Saturday, December 25, 2010

A new tradition?

A few weeks ago, I asked on Facebook if anyone had ever eaten Panettone. I have seen it everywhere in stores since my childhood, but as Italian as we are, no one in my family ever made or brought it to Christmas. For those unfamiliar with it, panettone is a tall, sweet, fruit-riddled Italian bread usually enjoyed at Christmas time.

Predictably, a lot of Italians responded that the had indeed had it and loved it. So I bought one for my Christmas party... and no one ate it. Oh well.

Rather than have it go to waste, I got creative. Since my family comes over to our house in the evening on Christmas Day, I thought I'd turn the panettone into a little dessert/comfort food treat -- bread pudding.

The verdict is still out -- they haven't arrived yet -- but if they like it (and if I like it!) I'll post the recipe tomorrow. If it is a success, who knows, maybe I'll have started a new tradition! In any event, here's a picture of my creation. Can't wait to try it.

*Update* We tried it and OMG. Delish! Even my dad, who said he "can't get bread pudding down" loved it. So the recipe is definitely forthcoming! Hurry out and get those panettone before they're all gone for the year!

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years!

Cookie Swap -- We have a winner!

The winner of my "C is for Cookie, G is for Giveaway" contest to win a copy of Julia Usher's "Cookie Swap" is...

Let's Dish!

Congratulations, Danelle!

Check out Danelle's blog, Let's Dish, where she posts her fabulous recipes. In fact, Let's Dish was the source of the Decadent Brownie Pie "Just Have to Share" post I did earlier this year.

Congrats again, Danelle. I hope it gives you some inspiration!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

'C' is for 'cookie,' 'G' is for 'giveaway'!

It takes a heck of a lot for a book to make my mouth water.

The pictures must be enticing and vivid, the writing concise but descriptive, and the content... enthralling.

Take a look at Julia M. Usher's new book "Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year" -- check, check and check.

The book -- 160 pages of pure DELIGHT -- is part cookbook, part guide to entertaining, all at its most elegant.

If you've ever found yourself in need of ideas for holiday or occasion cookies, look no further. Not only does Usher showcase beautiful ideas for seasonal treats, she lets you into her personal stash of recipes and tips for decorating cookies for any swap or event, from weddings, to baby showers, Halloween to Christmas, and everything in between.

One treat in particular that caught my eye -- the "Under Her Thumb(print) Cookies" will certainly be gracing my Christmas party this year. Not only is the recipe (like many in the book) easy and do-able even for cookie novices like myself, the finished product is beautiful and professional-looking with minimal effort required.

Julia has a fantastic website with tons of ideas, recipes (not just cookies!) and entertaining advice, and I highly recommend you check it out. You can visit her at

In the past few weeks, I've blogged about how excited I am to be hosting my own swap with some of my amazing followers. In the spirit of giving, Julia sent me a copy of "Cookie Swap" to give away to one of my lucky readers!

Would you like to win a copy? Here's how!

Mandatory entry: Leave me a comment on this post telling me your favorite kind of cookie. Is it your mom's sugar cookies? Your own peanut butter? Grandma's oatmeal raisin? Tell me! Please be sure you include a valid email address so I can contact you if you’re the lucky winner! Please note – you do not have to be a blogger to win!

Extra chances to win – each is worth another entry. Please leave a separate comment for each extra...

- Follow Madame Menu on Google Friend Connect

- Become a fan of Madame Menu on Facebook

- Blog about this giveaway and link back to this post

- Tweet the giveaway (once a day -- leave a link to your status)

You can enter immediately, up through midnight PST on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. The winner will be chosen December 16th, 2010 -– via Random Integer Generator -- from all entries submitted, and notified immediately through email. I apologize to my non-US friends, but this giveaway is only open to all legal residents of the United States.

Christmas is almost upon us! Why not beautify your holiday table with some amazing new recipes from Julia? Enter now!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reminder: Sign up for the cookie swap!

It's almost that time!

Hard to believe that we're already a week into December! Between Christmas parties and gift exchanges and shopping and decorating… it's all so much fun but time really does fly.

One of my favorite (who am I kidding -- everyone's favorite) parts of the holiday season is the food, especially the sweets.

As I announced a couple of weeks ago, to celebrate the season the best way I know how, I'm hosting a cookie swap. As much as I'd like to have you all over to my house, it'd get kind of expensive with airfare, so we're doing the swap through the mail. You don't have to bake a dozen cookies per person -- 3 or 5 or a dozen (if you wish!) is just fine. They can be any kind you like, be it gingerbread men (yes please), sugar (yes please), chocolate chip (yes please), or your own personal specialty. All I ask is that you include a recipe card with each package so people know exactly how you made your treats! I'll also be posting some very cute ideas from around the web for packaging and sending those cookies to make sure they get where they need to go in as few pieces as possible.

I will be partaking, and you can too! All you have to do is respond to this post or email me using the link above and let me know you'd like to participate. You do have to be in the US, and must be comfortable with others having your mailing address (not publicly -- I'll be keeping a spreadsheet of participants and it will only be available through me once it's time to send the cookies out).

You can sign up for the swap through the end of the day Thursday, December 9th. I want to make sure everyone has time to bake and send out their cookies before Christmas.

If you're not much the baking type, that's OK too. I'll be hosting a giveaway a little later this week, and potentially more before Christmas! Also, I'd appreciate if you were willing to RT this on Twitter (I'm @madamemenu) or repost it on Facebook so we can get as many people to share in the fun as possible.

Hope you'll be joining in!