I’m not trying to brag but I have been invited to two holiday parties already and we haven’t even entered the month of December. This is going to be a very fun season for me! I’m excited.
My neighborhood is very into the holiday spirit; each and every single house on the block already has lights up. In order to fit in with the Jones’, we spent the weekend trying to get our lives together, i.e., getting rid of the squirrel-eaten pumpkins.
In preparation for this season, I wanted to put a mini guide together about Building a Winter Cheese Board!
For this post, I teamed up with Roth Cheese. Their cheeses are so amazing and made in Wisconsin using fresh, local milk from dairy farmers right down the road. The flavors are delicious and rich. While I think they’re wonderful on a cheese board, I also think they’re perfect for grilled cheeses, too; their meltability is on point! They’d also work in a gratin or melted over vegetables.
Here are some pointers on creating a winter cheese board:
Pick Your Cheeses – I went with Grand Cru Havarti, Grand Cru Gouda, and Grand Cru Alpine-Style. I cubed up the Havarti and Gouda for easy consumption. I decided to leave the Alpine-Style in its wedge mainly for aesthetic reasons lol. The Havarti is mild and buttery. The Gouda creamy with a hint of sweetness. The Alpine-Style is nutty. I like for all of the cheeses to complement each other, while all being different to offer some contrast.
This week buried me alive. Last night I un-RSVP’d myself from Alana’s Halloween party that I’ve been excited about for WEEKS. But I could barely move and my feet were killing me. I took a shower and got in bed and slept for twelve straight hours and now feel like I can concur the world…but first, warm chocolate orange morning rolls.
These rolls on a Saturday morning make everything better. They are soft and warm and delicious. The combo of orange and chocolate will forever be a favorite of mine. It is classic Holiday vibes but I really feel like we should make space to enjoy them year around.
I’m currently watching Little Women over and over with a million blankets over me. It’s legit cold in LA, like, maybe colder than New York and other parts of the east coast. WEIRD! But I’m not complaining, I love it, please continue this, LA.
Not sure if you noticed but it’s December and the world has been taken over by gingerbread houses and buche de noels and hot toddies. I’ve been out of town for the past few weekends so the next few days are my first time heading into to holiday soirees.
If you, too, are looking to make something chill and delicious, here are some options:
I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the week before Christmas is the most INSANE WEEK IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. We’re all bustling, hustling and working (and werking) to get everything wrapped up and done before everyone peaces out for the rest of the year.
Next week I have a massage booked. I’m going to Palm Springs for a few days to rest up and do absolutely nothing. During this time, I plan on writing a few things down: my goals for 2015 (proof I’m getting older, I never used to do this), things I learned in 2014 and a few things I’m grateful for. It sounds like a cheesy little thing to do, but these tasks organize my thoughts. It’s like going to The Container Store for my brain.
Next week, there will be pie. Because, pie. And because there always should be pie.
There’s also a chance I might listen to the last episode of SERIAL again because OMG Ronald. NO! I’m not buying that, attorney-who-I-respect. UGH! Jay did it.
I do things at the holidays I don’t always do during the year: I (attempt) to decorate every corner of my apartment; I bake any chance I get; and I put antler ears on Amelia and force her to take pictures with me. Basically, what I’m saying is that I embrace the season and try and make the most of it. A big part of taking advantage of the season is creating things, arranging things, and making my home look as pretty and magical as possible.
Today I teamed up with Target to show you a pretty and fuss-free dessert table. Treat-making is my favorite thing to do but I do know that during the holidays it’s tough to tackle a gigantic project for a party (I tackled a buche de noel on Saturday, more on that later!), so I wanted to give you something super easy: Cappuccino Truffles! The best part about this recipe is the fact that it requires a lot of downtime, allowing you to turn your attention to making the dessert table look as cute as possible. I wanted the dessert table to feel cozy (I know, surprising), neutral and natural, and rely on gold and silver to bring some sparkle.
The recipe starts with heating cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate, after a little stir action, it goes in the fridge to chill.
During this time, I hung this cute tree garland around the table. I also hung this wall garland I made a few days prior that consisted of some cedar, pine cones and tallow branches. All you need a bit of floral wire and a few nails! Super easy.
I hope you’re inspired to make some treats and make your space cute and cozy. ’Tis the season!
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 truffles
Serving Size: 16
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped (chips are also fine!)
1/4 cup coffee granules, finely ground
1/4 cup instant milk powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until it reaches a light simmer. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate into a shallow dish, such as a 9-inch pie dish, and transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the coffee, milk powder, salt and powdered sugar. Pulse until finely ground and mixed. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop (or a melon baller), scoop out mounds of the chocolate mixture onto a piece of parchment or wax paper (they’ll look a bit like wonky circles—don’t worry!). Transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional hour. Remove from the fridge and using your hands, roll the mounds of chocolate to form a circle (don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles) and then immediately transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional 15 minutes. Roll the chocolate balls in the coffee mixture and place in mini cupcake liners. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve, at which time, allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, just to take off a bit of its chill. Garnish, if you like, with a teeny dusting of powdered sugar.
No one, and I mean no one, loves cheesecake more than my dad. I have no idea why because the man doesn’t even like cheese. WHA!! Yes, I know. He doesn’t like cheese. It’s the oddest thing in the entire world, but his favorite dessert of them all—and he loves mostly everything sweet—is cheesecake.
