When the holidays come around, I want to give everyone I know something special, but can never think of something to get them. As a young lady, not so fresh out of college, trying to make it on my own, I find it is hard to stay on a budget and get all of my loved ones something they will enjoy. That is, until I realized that all I needed was some sugar!
Holiday treats are the easiest thing to prepare! It is a fun way for me to get creative and festive, while also stretching my ever thinning dollar. For those of you that aren’t culinary savvy, there are boxed mixes by the hundreds all neatly arranged in a single isle at your local grocer. I find, most of the boxed mixes are even more affordable then making things from scratch.
I truly love to bake though, so I decided do it the old fashioned way. By doing that I also ensure that the goods I’m making are more wholesome, organic, and don’t have any funny chemicals in them that we all can do without.
I also love that you can cater to peoples dietary needs so easily these days. I find EVERY party I go to there is nothing for me to eat. It can be really draining because I always stick out like a sore thumb and have to explain why my plate has nothing on it but some dried out crudite thirty times. By bringing holiday treats that are low-key gluten free or vegan (or both!) you are not only helping yourself out, but are helping out those who are on special diets, but hate being the odd man out. I mean, when your dairy-free cookies are devoured, but the butter creme frosted yule log remains, you know your doing something right! You’re also helping others by bringing healthier choices. Talk about giving in the spirit of Christmas 😉
Without further delay, my holiday favorites! These are truly great recipes. You can also make a lot of these interchangeably with or without gluten and dairy, as I have listed.
HOLIDAY TREAT GUIDE:
- Shortbread Cookies. HERE they are gluten free; HERE they are not.
- Truffles. A no brainer. Swap out dairy with coconut mylk.
- Gingerbread. HERE is gluten free cake; HERE is gluten filled.
- Brittle. This version is nut-free.
- Ina Gartens Brownies. They are a little more laborious, but amazing. Easily made Gluten Free (because there is so little flour).
- Brown Butter Cookies. Swap 1/2 cup of salted caramel into the batter for the white sugar, you won’t regret it.
- Dorie & Pierre’s Cookies. Dorie Greenspan is a cookie specialist. She once gave me her book, Baking Chez Moi, after giving her family a quick lesson on how to froth milk. She is a very down-to-earth Connecticutian and her peace cookies are the perfect family recipe.
- Madeleines. I have yet to met someone that doesn’t like them.
- Salted Caramel Tartlets. Make small ones so people won’t feel guilty diving in.
- For those Holiday Birthdays, ANY of Linda Lomelinos Cakes will be both instagram worthy, as well as taste worthy. Fair warning, they are intricate so be prepared to spend a lot of time on them.
Hope this helps!
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Now that summer is in full swing, it hasn’t been easier to be inspired. Our garden is flourishing and the raspberries are out; as a culinarian I am literally in nirvana!
To make this simple salad, I added the ingredients listed below. If you don’t have a garden, try your local farmers market! This is peak season for New England growers and it is good to support them.
Speckle & Green Lettuce (the smaller leaves are more tender and mild)
Fresh Coriander (seeds, flowers, & fronds)
Thai Basil (flowers & leaves)
Cucumber (thinly sliced)
1 tsp Raw Honey
1.5 tsp Dijon Mustard
Basil Leaves (about a handful)
3 Tbs Apple Vinegar
1/3 c Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
-Blend dressing ingredients until pureed. Rinse & dry all vegetables and plate neatly. Top with dressing. Garnish with basil & cilantro flowers.
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So these past few weeks I have really been trying my best to have enough time to cook dinner (or at least eat it). It is a challenge to get home at a decent hour to do so! On my days off, though, I love to make it. It’s considerably my playtime. This past friday I stopped in at Whole Foods and remembered why I oh so adore spring! So many beautiful vegetables! This pasta dish is entirely gluten-free, dairy free, and can easily be vegan without the egg. I used local eggs, all organic vegetables & aromatics, and homegrown herbs.
1 lb. Gluten Free Pasta
1 bu. Asparagus
4-6 Eggs (1 per)
1 Myer Lemon
1/2 bulb fennel (and fennel fronds to garnish)
4 clv Garlic
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/4 c vegetable broth
6 sprigs Thyme
8 leaves Basil
3 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Vegan Butter
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
Mise en Place:
First, get two pots of hot water going for the pasta and the eggs; fill a smaller pot 2/3 of the way and a large pot completely. Wash the fennel and asparagus then slice into 1/4″ pieces. Zest the lemon and cut in half. Mince the garlic, thyme, and half the basil. When the water (for the eggs) comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Gently crack the egg into the water once it has dropped in temperature. With a wooden spoon, hold the egg white over the egg yolk gently for about a minute; this is so when the egg has finished cooking it will be more rounded and less flat. Once the white of the egg is 95% cooked, remove it and place on a paper towel. Keep the water heated at a lower temperature to re-heat the egg.
Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. In a pan, combine the garlic, herbs, vegan butter, olive oil and allow to heat, once the garlic starts to perfume, add the Asparagus. Once it starts to become tender, add the Fennel, vegetable broth, and chili. Turn down the heat and add the cooked pasta. Toss the pasta, season with S&P, then allow to cook in the pan slightly (to meld all the ingredients together). Add the lemon zest and a little juice at the last-minute, give it a toss, and plate into a warmed pasta dish. Put the egg on a spoon and re-warm it for 30 seconds in the hot water. Place on top of the pasta. Garnish with the fennel fronds and some of the zest. A little salt atop will finish the dish.
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If you know me, you know I have an intense interest in coffee. Always researching, reading, learning and exploring the world of coffee.
I am presently on a school Food, Wine, and Agriculture trip. We spent some time with roasters and sellers, but there were many places outside of the itinerary that I had vested interest in; and I was not about to let the opportunity of being in seattle for a week pass me by. I was determined to make sure I got the most of it so here is the best, bad and ugly of my coffee tour!
Above is an espresso from Roy Street Coffee & Tea. It is a well kept secret of Seattle. It is lemony, sweet and mine came with a complimentary biscotti. Worth dropping in.
Note: you can use Starbuck’s Gold cards here.
Victrola: Coffee Roasters on Pike
The baristas are relaxed and know their craft. A fun atmosphere, the cafe is light and open. You can peer in the back at the roaster; where they make those beans liquid magic. Ask for a tour! I was short on time, but they might offer them during production.
The Streamline espresso blend is as harmonious as their name.
Caffé Vita: Coffee Roaster on Pike
I had a lot of fun at Caffé Vita with the buyer, Daniel Shewmaker and their roaster, Wade, showing me around. They are both extremely knowledgeable in their craft. The compaines coffee is in so many local shops, including the ports nearby. I had at least one cup of their coffee everyday when I was in Washington state.
The espresso has serious appeal to; came highly recommended by Daniel.
Note: They also sell really tasty gluten free treats which is always a plus.
The original Starbucks. Yes, I was shocked too. I like Starbis! It’s good for a quick pick me up on the go, sometimes it can’t be all about quality, you know?
I was particuraly shocked at how terrible the espresso shot was that I had. Very watered down, no crema. I was told by the lady upfront that this is the only Starbucks that hand pulls all their espresso. They have a beautiful La Marzocco machine too, but did not use it wisley.
Not worth the wait, no matter how particularly Seattle it is.
A few other places that I hear are really wonderful, but didnt get the chance to pop in:
I’ll be writing more food/coffee/cocktail reviews so be on the lookout!