But things are looking much brighter this week. Our second attempt at a tree looks lovely (and, more importantly, is still vertical). We've gotten to go to some really nice holiday parties at friends' houses. And today is our last workday of 2015!
Also making us happy today: these Smashed Salt-and-Vinegar Sweet Potatoes.
We did not take this photo of these beautiful Spiced Brown Butter Linzer Cookies.
This photo was taken by #BittenCookieChallenge participant Linda, who reported that the cookies are "time consuming but not difficult and the dough doesn't roll out easily. But this was a festive cookie to make, bakes evenly and overall tasted good (soft interior, slight crunchy exterior and right amount of spice)."
We bow down to Linda, because, well, here's the photo we took, which documents just how far we got in making these cookies:
Yep, that's our dough, all crumbly and impossible to roll out. We are actually somewhat embarrassed to be posting this photo, given that it was our thirdconsecutive cookie fail in one day. But by this point in the baking endeavor, we knew it was time to call it quits (or consider divorce).
Obviously we failed, but plenty of better-skilled Bitten Bakers did not. Here's what they had to say:
We wanted to repeat the Holiday Cookie Challenge again this year, just as we had done it in 2014, but the entire endeavor is an incredible amount of work and our time is limited this December.
Instead, we're offering readers a last-minute opportunity to participate in....(drumroll)....The 2015 Holiday Cookie Challenge (Abridged).
Here's how it will work:
You'll sign up to be randomly assigned a cookie -- we will also be making those same cookies
You will make said cookie, and share it online (we will not be able to post everyone's images this year, but we have a workaround for that)
We'll write about the all results here next week
Random prizes will be awarded to those who participate
The challenging part is that this is truly a last-minute opportunity (apologies to those for whom the timing does not work out). Sign-ups start today. Cookies will be assigned on Friday, and you'll have to do your baking this coming weekend.
Tis' the season of holiday parties, ubiquitous piles of cookies (don't worry -- we'll post some of those soon), and this stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas that is among the most indulgent times of the year.
And believe us when we say we are indulging. We're freshly back from a trip to Palm Springs, to see two wonderful friends get married. The weekend was a blast, and completely delicious. We sampled as much as we could. The phenomenal cinnamon rolls at Cheeky's. The coffee (and cookies) at Koffi. And the best corned beef sandwich of our lives at Sherman's Deli. And we may have had a glass or two of wine along the way.
But now it's time to restore some balance and behave less like competitive eaters and more like people interested in being able to wear the same pants in 2016.
If, like us, you find yourself in need of some lighter fare this December, we recommend you try this Miso Glazed Salmon.
Sure, we use it on occasion to heat up leftovers or, say, steam a sweet potato. But we're fortunate to have a great gas oven and range, and we can literally boil water faster on the stovetop than we can in the microwave. So even for simple tasks like steaming fresh vegetables, we tend to use a saucepan and steamer basket on the stove.
We'll sometimes go for weeks without nuking anything.
So we were interested in this microwave broccoli recipe from Cook's Country. Broccoli can be super easy to steam in the microwave, but we often end up with watery florets and rubbery stalks. Could Cook's steer us in a better direction?
Montreal had long been on our list of weekend destinations -- neither of us had been there, and Zach had yet to set foot in Canada. We packed a lot into three nights. Here are some lessons we learned along the way.
1. Joe Beef is reason enough to visit Montreal.
Joe Beef -- the storied bistro in the city's Little Burgundy neighborhood -- is, all by itself, worth the trip to Montreal. We had a spectacular meal there, due in no small part to the phenomenal staff. We arrived for our 9:45 p.m. reservation to discover that we had accidentally booked our table for the following week. The staff was so nice about it, sending us to the bar for snacks and drinks and then getting us seated in no time. We were the ones who goofed up, yet they treated us like VIPs.
The food at Joe Beef is the stuff dreams are made of.
We started with a dish of shaved ham and cheese with mustard that was served not on bread, but on a piece of oven-roasted squash (pictured above). The combination of the savory ham on the sweet squash made us question why we haven't been eating it this way all along.
For entrees, we had two gorgeous dishes. The first was a lobster spaghetti that was incredibly rich but also worth the indulgence.