Picon Punch: A French-Style Holiday Cocktail


1 2On a recent trip to France, my husband insisted that we not only seek out and try Picon Punch cocktails, but that we also locate and bring home a few bottles of Amer Picon, the French bitter orange liqueur that is used in the classic cocktail and which is no longer available in the U.S.

If you’re thinking, “Wait, so you’re telling me about a cocktail recipe that I can’t make?”, then don’t worry because Torani Amer, available at BevMo, makes a good substitute for Amer Picon.

So for my holiday cocktail this year, I’m planning to share a little taste of France with friends and family and serve up Picon Punch at our gatherings. Another popular use for Amer Picon, (and perhaps a use that I like even better), is adding just a splash to a light beer, resulting in a traditional French shandy, or a Picon Bière. Plus, it also adds a festive red-ish color to the beer. Above right is a photo of a Picon Bière that we enjoyed during our trip.  

Whether you decide to try out a Picon Punch cocktail or a Picon Bière, cheers to trying something new this holiday season!  

Picon Punch (from


2 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (substitute Torani Amer)
1 tsp. Grenadine
1-2 oz. Club Soda
1/2 oz. Brandy


Build in a highball or collins glass filled with ice. Add Amer Picon and grenadine, then give a quick stir. Top with club soda, then the brandy float. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Challah French Toast with Caramel Sauce and Crème Fraiche


For the ultimate in “special” breakfasts perfect for the holiday season, I give you my recipe for Challah French Toast with Caramel Sauce and Crème Fraiche. Sounds fancy and tastes delicious, but is surprisingly simple to throw together.

This recipe became a fast favorite after a visit to see my best friend in Seattle for my 30th birthday. She and her husband whipped this up for my birthday breakfast and my husband and I couldn’t get over how impressive – and absolutely delicious – it was. I begged for the recipe and have now made it for my husband for breakfast on his birthday every year since.

Whether it’s breakfast on Christmas morning or another special moment this holiday season, you won’t be disappointed serving this at your breakfast table. 

Sac Foodies

For the Caramel Sauce:

¾ cup honey
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup (or so) of heavy whipping cream

Pour honey in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat. Pour sugar evenly over honey and let the sugar and honey cook to desired caramel color (about 10 minutes). Add the butter and stir until melted. Slowly add in cream in a steady stream, being careful as the mixture may boil up a bit at this point. Test the caramel’s thickness using a small spoon; it should be a slightly thick caramel consistency when cooled on the spoon. If it is thinner than desired, let cook a bit longer until desired caramel consistency is reached.

For the French Toast:

8 thick (1 inch) slices of Challah bread (or brioche)
4 eggs
Splash of milk or cream
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Lightly whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a shallow bowl to combine. Submerge each piece of bread in the egg mixture for a few seconds on each side to absorb some of the liquid. Drop each piece of bread onto a buttered griddle at medium to medium-high heat and cook a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. 

Top each slice of French toast with the caramel sauce and a dollop of crème fraiche and serve immediately.

Leftover caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and warmed again to enjoy on desserts or with other holiday goodies (or just eaten cold out of the container on a spoon – yum!).  

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Spoonful of Chutney – The Christmas of My Childhood

By: Shreya Suresh

Although my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas traditionally, I went to a school in Bangalore, India that takes celebrations very seriously. As a result, I grew up to be an adult who gets irrationally excited on the last day of November.

Brigade Road, one of Bangalore’s busiest streets, wearing a Christmas look (Photo by Asha’s Musings)

Brigade Road, one of Bangalore’s busiest streets, wearing a Christmas look (Photo by Asha’s Musings)

On a more national scale, Christmas is one of the most awaited festivals. My favorite Christmas memories have been the ones I spent caroling with my neighbors, dressing up as an angel in a school play, and sampling the many varieties of Christmas cake. I (and many others) have been partial to the Allahabadi cake, a traditional Indian rum fruit cake from Allahabad.

Photo by The Daily Meal

Photo by The Daily Meal

Another Indian Christmas favorite is the Rose Cookie. Made of rice flour, coconut milk and sugar, it’s traditionally sent to friends and family around Christmastime.

Photo by Simple Indian Recipes

Photo by Simple Indian Recipes

Over the last few years, my Christmases have been about reruns of “Home Alone” and adding red-and-green M&Ms to everything. While it’s great in its own way, I sometimes miss the old days of “angel outfits,” terribly sung carols, and of course, the unique Christmas food. 


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Jingle Bells and Holiday Bites


Kim concert picThis is me at my Kindergarten Christmas concert. As you can tell, I’m a bit of a ham. I’ve always loved the Christmas show at my elementary school and this year may be the most special because it’s my first as a Kindergarten parent. In just a week, I’ll be front-and-center as my son starts his own Christmas concert tradition and I’m just hoping I’ll keep it together long enough to not make a blubbering fool of myself. No one wants to hear my sniffles over a rousing rendition of “Jingle Bells.”

