Today is December 21st, and we are now fully immersed in the holiday season. Actually, some holidays have passed. Hanukkah is over, Christmas is this week (WHAT), and 2020’s end is in sight. Even if this year had been perfect, the holiday season brings a lot of strong feelings for a lot of people, positive and negative. If you’re looking for a little, lighthearted escape read that keeps the holiday spirit high, or if you’re not really a romance reader (like me) but wouldn’t mind a cute Christmas love story, In a Holidaze by the literary dynamic duo Christina Lauren (two people who use Christina Lauren as their combined pen name) is a great choice.
A Brief Review
🍔 🍔 🍔 🍔 / 5 burgers
(New rating system. What do y’all think?)
Okay, so. I’m not a romance reader. It’s just not my cup of tea, so this is not the type of book I’d typically go for. I also recognize that it’s not perfect, particularly deep or insightful, and sometimes follows cliches.
But here’s the thing.
I needed this read. I actually felt refreshed when it was done, and I had a lot of fun reading it. With the year we’ve all had, I do not mind a read that doesn’t challenge me much intellectually, because it absolutely delivers in escapism and entertainment value. Also, this book isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t. It’s a captivating story with a main character to whom I can absolutely relate (mid/late twenties woman who agonizes over doing the ~correct~ thing all the time). AND, there’s a fun (if not completely fleshed-out) time travel element. Time travel is kind of par for the holiday story course, (hello A Christmas Carol), but this book is less Ebenezer Scrooge, and more Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
Maylen Jones is having her usual holiday, spending it at the Utah cabin with her brother, divorced parents, and family friends who are more like family. After Christmas has passed and it’s back for everyone to return to their normal lives, Maylen is driving back to the airport with her family while she reflects on her life. Feeling stuck, she begs the universe to show her what will make her happy.
Then, a loud metallic CRASH. Everything goes black. When Maylen wakes up, she finds herself back on the plane to the cabin, before the holidays and the car crash, in a Christmas loop. She quickly learns that one wrong move, and the universe will send her right back to that plane. She’s forced to confront herself head-on and change her ways lest she relive this Christmas forever.
So, why cheese blintzes? Well, Maylen’s parents’ friend Aaron, who’s going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, always makes cheese blintzes every year at the cabin.
Aaron made his bubbe’s famous cheese blintzes this morning, but didn’t eat a single one, choosing instead to sip on a protein shake and insist he was ‘perfectly content without all that dairy’ and has ‘never felt better.’ Now he’s on the porch in ripped skinny jeans, a floral bomber jacket, and a pair of trendy thick-soled sneakers that look better suited to waling around in a spaceship than in six inches of fresh snow.In a Holidaze, page 80 (Kindle edition)
These blintzes are mentioned quite a few times (because Maylen keeps reliving her holiday), and every time, my mouth watered. I chose to pair these with this novel mostly because I wanted to make them and try them for myself.
Blintzes vs. Crêpes
Generally, a blintz is a thin pancake, or crêpe, wrapped around some type of filling, typically fruit or cheese. They’re an iconic food in Jewish culture, and they seem to be Russian in origin. Like many of the dishes we make on this blog, it’s specific inception seems to go so far back in time that it’s very difficult to trace.
The crêpe part of the blintz is seen in many different cultures, most notably French. Crêpes can also come stuffed with savory or sweet filings. While these two dishes are similar in many ways, there are a couple of differences. Blintzes are always served with a filling, while crêpes are often served on their own or with lighter toppings. Beyond how they’re served, they were born in different places. Blintzes have a Slavic origin, and crêpes are certainly French.
Making Cheese Blintzes
After eating these, I completely understand why they’re considered a comfort food in Jewish cuisine. They are incrediblyyyy satisfying, a perfect holiday treat.
First thing’s first, you’ll want to make your crêpe batter. Here’s a visual depiction of the batter ingredients:
Once you combine all of these well, chill the batter in the fridge for at least an hour until you’re ready to assemble your blintzes.
Moving on to the cheese filling. Here’s what you’ll need:
Just like with the batter, you’ll want to combine all of these well and then chill in the fridge. I recommend using a food processor to mix both—so easy and effective.
