Tag Archives: holiday

cranberry upside-down cake

cranberry upside-down cake

Last Friday night the Aggies were playing their bowl game and my intention had been to make this cake because the Aggies colors are maroon and white.  But between going to the gym, going to the grocery store, making dinner and then a wine and beer tasting at Spirited Gourmet, well, it just didn’t happen. Luckily I had made meringues for my sister who was in town because they’re her favorite.  I mean, you just don’t want to get caught without any options for dessert now do you?

So it wasn’t until the next night that I made the cake. It’s not at all that the recipe is too complicated or anything — it’s quite easy actually — I just ran out of time Friday night.  In fact, I almost forgot about the cake again the next night, so didn’t make it until around midnight.  We had plans to meet up with my sister at a bar and I didn’t have time to prep and bake the cake before we’d have to leave.  I prepped everything (all the way down to having the cranberries, sugar, spices, and zest in the buttered pan with some saran wrap on top) and then when we got back I whipped the rest together and threw it in the oven.  It was so good warm that second and third helpings may have occurred.  It wasn’t so bad the next day either.  I can’t tell you what it would have been like by the third day because there wasn’t any left….

orange zest

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chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies

chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies

Wait! Hold off on that New Year’s diet resolution! I still have two cookie recipes to share with you! I know, I should have gotten them in earlier, it’s just been such a busy holiday season.

toasted hazelnuts

For years and years, we always made the same cookies for the holidays (such as the forgotten meringues and fruitcake cookies), but this year I wanted to branch out and try something different.  When I saw this recipe on epicurious, I knew would have to make it.

chocolate hazelnut crinkles in powdered sugar

Not only was Joseph looking at the recipe and drooling on my shoulder, but one of my family’s traditional cookies is a molasses crinkle.  It’s obviously a completely different flavor profile, but they’re both rolled and then doused in sugar (although the molasses crinkle is coated in granulated sugar while these are in powdered sugar) before baking, giving it that cool crinkled effect.  And it just felt like it was ok to skip the old tradition if I replaced it (if only temporarily) with another crinkle cookie. Continue reading


toast the new year with pomegranate-rosemary royale

pomegranate-rosemary royale

Joseph and I drove from Boston to DC for the holidays and decided it would be fun to bring our cat, Snoopy, with us.  After 3 hours of yowling, she finally settled down and slept for the rest of the trip.  Still, it was a long trip and we were thrilled when we finally pulled up to my parents’ place.  Things improved even more when we got inside to find these cocktails and some awesome brie and apple compote toasts waiting for us, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law.

The pomegranate-rosemary royale is made with a simple syrup infused with rosemary, giving it just a subtle herbal flavor while the pomegranate juice and Champagne make it both sweet and tart.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and it’s pretty as can be.  It’s just perfect for ringing in the New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your year is filled with happiness and good food and drink!

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forgotten meringues

forgotten meringues

My family has many Christmas traditions and one of my favorites is the forgotten meringue.  It’s called the forgotten meringue because you whip up the meringue, form cookies on a sheet, and put them in a preheated oven and turn the oven off, and then forget about them until the next morning.  You then begin the day with a meringue or two because you just have to see how they came out.  You nailed it if they’re light and airy and dissolve in your mouth.  Even if you didn’t nail it and ended up with a chewier cookie, you’ll still really enjoy them — believe me, I’ve made plenty of less than perfect meringues and no one has ever complained.

Meringues may appear a little tricky, but if you follow the basic rules and tips, they’re actually pretty easy.  Here are some tips for perfect meringues: Continue reading


triple-chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies

This is a new Christmas cookie for me and believe me, it’s going to find a place in the Christmas cookie rotation from now on.  It has not one, not two, but three kinds of chocolate: semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.  Now, I was initially wondering what the point of buying milk chocolate was when I could just use semi-sweet and just have two chocolates.  But it didn’t seem as fun and they had a sale on milk chocolate chips at the store.

