Topic-Changing-Thursdays: Happy Holidays!

In between two apple posts, here is a topic changer! I wanted to post about my trip back home and holiday activities to date. How is your holiday season going? After arriving back in Maryland just over a week ago, I am finally adjusted to the time zone. It was time to get ready for traditions, family, and food!

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We started off with some final shopping for Christmas before leaving for New York over the weekend. Each year, K’s cousins have a Secret Santa gift exchange. This year I had someone I had never met, but it was okay because she had a wishlist I could use.

The Christmas tree in New York

The Christmas tree in New York

While in New York, we had to visit a few food places. The first one was a Jacques Torres chocolate shop. I have to go there each time I visit New York. Basically, I need the chocolate chips, and I need a cookie.

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Next was the Bouchon Bakery, home of such fabulous treats as the Better Nutter (think Nutter Butter cookie in huge form).

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They were making macarons while we were there!

They were making macarons while we were there!

Besides cookies, there were also yummy croissants.

Mmmmmm

Other yummy looking pastries.

Other yummy looking pastries.

Even though we weren’t hungry, we had to try the grilled cheese. Super awesome bread and cheese.

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Third on the list was Momofuku Milk Bar. We went to one of their smaller locations, but it was really cute.

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We picked up a bunch of things, including some treats that we have waiting for us, still (we are exercising some restraint). It is neat to see how the treats look at the shop when I have made them at home.

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Finally we ended at Beurre & Sel, a Dorie Greenspan stand at the Essex Street Market.

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We picked up a couple sweet cookies, as well as two containers of savory cookies. We enjoyed the sweet cookies in front of K’s family Christmas tree.

Jammer on the left (blueberry with vanilla streusel), Chocolate Chocolate on the right, TKO from Bouchon in the back (an Oreo cookie, done better)

Jammer on the left (blueberry with vanilla streusel), Chocolate Chocolate on the right, TKO from Bouchon in the back (an Oreo cookie, done better)

K's family Christmas tree

K’s family Christmas tree

Because I couldn’t avoid the baking bug, I made butter cookies I plan on sharing at some point in the future. I also made my stuffing recipe from Thanksgiving.

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My dad is getting his “dessert of the month” sometime over this next week, but we have to pick a day because he needs to eat it fresh.

Christmas has been at my parents’ house for as long as I can remember. The first year without my mom we had it at my aunt’s house, but have gone back to having it at my dad’s. It’s different going over to his house to open presents, though, because I was so used to waking up and going down the stairs to see what was under the tree.

As for the tree, we’ve used the same Christmas tree for as long as I can remember, too. For you real tree people, sorry, I just can’t get on your side. I love our artificial tree, and all of the fun ornaments we hang on it. Some people go for matchy-matchy decorations, but we love our wide assortment.

My mom hated this one-eyed ornament, but we would hide it on the tree anyway. It's a tradition, now.

My mom hated this one-eyed ornament, but we would hide it on the tree anyway. It’s a tradition, now.

This year, Christmas meant waking up at my in-laws’ house to open presents with my husband before brunch, which was a rice noodle soup:

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Then, after hanging out a bit, we left to go to my dad’s and prepare for the rest of the family. We had a nice fusion Christmas. My family always makes 3 entrees for our big meals: chicken/turkey (turkey this time), ham/beef (beef tenderloin, roasted), and pasta (baked ziti). We also had sausages, and my in-laws made sticky rice. I like how we get some traditional food, in with the Italian and some Chinese food. For dessert, my in-laws also brought a coconut rice flour sesame cake. It’s hard to describe, but tasty. It was a perfect not-too-sweet dish after all of the food. We had a few other treats as well.

I may or may not be attempting to cover the two kinds of stuffing, and other starches on my plate with the green beans.

I may or may not be attempting to cover the two kinds of stuffing, and other starches on my plate with the green beans.

At some point during dinner, we sing the 12 Days of Christmas. This started a couple years ago, and we have been doing it ever since. My parents have glasses with each of the presents on a glass, and we had the bright idea to sing the song with each person singing the line of his or her glass.

This year I was Four Calling Birds:

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The video is always funny, and it’s great to be able to laugh at ourselves. K’s parents joined us this year for the first time, and it was fun to share it with them. I love that everyone sings, even if it’s hard to get it all right (we have lyrics printed to help, since people have been drinking glasses of wine by this point). This year, after dessert, we had an added bonus of playing holiday bingo. My aunt brought all of the supplies, including fun gifts.

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One of the best parts this year was being able to watch my nephew experience Christmas for the first time when he was a bit more aware of things (last year he was only a couple months old).

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I hope everyone who celebrates had a great Christmas. My family shows that you can be Jewish/non-religious/Chinese/Italian/Catholic/etc. and still get together to have a fun time.

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10 thoughts on “Topic-Changing-Thursdays: Happy Holidays!

  1. Hi Alyssa – this made me smile. Love your traditions and I am absolutely on the faux-tree side. : ) Don’t you love Bouchon Bakery?! The grill cheese is soo good and the macarons are immaculate. I had their choc hazelnut tart recently and it was amazing. Jacques Torres’ gigantic cookie is divine and I doubt it can truly be repilcated exactly that way at home. Despite living so close to NYC, I’ve never been to Milk Bar or to Dorie’s shop yet…how are her cookies?

    • From Milk Bar, we felt the truffles were so-so. The crack pie was yummy–my husband especially loved it. For Dorie, we haven’t tried the savory cookies in the tube, but loved the sweet ones. The chocolate one rivaled the TKO cookie, and the jammer was good, even for a not-huge-fruit-dessert person like myself.

  2. I loved this post!! What a great treat to catch up on all you’ve been up to. So excited to hear more about the bakeries. And I really want to see what this special, serve-immediately treat is for your dad!!

    I miss you Aly, though it looks like you’re having a great break, I can’t wait until you’re back home and we can hang out again 🙂

    Merry Christmas to my favorite two!!!
    (take that how you want, K!)

    • I miss you, too! I want to see more of what you’ve been up to. Still hoping for an update on your blog. 😀 Also, you should know that I now have the Bi-Rite and Tartine (dessert, not bread) cookbooks!!

  3. I loved everything about this post! From getting another glimpse into your culture rich life to seeing places I have never been and food I really really REALLY want to eat now. Because of your blog I am so intrigued by this Momofuku Milk Bar place. I had never heard of it til you posted recipes from their cookbook. Now I want to go there and get the cookbook even though the recipes look way to time consuming for me. Also, an Oreo done better? My husband would want to try this for sure. Thanks for sharing!

    • To be fair, the Oreo doesn’t taste the same as regular Oreos, so my Oreo die-hard fan of a husband liked it but said that he didn’t have it with milk to accurately compare. 😀 He liked the filling better than ones we’ve made before. Now I have another cookbook I might need to get! The Milk Bar cookbook is good even just for looking through. Interesting ideas/etc.

  4. Fun to look at your pictures and see what you’ve been up to. Glad you had a wonderful Christmas at home with your families and tradiitions in tact. Blessings for a fabulous and fun-filled New Year!

  5. Pingback: Fig Jammers (Cookies) | fudgingahead

  6. Pingback: Crack Pie | fudgingahead

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