Oh come all ye Christmas carol literalists: PNC Wealth Management recently released its annual "Twelve Days of Christmas" calculation for holiday shoppers in the market for milk maids and French hens.
This year, springing for the whole menagerie, from twelve drummers drumming to a partridge (complete with pear tree), will set an aspiring Santa back a hefty $101,119.84.
But in case your house is already crowded enough without throwing eleven pipers into the mix, the scent of gingerbread baking is a wonderful gift - for a smidgen of the true cost of Christmas.
There’s something addictive about that moment when you hand someone a homemade treat and their face lights up like you’ve just given them a hug. It turns baking into therapy, food into an olive branch, and those you share it with into a family.
I’ve experienced that joy for many years, by virtue of being the delivery girl every winter. I may have switched from wearing hair bows and Christmas dresses to newsboy caps and tall boots, but that feeling stays the same, and I always come bearing gifts.
Thanksgiving is exactly two weeks away - you've successfully tackled the fall squash, mashed potatoes like James Brown and reserved the appropriately sized bird for your guest list. You've even found time to craft your very own "bacon pig." Everything is shaping up nicely in apple-pie order - that is, until the word "pie" just sent you into a flour frenzy.
Although sweet, dessert can bring out the crustiness in the most pleasant of Thanksgiving hosts and hostesses. While pie crust is minimalistic in origin - flour, butter, ice water with a little sugar and salt thrown in for good measure - many home cooks find themselves thankful for the premade varieties this time of year.
If you're one of those put off by do-it-yourself pastry, just roll with this all-butter crust tutorial.
You didn't think we'd leave those piping hot homemade tortilla chips out in the cold with nowhere to go, did you?
Instead of perusing the estimated 100 brands of processed tortilla chips in the local grocery store, beef up your snack tray roster with a chip off the ol' homemade block.
Biscuits. Everybody has an opinion on them - particularly in the South where nary a country breakfast spread exists without a steaming batch fresh out of the oven.
They're also served hot with a side of controversy: lard versus butter, White Lily flour versus run-of-the-mill, twisting or not twisting the biscuit cutter. Generations of home cooks, like Lisa Fain, have sat around the table buttering up their own version and debating the right way to make them.
She's not claiming her biscuits are the end-all be-all, but you can bet your cowboy boots they're pretty darn delicious.
When Marco Canora was the chef de cuisine 10 years ago at Tom Colicchio's now flagship restaurant Craft, his gnocchi were described by then New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes as "eye-rolling pleasure bombs" in his three-star review.
This past week, current Times critic Sam Sifton re-reviewed Craft citing the gnocchi as "the same butter-laden pleasure bombs Mr. Grimes raved about in 2001."
While Marco Canora has moved on, becoming the executive chef of his own restaurants - Hearth and Terroir - as well as the author of the James Beard-nominated cookbook "Salt to Taste," his gnocchi legacy carries on.
Finally ready to l'eggo your Eggo? Look no further than Belgium native and proprietor of the Wafels & Dinges truck in New York City, Thomas DeGeest.
The light, crispy and deep-pocketed Belgian (or Brussels) waffle was first introduced to Americans at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City - and it's been battering through the ranks of breakfast staples ever since.
Belgium Crown Princess Mathilde and Crown Prince Philippe even made a royal pit stop to the Wafels truck on their last visit stateside – so if it's good enough for the Belgian Monarchy, it's certainly good enough for us.
This is some weekend ironing you certainly won't mind adding onto the agenda.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, brûlée!
Celebrate Bastille Day, the beginning of the French Revolution, with the classic dessert: crème brûlée.
The accent marks in the name alone can be intimidating to the non-classically trained home cook, but a quick look at the recipe reveals it's nothing more than some homey staples - vanilla, sugar, eggs, cream and salt - allied with a little know-how.
Grab a torch (or befriend your oven's broiler), don your "other" red, white and blue, and follow the lead of Chef Rogers Powell of the French Culinary Institute. It’s so good, heads will roll.
This Independence Day, make your cookout the cream of the corn crop.
Living up to the old adage "knee-high by the Fourth of July," fresh bushels of summer corn are set to arrive at the farmers markets and grocery stores just in time for the long holiday weekend.
Instead of boiling the heck out of them, chow down on the cobs straight from the grill, paint them with butter and call it a day.
Or you can go the way of Chef Julian Medina of Toloache Restaurant and spice the summertime favorite up with the popular Mexican street food approach of elote: grilled (or sometimes roasted) corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, dusted with salty queso fresco and chili powder, and served with a tangy twist of lime.