Every year my family and I pool our resources to find the perfect Christmas gifts for each other. During the last few Christmases this has resulted in some truly fantastic variety under the tree; everything from concert tickets to fantasy novels to knives to jewelry made from old bullet casings. However, there is one item on the Christmas list that never changes. Every year, without fail, my dad asks for a box of homemade raspberry thumbprint cookies. This recipe came from an old school friend of mine, a family recipe scribbled onto a scrap piece of paper back in middle school. The paper is now wrinkled and stained, the ink smudged in places. You can always tell which recipes are the good ones by how dirty the years have made them. Here it is, the secret to the best raspberry thumbprint cookies I’ve ever made.
1 cup butter softened
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
Raspberry jam (Homemade is the best. Keep an eye out for friends who enjoy caning delicious jams and jellies and make sure to ask for a couple extra jars around the holidays or whenever you have a hankering for some fabulous baked goods.)
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract (for the icing)
2-3 teaspoons water
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter, sugar, almond extract and flour until smooth (until the dough begins to stick together). Refrigerate dough for one hour. Roll dough into roughly 1-inch diameter balls. Use your finger (or another round utensils) to place a small hole in the center of each cookie and fill it with raspberry jam. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until just barely beginning to brown.
Allow cookies to cool completely before icing them. To make the icing, mix powdered sugar, almond extract and water together in a small bowl. Drizzle over cookies and serve with a steaming cup of tea for the full experience.
Never show up to a party empty handed. It is one of the cardinal rules of adulting. When in doubt, pick up a six pack of your favorite beer on your way. This has been my standard go-to when heading to a backyard get together but after nearly two years in Indiana, I am no longer the new kid on the block. As such, I felt like it was time I started actually contributing to these friendly potlucks.
While no one ever complains about extra beer at a party, continued social distancing measures have provided me ample time to learn a few new recipes and where better to test them than a casual Superbowl party with friendly faces? I’m happy to say that these crab rounds were a huge hit.
These Legendary Crab Rounds plucked from the pages of Creme de Colorado Cookbook look fancy but are fabulously simple to make. Mix your ingredients into a cheesy spread for your french bread, bake to a light golden brown and voila! You’re the Superbowl superstar. No one needs to know how little you actually slaved away.
These days, I spend most of my time wishing that I had places to be and people to see but sometimes you just need a totally guilt free night in. If you’re like me, you might have trouble fitting these into your ever evolving schedule but there’s something immensely satisfying about marking a weekend evening on your calendar to do nothing but enjoy your own company. Do something that is 100 percent for you. No compromises. It’s your night.
In my case, ever since I received a set of the Lord of the Rings extended editions for Christmas I’ve been itching for an opportunity to crack them open. I always ended up finding something more pressing that needed doing so rather than allow myself to be sidetracked yet again, I blocked off my Friday night for a solo, dine-in, LOTR extravaganza. I stopped by the Burgerhaus to pick up dinner for one, a masterpiece of lettuce, avocado, tomato, chipotle Monterey cheese, chipotle mayo all complete with fried jalapenos and served on a pretzel bun.
Once back home I settled in for the only thing on my To Do list; watching my all time favorite movie while devouring my new favorite burger. Best Friday ever! It was incredibly revitalizing to set aside a chunk of time to dedicate entirely to myself. The seemingly endless stream of worries, decisions, compromises and time management that haunt the day-to-day was finally silenced for a few hours on a Friday night, alone in my apartment.
When you choose to do a little emotional and mental maintenance and actually schedule it into your week, it becomes a worthwhile pursuit and you stop seeing as time that you could be doing something more productive. In a busy world it’s easy to feel like there’s always something more important you should be doing. Cut yourself a break. The chores and paperwork will still be there tomorrow. Grab a beer and your favorite takeout and cozy up for some refreshing ‘me time.’
I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some family time and excellent food this week, even if it meant a Zoom call over dinner for some. This was my first year ever hosting dinner although cooking the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy and brustle sprouts was definitely a team effort involving my sister and her fiance.
Not only was it an amazing success. We also made enough food to feed an army! I’m currently hunting for one to enjoy the leftovers.
How do you combat desk lunch depression? A lackluster salad is enough to dampen my entire day. Especially with the arrival of colder weather, a meal of wilted lettuce and two day old assorted vegetables just doesn’t cut it. I desperately want to make healthy adult choices but I also can’t stop myself from remembering a time when that same salad looked fresh and exciting, a refreshing break in my work day. I miss the days when I enjoyed my lunch.
What’s your go to office lunch? Please share your tips and recipes in the comments.
Don’t ever be afraid to celebrate the good moments in life with food and cheer, even if you’re ordering for a party of one. Such was the case for me when I enjoyed this mouth watering masterpiece from The Rolling Stonebaker. Savoring this Italian tomato, mozzarella, sausage, woodfired pizza while people watching at a picnic table in Central Park Plaza was just what I needed after a long work week.
