Happy December, everyone! I can’t believe how fast this year has come and gone… but I can say that this year is going to go out with a bang! Amongst all the exciting events that are coming up, I am looking forward to all the delicious treats that are to come over the holiday season!
If you follow me on Instagram (@seasonserveblog) you will know that for the month of December, I am bringing back my holiday blog series called AppyHolidays! For this series, I will be posting a fabulous holiday appetizer that you can serve at a holiday party that you may be hosting or to bring to a holiday party that you are attending this season. This has to be one of my favourite series on the blog since appetizers are my favourite part of any meal!
In addition to AppyHolidays, I am also working on another festive blog series for December called The 12 Days of Christmas! If you are into food blogs, you will have probably seen other food bloggers run this series. The premise is that in the 12 days running up to Christmas, I will post a holiday cookie recipe EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. That’s a lot of cookies! I can’t wait to share this series with you… now if only I can find a way to share the 12 dozen cookies I’ve made with you too! 😛
Apart from these two series, I have lots of other fun festive and seasonal recipes and gift ideas coming to the blog this month, including this post on my favourite winter spices that I love adding to my recipes this time of the year.
Cayenne pepper is a spicy pepper powder made from dried and ground cayenne peppers. You wouldn’t think of cayenne pepper as a typical holiday spice, but it adds so much flavour, warmth and spiciness to recipes!
Cayenne pepper is something to not mess with too much, it is one of the hottest pepper powders that you can get from the grocery store. All you really need is a pinch of this hot pepper powder and it will really go a long way!
I like to add cayenne pepper to a variety of winter recipes including soups, chili and even some sweet recipes like cookies and hot chocolate!
These little green pods pack a ton of wintery and warming flavour. Cardamom has a complex flavour– it’s citrusy, herbal and minty all at the same time and is perfect for sweet and savoury recipes.
I like to buy the whole pods of cardamom from the store since they keep their flavour much longer than ground cardamom. You will notice they they have a pale green papery skin on the outside and will have small black seeds in the center. The black seeds are where all the flavour is, but their flavour easily penetrates through the skin if you add the whole pods to your recipe.
As I mentioned, cardamom is great in sweet and savoury dishes. I like to add cardamom to coffee cakes to lattes to savoury Moroccan spiced chicken!
While I love the flavour of star anise, I really love to use this spice for holiday decorations since it is so beautiful! Star anise is woody and had a liquorice flavour. It grows in the shape of a star and contains small seeds within each branch of the star. It looks beautiful as a garnish in lattes and and mulled wine, or just strewn about on your holiday table.
Again, I like to buy my star anise whole and then add it to recipes whole or ground as needed. Just like cardamom, this spice is great in sweet and savoury dishes. I like to use star anise in Mulled Wine and in braised chicken or beef dishes! Yum!
Cinnamon is likely the most common spice used during the holiday and winter season. This deep, warming spice can either be bought in sticks or in ground form. Personally, I like to have both types on hand for various purposes. I love adding ground cinnamon to smoothies and desserts, while cinnamon sticks make a great addition for braising or as a garnish.
When you are purchasing cinnamon at the store, make sure it is bright brown in colour (if it is ground) or that the cinnamon sticks are a deep brown colour and are tightly wrapped and not broken (if it is in sticks). This will ensure that you have fresh and pungent cinnamon on hand for all your recipes!
Cloves are a great warm winter spice and actually come from a the buds of a type of exotic evergreen tree. These woody, sweet buds are have a very soothing and warming aroma and flavour and go great in desserts and savoury dishes. I love to add cloves to my Easter ham as well as in desserts such as Poached Quince or in lattes!
Again, buying the whole cloves ensures that the flavour of this spice stays fresher for a longer period of time!