Aren’t we the cutest? From L to R: Truman, my lovely husband Scott, Fischer, me, and Jackie. Photo courtesy of The Mullers.
What you’re about to read is an obligatory holiday blog post. I, like many others, spent the last two weeks prepping and cooking in anticipation of Christmas. My goal is always to have a fun and relaxing time in the kitchen – preparing edible gifts for my friends and family. The vision I have in my imagination is me, swiftly moving from task to task while Bing Crosby sings about white Christmases in the background. Inevitably, though, I get in over my head and the kitchen ends up looking like a flour bomb went off and I’m huffing and puffing trying to keep up.
This year I really tried to keep it simple. For my family I made:
- Homemade peppermint patties
- Scratch cherry pies
- Herbed cheddar cheese straws
- Orange spiced cashews
- Pretzel swirl peppermint bark
- Roasted rosemary almonds
- Cranberry and pistachio biscotti
For my friends I made:
- Bourbon vanilla ice cream with buttered pecans
- Chocolate banana ice cream
- Zinfandel gelato
- Pepper bacon jam
- A loaf of challah bread for a holiday party
- Chocolate gingerbread cake
Wow. Now that I read the lists, I realize I may not have kept it simple. But you know what? It’s the holiday season, and I like to cook and bake for my friends and family. I think edible gifts are really the best way to go. As we get older, it’s harder and harder to find things to buy for people, so I would much rather go this route. Even if you’re not a professional chef or baker, you can still get in the kitchen and whip up a batch of something delicious. Wrap it in butcher paper, tie it with kitchen twine, and slap a pretty tag on it. Boom. Gift done.
I hope you all had a lovely holiday and were able to spend it with those you love while eating and drinking delicious things.
Orange Spiced Cashews
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
2 1/2 cups whole cashews (unsalted)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, mix cashews with corn syrup until evenly coated. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine salt, zest, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Sprinkle mixture over cashews and mix until evenly coated. Transfer mixture to one of the prepared baking sheets; spread in a single layer, separating nuts the best you can.
Bake until the nuts are golden and the syrup is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Immediately transfer nut to the other baking sheet. Separate cashews; let cool.