Olive You Pretzels

When the holidays come around, I like to make my dishes with specific family members in mind. Now, I don’t know about your family gatherings, but I can tell you, the snacks laid out before dinner aren’t always the most exciting (ahem, grocery crudite) and when you’re mingling and hanging out for hours before dinner, you end up eating anything and everything you can find.

Well, being that my grandma is the coolest lady ever, and because year after year I look forward to lingering around my aunt’s aromatically delicious kitchen with her looking for exciting pre-dinner tastes, bites, scraps of any and everything. I made this Mezzetta Olive stuffed pretzels recipe for her.

This got me to thinking about Christmas—as a Jew, this is big! If I’m not mistaken, people string popcorn and cranberries around their tree, I’m thinking, hang these pretzels on the tree too and make it entirely edible. How cute would it be to get a Chanukah bush (ahem, mini Christmas tree) and place it on your coffee table decorated with yummy treats for friends and family to pick at? I’m totally doing this!!!

Thanks Mezzetta Olives and grandma for inspiring this recipe and for making me reminisce about those holidays past! What holiday memories do you have? No, really, share them with me and Mezzetta on their holiday website for a chance to win a delicious holiday memories sharing pack! So fun!

Olive You Pretzels

Servings: 10 Pretzels
Prep Time: 20 Minutes, Divided
Cool Time: 1 Hour
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Bake Time: 14 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Olive You Pretzels


Warm Water (1 1/2 cups)
Salt (2 tsp)
White Sugar (1 tbsp)
Active Dry Yeast (1/4 oz—if you’re using the small packets, you would use one of them)
All-Purpose Flour (4 1/2 cups)
Unsalted Butter (4 tbsp, melted)
Vegetable Oil
Mezzetta Kalamata Olives (1/2 cup chopped, divided)
Pecorino Romano (1/4 cup shredded)
Fresh Rosemary (3 sprigs, finely chopped, divided)
Coarse Sea Salt


Large Mixing Bowl
Rubber Spatula
Plastic Wrap
Flat Metal Spatula
Baking Sheet
Baking Mat
Pinch Bowl

Olive You Pretzels

1. TO MAKE YOUR DOUGH. mix together your water, salt and sugar in your large mixing bowl.

Once fully dissolved, sprinkle your yeast over it—don’t mix.

Let it sit untouched for 5 minutes.

Add in your flour and butter.

Using your rubber spatula, fold together your mixture until you have a dough.

Using your hands, kneed your dough for 5 minutes.

Transfer your dough onto a plate.

Clean your mixing bowl and then coat it with vegetable oil.

Transfer your dough back into your bowl.

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap.

Put your bowl in a warm place and let your dough sit for an hour.

During this relax time, your dough will grow and double in size.

Olive You Pretzels

2. TO MAKE YOUR PRETZELS. preheat your oven to 450°.

Fill your saucepan with water and bring it to a rolling boil.

Line your baking sheet with your baking mat.

Rip off a handful of your dough—ultimately you will have 10 of these.

Hold it in one hand and stick your thumb in its center to make a well.

Add in a pinch of your chopped Mezzetta Olives, cheese and rosemary—save some of your rosemary and olives for topping.

Fold your dough around your filling.

Roll your dough into a 12 inch rope.

Hold it in the air by the ends with both hands, so that it hangs in a U shape. Then, twist your two ends across one another pinching them down in the center of the U.

If that’s confusing or too difficult, try laying your dough rope in a U shape on your work surface. Fold the ends over each other, like an X, and then pinch down the ends at the base of your U.

Drop your now pretzel into your boiling water for 30 seconds.

Use your metal spatula to fish it out and lay it on your baking sheet.

Repeat this process until you have gone through all of your dough.

In your pinch bowl, beat together your egg with a tbsp of water.

Use your brush to coat the fronts of your pretzels with your egg wash.

Sprinkle them with your coarse sea salt, remaining rosemary and press in your remaining chopped Mezzetta Olives.

Bake for 14 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes.


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I Love You Avo Toast, But It’s Cranberry And Pumpkin Season

Talk about the perfect breakfast and lunch for the Fall!

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Bake Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes (but if you multitask, 20 minutes)


Sweet Potato (1, peeled and cut into quarters)
Unsweetened Pumpkin Purée (10 oz)
Chili Honey (1 1/2 tbsp)
Cinnamon (1 tbsp)
Multigrain Bread (4 slices)
Bosc Pear (1, peeled and cored and cut into thin wedges)
Asian Pear (1, peeled and cut horizontally into thin circular slices. Remove seeds)
Cranberries (1 cup)
White Sugar (2 tbsp)
Water (1/2 cup)


Saucepan with Lid
Medium Mixing Bowl
Baking Sheet (2)
Baking Mat (or parchment paper)
8″ Frying Pan
Wooden Spoon
Butter Knife

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

1. TO MAKE YOUR SWEET POTATO PUMPKIN PURÉE. fill your saucepan with water high enough to submerge your sweet potato pieces.