But what also excites me about this experience is what comes afterward – the Holiday Cultural Feast. One of things I love about living in West Sacramento is its cultural diversity and my son’s class is no exception. They’ve asked the parents to bring bite-sized portions of holiday dishes that best represent our child’s culture and I’m looking forward to seeing the melting pot of foods from around the world that the kids will share and try. Personally, I’m a bit conflicted on what to bring. My son is about half German, so we could whip up Pferffernϋsse cookies, but I think the teacher would be none too happy with my choice of a very messy cookie. I could channel his quarter Portuguese side, but I’ve found that some of the Portuguese cuisine I enjoy is not exactly kid-friendly. That leaves his other fourth which is a mish-mash of English, Italian and Choctaw Indian. So many choices, and I’m looking forward to getting creative. But where do I start?

That’s where you come in! I would love your ideas on what would make a delicious and kid-friendly treat to share that’s a nod to our German/Portuguese/Italian/English/Choctaw heritage. Let me know your thoughts and I’ll be sure to post a pic on the SacFoodies Facebook page as to what we shared.

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Sac Foodies weekend picks

By: Shreya Suresh
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Learn to Prepare Classic Italian Desserts

Head to the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on Saturday, December 5 for a demonstration-style cooking class where instructor Lucia Oliverio will prepare amaretto chocolate cupcakes, pears baked to perfection in wine, an orange-ricotta-almond tart, and traditional pizzelle cookies. You will learn about traditions and techniques, and of course, enjoy the delicious results. Tickets are $45 ($35 for co-op owners)and you can purchase them here.

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Learning Center
1914 Alhambra Blvd

Kids Get Cookin’ in the Kitchen

If you’re looking to keep groups of 5-12 year olds occupied, take them to Pizza Rock and have them create their own pizzas for $10 per kid (groups start at 8 people with no more than 15). The event is on Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm, and you can call (916)737-5777 to reserve a spot. If you aren’t able to go this weekend, not to worry. Pizza Rock offers this fun class for kids the first Saturday of every month.

Pizza Rock
1020 K Street

Chef Demonstrations in Midtown

On the first Saturday of each month, a number of Midtown’s talented chefs participate in lively, interactive and fun cooking demonstrations that happen at 11 a.m. in the center of the Market. Each month, the spotlighted chef selects a new and different dish to demonstrate that incorporates a variety of the seasonal, farm-fresh items obtained at the Midtown Farmers Market.

Midtown Farmers Market
2020 J Street

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10 Things You Don’t Know About…


Kim pic

  1. I don’t like food with a middle. Yes, one could argue that all food has a middle. But I don’t like the messiness of eating off a bone, cob or stick. If ribs are advertised as “fall off the bone” that works for me.
  2. I’m really digging the Sacramento-area craft beer scene. Especially in West Sac where I live. Jack Rabbit, Bike Dog, Yolo. So many great new breweries. Support local breweries!
  3. Chicken Strips and Rice-a-Roni is my go-to comfort food meal. And not just any Rice-a-Roni, it must be Chicken Flavored. Oh, and don’t forget the honey for the Chicken Strips that just barely seeps into the Rice-a-Roni. Must. Have. Now.
  4. With three little kids, I’m basically a short-order cook. I always said I wasn’t going to be “that mom” but I totally am. Breakfast on any given morning at my house could be scrambled eggs, yogurt, oatmeal and/or waffles. It’s a miracle I make it to work on time.
  5. Frozen meatballs, Heinz Chili Sauce, grape jelly and a Crock-Pot. You’re welcome.
  6. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every episode of “Saturday Night Live.” This is a pretty huge feat considering the show started the year I was born. Don’t ask me to name my favorite cast member. It’s impossible.
  7. I like magazines…a lot. I’ve actually had to scale back considerably but currently subscribe to nine and often pick up a few at the store as well. And yes, I do read them all.
  8. Agriculture is in my blood. I worked with many agriculture industries from olives, honey and pistachios to peaches, plums and nectarines. But did you know that I was raised among the lettuce fields of Salinas, Calif. aka the Salad Bowl Capital of the World?
  9. I make the best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And I have the Monterey County Fair blue ribbons to prove it.
  10. Ina Garten is my spirit animal.
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What’s Cooking in Sacramento this Thanksgiving

By: Shreya Suresh

Thanksgiving is centered around food, and visions of plates piled high with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie come to mind. This Thanksgiving, if you have a sudden change of plans or are simply looking to enjoy a good meal without the hours of preparation and cleanup, you have a few options around Sacramento.

Firehouse’s Chef Deneb Williams has created a wonderful four-course traditional Thanksgiving menu, a vegetarian and vegan menu, and a three-course young patrons’ menu. Menu is priced at $54.95 per adult and $17.95 per child 12 years of age and under. The restaurant is open from 1 pm – 8pm, and the regular menu will not be available.

1112 2nd Street
(916) 442-4772

If you like kicking off your Thanksgiving with Artichoke Dip and a Vegetable Cocktail, then head over to Ten22 where they are mixing traditional fare like Maple-Brined Free Range Turkey and Pumpkin Pie with unique offerings such as Roasted Duroc Pork Shoulder and Apple and Romaine Salad.  Prices are  $34.95 per adult and $12 per child (under 12 years old). You can find a detailed menu here.

