This is the week, you guys. This is the week for which all of the cookies have been baked, the jars have been filled, the gifts have been wrapped, the hot cocoas with giant marshmallows have been sipped, the stockings have been hung, the music has been played. It’s the final countdown to Christmas, the day of glad tidings, the day of His birth, the day of loved ones and mistletoe and making merry.
I’M SO READY.
This is my favorite holiday of them all for so many reasons. I can’t wait to see my family. I can’t wait to put glittery presents under their tinsel-covered Christmas tree. I can’t wait to drink Glühwein with my dad, make dessert with my mom, put coal in my brothers’ stockings (KIDDING, boys. Maybe.), join my husband as we watch our daughter’s eyes light up as she sees the magic of Christmas unfold in front of her. It’s all so whimsical, so magical, so delightfully holiday, I can’t even stand it. It all makes me so emotional, so nostalgic, so thankful, so joyful, so reflective that I can’t help sometimes but stand back and let it all unfold in front of me, too, like a child who has only experienced Christmas once before.
And when I come back into the fold, I’m ready to take it all in. Including this nutty blue cheese dip. YUMMEH.13
Today is the day! The day of ALL THE COOKIES.
It’s the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and these peppermint slice and bake cookies of an ombré nature are my contribution. It’s classic meets newfangled (is ombré even newfangled anymore? Do people even say “newfangled” anymore? My age is showing). It’s Christmas meets cookie meets get in my belly meets YUM.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the cover of the December issue of Bon Appétit, which literally made me gasp with glee when I first saw it. The recipe in that issue for those particular cookies sounds pretty fantastic, but I needed a cookie that would hold up well being shipped cross-country, ergo the peppermint slice and bake route. I assure you, though, nothing was compromised in that decision.15
Sorry I skipped out on you guys yesterday! It was a ridiculously busy weekend — all with good things, like Christmas parties and pizza and cookies and minty mochas and babies and cozy couch talk with friends — so busy that I plumb ran out of time to get this recipe up and ready for yesterday. It’s probably for the best, though, because if I had tried to get this post up on this particular Monday, all you may have read was “Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
But, Tuesday! Tuesday is a happy day. Tuesday means Christmas is one day sooner than it was yesterday (unless that freaks you out because you have purchased exactly zero presents for people, in which case, maybe head over to Amazon after reading this post), Tuesday means it’s one day closer to the weekend, Tuesday means I’m a little more awake and therefore able to legitimately share this rosemary cornmeal loaf recipe with you. With lingonberry butter. Hold me.15
Tis the season to give and get gifts in Mason jars! I, for one, am completely on board with this undying trend. It’s been a constant source of inspiration for me, especially around the holiday season when I am often stumped on what to get for friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The jar becomes my BFF, and I fill it with all sorts of goodies from cookie mix to homemade dressing to roasted nuts.
So if, like me, you are a fan of the edible gift in jar form, let this roundup of 10 easy DIY gift jar recipes be your guide this holiday season. Or, send it to someone as a hint for a gift idea for you (I mean, I would love it if someone gifted me a jar of my own peppermint brownie mix, TBH). I’ve included ideas on how to package each idea, too, so all you need to do is measure, pack, and gift away. MERRY MERRY.
First up: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. I just had to retype that recipe title three times to get all of that goodness in there — caramel bits, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, sea salt, all in a cookie. WORD.
How to package it: Measure out a HALF BATCH of cookie ingredients (to make 1 dozen cookies). Combine the flour, baking soda and salt called for in the recipe. In a (at least) 1-liter size resealable jar, add the flour mixture, then the sugar, then the brown sugar, then the chocolate chips, caramel bits and toasted coconut flakes. Top with a small sachet/bag of sea salt. Attach recipe ingredients/directions to the jar.2
As of last week, whenever I would think of minestrone, I’d think of the kind you get from Olive Garden, along with the salad and those seriously addictive breadsticks. It was always my favorite soup there, and I’d order it every time with the soup and salad meal. I’d tell you I’d order that meal for the soup alone, but we all know the soup was just there as a dipping receptacle for those breadsticks (so addicted, srsly).
Don’t get me wrong — I like the OG’s minestrone. It’s got everything a classic minestrone should — tomatoes, basil, pasta, beans, chopped vegetables. But it also has a lot of what it shouldn’t, at least in my opinion — a heavy hand on the broth and the salt. I know this now because, as of last week, I now have a new minestrone soup to set the standard. And that is this version — this hearty 13-bean slow cooker minestrone, perfect for the holiday season when cookies count as breakfast and colds and sniffles run amok (at least that’s been the case in this household).21