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2018-01-21T10:10:17.850Z
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There are few things as satisfying as a soft, chewy sugar cookie: perfectly buttery and sweet with a hint of vanilla and almond, and a slight crunch in the form of sugar granules coating the outside. A truly perfect sugar cookie (if there is such a thing, this is it) made even better with the addition of funfetti sprinkles.

And not a cake mix in sight.

I’ve used a similar sugar cookie base recipe before (adapted from the geniuses at America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated), that uses melted butter, cream cheese, and vegetable oil instead of the classic butter-creamed-with-sugar. The mixture of liquid fats and stabilizers in the cream cheese results in a perfectly chewy texture that stays soft for days (not that these will last that long, but still…)

Plus, you can mix up the dough with just a spoon and a whisk, no electric mixer necessary. How’s that for convenient?

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One of my earliest memories is making spritz cookies with my grandmother for Christmas, the palm trees glittering with lights and the warm breeze a welcome change from the Colorado snow (white Christmases are overrated, in my opinion: the only white I want to see at Christmastime is sugar.)

Growing up, we usually spent Christmas on the opposite coast in Florida with my mom’s side of the family, but that one year in Los Angeles, with Bettie and the rest of the Landis clan, stands out in my mind, if only for the dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies we made together.

I recently asked my aunts if they had Bettie’s recipe for spritz cookies, and sure enough, they did. In true Bettie fashion the ingredients were written on an index card, two different recipe variations labeled simply Spritz #1 and Spritz #2, but nothing else: no oven temperature or cook time or instructions whatsoever.

I tested both recipes, deciding that Spritz #2 (made with granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar) was preferable in terms of flavor...

Here we have the Jason Bourne of cookies: a cookie with many different names, and ultimately, its entire identity as a cookie is false because, oh hey, it’s actually a cake.

(Luckily, this cookie doesn’t go around assassinating foreign diplomats, bad analogy, but you get my point…)

I’ve seen them called Italian Rainbow cookies, Tricolor cookies, Venetian cookies, Neapolitan cookies, and Italian 7-Layer cookies (when they have chocolate on the top and bottom there are 7 distinct layers, I guess?) With all those different names you can bet it’s got a few fake passports stashed under the floorboards.

I get it’s supposed to be the Italian flag and all, but why are these cookies, no matter what they’re called, always the same 3 colors? Can’t we have a little fun with it for once?

I decided to do just that, eschewing the classic red-yellow-green for a pastel ombre effect in shades of soft turquoise blue.

Let me just say: Taylor LOVED these. He doesn’t always resort to superlatives, but after downing a few of these he firmly...

Food makes the best gift (in my humble opinion), because the recipient can eat it and enjoy it and be done with it, and you’re not contributing to further clutter in their lives.

With that in mind, I thought now would be the perfect time to highlight some of my favorite Nashville shops to find gourmet gifts for foodies, food fans, and basically anyone who likes to eat.

Whether you’re local shopping for out of town relatives, or just visiting and wanting to take a delicious piece of Nashville home with you, these shops have you covered for everything from candy to condiments to cocktail mixers and more.

(Photo by Phillip/Southern Fatty) Goo Goo Shop

Got a chocolate lover on your list? The Goo Goo Shop has you covered. Grab a premium Goo Goo (jumbo versions of their classic candies that are only available in the shop), plus a matching “What the Cluster” t-shirt and a cute luggage tag, or any number of their other cute merchandise items. They also sell vintage gift tins of classic Goo Goos, as well as bags of Lil’ Goos (mini...

A bourbon ball is a classic no-bake holiday recipe, and, chances are, your grandmother probably had a recipe for them. The homemade versions are most often a mix of chocolate, cookie crumbs and bourbon, sometimes with nuts and sugar or other ingredients mixed in. I’ve also seen commercial bourbon balls that have a creamy bourbon-infused fondant as the center, but obviously that kind of thing is much harder to recreate at home.

This recipe is a variation on my grandmother’s bourbon ball recipe (what she called Bourbon Delight), made with wafer cookies, melted chocolate, and mixed nuts (I used almonds and pecans here), pressed into a baking pan, topped with a chocolate glaze and sprinkles, and cut into bars.

An easy recipe made even easier, because you don’t have to bother rolling dozens of little balls. In other words, you can have your bourbon and eat it too.

