Holiday Spice

Sweets top the list of foods given at the holidays, so some of my favorite “small” homemade gifts are short on sugar yet big on taste. Learn to make Sweet Spice Mix and Sweet and Spicy Nuts.
I like giving homemade food gifts. They’re appreciated by everyone: the child with a sweet tooth, the apartment dweller without room to garden, the new mom too busy to can, the grandparent who simply doesn’t need more stuff. But food gifts are also perfect for people you want to thank with something thoughtful that won’t break your year-end budget: your hairdresser or favorite coworker, your child’s soccer coach or piano teacher, the neighbor who feeds your cat or helped jump your car. Chances are none of these people need more candles, bath soaps, fridge magnets, or Christmas ornaments. But they all need to eat.

The first food gifts that come to mind during the holidays are cookies, and it’s certainly easy to stretch a batch as you prepare treats for the family or an exchange. But if your giftee has dozens of clients or students, the sugar load can add up fast. Some of my favorite “small” gifts are short on sugar yet big on taste.
Learn to make Sweet Spice Mix and Sweet and Spicy Nuts

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All-Occasion Cookies

Holiday cookies can take work, and sometimes you want simple yet delicious sweets worthy of the tray. That’s where this week’s recipes come in. Learn to make Triple Gingersnaps and Snickerdoodles.
It’s hard to imagine the winter holidays without cookies. But what is a Christmas cookie? Ask three people to name one, and you’ll likely get three answers. Still, the answers likely have things in common. They probably require special tools or rich ingredients. They likely involve loads of time messing with cookie cutters, icings, and extra decorations. Most of all, they—and all the other cookies on the holiday tray—are likely only made once a year.

Despite the effort that goes into Christmas cookies, I’m often overwhelmed by layers and sugar and, after the third pass of the tray, want something just a little sweet and a little simple. That’s where this week’s cookies come in. They’re simple enough you can make them any time of the year. They’re also easy to make ahead, freeze, and pull out freshly baked just before serving. And they’re still so delicious they can hold their own among fancier creations.
Learn to make Triple Gingersnaps and Snickerdoodles

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The Sourdough Giveaway Experiment

A sourdough starter wants to be loved—and has plenty of love to go around. That’s why I’m giving away sourdough starter this month. Read more about the Sourdough Giveaway Experiment.
Of all the topics on Twice as Tasty, it seems that people are most curious about sourdough. It was the focus of my first public workshop and will be the focus of blog posts every January and workshops every spring. It often comes up when I serve food at events locally, and it seems to be increasingly popular nationally.

All with good reason: A sourdough starter is an incredible creation. There are lots of reasons to love it, from health benefits to flavor. To me, one of the greatest things about a sourdough starter is that it wants to be loved—and has plenty of love to go around. That’s why I’m giving away sourdough starter this month and hope you’ll join me in this sourdough experiment.
Read more about the Sourdough Giveaway Experiment

Spinach

Two traditions surround the American feast at the heart of Thanksgiving: an excessive amount of food and its subsequent leftovers. Some are easily consumed—who would turn down a slice of pie for breakfast? But others threaten to hang around in the fridge until even the dog turns up her nose.

Fortunately, many uses for holiday leftovers reach beyond microwaved reruns and turkey sandwiches. Leftover roasted vegetables are ideal for Roasted Squash Soup and cut your prep time to about 30 minutes. Extra pumpkin puree can be turned into quick bread. But some of my favorite post-holiday meals come from the most challenging leftovers: spinach and cranberries.
Learn to make Warm Spinach–Cranberry Salad and Potato–Mushroom–Spinach Curry