly and quickly. There’s no reason to go into a 20 minute lecture over placing elbows on the table in the middle of the meal and in the presence of your guests.
7. Indulgence – The holidays are special occasions. Will having a piece of pie, and a candy cane with hot chocolate really matter in the grand scheme of things? Maybe not but try to continue to practice healthy eating habits the majority of the time. Go ahead and let your kids be kids and sample annual gooey goodies.
8. Compliments- Show praise and compliment each child equally for all the considerate deeds they did that day. Let them know how grateful you are for them. Be sure to show the children how to compliment your hosts if your family is dining away from home.
9. Clean Up- Encourage them to be involved in the clean up, especially if you’re the host! There are lots of things they can help with. It will make things easier for you, and assure the littles will feel involved.
10. Activity – I don’t think I need to remind you what idle hands or idle minds can do. Prepare holiday crafts, choose family games appropriate for all ages. Have conversations at the dinner table that EVERYONE has the ability to participate. Ask related questions of the children when having a discussion at the dinner table — this will assure your children learn great social skills while feeling accepted.
All these activities will help to create positive holiday memories.
Go Ahead…get Boozy with it!
For the Cupcakes:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon good quality instant coffee
1 cup Stout beer
2/3 cup molasses, avoid blackstrap
Maldon salt for garnish
For the Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tablespoons nut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup browned butter
For the Brown Butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
For the Brown Butter:
Place the butter in a pan over low heat and melt until brown and bubbly.
Swirl the pan over the heat until the butter begins to bubble, brown and start to smell nutty. Carefully not allowing the butter solids to burn. The fat will turn brown fast, so don’t walk away from this one. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process, making sure to scrape up the brown bits for maximum flavor if it burns, discard and start over.
For the Cupcakes:
Heat the oven to 350F’ Degrees. Line 2 dozen medium-sized muffin tins with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: the flour, spices, instant coffee, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the sugars, and then the melted butter on top. Add the eggs and beat well about 1-2 minutes. Drizzle in the stout and molasses on medium-low speed until combined.
Add dry mixture to wet mixture until the batter is lump-free about 2-4 additional minutes.
With a medium-sized ice cream scoop or portion control cup, evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tins. Bake until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed in the center, about 15-18 minutes.
Cool, frost and garnish with flakes of Maldon Salt, or Cocoa powder, drizzled chocolate or caramel. They are also delicious plain.
For the Frosting:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy about 2 minutes. Occasionally scraping the sides.
Turn off the mixer and add in one 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, change your setting to low-speed and beat until just combined. Increase the speed to high when most of the powdered sugar is absorbed. Add nut milk, vanilla extract, and brown butter and beat until creamy.
Add additional tablespoons of milk as needed if frosting is too stiff.
Make the frosting ahead of time, so it has time to chill. If chilled overnight or longer, remove from cooler and re-whip until the consistency becomes creamy and favorable for icing.
For a darker frosting, add sifted cocoa powder, and a pinch of instant coffee for a rich flavor but remember to increase the liquid to speadable consistancy.
Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes
These pancakes that taste like you are eating gingerbread cookies for breakfast! So magicial and delicious! They’re light, soft, fluffy with a pleasant boldness. Nicely spiced without being overwhelming. If you’re sensitive to these bold flavors like I am, tone them down a bit by adding less than the recipe calls for, and spike the molasses to your taste!
2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2-1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 3/4-2 1/2 cups buttermilk the more liquid, the thinner the pancake
2 large egg
3 tablespoons light, medium, or dark molasses ( avoid blackstrap )
2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe Molasses Maple Syrup ( see below )
In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine – make a well in the center, set aside.
In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined. The batter will be fairly thick; add more liquid if you prefer a thinner pancake.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray (or use melted butter if you prefer).
Using a 1/4-cup measure cup sprayed with cooking spray for easy release, scoop batter onto warm skillet.
Cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes until bubbles form on the edges. Take a peek at the underside with a spatula, and when golden, flip.
Control heat to medium-low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until done. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more cooking oil as needed, and wiping any black residue with a paper towel as needed.
The molasses will burn quickly, so be sure to control the temeratures.
Serve immediately, garnished with fresh winter fruit and drizzle with syrup
Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup
1 cup maple syrup
2-3 tablespoons light, medium, or dark molasses, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all syrup ingredients in a small bowl or serving pitcher and whisk until smooth. Warm syrup and drizzle over pancakes.
To keep pancakes warm for up to an hour, transfer them to a lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 200’F Degree oven with a cup of hot water to keep warm and moist.