Cover your pot with its lid and bring your water to a boil.

Add in your sweet potato pieces.

Boil for 15 minutes–or till super soft when you stick your fork in it.

While your sweet potato is boiling move onto your next step.

Strain out all of your water and put your sweet potatoes back into your saucepan.

Over low heat, add in your pumpkin, chili honey and cinnamon.

Mix together using your wooden spoon.

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

2. TO BAKE YOUR PEARS. preheat your oven to 350°.

Line your baking sheet with your baking mat.

Lay out one layer of your pear slices.

Bake for 15 minutes—or till softened.

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

3. TO TOAST YOUR BREAD. preheat your oven to 400°.

Lay your slices of bread flat on your baking sheet.

Bake for 4 minutes–or till toasted.

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

4. TO MAKE YOUR CRANBERRY SAUCE. put your cranberries in your saucepan.

Add in your water, sugar, and 3 sprigs of thyme.

Turn your heat to high and stir consistently with your wooden spoon.

Cook for 5 minutes—or until most of your cranberries have popped.

Cranberry Pumpkin Toast

5. TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER. lay your toast on the plate you plan to serve it on.

Scoop on 2 tbsp of your sweet potato pumpkin purée and use your butter knife to evenly spread it.

Lay three of your Asian pear slices on top of your purée.

Stick 5 Bosc pear wedges on top of your Asian pears.

Use your tablespoon to liberally drizzle your cranberry sauce over your decorated toast.

Top with thyme leaves and sprigs.

Drizzle with more of your honey.

Eat away!

Best when hot, so serve immediately.

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9 Friendsgiving Dishes That’ll Blow Their Minds

Don’t be the one to come to Friendsgiving dinner with a bottle of wine with the sticker stuck on it and not a single morsel of food in tow. Though, if you must be that person, make it a fab bottle of bubbly! For the rest of you, read on.

FYI, I’ve noted the level of expertise for each recipe if you, wine person, feel like giving it a go!

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

I love the idea of hands on eats for Friendsgiving. It feels more laid back, playful and, lets be real, these empanadas are crazy good, you’re totally going to be the Friendsgiving MVP!

For intermediate cooks

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

Pretzel Shrimp Sweet Potatoes

If you thought sweet potatoes were addictive before, brace yourself. These were demolished in the three minutes it took me to follow them from the kitchen to the table.

For intermediate cooks

Scotch Infused Cranberry Sauce

Scotch Infused Cranberry Sauce

Well, why shouldn’t things get boozy? We are amongst friends!

For beginner-intermediate cooks

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

Thick and delicious soups are my favorite part of Friendsgiving! They really scream “Fall”. The beauty of this one is that you can make it a couple days in advance and it will not only save you from rushing day of, the flavors will actually get more full as it sits. Geniusness, I know!

For beginner cooks

Dona Chai Roasted Chicken

Chai Roasted Chicken

Save the turkey for Thanksgiving! With all the food your friends are bringing for Friendsgiving, an awesome chicken is way easier and more fun.

For intermediate cooks

Your Holiday Roasted Brussel Sprouts Side Dish

Sweet And Savory Brussel Sprouts

If your inner kid is putting their hands over their eyes right now and rocking back and forth because I said “Brussel Sprouts”, put ’em in time out stat! These are way bomb.

For beginner cooks

A Friendsgiving Croissant Stuffing They'll Remember

Croissant Stuffing Bites

With these portioned sized bites, there’s no more worrying about that guy heaping all of the stuffing onto his plate while you wait patiently for your turn to collect crumbs.

For beginner-intermediate cooks

The Freshest Coconut Persimmon Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Persimmon Pie

Little screams “Fall” like pumpkin pie! So, get your scream on!

For intermediate cooks

Not-So-Burnt, Burnt Movie Creamy Blue Cheese Pâte à Choux

Cheese Bread Puffs

These make everything better! They’re great in a bread basket, dip ’em in your carrot soup, sweep up all of your remaining sauces from your plate—these make everything taste better!

For beginner cooks

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The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

When holiday season is just around the corner, my coffee “breaks” become sit down sessions where I gaze off into the distance and day dream about what dishes I would want placed down in front of me on Thanksgiving day. While off in la la land the other day sipping my International Delight® Caramel Macchiato Cream filled cup o’ joe, I couldn’t get past the sweet rich flavor—it crept into my day dream.

