Category Archives: Holidays

Cookie Time

Mexican Wedding Cookies

I only really make cookies at one time of year (December), but I am always looking for a new and fun recipe, or a variation on an oldie but goodie.  Last year, we revamped our moms’ thumbprint cookies to a chocolate variety, filled with cherry or orange preserves.  The cherry version was a real hit, but the orange came off a little bitter alongside dark chocolate.  This year, we are making old standbys, for sure, like the Bun’s Mexican Wedding Cookies shown above; he used to make them for his Nana because they were her favorite cookie, so they always have a place in our cookie tin.  However, we are brainstorming some future favorites, too, and in some unexpected ways.

For the most part, I gravitate toward either spicy or chocolate-y cookies, so I think it may be fun to combine these flavors in a chocolate-ginger cookie, or one with a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Another idea I have is to make a gingerbread dough without the heavy molasses, making a lighter colored, but spicy cookie.  However, I fear that the texture might suffer, since I think that the molasses is what gives the cookie that signature chewy texture.  The goal on that one is to let the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, clove) take the lead on flavor.

Pushing the envelope a bit, I suggested to the Bun that we revamp what people in Chicago (and my hometown in Pennsylvania) call “Kolache,” which are these little cookies that are a square of dough with two corners folded together over a jam or sweetened-cheese filling.  My idea is to make a cardamom-flavored dough and fill the cookies with an orange-flavored cream cheese.

The test cookie turned out pretty well, but the dough really does need to be chilled overnight before you try to roll it out and bake it.  I decided to fill them with mascarpone cheese that I sweetened with sugar (to taste) and flavored with both grated orange zest and a little orange flower water.*  They make for a little more exotic version of a traditional cookie, so please give it a go, if you feel adventurous!  I should have a cookie update later today or over the weekend.

Anyway, I am sorry for the many delays in posting.  I can’t make any promises, but my hope is to really ramp up in the new year with posts throughout the really wintry months in Chicago.  Until then, I’ll keep posting when I can, even if I am just getting a few pictures and writing a few lines of text.  I hope to keep you entertained!

*Available in Indian food stores and online at our local (excellent) spice merchant, the Spice House (; be sparing with this ingredient, as it tends to make food taste perfume-y, if you use too much.


A Weekend(+) of Eating


This past weekend was a good long string of “food events,” which coincided with (and was inspired in part by) a visit from Christine and Charles, who are dear, dear friends.  As they were driving from Pittsburgh, I made sure to have food on hand for them when they arrived.  I always appreciate having a good meal after a long road trip, so I try to extend the courtesy to my loved ones.  As the winter is still very much here in Chicago, I decided to make something on the heartier side.  I also wanted to make something familiar to me so that I would not run the risk of a bad meal.  I decided on Braised Lamb Shanks with Pappardelle Pasta, which is something that I usually only make for company.  Aaron and I normally don’t eat pasta, so it is always a treat to have an excuse to whip up a big bowl of it.  Christine and Chuck both seemed pleased.  Paired with a small green salad dressed with lemon and olive oil, you have a really satisfying meal. Continue reading

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