Try this homemade marshmallow recipe as a base formula. You can make additions of essential oils or flavored extracts along with organic food colors to create a variety of fun flavors.
So easy, you won’t believe it. You will never want eat a store bought marshmallow again!
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to dissolve while you make the syrup.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240’F degrees on a candy thermometer.
With the mixer on low speed, very slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin running a small stream while increasing the speed of the mixer onto high. Whip until the mixture is very thick and cooling, about 15 minutes. Once the volume has increased by 1/2, add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch glass baking dish with confectioners’ sugar. Or spray generously with cooking spray. ( Avoid using any metal pans for this recipe)
Quickly pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top with wet, clean hands. ( move fast because it sets quickly) Dust more confectioners’ sugar on top. Allow to sit uncovered overnight or until set ( a few hours) if you can’t stand the suspense. The longer it sits the more successful your final cuts will be.
Turn the marshmallows onto a powered sugar dusted board and cut them in large squares. ( Use my cut technique with non-flavored dental floss )
Toss to dust all sides with more confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!
Variations : Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite essential oils or extracts for flavors and 8-10 drops of organic food coloring for nice swirls or complete a solid pastel color.
A true prime rib that is labeled USDA Certified Prime, is heavily marbled with a generous amount of fat. These cuts are usually reserved for top restaurants and are hard to come by. It may be better to seek out a fine aged prime rib. Aged beef is similarly hard to find in the supermarket, but you’ll find aged prime rib and other cuts for sale online that come right to your door. But ask your butcher first!
The typical prime rib serving size is around 10 ounces per person; a roast weighing 7-7½ pounds should serve 11 or 12 people.
8 ribs – prime rib of beef. Center cut, chine bone removed. (make sure to give your butcher a friendly reminder to remove the chine bone)
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves plus 1 large bunch
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/8 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh marjoram leaves
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and root removed
3 whole heads garlic, 1/4 cut off the top exposing cloves, skin and root left intact.
3 large shallots, cleaned roots removed
1 large onion, cleaned, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cleaned and sliced lengthwise
2 ribs of celery, cleaned cut in half
1/2 pound of unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept cold
2 cups good quality Pinot Noir wine
Preferably Maldon salt or large flat crystal salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 475’F degrees. Clean and pick the leaves of the fresh herbs, reserving the stems. Except the extra bundle of parsley.
Prepare a large roasting pan with organic non-stick cooking spray. Check to make sure the roast will fit. Spray a cookie cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray, and lower into the roasting pan. Build a bed for the roast to lay on with the bundle of parsley, and all the stems left over from the herbs on top of the cookie rack. Add the carrot, onions quarters, the 3 whole heads of garlic on the side, and the celery ribs. Spritz everything with a good drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Pat the roast dry with paper towel. Season the roast generously with salt and fresh ground pepper by hand massaging it in ; on all sides. Set aside. In the bowl of your food processor, add 4 cloves of garlic, all the fresh herbs except the extra bundle of parsley, add 2 shallots and pulse to small mince.
Add salt and pepper and cold butter, pulse to combine well- make a paste.
Place roast, horizontally with the fat side up, in the roasting pan. Smother the roast with the butter mixture paying extra attention to the sides of the roast. Add 1 cup of beef stock to the bottom of the roasting and roast for 1 1/2-2 hours (20 minutes per pound), for rare –or until internal temperature reaches your desired temp ranges. ( see roasting notes below ) Bathing with juices from the bottom of the roasting pan every twenty minutes, without fail!
Start with high heat oven of 425’F Degrees and reduce temperature to 325’F Degrees after about 15 minutes of oven time.
When roast reaches your desired internal temperature, remove from the oven and allow to rest a minimum 10-20 minutes.
Keep in mind the internal portion of the roast will continue to cook, make sure to remove it from the oven ten minutes prior to your desired internal temperature. See below for important roasting notes.
Variation: To serve roast without bone, use a sharp knife and cut between the bone and the flesh. With your slightly angled knife, saw towards the bone, carving slowly–keep following the bone to the bottom where it can be completely removed.
Use your meat thermometer about a half hour before the expected end of the roasting time. Make sure to insert it in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the fat or the bone.
When the internal temperature reaches 120° F Degrees pull it out of the oven, and cover with foil.
Allow the roast sit for twenty minutes.
While resting the roast will continue to cook, reaching a temperature of about 125° F Degrees to 130° F Degrees. This is called the endo-thermic reaction. Cooking from the inside out.
A nice resting period allows the juices and flavors to permeate back into the roast instead of all over the cutting board!
Rare measures in at 120° to 125° with a bright red center that grows slightly pinkish towards the exterior.