Then, pow pow pow! My mind was exploding. I couldn’t get my mind off of the thought of adding this creamy caramel-y macchiato flavoring into this year’s sweet potatoes. One word, demolished!

Warning, this dish is dangerously delicious. Your family and friends are going to force you to make multiple dishes next year. Sorry, not sorry!

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Bake Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 80 Minutes


Sweet Potatoes (3, medium. Peeled and halved widthwise)
Macintosh Apple (1, peeled and diced)
Cinnamon (2 tsp)
International Delight Caramel Macchiato Creamer (1 cup, divided)
Unsalted Butter (2 tbsp, divided)
Shrimp (6, medium sized, de-shelled)
Grape Seed Oil (about 2 tbsp. Enough to have a small pool, nay, puddle in your 8″ frying pan)
Egg White (1)
All Purpose Flour (1/2 cup)
Pretzels (1 cup, ground. I ground mine using a food processor)
Powdered Sugar


Stock Pot (or large sauce pan for boiling your potatoes)
Immersion Blender
Cutting Board
Chef’s Knife
Rubber Spatula
Medium Mixing Bowls (3)
Parchment Paper
Baking Sheet
Casserole Dish
8″ Frying Pan
Paper Towel

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

1. TO MAKE YOUR SWEET POTATOES EPICLY DELICIOUS. fill your stock pot with water high enough to fully immerse your potatoes.

Liberally salt your water.

Bring it to a rolling boil.

Add in your potato halves.

Boil for 20 minutes—or until you can easily stick a fork well into it.

Definitely move onto the next steps while your sweet potatoes are boiling.

Strain your potatoes.

Transfer them back into the pot they just came from (it should be completely empty aside from the potatoes).

Use your immersion blender to blend your sweet potatoes into an even and smooth pure—about 2 minutes.

In two batches, use your rubber spatula to mix in 3/4 cup of your International Delight Caramel Macchiato Creamer.

Mix in 1 tbsp of butter.

Salt and pepper to taste.

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

2. HOW ABOUT DEM APPLES. preheat your oven to 350°.

Evenly spread your diced apples in your casserole dish.

Sprinkle your cinnamon over them.

Cut your remaining tbsp of butter into 9 little cubes and sprinkle them over your apples.

Evenly pour your remaining 1/4 cup of International Delight Caramel Macchiato Creamer over all of your apples.

Use your rubber spatula to mix it all together so that your apples are evenly coated.

Make sure your apples are laying flat and not piling up in your casserole dish.

Bake for 15 minutes.

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

3. BAKED PRETZEL CRUSTED SHRIMP. align your three mixing bowls.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill your first bowl with your egg whites.

Your second bowl with your flour.

Your third bowl with your flour-like ground pretzels.

Season your shrimp in salt and pepper.

One by one, you are going to dredge your shrimp. So, do the whole dredging process from raw shrimp to fully pretzel coated shrimp one shrimp at a time.

Coat your shrimp in your egg whites making sure to let any excess egg white drip off.

Then, coat your egg white covered shrimp in your flour.

Then back into the egg whites for another coat.

Then a final coating in the ground pretzels.

Lay your pretzel coated shrimp on your parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Repeat this process for all of your shrimp.

Bake them for 10 minutes.

Line your plate with paper towel.

Heat up your grape seed oil in your frying pan.

When you put your shrimp in the oil, it should sizzle ferociously, that’s how you know the oil is hot enough. This finishing frying works extremely quickly, so I recommend cooking one shrimp at a time.

Using your tongs, place one shrimp in the hot oil. It will sizzle. Once you see little bubbling forming, flip it—roughly 3 seconds.

Make sure to touch all of the sides of your shrimp to the oil.

Then, transfer it to your paper towel lined plate (this will help to absorb the excess oil).

Repeat this frying process for all of your shrimp.

The MUST Sweet Potato Side Dish Of The Season

4. BOWLING. scoop your now mashed sweet potatoes into a bowl.

Use the side of your rubber spatula to smooth it out.

Line your shrimp so that they fill half of the bowl.

Scoop your apples into the holes between the shrimp.

Sift your powdered sugar over the whole dish.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Oooh, remember to take a photo and put it on Instagram! Tag me, @ccbymwilliams, I’d love to see your potato-y masterpiece!

This conversation is sponsored by International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

Obsessed with all of the empanadas on my recent trip to Spain, I had to come home and make my own perfect-for-Fall ones.

