Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pumpkin Ravioli

We made this pumpkin ravioli from Rachel Ray last night and it was a big hit! Well, at least with me, B, and J. M decided to throw up into his plate--little stinker. Needless to say he was sent to bed. But despite his bad review, I highly recommend them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Weekend of Baking

The weekend was spent making lists, planning menus, grocery shopping, baking, and preparing for the big day.

We made Almontina Cookies--so pretty and pie-like. This was a lot of work for just over a dozen cookies. I think my cutter was a little too big though. If I can find a smaller one, it may be more worthwhile. I love the almond paste in it.

We made Pistachio Linzertorte with Cherry Jam from Paula Deen. I really like these, but they're also a lot of work. They break easily and are hard to give as gifts. I'm not sure the boys liked these as much as I do.

We also made classic sugar cookies and decorated them with white icing and colored sugar. Those are the boys' favorites. We just use an old recipe that my mom gave me and we used when I was growing up.

I made Christmas Crack. The recipe I use is slightly different than the one in that link. I use

35 saltines
1/2 C butter
3/4 C brown sugar
6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped pecans

This is one of my absolute favorites and I attribute to giving me a bad cholesterol reading one year in early January (right after Christmas). It's called crack because you can't stop eating it. I'm already thinking about making a second batch....

We made Cake Balls, which were an absolute disaster! I've heard so much about these on BBC's Bargain Board--those ladies go crazy over them--but mine sucked. I think it was because I used Ghirardelli Baking Chocolate though. It just wouldn't melt right. I should have got that cheap baking bark. Mine turned out looking like shit balls. I really should get a pic to post. The combo I used was yellow cake with chocolate frosting dipped in semi-sweet and white chocolate. Everyone else liked the taste (they said the chocolate ones tasted like Ho-Hos), but I'm just not a huge cake person. I won't bother trying again to make something that was such a PITA and that I don't even like all that much anyway.

I made Glazed Nuts--a recipe from my MIL:

Place 1 lb. nuts (she uses walnuts, I use pecans) in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pour 1/2 C sugar in and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes, stirring twice. Fry in oil and drain. I can never get these nuts to crisp up, so I stick them in the oven after (350 degrees until I like the consistency of them).

Last, I made Cheese Balls. This recipe makes 2 and they are spicy and sweet. They're best if you make them at least two days ahead of time. I usually don't add the cherries.

2-8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 small can diced jalapenos
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained well
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries (optional)
More chopped pecans (approximately 3/4 cup) for rolling the ball in

Beat the cream cheese until soft. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (minus the second batch of pecans for rolling). Divide into two balls and roll in the chopped pecans. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

Happy Holidays and Good Eating!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The First Day of Christmas Cookies

Okay, so I'm running a little late on the days of baking. Stomach flu struck our house (just the kids so far--fingers crossed), and I didn't want to bake in a House of Germs.

These coconut bars were wonderfully easy and incredibly delicious. Even B, who doesn't really like coconut, liked them. I had a hard time keeping J (and myself) out of them (M refused to eat his dinner and didn't get any). Next time I'll make a double batch.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amusement of the Day

Thanks to Phoebe for turning me onto the blog "Fuck You, Penguin," "a blog where I tell cute animals what's what." It's a new addition to my blog roll on the left. Enjoy!

And fuck you, cute little rabbit that lives in the bush by my work parking spot. Don't you know it's winter and you should be hibernating or some shit? You think because you're so little and furry...and twitchy...that's okay to hang out under my car? You and your twitchy little paws can go suck a big fat donkey dick.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marco's Coal Fired Pizza

This weekend we went downtown for the Parade of Lights. The parade was extra lame this year. There were a couple of instances when there was up to 15 minutes between floats! What's up with that? The person in charge of organizing the floats, etc. should be fired. The crowd, and especially the kids, got really restless.

Before hand, we went to Marco's Coal Fired Pizza, which I've been reading such good things about, and it was tasty. They gave the kids pizza dough to play with, which is always a fun touch.

The boys shared a Margherita pizza (Fresh Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Fresh Basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil) without the basil, upon recommendation from our server, when we asked him what picky kids like.


J liked it:


but M wasn't too thrilled about it. Hey, if it's not a Red Baron 4 cheese frozen pizza, he's not happy. Little stinker.

B and I shared their famous coal-fired chicken wings (served with grilled onions and
focaccia bread). They're lemony and delicious. I'm not a huge wing person, but I really liked these. We also shared the Toscana pizza (Fresh Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Topped with Arugula, Grape Tomatoes, Prosciutto di Parma, Gran Cru and Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Very tasty!