Medium rare measures between 130° F Degrees to 135° F Degrees and are characterized by the extremely pink center portion that grows brown towards the exterior.
Medium meats have a light pink center, brown outer portions and readings of about 140°F Degrees to 145°F Degrees.
Medium well is not pink at all, and is achieved at 150° F Degrees to 155° F Degrees.
Well done is at 160° F Degrees and above and is characterized by a uniform brown color.
Cover any exposed bones with a little oil and foil.
Red Wine Reduction
While roast is resting, strain drippings from the pan. Defat and add the remaining juices into a medium saucepan with wine, remaining garlic cloves, remaining chopped shallot.
Bring to a boil, and cook stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced to 2/3’s of a cup, about 10 -15 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid boiling over or burning.
When liquid is reduced, remove from heat and whisk in remaining cold butter, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, waiting until pieces are melted before adding more. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover to keep warm and set aside. To serve beef cut between rib bones and serve bone in.
Serve sauce at the table on the side.
Who doesn’t want to wakeup holiday morning to the smell and taste of hot chocolate and roasting hazelnuts?
1 loaf Brioche or and Egg enriched bread, cut into 1 inch thick slices
3 cups heavy cream
6 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9 large eggs, beaten
2 cups nut milk
1 cup of sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Cinnamon spiked whipped cream
Generously butter a 13×9 baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in overlapping rows inside the baking dish.
Over low heat, slowing warm the cream, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Whisk until chocolate is melted, about 5-8 minutes. Once the chocolate is completely melted, remove 1 cup mixture to an airtight container, set aside to cool. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
In the bowl of your standing mixer, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, and salt in on high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Slowing begin tempering the egg mixture by introducing the hot chocolate and cream mixture in a slow, steady stream; this will help to avoid the eggs heating too quickly and scrambling.
Once combine, pour evenly over and between each layer of bread. Push down with your hands to soak the top — cover the dish tightly with foil and chill at least 2 hours.
Chef’s Note: If eggs do scramble, don’t worry, strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
When ready, remove from the refrigerator and allow it to sit about 20 minutes to bring a little closer to room temperature — Preheat oven to 350°F Degrees.
Bake foil-covered casserole until warmed through, and a knife inserted into the center feels warm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the bread is browned, 35–40 minutes longer.
Remove and allow to cool about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat, occasionally tossing, until golden-brown and fragrant, 3–5 minutes.
Heat the reserved chocolate mixture until warm.
Serve French toast with chocolate sauce, top with toasted hazelnuts and add optional cinnamon-spiked whipped cream.
Assemble one day ahead before baking; cover tightly with foil and chill.
Makes approximately 6-8 servings
Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs!
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar or honey
1/2 cup water
2 1/2-3 cups flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water. Stir to dissolve and allow to rest for a few minutes or until it is foamy. Once foamy, whisk in the oil, yogurt, and egg until evenly combined.
In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. With your fingers shaped into a claw, stir until well combined. With your clean hand, continue adding flour, a half-cup at a time, until you can form a dough ball.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface, dusted with flour. Continue to knead for about 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should be smooth and very soft but not sticky. Avoid adding excessive amounts of flour as you knead, as this can make the mixture too dry and stiff.
Loosely cover the dough and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
After it has doubled in size rises, gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut it into eight equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Working with one ball at a time, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6-8 inches in diameter. Place the rolled out dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown, and large bubbles have formed on the surface.
Flip and cook the other side until golden brown. Stack the flatbread on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm as you cook the remaining pieces.
Makes about 8 portions
Heat your Cold Winter Mornings!
For the Chili Jam:
2-4 tablespoons hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
1-2 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoon honey
For the Egg Naan:
1/4-1/2 cup Plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons butter
2-4 large eggs
Paprika for garnish
Scallions, sliced thin
Cilantro Micro-greens for garnish
For the Jam:
In a small bowl, combine the hot chili paste, vinegar, and honey. Set aside.
For the Egg Naan:
Place Greek yogurt in another small bowl; season with salt. Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high, crack eggs into pan and cook, shaking pan occasionally to keep eggs from sticking to each other until edges are golden brown, about 2 minutes; season with salt.
Carefully tilt skillet toward you so oil pools at the front edge of the pan. Spoon the hot oil over egg whites, especially where they are still translucent, avoiding yolks, until set, about 1-2 minutes.
Warm Naan in a large cast-iron pan seasoned with a little oil. Remove to a warmed plate.
Divide the thick, tangy yogurt among the Naan, and top each with a fried egg, chili jam, scallions, microgreens, paprika, and fresh black pepper.
Makes 2-4 servings