I don’t know that there is a more classic Christmas cookie than Peanut Butter Blossoms. I made them every Christmas in the kitchen with my mom for as long as I can remember. We’d often have cookie making parties where my Aunt Rose would come over, along with her brood of boys – and we’d all make cookies. Those are some of my favorite Christmas memories!

Hershey’s contacted me a couple of weeks ago, and offered to send me a Holiday baking pack. Free chocolate? How could I resist? It arrived last week, filled with lots of goodies. I couldn’t wait to start my Christmas baking! Monday night was our small town’s Christmas parade, so my mom came up and we baked these cookies with the boys before the parade started. They had so much fun helping to roll the balls of dough in the sugar before baking. And, what joy to carry that tradition along to our own little family unit!

I’m don’t know that there is a more comforting meal in the world than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s quick and easy, filling, and cheap. I’ve never cared for tomato soup from a can, it’s always so thin and flavorless. So, when I saw Ina’s version in on the cover of a recent Food Network magazine, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I loved the idea of grilled cheese croutons!

The soup was delicious and filling. I loved the addition of orzo and a little bit of cream. And the saffron, wow – it adds such a depth of flavor. It takes only a few minutes to throw together – in under 30 minutes you have a homemade meal on the table that isn’t condensed crap-ola.

I didn’t have a great selection of cheeses handy when I made these. So, I just kept in old school and used yellow american for the grilled cheese sandwiches, then cut them into cubes for the croutons. Couldn’t be easier, but how good does it look sitting on top of that delicious soup? I have a feeling this is going to be a new staple in our house!

In my house growing up, orange rolls for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning was a tradition. I remember anxiously waiting to put them in the oven at 8:30 – so that they’d be ready to eat when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade came on. Then, mom putting the turkey in shortly thereafter to perfume the air in the house all morning and afternoon long.

I always have preferred orange rolls to cinnamon rolls. Something about that sweet, citrusy zing that I just love. But I’d always made them from the tube, and for something as special as Thanksgiving morning breakfast – I wanted to learn to make them from scratch. I’ve made these a couple times now, and they’re always wonderful and well received. Light, yeasty and moist – with plenty of bright flavor.

I hope that you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, and spend the day treasuring the time with family and friends. I can’t wait to see the jolly man in the red suit pull into Herald Square on Thursday at noon – and bring the official start of the Holiday season along with him. Happy Holidays, everyone!

I love gravy. I mean, who doesn’t? Let me just go ahead and put this out there – this gravy is the gravy to end all gravies. I was always a fan of white wine in pan gravy, but the use of hard cider just takes it to a whole new level. I first turned to it out of desperation. We were out of wine, but had some bottles of hard cider that we’d bottled the year before. It’s nice and dry, and is very similar to a white wine in flavor to begin with – but much more complex.

It was so good that I’ve been making it ever since – all year long. It’s equally good on chicken, and I’m looking forward to trying it with pork sometime in the near future. We enjoyed leftovers on hot open-faced turkey sandwiches the next night after making the turkey, and it was all I could do not to lick the plate clean.

Don’t let all those delicious drippings in the bottom of your roasting pan go to waste this year – turn it into a delicious gravy.