Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

BACON JAM. I mean, c’mon!

I first shared the glory of bacon jam in a blog post five years ago, where I used it in all sorts of culinarily sinful ways. (Go on, check it out. I’ll wait.) I’d lightly adapted that recipe from the one at Stephanie Meyer’s brilliant Fresh Tart blog, but wanted to take it even further for this Advent Calendar. Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Cookbook (which would make an incredible Christmas present, fwiw) and his recipe for Jerk Bacon — which I served at Thanksgiving to rave reviews  — I added some warming jerk spices and doubled the cayenne pepper for this tongue-tingling version.

While no one would blame you for just eating it straight out of the jar, that presentation doesn’t lend itself to a party setting, so Darcie and I worked up some pretty little phyllo wedges to go with it. What was the verdict? I had to give most of the jam away because it was that good and I have that little self-control around it. So, I’d say it was a success all around.

Let us know what you think when (not if) you try it, especially if you come up with a new vehicle for getting it into your belly. Find Darcie’s post here.

Jerk Bacon Jam | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

Bacon jam + jerk spices + phyllo wedges make an addictive party snack.

Ingredients

Jerk Bacon Jam

  • 1 1/2lb bacon (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 yellow onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cups very strong brewed black coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust amount to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom

Jerk Bacon Jam (Optional)

  • 1oz bourbon

Phyllo Wedges

  • 1 box frozen phyllo dough
  • 1/2 stick butter (melted)

Note

Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your taste. I found this amount left me with a pleasant tingle on my tongue, but your mileage may vary. Recipe is adapted from the original at Fresh Tart.

Directions

Jerk Bacon Jam
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When bacon is browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan.
Place Dutch oven back on the burner and adjust heat to medium. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute until onions are mostly translucent, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with bourbon. Stir in the bacon and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is thick and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. If mixture starts to become dry, add up to 1/4 cup of water.
Transfer the bacon and onions to a food processor and pulse several times or until the bacon jam is a spreadable consistency. Scrape into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Phyllo wedges
Remove phyllo from box, keeping it wrapped in its plastic bag, and thaw at room temperature for about two hours.
Phyllo Wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully unroll phyllo sheets onto a flat, dry surface. Cover phyllo with plastic wrap, then a slightly damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
Remove one phyllo sheet from the package, lay it flat on baking sheet, then brush with butter. Top this layer with another phyllo sheet and repeat the buttering and layering process until you have 10 sheets of phyllo stacked together. Brush the top with butter.
Cut the stack into wedges and separate them slightly. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool wedges to room temperature, arrange on a platter and serve with Jerk Bacon Jam on the side.

Guacamole with Pear and Pomegranate Seeds

This unusual spin on guacamole is something I first tried years ago after seeing it referenced in another blog. Though I haven’t made it since, it always stuck with me because it’s honestly over-the-top delicious, so when Darcie and I were brainstorming for Small Bites Week, I immediately suggested this. It may sound really sweet with the pear mixed in, but the pomegranate adds tartness, and the initial step of grinding onions with peppers and salt disperses the savory element throughout, so it achieves a balance you wouldn’t otherwise expect.

Find Darcie’s post here, and visit Epicurious for the recipe, and let us know how you like it! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Pomegranate Guacamole 2 | Amy Roth Photo

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan crisps are usually found in salads, where you’ve likely encountered them over the years without giving them much thought. But I think these crisps are a delicious snack on their own — delicate and lacy, but aggressively flavorful — and pair incredibly well with champagne or other sparkling wines, making them a perfect bite for parties at this time of the year. That they’re a snap to make doesn’t hurt, either. Just make sure to use parchment paper or a silicone pan liner for success. Find Darcie’s post on the subject here.

Parmesan Crisps | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Parmesan Crisps

Allergy Milk
Meal type Appetizer, Snack
Parmesan Crisps — delicate, lacy and flavorful — are a welcome addition to any party snacking table.

Ingredients

  • 1 wedge aged Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Do not attempt this recipe without one or the other.)
Grate the Parmesan cheese finely, then drop tablespoonfuls on the lined baking sheet, leaving space between each. Spread the mounds into thin rounds. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool, then carefully remove with a thin spatula.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists

Welcome to Small Bites Week! For seven days, Darcie and I will be featuring nibbles and noshes that are perfect for holiday parties or just a light dinner when you’re overwhelmed by your seasonal responsibilities.

These prosciutto-wrapped breadstick twists fall into the party camp, and look really impressive, like you spent all day making them. But fear not! Although this is a from-scratch recipe, they couldn’t be simpler, especially if you have a stand mixer to help out. (If you don’t, I think that’d make a great item to add to your Christmas wish list, don’t you?) Find Darcie’s post and recipe here.

