At the beginning of December, we had our 4th annual Food Blogger Cookie Exchange and Gourmet Pot Luck. How lucky am I to have met such wonderful ladies from all over the Bay Area. I love that we met from a non-traditional method and all from writing food blogs. Everyone was able to join the festivities and Jean held the event at her warm and inviting house.
I had a few cookie exchanges this year and always want to highlight a new recipe. For this cookie exchange, I dug deep into the recipe archives and wanted to create a classic cookie that I have been making for years – Almond Candy Cane Cookies. I could not find my recipe card but then found the recipe online at All Recipes. They are light, crispy and with a hint of almond – simply divine. Plus they look so pretty on the plate with the glistening sugar on the entire cookie. I went to the container store to find attractive wrap to make the cookies look extra special.
When I got to Jean’s she had her table decorated so incredibly beautiful. It was a true work of art. She has a new found passion for succulents and incorporated those into her décor and even had a small one for each of to bring home with us. We toured her backyard which is a feast to the eyes for any succulent enthusiast. I never realized that there are so many varietals and have a greater appreciation for these little and large plants.
Our gourmet potluck was a feast for the eyes from the Stuffed shells from Gina, to the Lemon pasta asparagus salad from Azmina, to the Blue Cheese Pecan Tart from Patty, to the Citrus Quinoa Salad from Liren, to the Chicken Sausage Pasta from Jean, to the Almond Tart from Lisa to my Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad. Everything was simply supreme. Who would expect anything else from a bunch of food bloggers – certainly not me - Smile.
After we dined on great food and has wonderful wine, we moved to her cozy family room with a roaring fire for the cookie tasting. We each wrap up a half dozen of our cookies to share with each person to take home and we bring a half dozen to share on a large platter. That is the best time to try everyone’s wonderful baked delights.
This year we enjoyed the following cookies:
- Liren from Kitchen Confidante - Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies and Cranberry Nut Butterhorns
- Jean from Lemon and Anchovies – Springerle Cookies
- Lisa from Ravishing Hunger – Persimmon Cookies
- Patty from Patty’s Food – Macadamia Milk Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies
- Gina from SPCookieQueen – Cranberry,
Pecan Cookies Orange
- Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch – Chocolate Peppermint Balls
- Me – Almond Candy Cane Cookies
I have to say that I am a bit obsessed with Brussels Sprouts. I honestly can’t get enough of them. When I enjoyed this Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad at Pizza Antica, I knew I had to make it. I searched the internet for the recipe and found it here. This is a crowd pleaser and you will make it over and over and over again. Enjoy!
Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
1/2 slab bacon (approximately 9 slices of pre-cut bacon)
2 Tbsp canola oil, plus 3 Tbsp for salad
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
6 slices country-style bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2" squares
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
40 Brussels Sprouts (should have about 40 sprouts)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Cook the slices of bacon until crispy, drain off the fat and set aside.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of canola oil until just smoking and cook sliced onions over medium high heat until golden brown, drain and set aside.
Toss the cubed bread with extra virgin olive oil and toast in a 300 degree oven until golden brown and crispy – about 20 to 25 minutes. Cook to room temperature and set aside.
Cover the eggs with cold water, bring to a scald, and let sit in scalding water for 8 to 9 minutes and be sure the yolk is firm, run cold water over eggs to stop the cooking. Peel the eggs and cut into 1/8ths and cover and refrigerate.
Clean the sprouts by removing the first few dark leaves and discard. Cut off the stem and cut in half. In a large sauté pan, heat remaining canola oil until almost smoking and add sprouts. Toss until lightly charred and season with salt and pepper.
Add the reserved onions and bacon and warm until hot. Then add the vinaigrette and toss to distribute. Add croutons and chopped eggs, toss to incorporate and serve
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
To make the vinaigrette, add all of the ingredients in a 2 cup mason jar and shake well. Let the ingredients sit for at least one hour to let the flavors develop.