Our Tea of the Month is here, and of course it had to be something Christmasy! 🙂 Adagio Teas (the company I use to design my teas) offers lots of festive options, such as gingerbread, chestnut, and a Christmas spiced tea. I’ve used several of these in the past and wanted something different, so I decided to start with their candy cane tea. With the sweet peppermint flavor as a base, I knew I could go in two directions: further sweeten in with a chocolate tea or balance the sweetness with a bit of lemon tea. I tried both and loved it with lemon! Grab a tin of this for Christmas to share with friends, and if you feel your heart grow a couple sizes, don’t worry. That’s normal. 😉
Hey, all! December is here at last and with it our final Book of the Month for 2017: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I’ve been looking forward to this menu for a long time, so let’s get started!
Our appetizer for this menu is Who Hash, which the Grinch steals from the icebox on Christmas Eve. Dr. Seuss doesn’t give a description of it, so I decided to use it as a chance to get creative!
It seems a little strange that a few months ago I’d never made hash in my life, and now I’ve made TWO hashes in as many months (you can check out my Stranger Things Pumpkin Hash here). I decided to make a pepper and sausage hash this time, with an eye towards making it different from the hash I made last month. This hash features juicy Italian sausages that have been cut into disks and sauteed in an iron skillet with onions, red potatoes, and Christmas-y red and green bell peppers. It’s bright and satisfying with a bit of a kick—I can see why the Grinch would like it! 😉
Oh, year’s end. I can’t believe how quickly you sneaked up on me. One minute I’m hunkering down to wait out the last few weeks before my baby’s born; the next minute said baby is zooming around on all fours trying to eat all my books (RIP Eva Ibbotson omnibus). Add in writing a cookbook, and this year has been quite a whirlwind.
There are lots of ways I’ve wanted to expand, improve, and otherwise stretch my creative muscles with my blog format this year. However, I knew it was best to put them on hold until the chaos subsided. Now that things are finally starting to approach some semblance of normal, the time has come to dust off those ideas and take them for a spin! After all, the New Year is supposed to be all about new beginnings, right? So I’ve got lots of fun new blog plans—both big and small—in the works for 2018.
And today, we’re setting the very first of those ideas in motion! Y’know how I always choose the Book of the Month in advance and leave a hint on Twitter? Well, for January 2018 I wanted to do fairy tales, but there are so many great ones I had trouble choosing, especially since I wasn’t sure which ones you guys would most like to see on a menu. And then I thought, “Why not ASK them?”
So here’s the plan…
Below you’ll find a poll with a list of 6 Grimm’s fairy tales. Vote for your favorite or add your own! The 4 with the most votes with be featured in my January menu. The poll will be open for all of December, and I’ll make sure to pin it to my Twitter page so you can check progress. Who knows, if we get a big turnout, voting for the January Book of the Month might become a new Alison’s Wonderland tradition!
Thanks for voting, and may the most magical tales win! 😉
What Grimms' fairy tale do you most want to see a recipe for in January?
Hansel and Gretel 25%, 10 votes
10 votes - 25% of all votes
The Twelve Dancing Princesses 20%, 8 votes
8 votes - 20% of all votes
Little Red Riding Hood 13%, 5 votes
5 votes - 13% of all votes
Rumpelstiltskin*13%, 5 votes
5 votes - 13% of all votes
Snow White 10%, 4 votes
4 votes - 10% of all votes
Rapunzel 10%, 4 votes
4 votes - 10% of all votes
Cinderella 10%, 4 votes
4 votes - 10% of all votes
Total Votes: 40
November 29, 2017
- December 31, 2017
Voting is closed
- It is possible to vote for multiples (but no more than 3).
- If you decide to add a new fairy tale to the list, be sure it's from the Brothers Grimm (I'm planning on doing a Hans Christian Andersen menu at a later date).
- If you change your mind, don't worry! The poll is set up so you can change your vote if you want.
