Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Goodies

For Thanksgiving this year, I really wanted to take it up a notch with my ideas as to what to bring for our family gathering. Personally, I can't go a Thanksgiving or Christmas without my favorite dish, broccoli casserole. For the past few years this has been my go-to holiday recipe, and everyone always requests me to bring that dish of cheesy goodness.

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
Ingredients for Filling:

  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. Beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Gradually add brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and spices.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Add salt, beat until creamy, and pour mixture evenly into crust.
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is browned.
  6. Transfer cheesecake to wire rack, and cool 10 minutes. Loosen cheesecake around edges with a knife.
  7. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate.
Apple Cider Sangria


  • 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

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir, stir, stir!
  2. Refrigerate over night.
  3. Stir continually the next day.

I hope this post gives you the inspiration needed to get creative and festive with your Christmas menu!

Happy Holidays!

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