Are we already halfway through January? Things have been so crazy around here, I feel like the new year blew right by. The holidays always go fast, but this year it was wrapped in with cookbook writing for added excitement. I just submitted the last round of edits to my cookbook editor, so I should have an progress update for you all soon. In the mean time, I’m taking a little extra time to relax and think about my goals for the upcoming year.
Read More Books is ALWAYS on my to-do list, but I decided not to create a specific reading goal this year. My busy baby (almost toddler! he’s pulled himself to standing a few times!) doesn’t leave much room for reading goals. Example: I’ve been trying to read a friend’s manuscript for several months, but as great as it is, it’s hard to make headway when the Little Mister shreds the dust jackets of my books and tries to eat a screw he pulled up from the transition strip in the kitchen doorway (both true stories).
So instead of goals, I found myself fantasizing about how lovely it would be to find a quiet corner to read in fictional places like Hobbiton, Redwall Abbey, or Mr. Tumnus’s cozy cave. Before long, I had a list of 10 fictional places I’d like to curl up with a good book! They’re all quiet, soothing places because that’s what I need in my life right now, but whose to say the list won’t change some day to include the deck of a pirate ship or a haunted manor at midnight? 😉
Entree time! I was a little surprised when Rumpelstiltskin beat out classics like Snow White and Cinderella in our Grimm’s Fairy Tale poll in December, but I was also excited. It meant I was gonna have a chance to get creative!
While I was trying to decide what to make for my Rumpelstiltskin recipe, I kept fixating on the idea of turning straw into gold. It made me think of spaghetti and how the stiff, unappetizing sticks of uncooked pasta can be turned into something delicious with just a little water. I don’t have the chance to make pasta on the blog very often, so I took the idea and ran with it!
I knew I wanted something simple but elegant, something that showcased the pasta itself while still appealing to the tastes of someone as discerning as Rumpelstiltskin (I imagine someone with the ability to spin gold whenever he wants can probably afford to have refined taste). I found this brown butter Parmesan pasta recipe from The Kitchn and LOVED it! I tweaked just a few things to make it my own and served it with dinner the same night. It was a big hit!
Yaaaaay I am LOVING this book of the month! Making chocolate covered strawberry ballet slippers for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” was lots of fun and weirdly cathartic (there’s just something really satisfying about dipping a strawberry in chocolate). I also can’t wait for you guys to see the recipe I have planned for this Thursday.
With all fun I’ve had thus far, it won’t come as a surprise that I really enjoyed designing this tea! I decided a while back that I’d base the tea on whichever fairy tale got the most votes in our December poll, and “Hansel and Gretel” blew the others away. I was glad, because I knew if that story won, I wanted to make a tea inspired by the witch’s gingerbread cottage.
It turned out exactly as I hoped: cozy and sweet with a strong spiced flavor reminiscent of a gingerbread cookie. So brew a cup or two and grab a book of fairy tales to read as you sip!
In December, I asked you guys to vote on which fairy tales you wanted to see in my Brothers’ Grimm menu this month, and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” was in one of the top spots. I was thrilled, since this was one of my favorite stories growing up, and I had a great idea for a recipe: white chocolate-covered strawberry ballet slippers! I’ve seen them done in pink on Pinterest, so to make them more my own, I did them in a variety of colors and set them up as 12 distinct pairs of shoes. I love how bright and cheery the final slippers looked!
I normally do an appetizer as my first dish each month, but even though these are a little too sweet to be a true appetizer, they were just too fun to pass up! In fact, they’re easy enough that I’d recommend them as a fun activity for older children (maybe 8 years old and up). It makes me wish we had a little ballet dancer in the family so I could make them for a birthday party! 🙂
I’ve wanted to make a Grimm’s fairy tale menu ever since I started this blog, so it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve been looking forward to this for years. When I decided to start the month off with a Grimm’s fairy tale reading kit, I dove right in, but it actually took me FOREVER to put this list together. There were just SO MANY options! I sifted through dozens of items inspired by princesses, fairies, dragons, gnomes, and trolls (not to mention stuff related to specific fairy tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood). In the end, I came up with a list of fun, creative items you’ll want to be sure to have with you when you head off into your nearby enchanted forest—whether you’re a little girl off to visit her grandmother or a woodsman’s seventh son off to seek his fortune.
