Gifts Given and Received!

Kaki!  Happy Almost New Years!

This is a weird time of year for cooking for me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  Since I rarely host anything, around the holidays I actually cook very little.  When I’m not meeting up with friends for lunch or family for dinner, I have leftovers from said lunches and dinners to tide me over.

Of course, there are edible gifts to make.  Once again Cooper and I made a couple varieties of truffles.  This year it was the original caramel-bourbon, dark chocolate-orange, peppermint, and we tried an espresso version (hint: roll the truffles in pulverized chocolate-covered espresso beans).  And for a less sweet gift, I made a batch of these great smokey sesame almonds (I doubled the almonds instead of using almonds and cashews).  And you know, I think people liked them. 🙂

And then this past weekend it dawned on me, “Caitlin.  You’re about to go back to work.  And will need something to eat for lunch.  So… are you going to make something?”  And I did, I did just that.

First up was a take on the chana palak I made a few months ago, but without spinach and with black beans instead of chickpeas.  Then, and this is the one you need to make, Kaki, I had some stale bread to use up.  And made Smitten Kitchen’s Corn, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata.  Kaki.  I have been the envy of my office this week at lunchtime, because this smells just as great as it tastes.  You need to make this one.

Now I’m getting ready for New Years Eve dinner at Cooper’s.  We’re making this lovely lamb with plum sauce, which I am very excited about.  I’m bringing the olives and grapes to roast up ala this recipe, but instead of crostini we’re going to fold them into couscous as a side dish.  And right now I’m making the syrup for this delicious sounding wintery take on an old fashioned.  My apartment smells amazing, with the apples and spices simmering on my stove.

When does the George Washington festival go down in Laredo?  I really want to experience it for myself this year.

Hope your 2014 wraps up well, Kaki!

–Caitlin

P.S.  Holly got me some lovely edible gifts for Christmas.  I haven’t yet made the Pumpkin Spice Beer Bread mix she gave me, but I just picked up a blonde ale to give it a try.  I’m so excited to see how it goes!

She also made me (!!!) these great oatmeal to-go jars for breakfast at the office.  I tried the Monkey Mix one this morning, and it lived up to my high oatmeal expectations.  I will definitely be taking the freeze-dried fruits tip to heart as well, they got so nice and soft.  Thanks again, Holly!

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P.P.S.  I know, I know, this whole post was essentially a Smitten Kitchen commercial.  But whatever, Deb knows what she’s doing, and I’ll gladly follow her lead!

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