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holiday eating, + down time

December 6th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

The space between Thanksgiving and Christmas feels so much shorter this year, like a freight train coming at us, all decorated in sparkling lights, tinsel and bows. I love Christmas a lot, and the decorations are only a part of what makes it so appealing. But we’re barely past Thanksgiving and December is already roaring in to greet us, all proclaiming the glory of the season.

It’s time to turn the focus on the real meaning of the season.

But first….. we need some good food for celebrating, don’t we??

I tend not to post a lot in the last month of the year. My job becomes so incredibly busy this month and the uptick in activity drains a lot of energy out of me, leaving little time for extra effort in the kitchen to make, photograph and write about a divine treat, or beautiful holiday option. Plus, I just don’t think anyone needs yet another food blogger spelling out Christmas cheer in concentrated posts between now and the end of December. It’s become so saturated with those, hasn’t it?

But I do have some delicious treats, side dishes and snacks from past years that I think are wonderful, and thought that I’d just share a few of them with you. Some are old (but all things old are new again, aren’t they??) and some are new; some spell Christmas loud and clear, and others are just a darn good idea, but all of them can be incorporated at some point over the next weeks in to your holiday repertoire.

May your season be cheerful and bright, however you celebrate.

The ultimate Christmas treat: Sugar Plums

If you’ve never made this classic holiday treat, this should be the year you do. They are superbly simple, with a delicious taste that only gets better as they sit, waiting for Christmas morning. They’re quite healthy, too.

Sugar Cookies. The perfect blend of butter, sugar and vanilla, and just what you need to roll out and cut with fancy cookie cutters for decoration.


A Nutmeg Cake that smells like Christmas:

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies- Christmas perfection.

Swedish Holiday Fruit Bread (Fruktkaka), tasting like a long forgotten memory.

Nutella Pound Cake, anyone?? Can’t get much richer and decadent than that, can you?

Earl Grey Tea Cookies– made with the beautifully aromatic tea leaves, these taste like a gorgeous Winter day and are a great afternoon treat.

Authentic German Stollen, which I must make again this year. This recipe was glorious. (Photo is from 2008- no judging!)

Great snack option, or perfect for gift giving, Dark Chocolate Nutella Muddy Buddies:

For a very hearty appetizer, this Chili Bean & Queso Dip is spectacular:

For something completely different, try making this Middle Eastern spice and nut blend called Dukkah. (again, photo from 2008- no judging!!)

Make Christmas magic with this unique and delicious Red Rice Pulao with Roasted Vegetables as your side dish:

You can substitute your favorite hearty green in this Boursin Spinach Gratin, and still get an amazing, rich and creamy side dish:

May the magic and beauty of Christmas, and all the holidays be kept close to your heart, now and all the year through.

the last jar

June 19th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

I made mustard as a Christmas present last year.

Mustard is one of my most favorite condiments, and it surprises no one more than me because I used to just hate it with a passion. Then as I got older, I managed to learn the delicious aspect of yellow mustard swirled with ketchup to drag your onion rings or french fries through, and I somehow realized that a swipe of yellow mustard and a few spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish were the ONLY way to eat a hot dog. Well, back in the day when I actually did eat hot dogs……

But then something happened. I discovered the delights of mustard, in it’s many forms. There was dijon, there was stone ground, and then we discovered jalapeno mustard. Along came honey mustard, and how wonderful it is warmed up as a dip for thick chunks of Snyders pretzels. There’s brown deli style mustard, chipotle mustard, raspberry mustard and Koop’s Arizona Heat. And where there once was only a small array of mustards on the grocers shelf, there now lies a vast display of mustard in so many flavors that it’s mind boggling to this mustard fiend. At one point, I think we had something like 6 or 7 different mustards in our refrigerator. We like our mustard.

And it’s really super easy to make too, that is, if you have a source for mustard seeds. Our local co-op carries both brown and yellow seeds, and once that was discovered, I had no reason not to whip up a mighty batch of this Roasted Garlic mustard to hand out as Christmas gifts last year. A mighty batch indeed; this made A TON of mustard. I gave away quite a bit, and kept three jars for us.

Now, our last jar stands open in the fridge.

It’s vinegar-y. It’s spicy. It rocks my sandwiches with flavor, it’s tiny little seeds popping in my mouth. It’s killer good on a bratwurst, or spread on ham or salami. I’d happily down a thick sandwich chock full of meat just to swab my bread with this killer condiment. I sent a jar off to the East Coast too, to my blogging friend Kim, also known as The Yummy Mummy and the Queen of #Charcutepalooza, a blogging phenomena that swept through Twitter, urging bloggers to cook their way through Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie cookbook. It sparked a revolution and it’s been amazing to watch it unfold. I knew the mustard would come in handy for all that cured porky goodness and I was right. Kim has asked me probably six times to post the recipe and finally, with her last prompt, I gave in. She can be kind of a pain in the ass kind of persistent, that girl.

My last jar……. I should hoard it. If I give in and make another huge batch, I’d have to find homes for all that mustard again. But I think it likely won’t be that hard.

Roasted Garlic Mustard

2-1/4 c. whole yellow mustard seed
3/4 c. whole brown mustard seed
2-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 c. water
2 whole heads garlic
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
2 T. kosher salt

Combine both mustard seeds, vinegar and water in a large bowl and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 8 hours, but I strongly recommend a full 24 hour soak for best flavor. Stir occasionally to mix it all up.

Slice the tops off of the garlic heads and remove most of the papery outer layer, leaving the cloves intact. Line an 8″ pie plate with foil and place garlic on foil, drizzle with the olive oil and fold the foil around the heads. Roast at 400° until very soft, 40-60 minutes. Allow to cool and gently squeeze the cloves from the skin. Place in a bowl and mash slightly.

Add half the mustard seed mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Scrape in half the mashed garlic and process in pulses, adding water by the tablespoon, until it begins to break down and look like grainy mustard. Process to whatever texture you wish, adding water and scraping the bowl as needed. Scrape processed mustard into a large bowl and repeat with remaining seed and roasted garlic, and add to processed mustard. Whisk in maple syrup and salt.

Spoon mustard into clean jars and seal lids tightly. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 8-10 cups.

Recipe from Eating Well magazine


Do you like mustard? What kinds do you like and how do you like to eat it?