Making holiday preparations involves a lot of planning. I have learned, however, than one thing is essential to comfort and joy. Yes, I insist that all of my leggings, yoga pants, and elastic waist skirts are at my fingertips! I learned long ago that dressing up for the holidays isn't as important as dressing COMFORTABLY. Stretchy clothes to the rescue!!! That way you never have to say those sad, sad words, "No thank you. I can't eat another bite."
Case in point. These little cookies are irresistible. Tart ba-da-bing cherries (Click here to see them and order from Amazon.com), that are already pitted and still sport that elegant stems crown these chewy sugar cookies, which is also a part of my #fabin40 collection. They're elegant, take absolutely NO time to make with prepackaged ingredients and the addition of a few sure-fire flavors, and worth all the elastic you can find.
I love how the little stems just tease you. They make this dessert look so sassy and high-falutin. The hint of almond flavor and subtle depth of the cardamom do the trick. No one EVER need know you used a packaged sugar cookie mix, bottled cherries, or that your stomach is flopping freely under your apron. AAHHH. Polyester was never so brilliant.
A mini muffin tin is the secret weapon to bit sized towers of holiday sweetness. Topped with light sprinkling of powdered sugar and you're off to another holiday party in no time.
So, if you've learning anything, it is to let the others wear sequins. You know better than to show up looking like a model when your food can do it for you.
RECIPE: Bing Cherry Sugar Cookie Cups
Makes 24 - 28 Cookies / #fabin40 / Click here for printable version
1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature but not melted
1 large egg
½ t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground cardamom
½ t almond extract
24 pitted, stem-on Bing Cherries (Ba Da Bing Cherries are shown below.)
Raw sugar for garnish
In a large bowl combine the sugar cookie mix, 1 large egg, 1 stick or ½ C soft unsalted butter, cardamom, cinnamon and almond extract. Stir well to make sure everything is well combined and dough sticks to itself. Form into a small, 1 ½” ball, and place each one in a mini-muffin pan. With your thumb, make an indentation into the ball, just keep enough to accommodate half the depth of the cherry. You don’t want to smash them, just provide a nice nest for the Bing Cherry which you will place stem side up. Sprinkle with a bit of the coarse, raw sugar. Cook in a 375 degree F oven for 9-10 minutes. Cool and then gently remove. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.
There is prose and music in every kitchen. Those who use their culinary talents to transform a table, elevate a palate, and elicit a gasp for simply plating food deserve a little extra applause. I revere those who are geniuses in an apron. They inspire me.
And then there's the meat loaf. Oh gosh. So many things have transpired in the lives of people over a plate of meatloaf, even though it has a name that sounds like a lazy side of cow, or a deadbeat, or an ex-spouse who never paid alimony. This is what we refer to as "comfort food?" We're odd creatures indeed.
So, being the bling-cuisine geek that I am, I decided to help this dish along. Iit could also stand to have a few little twists added in addition to being presented as though it were inside a compartmentalized tin foil container. I am not changing it drastically, mind you. I just added some sriracha sauce and some complex artisanal herb salt that fell gently into the mass of ground beef like a secret being written in a diary. Only those who read it with care will find truth between the lines....or between the tines, I suppose.
I do have a few recipes for meatloaf that add raisins or cranberries, and benefit from the addition of Moroccan spices and exotic local sausage. But this time, I just added a kick. Sorely needed, in my opinion.
Now, "gravy" is another subject entirely. It's already feels comfortable. Like the sayings, "good gravy!" and "you're riding the gravy train.." or "the rest is just gravy," we can't help smiling while it's thickening.
But let's move on. This post is about meatloaf. About a brick of beef. And as you're viewing these photos you are beginning to see how serious I am about improving our little icon of everyday nourishment.
Next, it isn't comfort food without potatoes. But not just any potato! Miniature golden potatoes, roasted with fragrant thyme and lots of excellent olive oil and aged balsamic. These regal roots could even stand on their own, don't you agree?
Now, growing up, my mother always cooked her meatloaf in a loaf pan. (duh...) But it's messy and the beef ends up kind of bubbling in its own vat of fat. That's fine with other more conscious meal preparations, but we're trying to mitigate everything "loafy," yes? I say, form it into a brick on a sheet pan lined with foil. The meat cooks more evenly, (especially when you use a meat thermometer for accuracy,) it's easier to say, "Oh, wow! That is so pretty!" And clean up is a snap. You're going to want to keep licking the gravy bowl so I'm all for freeing up more time for slurping.
Overall, I think I accomplished my goal. I added a little poetry to my plate, and I am giving you the recipe so you can do it, too.
And lucky for you I didn't have thyme to make anything rhyme....
RECIPE: Sriracha Herbed Meatloaf with Beef Gravy
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.