Savory “Sweet”Rolls

Ina Garten on the Barefoot Contessa makes cinnamon rolls using puff pastry which is brilliant. Instead of having to wait for the dough to rise like regular cinnamon roll dough you just roll and go. I hate waiting for stuff. After making her sweet rolls I started wondering if you could make the same thing only savory – here you go…

I made these with sausage apple and cheddar but the sky is the limit. I love recipes where you don’t really have to measure anything and you can use whatever you have in your fridge or whatever your theme is or just whatever you feel like eating. I’ll put other ideas at the bottom.

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Sausage Apple Cheddar Savory Sweet Rolls


2 packages puff pastry; thawed but very cold

1 lb ground sausage

½ large sweet onion; diced

1 granny smith apple; cored and diced

1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme

1 tablespoon sorghum or molasses

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 pats of cold butter

½ cup chopped pecans

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Non-stick baking spray

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Serves: 12 rolls

Heat the oven to 400° and spray a non-stick muffin tin with baking spray

Cut each pat of butter into ¼ and place each ¼ into a muffin cup; sprinkle with a few pecans

Sauté the onions and sausage in a little olive oil until the sausage is no longer pink

Add the apples and sauté until soft

Add the thyme, sorghum, and cinnamon and stir

Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool completely (if you don’t let it cool it will make the puff pastry all gross and gummy – so let it cool)

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface

Using a rolling pin roll out the pastry to 12” x 11”

Sprinkle the pastry with half the shredded cheese and half the cooled sausage mixture; leave about a 1” strip at the end of the pastry

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Roll up the pastry tightly ending with the edge that has nothing sprinkled on it; rest the roll on the seam

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Using a serrated knife cut the log in half then each half into 1/3; place each roll cut side down into a muffin cup

Repeat with the other puff pastry and other half of the cheese and sausage mixture

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Place the muffin tin in the preheated oven with a cookie sheet under it in case it spills over

Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes or until each roll is golden brown.

Run a knife around the roll to release it and turn them out while still warm

Serve at room temperature

Some other ideas:

Italian – mozzarella, olives, salami, with Italian seasoning

French – mushrooms, gruyere, ham, and thyme

Mediterranean – feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomato. Serve it with a tomato and cucumber salad and taziki sauce

Mexican – cheddar, jalapeno, steak, served with a queso and pico de gallo

Southern – fried chicken, pickles, mayo

You get the idea – think of a sandwich or pizza that you like and make it work.
Just don’t use anything too wet – like put tomatoes on the side.
Make sure you chop everything pretty small so it rolls up well.
Add things like olives and sundried tomatoes that have a lot of flavor but keep track and don’t use salt if you have items with salt already in them. Don’t forget some cheeses are pretty salty

Yule Love What I Did to the Place



My idea of the holidays is Yule. I’m 3/4 German and 1/4 Scottish so I love Celtic and Germanic traditions. Bringing evergreens into the house and using as many natural elements as I can. I also like to use what I already have. If I have something pretty I don’t want it to sit in the cupboard I want it to be out where I can see it.

The beautiful pictures are from Carly Robertson Photography

This year I used The Magnolia Company for all my garlands, wreath’s and the mini pine trees. I laid the garland along the top of a hutch and the fireplace mantels, along the railing of the front porch and draped them over the backs of my wicker swing and wicker couch. It was really easy – just lay or hang the garland then add some ribbon or a bow.

The Outside

Wreaths hanging in the 2nd floor windows with ribbon and over the lights on the garage, garlands along the front railings, a swag over the front door, poinsettias tucked here and there (I always put the poinsettias in either clay pots or metal tubs I don’t like the foil they come in). Garland draped over the swing and couch and a tray of mini evergreens with a grapevine wreath around them. Take the holiday items and put them in your normal pots or incorporate them into your usual décor don’t just plop a poinsettia with foil on it by the front door and call it a day. Just drop it into a clay pot or switch out the usual plant by the front door. Tuck ribbon or trimmed branches from the Christmas tree in stuff you already have.

