Ree Drummond is one of my very favorite people. If you’re not following her site, The Pioneer Woman, you really should be. She is one of those rare bloggers who brings a smile to my face every time I read her posts. Ree has provided a lot of inspiration and guidance to me over the years. Not only is she a fantastic food blogger, she has her own show on Food Network. On top of all that she’s a really, really nice person. I was thrilled when her new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks – A Year of Holidays, showed up on my doorstep. I’ve been waiting for this one, and it did not disappoint! Ree has taken the concept of a seasonal holiday cookbook to the next level, laying out her recipes with step-by-step photos (like I do!) so anybody can get great results.
Though it’s called A Year of Holidays, Ree wrote this cookbook with the goal of sharing recipes that can be enjoyed year-round. Here are some of my favorite things about this fabulous book:
– The pictures. Ree’s food photography is GORGEOUS. Her pictures make my mouth water. She’s one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to blogging and food photography. Check out this book and you’ll understand why.
– Ree’s writing. One of the reasons Ree has such a big (huge, ginormous!) following on her blog The Pioneer Woman is her ability to tell a story. Her writing is fun, funny, and personal. Reading through this cookbook feels like chatting over the kitchen table with an old friend.
– Game plans. Ree has provided full menus for various holidays… no Jewish holidays, but I did love her inclusion of unofficial holidays like “The Big Game” for football season. She’s also given do-ahead tips for each menu, so you can easily make an entire feast without stressing too much on the day you’re serving.
– Recipes by Category index. This book is organized by holiday, naturally, but it also includes a helpful index that you can use year-round to find the exact recipe you’re looking for, whether you’re celebrating or simply cooking weeknight dinner for the family.
I wanted to make a recipe and share it with you so you could get a “taste” of the cookbook. There were many tempting options, but I eventually settled on Cherry Cheesecake Shooters. A cheesecake-like dessert that takes a grand total of 15 minutes (minus the chilling) to assemble? Sign me up! Ree makes these treats as small “shooter”-style desserts in shot glasses or mini wine glasses; she offers a variety of shooter recipes in the book so you can effectively create a dessert “tasting,” sampling many different flavors. I liked these cheesecake shooters so much that I ended up making larger portions using brandy glasses, which were just right for a full-size dessert. Though they’re called shooters, the alcohol is optional here if you want to omit it. I personally loved the flavor of the whiskey with the cherries, it gave this dessert such a nice wintery feel. It would be perfect for a holiday gathering, or maybe New Year’s day!
This book would make a terrific gift for anybody on your list who likes to cook for the holidays. It’s not a kosher cookbook (lotsa bacon here!), but it is a fantastic collection of tried-and-true recipes from Ree’s kitchen to yours. Buy a copy of A Year of Holidays here and make somebody on your holiday list very, very happy.
As a special holiday treat, Ree has offered to give away three signed copies of her new cookbook to my readers! Simply leave me a comment here on this post, or on the post link on Facebook, for a chance to enter. Contest is open until Monday December 23 at 5:00pm Pacific. Three winners will be chosen at random from the comments section and announced next week.
Meanwhile, enjoy this Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks – A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond!
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CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to MaryBess Boudreau, Cathy Carruthers and Pam Siege, winners of the Pioneer Woman signed cookbook giveaway! To those who didn’t win, don’t worry… I’ve got lots of new giveaways coming up in 2014. Stay tuned!
Cherry Cheesecake Shooters
Learn to make easy, tasty cheesecake desserts with cherries, almonds and a graham cracker base.
- 24 oz frozen pitted sweet cherries (2 12-oz bags)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup whiskey (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 blocks)
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
- 12 graham crackers
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
You will also need: Medium saucepan, whisk, mixing bowl, stand mixer, pastry bag or plastic storage bag, miniature wine or shot glasses for serving
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, honey and whiskey over medium heat and mix to combine.
Add the butter and continue cooking until the cherries are hot and bubbly.
In a separate dish, whisk together the cornstarch and lemon juice. Add cornstarch mixture to the cherries and cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring until the mixture is nice and thick.
Remove from heat and transfer the cherries to a bowl. Refrigerate until they’re totally chilled and thick.
In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and condensed milk until fluffy.
Place the mixture into a pastry bag or plastic zipper bag with a medium hole snipped off the end. Store in a bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Place the graham crackers into a large storage bag and crush them into fine crumbs.
To assemble: Spoon a large helping of the crumbs into the bottom of a miniature wine glass or shot glass.
Squeeze in 2-3 tbsp of the cream cheese mixture.
Then spoon in 1-2 tbsp of the cherry mixture.
Top with a few of the slivered almonds and repeat until all of the ingredients have been used.
Note: I used brandy glasses for a larger serving, which makes it less a "shooter" and more a full-sized dessert. If you wish to do the same, simply divide the crumbs, cherries and cheesecake layers between 8 brandy glasses, then top each serving with sliced almonds. Enjoy!