The first time I made these cookies, Joy the Baker’s chocolate brownie cookies with white chocolate and roasted macadamia nuts, I couldn’t taste them. I was into third week of a month of Whole 30, and taking it so seriously that when I almost absentmindedly licked some chocolate batter off of my finger I squealed and jumped backwards. Despite not being able to take a tester bite, I had a hunch these cookies were the business. For starters, Joy the Baker really knows her way around a delicious sweet. Secondly, the star ingredients–two kinds of chocolate and salted roasted macadamia nuts–are pretty hard to argue with. And finally, there was the smell. Holy heck, did sniffing these cookies while they were baking test every bit of my Whole 30 resolve. I decided right then to make them as soon as I could eat sweets again.
Around the holidays, I like to have cake on hand at all times. Cookies are great, too, but it’s cake that really feels festive to me. I like admiring a pretty cake under a dome and I like serving slices of sweetness on Santa Claus plates. As much as I love sinking hours into an elaborate cake project like a Bûche de Noël, the cakes I enjoy most this time of year are the simplest ones. This cranberry torte has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years. It’s a breeze to make, it’s decked out with merry pops of red, and it’s a balanced, sweet-tart treat that feels appropriate at any time of day.
I’ve posted a number of stir-fries (a couple of chicken dishes and pepper steak), but I try out way more stir-fries than I share. I’m particular about the flavors (they’d better be big) and the textures (crisp veggies, small pieces of meat, and a thick sauce), leaving many lackluster dishes to fall into the recipe compost bin of not-quite-good-enough. This spicy stir-fry featuring a ton of veggies and satisfying steak has been on repeat for over a year in our house, so I figured it was time to share.
Just a few weeks ago, Hal and I celebrated two years of marriage and four years together (we organized our anniversaries very efficiently: first date on November 7th 2012, engaged on November 9th 2013, and married on November 8th 2014!). In the time that we’ve been building our relationship, we’ve of course started to create traditions for our little two person family. We watch Die Hard every Christmas, we go back to the bar where we got married on our wedding anniversary, we exchange teeny gifts on New Years (brought by the New Year’s Elf, of course), and when we get back to my childhood home after celebrating Thanksgiving with my extended family, we have a second dinner of sausage and peppers.
I finally found a Thanksgiving dish that has Ed looking forward to turkey day. I’ve written before about how Ed’s chief Thanksgiving complaint is that the food doesn’t have enough crunch or heat. This dish, an easy-breezy, decadently cheesy corn casserole, has crunch and spice to spare. It’s one of the simplest, but most satisfying holiday sides I’ve made and I have a feeling it’s going to be in the rotation for years.
Other than popcorn–which is a necessary and always stocked staple–Hal and I don’t really keep snacks in the house. This is a departure from how I grew up, when we almost always had chips and cookies and probably half a bag of peanut M+Ms in the kitchen cupboards. My mother had the kind of willpower that allows a person to eat half a single serving bag of candy and put the rest away (she also had a wonderful habit of having a teeny dish with just one or two dainty little spoonfuls of Breyers chocolate ice cream before bed)…something I did not exactly inherit from her. So, in my own home, I tend to mostly stay away from having snacks hanging around. But sometimes and on some occasions, a really snacky snack is called for. Say, for example, when you’re getting ready to watch the second debate in an increasingly horrifying presidential election, and need comforting treats to get you through. Times like that call for the snacking big guns: chocolate dipped potato chips.
We’ve been hung up on pumpkin season for the past few weeks here at butter poached, but we can’t forget that it’s apple season, too. As I’ve written before, apple season is impressive in central Illinois. The farmers market is dominated by tables of multiple apple varieties: Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Rome, and Fuji, to name a few. By the time I decide which couple of apples I want to try for the week, I find myself carrying at least a few pounds of loot. If I want to treat myself the next Saturday with even more apples, I have to make fast work of my weekly haul. My latest, greatest way to put apples to an exceptionally tasty use is this roasted applesauce from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.