While our focus is usually centered around the fastest way to get dinner on the table, we think it's luxurious to have a few hours to just cook. Lucky enough to have more than a few days off? Why not try several projects? We've rounded up 15 of our favorite projects for an afternoon or snowy weekend. Let's get cooking!
1. Bake bread: Once a common task, few of us make bread daily (or even monthly!) these days. Start basic if you're a bread newbie (or even try a no-knead recipe). Go for sourdough or brioche if you're up for a challenge.
2. Make vanilla extract: It couldn't be an easier project, but the results are always impressive. Even better, make several batches in small bottles to save for gifts.
- Get a recipe: How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
3. Make pasta: Homemade pasta is one of those cooking tasks everyone wants to try. Invite a few friends over and try out a batch, then cook it for dinner — instant dinner party!
- Learn how: How To Make Fresh Pasta from Scratch
4. Make mozzarella: This one has been on my list for some time. With the right equipment and supplies, it's a project with relatively quick (and delicious) results.
- Learn how: How To Make Homemade Mozzarella
5. Make tomato sauce: You can never have too much tomato sauce in the freezer, as it can be used on the fly for any number of dishes (pasta, meatballs, pizza, as a quick vegetable sauce, etc.). Try this version with canned tomatoes — ideal for winter months!
- Learn how: How To Make Marinara Sauce
6. Make candles: If you've ever wanted to sidestep those ultra pricey designer candles by making your own (at a fraction of the price!), there's no time like the present.
7. Make yogurt: This one is way simpler than I would have thought. Basically, start with yogurt, add milk, and wait for more yogurt to develop. Couldn't be easier!
8. Bake croissants: A true labor of love, these will take you more than a day to make (don't worry, most of it is inactive). But what's better than homemade croissants just out of the oven?
9. Infuse vodka: Ever go to those ultra hip bars where they infuse their own spirits? It's as easy as steeping your favorite herbs, fruits, or even peppers in liquor. A perfect holiday project!
10. Make freezer meals: Less of a complicated holiday project and more of an endeavor to plan for the new year, taking a few hours to stock up your freezer can be a very good use of time.
11. Dip dye a tablecloth: We love the look of a bright, not-too-fussy tablecloth, and dip dyeing makes for the ultimate customized result. This is a great project for those in warmer climates; those snowed in may want to hold off until the temperatures warm up or use a laundry room instead of rinsing and drying outside.
12. Cook cassoulet: We never seem to have the time to make cassoulet, the classic French dish with confit, pork, sausage, beans, and everything else good in the world. When could be better than a long winter weekend to try it out?
13. Bake macarons: Labor intensive and notoriously finicky, these pastries will be the perfect showcase for your New Year's Eve party.
14. Make soap: A perfect hostess gift, making your own soap is a fun, crafty way to spend an afternoon. Try adding your favorite scents and herbs to make the soaps uniquely yours.
15. Cook boeuf bourguignon: Another notoriously laborious cooking project, this hearty dish is just made for December. Try our slow-cooker version below.
What kitchen projects have you always wanted to try?