Once it’s time to cook your crêpes, you’ll do it in a pan/skillet that has about eight inches of diameter. Cook each side until just cooked all the way through, and they’ll look something like this when they’re done:
You’ll want to start assembly once they’re all cooked and your filling is cooled. See the recipe for specific steps, and I’ve included photo guidance after the recipe to help as well. We’re basically making burritos—small, sweet, delectable little burritos.
Once they’re done, top them with that yummy blueberry topping you just whipped up, hit them with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and there you have it! These babies make for an amazingggg holiday brunch or breakfast (or even dessert). I’ll definitely revisit this recipe many times whenever me and my family are craving some festive comfort food.
Cheese blintzes with blueberry topping
- 1 cup milk I used 2%.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour Other flours may be used, but definitely look up a specific blintz/crêpe recipe that uses that type of flour.
- 2 tbsps sugar
- 3 tbsps melted unsalted butter Plus more butter for cooking
- dash salt
- cool water As needed to help with consistency before cooking crêpes
- powdered/confectioner's sugar For dusting before serving
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese Preferably full-fat
- 3 tbsp powdered/confectioner's sugar sifted
- 1 tsp lemon extract or zest of one lemon, or juice of one lemon
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsps unsalted butter
- 1 pound blueberries I used frozen, but fresh will also work.
- ½ cup sugar Can add more, if desired
- 1 lemon's juice
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Mix together the milk, flour, eggs, salt, butter, and sugar until well combined. I used a food processor, and I highly recommend it. Refrigerate your batter for at least an hour.
- Once your batter has rested, remove it from the fridge and give it a stir. We're looking for a consistency that's slightly more runny than typical pancake batter. If your batter is too thick, add cool water (a tbsp at a time) until the desired consistency is reached. Be careful not to make the batter too watery.
- If you have a crêpe pan…awesome. Get that out and heat it over medium heat. If you don't have a crêpe pan, a nonstick skillet works fine. That's what I used. 🙂 Be sure to use a large one, about 8in.
- Once your pan is hot, either spray with nonstick spray or coat in a little butter. We'll be flipping the crêpe, so we don't want it to stick.
- Pour just enough batter into the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Let cook for a bit, about thirty seconds, until the batter begins to solidify.
- Use a spatula or wooden spoon to loosen the crêpe from the pan, and then flip it to cook the other side. No need to get fancy and flip in the air (but if you want to, go for it! It's a lot of fun!). Using your spatula/spoon as a crutch totally works. Just make sure not to fold the wet batter onto itself.
- Cook the other side until it's completely cooked, about another 30 seconds. You'll know when the crêpe is done when it's completely solid and lightly toasted but not crispy.
- Once cooked, cover and set aside until you're ready to assemble the blintzes.
- Once you're ready to assemble, preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Lay out a crêpe, then spoon about two tbsps of your cheese filling onto the bottom half of the crêpe.
- Then, fold the bottom edge closest to the filling over the filling to just cover it. (See the photos I included above for visual guidance.)
- Next, fold the sides over to the center.
- Finally, roll from the bottom up until you've made a little burrito shape. Place them opening-side down on a plate until all of your blintzes are made.
- Heat a cast iron (what I used) or other skillet that you're able to use in the oven over medium heat. Melt butter in it to coat the bottom. Fry your blintzes on each side (start with the opening side to seal) for a couple minutes until lightly browned and crisp.
- Bake your blintzes in the 400°F oven for about 10 minutes. Once they're done, transfer them to plates, spoon your blueberry topping over them, and dust with powdered sugar to serve.
- Mix together your ricotta, cream cheese, lemon extract, egg, and powdered sugar until combined. You could probably get the job done with a hand mixer, but a food processor will make very easy work of it.
- Chill your mixture for about an hour so it can firm. Remove when you're ready to assemble your blintzes.
- Mix together your blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and butter in a small pot (I used a saucepan) over medium heat. Bring to just boiling, and then lower the heat to low. Cook until fully combined and juicy. Remove from the heat, and let it thicken at room temperature until it goes from hot to warm before serving.
Wrapping It Up…get it?
So, what did y’all think? How’d you like In a Holidaze…did you find it delightful or just a pinch too basic? ALSO, if you have any other blintz recipes in your back pocket, please, PLEASE send them my way. When we lived in Scranton, our local deli made incredible potato blintzes, and since we’ve left, I’ve been thinking about them at least every other day. We could all stand to add more blintzes into our diets.