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San Francisco, U.S.A. — The traditional Thanksgiving turkey and holiday ham are driving home cooks across America to culinary boredom. And while there may be little room to experiment with tradition, there are plenty of other opportunities during the holidays to shake up the flavor, such as the pick-me-up Christmas Eve cocktail or the Black Friday breakfast.
Spice Islands partnered with Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking and Lindsay and Taylor Landisof Love and Olive Oil to share great food served throughout the holiday season, expanding beyond the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
“I think like most people I’m not just entertaining on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, but am making meals for my family on the days surrounding the holidays,” Dalkin said. “These are times when I feel like I can stray from the ordinary holiday tradition and experiment with my recipes.”
Dalkin’s first tip for wowing guests on what she calls “the off-holiday” meals is to keep unexpected snacks and drinks for holiday drop-ins.
“I make a big batch of my Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts right before the holidays, so I always have it available,” Dalkin said. “This recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavor with sea salt, cayenne pepper and of course, the warm touch of cinnamon. The flavor catches people off guard in a good way.”
You can find Gaby’s Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts recipe here.
And as with any great snack, it’s important to have a great cocktail. To add extra flavor to holiday drinks, Dalkin recommends dropping a half of a Spice Islands Bourbon Vanilla Bean in a bottle of vodka or bourbon and letting it sit for three days to infuse the flavor.
“I do this every holiday because it isn’t ordinary, and I hate for anything I serve to be ordinary,” Dalkin said. “My favorite drink to make with homemade vanilla bourbon is Bourbon Vanilla Smash. This is vanilla-infused bourbon with lemon, apple cider and Spice Islands Saigon Cinnamon.
“It’s the perfect Christmas Eve cocktail,” Dalkin said.
For Lindsay Landis of Love and Olive Oil, much of the same is true.
“I always create interesting drinks for my seasonal entertaining, and this year, I’m making something special for the kids,” Landis said.
Landis recommends giving a festive gingerbread twist to an old-time classic root beer float. Landis replaces the root beer with vanilla cream soda and adds spiced molasses syrup that makes the drink taste like liquid gingerbread.
While there’s no messing with the traditional turkey and stuffing, the holidays lend many opportunities for the home cook to test their culinary creativity.
For more information on Spice Islands Flavor Explorers and to view any recipes mentioned here, please visit http://www.spiceislands.com/blog/.