MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - November 22, 2010) - (Family Features) Bring on the holiday "yum" by using favorite flavors in a whole new way. By combining ingredients that naturally complement each other, you can create dishes that will spice up the holidays for everyone on your guest list.

"As a chef, I always look for new ways to reinvent classic recipes," said Hollywood Chef Paul McCullough, owner of Paul's Kitchen Catering. "Starbucks did just that with their new flavored coffees, Starbucks Natural Fusions. These coffees provide a bright, bold finish to any holiday meal and can add a richness and depth of flavor to any dish that calls for coffee."

Chef McCullough reinvented holiday French toast, turning a more conventional recipe into a beautiful, brunch-worthy Cinnamon Croissant French Toast. To do so, he incorporated Starbucks Natural Fusions, the only coffee that uses natural ingredients such as vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, blended right in with the coffee, to create an entirely new experience.

Here are some other ways you can easily turn unexpected flavor and ingredient combinations into scrumptious ideas for enjoying the sugar and spice of the season:

--Amazing Appetizers: Put some fun into your finger foods with a blue cheese cheesecake, crostinis with goat cheese and sweet caramelized pears, and brie topped with a warm fig and rosemary sauce.

--Brighter Brunches: Wake up a tired brunch menu with pumpkin waffles, cappuccino doughnuts or chocolate hazelnut paninis -- they'll surprise and satisfy your hungry brunch guests.

--Savory Sweets: Adding herbs to a sweet dessert makes for a truly sophisticated taste. These Brown Butter Sage Shortbread cookies combine the rich flavor of browned butter with a hint of earthy sage for a uniquely delicious treat. Try other sweet and savory combinations like salted caramels, chili-flavored chocolates or sweet basil and olive oil cakes.

Find out more about Starbucks Natural Fusions at www.starbucks.com/naturalfusions.

Cinnamon Croissant French Toast
Serves 8 

    4   croissants cut in half
Egg Mixture:        
    4   eggs
    1/2   cup half and half
    1/2   cup Starbucks Natural Fusions Cinnamon brewed double-strength
    4   tablespoons salted butter
    1   cup real maple syrup
    1/4   cup brewed Starbucks Natural Fusions
        Cinnamon (optional)
    2   medium pears, sliced thin

In medium bowl, beat eggs with half and half and coffee. Heat large cast iron or non-stick pan over medium heat. Dip both sides of croissant in egg mixture.

When skillet is hot, add butter and allow to get a little bubbly. Add 4 croissant halves to skillet at a time. Cook about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until crisp and golden. Flip and cook additional 1 1/2 minutes on other side. Remove from pan and top with freshly sliced pears.

To add a little kick to your maple syrup, just mix 1 part Starbucks Natural Fusions brewed coffee with 4 parts real maple syrup. Serve warm.

Serve with a cup of Starbucks Natural Fusions Vanilla.

NOTE: To prepare double-strength Starbucks Natural Fusions, brew using 4 tablespoons ground coffee per 6 ounces water.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Paul McCullough

Brown Butter Sage Shortbread
Makes 20 cookies

8   ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
5   teaspoons dried sage leaves, divided
2   teaspoons orange zest
1/2   cup powdered sugar
1   teaspoon vanilla extract
2   cups all-purpose flour
1/2   teaspoon salt
3   tablespoons sugar
20   small fresh sage leaves (optional)

Melt butter, 4 teaspoons dried sage and orange peel in small sauce pan over medium heat. Stirring, cook until butter begins to brown.

Strain into bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cool, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until fluffy and lemony yellow, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla.

Whisk together flour and salt. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed, scraping sides if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.

Using your hands, roll cookie dough into a 10-inch-long log (about 3 inches in diameter). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.

While dough chills, combine sugar and 1 teaspoon of dried sage leaves in a bowl and press through a strainer to break up the sage. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Once cold, cut the log into twenty 1/2-inch-thick disks. Place disks on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with Sage Sugar. If desired, press a small, fresh sage leaf onto the top of each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in airtight container for up to one month.

Serve with Starbucks Natural Fusions Caramel.

Recipe courtesy of Starbucks Coffee

Festive Finishes

Serve up holiday spirit with every delicious sip of java. These festive finishing ideas will give your guests a spectacular coffee experience:

--Colorful Cups: Rim coffee cups or mugs with red or green sugar crystals to add flavor along with some fun.

--Dollops of Flavor: Make delicious whipped creams by mixing in chocolate liqueur and cocoa powder for chocolate lovers, or adding hazelnut, amaretto or chai liqueurs for a more exotic touch.

--Seasonal Stirrers: Instead of plastic stir sticks, use cinnamon sticks, peppermint sticks, or white-chocolate dipped spoons for that extra "Mmmm" factor.

--Specialty Sprinkles: Shake things up with dashes of cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, crushed peppermint candies or even candied ginger.