Pull the kids wooden (not plastic) red wagon around and fill it with poinsettias
and boxes wrapped like presents. And use natural reds and greens
like green leaves or red berries.

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The Foyer

I hung a wreath from the railing instead of garland on the railing – I moved my lanterns from the living room to the built in seat and left the straw broom there. I love how homey it looks. Then tucked in some tree trimmings. On the window seat I have a collection of holiday trees to grouped them together and curled a ribbon through them. I wanted to add a pop of color since the trees are a natural color on the wood seat so I put a large red tray under them. The lanterns have flameless candles that I turned on for parties it’s nice to have a warm welcome at the front door. I also have a board I painted with chalkboard paint then used an old frame of my grandmothers. I tried using chalk on it but it doesn’t really come clean so I just print out any notes, menus, thank yous etc. and use that putty stuff to stick it on.

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The Living Room  

I put the tree where I can see it from the couch and people can see it through the window from the street. I like to use a real tree of course and different sized little white lights. I love vintage style ornaments and actual vintage ornaments. My oldest is a lamb that was my grandmothers it’s from the 1930s. I add new ones every year. I started collecting an ornament each year for my sons when they were born. And I get a new ornament for each of us from Epcot each year. Not every country will have ornaments. United Kingdom I bought a pack of pub coasters and punched holes in them and ran a ribbon through. Mexico I found little tiny sombreros. China I used little key chains that were each of our Chinese Zodiac animals. Canada was easy they had gold maple leaf ornaments and Norway has scan design ornament balls. This year was Africa and they actually had little hand made origami type safari animals.

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For the topper I wanted something from nature so I bundled some silk Amaryllis and added bows around them and wrapped it all in ribbon.


Above the mantel I put a garland with ribbon, my red berry topiaries that I put in the pots I usually have on the mantel I just added burlap and satin bows so you couldn’t see the pot sticking up.
Added my Christmas teapot some votives and tree trimmings.

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On the side tables and the coffee table… I put large ornaments in the white bowl that’s usually on the coffee table. I put a cool vintage silver tinsel wreath on top of a silver urn and added a birch candle. I put a red berry wreath over the plant in the white bowl I usually have on the desk. And done.

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The Dining Room

It was simple – add a couple of poinsettias to an ice tub that is usually empty and set the table with my holiday dishes. Add ribbon, votives (I like to use the flameless kind that will automatically come on each night)
and a few fancy ornaments and you’re done.

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The Kitchen

I used jars of candy and cool marshmallows from Williams Sonoma, oranges studded with cloves, the trimmings from the Christmas tree, citrus, holiday towels and napkins, and ribbon. By just tucking a pretty curly ribbon and a vintage holiday towel in the corner it changes the same lamp and sugar bowl into a holiday setting. And the great thing is the tree trimmings are free, the citrus will last all season and then you can throw it away so no storage. The ribbon is cheap and can be rolled up to use again. Utilize your napkins and holiday dishes instead of buying a decoration just use what you already have that sits in a drawer all season. If you have people coming over put apple cider with mulling spices in a Dutch oven and let is simmer on low the whole time. It makes your house smell like the holidays.

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The Family Room

Garland over the mantle with ribbon, flameless candles, and stockings. My old man Christmas (a nod to Oden the king of the elves) a poinsettia, and a pinecone in a pot my son made for me 22 years ago. (every now and then they actually make cool stuff. If you want to give someone a gift from your small child this one is pretty cute. Using a glue gun add Spanish moss to the opening of a small clay pot, then glue small little shinny balls in the petals of the pine cone and glue the pine cone to the moss. Done. You could white wash the pot and tie a pretty burlap or satin wide bow around it but plain is nice too). I used my round metal tray and filled it with like colored ornaments (mine are greens golds and browns) then nestled 3 live mini pine trees in burlap sacks amongst them (Magnolia Company).

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Lots of simple ideas, nothing too fancy, but very warm and cozy.
That was the plan. 

Tea Time at the Grand Floridian

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Better late then never. I should have posted this before the holidays were over but I just didn’t have time. The good news is you can go anytime and it’s still awesome. Mother’s Day is another favorite of mine.

