This time of year, I like to spend some time looking back at the whole year, to soak up the individual ingredients the calendar vigorously whisks into one batter. Usually, my reflections are marked by blog content, but this year, my content was more sparse because my energy was concentrated on one very big project, which I'm finally ready to announce, so keep reading, and let me know what you're proud of this year. As always, if you're here, thank you! Thanks for reading, for commenting, for bringing these words and pictures to life.
With each passing year, I try to whittle away at my perfectionism, or at least guide it to where it is best directed (remember? lower the expectations!). Christmas morning is not one of those places. Though I want a touch of decadence, and I want to create a morning to remember and a breakfast to savor, that experience should not come at the expense of sequestering myself in the kitchen.
Still have people on your shopping list? Skip the lines and try one of these homemade gifts for a more personalized holiday this year. There's homemade gifts for baking, bartending, sipping and self care. Plus, there's ideas for what to sip as you get crafty.
Whenever I plan gatherings, I choose to invest more time in one (or at least I *try* to invest in only one) menu item. This winter, I had been craving the flavors and simple beauty of Whole Grain Linzer Cookies, or Helle Linzer Plaetzchen if you fancy the German title. Named for the Austrian Linzer Torte, a latticed pastry with jam filling, these buttery shortbread cookies and peeks of jam feel like little ornaments. In the vein of European traditions, I chose a Swedish lingonberry jam for a burst of red filling (and because I dream of participating in a St. Lucia celebration someday!).
I'm choosing not to stress and to enjoy my final Christmas preparations. Homemade gifts are one of my defense mechanisms against the holiday hangups. Instead of battling feuding families in malls, hit the wine and spirits shop (extra bonus: might as well buy yourself some wine while you're there) and your favorite spice store. Two stops, and you'll have the makings of homemade vanilla extract. Cue up your favorite holiday albums (Mariah Carey and She & Him, for me please), spike the egg nog, and then, it's as simple as pouring liquid over vanilla beans.
There's no real specifics to these oven baked Thanksgiving Quesadillas. After the more intense Thanksgiving kitchen endeavors, these are all about ease. Follow your current cravings. Swap a sharp cheddar for the camembert. Throw on some shredded turkey or chopped bacon for a meatier take. Roast salted kale for a crunchier contrast. There are so many possibilities!
This post is for my bitter, anti-romance, cupid haters. My recommendation to you? Whip up these Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day, and take a deep dive into true crime and dark humor. Share these cocktails with a fellow bitter friend, or simply enjoy a few all by yourself. It's your Valentine's Day. Do whatever you gotta do to get to February 15th in good spirits (pun intended... not sorry)!