But even after a full afternoon/evening of Christmas cookie baking with my friend Emily on Saturday (more on that next post) and a festive holiday party tonight, I'm not there. And I'm haaaating that. I've done all the right things: I set up a Manhattan apartment-sized tree, put lights in my windows, hung my stocking from the mantle and bought holiday cards to mail to everyone I know. I downloaded The Hotel Cafe "Winter Songs" album and watched "Love Actually" and "White Christmas." I even planned the menu for a holiday party I'm hosting this week (all homemade and complete with favors!) but not even impending party hosting has me dreaming of sugarplums and candy canes quite yet.
When I was a kid, I figured the reason I loved Christmas so much was due entirely to the fact that it was the bonus holiday during my birthday month. My brother and I would count down the days on our advent calendars and when the mouse stopped at December 20th it was like Christmas came early. The celebration 5 days later was just an extension of my birthday filled with more gifts, stockings, and a Honeybaked Ham.
However, since life no longer revolves around my Santa list, I've thought a lot about what makes Christmas so special. It's not so much the gingerbread men and cinnamon stick candles and mistletoe and fires in the fireplace and mulled cider and twinkle lights and pine needles in the carpet and hot chocolate and ice skating and cold nights and warm quilts. Christmas is a feeling - in one word, Christmas is cozy. It's all of the things above wrapped up in a blanket and snuggled warm and breathed in. And not much can top it.
But for whatever reason, in the midst of holiday parties, temperatures dropping and holiday cards arriving daily, I'm just not feeling it. And I'm desperate for the coziness to begin. So the baking will continue this week as I go down my list of must-make Christmas cookies in an attempt to pull in some Christmas. I'll keep ya posted (literally).
In the meantime, here's a recipe I made for tonight's holiday party that's insanely easy to throw together and a total crowd pleaser despite its simplicity. Since eating S'Mores is pretty much one of my most favorite things to do of all time (Cut to: Every summer from '01-'03 roasting marshmallows at Camp Seafarer on sticks above our charcoal grill. Cut to: Summer 2004 roasting marshmallows on kebab skewers above the grill on the porch of my beach house during a torrential downpour. Cut to: Summer 2009 roasting marshmallows on chopsticks above my gas burners for National S'Mores Day), it was my delight when a colleague made "Indoor S'Mores" for our office Halloween party.
I could hardly stop stuffing my face long enough to ask her between bites for the recipe but I'm glad I did. With little more than an hour before the party started today I decided to whip up a batch as an extra sweet.
Let me put it this way - there weren't any left at the end of the night. Gooey and chewy and milk chocolatey and YUM. The Indoor S'More is the new Rice Crispy Treat.
Outside of the kitchen, if you have any suggestions for cranking up that holiday feeling, send them my way. I'm on a mission to warm my heart with Christmas cozy.
Courtesy of one of the Business Office gals
8 cups Golden Grahams cereal (one 13 oz box)
1 1/2 cups Nestle Toll House milk chocolate chips
6 cups miniature marshmallows (one 10 oz bag)
5 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.
Melt 5 cups marshmallows (save 1 cup for later), chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
Pour cereal into a large bowl. Pour mashmallow mixture over cereal, stir until evenly coated. Stir in remaining marshmallows.
Press mixture into pan with buttered back of spoon. Cool until as firm as you'd like (I put the pan in the fridge for 25 minutes and they cut perfectly). Cut into 24 bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.