I'll even admit that in years past I always used frozen broccoli. So this year I decided on going with fresh broccoli, and I even used fresh cauliflower too! After substituting fresh for frozen, I don't think I'll ever use frozen again. The freshness of the veggies really gave this dish the makeover it needed. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture of the broccoli cauliflower casserole.
After figuring out what everyone was planning on contributing to the feast, I quickly realized there was a shortage of desserts on the list. I just so happen to have an awesome recipe for traditional cheesecake from my Cuban grandmother that I have perfected over the years, but I really wanted to change it up a bit. My sweet tooth kicked in immediately, and after perusing some Pinterest ideas for scrumptious recipes, pumpkin cheesecake won the vote.
While searching through Pinterest boards for sweets, I also came across holiday festive libations. The in-laws are big on wine- it seems like everyone brings their own bottle, because by the end of the night when you can tell everyone is feeling a little toasty there are still several bottles left over.
After giving it some thought I figured making sangria would be a big hit with these wine enthusiasts, and it would add a little variety to the drink menu. I wanted something that had a Fall feeling to it. What screams Fall more than apple cider sangria?
So you want the recipes, huh?! Ok, I'll share :)
Holiday Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ingredients for Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs- I used gingersnaps!
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine gingersnaps, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar, and press on to bottom and halfway up sides of 8" spring-form pan. Bake 5 minutes.
- Beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Gradually add brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and spices.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
- Add salt, beat until creamy, and pour mixture evenly into crust.
- Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is browned.
- Transfer cheesecake to wire rack, and cool 10 minutes. Loosen cheesecake around edges with a knife.
- Cool completely, cover and refrigerate.
- 1 large bottle of white wine- I used Pinot Grigio
- 2 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
- 1 cup club soda
- 1/2 cup ginger brandy- or regular brandy will work too!
- 3 honey crisp apples, chopped
- 3 pears, chopped
- Combine all ingredients and stir, stir, stir!
- Refrigerate over night.
- Stir continually the next day.
I hope this post gives you the inspiration needed to get creative and festive with your Christmas menu!