Baklava Sugar Cookies and More Recipes BA Staff Made This Week

Bowls of Easy Sugar Cookie Icing in different colors with some decorated sugar cookies.

It’s no secret that BA editors cook a lot for work. So it should come as no surprise that we cook a lot during our off hours too. Here are the recipes we’re whipping up this month to get dinner on the table, entertain our friends, satisfy a sweet tooth, use up leftovers, and everything in between. For even more staff favorites, click here. (And for reader favorites, check out our most popular recipes of 2023.)

December 22

Party-worthy squash pie

Every holiday season, I throw a party with a buffet of pies, tarts, quiche, cobblers, and crisps. The showstopper was a savory pie with layers of phyllo filled with sautéed chickpeas, butternut squash, kale, and tomato. It was seasoned with za’atar, a sharp hit of harissa, and then baked in a springform pan. I love the Middle Eastern flavors, and ombréd colors the pie takes on as it bakes. Many of my friends asked for a plant-based recipe, which I had not fully developed. The closest I could share was our Skillet Phyllo Pie With Butternut Squash, Kale, and Goat Cheese, and our Spanakopita Pie with my notes to use olive oil and to add more legumes and vegetables. I’m reprising this pie this year so that I can write a proper recipe. —Jamila Robinson, editor in chief

Competitive sugar cookies

This year, I’m judging my family’s first-ever cookie decorating contest. To keep the competition on even footing, BA’s Best Sugar Cookies and Easy Sugar Cookie Icing are the base that everyone starts with. I like making sugar cookies over shortbread because of their softer texture. Making your own icing also means experimenting with different colors, or trying your hand at marbling or tie-dye. These two are back-pocket recipes I always turn to. —Urmila Ramakrishnan, associate director of social media

These simple sugar cookies are crisp yet tender, keep their shape when baked, and yes, taste great too. 

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Back-pocket pantry pasta

Sometimes I just need a meal I can make while my attention is diverted by yet another rewatch of Broad City. As is my go-to, I started with this Andy Baraghani recipe, which hits all the right notes: garlicky, lemony, spicy, and a little funky from some tinned fish. From there I went rouge, dumping in some thawed broccoli florets, briny olives, and a green pepper that I almost forgot at the back of my fridge. It was ready in exactly the time of one of Abbi and Ilana’s shenanigans on the TV. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

Nutty, fragrant holiday cookies

I’ve had every single cookie from The BA Cookie Swap on my to-bake list since trying them in the test kitchen. Home with family for the holidays, I finally dove in, starting with these Baklava Sugar Cookies from test kitchen coordinator Inés Anguiano. They are nutty, crisp, and so fragrant from orange blossom water, cardamom, and cloves—great if you want to perfume your home with the warmth of the holidays. —A.S.

Baklava Cookies on a pink background

A snickerdoodle-like exterior with a surprise filling of honey-sweetened, gently spiced pistachios.

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Pasta with chickpeas

A friend recently showed me this Pasta e Ceci recipe while she was visiting, and I immediately fell in love with its simplicity. It’s creamy, cheesy, and comforting, pulling almost entirely from ingredients I always have on-hand, like garlic and parm, which I subbed for Pecorino to no complaints. The results are thick and stew-y, and still filling courtesy of those chickpeas. I like to use those trendy wines-in-a-can when recipes (like this one) call for a half-cup or other small quantity for deglazing. That way, I’m not left with a mostly-full bottle to pump, pour out, or drink on a Tuesday night. —Alma Avalle, digital operations associate

Spicy-sweet carrot salad

The last farmers market of the year was almost apocalyptic, most of the stalls already hibernating for the season. I still managed to snag some swordfish for the freezer and two bunches of carrots. But what to do with them? By the time dinner rolled around, I discovered I had most of the ingredients for a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for months: Zaynab Issa’s Shawarma-Spiced Carrots With Date and Herb Salad. I used my jar of Shawarma Spice from New York Shuk, instead of mixing my own blend. I threw some pomegranate seeds into the salad, since they were on their last days. And I swapped in a suspiciously spicy poblano, in lieu of a jalapeño. All you need is some warm bread (pita for me) and the whole thing goes from side dish to dinner. —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor

Shawarma spiced carrots with date and herb salad on a plate

Shawarma spices aren’t just for chicken and meat.