I wasn’t familiar with Guittard chocolates, but I’m going to be on the lookout from now on.  These milk chocolate chips are awesome.  They’re quite large so my initial thought was to halve them, which I started to do before deciding that I had had enough chopping and enough time on prep.  Dear readers, this moment of laziness made these cookies even better.  Every now and then you get the most amazing bite of chocolate.  And the tartness of the cranberries with the chocolate medley is just perfect, really bringing these cookies together.  And they’re made even prettier with a quick drizzle of melted white chocolate.  Yum! Continue reading


fruitcake cookies

fruitcake cookies

I just spent the weekend baking holiday cookies and have so much to share with you!  I’m beginning with my dad’s favorite: fruitcake cookies.  My mom has made these cookies for as long as I can remember but I’m not sure I ever actually tried one until 3 or 4 years ago.

They’re packed with fluorescent candied cherries (the green ones in particular look like they could glow in the dark) so you’d think it would be the kids that would have been excited about these cookies and not the adults.  But for some reason my sister and I thought they were super disgusting (although I’m not really sure either of us ever tried them) and my parents, especially my dad, really liked them.  So a few years ago I decided I should just give them a try and to my shock (and yes, perhaps horror), I really liked them.  I made them for Joseph who also really liked them so they were the first cookie on my list to attack for the holidays this year.

candied cherries

Joseph helped enormously with the prep by cutting up all these suckers.  I always forget how long it takes because you have to quarter each one and they’re super sticky.  It’s one thing for someone like me who is just a slow cutter, but someone with great knife skills, such as Joseph, may find it agonizingly slow because the stickiness gets in the way of just about everything.  Oh, um.  And while you’re prepping, I would refrain from trying the cherries because they are sickeningly sweet and it may scare you off from what you’re making.  But the finished product is worth it, I promise you!  The cookie is buttery and has a rich brown sugar taste and the candied cherries make them about as festive as any cookie could be while the dates and pecans help them back to earth. Continue reading


pumpkin pie

As much as I love pumpkiny foods, I’ve never really been a big fan of pumpkin pie.  I guess it’s the texture (so mushy).  But it such a classic Thanksgiving dessert that I figured I should make one.  I was also inspired when I found this recipe when flipping through Joanne Chang’s new cookbook at the bookstore. I’m a big fan of Joanne Chang from her bakery, Flour Bakery and apparently this pie has gotten all kinds of accolades, so I figured, hey, why not?   I went home and quickly found the recipe on the Food Network website.

pumpkin and brown sugar

The funny thing is that when I got in the car the day before Thanksgiving, there was a woman explaining a pumpkin pie recipe on the radio and I kept thinking, wow, that sounds exactly like the pie I made the night before.  And indeed it was because it was Joanne Chang on the radio!  It’s a little embarrassing how much I enjoyed listening to her on the radio.  I’m so clueless when it comes to pop culture, so food people end up being my celebrities. Continue reading


apple crumb pie

apple crumb pie

I don’t know exactly how old I was (10ish?), but I still remember standing at the kitchen counter trying to roll out my pie dough and my grandmother guiding me through this process that was proving to be so much more complicated than I had thought it would be.  I’ve made an apple pie every Thanksgiving since.

In fact, every Thanksgiving I made the exact same recipe, an apple pie loaded with spices from the 18th century in Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop.  It’s a unique recipe (the only reason I have mace in my spice cabinet), and it’s good, but I got tired of making it.  More than that, I got tired of making a lattice top pie (pretty though they are) and wanted to try a crumb pie.  So last year I made a new recipe and I wish I could remember where I got it because it was the worst apple pie I’ve ever made and I want to be sure that I never make it again.  It’s funny because none of my family members remember it being that bad, but when I cut into it, all I really got were some soggy apples swimming in their juices.  I mean, it was edible, but it was definitely nothing to be proud of. Continue reading


day(s) of feasting

Thanksgiving morning began with individual monkey breads – monkey bread that my mother-in-law made in muffin tins so we each had our own piece of gooey, warm, sticky monkey bread to pull apart and devour.  It was the beginning of a magnificent day of feasting.

Thanksgiving dinner included a ridiculously succulent turkey; stuffing; a butternut squash, brussel sprout, chestnut, and bacon medley; and an amazing cranberry sauce that my sister-in-law made that has a surprise of figs, walnuts, and (my favorite), nearly a full bottle of port.  We finished things off with an apple crumb pie, pumpkin pie, and ginger ice cream. Continue reading