2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again – time for annual holiday gift guides! It’s always fun to round-up a few of my favorite items from across the web that I think would make excellent gifts for just about anyone on your list. This year, I’m touching on a few items that I’d love to receive as well as a few items that I’d definitely give to someone else. I’ve even included gifts for pups!

No matter who you’re shopping for this season, enjoy the spirit of giving and the process of finding the perfect gifts for those you love. And don’t forget to put a little effort into wrapping your gift, too. I love this Alpine Ski paper from Dixie Design. Enjoy my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!

xx Annette HolidayGG2018

Beech Round Pizza Board

Greek Pepper Mills

Pommed Slippers

Stonewashed Linen Napkins

Anatomy of a Bike Kit

HP Portable Photo Printer

Cocktail Italiano

Workshop Gift Card

Leather Bow Tie Dog Collar

photo by me

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Poached Pears in Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Poached fruit is a simple yet sophisticated dessert that will wow your guests this holiday season. It is, in fact, a little trick I use when I don’t want to make a complicated dessert. It’s so easy to just grab apples or pears and poach them in wine which is something I always have on had.

These mulled wine poached pears are the perfect classic dessert for fall and winter. Your guests will be impressed with the presentation, and the flavor is subtle and light which after a heavy meal can be just the perfect finish. Top them with homemade whipped cream for a festive end of meal treat.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears
Serves 8

You will need:
– 8 pears
– 1 bottle of Red Wine (I like to use a Merlot, or a Pinot Noir)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 star anise
– 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar

To prepare:

Peel the whole pears leaving the stem in tact.

In a large cast iron pot, empty the bottle of wine, add the sugar, cinnamon, star anise.

Place the peeled pears on their side, then simmer them in the wine for about 15 minutes, occasionally with a large spoon roll the pears to evenly cook them. Turn off the heat, and leave the pears to macerate in the wine (this literally can be all day). Again occasionally turning them to evenly coat the pears. The pears will become a beautiful pink color from the mulled red wine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, add the whipping cream and sugar whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Warm the pears through about 3 minutes and place the warm pears in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the mulled wine. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve.

NOTE: This is the perfect make ahead dessert, and it will truly impress your guests! 

xx Annette

 

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Last Minute Recipe:: Kumquat Cranberry Sauce

stefania-crudeli-734344-unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you’re spending today surrounded by friends and family eating an incredible meal.

A staple at our Thanksgiving table is cranberry sauce, but I always like to put my own twist on it. Cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey, but instead of opening a can, give this easy recipe a try instead. Even though the end product is luscious and luxurious, cranberry sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, and this kumquat cranberry sauce is perfection.

Everyone will love the citrus flavors paired with the tart cranberries, and you’ll be the star of the meal. This cranberry sauce is especially good once the flavors come together which makes it perfect for leftovers. I like to serve mine from a jar; it gives it a wonderful homemade quality and is a pretty look for the table. Let me know if you give it a try and what everyone thinks!

Kumquat Cranberry Sauce
You will need:
– 2  cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– 12 kumquats cut into circle slices (cut the kumquat across to create pinwheel like slices)
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 2 12-ounce bags fresh or frozen cranberries

 

To prepare:

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, kumquat slices and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Simmer 4 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cinnamon, salt and clove and simmer 2 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)

Photo by Stefania Crudeli on Unsplash

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Picture Perfect Thanksgiving:: Turkey and Gravy

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is here! If you’re prepping the main event this year, give my Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy a try. The recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s truly a show stopper. You’ll end up with a beautiful, flawless bird that will make your friends and family ooh and ahh. Be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy
Serves 8-10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

You will need:
– 20 lb. Organic Turkey
– 2 teaspoons flake salt
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
– 4 cloves garlic minced
– 1 lemon

Ingredients for the *mirepoix mixture for the bottom of the roaster:
– 1 carrot diced
– 2 celery stalks dices
– 1 yellow onion diced
– 2 cups turkey stock (I use store bought)

To prepare:
In the bottom of a roasting pan place carrots, celery, onion and stock. Put a rack into the roasting pan. Place turkey on the rack.

Combine salt, oil, rosemary, and garlic, rub the entire turkey with the mixture, place whole lemon into the cavity of the turkey. Place in the oven with an aluminum foil tent on the top of the turkey for 4 hours, basting every half hour. Remove the tent for the last hour of baking, and bake until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees F

Pull from the oven and let rest.

*Reserve the mirepoix for the gravy.

 

 

Gravy

You will need:
– Mirepoix, defatted
– 2 cups turkey stock
– 2 tablespoons corn starch

To prepare:
Place the mirepoix into a saucepan, heat, and add turkey stock, and warm.

In a small bowl place cornstarch.  Add 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture to the cornstarch, mix with a small spoon until a paste forms. Add the paste to the gravy mixture to thicken. Stir until reduced. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Serve on the side with turkey and stuffing.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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You’re Invited:: Upcoming Book Signings

As you all know, earlier this year I released my second book, Cocktail Italiano: The Definitive Guide to Aperitivo: Drinks, Nibbles, and Tales of the Italian Riviera. We had a wonderful time celebrating the launch last spring, and I enjoyed meeting so many of you.

Because it was so much fun, I’m doing it again! Over the next few weeks, I am making several stops throughout Atlanta (and beyond!) to sign copies of my book, and I’d love for you to meet me there. With the gift giving season just around the corner, now is a great time to grab a few books and cross some names off of your list.

First, on November 9, I’m participating in the Elegant Elf Marketplace.  I’ll be joined by an amazing cast of fellow authors, all of whom I greatly admire. This one is sure to be a great time!

Then later this month, I’m joining my friends at Hudson Grace for a Cocktail Italiano cocktail party. Hudson Grace is a fantastic store for scooping up props or finding gifts for everyone on your list.

December kicks-off with a book signing at one of my absolutely favorite stores, Paris Market in Savannah. You may remember that I’ve hosted several fun events at Paris Market in the past. The store is a dream, and I’m thrilled head back to Savannah to visit. Finally, on December 6th, I’ll be at Ballard Designs for a delightful evening with all of you at one of my favorite Atlanta interior institutions.

Here’s a quick recap, or visit my calendar for even more specifics:

  • Friday, November 9, 10 AM – 12 PM – Elegant Elf, Atlanta
  • Thursday, November 15, 5 – 7 PM, – Hudson Grace, Atlanta
  • Sunday, December 2, time TBD – Paris Market, Savannah
  • Tuesday, December 6, time TBD – Ballard Designs, Atlanta

Find the details for several of the events below. I hope to see you there!

xx Annette

EEBookSigning Cocktail Italiano Book Signing

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