Dec 28 2011

cranberry ginger cocktail

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

Between the scent of fresh pine in the air, festive lights everywhere, lots of time with family, and spectacular food, this is just about my favorite time of year. This year has been especially fun because we spent Christmas with my two nieces: Amelia, who is 3, and Sophie, who is just a couple of months old. This was Amelia’s first Christmas where she had some sense of what was going on and her joy and excitement were contagious. Watching her put out cookies and milk out for Santa and running down to see what he had brought her brought back fond memories of my own childhood Christmases. Granted, she was possibly more excited about the act of unwrapping presents than some of the actual gifts she got, but she had a blast.

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

We were also treated to my mother-in-law’s amazing cooking, including pork belly, Bing Ssäm (her adaptation of David Chang’s Bo Ssäm), paella, sangria, lumpia, and sinigang. And those were just the dinners (she also made some amazing French toast, crab scramble, and more!). I would share some photos of all her amazing food, but frankly I was too busy eating to stop and take pictures. We cleansed our palates with biko, Christmas cookies (including my two versions of jubilee jumbles and black and white holiday bark among many others), and some spectacular chocolate pretzels bars that Amelia made (with quite a bit of help from her mom).

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

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Dec 23 2011

black and white holiday bark with cranberries

Black and White Holiday Bark with Dried Cranberries

The second cookie (well, not really cookie, but work with me here) that I chose from the America’s Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010 Special Issue was this black and white holiday bark. The second I saw it I knew I had to make it. America’s Test Kitchen calls it a bark and I suppose therefore it is, but it’s much more of a bar than most of the chocolate bark out there. I don’t know what kind of tree has a bark this thick, but I certainly don’t have a problem with chocolate that’s over an inch thick.

Black and White Holiday Bark with Cranberries

Black and White Holiday Bark with Cranberries

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Dec 22 2011

jubilee jumbles (aka fruitcake cookies)

Jubilee Jumbles (aka fruitcake cookies)

Steph, the awesome social media manager at America’s Test Kitchen, sent me the ATK Holiday Cookies 2010 Special Issue and just a week after I got it in the mail, it looks like I’ve had it for over a year. Steph said it’s her favorite and I can see why. As I flipped through the pages over and over again trying to come up with my shortlist of cookies to make for Christmas, I realized there were no less than 15 things that I wanted to make over the weekend.

Jubilee Jumbles

Jubilee Jumbles

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Dec 18 2011

cranberry turtle bars

Cranberry Turtle Bar

I was all set to make the cranberry crunch bars from Moosewood Desserts for a potluck at work, but then I saw these cranberry turtle bars on Beantown Baker and I just couldn’t get them out of my head. I had to make them.

I was a little nervous about making caramel since I’m always terrified of burning caramel, but it’s really not hard at all and it’s even easier if you have a candy thermometer. I got all my ingredients and equipment ready and got cookin.’ And then I realized that my candy thermometer wasn’t a candy thermometer at all – it was a chocolate thermometer (for tempering chocolate) and only went up to 70 degrees F. I needed a thermometer to go up to 245 degrees F.

Cranberry Turtle Bars

I ended up using our instant read thermometer, which I love and can’t recommend highly enough for things like meats, breads, and cooking custards, but it’s a little dicey with liquid that’s bubbling all over the place. It all worked out in the end, especially since when I told my mom about it, she went out and got me a really nice candy thermometer, so I’m all set for next time (thanks, Mom!).

Cranberry Turtle Bar

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