Chocolate Bar Fondue from Real Simple

Being a Food Professional and Recipe Developer surely has it’s perks, but I’m asked so many food questions daily from friends and family on ideas for what to cook, especially on holidays such as New Year’s Eve. I have been thinking about fondue a lot lately. It’s very celebratory, versatile, unique, sexy, special, warm, comforting and memorable (kind of like me, just kidding). So, when freinds have been asking lately about New Year’s Eve, Fondue has been my staple answer. If you don’t want to do both the Cheese and Chocolate Fondue, just choose one. I will bet anything your guests will be very impressed and think you are so creative! Happy New Year’s to everyone, especially all my subscribers and great supporters that I mentioned on my December 25th blog.

Chocolate Fondue

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1  cup  whipping cream

3  (4-ounce) semisweet chocolate bars, chopped

1  tablespoon  coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua (optional) 

Fresh strawberry, kiwi, pound cake, Assorted cookies, pretzel sticks, marshmallows


1. Microwave whipping cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in liqueur.

2. Transfer to a fondue pot; keep warm, stirring occasionally. Serve with cookies, pretzels, fruit, and marshmallows.


Classic Cheese Fondue

Prep and Cook: about 25 to 30 minutes

Yield: about 8 servings


1/2 lb. grated Gruyere cheese (rind removed)

1/2 lb. grated Emmentaler cheese (rind removed

1 clove garlic 

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)

Fresh pepper and nutmeg to taste


1. Rub the inside of a medium saucepan with the peeled garlic clove. Throw away the garlic. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese with the cornstarch and toss. Stir the cheese mixture into the wine one small handful at a time. Make sure each handful is completely melted before adding another. The fondue can bubble a bit, but don’t let it boil. Season with the nutmeg and pepper. Stir in kirsch (optional).

3. Transfer to a cheese fondue pot and keep warm with burner. Serve right away.                       

Here’s what to dip:

-Crusty cubes of French or Italian bread

-Rye or sourdough bread cubes

-Grilled chicken or shrimp


-Potatoes (roasted or boiled, baby potatoes work best)

-Asparagus spears

-Broccoli or cauliflower florets 


-Granny smith apple slices



Mississippi Hush Puppies from Southern Living

For my last post on traditional New Year’s foods, I wanted to post one more southern superstition. Apparently, eating cornbread on New Years is also supposed to bring wealth. Instead of giving a cornbread recipe, I thought I would share a recipe for Classic Hush Puppies (since they are one of my favorite southern delights). I was at a restaurant in Northwest Florida last night, and they had “Crawfish Hushpuppies” and “Corn Pudding Hush Puppies” on the menu so I will have to try to develop a similar concept one day. As for now, enjoy this simple version which is delicious dipped in cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or even my favorite Lemon Aioli below.

Classic Southern Hush Puppies

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Yield: about 21/2 dozen


Vegetable oil

11/2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1/2 cup self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion, chopped 

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten


1.  Preheat a large skillet to medium-high (about 350F).

2. Combine cornmeal and next 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir in onion.

3. Combine buttermilk and egg in a seperate small bowl. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring until well combined. Drop the batter one teaspoon at a time into the hot oil. Dip the spoon into a glass of water after each has been placed in oil Fry until golden brown turning once on each side.

Lemon Garlic Aioli

Prep: 10 minutes


2/3 cup light mayonnaise

1 lemon, zested

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Combine all ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Serve with hush puppies, fish, chicken, crab cakes, scallops, pork, etc.


While black-eyed peas are supposed to bring luck for the New Year, another superstition in the south is to serve greens such as cabbage, collards, greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach to bring money or prosperity in the New Year. As a Recipe Developer, I have created hundreds of spinach recipes for magazines and food companies, and I wasn’t sure which one to share with you for the New Year. I made this version two nights ago by just using what I had in my pantry and in the refrigerator, and it was an instant hit at our dinner table. It’s only 5 ingredients and is healthy, colorful and has a sweet and salty crunch along with the creaminess of goat cheese. Feel free to use what you have in your home. and I wish everyone much hope for a happy prosperous New Year!


Spinach with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Goat Cheese

Prep and cook: 3 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 teaspoon olive oil

2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach

Kosher salt to taste

2 tablespoons organic fruit and nut trail mix (I used “Good Sense Organic”)

2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese


1. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fresh spinach to skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Sprinkle with salt, trail mix and goat cheese. Serve spinach with slotted spoon or tongs.