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

Servings: 10 Empanadas
Prep Time: 40 Minutes, Divided
Refrigerate Time: 30 Minutes
Bake Time: 45 Minutes, Divided



All Purpose Flour (3 cups plus extra for your work surface)
Baking Powder (1 tbsp)
White Sugar (2 tbsp)
Salt (1/4 tsp)
Egg (2, divided)
Chicken Stock (3/4 cup)
Shortening (1/2 cup)


Chicken Breast (1, boneless large Grade A)
Chicken Thigh (1, boneless)
Pumpkin Puree (5 oz, all natural with no added sweeteners)
Cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
Nutmeg (1/2 tsp)
Cumin (1 tsp)
Golden Raisins (1.5 oz)
Honey (3 tbsp)
Vadalia Onion (1/4, finely chopped—which should come to 1/2 a cup when chopped)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1 tsp)


Large Mixing Bowl
Medium Mixing Bowl (2)
Rubber Spatula
Rolling Pin
Paring Knife
Chefs Knife
Baking Sheet (2)
Silpat Non Stick Baking Mat (or parchment paper)
Parchment Paper
Meat Thermometer
Small Frying Pan
Silicone Brush
Small Bowl
Cutting Board
Fork (2)
Plastic Wrap

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

1. FOR THE DOUGH. in your large mixing bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In one of your medium mixing bowls, whisk together your egg and chicken stock.

Pour your egg mixture over your flour mixture.

Add in your shortening.

Use your hands to kneed the mixture until you have an even textured dough.

Roll it into a ball and let it sit in the middle of your mixing bowl.

Cover it with plastic wrap (the wrap should touch the dough directly stretching all around it)

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Move onto the next steps while your dough is refrigerating.

Remove from refrigerator and discard of plastic wrap.

Line your baking sheet with your silpat or parchment paper.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface and rolling pin.

Using your chefs knife, cut your dough ball into 8 triangular wedges—cutting in a crossing pattern as if you were cutting a pizza.

You are going to work with one wedge at a time.

Roll one wedge of dough in your hands into a ball.

Put it on your counter and roll it out until it’s roughly 1/8 inch thick.

Use your paring knife to roughly cut a 6 inch circle out of your dough.

Put your remaining scraps back into your bowl, you will ball them up and use them to make additional dough rounds.

Place your dough round onto your silpat on your baking sheet.

It’s ok to lay them on top of each other at this point. They won’t be baked until they have their filling in them.

Once you have all of your rounds, set them aside.

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

2. FOR THE FILLING. preheat your oven to 350°.

Season your chicken breast and thigh with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes—or until your meat thermometer reads 155°.

As they rest, they will continue to cook bringing their temperature up to 165° without over cooking.

In the meantime, heat up your extra virgin olive oil in your frying pan.

Add in your finely chopped onions.

Using your rubber spatula, sweat your onions, moving them around continuously over medium heat – about 4 minutes.

Transfer them into your medium mixing bowl.

Let cool for 2 minutes.

Transfer your chicken to your cutting board.

Using your forks, shred your chicken breasts and thighs by digging into one end of your chicken breast and pulling the two forks apart. Do this over and over until both chicken breast and thigh are shredded.

Your will have the look of the chicken in a pulled chicken sandwich.

Add your pulled chicken into your onion filled medium mixing bowl.

Use your rubber spatula to fold in your pumpkin puree, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, raisins, salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Chicken Empanadas

3. ASSEMBLING YOUR EMPANADAS. we’re going to go ahead and make one empanada. That way you can repeat all of the steps to easily make the rest of them.

Preheat your oven to 375°.

Lay one of your dough rounds out in front of you.

Scoop your chicken filling into the center of your dough round making sure to leave an inch of dough untouched around the edges.

Fold your dough round in half over the chicken filling to create a stuffed half moon shape.

This is the part where you can use the classic fork closure. To do so, seal your empanada shut by pressing the prongs of your fork along the doubled over edge of your empanada. I did a folded braiding method which I will elaborate on below.

Beginning at the point of your folded empanada closure, fold over a finger tip width-wise sized piece about half and inch inward going on a slight angle towards the center of your empanada. Do this over and over again—it’ll feel like you’re making a braid—until you reach the other corner opening of your empanada. Fold this other corner over in the opposite direction of your other folds to finish off your sealing.

As you finish each empanada, line them in rows on your silpat covered baking sheet.

Once all of your empanadas are lined up, beat your remaining egg in your small mixing bowl.

Then, using your silicone brush, brush a coating of this egg wash over the tops of each of your empanadas.

Bake them for 10 minutes.

Remove your empanadas from the oven and up it’s heat to 400°.

While the heat is rising, apply a second egg wash to your empanadas.

Put them back in the oven for 15 additional minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

PS. these refrigerate well. I like to heat a couple up for lunches for the next few days after making them.

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