Merry Christmas!

From both of us here at Common Sense Kitchen, we wish you all things merry and bright this Christmas!

We’re taking this week off from recipes to spend time with our handsome husbands and our families. We’ll be curled up with steamy mugs of hot drinks and eating all the good foods that come out of our mom’s kitchens (so expect an over-flow of cooking creativity on the other side of this break).

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm as we’ve launched this little blog. It’s been a dream of both of us for a while and it’s been so much fun to make a reality. Can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for Common Sense Kitchen! Stick around for the ride, why don’t ‘cha?

Boldog karácsonyt! Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Hannah & Essie

Friday Faves: Host a Christmas Coffee

Here we are, back again with another nudge (whack?) to host people in your home. Do you hate us yet? Look, we’re both introverts, but we still love hosting people. There’s something about bringing people together, feeding them, and giving them an overabundance of caffeine, that really makes a house feel like a home. So, we’re back with more suggestions.

The Christmas season is full of amazing recipes, no one’s on a diet, and everyone’s in party mode. So grab a couple of your favorite pals and have a ladies night with dessert, coffee, and great conversation. Coffee and dessert are an especially great combo if an entire meal seems overwhelming.

We’re maybe a little bit obsessed with coffee. Both of us have an obscene number of ways to make coffee: espresso maker, Chemex, pour-over, moka pot, and percolator, to name a few. We love good, strong coffee to match our highly-opinionated personalities. It’s a killer combination, just ask our husbands. (Actually, maybe don’t.)

So drag out your favorite, most high-maintenance way of making coffee and make a fun dessert! We suggest this pear-cranberry galette, these cookies, or a store bought chocolate cake. We aren’t picky about the sort of sugary yumminess you serve with coffee, and we can guarantee your guests won’t be either.

We also would like to begin to beg you all to tag us on the ‘grams if you use one of our recipes. Pretty please? #commonsensekitchen #helpusout #makethefood #isitgood #arewecrazy (don’t hate us)

xoxo & Merry Christmas!

Hannah + Essie

 

Roasted Chicken

Everyone should know how to roast a chicken.

This is a staple of good home cooking and the base of so many good meals. I use my leftover roasted chicken for curry and use the carcass for homemade chicken bone broth. You can get at least 3 meals out of one whole chicken, which is incredible.

We thought we’d create a super-simple recipe for you all, just so you get the basics down. Once you’ve tried one flavor combination, you can try many more and just find one that fits your kitchen and your tastes. We like garlic and garlic and vampire kryptonite here so obvs that’s in our recipe. If that’s not your jam, sorry ’bout it and find another food blerg to read. (actually plz don’t – stay and be our friend).

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to roast the chicken, about 2 hours, and enough time to let it rest before serving it. I baked mine in my blue Le Creuset, which is just so pretty that you can even use it as a serving dish as well. If you have leftovers, just pop the lid on and put the whole thing in the fridge. Remember to cool it down, ya dingbat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lbs chicken
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved or quartered
  • 1 head of garlic (not a clove, folks, this is serious business)
  • twine or unflavored dental floss (to tie the chicken legs together)

Preheat your oven to 450. Make sure you dry the chicken well with a paper towel. Dry chicken skin = crispy chicken skin, and who doesn’t want that?

Next, place the chicken in your baking dish, whether that be a Le Creuset or a roasting dish. Make sure you place it breast-side-up. Rub the butter underneath the skin of the chicken. We have pictures of this, but it looks like I’m man-handling the chicken and that’s just not a good look for us. (NB: If raw chicken grosses you out, please, please talk to someone about it. You can’t live that way forever.) This recipe calls for kind of a lot of butter, but I don’t think butter has ever made anything worse, so use it all. Once you get all the butter you can under the skin, use what you have left inside the cavity of the chicken and on the legs and the back.

Fill the cavity of the chicken with rosemary sprigs, lemon slices, and garlic. With the garlic, I just slice the whole thing in half width-wise. You can also crush all of the garlic cloves for a bolder garlic flavor.

Place the chicken in the oven with the cover or tin foil on it for the next hour. Make sure you check on it every 15 minutes and spoon the melted butter and rendering chicken fat over the top of the chicken. Remove the lid or tin foil for the second hour and keep checking on it. Your chicken will be done when the skin is brown and crispy and the juice runs clear when you slice into it. The chicken in the feature picture isn’t actually cooked all the way – we were running out of daylight and oh wow you already stopped caring, didn’t you.

Serve with roasted veggies, salad, and a good, oaky chardonnay for a hearty dinner.

Egészségedre!

Hannah

Friday Faves: Trader Joes (Christmas edition)

Over here at CSK, we really love Trader Joe’s. From the prices to the variety of items, it just doesn’t get any better. During the holidays it can be hard to find the time to figure out decorations, make cookies, etc. so we thought we’d share some of our favorite Trader Joe’s shortcuts.

