One of my great joys during the pandemic has been ordering takeout food. In addition to the fact that it gets me out of the house for a minute, I think I enjoy it so much because restaurant food wasn’t something I brought home often (or really ever) before the world shut down. The whole experience feels like a big luxury for me.
I love to cook, but I don’t do it consistently—especially not when I’m busy. For as many times as I’ve whipped up a quick chili and cornbread dinner, I’ve also thrown a bag of animal crackers in my purse and called it a meal.
The holidays are over, and if your refrigerator looks anything like mine, you probably have at least one extra block of cream cheese, too many eggs and a few mismatched bottles of craft beer. Great news—I found a recipe for you and your leftovers. This month’s Test Kitchen adventure is pumpkin beer pretzels with chipotle queso, courtesy of Instagram sensation Half Baked Harvest.
Anyone who’s read About Magazine during my tenure as Test Kitchen writer knows I love a good Christmas cookie. Every year, I make several batches of my favorite recipes and put together trays to take to my family gatherings.
For last year’s About Thanksgiving Pie Showdown, I made a sweet potato pie that earned lukewarm reviews from the team. (I would like to blame the recipe, but there’s a large chance the issue was user error.) So when Editor Kelsey Davis asked me if I’d like to make another pie for this month’s issue of the magazine, I saw a chance to redeem myself. And I am proud to say I did.
It’s almost Halloween, and that means it’s almost time for my family’s annual debate about the merits of candy corn. (For the record, I’m pro, especially if you include those marshmallow pumpkins in the mix.) But I understand candy corn is a divisive food, so I always feel guilty when I make a Halloween dessert that features it prominently. This year, I wanted to find a festive dessert without candy corn for the holiday, and I think I’ve got a winner in this Melting Witch Poke Cake. It’s not perfect, but it still will make people happy.
I love eating oatmeal for breakfast, but I seldom take it to work with me. Whenever I try, the container the oatmeal is in inevitably leaks, or I don’t have time to heat it up before things get busy, and then I spend my morning hungry (and grumpy).
I love coffee more than I love most things, and I rely on it to function each day, so this Test Kitchen is near and dear to my heart. My first taste of coffee was at 13, when my aunt bought me a caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks while we were back-to-school shopping. I was thrilled. I thought it was a great treat, and I’d never felt more grown up.
When the weather is nice, all I want to do is be outside—even for meals. As I write this, I don’t know what life will look like in June. But one thing I’m confident we’ll all be able to do is have a picnic, even if it’s just in our backyards.
This month’s Test Kitchen recipe is the best cake I’ve ever made. I bought a Bundt pan on a whim at HomeGoods last summer, in part because it was $7 and that seemed like a deal, and in part because I figured it was worth having around in case I was struck with an urge to bake a coffee cake. But until now, I’d only used my fancy pan to make monkey bread.