But every year we go to the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World to have Afternoon Tea for Christmas. It’s really nice all year long but it’s especially nice at Christmas time. They have a 5 story beautiful Christmas tree

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and a life size gingerbread house that they sell gingerbread from.

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If you do want to go at Christmas time book your reservations 180 days ahead. That’s the earliest Disney will let you book. So I have it in my calendar in July to make the reservation. And make it for more people then you think. The max is 6. You can always reduce it later but getting a bigger table later is almost impossible.

Click here to make a reservation.

Some more really beautiful Christmas decorations

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ok with that said… the rest of the year the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian is still a lovely place to have Afternoon Tea.

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The waitresses are dressed in Victorian English outfits, everything is served on English china with all the extras – honey, lemon, cream, clotted cream and home made jams for the scones, and tea cozies.

They have dozens of different types of teas. Something new they’ve started is offering seasonal teas. For example during the holidays one of the 3 seasonal teas was a gingerbread spiced tea.

They have several different options for food. The one we always get is the Buckingham. It has tea sandwiches and a sweet onion tart, seasonal scones with seasonal fruit butter, jam, and clotted cream, strawberry tart, and a choice of strawberries and cream, a trifle, or fancy pastries.

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starting with the tart in the front and going clockwise –
Sweet onion tart (my favorite), egg salad, roasted golden beet, cucumber and watercress, roasted tomato, and in the middle curried chicken salad

It doesn’t look like that much but by the time you eat the sandwiches, the scone, the strawberry tart, and drink a whole pot of tea you’re almost too full for dessert. I almost always take mine home.

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The other menu items include a Gentlemen’s tea which has pates and cheeses and a children’s Mrs. Potts Tea which has chocolate milk instead of tea and pb&j and ham and cheese for the sandwiches. There are usually a couple of tables with kids there so bring them! Even the boys. Both my sons love having tea.

They also have a cheese plate that used to be on the menu but isn’t on there anymore but you can still order it.

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Just in case you don’t think you’ll be full.

When we go during the holidays we usually get dressed up (no hats – unless you’re a red hat lady). But there will be everything from people who are taking a break from the theme parks so they are dressed in shorts and t-shirts to a bunch of grown women wearing tiaras to people dressed up. Just dress the way you want to dress.

Some other great places to have tea in our area

The Tropical Tea Room and Wine Bar
in The Shoppes at Rivertown Antique Mall – downtown DeLand

The Ritz Carlton

Yuletide Baskets

 2012 Xmas Baskets - Jars

The beautiful picture above and all those below were taken by my awesome daughter-in-law. Follow her blog at and on Etsy.

Buying presents for people for the holidays is really hard. I really really believe it’s the thought that counts. When someone takes time to pick out something you love. That they have listened to your ideas and what you like long enough to find something you like. Not something they like. That’s easy and really kind of pointless. If you want to buy something you like then buy it for yourself. Don’t pretend you were thinking of the other person when you bought it. Price isn’t the point either. A really cool $15 multi-colored skull bracelet or super gingery ginger-ale in cool bottles are way more me than diamond earrings. So I try really hard to think of the person I”m buying or making for. Sometimes its easy – a young couple setting up a house for the first time – they need lots of things. But when you’ve been around for 40 or 50 years you kind of have enough stuff. You know.

So I made baskets.

I picked themes I thought each person would like but kept it reasonable. I can sometimes go crazy with details than stress myself out. Well maybe more than sometimes.

So I made a plan.

Wrote down my list of basket recipients then started to list items I thought they would like. I started with making sure each basket had a bread, a cookie, a jam, etc. then tried to use similar ingredients in different ways to keep the cost under control. I made the freezeable items a week ahead the jams a few days ahead and the fresh items then night before (keep those to a minimum you will always have a crap load of stuff to do at the last-minute so don’t over load yourself)

Once the list is done and the grocery list is done. Start saving old jam jars, pesto jars, cool spaghetti sauce jars, really any kind of container you use. If it’s cool remove the label, use goo gone to remove the sticky mess under the label. Run it through the dishwasher to sterilize it then you’re good to go. But keep in mind you have to refrigerate what you make, you can’t re-seal reused jars.

