Tomorrow is my twelfth wedding anniversary. It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve done the math. Twelve years of marriage. Holy cow.
Originally, I was going to call this “Apology Cherry Pie,” because when I saw the cherries at the grocery store, I thought a pie would be a good way to tell my husband I was sorry for the fight I started last night.
We are entering party season, people. Maybe we’re already in it–it’s football season, after all, and there were plenty of Halloween parties just a few days ago, and then there will be Friendsgivings and, of course, Thanksgiving itself. Maybe you’re throwing these parties, maybe attending them. Maybe you’ve been asked to bring something–an appetizer? You could just pick up a bag of Doritos. People like those. But if you want to take it another step further, here are three sure-to-please recipes, none of them requiring any culinary skill or know-how. Read on but beware: you might drool. That’s okay. It’s a normal, human response.
These are all my twists on some party classics. For example, the classic “queso” recipe (the one on the back of the Velveeta box) calls for two ingredients. Mine calls for four:
8 ounces Velveeta
8 ounces pepper jack cheese
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives
Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, stirring every minute or two, until melted. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
When I was first learning to cook, I took a lot of pride in preparing even the simplest recipes. I was of the persuasion that cooking was magic, so even if all I had to do was boil something in water (I was so proud of my first St. Patrick’s Day corned beef, for which you do exactly that) I felt like I was on Emeril Live!. You see, prior to discovering Food Network, I didn’t know you could make your own pudding (except for rice pudding, which my parents loved but struck me as distinctly different from pudding pudding), or what tiramisu was, or how on earth to cut any vegetable into uniform pieces. I had followed a few recipes in my time and created edible food but mostly under duress–like that time my mom had to work Thanksgiving so Dad did the turkey and I made the sides. I don’t know if it was any good, either, because that was before I learned to like Thanksgiving food, so I didn’t eat much of it except pumpkin pie, which was overcooked and soggy-bottomed, but I loved it because I’d never had it any other way. (Sorry, Mom.)
In my dining room, I have a chalkboard in a pretty frame. It’s the one chalkboard in the house (we have several) that the kids are not allowed to draw on; it’s just for me. Sometimes I draw pictures (a Thanksgiving turkey, a Christmas tree, the Easter bunny), but most of the time it’s the specials board for my imaginary bakery. Every so often, usually as the seasons change, I dream up a new list of goodies, draw little flowers and coffee cups and swirls, and pretend I’m actually going to bake these things and sell them in a quaint bakery/coffee shop, situated in an old mansion in some sweet-but-accessible neighborhood, where I also rent the upstairs rooms and host poetry readings and live music in the others. Also there’s a huge play room for the kids and a patio with fairy lights.
Last week, we filmed Sam’s cooking show. It was so much fun that I decided to film my own.
This video is pretty long–almost a half an hour. It took me about two hours total to make the dish, which is a version of shepherd’s pie aimed at rescuing some freezer burned vegetables I found in my freezer and a few other things I found lying around. It was totally spur of the moment but it was a lot of fun and it certainly made making dinner a little more exciting. Still new to this food video thing–note the abrupt transitions and lack of planning (I totally forgot to show you the final product and the shot of us eating it never filmed because my camera ran out of battery)–but I’m learning!
This meal went over really well with my family–especially Sam. He ate almost a whole serving without complaint, which is rare for him, especially when it contains so many vegetables. Violet didn’t touch it, but I suspect that’s because I made the mistake of serving it with bread. So she only wanted bread. But the gravy on sourdough–yummy stuff.
Every year, I bemoan the fact that I don’t like any of my sugar cookie cutout recipes. I have one drop sugar cookie I like, but as I get older it seems too sweet for me, and I’m really looking for something I can shape. Baking and decorating cookies can kill a good hour (or more) and in a house with wee ones, we’re always looking for ways to kill time. I mean–we’re always looking for educational activities. Yes–and baking cookies teaches counting, turn-taking, patience, and fine motor skills (scooping and leveling flour, pressing cookie cutters, pinching just the right amount of sprinkles). Plus the outcome is lovely. If you have a good cookie recipe.
I didn’t have one. So I decided to make one up. And after tinkering with over the last two years, I’m ready to share it with you. It stamps perfectly, holds its shape, doesn’t puff at all, and has a lovely texture and taste. I credit the white chocolate in the dough; maybe, scientifically, that’s wrong. Maybe it wouldn’t taste or bake any differently if I subbed the white chocolate/coconut oil mixture with another three tablespoons of butter and two of sugar. But I doubt it.
Either way, here’s the recipe. I know the cookie season has basically come to a close and the New Year’s diets begin soon, but keep this one in your pocket in case you need a really nice shaped cookie. Continue reading “White Chocolate Cutout Cookies”→