Weekly Meal Plans

Cheesy Squash Rigatoni & More Recipes We Want Right Now

December 14, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

Here’s a not-recipe recipe to make whenever you get a free moment, or are trying to avoid something more pressing like laundry or sweeping or paying the electric bill: homemade hot cocoa mix. Yes, you can!

Combine 2 parts confectioners’ sugar, 2 parts nonfat dry milk powder, 1 part unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/2 part malted milk powder. Eyeball some instant espresso powder, salt, and maybe some ground cinnamon or ginger if you feel like it. Make a steamy mug with 2 parts hot water or milk, or a mix, and 1 part hot cocoa mix. Taste and see: Does the mix need more malted milk powder? Probably. Salt? You bet. Adjust accordingly, then divide into jars.

This is the most rewarding holiday gift I ever made for anyone—and, you know what, the coziest, too. Now, onto some recipe-recipes.

Cacio e Pepe With So Much Squash

Come winter, hard squash is a good pal to keep around. Depending on the type, it stays good for weeks, if not months. On most supermarket trips, I’ll grab one or two—butternut, acorn, kabocha, what have you—and keep them on our kitchen windowsill for nights when I don’t want to make whatever I have planned (or, ahem, don’t have anything planned). In the latter scenario, it usually turns into something like cacio e pepe. In this version, there’s three times as much delicata squash as pasta, by weight, which means I’m off the hook for making a salad to go with.

Caramelized! Cream! Eggs!

I made our December Recipe of the Month, caramelized cream eggs, the other week, which means I need to make them again ASAP. Add some toast and lemony sautéed greens and that’s—claps hands—dinner (or breakfast!). If you want to see them in action, check out the video below, and/or come hang out with me, my husband, and cat on Instagram (none of us are videographers, apologies in advance).

Salad Toasts

Spread a super-creamy blue cheese on toast. Top with a crunchy, vinegary salad. You don’t need a recipe for this, but it’s here if you want. Follow it to a T, or use it as a trampoline to bounce toward whatever you want. Instead of celery and radishes, you could do golden beets and fennel, or shaved Brussels sprouts and broccoli. You tell me.

Boosted Jook

“I’ve been itching to try this boosted jook,” our data scientist Cody Kestigian told me. The optional garnishes include: “soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, chile oil or chile sauce like Sriracha, green onions, cilantro, thinly sliced carrots or ginger, minced Chinese sausage (lop chong), ground white pepper, fresh chopped spinach, tofu.” I have a feeling you’ll think of even more.

All the Cookies

“I made the salted rosemary shortbread for my holiday swap, but had some extra and now my husband is obsessed,” Sales Director Lizzie Greene said. “He keeps asking me to make more, and he even made a salad dressing the other night inspired by it.” For more inspiration, check out our 2019 Cookie Chronicles, a special-edition collection from some of our favorite bakers. Keep the creative juices flowing!

On the Side

I couldn’t put Catch and Kill down, which means I’m onto Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which is the next pick for my book club. Anyone read it yet?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“That boosted jook sounds like just what I need right now to warm me up. Also - I read Eleanor Oliphant and out of the 25 books I read this year, it was my favorite. Such a heartbreaking (but also heartwarming) story about loneliness and friendship. I couldn't put it down. ”
— Dana E.

Three stories in my Pocket:

  1. “What did authenticity in food mean in 2019?” (Eater)
  2. “Lovers in Auschwitz, reunited 72 years later. He had one question.” (NYT)
  3. “I read more than 50 scientific studies about yoga. Here’s what I learned.” (Vox)

Talk soon,

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  • Dana Ernest
    Dana Ernest
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Dana E. December 16, 2019
That boosted jook sounds like just what I need right now to warm me up. Also - I read Eleanor Oliphant and out of the 25 books I read this year, it was my favorite. Such a heartbreaking (but also heartwarming) story about loneliness and friendship. I couldn't put it down.
Author Comment
Emma L. December 18, 2019
25 books! That's amazing. What were some of your other favorites?
Dana E. December 19, 2019
Thanks! I completed my "GoodReads Challenge" for the first year ever! Other favorites: Daisy Jones & The Six, Shrill, The Thing Around Your Neck, A Cook's Tour, and anything by Fredrik Backman.
Author Comment
Emma L. December 19, 2019
Love "A Cook's Tour" so much. Haven't read any of the rest—thanks for the recs!