Last night I attempted candy-making just because it sounded delightful. No, I’ve never made candy before, yes, I’m busy and stressed just like everybody else this time of year. But you know what? Slowing down, just for an hour, to gently stir a pot of boiling butter and sugar, to include my husband in the merry-making and have enough toffee to share with friends, made my evening more than just an exhausted after-work frenzy, but a gentle holiday ritual, something to cherish and enjoy when the world around me is simply over-stimulated.
Cooking at any time is a therapeutic outlet for me, personally, but even if you are not a cook or feel daunted by your own desire to make something special this Christmas, never fear. The Internet is here to save the day! Here are the 20 best recipe and how-to blogs for every level of cook. Each one has a variety of sassy, simple and delicious recipes that will bring tidings of comfort and joy to your kitchen.
In no particular order, here they are: (drumroll please)
- Real Simple. OK, so I realize I’m kicking this off with a magazine and not a blog. But have you SEEN their recipes? Cheddar-Jalapeno Stuffing? White-Chocolate Snowballs? Mercy! Also, I love that this site is so easy to navigate and has recipes (and tips) for every occasion, allergy or picky kid.
- The Pioneer Woman. This is a blog (and cookbook) that I adore. Not only is Ree (the blogger) honest and sweet and oh-so-likable, but her recipes are DIVINE. Whiskey Maple Cream Sauce, anyone? Plus, if you’re feeling stressed about the Christmas bustle, take a look at some of her incredible images of life on the ranch. It’ll take you back to a simpler time, where Christmas is about family and not materialism. (Also, her toffee was the recipe I tried last night, and it may or may not have been already consumed in mass quantities this morning.)
- The Polymath Chronicles. Stacy Ballis is a novelist and foodie (her latest novel, Good Enough to Eat, was a terrific food-loving romp, a fun long-winter’s-night read) and her blog is a delight. She has great recipes and excellent perspective on food and all the ways it can help and hurt. As an open and healthy plus-size woman, she is caring toward those who have to count calories, and she knows how to cook food that good and good for you.
- French Cooking for Dummies. Y’all know I need this one. I love Julia. I can’t cook like her to save my life. This little blog really helped me “figure out” some trickier techniques and gave me a boost of courage when I needed it. The Chicken Cordon Bleu made me a believer.
- Mouth from the South. Paula Deen-style Southern cooking at it’s finest. While this blog isn’t updated all the time, every post is recipes, quotes thoughts and beautiful pictures, which make each post a “meal” in itself. Also, these Pumpkin-Ginger pancakes make me want to buy bigger jeans.
- Runaway Spoon. Another Southern cook with absolutely some of the best recipes on the web. Easy to follow, inventive and always crowd-pleasers, these delicious, Southern-styled goodies are just incredible. Also, in a nice change from what we assume is “Southern” not everything here is fried or buttered – the Roasted Chestnut Bisque had me giddy with delight without needing that new pair of pants.
- Food Lush. This blog is unique in that is has multiple authors, and is not all recipes. The recipes are tasty, but not the reason I love this blog. I love the commentary on all things foodie, the food gift ideas, and the round-ups of party/dinner ideas, ways to deal with allergies and “best of” blogs. A fun, inspiring read next time you “don’t know what to cook”.
- Cheeky Kitchen. Cheeky, indeed! Blogger Brooke went from a successful cupcake blog to this one, and while you can tell that her taste tends more toward the sweet than the savory, all of the recipes are mouth-watering, her writing style is engaging and her photos are brilliant. If you don’t believe me, check out this recipe’s images. Hungry yet?
- Gluten-Free Girl. While I’m not gluten-free, I have some dear friends who are, and man, do y’all throw a wrench in the works. (Just kidding! Love you!) This blog has been awesome for me in those moments when I’m tired of buying over-priced gluten-free cupcakes or making my poor friends eat salad and ice cream while we eat pasta. A great resource!
- CHOW. This is an incredible online magazine for foodies of every kind, including those who prefer paying for good food instead slaving in front of a hot stove (crazies. pshaw). They even have a whole Christmas section, complete with Roast Goose! Merry Christmas, Uncle Scrooge!
- The Naptime Chef. This is a blog devoted to “fitting good food into family life”, and it does so with grace and heartwarming stories of great food and little ones. The cookbook is coming out in 2012, and this lovely whole-wheat bread recipe has me dreaming of homemade soup and crusty bread with my honey. (She also posts recipes regularly on Twitter, it’s a good reminder for those of us who get distracted online and end up ordering take-out).
- Chocolate Shavings. Um, need I say more? I hadn’t looked as this blog in a while and the first thing that popped up was a Lemon Bundt Cake with Chocolatley Topping. That’ll have me singing the Hallelujah Chorus, I tell ya.
- Zesty Cook. This is a practical blog for those of us who love the idea of a Norman Rockwell holiday, but more often find ourselves snacking on week-old Oreos as we careen from one Christmas pageant to the next. Zesty helps demystify good food with simple, helpful posts like “The Essential Pantry List”. Finally, a blog has arrived that will also coach my shopping habits as well as my eating and cooking.
- Duchess of Fork. Another great, practical food blog – so easy to read and relevant that this post is even called “Busy People Food”! Girl, you are speaking my language.
- Hugging the Coast. This blog is unique in that it all ties back to seafood and coastal traditions. Living by the beach myself, I always see wonderful fresh seafood at the market but don’t know what to do with it. This blog gives answers, recipes and inspiration for us coastal-dwellers or anybody else who wants to add some California dreamin’ to their New Year’s Eve menu.
- Joy the Baker. Sweet, simple, joyful. The perfect blog for a Sunday afternoon baking adventure with your little ones or a cozy night in with friends. Try her “Delicious Hot Chocolate”… it is, in fact, delicious.
- Food Loves Writing. One of my favorite things about good bloggers is great photography. Not being patient enough to be a photographer myself, I love inspiring images and of course, great stories to go with them. This foodie blog is a treat of great images, sweet stories and of course, recipes. Chicken Roulade? Don’t mind if I do.
- Homesick Texan. Since I am, quite frequently, a homesick Texan myself (there’s nothing like that big sky and fake cheese!) this blog is the ultimate in comfort food. Plus, rather than rely on stereotypes of what the rest of the country think of Texas, it digs deep and finds inventive ways to celebrate the state and not let it’s culinary traditions fade away. Turkey Tamales. ‘Nuff said.
- Use Real Butter. All I can say to that is AMEN. No, seriously, that’s all I have to say. (Oh and make these mimosas. Holy cow, so good.)
- Recipe Tips. This isn’t as much a blog as a collaboration website, but it can answer any and all cooking mysteries (just about). This decorative pie crust article gave me a leg up on Thanksgiving baking woes, and they even have how-to videos for the true visual learners amongst us.
So there you have it. The top 20 food/recipe/delicious blogs for this most wonderful time of the year. You have no excuse now… after all of this inspiration, you have to make at least one batch of cookies.
Also, in the spirit of generosity, if you write a food blog or know of some more good ones, share those in the comments.
Also, for extra credit – how has the Internet rescued your holiday food? Share away!