This time of year is such a whirlwind.
You know what I mean.
There are parties galore.
Christmas parties, brunches, birthday gigs.
And then there are all those holiday treats to drop off to friends and neighbors.
I have to admit — I am obsessed with this cookie.
And this holiday confection as well.
With cold weather outside, there’s been a lot of comfort food coming out of the oven, too.
This week I took a look at a couple recipes I’d been sent, and ended up using in part this one from The Pioneer Woman.
The recipe is for short ribs, but I had some nice looking chuck and so I substituted that meat in.
It’s a really easy recipe with the oven doing most of the work for you.
You just season the meat and then dredge in flour and then give it a quick sear in the pot.
After you cook all the meat, do the same with onions, shallots and carrots.
Add red wine and beef broth (and I added a couple glugs of balsamic) and then cover it in your Dutch oven.
I know it doesn’t look very inspired when it goes in the oven. Trust me, I too was a little nervous and skeptical as it entered the oven.
But be patient and you will be rewarded. You let it simmer at a very low heat (about 300) for three to four hours until tender and intensely fragrant — at which point you will want to face plant into the steaming pot.
This recipe is a winner— especially if you had the foresight to whip up some mashed potatoes to go alongside.
I made enough to drop some off to a friend whose husband is going through chemo; turns out he hasn’t eaten much lately but this is one of his favorite dishes, and the texture of the falling-apart tender meat was just about right.
I’m making this dish again soon.
I love taking breaks from cooking and put up some more decorations around the house.
I get overwhelmed if I put them all at once; rather, I like spreading out the decoration reveals over a week or so. That way, each day brings a new treasure to enjoy.
Like this vintage sign circa 1950 (possibly from a department store?).
And these two new additions from the very talented Laurie Romanaggi (“Magpie Ethel” on Instagram and Etsy).
She’s got a really fun blog and Etsy account and every year I buy a couple of her vintage creations at one of her shows around town (Laurelhurst and Crafty Wonderland among the bigger ones).
And then this one found a new home too in the guest room bathroom.
Okay, time for more cooking.
One of my Instagram pals is Lindsay Strannigan (another blogger and food consultant) and she sent out a note that she was looking for bakers to help her out with a Bake America Great Again Sale, and I jumped right in.
One hundred percent of the money raised was going to IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) and I was so excited to participate last night.
I made two things.
First, a Curried Dal and Kabocha Soup.
Thick like a stew and fragrant with a toasted spice mix (mustard seeds, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and coriander), it makes for a wonderful, rib-sticking (yet vegan) lunch — especially topped with spiced cashews and Greek yogurt.
I also made one of my favorite holiday treats: Salted Caramel Bars.
I’ve talked to you about these a while back, and they’re one of the most delicious things you can ever imagine eating.
It’s basically just a shortbread-like base and topping with melted caramel in the middle.
Trust me people — they’re that good (and I will include the link to the recipe below).
I could eat three or four before coming up for air.
Okay, with the bars and soup made, I packed up everything for the sale (dropping off extra containers to some neighbors on the way).
The caramel bars had been wrapped in bags and then placed atop these vintage American Airlines mini-platter/plates I found at Goodwill.
The Bake America Great Again Sale was a huge success — hundreds showed up at Pip’s Original (who graciously offered up their place for the party) and there was lots of incredible food for sale.
My friend Mary Ann contributed these lovelies.
And dozens of talented bakers and bloggers found time in this busy time to create other beautiful things for sale.
Look at the care in which people presented their offerings — like these gorgeous homemade peanut butter cups topped off with homemade seasoned salts.
Lindsay and Melissa, thanks so much for organizing and turning your political frustration into a wonderful community-building event and raising funds for such a worthwhile organization. Well done!
So here’s to all the party givers, charity organizers, and busy folks who carved out time this week for me and my family.
May you all find time to treat yourself to a leisurely breakfast this week.
This was what I had this morning as a reward for a very busy last couple days: a One Eyed Jack (fried egg sandwich) with Reggiano, Arugula and Avocado (with a flurry of tarragon).
(It was so good that I’ve made the exact same thing twice in the last four days.)
And now so much goodness yet awaits in these days leading up to Christmas.
More soon, friends!