Stranger Things bonus recipe time! I always love when months have a 5th Thursday, because it means I get to make a bonus recipe. I really enjoy the freedom I have with these since, unlike my standard recipes, they don’t have to fit a particular course of the meal (for example, my first recipe of the month is always an appetizer, so I have to make sure whatever I make could feasibly be used that way). But bonus recipes can be anything—a cocktail, snack, extra dessert, etc. Anything goes!
Strangely enough, I’m not sure what inspired me to make an upside down milkshake. I’ve made a lot of cocktails for bonus recipes, so maybe I was trying to avoid more of the same. Or maybe I wanted something kid friendly since the main characters in Stranger Things are kids. Either way, as soon as I realized I got to make an extra recipe, the words “upside down milkshake” sprang right into my head.
Of course, since it’s a tribute to the Upside Down, it’s literally turned on it’s head—with the cherries and whipped cream at the bottom with the shake poured over the top. But what flavor to make? I wanted something dark and rich, and I love the way chocolate and blackberries go together. A cool unexpected side effect was the fun way the berries made clusters of dark circles on the side of the glass. It reminded me of the giant spores that float in the air of the Upside Down.
Hey, folks! 🙂 I’m sure many of you are familiar with Cait, the brilliant mind behind Paper Fury. Her passionate book reviews, tongue-in-cheek writing advice, and love of cake have graced the blogosphere for 6 years and earned her the adoration of readers worldwide.
I’ve been following her blog ever since I started my own 4 years ago, and I instantly loved its energetic tone and distinctive voice. So when she recently announced that her debut novel, A Thousand Perfect Notes, will be published in June 2018, I was thrilled and had so many questions! I was sure many of my readers would feel the same, so I asked Cait for an interview…and she said YES! 😀 😀 😀
Cait has revealed a few details about the book on her blog, but much of the story is still a closely guarded secret (even the cover art). A little more will be revealed closer to the print date, but right now we know that A Thousand Perfect Notes is the story of Beck, whose mother forces him to play piano for hours and hours every day, meeting any hint of rebellion with abuse. Beck longs to compose his own music but lives in fear of his mother, until he meets a girl named August who opens his eyes to new possibilities.
Of course, even that tiny taste of the story is powerful, but Cait has expressed her desire to avoid revealing too much too soon.
That in mind, I chose seven questions related to Cait’s writing process and inspiration for ATPN, along with upcoming projects—enough to satisfy our curiosity for now, while still getting a few delicious details about what we’ll have in store when we crack open A Thousand Perfect Notes for the first time.
Sheriff Hopper loves him a good doughnut, so there was no doubt in my mind that they’d be the dessert in my breakfast-themed Stranger Things menu. And I knew exactly what kind I wanted to make: apple cider doughnuts! I got the idea while watching the very first episode of Season 2. When Hopper walks into the police station in the morning, he goes straight for the doughnuts, but the secretary takes it out of his hand and swaps it for an apple. Hopper spits it out and tosses it after the first bite. So I thought it would be fun to use apples in a way he’d actually enjoy: doughnuts! Plus, they’re super festive, considering today is Thanksgiving! (Don’t worry, I’m not slaving over my blog today. I’m off visiting family and enjoying having a restful holiday. Yay for scheduling posts in advance!)
I’m kinda new to cake doughnuts (though I’ve made raised doughnuts before), so I used a recipe for apple cider doughnut holes by Lori from Recipe Girl. I decided to go with doughnut holes instead of full-on doughnuts because I lack both a doughnut cutter and doughnut baking pan, and I didn’t feel like buying one. Plus, making holes meant more surface area per bite would be covered in cinnamon sugar, which—c’mon, let’s be honest—is half the fun of apple cider doughnuts.
So fry up some festive goodness! These are perfect for dunking in your morning coffee as you contemplate the mysteries of the Upside Down. 😉
Of course, we all know it had to be waffles. How could I create a Stranger Things tea that DIDN’T taste like Eleven’s waffles?
But how to achieve it? My mind immediately went to caramel tea. If I added just the right amount, it would combine with other flavors instead of overpowering them. Combining it with cream tea made the most sense, since it would mellow out the flavor without losing sweetness or richness. But how to get the actual WAFFLE flavor?
