The end of the holiday season doesn't mean the end of celebrating traditions. In fact, right now at this very moment thousands of people across the country are taking part in the long, rich tradition of swearing off unhealthy foods forever (or until mid-February).
(oh look. A big, stupid deer in our yard. Details on my feelings about deer and their horrible antlers under The Bad)
Last year, instead of doing a recipe round-up I wrote a more personal list of the the good and bad things that happened over the year, as well as some goals I had for the coming months. Seeing as it is somehow, already ANOTHER new year and I'm a sucker for traditions I thought that I would do it again. So here it is.. The Good and The Bad of 2013 and The Goals for 2014.
2013 was a year with lots of ups and downs. My initial list of good things actually got too lengthy and I forced myself to scale it back. So in no particular order, here are the brightest highlights of 2013:
1. My little sister got engaged in January and during the summer my mom and I flew to New York City where she lives to help with her some of the wedding planning.
2. I attended Food Bloggers of Canada's first conference in Toronto where I met lots of bloggers and spoke on a panel about recipe development.
3. My friends asked me to be the godparent for their daughter Annabelle and so I flew to Victoria BC to visit them, baby Annabelle, and see the beautiful new ballet school that they run.
This holiday season seems to have flown by. I remember when I was younger and would wait impatiently for Christmas slooowly sloooooowly creep closer. It seems that all my wishing in the past that the holidays would hurry up and get here has caught up with me and suddenly its like WHOOOOSH! Almost 2014!
And here I am still in my Christmas jammies working on holiday baking.
Luckily these mini cheesecakes are also perfect for New Years parties, or any parties, or just because you really love cheesecake.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of the sweet kicky deliciousness that is red pepper jelly. I've written about it before on my blog and it remains my to-go for quick appetizers or an afternoon snack. Previously, I relied on jelly from the farmer's market, but last weekend my lovely friend Rachele asked if I'd like to help her whip up a homemade batch. What a ridiculous question. Of course I do!
For future reference: Yes. I want to make jam/jelly/bread/cheese/pie/cake/dumplings/perogies/fresh pasta with you and you and you. I'd be at home making these things anyways and who doesn't love company and an extra pair of hands to do the dishes?
Rachele has canned before so she had all the necessary supplies. Plus she'd picked out mini canning jars for gift-giving purposes and loaded up on red peppers and jalapenos so we were all ready to go. If you've never worked with canning jars or a water bath before before then I'd suggest reading Simple Bite's Canning 101 Post. It lays out the procedure nicely.
I always used to choose vanilla over chocolate, mild over spicy, and savory over sweet. But over the past year those preferences have changed. My heat tolerance has significantly increased, many a dessert have entered my 'want/must have' snacking list, and suddenly I find myself on the side of team chocolate. A team that most of the ladies in my life have been members of for years.
The switch to chocolate happened rather suddenly, I was sitting on the couch watching YouTube videos and out of the blue I got the worst craving for for it. My brain was all "chocolate NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU". I was understandably surprised because my previous relationship with chocolate consisted of completely ignoring it in favor of sour candy. It was less a gradual growth of appreciation for it's flavors and more of a sudden, radical switch in cravings. Of course my rational reaction was 'Ohmygod I must be pregnant!!!". But no. I just wanted a piece of chocolate and no babies were involved whatsoever.
Anyways, this is of a long-winded way of telling everyone that I ate a lot of these cookies.
I've had an abundance of pecans around lately due to the fact that I grossly misjudge volume measurements while shopping in bulk. I had originally planned on using the leftover nuts from my granola recipe to make homemade chocolate turtles, but decided to add the flavor of turtles to a soft and chewy chocolate cookie. So in went pecans, toffee pieces, cocoa, aaaaaaand white chocolate chips for visual contrast/there was a quarter of a bag left in my pantry.
For a long time I thought the price of delicious homemade granola was that you had to forgo the clumpy, crunchy clusters found in the store-bought boxes. This meant that granola had to be poured into a bowl and eaten with a spoon or sort of poured from your hand into your mouth, unless you liked picking up oats one by one with your fingers.
Luckily, while searching for a more hand-friendly granola I was told the clumpy granola secret by the wise granola eaters of the internet. Since then all my granola has been both breakfast and snack friendly.. sorry spoon, I just don't need you anymore.