Raspberry-nut valentine cookies

I love chocolate. This is an unoriginal opinion, but it is nevertheless so, so true. So when I stumble upon cookies that aren’t chocolate–in the graduate students’ lounge of my department, at a friend’s house for dinner–I can’t say I feel mad, but I am certainly disappointed. A non-chocolate cookie is better than no cookie at all, but a great chocolate chip cookie always triumphs over all other options.

Except, once a year, on Valentine’s Day, ever since I was a little kiddo, I have preferred these raspberry-nut sandwich cookies. For one, they are beautiful: the raspberry jam shining through from the bottom layer, offset by the white powdered sugar on the top. Continue reading “Raspberry-nut valentine cookies”

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Nutty spiced caramel corn

Caramel corn. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never liked it. It is usually tooth-achingly sweet: the caramel doesn’t taste like caramel as much as it does plain sugar. And it is so, so sticky: you can’t eat it without it getting stuck in and between your teeth. Plus, it always seems to come in a ball the size of my fist. Do you take a bite straight off the side and risk getting all of your teeth stuck to the whole thing? Try to break it apart, making your hands sticky through multiple hand washings?

So, I’ve always taken a pass.

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But then I found myself home alone with a sweet tooth and no chocolate in the house (the horror!). I did, however, have plenty of popcorn kernels. Then I remembered a caramel corn recipe I’d seen in one of my favorite cookbooks. Skeptical but desperate (again: no chocolate), I set to work. Continue reading “Nutty spiced caramel corn”

Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds

This salad is perfect fall weeknight food. It is autumnal: dark green kale, crisp apples, brown almonds, and sharp, aged cheddar mingle prettily in a big bowl. Yet it is also quick, requiring no heat whatsoever and only a few bits of chopping.

It works well in a nice deep plate as a meal by itself or with bread. In a season where we usually turn to braises and roasts to fill us up, this somehow doesn’t feel like a deprivation. (Perhaps it’s the richness of the cheese and the almonds?) Yet it also shines as a side salad at a big fall dinner. (In fact, I’m not allowed to bring anything else to our Thanksgiving potluck.) Continue reading “Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds”

Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs

Like most children in America, my brother and I hated Brussels sprouts when we were growing up. My dad didn’t care for them either. For years after my mom stopped cooking them, “Brussels sprouts” were synonymous with “disgusting” in our house.

Then along came this recipe, and we all had to eat our words. Instead of halving the sprouts, you slice them. Then you sauté the sprouts with a generous portion of bacon and figs. The whole thing is finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The result is the perfect gateway recipe: each bite of sprouts is balanced by salty bacon and sweet figs. Continue reading “Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs”

Butternut squash lasagna with sage, caramelized onions, and tofu ricotta

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, but for whatever reason—you’re a vegetarian, your guests are vegetarians, you don’t like turkey, or you don’t like weeks of turkey-themed leftovers—want to skip the bird?


Look no further. This lasagna capitalizes on big fall flavors: butternut squash, caramelized onions, and sage. It’s hearty: noodles and squash means enough starch that nobody walks away hungry. It’s beautiful: that burnt orange dotted with green baked sage leaves looks impressive and celebratory. Continue reading “Butternut squash lasagna with sage, caramelized onions, and tofu ricotta”