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Fun with pancakes

Fun with pancakes

Have you noticed an increase in expensive kitchen gadgetry for kids, like bendy man spatulas and mouse measuring cups? The

Bacon Doughnut Burger recipe

Bacon Doughnut Burger recipe

Leave it to sexy soul singer Luther Vandross to come up with the ultimate in over-indulgence. Elvis, your fried peanut butter and bacon sandwich has nothin’ on this. For Fathers’ Day, here’s what most people usually make: hot dogs, beans, burgers served on normal buns (I shudder at the thought). Imagine how excited Dad will be when he experiences the crazy salt/sweet intensity of the bacon doughnut burger. It’s certainly not good for you. In fact, if you have high cholesterol, for the love of God, stop reading now. But it’s unquestionably tasty and popping up all over the place, from a tiny doughnut shop in Massachusetts to the Food Network (Paula Deen created one for the “ladies” with an egg on top). Here is the original recipe: glazed doughnut, hamburger patty, cheese and bacon. For a truly authentic experience, use a Krispy Kreme.

pepper poppers recipe

pepper poppers recipe

I’m the first to admit I’m football challenged, but every year I look forward to Super Bowl because I know I’ll be sucked into a feast of delicious, greasy finger foods. This year, I couldn’t get the idea of jalapeño poppers out of my mind. I know this addictive bar staple has been done a million times before, so in order to maximize your tasting options, I tried making poppers with different types of chiles — from mellow poblanos to Anaheim to sweet mini bell peppers. And since I’m NOT a huge fan of deep-frying at home, I decided to bake them instead. What a shocker! They were all delicious, and even though I love spicy jalapeños, my favorite was the sweet bell pepper, which tasted like fresh, little pizza bites. I guess anything stuffed with three types of cheese is a winner.

how to make a peppermint orange sipper

how to make a peppermint orange sipper

If you’re the kind of parent who doesn’t want your kid getting messy, it’s time to make an exception. Peppermint orange drinks are too painfully cute to pass up during the holidays. They’re so darn easy to make, ultra festive, and kids will get their vitamin C during prime cold season (bonus!), albeit through a candy stick. Hey, you’ve got to let ’em live a little! All you need is a regular peppermint stick and an orange. I know, you’re skeptical, and so was I when I first tried it, but the peppermint stick really does work as a straw. I have a few tricks to get the juice flowing. And as upset as I am that I didn’t think of this concept myself, I’m just as thrilled that something so inexpensive and basic can bring so much sticky, sugar-fueled joy to little ones. 

chunky monkey bread recipe

chunky monkey bread recipe

Now for my favorite part of the holidays: the desserts! Clearly, I’m screaming out for a job at Ben & Jerry’s because despite the chilly weather, all I want to do is eat ice cream, talk ice cream, and now I’m turning my fave ice cream flavor into a gooey, chocolatey bread. Monkey bread is a classic holiday treat because 1) you pull it apart with your hands, and that’s just plain fun, and 2) it works for everything: brunch, dessert, kids’ parties, and, frankly, as a late-night snack after one too many hot toddies. But can perfection be improved upon? In my opinion, yes! Chunky monkey bread might just outshine the original version. To me, the combination of chocolate, bananas and walnuts is like sweet heaven. Add in brown sugar and cinnamon, and all my holiday stress just melts away.

how to make an ice bowl

how to make an ice bowl

My favorite appetizer trick is to thaw a bag of frozen shrimp and serve it with cocktail sauce. Let’s face it, whether it’s a small party or a holiday bash, you’ve got a lot to stress about: cleaning the house, picking out music, making sure the martinis are ready to roll when guests arrive. The last thing you need is to assemble a hundred bite-size morsels. But presentation is key when trying to spruce up a blah bag of shrimp, and the holidays call for extra special treatment. This ice bowl rocks the house as far as I’m concerned. It’s fabulous at parties because it’s so adaptable, easy to make, and did I mention free? Fill it up with shrimp or crudités, and it will keep everything fresh and cool the whole night. Well, not quite the whole night; it does melt. But you have at least an hour and a half before the plate underneath floods.

Sweet potato gnocchi recipe

Sweet potato gnocchi recipe

There are lots of delicious ideas for a turkey-less Thanksgiving: squash lasagna, veggie stew, your favorite stuffing as a main dish and now — drum roll, please — sweet potato gnocchi. I have always loved any type of dumpling. When I was little, my mom’s Italian friend Isabella would always make gnocchi for me and her daughter Sara if we were well-behaved (sadly, that didn’t happen too often). The only ingredients were potatoes, flour and salt, and the sauce was just plain old melted butter. Sounds boring but so not! The sweet-potato version here, flavored with brown sugar, is a little more elaborate, but it just seems sooo right place, right time. It’s vegetarian, hearty and has that simple butter sauce that’s like a taste of freakin’ heaven! Plus, wouldn’t these be pretty on a Thanksgiving table?

Tater Tot casserole recipe

Tater Tot casserole recipe

What’s up with casseroles? It seems every party these days has some fabulous, gooey casserole on the menu. They are making a comeback big-time, and the more retro the better — something we should all give thanks for! For a fun and satisfying side on Thanksgiving, here’s a version that combines the beloved food of my youth, Tater Tots, with cheese and other sinfully delicious stuff, namely bacon, onion and sour cream. It might not scream "Thanksgiving," but you will be truly floored at how pleased your family will be. For those who are taking the veggie path on Thanksgiving, you can leave out the bacon and it will still be just as tasty, and worth every minute on the treadmill.

watergate salad with coverup pudding recipe

watergate salad with coverup pudding recipe

File this one under the most random of dishes, but retro desserts always fascinate me. It’s a fun addition to a November 4th buffet…I am so ready to cast my vote, and I know we’ll all be celebrating when this crazy-long election is finally over. Dubbed Watergate Salad with Coverup Pudding by a Chicago food editor after the ’70s Nixon scandal, this blast-from-the-past concoction reminds me that some things never go out of style. We’re in the biggest economic crisis of our lifetimes and meanwhile, execs are getting spa treatments with bailout money. Perhaps the only thing more appropriate would be a Cup o’ Noodle dinner party. Pass the Two Buck Chuck. Makes me wonder, what would Obama be if he were a dish? What about McCain?

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