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HOW TO DO ANYTHING BETTER:
The Holidays


Sure, the holidays are all about tradition, but it never hurts to shake things up a little. So we enlisted a few experts to show us how to do just that.

1. CRAFT A ONE-OF-A-KIND HOLIDAY COCKTAIL
“The spiciness of a good bourbon is great with fall and winter flavors, and apple cider goes especially well with older bourbon. I imagine this cocktail being enjoyed around a fireplace with friends and family.”
Colin Spoelman, cofounder of Kings County Distillery 

Recipe

Spiced Bourbon Cider

A warm, spicy and delicious cocktail that packs a punch.
INGREDIENTS
3 dried cardamom pods
4 cloves
2 1/4 cinnamon sticks
12 ounces hot apple cider
2 ounces bourbon
orange peel
DIRECTIONS
In a tea strainer or tea ball, add 3 dried cardamom pods, 4 cloves and 1/4 of a cinnamon stick and infuse with 12 ounces of hot apple cider to taste.

Divide the cider into two glass mugs and top with 2 ounces of bourbon in each. 

Garnish both mugs with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel.

Recipe by Jonathan Feudi of Kings County Distillery.

2. SEND AN UN-BORING, ACTUALLY FUNNY HOLIDAY CARD
“Because the holidays aren’t officially over until I’ve gone up one pant size.”
Julie, illustrator and J.Crew designer
3. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR WRAPPING PAPER
“Make the package just as exciting as the present. Try decorating a plain paper bag with neon tape or hiding the gift in a bag of confetti (they can reuse the confetti later!).”
Tracy, artist and J.Crew set director
4. DO SOME DIY DECORATIONS
“Garlands are one of my holiday go-tos since they’re easy to personalize and don’t take a lot of time. Thread a needle with dental floss and use it to string the gumdrops for a twist on the traditional cranberry and popcorn strand. For the stars and moons, cut out the shapes from metallic paper, then punch two holes at the top of each and thread string through (the two holes help the shapes lie flat so you can hang the garlands anywhere—even against a wall).”
Darcy Miller, author of Celebrate Everything! 

5. BAKE SOMETHING NOT OUT OF A BOX
“Festive notes of cardamom, ginger, orange zest and Angostura bitters make for a lovely pairing with cocktails or sparkling
wine. Plus, beets have a naturally rich color and lend an earthy, sweet flavor.”
Emily Elsen, cofounder of the Brooklyn pie shop Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Recipe

Blushing Apple Pie Filling

A traditional apple pie with a twist thanks to its rosy pink hue.
INGREDIENTS
1⁄2 orange
6 to 7 baking apples (about 2 1⁄2 pounds fresh)
1⁄4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 medium beet, oven roasted until tender and chopped into 1⁄2-inch dice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla paste (Nielsen-Massey makes a
good one)
1⁄4 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt)
2 1/2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
DIRECTIONS
Have ready and refrigerated one pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan and pastry round or lattice to top. (For directions on how to make the all-butter pie crust, see here.)

Juice the orange into a large bowl. Prepare the apples using an apple-peeling machine or core, peel and thinly slice them with a sharp knife or on a mandoline. Dredge the apple slices in the orange juice. Sprinkle lightly with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Set aside to soften slightly and release some of the juices, 20 to 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the remaining 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, chopped beet, ginger, cardamom, salt, flour, vanilla paste, zest, vinegar and bitters and process until the beet is fully incorporated into the sugar.

Drain any excess liquid from the sliced apples, add the beet-sugar mixture and toss the apples to coat them thoroughly. Tightly layer the apples in the prepared pie shell so that there are minimal gaps, mounding the apples slightly higher in the center. Arrange the lattice or pastry round on top and crimp
as desired.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry. Meanwhile, position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack and preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coat; if your pie has a lattice top, be careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry (it will burn). Sprinkle with the desired amount of Demerara sugar.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F, move the pie to the center oven rack and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 40 to 50 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours.

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TAGS: holiday, mens, womens, how to do anything better, DIY, recipe
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