Saturday, December 25, 2010

Early Christmas Presents

Merry Christmas!

We went down to visit my granny in Georgia and some of my aunts and uncles on Thursday. Along with seeing my family, I picked up some great antique/vintage finds from my granny's house. 

I got some jadeite Swedish modern mixing bowls, a set of pastel striped Pyrex bowls, a black sake set that my dad brought back from Japan while he was in the Navy, a depression glass measuring cup, milk glass plates, and a couple of demitasse cups. 

What a wonderful assortment of early Christmas presents!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Christmas Presents

Basically, everyone knows things taste better with bacon. Its a fact of the world. 

So when I saw Deliciously Organic's recipe for bacon-wrapped steak bites, I knew that Jonathan would die if I made them. 


We tried them tonight and they stand up to their simple, but self-explanatory name of goodness.  I just mixed it up and used some of the apple cider vinegar I had on hand and made the batch bigger for our dinner but it worked perfectly. Even though his mom's chocolate pound cake wasn't so fortunate (it had trouble baking for some reason).

We topped of a big Caesar salad with these bad boys and it was just amazing. We are definitely making these again. I think next week. Or tomorrow :) 

For our after-dinner treat, we baked up some Chocolate Andes Mint Cookies from the Novice Chef (from her Ass Friendly section- so they're less guilt-inducing! So many cookies to try, why make tons of just fattening ones?)

These are going to be my go-to chocolate cookies from now on! They are so light- I'm going to make them with Heath Bar pieces next week too! Go try some- they're amazing. And just replace the Andes mints with something else if you're not a fan. 

It was a great day in the kitchen, except my minor burn from the steam that resulted from cooking my acorn squash for today's lunch with Jonathan's family with water in the pan at 400 degrees. Oops! More on the lunch tomorrow- its time to nom!

4 Hours in the Kitchen: what can YOU do?

Bake 4 types of cookies, of course! We went on a little baking spree yesterday morning to buff up our cookie supplies- we chowed through a bunch over the last couple of days. We made our standby gingerbread, dark chocolate cutouts from Martha Stewart, mincemeat pies (not shown- oops), mini-blackberry pies, and some German cookies with poppyseed filling from the recipe on the can's wrapper.

For the blackberry pies, my mom just thawed out some of the blackberries we picked this summer in a colander to keep them from getting mushy, added some vanilla and sugar and cut out circles from pre-made pie crust. We baked it at 400 degrees for maybe 12 minutes- super simple and it would work with a bunch of different fruits! (See where I get my kitchen experimenting from?!)

Cookies GALORE! And my sister made more after I left to go to dinner... yay! More later on my AMAZING dinner recipe- you'll be jealous!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Cookies

Which one doesn't belong?
I went to visit a friend for a couple days last week and we got the chance to bake her family some cookies. 

I even convinced her to bake a new recipe (she is partial to tried-and-true family recipes) along with her family's chocolate chip cookies. 

We made some fabulous double chocolate mint crunch cookies from the Novice Cook. They turned out more like double chocolate with a teeeeeny bit of mint, but Jonathan said they tasted like thin mints.

Along with getting a little more Christmas shopping done, it was a relaxing time! But I'm glad to be home- more gingerbread to be baked!

How funny is this?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beer for Dinner

I wanted to surprise my dad and make him some dinner with some of the beer he had in the fridge! So I made up some beef and beer chili from Recipes Every Man Should Know (via Eats Well With Others).

And for the side, because beer bread is just so easy, I made some with this recipe. It smells really great and I'm glad that I found some ways to get my dad his beer in a different form! It was a great dinner and I hope you make some up really soon!

Cookies Galore! (And some REAL food too, of course!)

It so good to be back in the kitchen!

After getting more groceries, I whipped up these orange molasses cookies that I found in Eating Well. They turned out well, especially for cookies that only use oats and whole wheat flour!

Wait until the next day if you didn't really like them- they get sweeter and more molasses-y overnight!

