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Holiday Starters/Drinks

Warm Cinnamon-Orange Cider
Yield 8 servings


  • 32 ounces apple cider
  • 2 cups Florida orange juice
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces whole allspice
  • 2 tablespoons Florida honey


Heat apple cider, orange juice, cinnamon sticks and allspice to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove allspice and cinnamon sticks. Stir in honey and serve warm.


Pecan Egg Nog
Yield 6 Servings


  • 4 Florida egg yolks
  • 6 cups milk
  • ½ cup natural Florida sugar
  • ½ cup whole Florida pecans
  • Rum, if desired


Soak the pecans in just enough milk to completely cover, then blend in a blender until smooth. Bring remaining milk to a boil. Add sugar and pecan mixture, stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Whip egg yolks and while stirring, slowly add the eggs to the milk mixture. Once thickened, chill and serve. If desired, add rum.


Florida Mushrooms Stuffed with Feta and Spinach
Yield Approximately 40 Stuffed Mushrooms


  • 1 package (about 3/4 pound) Florida button mushrooms, stemmed
  • 4 ounces lean bacon slices
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 of a 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out as much water as possible)
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet until crispy. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. After the bacon has completely cooled, crumble into small pieces. Save remaining bacon grease for later use.

Heat 2 teaspoons reserved bacon fat in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until tender and translucent. Transfer to medium mixing bowl and cool. Combine bacon, spinach, feta, cream cheese, crushed red pepper, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Line 2 large baking sheets with foil. Toss mushrooms with 3 table spoons of the reserved bacon grease in large bowl to coat. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, rounded side down, in single layer on baking sheets. Bake mushrooms until tender, and cooked through (around 15 minutes). Remove mushrooms from oven, let cool slightly and let them drain in a colander. Once the mushrooms have cooled and drained, start stuffing them with the filling by spooning 1 heaping teaspoon of filling into each mushroom cavity.

Bake mushrooms until browned and bubbly, around 10 minutes. Serve mushrooms warm or cold.


Eggplant Dip
Yield 4 Servings


  • 1 1/2 large Florida eggplants, halved
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Florida tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Florida basil, sliced


Heat oven to 350°F. Coat eggplants with cooking spray. Roast 1 hour. Scoop pulp into a sieve lined with cheesecloth; drain 1 hour. Remove pulp; purée in food processor; transfer to a bowl. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook onion 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes and paprika; cook 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Stir yogurt into puree; add onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Chill 30 minutes. Garnish with basil. Serve with raw vegetables

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