If there's one thing in abundance over the holiday season, it's food! And we love all kinds of it! At the 2011 Real Simple Holiday Pop-Up Event in New York City's Bryant Park this past week, we talked to some of the most creative chefs and bakers in the business. And we brought their tips to you!
Here are just a few of the great culinary and pastry artists we spoke to at the Real Simple event, and tips they have for you to make your holiday cooking and baking simpler - and tastier - this season:
Make Cupcakes Simpler
CandaceCandace Nelson @sprinklescandac - Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles and judge of The Food Network's "Cupcake Wars," can help you kick your kitchen into high-gear by turning one cupcake recipe into three. "What I like to do during the holidays is make a big batch of just vanilla cupcake batter, divide into different bowls and add different holiday spices," Candace told genConnect. "So you can add cloves to one, you can orange oil to another, add peppermint extract to another and you've got yourself three different fabulous recipes from one base recipe."
And just what should you drink with your tasty cupcakes? "During the holidays, champagne of course!" Candace recommended. "Or if you're abstaining from alcohol, just a great cup of coffee or hot chocolate is the way to go."
For more: Candace Nelson's Holiday Baking Tips
Opt for Buffets
Dawn Perry - Buffets make everything simpler, according to Real Simple Food Editor Dawn Perry. "The holidays are really about being together, as hard as you work to get the buffet out, at the end of the day you just want to kind of hang out with your friends and your family. So we try not to stress too much about it and give people these simple, easy ideas. Easy to prepare, easy to find," Dawn said. But if you do find yourself cooking this holiday, add this item to your menu: cookies. Real Simple's December issue has a plethora to choose from. Dawn's favorite: the flourless peanut butter cookie. "Losing the flour really makes the peanut butter pop. It's delicious," she told genConnect.
Decorate Cookies With the Family
DanieleDaniele Fiori, aka "Sweet Dani B" @SweetDaniB - Dani Fiori is owner of the blooming business, Sweet Dani B, which offers a wide array of "couture event accessories" including save the dates to invitations, thank you cards, matching paper goods and what Sweet Dani B calls the best party favors: cookies! Dani gets all of her family members together to ice cookies together before dinner - on this year's menu: Peppermint, and maybe gingerbread. "Always cookies - cookies are the best!"
Food Gift Boxes are a Hit
Jonathan Kinsella @epicerieBoulud - As Executive Chef of Epicerie Boulud, chef Daniel Boulud's newest restaurant, Jonathan Kinsellaknows great food. As a chef, he loves to give gift boxes of food for presents this holiday season. These boxes full of everything one needs to throw an "amazing cocktail party," including charcuterie, condiments, house-made bread, and cheese. And of course, you can find top-of-the-line, house-made food from each these categories at Epicerie Boulud. Pick up your boxes at Epicerie Boulud in New York City, or online at Store.danielnyc.com.
Let Them Drink Punch
Julie Reiner @mixtressnyc - As a celebrity mixologist, beverage director and co-owner of Flatiron Lounge, Lani Kai and Clover Club, Julie Reiner knows her drinks. And for the upcoming holiday season, she suggests punches as trendy favorites, particularly for the younger crowd. One yummy party beverage she recommends is mixing Mount Gay Rum, muddled lemon peels and sugar, fresh-squeezed and strained lemon juice, red wine and water. "What we really want to do is be able to serve people punch that's going to last the whole night," Julie said. "It should be a little bit lighter than your standard cocktail." This drink is sure to be a hit with your holiday party guests!