I was bummed when I saw that December doesn’t have a fifth Thursday this year, which meant I wouldn’t be able to do a Grinch Who Stole Christmas bonus recipe. Still, when I sat down to decide whether I should make Who Pudding or Green Grinch Hot Chocolate as my dessert this month, I simply couldn’t choose. So I made both!
The pudding is based on a delicious homemade chocolate pudding recipe from Moms Need to Know (I also used some tips from Bunny’s Warm Oven). Of course, you can just add some food coloring to instant pudding if you want, but what kind of a food blog would I didn’t give real, from-scratch chocolate pudding a try? As for the hot chocolate, it’s a peppermint version of the white hot chocolate that’s going to appear in my cookbook next year!
So if you’re not quite ready for Christmas to be over, cook up some rich, chocolatey Who pudding and steaming Green Grinch Hot Chocolate for a sweet winter treat. 🙂
Every year on my anniversary, I like to write a post that reflects on one aspect of my wedding and highlights its wider significance to my marriage. On my first anniversary, I wrote about my wedding ring; year two, the flowers in my bouquet; and year three, the priest’s sermon. I was planning on telling the story about my wedding dress this year, but as I was hanging the jingle bell ornaments on our Christmas tree, I realized that this is a perfect year to talk about the special significance of those bells.
Is this more of an appetizer than a side dish? Probably. As soon as I started planning my Grinch Who Stole Christmas menu, I knew I wanted to incorporate Grinch hearts, but I wasn’t exactly sure how. It wasn’t until early this past week that I decided on making fruit skewers with dip, and by then I’d already made Who Hash for my appetizer. So here they are as a side dish! In the end, all that matters is that they’re delicious, right? 😉
And they definitely ARE delicious—easy too! Just cut your strawberries into shape with a small heart cookie cutter and slice the ends off your grapes at an angle. Slide them on a skewer, and you’re done! The fruit dip is easy too. It’s got a tasty coconut yogurt base blended with cream cheese and honey for added creaminess and sweetness. It’s a sweet snack you can feel great about eating, Grinch or not!
I love a good cookie exchange. It’s a great chance to experiment with something new or whip up a crowd-pleasing classic. A couple years ago I made pumpkin madeleines with cream cheese frosting for a cookie exchange by riffing on my go-to madeleine recipe, and I was oh so pleased by how well they were received (definitely one of my prouder baking moments).
Sadly, I won’t have a chance to attend any exchanges this year, but I volunteered to bring some homemade cookies to my family’s Christmas get together. I decided to make Jo’s Christmas gingerbread from my Little Women menu. They couldn’t be more festive, and gingerbread is a favorite treat of the Little Mister (while I was recipe testing for my cookbook, he ate all the limbs off a poor gingerbread man before we could stop him).
Cookie exchange or not, I figure I’m not the only one who wants to try a fun new cookie recipe for the holidays. I’ve made loads of book-inspired cookies in the past that are perfect for Christmas, so I decided to share a few of them below! There’s Jo’s gingerbread of course, but also Sherlock Holmes’ brandy snaps, Romeo and Juliet’s Italian sandwich cookies, and many more. So bake up some bookish fun for Christmas! Your bibliophile friends will thank you. 🙂
Grinch-themed things are all over the internet this time of year, so when it came time to put together my Grinch Who Stole Christmas reading kit, inspiration was everywhere! Of course, I didn’t want to throw together a list of Hallmark ornaments and pajama pants and call it a day. I wanted something a little more thoughtful. So I hunted high and low for what I consider to be the most unique, high quality Grinchy gifts. I found festive candles, Grinch-Starbucks crossover mugs, funny shirts, and so much more!
So read on, and let your Grinch flag fly! 😉