For the first time in my life I will be spending Christmas away from my family, and to make up for my absence (or so they don’t forget about me) I spent the better part of this weekend making holiday treats to send to them. I made two kinds of caramels (one good, one hard as a rock), a batch of fudge (awful), toffee (awesome), granola (crunchy), spiced nuts (spicy), and puppy chow (not muddy buddies). Pretty much the only time that I wasn’t in the kitchen was on Saturday night when we celebrated Friends’ Christmas, which involved great food, plenty of wine, a yule log, and girl dominance at Xbox Kinect boxing.
I figured that salad was the way to go for dinner on Friday night, anticipating all of the candy that I would be sampling all weekend. This one was fantastic, and I would happily eat it every day (and pretty much have since Friday). In the mix: chopped romaine, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, feta, roasted chickpeas (seasoned with hot chili powder, coriander and smoked paprika), banana peppers, pickled red onions, zatar-spiced pita chips and a red wine vinaigrette.
This is my favorite of all of the things that I made, although I’m having a really hard time not eating handful after handful of puppy chow.
Bacon, cheddar and chive strata for breakfast on Saturday
A triple batch of Blueberry-Almond Granola, half with cranberries instead of blueberries.
Sadly all of this chocolate was wasted on a batch of dry, grainy fudge.
We had buttermilk left over from last weekend’s cinnamon rolls, and I put it to good use by making Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread. I was a little surprised by the amount of sugar in the recipe, so I left it out and added a big glug of molasses instead. I also used 1/4 cup olive oil instead of 1/2 cup canola oil and made up for the difference with more buttermilk. I’ll definitely make this again the next time I have extra buttermilk.
All of those sugary treats need to be balanced out with a bit of salt, preferably in the form of spiced cocktail nuts. I made a few changes to the recipe: I added a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (that I couldn’t really taste), I added some dried orange peel (that I couldn’t really taste), I used all dried spices, and I found that one tablespoon of cayenne was plenty. Next time I’ll add even more orange peel, and there will be a next time.
Sunday night dinner: salad with buttermilk dressing, roasted potatoes, and a salmon patty from the freezer.