In Season December 2011

Warm and creative ways to celebrate the month's holidays.

Alanna Weissman

Ooey Gooey
Savor National Brownie Day on the 8th by baking these rich, chocolatey brownies from www.instructables.com.
Ingredients:
•1 c. butter, melted •3 c. white sugar •1 Tbs. vanilla extract •4 eggs (add one more for a cake-like result) •1½ c. all-purpose flour •1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder •½ tsp. salt •½ tsp. baking soda •1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the paper from the butter. Melt butter in the microwave or on the stove. Combine the melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each until thoroughly blended. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Toss the chocolate chips in a light dusting of flour, and stir into the mix with a spoon or spatula. Pour into prepared pan. Spread the batter in the pan, slightly mounding on the sides so everything bakes evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Enjoy hot.

Snow White
In honor of Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day on December 27, print up some templates from www.yourspecialtee.com/crafts/chsnowflakes.html and start snipping.

Enough for Eight Days
Celebrate the start of Hanukkah on December 21 with this recipe for Potato Latkes from www.epicurious.com. It makes about 12-16 latkes.
Ingredients:
•1 lb. potatoes •½ c. finely chopped onion •1 large egg, lightly beaten •½ tsp. salt •½-¾ c. olive oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 250°F. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring grated pieces to a large bowl of cold water. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt. Heat ¼ cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture per latke into a skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until the other sides brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.

Fruit for You
The 1st of the month is Eat a Red Apple Day. Celebrate by partaking in this healthy, delicious habit— and try to do the same every day. Make the fruit even more delicious on December 16, National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, by dipping sliced or dried apples in ramekins of melted milk, white and dark chocolate.

Very Veggie
Honoring Kwanzaa, which kicks off on December 26, try this African Vegetarian Stew from www.members.tripod.com/nancy_j/kwanzaa.htm.
Ingredients:
•4 small kohlrabies or parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks •½ c. couscous or bulgar wheat •1 large onion, chopped •¼ c. raisins, dark or golden •2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks •1 tsp. ground coriander •½ tsp. ground turmeric •2 zucchini, sliced thick •½ tsp. ground cinnamon •5 tomatoes, fresh or 1 16-oz. can tomatoes •½ tsp. ground ginger •¼ tsp. ground cumin •1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans •3 c. water
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

A Wreath You Can Eat
Want festive cookies to leave for Santa? Try this recipe for Christmas Cornflake Wreath Cookies from www.allrecipes.com.
Ingredients:
•½ c. butter •4 c. miniature marshmallows •1 tsp. green food coloring •½ tsp. almond extract •½ tsp. vanilla extract •4 c. cornflakes cereal •1 2¼-oz. package cinnamon Red Hots candies
Directions:
Microwave marshmallows and butter on high for two minutes. Stir, then microwave on high for two minutes more and stir again. Add and quickly mix in the coloring, extracts then the cornflakes. Drop by spoonfuls in clumps on greased wax paper and decorate with three Red Hots each. Once cool, transfer to lightly greased serving tray with lightly greased fingers.

Oven Lovin’
Two of the tastiest holidays occur this month: National Pastry Day falls on December 9 and Bake Cookies Day is the 18th. For a recipe that honors both, try Sweet Ravioli from www.allrecipes.com.
Ingredients:
•1 c. butter, softened •2/3c. white sugar •1 egg, beaten •1½ tsp. vanilla extract •¼ tsp. almond extract •1 tsp. grated lemon zest •2½ c. all-purpose flour •1¼ tsp. baking soda •1/8tsp. salt •½ c. cherry preserves •½ c. confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Directions:
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and lemon zest. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until a smooth dough forms. Divide dough into halves. Roll each portion out between two sheets of waxed paper into a 12-inch square. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheets. Remove one piece of the dough from the refrigerator. Remove the top layer of waxed paper and cut into 1½-inch squares. Place about ¼ teaspoon of the cherry preserves into the center of the first sheet of squares. Set aside. Remove the remaining piece of dough from the refrigerator. Remove top layer of waxed paper and cut into 1½-inch squares. Poke holes in the squares for venting using a fork. Place each vented square over one of the filled squares and gently seal the edges by pressing with the tines of a fork. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Dust cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still warm. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

This column appeared in the December 2011 issue.