Cinnamon Swirl Honey Bun Cookies
Patience is not my virtue. [Ed. note: I want to comment, but appreciate my life.] Rolling out cookie dough and cutting out cookies with cookie cutters? No patience for it. Hell-o slice-and-bake simplicity!
These cookies are tender, lightly sweetened with honey, and swirled with cinnamon and spice–a perfect holiday cookie that travels and keeps well, perfect for gracing your Hanukkah dessert table, a cookie exchange, or to leave as a nice treat for Santa and his helpers. I have been known to have them for breakfast with coffee, or late afternoon pick-me-up with tea.
Winter is coming: let the holiday cookie season begin!
NOTE: Although the glaze is delicious, I opted not to use it as I prefer it much better plain (plenty sweet for this household), and if you are going to ship it as a gift it's probably more practical to go glazeless. That said, if you're serving at a party or leaving for Santa, by all means glaze it up.
Adapted from: Marbled, Swirled, and Layered, by Irvin Lin
Number of servings: 48 cookies
Cinnamon Filling and Baking
Make sure the butter for cinnamon filling is truly at room temperature or even slightly warmer than that. It makes spreading the filling easier.
You can make and freeze this cookie dough for future baking. Once frozen for an hour, place the log in a labeled zip-top plastic bag. Slice and bake cookies at your convenience. Frozen dough should keep for up to 2 months.
There is no gray area with brussels sprouts. People love them or hate them. Luckily, I live in a house were brussels sprouts rule. The BF actually requests this cruciferous vegetable any chance he gets.
The many health benefits of brussels sprouts are well documented. They're loaded with vitamin K (great for bone health), promote weight loss and lower cholesterol levels, are a great source of protein, and can even reduce cancer risk.
When cooking with them, can't stress this enough: buy good sprouts. They should feel firm and have tight, shiny-edged leaves. I like to buy medium-to-small ones, because I find the larger ones have a more bitter flavor (especially those gigantic, loose-leafed monstrosities). Never buy those.
Several thousand acres of sprouts are planted in coastal areas of San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties of California (lucky to have this level of quality available locally), which offer an ideal combination of coastal fog year-round.
Roasting brussels sprouts (in the oven) was my way of winning over skeptics (like the BF), but this recipe works whether you steam them on a stove top or use the microwave. Those of you with one oven, like me, will appreciate not having to use it for multiple dishes, especially on Thanksgiving or other holidays.
This dish is delicious alongside any meat that typically graces the holiday table: beef, turkey, ham, lamb, pork, duck or sausage (second pic).
NOTE: I make these in the microwave for convenience, but feel free to steam the sprouts on the stove top.
Number of servings: 4 (depending on how many other side dishes you offer)
Butternut Squash Latkes
Latkes are not just for Hannukah.
Everyone has their own Thanksgiving traditions. Growing up in our family, the turkey was not the star of the show. We were all about appetizers. Once, I asked Mamala how this all started and she couldn't remember, but at some point two appetizers turned into 20 and it took on a life of its own. We used to stay up all night before Thanksgiving and make: chopped liver, herring in sour cream, herring in tomatoes, herring in vinegar, clam poppers, rumaki, stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, vegetable trays, three kinds of rye bread, Japanese pickled radish, olives, cornichons, stuffed celery, liptauer (an Austrian favorite), Boston brown bread, and a pistachio pudding-green jello-cottage cheese-fruit cocktail-mayo-7-UP mold (it was the '70s, believe it was called Watergate Salad). Of course, little-girl me disliked all the appetizers we made, except black olives. Thank goodness I was allowed to stick them on my fingers.
So much time. energy and stomach space was spent on appetizers that we rarely ate our turkey and sides on Thanksgiving. If we did, it was at 10:00pm or the next day.
We've had many memorable Thanksgivings. My brother Mike had an epic Thanksgiving-Hannukah reunion in 2004. My Chicago family has hosted many extraordinary Thanksgiving reunions. We also had a beautiful yet bittersweet Thanksgiving with family and friends two weeks before my Mamala passed away in 2011.
There is always that one Thanksgiving that my family always laughs at: 1979. My father passed away that September and it was the first holiday without him. I had recently started college and my older brother Mike, a sophomore at Oregon State, thought it would be a nice idea to invite a married foreign-exchange couple from Korea to a traditional American Thanksgiving.