Serve these with little dipping bowls of olive oil if you’re so inclined, or just straight up with a cheese and charcuterie platter. They’re delicious any way.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Prosciutto Breadsticks | Amy Roth Photo

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists

Great for parties, Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists are as lovely as they are delicious.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3oz sliced prosciutto

Directions

Stir together the flour, yeast, salt and pepper. Add the oil and warm water and mix with a spoon until combined. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or alternatively, mix with the dough hook of an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, coat with a small amount of olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft free place to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully cut the sliced prosciutto into strips about 1/2 inch (about 1 cm) wide and set aside. Remove small pieces of the dough and roll and stretch into strips, about as long as your baking sheet is wide. Wrap each dough strip about half way down with a thin strip of prosciutto and twist the dough as you go. Lay the twists on the baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the breadsticks are browned and crisp. Remove from the oven, let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.

Hot Mulled Cider

Time to wrap up Drinks Week! Darcie’s come up with another wonderful non-alcoholic beverage for you today, with this spicy Hot Mulled Cider. Of course, if you prefer a tipple, you can always add the optional brandy and we won’t tell. It’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire either way!

Thank you for joining us this week, and please come back tomorrow for Small Bites Week, when we’ll kick off seven days of snacks, appetizers and noshes that are perfect for parties.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Blood Oranges - Amy Roth Photo

Mulled Ciders - Amy Roth Photo

 

Hot Mulled Cider

A non-alcoholic beverage that's still wonderfully grown-up, Hot Mulled Cider will hit the spot this winter.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts fresh apple cider
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod (lightly bruised)
  • 1/2 orange (zest only)

Optional

  • 1/2 cup brandy

Directions

In a large saucepan, simmer the apple cider and spices for 1/2 hour. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Pour through a sieve to remove the spices. (Do not leave the spices in too long, to avoid overly intense flavors which can overpower the cider.)
You can make the cider ahead of time, just be sure to store in a thermal carafe so it is served piping hot.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

The weather’s been topsy-turvy here in the Northeast this fall, but a couple of days ago, Old Man Winter pulled into town. If that’s the case where you are, today’s recipe is really going to hit the spot, though cold temperatures are in No Way a requirement for something as delicious as this Nutella Hot Chocolate. You can top it with whipped cream the way we did or with a big marshmallow or two and take a torch to it for something reminiscent of drinkable s’mores. You’ll thank me. And I thank Darcie for this scrumptious recipe – be sure to check out her post at the link.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Nutella Hot Chocolate 2 | Amy Roth Photo

Nutella Hot Chocolate | Amy Roth Photo

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Serves 1
Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Beverage
Nutella Hot Chocolate — for those days when you need a little something extra to take the chill away.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella
  • pinch salt

Optional

  • 1 shot Frangelico

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat the milk. Whisk in the Nutella and salt, stirring until well combined. Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows, then serve.
For a grown up twist on this hot cocoa, a shot of Frangelico would intensify the hazelnut flavor, or stir in some whiskey or other alcohol as desired.

Snowball-tinis

I’ll be honest with you — we did this one simply because we thought it would be fun to shoot! And it really was. Sometimes I think the part I love most about food photography is the constant MacGyver-ing necessary to get what’s in your mind out into the real world, then into the camera. This shot took a while, but we had a ball; check out Darcie making it snow in my Instagram feed.

Fun, “snowy” times aside, this is a delicious drink for the sweets-lovers out there. Minty and fresh with the most ethereal drinks element around — cotton candy — it’s a taste of winter. Be sure to check out Darcie’s post at her website, Gourmet Creative.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Snowball-tinis

Serves 1
Meal type Beverage
Snowball-tinis are fun and festive drinks for the sweets-lovers among you.

Ingredients

  • 1oz vanilla vokda
  • 1oz creme de cacao
  • 1oz peppermint liqueur
  • cotton candy

Directions

Pour alcohol into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake until well chilled. Form the cotton candy into a ball and place in a martini glass. The cotton candy will dissolve when the alcohol is poured over it, so be sure to present the glass first. Pour in the mixture and serve.

Pear and Ginger Prosecco Cocktail

Looking for a fun twist on the standard bubbly this holiday season? We’ve got a real treat in store for you today with Darcie’s incredible Pear & Ginger Prosecco Cocktails! They’re everything you want in a holiday cocktail — light, effervescent and just plain gorgeous. And the candied ginger is a delicious, snack-able lagniappe. Check out Darcie’s post for more about its creation.

Cheers!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Prosecco Cocktail | Amy Roth Photo

Pear and Ginger Prosecco Cocktail

Meal type Beverage
Light and bubbly with the refreshing flavor of ginger, this Pear and Ginger Prosecco Cocktail is holiday party-ready.