Then assemble baskets, ribbon, swatches of fabric, and tags. You can make your own tags from cool Xmas cards. Buy them after the holidays on sale then cut the front off the card and cut it to form a tag. Add ribbon. Go to a craft store like Micheals and get rolls of real ribbon not the plasticy kind you curl on packages. Real ribbon makes a huge difference and they have every pattern and color you can imagine. Micheals also has cool packaging containers. Little paper cups to hold truffles or cellophane to wrap the whole basket in.

Now make your stuff. Jar it, wrap it, put a ribbon on it. Hand it over with a big smile.

So back to the point… Yuletide Baskets. Here’s what I made.

2012 Xmas Baskets - Italian

 Italian Basket

Clockwise starting at the star

Apricot and Rosemary Tapenade

2 cups apricots

1 large bunch rosemary

salt and pepper

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

Olive oil

Put the apricots, rosemary, and garlic in a food processor and process until very small pieces. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Add enough olive oil to bind it all. Fill 2 jars, cover, and refrigerate.

Marinated mozzarella with peppers and pink pepper berries

3-4 medium fresh mozzarella balls

1 bay leaf

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

1 red bird’s-eye chili pepper; sliced in half

zest from 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 clove of garlic, peeled and halved

1 teaspoon pink pepper berries

Extra virgin olive oil

Combine all in a large jar. Keep refrigerated.

Italian quick bread with prosciutto, parmesan, and Italian herbs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs; lightly beaten

1 – 8oz carton plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons Italian herb mix

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

4 very thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 350; grease a loaf pan. Combine the flour, sugar, black pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and Italian herbs in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Combine the eggs, yogurt, oil, and milk; add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the parmesan, mozzarella, and prosciutto. Add to the pan, drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly golden.

I don’t make bread – I don’t have the patience to wait for the yeast to rise then knead it and all that. I love this bread because you just mix it and bake it and can change the ingredients to any kind of theme. 

Bellini jam with peaches and Prosecco

1 cup sugar

1 cup finely chopped, peeled ripe peaches

1/4 cup Prosecco

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 of a 6oz package of liquid fruit pectin

Combine sugar, peaches, Prosecco, and lemon juice in a medium pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Quickly stir in the pectin and return to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off foam. Add to jar and refrigerate.

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

Recipe from – I didn’t dip them in the white chocolate.

(the spices are from Spice and Tea Exchange)

2012 Xmas Baskets - Southwestern

Southwestern Basket

Clockwise from the star on the right

Southwestern quick bread with cheddar and jalapeno

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs; lightly beaten

1 – 8oz carton plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 jalapeno finely chopped and seeds removed

Preheat the oven to 350; grease a loaf pan. Combine the flour, sugar, black pepper, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Combine the eggs, yogurt, oil, and milk; add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the cheddar and jalapeno. Add to the pan, drizzle the top with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly golden.

Candies jalapeno with blackberries

8 jalapeno; most seeds removed (more seeds more spicy) and chopped

2 cups sugar

1 green apple; shredded

juice and zest of 1 lime

1 cup blackberries

Combine the jalapeno, sugar, apple, and lime juice in a medium pan and simmer on medium until the jalapeno start to break down. Add the blackberries and cook until a thin jam consistency. Fill and jar and refrigerate. This is great on cream cheese with crackers or with chicken or on sandwiches.

Coconut and lime macaroons

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

14 oz bag of coconut; shredded

2 extra-large egg whites; at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

zest from 1 lime

15 dried cranberries (soak in warm water to reconstitute)

Heat oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Combine the condensed milk, coconut, vanilla, and zest. Whip the eggs and salt until medium peaks form; fold into the milk mixture. Drop teaspoon sized cookies onto the baking sheet and top each with a cranberry. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

(the chocolate is dark chocolate with chili – the spices are from Spice and Tea Exchange)

2012 Xmas Baskets - Southern 2

Southern Basket

clockwise from star

Brown sugar chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 bag Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with a silpat or grease. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer combine the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Blend until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture. Using a spoon stir in the chocolate chips. Drop onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute then transfer to rack to cool completely.