In the southern United Sates, it is believed that eating black-eyed peas on New Years will bring good luck in the coming year. Because of this tradition, many friends and family ask me for recipes using black-eye peas this time of year. This recipe is great because it’s so versatile. It is simple to prepare, colorful and flavorful. Even my youngest son, Zachary (8), couldn’t stop eating it. Serve it on top of a salad, inside of bell peppers, on top of tacos or fajitas or served with crackers or tortilla chips. 

Black-Eyed Pea Caviar Dip

Prep: 20 minutes

Yield: 10 servings


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped yellow bell peppper

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Add black-eyed peas and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with dressing. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

Colonial Corn Pudding from Cooking Light

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday celebrated primarily in the United States honoring African heritage. It is observed starting today, from December 26 to January 1 every year. As a Recipe Developer, I have worked on many recipes for cookbooks, magazines and food companies for Kwanzaa, and I always love working on those projects. What I love to do with a lot of my recipes is to twist them a bit and to “lighten” them up as I have done here. I have a nutrition background and like to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my family so I replaced some eggs with egg whites, used skim milk instead of half-and-half, used part-skim ricotta instead of regular, and decreased some butter and used cooking spray. I hope you will like this recipe as much as I do. It’s warm and comforting and perfect for Kwanzaa or any cool day. And best of all, it’s low-fat so you can have an extra helping without any guilt.


Corn Pudding

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook:  50 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings 


1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

5 cups fresh yellow corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (optional)

2 egg whites

2 eggs

2 cups skim milk

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on top (white cheddar works great too)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease the inside of an 8 to 10-cup baking dish.

2. Melt the butter in a very large saute pan greased with cooking spray and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and then the ricotta. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar.

4. Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.


My sister, Julie, is a fabulous cook and has been making this recipe for Hanukkah for years. The recipe sounds so bizarre with apricot preserves, chili sauce and, oh my, sauerkraut? When I worked at Southern Living Magazine as a Food Editor, and I sent this recipe to the test kitchen, they were a little questionable about it. But when we discussed it around the taste-testing table (a long table that seats about 20), everyone gave it the highest rating possible. It is really delicious, although, I will admit, difficult to photograph so I added some photos from this year’s Hanukkah party at my house (that’s my son reading the prayer-yes I was proud). This recipe is ideal for Hanukkah or in the fall or winter months when you want something comforting, warm, with a touch of sweet and sour. And if you live in Birmingham, Alabama and don’t have time to cook brisket, head to Jim N Nick’s Barbecue on Highway 280-yum!


Sweet-And-Sour Brisket

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 31/2 to 4 hours

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1  (5-pound) beef brisket, trimmed

1  (1-ounce) envelope onion soup mix

1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon  Italian seasoning

1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper

1  (10-ounce) jar apricot preserves

1  cup  water

1  cup  chili sauce

2  (10-ounce) cans sauerkraut, drained


1 Place brisket in a lightly greased roasting pan. Sprinkle with soup mix and next three ingredients. Spread preserves on top of brisket. Add 1 cup water to pan. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

2. Bake, covered, at 350° for 3 hours. Uncover and pour chili sauce over brisket; top with sauerkraut. Cover and bake 1 more hour.

3. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauerkraut and pan juices.




Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! December 25th is a very special day in many ways for everyone, but for me, it is also 2 months for the launch of my food blog, I am amazed that over 14,000 people have looked at my food blog in just 2 short months. It has also led me to new friends, new clients, television appearances and so much more. Thank you to all of those who have supported me, subscribed, given me wonderful feedback, given me advice, offered ideas, suggestions and questions (Natalie, Meredith, Jamie, Julie, Carlie, Bradley, Charles, Eric, Amy S., Lisa G., Jennifer B., Steven, Kathy, Kelly, Maria, Janet, Jeff, Doug, Lisa E., Patti, Susan, Heidi, Ruth and Andrew, Amy H., Amy K., Penny, Danny and Paige L., Stuart and Betsy M., Danny and Mur F, Kim, Bob, Melissa, Vicki, Katia, and if I forgot one, forgive me). I also thank those of you who have taken the time to make comments, and the food websites, such as and, who have written about me and my recipes in such a positive way. Lastly, I thank my family and close friends for bearing with me (you know who you are), allowing me to spend and focus so much of my time and energy to create wonderful content that people seem to love. Happy Holidays again! Best, Alison

P.S. This is a photo taken of my daughter, Leigh and me over Thanksgiving.