  1. Pie crust
    • Making your own pie crust is (though worthwhile) very time-consuming and most pre-made pic crusts taste like all the preservatives they have in them. But let us sing the song of the Trader Joe’s premade pie crust. They’re flaky; they’re subtly sweet; they’re crumbly. It’s the perfect “buttery flaky crust.” (Anyone? Anyone?).
    • Tip: make sure you roll it out yourself to make it a little thinner. These pie crusts can be pretty overwhelming to a galette or a two-crust pie if you don’t thin them.
  2. Macarons
    • As we said, who has time to make fancy desserts for all the Christmas parties? Not us. But thankfully ol’ faithful TJ’s has so many great premade desserts. These are one of Essie’s all-time favorites.
  3. Veggies & Greens Salad Mix
    1. We love all of their salad mixes, tbh, but this one takes the cake. The crunchy veggies with the sweetness of the dried pear and the saltiness of the pistachios is a combination worth fighting for. And don’t get us started on the honey-ginger dressing. We also like to add a little sharp cheddar crumbled on top for an extra boost of protein.
  4. 3-Cream Brie
    • Good cheese can be SO expensive. We used to groan when we saw photos of beautiful charcuterie boards, because we knew it’d be around $50 to make even the smallest one. Not so, thanks to TJ! You can get this creamy, sexy brie for so cheap. Grab a baguette and some dry Italian salami and it’s the prettiest little appetizer you’ve ever seen.
  5. Eucalyptus
    • Balsam is great. We love evergreens, really we do, but sometimes you just want something a little different for your Christmas wreath or centerpiece. TJ’s has beautiful eucalyptus for cheap and when combined with a sprig of red berries it looks delicately festive.
  6. Chocolate Mousse Cake
    • Really this should read: CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE. CHOCOLATE. MOUSSE. Want us to say it one more time? No? Ah, ok. We can chill. But really, we don’t think this one needs any explanation.

There you have it: our top six favorite shortcuts for this month. What are your favorites?

Happy cooking!

-Essie + Hannah

 

 

 

Kinderpunsch on St. Nikolaus Day

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.

My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:

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In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:

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However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.

Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.

Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.


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  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bag hibiscus tea
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
    2. Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Remove tea bags.
    4. Add honey.
    5. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
    6. To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
  • Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)

Prost!

Essie

 

Friday Faves: Christmas Decor

Happy Friday!

Have you decked your halls? Hung your mistletoe? Filled every nook and cranny of your home with cheer and joy?

Oh no? Don’t worry, neither have we. Hannah is still living in an Airbnb and Essie hasn’t done anything other than put candles everywhere. It’s ok, decorations are meant to bring joy and not stress. Let them happen organically, as time and inspiration find you.

We enjoy simple, homemade decor, especially if the ingredients are cheap and already in our kitchens. Here are two of our favorites!


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Essie: Cinnamon Ornaments

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of applesauce
    • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp cloves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix applesauce with cup of cinnamon and cloves in kitchen mixer. Slowly add additional cinnamon as mixer continues to mix. It should leave the sides of the bowl and become a nice ball of dough. If it looks too wet, add more cinnamon. Too dry, add more applesauce.
  2. Spread parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon like you would flour on your surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  4. Cut various shapes out with cookie cutters and use a tooth pick or straw to make holes for stringing.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 1.5-2 hours. Turn off your oven and allow to continue drying overnight. They should be completely dry and rock hard, otherwise put them back in the oven and give them more dry time.
  6. Thread a string through the holes, hot glue onto ribbon or just hold them up to your nose and sniff the lovely cinnamony scent.

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Hannah: Dried Oranges

So, I made these for the first time last year, inspired by my friend Libby, who lived in Germany at the time. She had decorated her beautiful evergreen tree with dried oranges and combined with the lights on the tree they look like tiny stained glass windows. I loved how festive and simple they are so it’ll be a returning decoration for our home

“Ingredients”:

    • 3 or so oranges
    • thin string
    • a tapestry needle
    • parchment paper
    • a baking sheet.

Slice your oranges into slices that are about 1/8″ thick. You want them to be thin enough that they dry in the oven, but not so thin that they’re very brittle and break.

Lay the orange slices on parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake them at the lowest temperature your oven has. Libby set hers at 100, but my parents’ oven didn’t go lower than 180, which worked just fine. Bake them until they’re dry and stiff. When I made them they were still fairly sticky and pliable. This could take quite a few hours, so pop them in while you’re doing other stuff and come back to it!

Thread your tapestry needle with the string and weave the thread through the top of the orange slice so it hangs flat. If you just thread it through once, the oranges will face to the side, which is a very different look. The stickiness of the oranges should hold them in place fairly well so you don’t have to knot the string or anything to keep them from sliding to the middle when you hang them on your mantle. If you hang them on your tree, simply thread it through the top of the orange and tie it off like a little ornament.


Tag @commonsensekitchen on the socials to give us a peek at your kitchen crafting adventures. Happy decorating!

Hannah & Essie