Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunrise Mimosas

Are you having lots of company over Christmas ? Tired of just orange juice and coffee in the morning?  This is a perfect treat for your out-of-town guests when serving your morning brunch.  Adults only, of course.

3/4 c. vodka
2 1/2 c. cranberry juice
1 1/2 c. orange juice
Orange slices to garnish

Pour first three ingredients into a blender and mix.  Pour over ice cubes.  Garnish with split orange slice half on rim of glass.
YIELD: 5-6 servings

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hot Cappuccino Punch

Treat your overnight holiday guests to nice relaxing hot punch. Don't serve too late into the evening unless you use decaf coffee!

3 c. brewed coffee, room temperature
3 c. half and half
1/2 c. cream of coconut
1/2 c. rum
1/2 c. brandy

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.
YIELD: 7-8 servings

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Blackberry Cordial

No, there are no herbs in this scrumptious beverage. But at the holidays I like to serve a unique and inviting drink to sip for the adults at the party. The blackberry color is perfect for your Christmas themed table and even goes well with New Year's Eve dessert!

1 c. club soda, chilled
2/3 c. creme de cassis
1/2 c. raspberry-flavored liqueur
1/2 c. blackberry-flavored brandy
Frozen blackberries to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.  Serve chilled.  Garnish with frozen blackberries.
YIELD: about 6 servings.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Cinnamon Nut Mix

2 c. whole almonds
2 c. pecan halves
6 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. firmly packed brwon sugar
1/4 c. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
2 t. ground allspice
1 t. ground cloves
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large saucepan, cover almonds and pecans with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 minute.  Drain well. In a large bowl combine next 6 ingredients.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.  Add nuts into sugar mixture, stirring until well coated.  Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet.  Stirring occasionally, bake 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely on baking sheet.  Store in air tight container.

YIELD: about 4 cups of nuts

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nutty Garlic Cheese Spread

Another easy recipe from An Herbal Bedfellow, but this garlic cheese spread needs 8 hours of refrigerator time to set.

3 heads ( about 30 cloves) garlic, peeled
2 T. vegetable oil (olive oil works well also)
2 t. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 t. Worchestershire sauce
1 pkg. ( 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted adn finely chopped
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground white pepper
Crackers or bread pieces

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place garlic and oil in a shallow baking dish, stirring until well coated.  Bake 30 minutes or until light brown. Drain garlic on paper towels and cool completely.
Ina blender or food processor, process garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce until garlic is finely chopped.
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Stir in garlic mixture and remaining ingredients until thoroughly blended.
Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
To serve: bring to room temperature and serve with crackers or bread pieces.  (I like to put out a small loaf of round bread and let the guests tear off their own piece)

YIELD: about 3 cups of spread

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheese Blossoms

Looking for a great appetizer for your special party? Your guests will love you for this one! And as usual for An Herbal Bedfellow, easy to make, with just a little bit of fuss. Make the biscuits ahead, (allow for refrigerator time) and add the cheese and olives just before your guests arrive.

2 c. (8 oz.) grated, charp cheddar cheese
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. butter of margarine, softened
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 t. salt
1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 oz. ( 1/2 of 6 oz. package) Kraft pasteurized process cheese with garlic
Slice pimento stuffed green olives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Knead with hands, shaping dough into a smooth ball.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls and place onto  greased baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown.  Cool on wire rack.
5. In a small bowl, blend cream cheese and garlic cheese until smooth; refrigerate for 1 hour.  Spoon cheese mixture into a decorating bag with a star tip or use a baggie with the corner snipped off. Pipe cheese onto biscuits just before serving. 
5. Garnish each cheese blossom with 1 slice of olive.

YIELD: about 3 dozen cheese blossoms

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Spiced Coffee Creamer Mix

This makes a wonderful last minute hostess or Secret Santa gift.  Place the mix in a pretty jar with a colorful bow, and  no one will know that you just made it the day before. For a great gift presentation, place in a rustic basket, with two Holiday napkins and two Christmas mugs.  Add a few homemade cookies in cellophane or Saran Wrap tied with a red and green ribbon. I like to add a bell or two to the ribbon. Be sure to include the instructions as to how to use the mix.