There’s no ignoring the bourbon here… it adds a surprising heat to the bars (in the best way possible). You could reduce the bourbon slightly, to maybe 1/4 cup, if you want them a bit milder. You should also plan to make them ahead of time, as giving them at least 24 hours to rest will help...

Cranberry sauce is arguably one of the most important parts of any Thanksgiving meal.

The bright acidity is perfect for breaking up the expanse of rich creaminess that covers the rest of your plate.

Every year I try to one-up myself, never settling for just a simple cranberry sauce (although the jellied cranberry sauce recipe available in my canning ebook always makes an appearance, as it satisfies even the most devout canned-sauce fanatics). It’s not unlike me to prepare two different cranberry sauces each year, one jellied and one with some clever addition to make it more than just ordinary cranberry sauce. Cranberries play so well with so many different flavors (from hibiscus to ginger to grand marnier) I don’t think I’ll ever run out of unique combinations of ingredients to try.

This year, it’s blackberry and cranberry, the idea coming to me more out of necessity than creativity as I had some frozen blackberries picked over the summer that still needed to be used.

Turns out the combination is pretty darn spectacular: the sweet tart of blackberries and the tannic tart of cranberries being two entirely different kinds of tart that compliment each other quite...

Not every Thanksgiving dish has to be larger-than-life-sized.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impression.

Take sweet potato casserole, for instance.

Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of an oversized casserole dish full of sweet slop, every person at your table got their own petite package of crispy and caramelized sweet potato, each nest topped with their own roasty toasty melty marshmallow?

Sounds pretty awesome to me.

The spiralizer makes easy work of this otherwise tedious dish, no peeling, boiling or mashing involved. Even with a 15-20 minute soak (our trick to getting crispy sweet potatoes) this dish easily comes together in under an hour.

To make these bite-sized casseroles, simply toss spiralized sweet potato with an egg and flour mixture, and arrange in muffin cups. The cups bake up crisp on the edges and creamy in the center, with a perfectly toasted marshmallow to top it all off.

While this recipe is a twist on the classic sweet potato casserole (complete with marshmallows), the sweet potato...

So, about that canned pumpkin you buy every year…

It’s not actually pumpkin. Well, probably not anyway.

The truth is most canned pumpkin is actually squash. Legally, the FDA makes no distinction between pumpkin and squash when it comes to food labels, and so most canned foods companies opt to process the more flavorful and space-efficient squash instead of pumpkin and figure we’ll be none the wiser.

I’m ok with that, simply because squash makes for a better pumpkin pie than pumpkin does. If you’ve ever tried actual pumpkin puree you’ll know what I mean, it’s not nearly as flavorful, and is often stringy and watery.

I’ve played with making my own homemade pumpkin puree for pies before, but this year I wanted to test and see, once and for all, which type of squash makes the best pumpkin pie.

I picked up a few different kinds of squashes from the grocery and our local farmers market. This time of year our market is filled with literally hundreds of different kinds of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds as far as the eye can see. I questioned the farmers as to what they would recommend for pie, and...

So, we’ve talked about Kitchen Essentials. Now let’s turn our focus to baking. While some of the tools overlap (a scale and a stand mixer are crucial in many situations, both sweet and savory) baking has a unique set of needs that requires different tools. A set of baking pans, for instance.

Below I’ve outlined my most used baking tools, cake pans, and gadgets. If you’re a new baker looking to stock your kitchen, this is a great place to start. It also makes a great gift guide (hint hint), if you happen know a newlywed couple or a graduate just getting settled in their first apartment or a beginning baker… you might want to bookmark this post for later. :)

Disclaimer: while this post is not sponsored and no brands have paid to be included here, many of these products were received as part of past/present brand partnerships. That said, should our kitchen be reduced to rubble today, we wouldn’t hesitate to buy them again ourselves tomorrow. Meaning, everything on this list is something we own and love and use on a regular, if not daily, basis. There are also affiliate links in this post, FYI. And if you’re reading this post in RSS or email you might want to click through to the post page for easy clickable links to...

This recipe grew out of necessity.

Or, rather, my failure to properly inventory the fridge before Thanksgiving day.

As I went to prepare my ultimate creamy mashed potatoes, I discovered I was out of heavy cream (oh, the horror!) After two pies and a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream and one carton tossed for being well past its prime, I didn’t have a single drop of usable heavy cream left at my disposal.

