Cranberry Margaritas

Happy Friday, guys! With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, I figured a festive cocktail was in order. I’ve made margaritas with almost every fruit under the sun now, but this cranberry version has always stood out as one of my favorites.

A cranberry syrup is made from fresh cranberries and sugar, then pushed through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Then the usual suspects are added for margarita mixing…tequila, triple sec, and margarita mix. Which, if you’re not doing so already – save yourself several bucks and make your own! It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. You (and your cocktails!) will thank me.

I like to serve them with a sugar rim that’s had a bit of orange zest mixed into it, but a standard salt rim is also wonderful. Garnished with a few cranberries and a wedge or two of citrus, it doesn’t get any more festive than this!

Their gorgeous red hue lends perfectly to Christmas parties, especially since a large batch can be made up in advance and refrigerated until party time. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Homemade Stromboli

Since I’ve gone homemade, pizza Friday has long been the favorite night of the week at our house. There’s just something about making your own dough and sliding that pizza pie into the oven in your own kitchen that is so satisfying!

But, about once a month we like to turn our favorite pizzas into homemade stromboli. It’s a little different, and adds some variety! Dough is rolled out into a long oval, toppings and cheese are piled on, then everything is rolled up together and baked. Pizza sauce is served on the side for dipping, as opposed to inside the roll – which tends to make this Italian specialty soggy.

They’d be great for a party or Holiday get-together too, as they’re served as individual slices. I also love the fact that I can cook two of them in the oven at the same time. With pizza, I’m limited to one at a time.

Toppings can vary of course. I’ve found that when I use veggies, I like to give them a quick saute or roast first to release some of the moisture. I’ve done mushrooms, onions, and peppers that way to make a delicious veggie stromboli. But, I’d say our favorite variation is pretty traditional – deli pepperoni and salami with mozzarella and provolone cheese.  If I have some deli ham in the refrigerator I’ll occasionally add that in too. Whatever floats your boat – the only limit is your imagination!

Homemade Stromboli

2 balls pizza dough
cornmeal, for dusting
1/4 lb. deli-sliced pepperoni (sandwich sized)
1/4 lb. hard salami
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 slices Provolone cheese
olive oil
pizza sauce, for serving

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.

On a clean work surface, use your hands to spread pizza dough into a 12×6-inch oval. In the center of the dough, place the half of the sliced pepperoni, leaving a 2-inch border at the ends to wrap. Repeat with the half of the salami and half of the sliced Provolone cheese. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top, right down the middle.

Tuck the ends of the oval in on top of the cheeses. Then, take the flap of dough closest to you and fold it up and over the toppings, then tuck and roll the stromboli over. Seal the other side of the dough into the stromboli by pinching it closed with your fingers.

Carfeully place the stromboli on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with the remaining ingredients to make another stromboli.

Using a serrated knife, slash the top of the dough gently, 4 or 5 times to create pockets for air to escape. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil.

Carefully slide the parchment paper with the stromboli onto the hot baking stone. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve with individual servings of pizza sauce.

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As I mentioned on Friday’s post, I joined in on a really fun virtual cookie swap with some other bloggers. These gals really came through with a whole slew of different and delicious cookies!

I’m always looking for something new to bake each year, to go along with our traditional favorites – and all of these look like sweet treats my family would enjoy. I know yours will too! I just hope I have time to bake them all before Christmas…

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Festive Shortbread Bites

I’d seen these little festive Shortbread Bites pop up in my Facebook feed several times over the past couple weeks. I immediately was smitten. I mean, seriously, how cute are they? While I love shortbread, it’s so rich that a whole cookie can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. But, one perfect little bite? How can one resist that?

The recipe for the shortbread is on-point. Tender, buttery, and crumbly – it really is a little perfect little bite of  baked perfection. The key is to knead the dough with your hands until it comes together. Use the mixer to break down the butter, but then your hands to bring it all together. When you dump the mix out of the work bowl it will be crumbly – don’t despair! After a few scrunches in your palms, the butter warms and makes a dough that is easy to work with.

I loved the flecks of color through-out the bites. Looking forward to making this with different colored nonpareils for other holidays as well – pink & red for Valentine’s, pastels for Easter, purple and orange for Halloween! I’ll definitely be making them again before the year is over for gift bags as well. There’s nothing better than homemade goodies to give as gifts!

Speaking of which, make sure you check back here on Sunday for a cookie swap party that I’m doing with some fellow blogger friends. There will be some great ideas to add to your “must bake” list this year! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Good Housekeeping