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December 15

Garlicky lentil soup

I gravitate toward soup recipes that are hearty and heavily spiced, with something fresh at the end to wake up the bowl. Contributor Zaynab Issa’s Red Lentil Soup With Preserved Lemon and Crispy Garlic feels made for me. The lentils break down but still give body to the soup, which I found myself sipping from a mug on the couch. Bites of garlic chips kept me coming back. And the whole thing was punctuated by briny preserved lemon and fronds of fresh dill. —Carly Westerfield, recipe production assistant

Red Lentil Soup With Preserved Lemon and Crispy Garlic in a bowl

That bag of lentils in the back of your pantry is in for a major glow-up. 

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Hot chocolate cookies

A friend hosted a stellar holiday cookie swap party, and everyone pulled out all the stops with their contributions. My cookies: these sparkly, spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. They were chewy and cinnamony with pockets of molten sugar from the marshmallows that bubbled up in the oven. Freezing your marshmallows is key to those picturesque puddles. Otherwise they’ll melt and disappear into the dough while baking. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

Cozy chicken chili

This chili from associate food editor Kendra Vaculin is one of those special dinners that requires very little prep and is very high reward. It’s spicy, it’s tangy, and very comforting. Pro tip: I highly suggest using corn chips like Fritos scoops or crispy fried onions to add more texture. The chili also makes for a great breakfast the next day. —Urmila Ramakrishnan, associate director of social media

Bowl of white chicken chili topped with Fritos cilantro jalapeño avocado and sour cream.

Lightly mash some of the white beans for a creamy, velvety texture without any added dairy.

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Lazy omelet

In the mood for custardy eggs, I turned to this Tortilla Vaga from chef Katie Button for a work-from-home late lunch. I topped it with a shower of Microplaned Parmesan and a drizzle of vinegar from the dregs of my pickled pepper jar. Paired with some olive-oil-fried bread that I rubbed with garlic, it was just what I needed to combat that mid-afternoon slump. —A.S.

Classic tuna melt

After being sent home from the test kitchen with an inordinate amount of canned tuna, I knew what I had to do: The Ultimate Tuna Melt, our most popular recipe of 2023—no easy feat considering the strong contenders on the list. Readers (and staff) couldn’t get enough of it, and now I get why. It’s everything you love about classic, creamy tuna salad with plenty of fresh, crunchy, briny bits for texture and punch. Do as Zaynab recommends and don’t skip the chips and pickle spear on the side. —A.S.

Two halves of a classic tuna melt sandwich stacked on a plate with potato chips covered in Frank's red hot and a pickle...

Everything you love about the diner classic, complete with oil-packed tuna, crunchy celery, red onion and capers for bite, and your favorite well-melting cheese.

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Sheet-pan salmon

I was looking for creative ways to cook up a whole slab of salmon, and I came across this throwback from Chris Morocco. I like that you can be a little flexible on which veggies you use if you don’t have broccoli (I used cauliflower). And I love the tang of the vinaigrette with the salty capers. I made the vinaigrette again to drizzle over other veggies; it works well with cornichons too if you don’t have capers. —U.R.

December 8

Comforting khichdi

To drive away a seasonal bug (and soothe a little homesickness), khichdi is my comfort food of choice. I riffed on this Priya Krishna recipe with what I had in my pantry—toor dal instead of split mung beans, plenty of garlic in place of asafetida—and I threw the whole thing in my pressure cooker to cut the cook time in half. I ate it with a dollop of plain yogurt, and it was a warming, hearty panacea for an especially chilly week. —A.S.

Image may contain Plant Food Produce Vegetable Bean Lentil Dish Meal and Bowl

Orecchiette with spicy sausage

It’s not even 2024 and I’ve already committed to one of my New Year’s resolutions: Cook more from my cookbooks. I’m starting with Julia Turshen’s Small Victories, a special book that aptly calls out lessons and techniques in the headnotes as “small victories.” On my first attempt with this Orecchiette With Spicy Sausage and Parmesan in 2016, I took the pasta out of the boiling water too soon and failed to finish it in the sauce. Older and wiser, I decided to give the recipe another go and was victorious. This pasta is the food equivalent of a warm hug. The spicy sausage and onions pair nicely with the creamy, lemony Parmesan sauce. Turshen says this is her favorite thing to eat on a cold night on the couch in front of a movie, and that’s exactly what this recipe is to me now. —Esra Erol, senior social media manager

Showstopping banoffee pie

I lured my parents over for dinner with the promise of this for dessert: food editor Shilpa Uskokovic’s Simply Brilliant Banoffee Pie. A salty graham cracker crust, nut-studded toffee, and shingled bananas, all blanketed with a comforter of whipped cream. Be still, my heart! Be still! I will admit that a full pie for four people is a little silly. But by no means did the leftovers go to waste. —Emma Laperruque, senior cooking editor

Side view of a slice of banoffee pie with a peanut caramel shingled banana slices and a mound of cream balanced on a pie...

