the week before christmas

chocolate gingerbread bundt cake | theclevercarrot.com

We were housebound last week.

Both boys came down with bronchitis and strep throat at the same time.

And because they couldn’t go to school or leave the house for that matter, I expected a few days of calm snuggling and movie time. After all, kids are supposed to be mellow and subdued when they’re sick, right?

Not my boys!

They partied like it was vacation…

And then of course, I got sick (no surprise there).

So picture this: 3 restless people trapped inside during the busiest time of year. And to make matters worse, I could’t stop thinking about my eternal to-do list: Christmas shopping! Outfits! Cards!

Something had to give.

It was either fold a mountain of laundry or bake something to get into the festive spirit!…

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roasted christmas cauliflower salad

roasted christmas cauliflower salad | theclevercarrot.com

When people ask, “What’s you favorite ingredient to cook with?”

I squirm.

One minute, I’ll be into fresh bay leaves or mangoes, and then suddenly our relationship is completely over (it’s not you, it’s me!). Then, I’ll dabble around in the next thing. Like a child who outgrows a toy, I tend to play favorites and only revisit when the mood strikes.

As of late, there’s been a constant in my cooking repertoire that I’m excited to tell you about: sumac….

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make-ahead gifts: brûléed pecans

make-ahead gifts: brûléed pecans | theclevercarrot.com

Crème brûlée is all about that crispy, sugary crust right?

Sure, the silken custard underneath is good too. But thin shards of golden, caramelized sugar that shatters upon the very first whack of a spoon is what draws you in for the win!

(We’d probably brûlée a lasagne if we could).

So, how about this instead?

Take that sugary, brittly-goodness and encase it around warm, cinnamon-spiced pecans.

It smells like Christmas.

And it’s one of the easiest holiday gifts you can make-ahead….

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