I’ve always loved challenging myself and trying new things in the kitchen, whether its making homemade ravioli from scratch, breaking out the candy thermometer to make brown sugar buttercream frosting, de-bearding mussels for the first time this summer, or grabbing the recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine…

And immediately declaring “I want to make that”—yep, chocolate ribbons don’t scare me!  Actually they do, but what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Don’t get me wrong, there may be tears involved, as well as a hefty dose of perfectionist-induced stress.  Yes, I’m that person.

But seriously, one of my favorite things about blogging, whether reading others or writing my own, is that it inspires me to try new foods, new techniques, as well as new recipes that I might have at one point dismissed in the past.

So in the spirit of inspiring others to get in the kitchen and try something new, I’ve decided to commit myself this holiday season to trying several new, challenging, & previously unmastered techniques and recipes in the kitchen.  Here are just a few on the list:

Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote (Bon Appétit)

Every thing about this cake sounds delicious, from the pear compote that accompanies it, to the multitude of spices it calls for.  Now all I need is a good excuse or occasion to make it for…or not.

holiday-culinary-challenge-20102New & Creative Stew or Soup

I love soups and thick hearty stews.  I also love finding new recipes, such as my last stew, inspired by Never Home Maker’s Pumpkin Chili.  Now, I’m looking for a new one.  I’m thinking I want to make something tomato-based with a lot of seafood, including shellfish.

Crusty Homemade Bread
The last homemade bread I made this year was my Whole Wheat Cheesy Focaccia, but I’ve been tempted to make more ever since.  I really want to find a great recipe for a crusty bread, which I can make without any fancy equipment.  Send me recipes if you have any! 

Triple Silken Pumpkin Pie (Desserts by the Yard cookbook )

Ok, I’ve been wanting to make this for two years now, and I always end up not getting around to it at Thanksgiving.  But there’s always room for  more pumpkin during the holiday season, so I have decided that this will be happening sooner or later this winter.  Granted, it may not be successful (do you see all those layers?!), but in the off chance that it is, I will be able to eat it.  Good enough reason in my book.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes (inspired by Georgetown Cupcakes)

This one is going to be very difficult, because my re-creation will be based entirely on taste, experimentation, and a lot of adaptation of other recipes.  All I know is that Dulce de Leche and a cream-cheese based frosting is involved.  Help!

Holiday Inspired Cupcakes (inspired by Martha?)

Damn Martha and her adorable cupcake ideas.  I spent 20 minutes today ooh-ing and aww-ing over her cupcake decorations online and desperately thinking of an excuse to make “TV Dinner” cupcakes.  Please inform me of a good excuse if you come up with one!

Bon Appétit Recipes

I subscribe to Bon Appetit magazine, eagerly await receiving it in the mail each month, find tons of recipes which I want to try….and yet, rarely ever end up trying any of them.  What is wrong with this picture?

One of my goals this year is to try more new recipes (not just the old staples) from my cookbooks, food magazines, and favorite blogs.  First step:  Grab post-it tabs and stick them on the pages with your favorite must-try recipes.  This makes it a lot easier to find them in the future, as well as remind yourself to actually make them.

Homemade Panettone

I love a good Panettone.  And actually, you can buy great ones at a lot of stores nowadays and they usually are made with quality, whole ingredients.  My sister always brings back a delicious one from Agata & Valentina in New York City.  It’s probably the best I’ve ever had!

holiday-culinary-challenge-20109I would love to be able to try making this Christmas-time, yeasty delicious Milanese sweet bread from scratch.  It’s a pretty involved process, so we’ll see how it works out.  If you haven’t tried it before, it is delicious.  I’ve also heard it makes a fabulous bread for French Toast or bread pudding.

I’ll need to research a few recipes before I tackle this one!

Good Homemade Pizza

Looks good huh?  WRONG.

I have made homemade pizza with pre-bought dough.  I have made homemade pizza with handmade dough.  They’ve all sucked or been mediocre at best to the point where I’d rather not bother and just eat a frozen Amy’s Pizza.  Become better at this.  That is all.

I think that’s it for now.  As you can tell, my family will be well-fed this Christmas.  And, of course, I plan on sharing all the success/horror stories with each and every one of you!  Or better yet…

Take the Holiday Culinary Challenge along with me!

On a side note, does anyone else think a Brussels sprout stalk looks like an ancient medieval torturing device?  Just throwing that out there.  Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend everyone!

P.S. If you have tackled any of the recipes I’ve mentioned above, feel free to leave a comment with suggestions, recipes, or general advice.  Or suggest additional ideas!  You can also tell me I’m crazy, that’s ok too.  As always, you email also me at bloggingoverthyme AT gmail DOT com.