Friday, October 5, 2012

Cooking the Books - Southern Living's Cooking For Christmas

Okay, so this is last year's copy and I'm pretty sure they put this bad boy out yearly. But! There are some really awesome recipes in this particular edition.  I'm going to stray a little from my typical review format, since it goes without saying that Southern Living is going to put out a fantastic product.  Since Holiday meal planning can be a little... chaotic, I thought I'd highlight some recipes that are just plain fantastic. Allow me to direct your attention, if you will.

The Basics
Southern Living. Cooking for Christmas. New York: Oxmoor House, 2011. Print

What do you need to know? Southern Living + holidays + recipes = awesome. The end.

The (Cook)book
First, let me direct you to the eye candy that is the front section of this book, which focuses on table settings. Yes, I could look at this stuff for a ridiculously long period of time (seriously, don't take me anywhere near a home store). Even if you don't go all out, this section is great place to get some ideas and inspiration.

And don't pass up the menu section.  Do I follow the menus in books? Ever? No. But this section is a great place to start thinking about putting together your own menu. Plus, it's got recipes. (I'll admit, I mostly come for the recipes).

But let's get to the good stuff: recipes!  This book is stuffed with them, but let me highlight a few of my favorites. (I've tried all of these, so I already know they're tasty and delicious).

Cherry Pecan Brie: This recipe is great. If you get the ingredients together in advance you can churn this sucker out in no time. Mix, pour, serve. And, voila! You've got an elegant appetizer to serve your holiday guests. It looks and tastes wonderful, and no one will guess how little effort it took. And believe me, if you're prepping a huge Christmas (or holiday) Feast, having a few simple dishes on the menu will save you a lot of stress (and sanity; sanity is good). See page 47.

Two-Cheese-and-Honey Fondue: Can you say "nom"? Admittedly, that probably has a lot to due with the heavy cream and the cheese. (Cheeeeeeeese). See page 71.

Grandma Erma's Spirited Cranberry Sauce: Sound familiar? That's because this recipe turned out to be so wonderfully tasty that I had to share it with y'all. It's one of the few test recipes I've done from a cookbook on this blog. I can tell you that I will never serve another cranberry sauce other than this ever again. (You think I exaggerate, but this was my favorite part of last years holidays). And heaven help you if you've been eating the stuff from the can. Stop it. Now. And make this! See page 173.

Recipes I haven't tried but plan to because they look freaking delicious:

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake - the name really says it all on this one, and if you look at the picture that snowflake is way too pretty. (likelihood that I can pull this off: excellent for the cheesecake, slim to none for the snowflake. Curses!). See page 50.

Classic Bake Macaroni and Cheese - sadly, I'm still searching for the perfect Mac'n'cheese recipe. Martha failed me last year, so perhaps I'll go for this on holiday season. If nothing else the sheer amount of butter, cheese and milk should make several family members squirm nicely as they calculate fat content. Heh heh heh. See page 191.

The entire section on breads - What can I say? I like carbs. See pages 201-211.

I hope you pick up the book and give some of these a whirl. There's plenty of recipe to choose from. Needless to say, I'll be first in line for this year's copy. And before you go, let me direct you to one last recipe not in the book: Southern Living's Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake. I made this bad boy last Thanksgiving. Perfection.


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