December cooking can be a mix of extravagant projects and low-lift favorites. We are on the hunt for wow-worthy holiday cookies and cocktails, dressed up for a month of entertaining, but there are plenty of cozy weeknight dinners in between. In this weekly digest our staff shares the recipes we cook for fun—outside of the office.

December 23

Saucy, Caramelly Brussels Sprouts

Charred, raw, roasted, or broiled, I am always up for brussels sprouts. As expected, Hetty Lui McKinnon’s recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Maple-Soy Caramel, which I made for family and friends for last Sunday’s supper, was delicious. This dish was so good, it pole vaulted to the top of favorite ways to cook brussels sprouts.. I showed enough restraint in front of the lingering guests to resist tipping the bowl and drinking the leftover caramel sauce made from heavy cream, maple syrup, and soy sauce. But next time, decorum be damned, I’m going for it. —Dawn Davis, editor in chief

Five-Spice Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Stir-Fry

A hit of warming Chinese five-spice powder adds coziness to this versatile (and quick!) stir-fry that plays equally well on the holiday table.

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Spicy, Chocolatey Thumbprints

My spouse is inherently suspicious of any dessert that does not contain chocolate. I’m usually happy to oblige for birthday cakes and the like, but when it comes to holiday cookies, brownies and Tollhouse classics aren’t exactly the most festive. These Chocolate Molasses Thumbprints from King Arthur Baking check all the boxes: pretty enough to give as gifts, redolent of warm spices and molasses, and yes, chocolatey. Not overly so—the scant 6 tablespoons of cocoa is more of a foil for the molasses—but enough that I noticed a few cookies had gone missing sometime between cooling and packaging for the neighbors. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor

Crackly, Fudgy Meringue Cake

I’ve baked the Flourless Chocolate Cake from Claire Saffitz’s first cookbook, Dessert Person, far too many times to count. It’s somehow remarkably light and also rich and fudgy. Plus, it’s coincidentally gluten-free and dairy-free, which makes it an inclusive option for any celebration. So when BA published a recipe for Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake (from Claire’s new cookbook, What’s For Dessert), I immediately knew that I had to make it. This new riff is fairly similar to the original that I know and love, with slight modifications—coffee replaces amaretto and, most notably, you reserve some of the meringue that’s folded into the batter to create a crunchy marbled swirl on top. I baked this new version of the cake for a Hanukkah party, and the reaction was generally: “That cake is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.” —Zoe Denenberg, associate SEO editor

Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake

This flourless chocolate cake features meringue both in the batter and on top, which bakes into a light and crispy shell with beautiful swirls.

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Briny, Crunchy Pickle Dip

As a dip-for-dinner kind of person, I was immediately enticed by the idea of a use-any-pickle dip. This easy formula from food editor Shilpa Uskokovic is riffable with pantry ingredients, and I made it twice this week—once with sour cream and once with Greek yogurt. Both were a briny, creamy, salty, crunchy delight, though the version with Greek yogurt made me feel less concerned about my nutritional intake. I didn’t pay attention to any of the ratios, adding as many cornichon pieces as I felt looked right and grating just a little too much garlic into one of the batches. Anyway, yogurt and pickles…that counts as dinner, right? —Serena Dai, editorial director

Speedy, Pantry Tofu Bowl

Chris Morocco’s Soy and Scallion Tofu Bowl is a regular weeknight dinner in my house—it genuinely cooks in under 30 minutes, it relies mostly on pantry ingredients, and it is very delicious—and this week was no exception. The recipe calls for grating the tofu, but honestly, I find it’s so broken up from the squeezing step that I don’t even need to bother grating (don’t tell Chris). I am consistently shocked (but always grateful) that a recipe this low-key turns out such good results. —Meryl Rothstein, deputy editor

Soy and Scallion Tofu Bowl

Grate your tofu on a box-grater (it works!) and the rest of this satisfying lunch bowl is only minutes away.

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Jammy, Pillowy Sufganiyot Cookies

I made these tender, almost cakey cookies by Rebecca Firkser as the first of a few rounds of annual holiday cookie baking. The glug of olive oil in the dough not only keeps it moist, but its fruity pepperiness shines through just the right amount, making these a standout from the usual jam-filled cookies of the season. They’re distinctly doughnut-y, and while the recipe calls for strawberry or raspberry jam, Bonne Maman cherry preserves were my filling of choice this time around. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

December 16

Comfort-in-a-Bowl Congee

After stocking up last week, I am putting Hetty Lui McKinnon’s chili oil on everything. Her Butternut Squash Congee, with a drizzle of chili oil and sprinkle of chopped scallion, from NYT Cooking is pure comfort. I ate it three times in as many days and felt sad when I finally ran out of leftovers. —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor  

