Durangoans are particularly proud of our beautiful state around the holidays. While many people send seasons greeting cards adorned with wintery vistas, evergreen trees weighed down with glistening mounds of snow, and woodland animals making their way silently through the drifts, those of us who spend Christmas in Colorado usually have the great fortune of watching those holiday cards come to life around us. This year, the first major snow of the season hit my hometown just a few days before I came home, and a gentle snowfall on Christmas Eve really sealed the deal for a white Christmas.
Having resided primarily in non-mountainous locations outside of Colorado for the better part of the last decade, I start getting really antsy for snow right around Thanksgiving but rarely actually see any until I’m flying over the Rockies a few weeks later on my way home for the holidays. For my holiday party (I swear, I’m almost done posting recipes from that dang party) in early December, I wanted to pay some small homage to the spectacular winter beauty of my home state, and I also was lacking a chocolate-y dish on my menu.
As we move into the final days before Christmas, I imagine that your holiday baking agendas are already full. That’s cool. Mine certainly was for my holiday party. Every year, I like to make a mix of old, traditional Horvath holiday favorites and new recipes. One of my favorites from this season are these possibly-overly-cutesy-but-outrageously-delicious vanilla Christmas tree cupcakes.
The reallybeautiful thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t have to happen at Christmas AT ALL. It’s simply a vanilla cupcake with whipped cream icing, and therefore is appropriate in all scenarios in the universe. What, you say, another vanilla cupcake? Doesn’t the world have enough of those?
And these vanilla cupcakes are a step above any I’ve had before. They are the softest, fluffiest, smoothest, vanilla-y-est cupcakes, and the clouds of simple whipped cream atop them offer just the right touch. What makes these cupcakes better than anything else? A secret ingredient: whipped cream, folded into the batter ITSELF, in addition to the icing that will finish these little bites of heaven.
Last Sunday, I threw a big ol’ festive holiday party. You may not be entirely surprised to learn that parties at my house tend to be more about the food than anything else. I decorate, sure, and put on some appropriately celebratory Pandora tunes, but mostly a party offers me a moderately justifiable excuse to try out as many recipes for fancy-pants finger food, seasonal desserts, and standard snacky favorites as I can possibly cram into the 2-3 days prior to the first guest knocking on the door. One might suspect that I throw parties primarily for my own curiosity (and, of course, my little food blog) and invite over friends merely to vacuum up the copious amounts of food I typically prepare. (Of course, dear friends, this is not the case, but when one is awake and cooking at 6am the morning of a party, one must question one’s motives.)
And there is no better time of year for party food. Whether it’s an office bash or a neighborhood block party or simply a gathering of friends and family, you can never go wrong with a table filled with edible holiday splendor. Many of the posts in the coming weeks will focus on party-ready treats that make worthy contributions to any festive spread. And what classic shall we feature today? The cheeseball!
This isn’t just a cheeseball. This is THREE cheeseballs. Better still: this is three cheesePRESENTS. We’re taking an already-classic holiday favorite and raising it to the tenth Christmas power. Plus, this way you don’t have to choose between your favorite cheeseball flavors… you can make them ALL!
March 17 is a day of much celebration in my family. Twenty-eight years ago today, my parents tied the knot at an old stone church in my Colorado hometown.
And as if adding a wedding anniversary to an already festive holiday, four years later, my fabulous little sister was born on St. Paddy’s, as well. Needless to say, she’s been given more shamrock paraphernalia than any other person I know.
I over-compensate by wearing copious amounts of green.
As has been the case for several years, I rarely get to celebrate these festivities with my family… I live 2 hours from the Atlantic Ocean, my sister is even closer to the Pacific, and my parents live in our mountain paradise somewhere in between. I’m actually pretty sure this shot from my senior year of high school (Kelli’s sweet sixteen!) was the last time I had that opportunity.
But geographic separation is no reason not to bake cake.
This is gonna be awesome. Nerdy awesome. Which is the best kind.
Just in case you live, um, on a planet with no movies or internet or books or newspapers, the final installment of the Harry Potter films is coming out on Friday. This is cause for a party.
A new friend of mine threw one such celebration last Friday (costumes required, duh), and I couldn’t resist cooking something from the books to take to share. But what!? So many options!
I settled on cauldron cakes. I wasn’t sure exactly what these are supposed to look like, but after a bit of perusing ideas on the interwebs, I came up with a plan. I’m pleased to say that I think it turned out well.