He’s extremely critical about cheesecake because he eats a lot of it. As I was recipe testing this here cheesecake, I’d send him photos throughout the process and he’d remark skeptically, giving his harsh criticisms and recommendations. Mostly I think it’s just funny that he takes cheesecake so seriously.
I’m not sure how this will live up to my dad’s cheesecake expectations, but I loved it. It’s perfectly tart; the texture is smooth; and the chocolate crust gives it a nice decadent element. The marble topping is kinda pretty, quickly making it the favorite at a holiday dessert table…or, to you know, eat by yourself by the Christmas tree. And while marbling anything may seem a bit difficult, it’s actually pretty easy.
The one thing I hate about making cheesecake is a using a damn springform pan. They’re insanely frustrating, flawed in how their made. Most of them leak, which means, water comes in when you bake it in a water bath. The solution to this for many, is baking a cheesecake in a cake pan. With this though, because of the pretty top, I needed to use a spring form pan (I had one anyway). The solution was to wrap the entire bottom in a few sheets of foil. No water seeping through!
One thing I learned about marbling is this: if you want tighter swirls, use a smaller skewer to swirl the cranberry sauce around. If you want bigger swirls (I did), use a larger skewer and get messy with it. I promise it’ll look pretty regardless.
And that’s really it!
My dad is making this recipe this weekend. Hopefully he’ll leave a comment with the results.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest (from about 1/2 naval orange)
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dump the crust mixture into a nine-inch (10-cup) springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly. Transfer to the oven to bake for 8 minutes (unfortunately since the crumbs are so dark you can’t really tell when they’ve toasted so it’s important to pay attention to the clock). Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a few sheets of foil and set aside.
To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, using a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and goat cheese. Whip until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, mix in the sugar. With the machine one, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly, mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, white granulated sugar, water, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries become soft. Press the cranberries with a back of a spoon or spatula and cook for an additional minute until they’re softened. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to release any excess juice. The mixture should resemble a loose jam—it’ll thicken as it cools. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. (If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, then no biggie, just transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout—it’ll be easier to pour.)
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Make sure it reaches the edge of the pan. Make little dollops of cranberry sauce all over the surface of the cream cheese. Take a skewer or popsicle stick and run it through the dollops creating a marbling effect. Make it as messy or neat as you like. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan, or another pan that’s as big. Transfer to the rack of the oven and fill up the roasting pan with about 2 inches of water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it looks set, yet it’s still a bit wobbly in the center. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and then place it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. (I let it set overnight.) Slice it up and serve.
*I used Nabisco famous chocolate wafers, found at most grocery stores. I blitzed them in a food processor until totally crumby.
Food break! Pardon me while I stop making appetizers, baking cookies and thinking about pie. Glitter is having its very deserved holiday moment in my world and I’d like to share.
This is actually a natural progression. You see, if you know me, you know that I’m passionate about three things: food, corgis and glitter. I’m a simple person, really.
Glitter has the ability to make anything look a tad-bit more exciting. In this particular scenario, glitter helps very boring and brown craft paper transform into super cute and fun (and inexpensive!) wrapping paper.
When I was eight years old, I was gifted a child’s magician kit and thought that I had found my life’s calling. Included in the kit were three cups and a disappearing fuzzy ball, two very white gloves, a stuffed animal bunny that folded into the side of a hat, and playing cards that were sneaky.
For the next two months I wore terrible magician-like outfits and forced anyone, and I mean anyone who came over to our house to allow me to show them my act. It was very serious. I’m pretty sure I was inspired by David Copperfield making a huge gigantic plane disappear under a big tarp on 60 Minutes or something. It was pretty impressive.
I’m now very retired from my magic days but I kind of like watching magic shows. One of the most fun things in the world is to have one too many drinks and go watch magic. Literally, like, literally everything will make you go “Oooooo!” and “WHOA!” You will understand nothing.
These pancakes are like magic. They have crazy secrets inside! They appear to look like pretty normal, standard chocolate chip pancakes, but they’re so not. Oh no. (And yes, I basically just compared making a plane disappear to pancakes.)
Let’s talk my favorite holiday subject: presents!!
Look, I know I’m supposed to act all adult-like and humble and and be like, “Me? Nah…I don’t need a present. Don’t get me a present. I have everything I need…”
But can we be honest? I love presents. And sure I do have most things I need, but I still have wants. Duh.
I like that someone got in their car, went somewhere, picked something out just for me. I like that someone wrapped something, put a bow on it…just for me. Presents–when thoughtful–feel warm and sweet, and are just plain awesome.
If someone baked me something, put it in a glass jar, learned how to make a pom-pom (just for me!) and gave it to me…swoon. Seriously, can we get friend married?
Ladies. Gents. Children. Toddlers…it’s officially the start. The start of the holiday season.
Are you one of those prepared holiday/early shopper people? I wish I was one of you. I am not. I’m the antithesis.
I’m talking…tree finally goes up a week before Christmas. Gifts ordered two days before Christmas Eve. This, of course, leads to frantic calls to the post office. Passive aggressive conversations with Fedex. Paying a bit more in postage so holiday cards make it on time. Staying up late wrapping. STRESS!
Holiday drama. Lots of it. I think part of me likes it…deep down inside I find it super entertaining. And also, I’m busy working. I dunno. I don’t have time to commit all this time to this holiday, man.
So I wing it. Year after year.
You want to wing the holiday season and still come out successful? I have some professional procrastination tips…