Mamala and I decided that we would forgo the appetizers and focus on the traditional turkey dinner. We worked feverishly all week cleaning the house, shopping, cooking, and decorating. Thanksgiving morning I put a 25-pound turkey in the oven and got to work on the rest of the feast. Did I mention we had a dog (part wolf, unbeknownest to us at the time), at the time. His name was Blitz.
[Ed. Note: Good lord I do not like where this is going.]
Mike arrived with the Korean couple around noon, and they arrived in the most gorgeous traditional Korean attire, a hanbok en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanbok. They looked spectacular, were polite and gracious beyond words, just downright lovely people. We spoke no Korean and they spoke no English, but we managed just fine.
Our holiday table was beautifully set with my Mamala's customary Thanksgiving cornucopia, complete with seasonal fruit, plus pilgrim and Native-American candles that she bought 16 years prior when my younger sister Julie was born.
The turkey was baking away. Intoxicating aroma. I might have even cut a little piece of crispy skin off the tail end and snacked on it. [Ed. Note: I'ma tell.] The kitchen and dining room were closed off. Guests were in the living room.
4:00pm, countdown to dinner. The turkey needs to rest for 20 minutes before carving, so that 25-pound bird was carefully placed on the counter, covered with foil, and I finally joined everyone else in the living room.
Suddenly, THUNK. Growling. Snarling. Chomping.
[Ed. Note: The horror. Slowly she turned, inch by inch, step by...]
My heart dropped. I raced into the kitchen with Mamala close behind. There was Blitz with the turkey on the floor, devouring a leg and starting on the precious white meat. He hissed, growled, and bared teeth as I tried to reach for the bird. I grabbed a broom handle and tried to grab what was left of the turkey. His jaw dripped with coveted turkey juices. It was a scene out of Cujo.
[Ed. Note: Getting Stephen King's agent on the phone.]
By the time I could grab the turkey, it was mostly carcass with a little meat dangling on bone. What was once a meal for eight was soup stock. Mamala and I stared at the carcass, a beautiful turkey five minutes ago. We stared at the dog, who was beaming. Once our shock subsided we had no idea what to serve for dinner.
Meanwhile in the living room...Mike has said he never forgot the look on our guests' faces as they heard these psychotic masticating sounds emanating from the adjacent room. Like the proper Midwesterner my Mamala was raised to be, we of course never said a word to them about what transpired in the kitchen, and pretended like nothing happened.
Long story short, we ended up having all vegetarian side dishes for Thanksgiving that year. The Korean couple could not have been more gracious. They enjoyed the meal and we all had a blast. It was an unforgettable holiday and brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.
This Thanksgiving, consider making latkes for your vegetarian guests so they will not have to sustain their hunger on side dishes alone.
Adapted from: Food and Wine, November 2012
Number of servings: 4 dozen mini latkes
Caramel Apple Cake
Birthday cakes. Everyone from 1-100 (and up!) should get a homemade one on their special day, and my BF is no exception. I always try to top the previous year's dessert, and for him it usually involves apples and/or caramel of some kind.
This year is no different, and oy this is a delicious cake. Adapted from my favorite baker boys of Baked Explorations, this is pure fall: moist, dense, lightly spiced, covered in caramel buttercream, and then drizzled with more caramel.
Oh, did I mention that the BF is a Batman fan? [Ed. note: You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?]
The recipe below is for an 8-inch 3-layer cake, but for my small family I make the smallest amount possible (in that case a 6-inch 3-layer cake, which is exactly one half of the recipe). I use Williams Sonoma salted caramel that was on hand, and made my own applesauce from my own recipe (I prefer the addition of boiled apple cider for an intense cider flavor), but feel free to save time and use store bought applesauce and/or caramel. No shame in that.
The list of ingredients may seem daunting, and yes there are many steps, but fear not, it is actually not as daunting as it seems. It's a cake you'll want in your fall rotation, perfect for a loved one whose birthday falls in the October-November time frame.
Adapted from: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Number of servings: makes one 8-inch, 3-layer cake
I'm writing this post on Halloween morning and it's the first cool day of fall (always pleased when it's sweater weather). Know you're seeing this the day after, and hope you had a fun evening with the trick or treaters.
Roasted yam wedges are common fare in our house, usually lightly slicked with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with salt, Aleppo pepper and coriander powder, and roasted until crispy like fries. Makes for a terrific side dish. Even "Supergirl" Marlowe (see pictures below) loves them.
However, this satisfying entree fits the bill for a meatless meal while having enough flavor, heft and protein to satisfy our carnivore tastes. It's also perfect for the cooler weather we have coming.
Crispy Tandoori Chickpeas
Tahini Lime Sauce
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.