It was a fun place to have a great pizza and some good wine or beer (I had a glass of Cara Mia Prosecco and a Stella) that you can actually take the kids too. We'll be back again, I'm sure.


Life is GOOD

B got a 20% raise yesterday and they promised him another 15% in the New Year!

Thank goodness, since I've spent so much money on Christmas! :-)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Almost Forgot to Post These

Halloween pics! We went as internet sites. B was a guy from passedoutphotos.com and I was a lolcat. I had SO much fun doing his costume!




Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Okay, how did I not know that Sufjan Stevens has Christmas music EPs? Thanks to Phoebe for posting songs on her myspace. I just bought a box set of Christmas music from him on half.com for less than 20 bucks! Woot!

Friday, December 5, 2008

So, While I'm Eating All This Food...

...at least I'm working out and I can prove it. I just won a $50 gift certificate from my gym for attending more classes than the average joe!

But, oops, it's a gift certificate for the...grocery store! Now I can eat even more.

Our Kick Ass Thanksgiving Dinner

We had an amazing dinner. It was just us, which was a first. B and I worked hard in the kitchen and were so proud of our efforts.

The turkey recipe we used was Herb-Roasted Turkey with Shallot Pan Gravy. It was literally the best turkey I ever had. I'm not a huge turkey person, but loved this. And most surprisingly, M (who doesn't eat anything) ate FOUR portions!

I made my famous Apple & Pecan Stuffing. I don't really have an official recipe--just wing it. I tried finding something similar once for printed posterity and copied this one from Joy of Cooking, I think, and made notes on what I do different. Here is what I wrote down:

1 C chicken broth (I use more)
1/2 C chopped celery (I use more)
1/4 C chopped onion (I use more)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
4 T butter (I use more)
1/2 t salt
4 C toasted bread (I use cornbread, and good, hearty white and wheat bread--I like it with all 3)

1/2 C pecans
1 t sage (I use less)
1/4 t (or more) cinnamon
1/8 t pepper
(I add nutmeg, but not sure how much)

Saute celery, onion, apples (you may want to add these a little later in the saute-ing) and butter in large pan until soft. Add broth and salt and bring to boil and simmer, covered ~ 5 min.
In large bowl, combine everything else. Pour broth and veggie mixture over dry ingredients and toss gently.
Turn into greased casserole and bake covered 25-30 min. at 350.
Makes 6 cups

I made Paula Deen's Sweet Potato Bake, which is the bomb! It's like having a dessert as a side dish.

In addition we had cranberry sauce (the real stuff!), mashed potatoes, and cherry pie.

The only disappointing dish was my cherry pie which was overdone, despite cooking it for less than the indicated time. But I made up for it when I made the cranberry bars later in the weekend.

Another yummy recipe for leftovers I found in the same magazine was for Bacon & Cheese Stuffing Gems. Mmmmmm!

Now, time to plan Christmas dinner!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hello, My Name is Bitchilla...

...and I am addicted to toy deals on Amazon.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You Need to Make This Dessert

Since I'm the only one in the house that eats cranberry sauce, I had a lot leftover. So I decided to make this recipe for Cranberry Bars from Hallmark Magazine.

For some reason I wasn't expecting much, but they are HEAVENLY! They have a shortbread crust and a fruity cake-like top.

It was pretty easy too. So go get yourself some cranberry sauce (I used the real stuff, but that's easy to make). You don't have to use leftovers. And make it.

I highly recommend eating them warm with real whipped cream, but cold with no whipped cream is good too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another holiday book giveaway!

It's another chance to win signed copies of the hottest books of the holiday season!

Here's another (yes, another!) chance to win a box full of books. The winner will get signed copies of all of these fabulous reads:

by Tali & Ophira Edut

SCOT ON THE ROCKSby Brenda Janowitz

by Brenda Janowitz

by Mindy Klasky

WIFE GOES ONby Leslie Lehr CITY DOGby Alison Pace


TIME OF MY LIFEby Allison Winn Scotch

To enter, just email brenda@brendajanowitz.com and write “Another holiday book giveaway” in the subject line. You must be a subscriber of the www.brendajanowitz.com mailing list to enter.

Want extra entries? Post a blog entry about this giveaway and/or email five friends about it. For each blog entry and each email you send out, you'll get another entry to win!

Winners will be announced on December 16. So what are you waiting for? Enter today!