Toasty, Buttery Moon Pies

We have arrived at the portion of the year where my motto is: You can’t run out of Christmas cookies before the holiday if you just keep making more. Every morning I wake up and think: Do I have enough butter to add something new to the collection today? I did have butter this week and also some leftover snacks from the weekend, which meant Sohla’s Pretzel and Potato Chip Moon Pies were well within my grasp. These are my current favorite cookie period, for a combination of ease, uniqueness, and absolute smash-ability. —Kendra Vaculin, associate food editor

Pretzel and Potato Chip Moon Pies

These grown-up moon pies are made with shortbread cookies loaded with blitzed-up pretzels and salty potato chips—the perfect contrast to the sticky-sweet marshmallows and bitter dark chocolate.

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Decadent, Nutty Banana Bread

I riffed on this banana cake for my partner’s birthday, paired with a tahini buttercream from our friends at Seed + Mill. It was like banana bread’s most decadent yet somehow still down-to-earth cousin. I also grated a little nutmeg into the batter because I think nutmeg goes particularly well with bananas, plus the warm spice really drove the cake into a holiday direction. Topped with toasted, salted sesame seeds, it was one of my favorite birthday cake creations to date. —Joe Sevier, SEO & Cooking Editor

Herby, Spicy Egg Crepe

I go through phases with eggs—one month I’ll have them with breakfast or lunch several days in a row, and the next I won’t even touch the carton. This past week was egg-filled and I found myself replicating Kendra’s Spiced Egg Crepe for One again and again. It’s herb-filled and spice-packed, and it leaves room for customization. For Friday’s work-from-home lunch, I added in some dill and feta, and for Sunday’s 3 p.m. second lunch, I subbed in serrano chiles for the jalapeño and served it with avocado. If you’re intolerant to alliums like me, it’s still fantastic without the shallot and garlic. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate

Spiced Egg Crepe for One

Level up your solo dinner game with this dead simple, spice-packed glorified omelet for one—just don’t forget the ketchup.

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Fluffy, Giftable Marshmallows

When I was growing up, my mom always spent the early days of Hanukkah laboring over a big batch of homemade marshmallows. She’d package them in cute cellophane bags and we’d drop off deliveries to friends, neighbors, the mailman, crossing guards—you get the gist. This weekend I plan to follow her lead and make a batch of ultra-fluffy marshmallows to gift around town. I have a cherished recipe from a pastry shop where I once worked, but these layered two-toned Blood Orange and Coconut Marshmallows are feeding me some inspiration. Vanilla-raspberry marshmallows? Rosewater-orange? Chocolate-coffee? Now we’re talking. —Zoe Denenberg, associate SEO editor

Sick Day Soup

This weekend I was all-I-want-is-soup sick, and Hetty Lui McKinnon’s Tomato and Egg Drop Noodle Soup really came through. As Hetty writes in the intro, it’s “a little sweet and a touch tart”—ideal for days when you want gentle flavors and textures (but don’t miss the swooshes of soy sauce and chili oil at the end for just a little punch). Inspired by a commenter who added shrimp at the end, I threw in some baked tofu after step five for protein, but otherwise I cooked this as-is and it came together fast for a tasty and nourishing meal. —Sonia Chopra, executive editor

Tomato and Egg Drop Noodle Soup

A beloved Hong Kong dish with approximately one billion variations, this soup—which relies heavily on fridge and pantry staples—is meant to be a little sweet and a touch sharp. 

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December 9

Spicy, Rich Sweet Potato Loaf

With the extra sweet potatoes I had from Thanksgiving shopping, I turned to Cheryl Day’s Sweet Potato Loaf Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. Loaded with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange zest, it’s spicy and bright. I made it for a dinner party, but it brought me more joy the next day when I had it with my first cup of morning coffee. Speaking of which, brewed coffee gives the chocolate ganache an extra richness. Don’t skip it. Even those with limited baking skills can handle this delicious and comforting cake. —Dawn Davis, editor in chief

Sweet Potato Loaf Cake With Dark Chocolate Ganache

This tender, gently spiced cake enrobed in dark chocolate ganache requires that you make your own sweet potato purée. And yes, it’s absolutely worth it.

