Winter to use your slow cooker, since it's perfect for making long-simmered comfort food favorites that hit the spot on a cool evening. Try out this recipe for a Mexican-style tortilla soup. The technique couldn't be easier: you just throw almost everything in the cooker and let it go all day, adding beans and corn at the end.
Everyone likes this because you can personalize your bowl with various garnishes, like avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more. Fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this soup a delicious smoky flavor, but of course you can use the normal varieties of these ingredients, too.
For many years, I've been on a search for the best-ever chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I think I've found it! These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have crisp edges and chewy centers and taste and look fantastic. The addition of oatmeal gives these cookies a nutty taste, too.
They're based on the recipe published by King Arthur Flour, who in turn got it from the Cookies for Kids' Cancer non-profit. It's King Arthur's 2015 recipe of the year—make a batch and you'll see why.
This recipes makes approximately 20 large cookies if using a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out the dough. You can use a smaller size to get more cookies, but keep in mind that baking times may vary.
Nearly everyone I know (us included) received a fondue pot as a wedding gift. If you don't have one, then your parents most certainly do, since fondue was a huge deal in the 1960s and '70s. Fondue is easy to make, if you follow the directions closely, and makes for a fun social meal—the perfect thing for a family New Year's Eve party.
On New Year's Eves past we've made the traditional Swiss style fondue using Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses and white wine. With its blend of wine and strong-tasting Swiss cheeses, It's never been a big hit with the kids, so last year we crafted a new, more kid-friendly version using cheddar cheese and apple cider. Needless to say, it was a big hit, and ended up being a lot less expensive to make than the authentic version, too.
Fondue is definitely a kid-friendly kind of dish, and they love being able to choose their foods and dip them into the molten cheese. Just make sure to keep little hands clear of the fondue pot, since flames are involved and metal parts can get hot.
These moist and chewy cookies contain plenty of two iconic holiday ingredients: chocolate and candy canes! They're the perfect addition to a holiday cookie platter, and I bet Santa wouldn't turn his nose up to a couple of them on Christmas Eve. If you really want to supercharge the peppermint flavor, replace the vanilla with peppermint extract. My kids think the crushed candy canes on top of these cookies give them plenty of peppermint flavor, so I usually just leave it at that. These are also great made with whole-wheat pastry flour, but plain old all-purpose flour is fine, too.
In my opinion, peppermint should be the official flavor of the holiday season! This white chocolate peppermint bark candy is a holiday staple in our house, and is quick, delicious, and kid-approved. My kids love the fact that smashing up candy canes is part of this recipe.
Peppermint bark is really easy to make, and doesn't mess the kitchen up nearly as much as making cookies does. Feel free to omit the nuts or mix in something else that you think would be tasty. My mom makes hers with both the almonds and dried cranberries.
Every year we create a gingerbread house using the nice kit sold by Trader Joe's, but last year, after constructing a house from the kit, my daughter decided she wanted to take our gingerbread house building experience a step further and create another one—this time from scratch! Fortunately, as we found out, it's easy to do and fun.
First thing you have to do is come up with a design for your house. We created a template for a basic gingerbread house that's simple to create and put together. (You can download our template, formatted for two letter-size sheets of paper; get page one here and page two here.) You can embellish and elaborate on this little house and make it your own special creation.
This year, as I've done for several years now, I'll cook our Thanksgiving turkey on the charcoal barbeque grill. This is, in my humble opinion, the best way to cook a turkey, hands down. And it frees up the oven for more important Thanksgiving fare, like pie!
Cooking the turkey on the grill has long been my family's favorite way of doing so. I know a lot of people like to deep fry their turkeys in one of those turkey fryer contraptions, but as Captain Kirk shows in this cautionary video, it can be hazardous to life and limb.
I love to make a big pot of soup on Sunday evenings, since it's a great weekend meal and makes for leftovers all week long. This version of the classic Italian minestrone soup uses vegetables that are available locally during the fall months. It's hearty and filling and good for you, too.
Leave out the pancetta to make it vegetarian/vegan. I also like to make this soup using just water instead of chicken broth—the flavor of the fresh vegetables really comes through. I cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls when serving. That way when there are leftovers it doesn't absorb all the liquid in the soup when it sits.
I love candy corn, that quintessential fall candy. Wouldn't it be great if it was actually good for you? My kids and I made these cute "candy-corn" style fruit parfaits, with layers of yellow pineapple, orange mandarin slices, and white whipped cream. They're perfect as a sweet but healthy treat for a Halloween party or autumn snack.
You can use either fresh or canned fruit. We tried making these with both fresh mandarins and canned mandarin oranges, and the kids like the sweeter and more tender canned version better. You can also substitute thick vanilla Greek yogurt for the whipped cream.
If you're making them for a Halloween party, assemble the fruit in advance in containers (we used 8-ounce mason jars) and refrigerate, then add the whipped cream or yogurt just before serving.
Makes one parfait
1/3 cup chopped fresh pineapple or canned crushed pineapple