Sausage Pepper Polenta Bake

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, but I’m glad to be back here again beginning this fresh new year.  I find January a particularly calming month as the days become quiet again, and we settle ourselves back into a routine.  My soul finds refreshment in reflecting on the past year and in filling my heart with dreams and hopes for the new one.  The biting cold means it’s also the month to bring out the coziest winter meals to bring warmth and comfort around the table.

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Stollen Buns

Christmas menus have been planned by now and there’s hardly a need for another stollen recipe, but I feel the need to post this one for myself.  The recipe I use for stollen is so marked up and scribbled over that it’s hardly understandable anymore, even to me.  It’s evolved over the years to suit our own tastes, and although it’s a deviation from traditional stollen, it’s what we like.  This version is notable for its dried cherries, apricots, and raisins plumped in amaretto and baked into a sweet-but-not-too-sweet dough.  I skipped the powdered sugar coating for a light drizzle of almond scented icing, and this year I decided to make little twist buns (inspired by Jessie’s rolls over here) instead of loaves.

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Chocolate Almond Spelt Cookies

For as busy and stressful as December can be, I still love it for its reminders of hope and joy, and also for its richness in celebrating traditions.  Ryan’s family makes the same lebkuchen, fudge, and bourbon balls year after year, and they always bring back sweet memories of loved ones and happy times together.  As a child, I always looked forward to the scent of homemade gingerbread houses in the oven.  My mom would stay up all night baking gingerbread walls and roofs for me and my cousins, and in the morning everything was magically ready for assembly, with heaping bowls of candy and icing for us to decorate to our heart’s delight.  As our own family has begun forming our own traditions, there are a few recipes I hope will make yearly appearances- our biscotti tree, these classic gingerbread boys and girls, and Christmas morning stollen.  I always make sure to leave at least some room to add something new each year as well.  I’ve had my eye on Dorie Greenspan’s world peace cookies for a while now, and decided that this year seemed especially appropriate for making cookies so fondly named “world peace”.

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