We’ve made it to 2017 intact, and there’s a lot to be said for that, folks. I love the new year because I love another chance at a fresh start, a new calendar on my desk, a new slew of recipes to try, new memories to make. Speaking of new, today’s calendar is done by a brand new addition to our team, Sîan. She’ll be illustrating our calendars going forward, and I am so excited to have her around (well, kind of, she lives in the UK, but this is a globalization thing, amiright?!)

She illustrated one of our fave recipes, Sweet Potato Cassoulet. So download below and enjoy a new graphic on your desktop every day. Happy New Year, folks!

(Psst…have a tablet? We’ve got a version for that, too – horizontal and vertical.)

We made these originally circa 2013, and haven’t stopped making them since. I made them last weekend for our holiday party. This time of year, everyone is going to parties they need to cart food too, and let’s be real – it’s not that good for you, right? Well, these at least FEEL healthy, but still holiday-y enough to pass.

Prosciutto Pear Bites | Garlic, My Soul

For parties, we are especially fond of dishes that require limited assembly and no actual cooking. We found these Pears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto on Real Simple and it was a done deal. We had no real choice but to make and devour them.

Prosciutto Pear Bites | Garlic, My Soul

Let me tell you why you should make these right now. First off, they were every bit as delicious as they look like they would be. The folks at Real Simple know how to write a recipe, even if it only has 5 ingredients. Which brings me to my next point. It has 5 ingredients, folks. Five. There is a slight art to wrapping the pears in the right amount of prosciutto and spooning out the blue cheese crumbles, (we use goat cheese sometimes, too) but basically you could just mash these 5 ingredients together and end up with something that is the same amount of delicious.

Prosciutto Pear Bites | Garlic, My Soul

One word to the wise. Cut your pears into fairly small slices – maybe 1/2 inch at the thickest part of your slice – otherwise these pear bites will be much too large for any human to bite! Take these to your next fancy party and amaze everyone with your artful prosciutto wrapping and blue cheese crumbling skills. Let us know which no-bake recipes are a hit at your holiday parties this year!

KAF Cheese Rolls | Garlic, My Soul

I made these last winter, but I thought you needed them again. These rolls are from the King Arthur Flour All-Purpose Baking Cookbook, and they are so, so good. I recently bought yeast in a large jar, rather than just in those tiny packets, and I don’t regret it.

KAF Cheese Rolls | Garlic, My Soul

I feel like making rolls or bread on a whim is now possible, and there is just so magical about baking – you feel like you’re creating something from nothing. One second you have a blob of dough, and the next you have a crusty bread ready to go with your dinner.

These rolls came together easily thanks to my mixer (which is a bonus, because I hate touching flour!) and the recipe made 16 rolls – so many that I had extras to use for a dinner party last night where they were a heat reheated (they reheat AWESOMELY.)

KAF Cheese Rolls | Garlic, My Soul
KAF Cheese Rolls | Garlic, My Soul

I tried to find the recipe on King Arthur’s website, but it wasn’t there, but I did find it on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. The crusty Parmesan breadcrumb topping is so worth it and adds a little crunch – my fave thing. I used cheddar cheese inside, but I suspect you could use any kind you had, and honestly I think you could even go without the cheese and these bad boys would still be a crowd pleaser!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 | Garlic, My Soul

Happy Holidays, everyone! If you’re like me, you might have waited until now until gifts, but lucky you did, because I’ve got some suggestions for you that will make anyone in your life who loves cooking happy.

1. Spice Subscription to Raw Spice Bar OK, OK. I included this last year and I’m including it again. You get spice kits with a regional theme once a month, for $7/month. I asked for this for the holidays last year and really enjoyed getting it every month and trying new recipes from different regions of the world. And, for someone like me who likes to cook but also has tried and true recipes, this was better than say, Blue Apron or another meal service.

2. Prep Bowls – I love bowls of all sizes. I have so many prep bowls I am kind of running out of room. But they’re great for everything – chopping up all your veggies before starting a complicated recipe (or just one with a lot of veggies, like stir fry), good for pizza nights when we want to put out all our toppings, good for photos when trying to photograph the process of a recipe…the list goes on. Good for parties when you’re serving a bunch of dips. You get the idea. These glass ones are classic, but I also have a bunch of colored ones that are mini Bakers Bowls (see below!)

