Zimtsterne

Zimtsterne

I’ve been feeling pretty grinchy this Christmas season.

This isn’t a fun time of year to be forbidden from eating any dairy of any kind. I have been lusting after trays of cookies and holiday cheese balls and getting grumpier and grumpier.

But I just can’t imagine Christmastime without holiday baking, even if I can’t eat the spoils myself.

And wouldn’t you know it, the cookie that was at the top of my list to try this year actually turned out to be dairy free! And gluten free!

Surprise!

These cinnamon stars (little German lesson for you: Zimt = cinnamon, Sterne = stars. Literal naming at work…) are chewy and moist and simply amazing. Especially if you thought you were staring down a month without cookies. If you know anyone with food sensitivities, make these immediately. They will be so grateful!

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Cardamom-Scented Delicata Squash with Yogurt Sauce

Cardamom-Scented Delicata Squash

There is so much to be thankful for!

Day 7: Thankful for new friends and birthday parties. Thankful for family visiting from out of town, for cuddles with Caitlin and s’mores around the fire pit.

Day 8: Thankful that my brother is home from his adventures in Africa!

Day 9: Thankful for the cool weather of Fall and the opportunity to eat fresh food seasonally, a blessing I know not everyone has. Thankful for Fall squashes.

Like the lovely delicata!

This month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I had the pleasure to peruse Culinary Adventures with Camilla, written by the fearless leader of the group B exchange. Camilla cooks recipes from all over the world, which I love! But this month I really wanted to focus on Thanksgiving fare, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try delicata squash, which Camilla says she cooks almost weekly when it’s in season.

This recipe combines two of my favorite things: a hint of warm, spicy cardamom, and sweet, starchy Fall squash. The end result is simple and basic, a perfect complement to the rich and saucy dishes that will litter the Thanksgiving table.

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Butter-Glazed Carrots

Butter-Glazed Carrots

I am trying to grow in gratefulness in my life. My husband has pointed out that I spend a lot of time moping about things that went slightly wrong rather than taking joy in all the ways I am blessed.

So let’s rumble, November: 30 days of thankfulness.

Day 1: Thankful for sweet friends who share deeply from their hearts. Thankful for cool weather and autumn leaves.

Day 2: Thankful for the bright, contagious smiles of my children. Thankful for the way Jake fake giggles at Caitlin to try to make her laugh (it’s so weird but so sweet).

Also thankful for Jacques Pepin and his butter-glazed carrots. These carrots put all other carrots to shame. They are so good—I really can’t rave about them enough.

Don’t be fooled by the name “glazed carrots,” people, because these are not mushy or overwhelmingly sweet like so many carrots by that name. They have just the barest of buttery, gingery sauces, with a hint of fresh garlic and grassy parsley and a crisp but not crunchy bite. The word that comes to mind is luscious.

Bring these to Thanksgiving and they will definitely be a hit!

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“Should I Share My Ice Cream?” Party

Jake Licks Batter

My son is smart and wily and creative. He is thoughtful and determined and energetic.

And he is 3 years old!

It's My Birthday!This year for Jake’s birthday, I really wanted to keep it simple. I wanted to spend less time worrying and preparing, and more time marveling at how my tiny baby turned into this enormous, articulate preschooler, a little boy with a strong will and a contagious smile!

Jake never hesitates when you ask him what his favorite foods are: ice cream and pizza. (Clearly I have been teaching him everything I know…) So this year we decided to have an ice cream party to celebrate what an awesome kid Jake is!

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Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

You really shouldn’t be surprised by what I’m about to tell you.

After all, I have a long, illustrious history as a picky eater. I know it’s mind-boggling that a person could hate fruit and all fruit-flavored things, donuts, fried stuff in general, tea, the flavor of honey and maple syrup, but it’s all true. Plus, the real reason I became a vegetarian (you know…aside from hoping to become healthier) is just that I don’t like meat.

So you really shouldn’t be surprised:

I have never liked Rice Krispie treats.