Ingredients

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

  • 1 piece fresh ginger (4 inches)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for coating)

Prosecco Cocktail

  • 1 tablespoon ginger syrup
  • 1oz pear juice
  • Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)
  • 1 fresh pear (thinly sliced)

Directions

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger
In a small saucepan, cook the sugar and water over medium heat until syrupy, approximately 10-15 minutes. Peel the ginger and cut into thin strips. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the ginger strips. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the ginger and arrange on a baking rack to dry for 1 hour.
While ginger strips are drying, pour the ginger syrup into a jar or bottle for storage. Toss the ginger in granulated sugar to coat and return to the baking rack. Allow to dry fully, preferably overnight. Store in an airtight container.
Prosecco Cocktail
Mix together the syrup and pear juice and pour into glasses. Top up with Prosecco, garnish with sliced fresh pear and serve.

Homemade Irish Cream

After two days of bright and tangy drinks, we’re moving on to something luscious and smooth — Homemade Irish Cream. Who among us hasn’t enjoyed a shot of Bailey’s fortifying a cup of coffee on a cold day? That combination of creamy sweetness with a fiery backbone is a real favorite of mine, so I was excited to see this homemade version in the list of recipes to shoot for the cookbook Dishing Up New Jersey: 150 Recipes from the Garden State. Author John Holl delivered a wonderful book in every way, writing a culinary love letter to his home — and my adopted — state, while sharing recipes from chefs and home cooks alike. Maybe I’m partial, but I think it would make an excellent gift for the Jersey boy or girl in your life!

Last year, I gave bottles of this homemade liqueur to friends at Christmas, and they were a huge hit — so much so, that I got requests for more every few months! You can’t get more successful than that. Give it a try and let us know what you think. I’m sure you’ll fall head over heels just as I did.

Find Darcie’s post (and a funny story about an Irish Cream mishap) here.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Homemade Irish Cream 2 | Amy Roth Photo

Homemade Irish Cream

Allergy Egg, Milk
Meal type Beverage
From book Dishing Up New Jersey: 150 Recipes from the Garden State
Meet your new favorite drink — Homemade Irish Cream. Sweet and luscious with a potent kick, it's everything you'd hoped it would be.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 1 3/4 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Note

This recipe is shared with permission from Dishing Up New Jersey: 150 Recipes from the Garden State by John Holl.

Directions

Heat the cream and instant coffee in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm, stirring until the grains are fully dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the coffee mixture to a blender. Add the eggs, whiskey, condensed milk, chocolate syrup, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend until fully combined, about 1 minute.
Run the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, chill, and serve or bottle. It can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Limoncello

Limoncello and I go way back. My father used to travel a lot for his job and often found himself working in northern Italy, where he became good friends with his business counterpart in the local office. My mom accompanied him whenever possible (because, Italy), and they’d enjoy a nice vacation on the company dime. This was back in the ’90s when flying wasn’t such a slog, so they’d return with all sorts of goodies, including homemade limoncello, which the ladies in our town really loved. I have to say, it wasn’t really my thing at the time, but I’ve grown to appreciate it over the years. Bright and scented by the sun, with sweetness on a sliding scale according to your taste, it’s an amazing way to use an abundance of Meyer lemons if you’re lucky enough to have a tree, or just a good way to indulge if you want to go the supermarket route.

Please check out Darcie’s post for her personal take on limoncello via Perth, Australia. I don’t know about you, but I get a serious case of wanderlust whenever I read her posts. Her limoncello recipe is so similar to The Kitchn‘s that we simply adapted it for you here.

Remember: Drink responsibly and please designate a driver if you plan to indulge!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Limoncello 2 - Amy Roth Photo

 

Limoncello

Meal type Beverage
Misc Serve Cold
Bright, scented by the sun, and just as sweet as you’d like, homemade limoncello is a special treat.

Ingredients

  • 10 organic Meyer lemons (washed and dried)
  • 1 bottle vodka (750-ml; 100-proof preferred, or 80-proof)
  • 1-4 cup sugar (to taste)

Note

Adapted from The Kitchn.

Directions

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the lemons, taking care not to include the white pith. Place peels in a large glass jar and cover with vodka. (The remaining lemons can be used to make lemonade- yum!) Allow the peels to steep for about a month (at least 4 days, but longer is definitely better).
Make a simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar. Heat until fully dissolved and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, strain the vodka, removing all peels and sediment. Combine simple syrup and infused vodka until you reach desired sweetness and concentration.
Pour into a bottle. Chill and serve the limoncello on its own, or in a cocktail.