We all have something that makes us tick. For some of us it’s an individual activity, item, or what have you, for others it’s combining a few favorite things in perfect harmony. The boy, for instance, gets his kicks from shooting at things, specifically deer, but he’s not too choosy. For me, there are several things I love, but there may be nothing I love more than when three of my favorite things marry themselves the last week of December: delicious food, beautiful things, and Christmas.
The Christmas fever starts for me around the second week of November. I resist the urge to break out the holiday tunes as long as possible, but I have yet to hold off until the socially-acceptable timing of post-Thanksgiving. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that come the third week of December, this girl starts to get a bit intense. I bake constantly, shop frequently, decorate with reckless abandon, and partake in many a cup of cheer (hot chocolate and Bailey’s…obviously). When Christmas Eve rolls around, my family usually focuses on the stars of the show: cookies. However, this year we planned ahead and had a cookie-baking bonanza a couple of weeks ago. Left with excited hands and no need for additional baked goods, I searched for a recipe that would be fancy, beautiful, and yummy enough to be Christmas-worthy. As I’ve explained before, finding a recipe that pleases all of my family’s palates is no easy task, so I decided to combine a couple of recipes that had been in the back of my mind for months, but had yet to be played with.
A galette is basically a jazzed-up and beautified version of one of my favorite foods: pizza. A homemade pastry crust acts as the base, and curls up over the interior, the contents of which vary greatly from recipe-to-recipe. For my purposes, I chose a few of my favorite, non-dividing ingredients: tomatoes, potatoes, and pesto, with some leeks to support the flavors.
I like to think that I have a pretty good sense of humor. My brother and sister are both hilarious, and as the runt of the family (yes, the youngest and shortest), I’ve spent my life trying to emulate their coolness and hilarity. That being said, there are times when even us funny ones (okay, and wannabe funny ones) need to go for the easy joke. The joke that everyone is thinking, but no one says. Well, in my family we’ve started just saying it, and at Christmas no less.
For as long as I can remember, my family has made the same cookies year-after-year: chocolate crinkles, bon bons, sugar cookies, ginger cookies, mini pecan pies, and krumkake, just to name a few. We end up with enough cookies to live off of for months, and that’s pretty much what we do, except maintain the amount of cookies you’re imagining, then condense “months” into a span of two weeks and you have my family’s holiday food ritual. A few years ago, my sister decided to shake up our routine by adding a newcomer to the bunch. Is it fancy? No. How about pretty? Not even a little bit. Is it even a “baked” good? Nope, it doesn’t so much as glance at the oven. So why did we veer away from our usual lineup for a decidedly un-Christmas-y cookie? In true family tradition, we did it for two reasons: humor and the opportunity for increased sugar intake.
Before we get into the details, I want to preface the recipe by saying that I’m aware that this humor is a bit adolescent. Sure, you would think my siblings and I would have outgrown this phase when we transitioned into adulthood, but the irony mixed with the cookie’s absurd deliciousness have made this recipe stick around. As with most jokes, this one is not without objectors; my dad refuses to call the cookie by its correct name, so that he can avoid feeling awkward about his new favorite Christmas treat. The rest of us, however, roll with the simple joke and accept ourselves for what we are: inappropriate cookie consumers.
As a long-time meat-free, food-obsessed chick, I’m a veggie burger connoisseur of sorts. If I’m in a hurry (okay, or lazy) I will grab a frozen patty, but this is never anything special. When I go out to dinner, it’s a whole different story. As soon as I see “house made” near the words “veggie burger,” I dive right in and don’t look back. While my enjoyment varies with each burger, I always order them mostly out of curiosity. Home made veggie burgers have never turned out really well for me, so if someone is willing to serve me one, bring it on, baby. A cute lakeside restaurant brought it on big time when the boy and I went to Duluth for our anniversary last October. After devouring a “house made” wild rice burger on the restaurant’s patio, the boy mentioned an affection for wild rice, and suggested we bring the “house made” patty into an actual home sometime soon. Wary yet excited, I agreed to let the carnivore in on a veggie burger trial in the near future.
One of my favorite aspects of hand-built burgers is the size, the sheer size that makes me question if I can even extend my jaw to fit its height, but always makes me want to try. I wanted to mirror this element in my burger, so I found a recipe that would be a base, and ran with it like the breezy girl that I am (note: read this last sentence with a touch/an absurd amount of sarcasm).
Cold weather makes me want to curl up with something warm and rich. This craving sometimes comes with a need for cheese, other times for hot chocolate, maybe some soup, and more often than not pasta. The past week has been particularly frigid partially due to the dropping temps, but also because the boy turned off all my radiators last weekend without telling me. So as I sat on my couch, teeth chattering and blanket insufficient, I decided I needed to not only make something warm for dinner, but I also had to have an excuse to turn on my oven. And keep it on for a while.
Spaghetti squash wasn’t entirely foreign to me. I had attempted using it in place of pasta in my usual marinara-based recipes, but the slight sweetness of tomatoes did not mingle well with the spaghetti squash’s sweet flavor, no matter how I spiced it. Similar to how some couples are so alike that they are stuck in a state of unbalance, tomato sauce and spaghetti squash were just not meant to be. In a stroke of brilliance, I remembered a lemon cream pasta recipe I had seen in a magazine last year, and I thought maybe, juuuuust maybe, lemon would tame the squash sweetness successfully.