I learned how to bake from my grandmother Pat “memaw”. She made the nestle toll house cookies from the recipe on the bag. Over the years I’ve messed with it until it came out just the way I like it. The brown sugar gives it a richer flavor. The butter also adds more flavor than the original Crisco. Sometimes I add instant espresso powder (or turkish ground espresso) or cinnamon.

Southern quick bread with cheddar, bacon, and caramelized onion

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs; lightly beaten

1 – 8oz carton plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 slices of crisp cooked bacon; chopped

1/2 cup of caramelized onions (chopped then cooked over low heat until golden)

Preheat the oven to 350; grease a loaf pan. Combine the flour, sugar, black pepper, baking powder, and baking soda, in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Combine the eggs, yogurt, oil, and milk; add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the cheddar, bacon, and onion. Add to the pan, drizzle the top with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly golden.

Dill and pink pepper berry pickled cucumber, carrots, and peppers

2 cups apple cider vinegar

3 teaspoons pickling salt

8 garlic cloves; peeled

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 teaspoons dill seed

2 teaspoons pink pepper berries

2 teaspoon black peppercorns

4 pickle sized cucumbers (I like the english minis); sliced in quarters

8 baby carrots with the tops on; sliced in half lengthwise

8 mini bell peppers in various colors; sliced in half lengthwise

Combine the vinegar, 2 cups water, pickling salt in a pot and boil. Divide the garlic, red pepper flakes, dill seed, pink pepper berries, and black peppercorns among 4 jars. Divide the cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers among the jars. Allow the brine to cool slightly then pour over each jar until almost full. Cover and refrigerate.

Tomato and onion jam

5 plum tomatoes; diced

1/4 cup Vidalia onion; finely chopped

2 cloves garlic; minced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup roasted red peppers; drained and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to a syrup. Allow to cool completely then fill 4 jars and refrigerate.

Pimento cheese with bacon and onion

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

1 – 8 oz block of cream cheese

1/2 onion; grated

4 slices of crisp bacon; chopped

1 teaspoon hot sauce

salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until well blended. If it’s too thick add a little non-fat greek yogurt to thin. Put in 2 jars and refrigerate.

(the spices are from Spice and Tea Exchange – the jar with the tag is local honey)

 2012 Xmas Baskets - honey and scones

English Basket

We have afternoon tea every holiday at The Grand Floridian’s Gardenview Tea Room in Walt Disney World. My grandmother, “Rana” had tea in the afternoons it was simple heated sweet tea in a mug and captain wafers with sliced cheddar cheese. Nothing fancy but so awesome. I really miss her. My mom and I really love tea so this was part of a bigger basket. Most of it was purchased. Teas, candies, lemon curd, etc. Here’s what I made…

Cranberry orange scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter; cold and cut into small pieces

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of 1 orange

1 cup fresh cranberries; chopped

heavy cream and sugar

Heat oven to 400 and line the cookie sheet with a silpat. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour. Add the cranberries and orange zest. Add the vanilla and buttermilk. Mix with your hands until blended. Pat onto a floured surface and shape into a long rectangular log. Cut into triangles and place on the cookie sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 scones.

Sugar plums 

2012 Xmas Baskets - sugar plums

1 1/4 cups almonds; toasted

1 1/2 cups dried plums (prunes)

1 1/2 cups dried apricots

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground anise

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Coarse sanding sugar

Combine the almonds, plums, apricots, honey, orange zest, cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg in a food processor and process until a sticky ball forms. Make walnut sizes balls and roll in the coarse sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes 20 balls.

These are so cool. Everyone’s heard of sugar plums but have you ever made them or even eaten them? Love the idea of such a traditional sweet for Yule.

Here are the spices from Spice and Tea Exchange… 

2012 Xmas Baskets - Seasonings