pear, parmesan, & balsamic salad

pear, parmesan, & balsamic salad

Our Christmas tree is up!  It’s the first real, live, non-plastic tree to make an appearance in our household.  We chose it in about five seconds flat last Saturday with babe in tow, in the signature haste of panicky new parents who are still not very good at this “taking the baby out into the world” thing.  (Luke, meanwhile, was just passed out the whole time and didn’t wake up until thirty minutes after we got home.  But he could have.)  So it’s a fat little four-foot munchkin of a tree that is cheerfully lopsided and very strategically placed in the corner of our living room to display the side with the least lop.  But I think that’s what you call “character.”  

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thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles!

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

A few years ago I came across an Alton Brown diatribe against one-use kitchen gadgets (or “unitaskers,” I think he calls them) and thought it would be a good rule not to buy them for our New York kitchen.  This more or less worked (mostly thanks to B2 putting his foot down on random Amazon purchases and the fact that we just had no room, lest we start storing kitchen appliances in our bathroom) but I also pretty much immediately found ways to bend the rule, i.e. the SPAM slicer is okay because it can also slice tofu, and the potato ricer can also make excellent pumpkin puree — clearly bi-taskers!  

And then, in a fit of indulgence a few months ago, I bought our very first waffle iron.  This is arguably the largest unitasker to grace our kitchen.  But I calculate that a waffle iron is actually at least a penta-tasker (quintup … tasker?):  (1) waffle pizza! (2) waffle grilled cheese! (3) waffle-ninis! (4) all kinds of actual waffles!  And, now, (5) stuffing waffles!  

The thing is, if I used the waffle iron to make only stuffing waffles, I’m pretty sure it would still be worth it.  After seeing them crop up in all sorts of places online, I’ve been waiting to make these for all the years that our kitchen was too cramped to fit a waffle iron, and they lived up to every expectation:  All the intensely savory, buttery, carb-tastic goodness of my very favorite Thanksgiving side dish is stuffed into a sizzling iron and made delightfully crispy on the outside, but fluffy and almost creamy inside, ready to tuck all the other Thanksgiving leftovers, from mashed potatoes to turkey to cranberry sauce, into its perfectly square divots.  (And I added maple syrup, because why not.)  I can think of no better way to reheat stuffing the next day — and in fact, it’s good enough that I’d be happy to make stuffing just to waffle.

After a tumultuous couple of weeks, wishing you all a safe, happy Thanksgiving.  Thank you so much for being here, and for reading!

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

thanksgiving leftover stuffing waffles! | two red bowls

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custardy crème fraîche apple pie

custardy creme fraiche apple pie | two red bowls

What a strange, hard week this has been.  It feels like it has been hard in every sense of the word — difficult, unyielding.  I hope everyone is okay.  This is the first of a number of recipes I’ve had saved up for these first few baby-filled months, and, thankfully, it is so very easy.  I think “easy” was going to be my mantra in the kitchen for the foreseeable future no matter what, now that we have a little person to cuddle and feed and care for, but right now it feels particularly apt to share something that comes together without much effort, without any stress, to be a treat that soothes and indulges.

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sticky date cinnamon rolls

sticky date cinnamon rolls | two red bowls

sticky date cinnamon rolls | two red bowls

Hi friends! How was your Thanksgiving? We spent ours with my parents and my brother last week, in a couple of slow, wonderful days at home. It was pretty exciting — we sat around and told the same stories for the eighty-seventh time each, I woke up way earlier than you’d ever usually find me so that I could have sleepy coffees with my dad, my sole responsibilities at any given point were not overfilling the wonton wrappers (I failed) and making sure my mom got a Black Friday discount on a jewelry box from J.C. Penney, and my little brother drove me around everywhere because I’m very lazy and he’s nice and he “misses driving anyway.” So actually it was zero percent exciting. (But one hundred percent awesome.)

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thanksgiving leftovers “red beans” & coconut rice

thanksgiving leftover "red beans" & coconut rice | two red bowls

thanksgiving leftover "red beans" & coconut rice | two red bowls

I’m boring when it comes to leftovers. (Strategy: Remove from refrigerator and eat. Alternatively, freeze, forget about, then find three months later and still eat.) My mom, on the other hand, makes magic with them — I can’t remember a single time that she tossed out leftovers in our kitchen, or a time that we didn’t ask for the rest of our dinner to be packed up when we went out to eat. Instead, I can see her poised with an open clamshell container in one hand and a metal spatula in the other, mouth pursed, surveying her wok and trying to figure out how to upcycle last night’s takeout into inevitably more delicious fried rice, or stir-fried noodles, or a simmering pot of soup. Some of her recipes are ones where she even swears by leftovers, like her mapo tofu, which she won’t make unless she’s stir-fried giant prawns the day before and has the fiery-red broth left over. (Don’t tell her I gave away her secret ingredient.)

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date & maple butter tarts

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

So I think I’m about five years late to this party.  But I am newly, and really, obsessed with dates. They are so good. How are they so good? I don’t know how I was so woefully misinformed, but up until a couple months ago I had this idea that dates were just a vague something to be nibbled on at your grandmother’s house if all the cookies were gone, or maybe used as a convenient vehicle for goat cheese and bacon, or admired from afar as a healthful “substitute-for” things I am generally reluctant to substitute. And then I was gifted a box of really great ones, with fancy things like orange peel and almonds tucked inside, and my world was totally rocked. This is probably news only to me at this point, but it turns out dates are pretty much candy. They have a consistency like caramel and nearly the same buttery taste; they’re sticky and soft and reminiscent of wonderful things like honey, cinnamon and molasses.  B2 was unmoved by my date revolution (although he hasn’t gotten tired of responding to “Want a date?” with “I thought we were already married. Get it?”) but, with or without him, I’m fairly sure I’ve eaten my weight in them since April.

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