Friends! Hi hello – can you even believe we’re looking staring down the very end of 2023? I don’t even know. I think mentally I’m still somewhere in mid-June at best.
BUT here we are – hopefully with our butter at room temperature and our ovens preheating. I love the days after Thanksgiving for all of its cozy bakes that usually turn into my whole holiday gifting personality. I love a well crafted cookie tin. I find a lot of joy and peace in the kitchen these days, making recipes that make my little Houston apartment smell like my parent’s home in California. I always start with a loaf of my mom’s Cranberry Orange Bread and come the end of the month I’ll be home in LA making Dea’s Potato Rolls with my dad. I’m committed to make the end of this year an exceptionally cozy and comforting time.
Are you baking this weekend? If you’ve got a running list, here are a few goodies you might want to add to the Bake List.
• Just take a scroll through My 12 Best Christmas Cookie Recipes for some truly festive holiday baking. You might join me in placing peanut butter cups in your peanut butter cookies instead of Hershey Kisses and just tell the kids it’s what Santa would want. But the sleeper hit of this cookie compilation is the Gingerbread Ricciarelli – an almond flour (and naturally gluten-free!) cookie that’s perfectly spiced and gets more chewy and delicious as the days go by! They’re a perfect gifting cookie despite the fact that they look like little chicken nuggets.
• Each one of these slice and bake oatmeal cookies, lightly kissed with eggnog glaze, looks like a different moon phase. They’re dreamy little comfort cookies. I like that they’re flavorful but light on the spice for those that think gingerbread flavors are a bit much. The texture is chewy and toothy and they age into a crisp cookie that’s equally delicious! Eggnog Iced Oatmeal Cookies
• If you’re looking for a show-stopper of a holiday cake, without stacking layers or frosting a megacake, this Gingerbread Swirl Bundt Cake is the cake for you! It’s based on my family’s traditional pound cake recipe, with a portion of the batter flavored with molasses and gingerbread spices. The baked cake is brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. As with all bundt cakes, this one is best kept at room temperature with a butterknife on the platter for slicing a portion every time you pass by the kitchen.
• I’m not much for warm spiced wine, but I can get all the way into the sweet mulled wine and fruit teamwork in these Spiced Mulled Wine Bars. A buttery shortbread crust doubles as a crumble topping encasing wine plumped fruit. These bars taste festive and expensive. Like wearing velvet at a holiday party, but for dessert.
• High on the priority list is planning the treat that comes out of the oven on Christmas morning. I’m a sucker for these aptly named Christmas Morning Orange Rolls which are like cinnamon rolls, minus the cinnamon, plus lots of citrus and a mega amount of cream cheese frosting. The trick is to put the cream cheese frosting in two batches – once while the rolls are hot from the oven, and again when they’ve cooled to warm, just before digging in.
• On the savory side, it’s nice to keep something in the oven that ages well and is easy to heat up on the stove for unexpected (but very welcome) guests. Louisiana taught me to keep a pot of Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya at the ready this time of year.
• For breakfast this month, this carb upon carb Potato Leek Quiche with No-Roll Crust is perfect for a Sunday morning followed by Monday night dinner leftovers. It’s substantial. And the press-in crust is free of any daunting feelings you might have reaching for the rolling pin.
Have a wonderful December, friends. Be easy this month. It’s been enough of a year, there’s no need to sprint towards the finish line. I hope you find yourself in the kitchen with a few of these recipes if that feels good to you!