Parents rocking strollers kept a watchful eye on the kids playing hopscotch on top of the water jets on the plaza’s central splash pad. A few teenagers took turns practicing jumps and flips on their skateboards at Urschel Pavilion. Couples of all ages meandered along the sidewalk or lounged on park benches, waiting for their own pizza orders to be ready.
I was happy observing all of this while digging into my new favorite pizza and chatting with my parents over the phone. Although they weren’t physically present it was still nice to enjoy a little familiar dinner conversation while immersed in the hum of downtown activity. Once I’d relished every last bite of my dinner and licked the residual oil from my fingers I set off down the street toward Designer Desserts for a cupcake. After all, it’s not a celebration without dessert.
Likewise, it would hardly be considered a date without a romantic evening stroll through Ogden Gardens Park. I couldn’t resist snapping a few flower pictures. Even in the fading light, the flower beds were a riot of color. I stayed long enough to see the fireflies twinkle to life but headed for home when the mosquitos started biting.
One thing I’ve learned during this pandemic is that you don’t need to rely on others to make plans. If you wait to go out until you have a group to go with, you’ll never leave your apartment. What are you doing for date night?
Have you ever had a meal so perfectly cooked, seasoned and displayed that you knew your life would never be the same? I remember the burger that changed my life. I was 21 years old, in the middle of my metallurgical internship in the steel mill where I was later hired full time. This was my first time in Indiana and the longest I’d ever been away from my home in Colorado but one of my high school friends came to visit and together we sampled the sites and flavors of the area, starting at the Chesterton European Market and ending at the Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille after an afternoon touring used bookstores and lazing on the beach at Lake Michigan. With sand still grinding between my toes and hair damp from the lake, I bit into the medium rare masterpiece that forever altered my appreciation for burgers. It was an item on the specials menu and the words “mac and cheese paddy” were in the title. What a truly revolutionary stroke of genius and one that I couldn’t resist.
Since then, I’ve had the chance to explore many more culinary wonders of Indiana. When it comes to burgers there is no shortage of creativity here. Mac and cheese is just one of the toppings which has become a staple to the region. One of my current favorites comes from the Burgerhaus in Valpo and is layered with bacon, smoked Gouda and a fried egg. Every time my parents come to visit we need to clear our dinner schedule for at least one night during their stay because, according to my dad, “the best burgers he’s ever tasted” can only be found at the Burgerhaus. When was the last time a meal shook your reality with the first bite? Share your favorite dinner spots in the comments below.
Following an excitement filled morning at the University of Notre Dame where we were given a front row seat to all the school pregame festivities, my parents and I decided to slow things down a bit and set out for a quiet afternoon in Michigan City. The Michigan City Lighthouse was recommended to me by a coworker as a Northern Indiana must-see. He strongly suggested we try to catch the lighthouse at sunset, scheduled to occur at precisely 6:12pm on the evening of our visit.
We arrived several hours before the sun was due to perform its dazzling light show so we entertained ourselves at the Michigan City mall, Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets. My mom and I had a fantastic time touring the shops and bringing my wardrobe a step closer to perfection although my dad was less enthusiastic. He contented himself to wait on a bench by the door and google the scores of the CSM Oredigger football game on his phone. However, we made it up to him when we all crossed the street for dinner at The Polish Peasant with our bags a little heavier and out wallets a little lighter.
Even before we ordered our food, I felt like I’d stumbled onto a new favorite. It reminded me of my Oma’s tiny kitchen from the decorative plates artfully arranged on the wall to the lace curtains that dappled the honey autumn light filtering through the windows. The red tablecloths and cozy atmosphere mingled perfectly with the warm scents of savory meats and bread fresh out of the oven. Despite only being able to pronounce half of the items on the menu, it was impossible to go wrong. We feasted on a meal of Polish sausage, pierogies, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes; the kind of food that fills up your heart as well as your stomach and would make any sensible Hobbit proud. We loved it so much that we ordered dessert, something we rarely do, knowing full well that we could barely manage another bite.
With full bellies and happy hearts, we made our way to the Lighthouse, still licking powdered sugar from our fingertips. Sunset truly is the best time to view this attraction. Being mid October and off season for tourists, the parking lot and beach were relatively deserted as we walked out to the lighthouse. A stiff wind tugged at our coats and made small waves slap at the edge of the pier. The orange sherbert light sparkling on the churning surface of the water was well worth our cold feet and ruffled hair. The lighthouse itself posed for many photos, regally silhouetted against the flaming horizon fading to ashen blue. Even as the last rays of sun retreated from the rippling waves of Lake Michigan, the tip of the lighthouse winked to life.
After witnessing this changing of the lights over Lake Michigan, we said goodnight and goodbye to Michigan City and headed for home. A day of food and leisure had left us happily exhausted and we all slept exceedingly well that night.