A classic for a reason. Our ultimate recipe has nut-studded toffee, just-ripe bananas, and heaps of whipped cream.

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Spicy, herby roasted squash

When we first crossed paths in the test kitchen, this roasted squash with salsa verde called to me like a siren song. And I answered. It’s just the sort of autumnal-meets-wintery dish that I like to plop next to a loaf of bread and call dinner. Roasted until the skin is crisp and the flesh juicy, orange squash has so much confidence, it is verging on arrogance. I used kabocha; red kuri works too; and if butternut is all you can find, why not? Any variety would taste special with this Calabrian-chile-spiked, garlicky green sauce. While the recipe calls for boquerones to drape on top, I left them out to streamline. And the dish was still the talk of the night. —E.L.

Any-meal eggs and toast

If I have Greek yogurt and eggs in my fridge, I can make a whole meal. And on an evening that was too many days post-grocery run, that once again proved true with these Turkish-style eggs from Mehreen Karim. I’ll admit to frying the eggs instead of poaching, and I unfortunately had no greens to garnish, but regardless, it was everything I needed: garlicky, spicy, and riffable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. —A.S.

Image may contain Food Dish Meal Cutlery Fork Platter and Plant

The best part of these Turkish-style poached eggs on a bed of crispy bread and creamy yogurt is the garlicky spiced brown butter that gets drizzled on top.

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December 1

Grown-up Shirley Temple

As a kid I had an aversion to bubbles so I was never a Shirley Temple drinker. But when I was browsing through nonalcoholic drink recipes in the Epicurious app recently, this grown-up version caught my eye. Cooking down pomegranate juice with warming spices reduces it into a bittersweet syrup that when mixed with tonic or sparkling water makes a fun and festive—and not too sweet!—booze-free drink. I candied cranberries to serve, but dried citrus slices or a twist of peel would work nicely. —Sonia Chopra, executive editor

Shirley Tonic drink with lemon garnish

A grown-up Shirley Temple with holiday-spiced grenadine syrup, club soda, and a twist. Adding Scotch is up to you.

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Sheet-pan mac and cheese

With a surplus of cheddar, the solution was obvious: Rebecca Firkser’s Sheet-Pan Mac and Cheese, which I’ve been eyeing for months. Sure, it takes a little longer than the boxed stuff, but not that much longer. By the time the oven was hot, the rest of the recipe was ready. (For the sauce, I skipped the Parmesan and swapped in even more cheddar.) The result was supremely cheesy, thrillingly crispy, and wholly impressive for how little effort it took. —E.L.

Dinner party ricotta dip

Sometimes you forget you’re having people over for dinner in two hours and you need something that makes it look like you have your act together. Enter this citrusy ricotta dip. It comes together in five minutes with ingredients you likely already have during holiday season. I tasked a friend with bringing the oranges from home, prepped the ricotta, and chopped the dates before everyone arrived. It was the hit of the evening. —S.C.

This image may contain Food Dish Meal Plant Platter and Produce

This is actually just a way to serve people a big old pile of seasoned cheese and pretend like it’s a salad or something.

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Classic gingerbread cookies

The day after Thanksgiving is the official start of Christmas cookie season. I use gingerbread cookies to decorate my tree every year, and this recipe from the Gourmet archives strikes all the right notes. The centers are soft and chewy right after they’ve been baked—which is how I like my gingerbread for eating—but they firm up nicely when air-dried for a day or so and will last the whole holiday season on my tree. I double the spices to give these cookies an extra kick: Combined with the natural scent of my go-to tree (blue spruce), they make my house smell amazing. The other thing I love: Most of the dough is actually made in a pot on the stove, so there’s no need to break out the stand mixer. —Carina Finn, commerce editor

Tiny Hasselback potatoes

Stop what you’re doing and make these Sour Cream and Onion Hasselback Potatoes. Seriously: Stop what you’re doing and make these Sour Cream and Onion Hasselback Potatoes. They start with itty-bitty Yukons, which, as food editor Jesse Szewczyk explains, means “a higher ratio of crunchy scored edges to tender centers.” You can mix up the sauce a day ahead, so come dinner, all that’s left is cutting and roasting. Yes—even with the chopsticks trick, which works wonders—the cutting takes some patience. But aren’t we all trying to become more patient? —E.L.

Sour Cream and Onion Hasselback Potatoes on a white plate with a white sauce underneath

Generous swooshes of homemade onion dip provide a soft landing for tiny, crispy Hasselback potatoes.

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Author:The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors |

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