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Spicy, Garlicky Chile Oil

In To Asia, With Love, Everything Oil is the name for Hetty Lui McKinnon’s spin on Sichuan chili oil “because, well, it makes everything taste better.” And that’s exactly why I made a double batch. (Also, it lasts for months.) In addition to the ginger, garlic, star anise, and cinnamon that McKinnon calls for, I added a smidge each of the MSG and mushroom powder in my pantry. As the name predicts, I will use it on everything, but first: Christina Chaey’s Saucy Tofu Noodles—Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor 

Pigs in a Blanket for a Crowd

I’m an anxious host. I overthink, overplan, and (often) overfeed my guests. This year I’m trying to make holiday gatherings a little bit easier by picking recipes that don’t involve making dough from scratch. That’s why I love these mini pigs in a blanket from Rachel Gurjar.  It utilizes store-bought ingredients, and you can customize them with everything seasoning. It’s one of those impressive-looking appetizers that didn’t take much work at all. I’ve served them with an array of dips, which is 90% of the fun. —Urmila Ramakrishnan, associate director of social media

Classic Pigs in a Blanket

Be prepared to watch these fly off the plate. There’s a reason they’re a cocktail party staple. 

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Low-Fuss, High-Reward Pumpkin Cake

My home kitchen is woefully under-equipped with appliances and baking gear (it’s really a space issue) so I find myself repeatedly turning to one-bowl recipes instead of project-y bakes. One of my favorite cookbooks for this is Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi. I baked Arefi’s Pumpkin Olive Oil Cake studded with plenty of bittersweet chocolate for a movie night with friends. An oil-based cake meant no hand mixer needed to cream butter and sugar. And speckles of fruity, warming Diaspora Co. black pepper throughout made it feel special. It was the comforting, low-fuss dessert I needed to stave off the Sunday Scaries. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor 

Fall-Apart, Slow Cooker Pork

The biggest hit after Thanksgiving wasn’t the leftover turkey sandwiches or mashed potatoes, but this cola pork recipe from Christina Chaey. It’s one I’ve now bookmarked for nacho parties or any time I want to have pulled pork on a winter night. It’s great because you pop the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and all but forget about it. What you get is tender, flavor-rich pork to pile on sandwiches, grain bowls, and more.  —U.R.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Is it really summer until you’ve sunk your teeth into a juicy pile of saucy pork on a warm bun?

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December 2

A New Classic Cookie

I’ve made many chocolate chip cookies in my life, classic Toll House included. But Zaynab Issa’s Chewy Date and Dark Chocolate Cookies are my all-time favorite. The recipe is simple, but the end result is, to quote an on-point review, “OMG.” Not only do you get cookies with perfectly crispy edges and chewy centers, but there’s also a wonderful balance of sweet and savory thanks to olive oil and tahini (Butter? I hardly know her.). Do not skip on the flaky sea salt before baking—it’s the difference between a great cookie and an OMG cookie. —Esra Erol, senior social media manager

Chewy Date and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Not just another chocolate chip cookie.

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Creamy, Pickle-y Potato Soup 

You don’t have to know me well to know that I have a deep freezer specifically for soup. Dozens of pints of soup. Because you can never have too much. My most recent batch was our food editor Shilpa Uskokovic’s Perfectly Creamy Potato Soup. Never in my life has a potato soup appealed to me, which became a problem when my CSA sent potatoes every single week for months. This recipe changed me. With pickled peppers, scallions, and dill on top, it’s exactly what I want on a cold day. And it makes a great bring-to-work lunch too. —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor  

Riffable, Reliable Salmon

I always return to this salmon recipe when I need a quick and easy dinner. It’s delicious as is, with rice or flatbread, but it’s also infinitely riffable. This week I swapped the harissa for a couple tablespoons of chili powder and the lemons for limes. Then I stuffed the resulting fish into charred tortillas with a quick kale slaw and crumbled feta cheese. —Joe Sevier, SEO editor

Slow-Roasted Salmon With Harissa

The low temp and abundance of olive oil make this recipe nearly impossible to mess up. You’ll forget there’s any other way to cook fish.

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Sticky-Sweet Tofu

I’ve made this crispy, maple-soy glazed tofu every week for the better part of two years. Paired with white rice and a roasted veg (last night, broccoli), it’s a 30-minute meal that yields enough for lunch tomorrow. If, like me, you only have the patience to drain tofu for approximately five minutes, toss the cubes in a tablespoon of cornstarch before frying to help them crisp up. —Zoe Denenberg, associate SEO editor

Weeknight-Friendly Miso Pasta 

I’m a sucker for weekday pasta, and I just know that this one from Zaynab Issa will end up in my regular rotation. Buttery, slightly browned onions get an umami boost from miso, and without being saccharine, the sauce is thick and sweet. My chives sadly had already gone bad before I could use them for this, but I didn’t miss them; an extra twist of fresh black pepper broke up the beige well-enough. —Serena Dai, editorial director

Jammy Onion and Miso Pasta

Inspired by French onion soup, this pasta is deeply savory, relying on umami-rich miso to deliver flavor fast.

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