With just three of us, the holidays were never such huge occasions for my family. Growing up, we already saw each other all the time, so it wasn’t like we were waiting all year to be together again. But since I’ve moved out and only go home once or twice a year, the holidays have become much more meaningful as it’s one of the few times a year I get to spend time with my parents.
This year, my parents came to visit me here in New York, their first visit since they helped me move into my apartment in May 2011. As a thank you to them, I decided to go all out and plan and cook the entire menu myself, and even arranged a pretty legit-looking centerpiece.
I’m a vegetarian and my parents aren’t huge fans of turkey anyways, so the star of the meal was a nut-stuffed squash that magically tasted similar enough to sausage to satisfy even my father’s carnivorous appetite. The menu went like this:
- Whole wheat potato rolls
- Mashed potatoes
- Thyme roasted broccoli, carrots, and red potatoes
- Nut-stuffed butternut squash
- Lentil pot pies
- Pumpkin chiffon pie
And that’s how you do Thanksgiving for three people.
What muffin would be appropriate for Thanksgiving week? Nothing less than a Turducken inspired one, of course! If you haven’t heard, the turducken has become a new Thanksgiving showstopper – it’s a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey.
For my muffins, I went the sweet route and chose cranberry, orange, and chocolate for my three layers of flavor. Cranberry is the inner most flavor because it’s tangy and sour, then comes chocolate, and finally, a refreshing citrus note with orange.
It’s Thanksgiving week! Probably one of my favorite weeks of the year. To kick it off and finally use the bag of cranberries I’d been saving in my freezer, I made these super easy pate de fruits, basically fruit jellies.
These aren’t anything like the canned stuff you’ll find in the supermarket – they’re vibrant, light, and full of that great tangy cranberry flavor. Cut these up into cute shapes and they’d make a great palate cleanser before dessert.
After the week of terrible eating that came with Hurricane/Frankenstorm Sandy (I ate Halloween candy for dinner on more than one occasion), some healthy muffins are in order. And these are just what the doctor ordered. Sweet potatoes are nutrient-rich as it is, but baked into a muffin, they’re a great way to start your day off right. And if you eat these for breakfast, you might even be able to get away with eating chocolate for dinner. No you won’t, but you might fool yourself into thinking so.
It’s about halfway through November, which means I clearly have no idea how time works, because I’m pretty positive that it was just Labor Day.
Not that I’m complaining, because fall and winter are really the best seasons for baking, between apples and cranberries and pumpkins and cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and the endless ways to combine all of them.
One of the most timeless combinations is apple and cinnamon, of course. And these lighter-than-air marshmallows are the perfect way to get your fix.
I first got into baking because of a book. It’s not a cookbook. There are no recipes, no lush photographs of frosting or chocolate or perfectly glazed fruits. Nor is it nonfiction. A manifesto about how to eat or why we eat, it most certainly is not.
It’s a children’s book, The Worldwide Dessert Contest by Dan Elish, and it’s my favorite book of all time.
I might be obsessed with baking things inside other things.
In the aftermath of Sandy, I’ve mostly been trying to keep cabin fever at bay and not eat 50 snack size Snickers bars in one sitting (and failing on both accounts). There is only so much Spartacus and Fringe I can re-watch before I am incapacitated by tears – I get really emotional about gladiators and Joshua Jackson, okay??
On a more productive note, I’ve been stress baking up a storm (HA HA), which culminated in these amazing pumpkin spice muffins. The surprise is that they have a PUMPKIN PIE inside! I got the idea from the always inspirational Bake It In a Cake, and took it one step further by making them mini pumpkin muffins stuffed with itty bitty Biscoff pumpkin pies. Because the tinier, the better.