3. Bee’s Wrap – I want this stuff – it’s my new yearly obsession. It’s a wrap that replaces plastic wrap and the like that is made of organic cotton and bees wax. Plus, they’re reusable for up to a year. As a house that goes through a lot of plastic wrap, and tinfoil, this is definitely something I want to bring into my repertoire in 2017 to have a more sustainable kitchen.

4. Sourdough Starter – I got this for my wedding, and it is awesome. I MAY have killed my starter and now need to start again, but I find bread fascinating and challenging and getting sourdough starter is like committing to a pet – you have to keep it fed and alive. It’s a great step for any cook looking to kick it up a notch.

5. Cooking for Jeffrey, Ina Garten – Jeffrey is Ina’s husband, and besides the name (OK I am bias) I generally love all of Ina’s books. The steps are easy to follow, the recipes simple, and the results vary from good to the best. I love to pull her recipes out once in a while to impress friends, or remind myself of “home.” I can’t wait to get my hands on this latest one.

6. Travel Cake Carrier – This is the cake carrier I have for leaving the house. It comes with cupcake/muffin holders, too, and can pop from one layer to two quickly, depending on how many cupcakes or how tall a cake you have. I’ve had it 5 years running, and I use it regularly. If you know someone who often gets tasked with bring the dessert, they might need this ASAP.

7. Baker Bowls –  I feel like I have talked about this with you guys before, but a long while ago someone told me about Parker Bowls. These were 5 nesting bowls that were beautiful and colorful and made in Portugal. I had some and tried to gift them whenever I could. They disappeared from Crate & Barrel for some years, and I was desperate to find new ones – but then Crate & Barrel started carrying them again with a different name (but same great look.) They come in mini size, too, and I use those ones for prep all the time!

8. Bench Knife – I love my bench knife. I use it to cut dough, cut brownies, flatbread, and to get all the crumbles and flour off the counter. It’s a great tool for anyone in your life that loves baking (or is just OCD about a clean kitchen!)

9. Air Popper – Popcorn is eaten in my house probably three or four times a week. And we use this air popper we’ve had forever. You can leave it without butter and salt (or try sugar or other spiced toppings!) but it is easy and a great snack (better with butter, unless your dieting…you get it.) I don’t trust microwave popcorn one bit (all those chemicals, etc.) and this is a great and easy way to make it without using the stovetop (and all the oil/butter that comes with that!)

10. Colanders of all sizes – I have several large and several small colanders. I use the little ones for berries and fruit rinsing. I use the big ones for pasta. I use the mesh ones for rice rinsing. I love using the pretty ones to serve fruit directly – no bowl needed! Everyone could use a colorful colander – you can even use them as a fruit bowl (built in ventilation!)

So there’s your list – 10 great kitchen tools for your people .(Psst – for even more ideas, check out the 2015 and 2014 Guides. They are different and equally as useful!) What else do you want for your kitchens?

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

Today’s breakfast in bed recipe comes with a fascinating back story for a brand new hotel by Joie de Vivre. 50 Bowery in Manhattan is a new hotel with an old soul; built on ground that’s held a beer garden, a vaudeville theater, and a Chinese restaurant, this hotel is on a crossroads of cultures on the lower east side.

A place where Chinatown meets Little Italy meets Tribeca, this part of the city is steeped in history, and the new hotel will bring a new chapter to this land. Though the hotel brings Chinatown’s culture to its design, it’s also crisscrossed with modern touches that will pull from all of New York’s communities, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of the city.

Breakfast in Bed | Garlic, My Soul

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

To that end, this recipe reflects the history of a traditional Chinese breakfast. Congee is a rice porridge made by simmering broth and rice for some time; the more time you have, the more you can take, but I think 45 minutes makes a great porridge that’s thick, creamy, and filling. Top with your favorite ingredients – I prefer to mix in freshly grated ginger and green onions, with a dash of sesame oil – the oil really takes it to the next level. Add some protein with a hard boiled egg, with a side of piping hot cup of green tea and some antioxidant-heavy fruits, this breakfast is sure to energize you as you head off to a day of meetings or urban exploration.

Congee | Garlic, My Soul

For the entire recipe, head over to the JDV Blog, Joyride, here!