1022 2nd Street
(916) 441-2211
Going by the number of times we’ve talked about the Sacramento River Train, it’s no secret that the Sac Foodies are big fans. This Thanksgiving, enjoy a three-hour train ride, a champagne toast, and three courses of American fare with unlimited coffee and soft drinks. Seating is pre-assigned, so there is no rush to arrive and find a table. Throughout dinner, the train will roll along at a leisurely 10 to 15 miles per hour, covering a total of 28 miles of track. Tickets are priced at $93 per adult and $47 per child, and you can buy them here.

400 N Harbor Blvd
West Sacramento
(800) 866-1690

If you are a traditionalist looking for a Thanksgiving meal at an excellent local favorite for a screaming deal, then head over to 33rd Street Bistro where they are serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins for $19.95 beginning at 3 p.m.  If you are also craving their Buffalo Style Chicken Wings fear not. The full menu will be available as well. You can find more details here.

3301 Folsom Blvd
(916) 455-2233

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Sac Foodies weekend picks

By: Shreya Suresh

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Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services Turkey Drive

Help thousands of families in need celebrate Thanksgiving by dropping off a fresh or frozen turkey at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.  It’s TODAY and they are accepting turkeys until 7 p.m.

More information is available here.

Drive by and drop off a fresh or frozen turkey to help Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services provide Thanksgiving groceries to thousands of families in need in Sacramento. 

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services
3333 Third Avenue

2015 Sacramento Harvest Festival

The Sacramento Harvest Festival®, one of the nation’s top-rated craft shows, is returning to Cal Expo on November 20-22, offering attendees a full day of unique shopping, holiday inspiration, and fantastic live entertainment. The Harvest Festival showcases over 24,000 unique items which are all handmade in America – including original art, jewelry, clothing, specialty foods, photography, pottery, toys, home décor and more. Learn more here.

Ticket prices range from $4 – $9, and you can buy them here.

1600 Exposition Blvd
(916) 263-3247

Cask and Barrel 50% Off Holiday Wine Sale

Cask and Barrel, formerly known as Enotria Cafe and Wine Bar, has been reputed for its extensive wine collection for the last two decades. On today between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., you can get the best wines from their cellar at 50% off. Special tastings are available for $10, and you can find more information here.

Cask and Barrel
1431 Del Paso Boulevard

(916) 922-6792

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Thanksgiving Snacks Worth Gobbling Up

By: Shreya Suresh

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s time to whip up some fun Thanksgiving-inspired treats to bring the family together. They’re fun for both kids and adults to make and we hope they get you in the spirit of the holiday. We rounded up a few of our favorite snacks from around the internet, just for you.

We can’t wait to try this healthy, easy, and amazingly cute fruit platter from HerCampus. How cute is that pear/turkey?

Fruit platter

Hope you still have some leftover candy corn from Halloween because we have the perfect usage idea for them, courtesy of The Krazy Coupon Lady. Oreo Pretzel Turkeys. You’re welcome.

oreo turkey

Not sure if these are an app or a dessert, but we think they are a must-make treat regardless. Thanks Honey Mommy for creating these yummy Nutter Butter turkeys. After all, Thanksgiving is all about turkey, right?

nutter butter turkeys

We love a good cupcake, and these adorable ones do not disappoint. Try these Thanksgiving-themed cupcakes from The Desserted Planet, alongside the mandatory pumpkin pie.


Looking for tasty ways to utilize leftovers? Try these Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs from The Kitchn for a Black Friday treat.

mashed potato bites

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SacFoodies Weekend Picks

By: Shreya Suresh SacFoodies_Weekend_Picks

Deschutes Street Pub Sacramento

Tomorrow (Saturday) between 2  p.m. and 10 p.m., head to Midtown Sacramento (18th & Capitol) for Deschutes Street Pub’s newest traveling event: Street Pub – Crafted for Community. You will see the 400+ foot bar set up creating a pub of epic proportions. Not only will there be a huge selection of Deschutes Brewery beers flowing from the Street Pub’s multitude of taps, but there will be great food to pair with it. Entry is free, and you can purchase beer tokens here.
1806 Capitol Ave.

33rd Street Bistro 20th Anniversary Party

33rd Street Bistro has been an East Sac favorite for 20 years now. On Saturday, November 14th join in the anniversary celebration, complete with an art show, live music from Mercy Me, and drink and appetizer specials.

3301 Folsom Blvd
(916) 455-2233

Pie Making Class

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are your pie-making skills up to the task? If not, there’s still time to channel your inner Martha Stewart and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is there to help. Tomorrow (Saturday) from 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m., come learn how to make perfect buttery pastry. We will make a whole grain pie crust and a 100% whole wheat tart crust, covering the techniques for a versatile dough and how to roll and crimp. Learn about parbaking, egg washing and flavor combining to make the best pies of the year. Tickets are $49 ($40 for Co-op owners).

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

1900 Alhambra Blvd

 (916) 455-2667

Perfect Holiday Pies

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