I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the pinch of not having enough time between holidays this year. Usually there’s a bit more space to catch my breath and re-calibrate after Thanksgiving and before diving into Christmas prep. Not this year. This year I feel like I got back to Brooklyn after a wonderful holiday in Virginia and hit the ground running–it’s time to track down presents, to deck the halls, and to make cookies. As much as I love this time of year (I love it even more than this, which is just one of the Christmas movies my family watches annually), I’m feeling more than a little stressed and pressed. In a mood like this it’s all too easy to turn to delivery for dinner (and oh my heavens, do we ever), though I know that I feel better and even more relaxed when I take the time to make something. To get me to actually cook right now, that something better be simple and quick…and a little healthy wouldn’t hurt, to combat all of the holiday cheer. Enter roasted shrimp and broccoli.
I’d love your help with a baking project. One of my favorite signs of the holiday season is The Washington Post‘s annual cookie bonanza: an issue of the Food section devoted to an absurd number of cookies, bars, and other seasonal sweets. This year’s insert appeared today and it was exciting. My Facebook feed was buzzing with people’s plans to bake until the butter ran out. Even though the Post is no longer my local paper, I spent an inordinate amount of time clicking through/drooling over each of the 25 recipes online. I wanted to make. them. all. And I actually thought about baking all 25… until I had the much saner, much better idea to ask you for help.
Here’s my idea: if you are interested in trying any of the 25 recipes in today’s Post (listed below with links to each recipe), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight this Friday, December 6. Let me know which recipe or recipes you’d be willing to try. On Saturday, December 7, I’ll let everyone know what they’re baking. Then you’ll bake your treat, take a picture, and email me a photo and your thoughts by midnight on Sunday, December 15. The week of the 15th, I’ll share your pics and stories.
Have you ever had an Irish Car Bomb? It’s a (terribly named, I’m realizing especially strongly as I type it out) drink, consisting of a shot of Baileys and whiskey dropped into a pint of Guinness, and downed before it has a chance to curdle. Not something I’ve ever been drawn to, but when I came across a recipe for chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes on smitten kitchen, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Inspired by a chocolate stout tres leches cake that Laura and I had shared way back in January 2011, I had been on the hunt for a Guinness cake to serve at Hal’s birthday party (which suddenly and excitingly turned into a his birthday + our engagement party!!! Ahem). Just a Guinness cake would have satisfied, but stout cupcakes filled with whiskey ganache, to celebrate the birthday of a gent whose autocorrect writes WHISKY instead of whiskey? Now we’re really talking.
There were so many delicious looking dishes in this month’s Bon Appétit that we didn’t want to choose just one to test. We found that the bread section had some of the most promising options, so we each chose one: Jessica picked the salt and pepper biscuits and Laura picked the dilly rolls. In one of our most successful butter poached bon features ever, we highly recommend both of these rolls. They each work reasonably well for the Thanksgiving table (the rolls more so than the biscuits) and they are definitely keepers for the rest of the year.
My favorite email of the holiday season arrived last week: my aunt Joannie asking what we’re making for Thanksgiving. Over the past couple of years, Mom, Joannie, and I have assembled Thanksgiving dinner as a team and it’s become a delicious, extravagant tradition. Mom handles the heavies: turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Joannie and I fly in with the fun stuff: sides, desserts, apps, and usually a thematic cocktail. While everyone demands that Mom keep her anchors more or less the same, the supporting cast changes every year. There’s a rotating list of old favorites that make reappearances and there are always new dishes vying for attention. This year my chief contribution will be a sweet potato casserole so southern it practically drawls.
I have not been achieving my full festive fall potential this season. I have yet to taste my first apple cider donut or pumpkin latte of the year, I haven’t made it apple picking, I missed my students’ annual pumpkin carving event, the only foliage I’ve intentionally gandered at was out the window of a train speeding from NYC to DC (though I have to say, it was especially spectacular), and on Halloween, at my insistence, we skipped the parade happening one avenue over and stayed in eating Indian food. What I have done, however, is find a new favorite muffin that hits many of my fall cravings at once, with pumpkin, apple, and delicious spice. Not too shabby for a (relatively) healthy breakfast treat.