Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are a holiday treat

This November 2017 photo shows chocolate peppermint cookies in New York. The main ingredient here is 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate, which guarantees an intensely chocolate-y flavor. The cookie’s base is made of a combination of unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate. (Sara Moulton via AP)

If, like me, you’re a fan of dark chocolate peppermint bark at Christmastime, you’re going to love these cookies. Your friends and family will, too. But you’ll have to plan ahead because the batter is so soft it needs to chill overnight before scooping.

Winter Greens, Apple, Cranberry Salad

This October 2017 photo shows a winter green salad with cranberries and goat cheese in New York. This salad comes together in 20 minutes, and is a bowl of vibrant color and texture that seems anything but a postscript to the menu. (Mia via AP)

When it comes to planning a holiday spread, a salad is often an afterthought. Stately roasts, crowd-pleasing potatoes and sultry pies tend to grab the spotlight, and by the time we think, “Oh, yeah, we should probably have a salad,” a bag of mixed lettuces and a container of cherry tomatoes might be all we have the mental bandwidth for.

The secret to sauteeing vegetables is a boil

This Nov. 27, 2017, photo shows weekday sauteed broccoli in Bethesda, Md. This recipe for weekday side dish calls for broccoli but you could easily substitute cauliflower or carrots or asparagus, depending on what’s in season or what’s on sale or what’s hanging out in your crisper drawer. (AP Photo/Melissa d'Arabian)

Every weeknight, 6 p.m. rolls around, and across America, we scramble to find something to feed our families. Our end-of-day creativity is sapped, and we turn to our core repertoire of recipes that we make over and over.

Ants in a Tree is a crowd-pleaser

This Nov. 17, 2017 photo shows “Ants in a Tree” in New York, which is the English translation of the Chinese name of a classic recipe. Built of spicy pork, bean thread noodles (aka cellophane noodles) and scallions, it earned its name because it’s not so far-fetched for the finished dish to call that image to mind, the noodles look like tree branches, the scallions like tree leaves and the little bits of ground pork like ants. (Sara Moulton via AP)

“Ants in a Tree” is the English translation of the Chinese name for this classic recipe. Built of spicy pork, bean thread noodles (aka cellophane noodles) and scallions, it earned its name because it’s not so far-fetched for the finished dish to call that image to mind — the noodles look like tree branches, the scallions like tree leaves and the little bits of ground pork like ants. Admittedly, it’s not a very appetizing image, but the dish itself happens to be a crowd-pleaser. Indeed, it’s a refreshing break from the usual holiday fare.

Why garden?

Question: With so many other entertainment and recreation opportunities available, why do so many people choose to spend time gardening?

Lemon Curd

This October 2017 photo provided by Laura Agra shows lemon curd on display in New York. Lemon curd is essentially a preserve or condiment made with lemon juice, eggs, sugar and butter. The first three ingredients get blended and softly warmed so that the eggs thicken the mixture. Whisking in cold butter finishes it off and smoothes it out. (Courtesy of Laura Agra via AP)

So, what is lemon curd, and what do you do with it?

Apricot Almond Coffee Cake is a special treat

This Nov. 15, 2017 photo shows an apricot almond coffee cake in New York. It’s a special treat that features a cream biscuit dough packed with intensely flavored dried apricots, layered with almond paste and glazed with apricot jam. (Sara Moulton via AP)

If you’re expecting overnight guests during the holiday season, you might want to stock up on the ingredients for this recipe. Doing so will allow you to throw together a knockout coffee cake for breakfast, a special treat that features a cream biscuit dough packed with intensely flavored dried apricots, layered with almond paste and glazed with apricot jam.

Big Butterscotchy Oatmeal Cookies

This January 2017 photo shows butterscotchy oatmeal cookies in New York. This dessert is from a recipe by Katie Workman. (Sarah Crowder via AP)

I haven’t been consistently happy with my oatmeal cookie recipe for a while. Sometimes they turn out perfectly — fairly flat, chewy and moist in the middle, with crinkly, caramelized edges (not cakey or rounded) and a butterscotch-esque flavor. Other times, they don’t follow orders, staying too puffed, or becoming a little dry and less damply dense than I crave.

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