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Bourbon Peach Pie

With the excitement of a giddy child, there are a number of holidays I look forward to each year. Christmas Eve is at the top, thanks to a spread of delicious, “winter weight” provoking foods and bevy of loved ones that come with an appetite. Thanksgiving is a favorite for similar reasons, but also because of the family traditions of a Wednesday night pre-game the previous evening and a morning football game before the big turkey dinner. And, finally, there’s the summer Saturday party I await every year: “Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue.”

Always my bourbon of choice.

Always my bourbon of choice.

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Tomato and Pineapple Salad with Garlic Chips

We all eat and drink with our eyes first – I drool as soon as I see the cover of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Top 50 Restaurants” issue every year. Elite chefs learn the art of skillfully plating dishes, ensuring the sensation that something is delicious before you even bite into it. Companies secure clientele with ads I sometimes wish were scratch-and-sniff, or by renting billboards on I-95 with the exact number of miles to the next location of their fast-food restaurant. And have you ever attempted to watch a cooking show on an empty stomach? I’d rather do 100 sit ups.

Beautiful salad.

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Apple Hand Pies

Whether you and your family stay in the city to see your neighborhood parade and head to the Parkway for Welcome America, or you vacation at the shore to catch some beach time and watch the fireworks, the proud, positive energy of Independence Day is infectious. Everyone is doused in red, white and blue, and the American flag lines streets all over the country. It’s natural to reflect on the true meaning of the Fourth of July and something as natural as sharing time with our family reminds us to be thankful for our freedoms. Whatever your traditions on this patriotic holiday, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’re attending a barbecue at a family member or friend’s house and will be eating some pretty delicious food.

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Candied Orange Peel

Buying gifts can start to quickly add up, and it’s hard to not feel generous during the holidays. Though I try to set a budget for each person on my list, it can be really hard to stick to; I aspire to be one of the greatest gift givers in my family and sometimes overdo it. To help ease the pain on my wallet, while utilizing my knack for baking, I set out to churn dozens of sweets out of my own kitchen to give my favorite people on the planet presents that are homemade and edible.

I entered my culinary arena at 10 a.m. last Saturday and lost myself in batches upon batches of cookies, cakes and candies. When I finally came to, after a whirlwind day of stirring, mixing, and whisking, it was getting dark outside and I happily realized I spent the entire day in the kitchen. True, I was definitely proud of my accomplishments as I looked around my kitchen and admired my own work: freezer bags and Tupperware containers practically overflowing with holiday treats. But, I was also overcome with excitement as I imagined my confections wrapped in red and green paper, tied with ribbon. What was even more thrilling was the thought of them being eaten. Read More…

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