This part was trickier. I thought of doing an English Breakfast tea, but Adagio doesn’t offer that yet in their custom tea creator (Dear Adagio: If you’re reading this, add it!). Irish Breakfast was the closest comparison, so I used a little less than I originally intended, since the Irish Breakfast blend is a bit more robust than the English version.
It had just the effect I wanted! The normally robust Irish Breakfast hovers in the background without being too strong. In the end, I got a tea that ACTUALLY tastes like waffles. I was so excited! As I write this, the sample I ordered for taste testing and pictures is already almost gone, so that should say a lot about how good it is. 🙂
Pumpkin plays a key role in Season 2 of Stranger Things, so I knew it needed to make an appearance in my menu. I wanted to continue my breakfast theme, and pumpkin hash sounded like the perfect side dish to pair with my Fried Chicken Waffle Cones and Bacon Stuffed French Toast.
Pumpkin hash is a little unusual, but I managed to track down a recipe by Eat the Gains to use as inspiration. Like the original, mine starts with crumbled sausage, cubed pumpkin, and chopped onion (though I used red onion for a little extra color). Then I added a little garlic and sage since I’ve got Thanksgiving on the brain. Stir in some green onion for a pop of color and add some fried eggs on top, and you’ve got a hash Hawkins, IN would be proud to call its own.
P.S. Can I just say that I’m inordinately proud that, in the three recipes I’ve made for this menu so far, I’ve included FOUR kinds of protein? Chicken, bacon, sausage, AND eggs! Whew, I may need to go on a run when this is all over.
P.P.S. That’s a hilarious joke because I have, in fact, NEVER gone on a run.
P.P.P.S. Don’t worry, I won’t be putting meat in the dessert. 😉
My little boy turned 9 months old earlier this month, and I can hardly believe it. When I look back at pictures of him when he was born, it blows my mind that the teeny baby in the pictures is the same adorably chunky kiddo currently zooming around the house on all fours with a floof of brown hair and a grin that’s equal parts charming and mischievous. He’s already an industrious little guy, packing as much activity into his day as possible (Crawling! Trying to chew computer cords! Dumping entire plates of rice on the floor when Mommy isn’t looking!).
He may seem like the sort of kid who’d never sit still to read a book, but story time is among his favorite activities. I tucked a few stacks of books around the house when I baby proofed, and we pull one out a few times a week for reading. And he loves to look at (and chew) them on his own.
I did a post before he was born about the books I wanted to read to him as a baby, but I recently got to thinking about the books I’d like to introduce him to in the years to come. Of course, he’ll have his own favorite books, but there are some I want to be sure to squeeze in there because they’re just too important to pass up. I figured it’s probably a reasonable goal to introduce one of these books each year, so I sat down and made a list! So here are the 10 books I want to read to my son before he’s 10!
The secret’s out: This whole Stranger Things menu is gonna feature breakfast foods! We started out with Spicy Maple Fried Chicken Waffle Cones, and now we’re moving on to rich, fluffy french toast.
This recipe is inspired by the French toast Sheriff Hopper serves to Eleven in Season 2. Granted, the version he made was a little more basic, but you know me—I can resist playing with my food! Stuffed French toast seemed like the way to go, and the bacon stuffed variety was perfect for health-food-hating Hopper.
This was my first time making French toast, so I took inspiration from several recipes: The Kitchn’s basic French toast, Spicy Southern Kitchen’s Bacon French Toast, and Bon Appetit’s tips for avoiding French toast mistakes. Although I’m not the biggest fan of French toast (hence why I’ve never made it before), I feel like this is a really solid recipe. It starts with thick slices of challah soaked it a lightly sweetened custard, filled with fried bacon and cooked in butter until golden. The texture on the inside was rich, faintly sweet, soft, fluffy, and moist without being wet. In fact, the inside of the bread reminded me a lot of a soufflé. It contrasted so well with the salty bacon in the very center. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and a healthy drizzle of syrup, and you’re all set!