Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
It simply wouldn’t be a holiday without an awesome Christmas cookie or three. I’ve always thought that shortbread is a great cookie to give away to people. It is sturdy, festive, and the flavor improves with time. This year I fell hard for a new shortbread recipe that uses a generous dose of cornmeal in addition to the regular butter/flour/sugar ratio. The cornmeal gives it added texture and makes it touch chewier, which I welcome. It is flavored with lots of fresh lime zest and a little vanilla extract, welcome departures from the heavy chocolate and peppermint favorites of the season. To gift these to friends, secure them in paper boxes or cello bags or any other creative container you have on hand.
This week I am going to focus on homemade gifts from the kitchen. The kind of gifts you love to give everyone around you during the season. The first gift is a simple spiced butter rum sauce. Don’t worry, there is no burning sugar and using candy thermometers with this one. This sauce is more about a simple simmer and superior flavor. It can be drizzled over ice cream, bread pudding, or just about any Christmas sweet you can think of. Make it up in a snap during naptime, even double the recipe if you have a big list this year, and put it in a pretty jar. Your friends will love the homemade decadence almost as much as you loved making it!
My mother made these recipe when we were visiting Cooperstown in October. It was so warm and hearty I couldn’t wait to share it with you. It isn’t an original of mine, my mom mined it from the depths of Google and gave it her own tweaks. She has such a well-trained eye for good recipes! I am always looking for new ways to make mushroom soup. My old favorite is delish, but we all need change now and then. I promise, you’ll love the smooth silky flavor with the undertones of nuttiness from the barley. It is easy to whip up during naptime and put away in the fridge (or freezer) for later. Stay warm!
Where there are families, there is snack food. No two ways about it. I’ve long advocated for generally healthy eating habits in our home and that includes an assortment of store-bought products we love. Some things are just better purchased than made at home! One of the things I buy are Stacy’s Pita Chips. They are made in small batches by hand and I never worry about giving them to my kids. We eat them plain or with hummus, or sometimes even with a caramel dip for dessert. To spice things up this holiday season my friends at Stacy’s came out with a delicious limited edition flavor. Salted Caramel Pita Chips! Seriously, they are as amazing as they sound.
Sandwiches are my go-to lunch and, sometimes, my go-to dinner. They are perfect in so many ways because you can layer in all sorts of delicious ingredients and not have to worry about turning on the oven. In honor of National Sandwich Day today I am thrilled to be sharing one of my all-time sandwiches. It is my version of the basic BLT, but with a tasty twist including a fried egg and creamy Arla Dofino Dill Havarti.
As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t go overboard with Halloween food. Yes, I go crazy with pumpkin flavored things, but that extends throughout the fall well past Halloween. Anyway, this year my daughter and I had a blast with all of our favorite Halloween crafts. When it was time to bake we decided on a simple orange and brown swirl cake which we called “Witches Cake.” The idea came from the thin chocolate lines which reminded us of creepy trees, and the dark chocolate glaze flecked with gold.
I’ve noticed a waffle trend around the web recently and I am enthusiastically jumping on board. We love using our waffle maker and the idea of using it to make savory toasted sandwiches is the coolest thing ever. Sure, we make Paninis at home, too, but the waffle sandwich is just so interestingly savory with a touch of sweet. To get use to the process, we made our first batch with slices of Arla Dofino Creamy Havarti and regular smoked deli ham.
A couple of years ago I shared a nice chat I had with Jennifer Tyler Lee regarding her genius kids toy, Crunch-a-Color. Since then Jennifer has written a new cookbook and it is being released this season. It is called The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, and it keeps with her theme of finding great ways to get your kids to try new, healthy foods. Each week she encourages kids to pick a new food to try and provides some great family-friendly ways to prepare it.
I am so happy that I finally have a reason to make spritzer cookies year-round. I am not sure why, but to me they’ve always been exclusively for my Christmas cookie platter. All the disks I have are in Christmas shapes so that is the only time I’ve ever made them. However, now OXO has gone and improved upon the everyday cookie press, as only they can, and they’ve made a whole suite of disks with fall shapes. Triumph! Spritzer cookies for every season!
Looking for new ways to enjoy old favorites is an ongoing challenge for me. Sometimes it really isn’t about the food, but the way it is presented. This is true for my family for everything from vegetables to pasta to even your basic French fry. I rarely fry at home so when I make them I often turn to a simple bag of frozen ones. With minimal ingredients they are just as good as fresh ones I’d make at home, plus, they can be served so many different ways.
Fall salads are my favorite because I can load them up with strong flavors to match our favorite roast chicken or soups. To give mine a little kick, I use slices of fresh pear, thin slices of red onion, chunks of Arla Dofino Gouda, sweet caramelized pecans and a mix of dark green lettuces and spinach. I toss it all with a homemade vinaigrette and serve it up in big heaping bowlfuls. To show you just how easy it is to prepare this gorgeous salad I’ve prepared a little video for you!
There is no limit to the amount of apples I want to cook/eat/bake this time of year. We’ve even been working double-time to acquire them. I’ve been buying them up at the grocery store and farmer’s market, and picking them straight from the source. I would worry that we are drowning in apples if I didn’t have some many things to make with them. So far I’ve revisited a few old favorites and made this new one. It is a simple apple loaf studded with a brown sugar streusel. But instead of being flavored with chopped apples throughout, the apples are spread in one even layer near the top of the loaf. So when you cut into it and find the apple layer it is like a sweet little surprise inside.