These pre-holiday recipes can be used now or later. Keep the recipes on file to make for your special occasions. Some items can be made in advance for ease in preparation.

These pre-holiday recipes can be used now or later. Keep the recipes on file to make for your special occasions. Some items can be made in advance for ease in preparation.



Apple Cider and Bourbon Cocktails

Makes 4 cocktails.

½ cup apple cider

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 cup bourbon

¼ cup orange liqueur (I use Grand Marnier.)

Granny Smith green apple slices


In a pitcher combine bourbon, apple cider, orange juice, and orange liqueur; stir to combine well. Add ice, about 2 cups, stir and let sit for a few minutes. Strain into 4 chilled martini glasses. Garnish with apple slices.

If desired, damp glass rims may be turned in granulated sugar before filling glasses with beverage.


Apple Salsa

4 cups of your favorite apples, peeled and diced, about a pound (I us a mix.)

½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

½ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup orange juice

1 small red onion, diced

¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar

salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a bowl whisk together lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper. Chill for 2-3 hours and serve.


Orange Glazed Walnuts

¼ cup water

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup walnut halves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet over medium heat cook water, orange juice, and sugar for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in orange zest and cinnamon. Add walnuts; stir until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer onto a foil lined rimmed baking sheet sprayed with vegetable spray. Bake 10 minutes; cool. Store in airtight containers.


Green Beans and Mushrooms

1 pound green beans, trimmed

3 tablespoons butter

6 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 ounces baby portabello mushroom caps, thinly sliced

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a steamer steam green beans, covered, for 4-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Plunge beans into ice water immediately; drain. Pat dry with paper towels; set aside.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; sauté for 7-8 minutes or until mushroom liquid evaporates. Stir in garlic; sauté 1-minute; stirring constantly. Add green beans; cook for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine. Serve hot.


Shredded Red Cabbage Salad with Apples

3 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons raspberry jam, seedless

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 cups red cabbage, shredded

2 large carrots, grated

1 Granny Smith green apple or yellow delicious, thinly sliced then cut in half crosswise

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh sweet basil, chopped

½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (Optional)

In a large bowl combine together cabbage, carrots, red onion, and apple slices. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, raspberry jam, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle over cabbage, toss and let stand for 10 minutes. Add yellow pepper and toss. Toss again and sprinkle with basil before serving.


Creamy Rigatoni with Italian Sweet Sausage

1 16-ounce package rigatoni

1 pound bulk Italian sweet sausage; hot sausage, if you prefer

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 pound fresh button or baby portabello mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced then smashed

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups heavy whipping cream

½ cup sweet red bell pepper, cut into small pieces (Optional)

Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain and set aside; keep warm.

While cooking rigatoni, in a skillet sauté sausage over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles; drain and remove sausage from skillet pour into a bowl.

In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper; cook covered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; sauté and stir 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and liquid is evaporated.

Stir in heavy cream; bring just to a boil and lower heat. Cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Return sausage to skillet; heat through about 4-6 minutes. Stir in pepper pieces (Optional). Serve sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.


Pumpkin Latte Syrup

Enjoy a cup of pumpkin latte at a fraction of the cost. This pumpkin syrup keeps for a month in the refrigerator. Just add 1-2 tablespoons to your favorite coffee and top with whipped cream, if desired. I like to add 1-tablespoon Kahlua to the coffee also as a dessert coffee.

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups water

¼ cup pumpkin puree

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon ground pumpkin

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

In a saucepan simmer sugar, water, pumpkin, spices, and cinnamon sticks, whisking for 10-12 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks. Strain syrup through a fine screened strainer, twice; chill and keep for up to a month.

Stir in 1-2 tablespoons syrup with coffee and add warm milk to taste. Top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon.


Marbled Pumpkin-Brownie Pie

1 package good brownie mix

2 tablespoons Kahlua (Optional)

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream

1 large egg, room temperature

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl prepare brownie batter according to package instructions, adding Kahlua, if desired, stir in.

Prepare a 9-inch pie plate by buttering it. Pour about one third of the brownie batter into the pie plate; set aside the remaining batter.

Bake in 350 degree oven until just starting to set and the top is shiny, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

In another bowl whisk together until smooth pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Pour pumpkin mixture over warm brownie layer.

Stir 1-tablespoon water into the remaining brownie batter, then spoon the batter onto the pumpkin filling. With a dinner knife pull the brownie batter into the pumpkin filling creating a marbled design.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pie is set, about 40-50 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.