When I went off to college and discovered that not all Rice Krispie treats were Scotch Krispies, I simply avoided them in the dessert line. While all my friends would stampede toward the sweets on a day that Rice Krispie treats were available, I would meander around and grab an extra bagel (please and thank you, freshman 15…).

It should also not surprise you, then, to learn that I have never made Rice Krispie treats before.

But last week my husband drove off with our grocery cart and came back with two bags of marshmallows, a box of Rice Krispies, and a glint in his eye.

And do you know what? When I was trying to decide how to make peace with the Rice Krispies and marshmallows, I found a recipe that used brown butter and toasted marshmallows (um, nom!). At first I felt a little mean, deviating from the standard. I knew what Dave really wanted.

But these treats are really good! Still classic, with that stretchy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet marshmallow flavor, but also caramel, a rich hint of toasty brown that…might…actually…make me reverse my anti-Krispie stance.

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Confetti Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Confetti Greek Yogurt Pancakes

We like pancakes.

We like them so much that we have started eating them every week. It’s a delicious ritual.

Pancakes are pretty phenomenal, aren’t they? Do you know what makes pancakes more phenomenal (if you are 3 years old)?

Sprinkles!

And…sshh…do you know what makes them more phenomenal if you are 30 years old? Using Greek yogurt for a little protein, and raw honey instead of refined sugar. Because a sugar crash isn’t pretty, no matter how old you are.

I absolutely love these pancakes! I feel like the sprinkles are smiling at me. In fact, this may be the first time in my memory that sprinkles have actually improved a food for me! I might have to make sprinkles a habit.

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Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart

Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart

I turned 30.

I had a small midlife crisis, which resulted in a writing a long and silly bucket list—my 30 after 30. (Friends, don’t be surprised if I try to rope you into tap dancing class or hot air ballooning. Don’t be surprised if I start speaking to you in Irish—though the only phrase I have mastered is ólaim fíon!)

And, of course, I made dessert. Because what good is a birthday without dessert?

This amazing tart is exactly what you should make for every single celebration you ever attend from now on. Initially I thought of this as the 30th birthday tart, after I made it for my best friend’s 30th earlier in the year…but it’s too good not to share year round.

Not only is this tart rich and decadent and impressive, worthy of any special event you can think of, but it is actually incredibly easy to make! There are only six ingredients, and no baking or candy thermometers involved!

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Rainbow Baked Eggs

Rainbow Baked Eggs

As you may be aware, my husband and I have radically different food tastes.

If he could eat whatever he wanted for the rest of his life, he would be staring down a long succession of barbecues, charcuterie, spicy chicken wings, corned beef and cabbage, anything that goes well with rice (basically all Asian cuisines, especially dishes that are spicy and beefy and porky), Irish black tea, buckets of cola, mountains of fresh fruits covered in sugar to make them super juicy. I’d wager you would find nary a vegetable on the list, unless it appeared incidentally with the meat.

I, on the other hand, would be wolfing down cheese pizza by the pie, any dessert that has chocolate in it (especially cookies, brownies, ice cream, cake, tarts…oh my gosh, sweet tooth), butter, cheese, bread, buttery cheesy bread, salmon, crab cakes, ripe tomatoes, toasted nuts, Riesling, gallons of black coffee…and let’s throw in some salads for good measure. Because as much as I would love to eat nothing but foods half held together by butter, I definitely spend hours each week obsessing over how to eat more vegetables and be more healthy.

As you may imagine, this can make dinner time a little stressful (and it’s one of the reasons we love to eat out: to each their own!).

Thank God for eggs.

Seriously, thank you, God, for eggs. Because without eggs, Dave’s and my taste buds might have to declare war on each other.

And because of these eggs, I have a favorite little memory tucked away: Dave came home from work the day after I made these colorful eggs for the first time, and he announced: “All day long I was craving bulgogi. And then I realized that I didn’t want bulgogi. I wanted more of the eggs you made last night!”

(Cue victorious fist pump. Dim lights. End scene.)

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