4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 c. coffee-flavored liqueur
1 1/2 c. nondairy powdered creamer
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground allspice

Ina large bowl, mix together all ingredients using lowest speed of an electric mixer.  Cover and chill overnight. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.  To serve: spoon 1 T. of mix into a mug.  Stir in 6 ounces of desired hot beverage such as coffee, wine, cocoa, or milk.

YIELD: about 4 cups of mix

Pesto Veggie Dip

This is a new twist on an old favorite.  Easy and great for the Holidays!

1 1/2 c. chopped parsley
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. olive oil
 1 clove garlic
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
Fresh vegetables cleaned and cut to dipping length

Place first 4 ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Process until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Serve with fresh vegetables.
YIELD: about 3 cups

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Warm Wassail

What's wassail, you ask? It's, traditionally, a warm, spiced punch.  But don't let the word punch fool you -- this one is for adults only. Come in from the cold, sit by the fire, and get warm and toasty!

1 c. water
2 c. sugar
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 c. dry sherry
1/2 c. brandy
6 eggs, separated
1 orange

1. Boil water and sugar over high heat.
2. Reduce heat, add nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, sherry, and brandy.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
3. Discard cloves and cinnamon sticks.
4. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks on high speed until thick and lemon colored.
5. Whisk the yolks into the hot spiced mixture and stir constantly over low heat for 5 minutes.
6. Pour into a heat-proof punch bowl.
7. Beat the egg whites until stiff, and spoon gently on top of the wassail punch.
8. Garnish with thin orange slices.  Serve hot.

Makes 1 1/2 quart or 12 servings.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Scones

As you can tell, I'm packing on the recipes for your holiday cooking and baking.  Not all are low in fat and healthy, I must add, but once in a while a sweet treat can't hurt, right? Scones are an old time English favorite perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea (coffee break in America) when company is visiting. Substitute any fruit you like, such as raisins, blueberries, raspberries or even dates,  for the currants or use no fruit at all.  It's totally up to you!
( for a lower fat recipe for scones, see another post of mine here:  Cornmeal Currant Scones

2 1/2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 c. cold butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. grated lemon peel
1. c. currants (opt.)
1 egg
1/3 c. milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Butter 2 baking sheets.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Add butter, breaking it into bits.  Mix with the other ingredients.
3. Mix in sugar, lemon peel, and currants,
4. Using a spoon, drop 2-inch balls of the dough onto the baking sheets.
5. Bake 12 minutes or until puffed and golden.
6. Serve hot with sweetened whipped cream or butter and raspberry preserves.

Makes 18 scones.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011


Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
This the beginning of my favorite Chrsitmas story. When it comes to the part, Visions of Sugarplums dancing in their heads, I always wondered what a sugarplum was. A few years ago I was given a lovely Chrsitmas recipe book and I found the recipe for sugarplums within its beautiful pages.  I made sugarplums that year and they were a big hot with young and old. Beware they are very sweet and sticky.  I plan to make these these year again and will serve them in mini gold foil cups.  Can't wait!

1 c. dried apricots
1 c. pecans
1/2 c. pitted dates
1/2 c. golden raisins
2 c. vanilla wafers
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. sugar

1. Finely chop the apricots, pecans, dates, and raisins in a food processor or with a sharp knife.
2. Place several wafers in a plastic bag.  Use a rolling pin to make 1 cup of crumbs.
3. Place the fruit and nut mixture and the crumbs in a large bowl and toss with the coconut and orange juice.
4. Using your fingers, form into 1/4-inch balls.  On a plate, roll the balls in sugar.
5. Place in paper candy cups or wrap in a little squares of clear cellophane, twist at the top and tie with a gold cord or narrow ribbon.
Makes 5 dozen sugarplums.

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