Luckily, what I did have was a tub of crème fraîche.

Which, as it turns out, makes for a damn fine mashed potato (if I do say so myself).

The cultured French cream (similar to sour cream but with a richer and more nuanced flavor) gives the potatoes a slight yogurty tang that really does wonders to cut the richness. Bonus? Crème fraîche is actually lower in fat than heavy whipping cream, while producing a far creamier final product.

Proof that sometimes mistakes can turn into blessings in disguise.

Tip for ultra-creamy mashed potatoes: use a food mill. Bonus: you don’t even have to peel the potatoes (because we all hate peeling potatoes). Just cut into chunks, boil until tender, and run through the food mill. The mill will essentially...

I thing for naturally purple foods, apparently. I went purple crazy at the farmers market earlier this spring, with purple spring onions, purple cauliflower, and gorgeous purple garlic.

One thing is for sure, all that purple makes for some stunning photos.

Cauliflower is a cool weather vegetable, so it usually disappears from the local markets during the heat of the summer. But now that it’s cooling down again it’s back with gusto, including my favorite purple variety (I swear it tastes better than the white kind. Just me?) What I love most about this violet vegetable is that it holds its hue even after cooking, unlike other purple produce like asparagus and beans, making for a particularly stunning presentation.

This soup recipe emerged from a simple desire to make a vibrantly purple soup that highlighted the beautiful color of the cauliflower.

The recipe itself is a variation on the creamy cauliflower soup with brown butter we’ve made before. We simply swapped the purple cauliflower for the white, and also added some purple sweet potatoes for an added punch of color and flavor. Also red onion...

There’s a reason Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

I mean, yes, you do feel like you’re at Disney, I had to keep repeating to myself this was a real place, not make believe. Because that’s exactly what it feels like.

I know some people hate it simply because there are so many tourists there, and I’m not denying that there are (Saint Mark’s around 11am on a Monday in June gave me serious anxiety) but, if you seek them out, there are such things as quiet streets canals in Venice, where the only sounds...

There are few things better than a moist, fluffy white cupcake topped with a mound of the creamiest buttercream.

Except maybe a tender white cupcake topped with a mound of the creamiest buttercream and FILLED WITH SPRINKLES.

Indeed, you wouldn’t know it from just looking at them but these cupcakes are filled with a surprise cache of sprinkles!

Like a piñata, in cupcake form. That you bite into instead of bash.

Talk about a fun party trick!

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It’s officially oven season!

As the temperatures drop, sheet pan dinners like this one make regular appearances in our kitchen.

I love sheet pan recipes because you can simply throw all your ingredients onto a sheet pan (ok, don’t throw, you want your food arranged in a single layer so it bakes evenly, but you get the idea) and pop it in the oven. No need to wrangle multiple pots and pans on the stove and in the oven to prepare a complete meal. That’s the beauty of recipes like these.

As far as roasted chicken recipes go, this one might be our new favorite, not to mention totally seasonally appropriate. We used an assortment of tools from OXO to make it happen, including bakeware, tongs, basting brush, peeler, thermometer and chef’s knife.

I swear, I’m not exaggerating when I say that half of our kitchen is OXO, which is why it was a no-brainer when they asked if we wanted to partner to share some fall roasting recipes with you. But...

My grandma’s nutty sour cream coffee cake recipe is perfection. Or should have been perfection, if I had just made it the way that she said to.

When I pulled this recipe out of her recipe box I still had sweet potato crumb cake on the brain, and decided I wanted to add an equally delightful crumb topping to this recipe (because a coffee cake always has a crumb topping, right?)

Wrong.

It sunk. The crumb topping I mean. Sunk right to the bottom of the cake where it pooled in pockets of molten brown sugar. It was still tasty, actually, but it wasn’t what I was going for and certainly wasn’t very pretty.

Not one to quit, I made it again, this time following grandma’s instructions (other than adding the apples, of course. Call me a rebel if you must).

And you know what? If I had just followed the dang recipe the first time, I would have been rewarded with a delightfully crispy top. The simple act of sprinkling a generous amount of sugar on top of the batter transforms into a thin layer of papery crispness that, dare I say it, is even better than a crumb topping.

Lesson learned:...