Today, I woke up and made some pumpkin and orange muffins from Recipe Book, a blog that I just started following via Swap-Bot. I'm so excited I started following her because the recipes are all amazing! The muffins are super delicious and have a great orange flavor.  I ran out of brown sugar yesterday, so I substituted sugar with a little molasses, via this tip.

And for lunch, I made some roasted pumpkin-apple soup from Eating Well. Don't even try it- it went down the sink drain.

There were a few problems: I halved the recipe that says it is originally for 12 and it looks like it would barely serve 2 people! So I added 1 more cup of chicken broth to lengthen the soup.

It had pretty much no flavor except from the little chunks of apple that my food processor refused to make smaller. It was not sweet but not savory- just bland. Then, my mom tried to add some spices to make it better, but there was no saving that dish. I guess not every dish can be a winner!

At least I baked some more gingerbread cookies! My family ate up the batch I made 2 days ago! We LOVE gingerbread and this time I made mittens and socks! So cute!

Check back later for what I made for dinner! One hint: it involved beer!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

I'm back! After a week of exams and packing to move out, I'm finally home and back in the kitchen! I actually got back Saturday afternoon, but this is the first time I've had a chance to post some stuff, but I've already started the kitchen take over!

On Sunday, I pulled some of the spiced thumbprint dough that I froze over Thanksgiving and put some strawberry-rhubarb preserves in the middle. DIVINE!
And I made some bacon grilled cheese for the family dinner yesterday with sweet potato fries on the side (I followed a recipe, but I apparently didn't put enough oil on the sweet potatoes so most of them burned before actually "blistering" and getting perfect). But they still tasted good!

And I made myself some delicious gingerbread hot chocolate with gingerbread men for dessert! I just added maybe 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (the easy way of measuring gingerbread spices!) into my regular hot chocolate mix that my mom makes. It was delicious! 

I hope your day is wonderful and I'll be posting again more regularly with the recipes that I love to bake and cook! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Your Eggnog's Too Strong!

Your Eggnog’s Too Strong

If you see a fat man …
Who’s jolly and cute,
wearing a beard
and a red flannel suit,
and if he is chuckling
and laughing away,
while flying around
in a miniature sleigh
with eight tiny reindeer
to pull him along,
then lets face it…

Your eggnog’s too strong!!!

Here are some great recipes that are not just the basic eggnog to spice up your holiday season! Drink and eat up!

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars from Martha Stewart

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes from Judy in her Natural Habitat

Anytime Eggnog from Martha Stewart

Eggnog Thumbprint Cookies from Delightful Dessert

Skinny Eggnog from Skinny Tastes

Maple Eggnog from Seasonal Ontario Food

Peppermint Eggnog from Martha Stewart

Eggnog Mousse from Martha Stewart

Eggnog French Toast from Feasting.In

Do you have a favorite eggnog recipe? Do you even make eggnog as a traditional holiday food? My family really hasn't so I'm curious to hear about other families' holiday food traditions!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cozy and Warm

Its just about the perfect time for hot chocolate- after Thanksgiving and the Christmas decorations are coming up and tea and coffee just aren't festive enough. Here are some of the recipes on my to-make list for sure this season!

Nutella Hot Chocolate- Nutella ANYTHING peaks my interest!

Toblerone Hot Chocolate

Candy Cane Hot Chocolate

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate- sounds very "foodie" to me

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Do you have any family recipes that are crowd-pleasers? I just imagine having my friends come over, sitting around the fire and drinking hot chocolate. Yum!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not Just Canned: Cranberry Round-Up

Cranberry sauce that stays in the shape of the can is traditional and all, but lets get out of that rut!

According to Food Reference, cranberries should be stored in an airtight plastic bag and can last up to 2 months in the fridge. Be sure to separate the bad, mushy cranberries from the good ones because the rotting will cause the other berries.

I love fresh cranberries and can't wait to take advantage of their season from October to December, but I feel like cranberries belong between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Here are some of the recipes I have bookmarked to try this season!

Steel Cut Oats with Fresh Cranberries from Meet Me in the Kitchen

Cranberry Bars from Fork Spoon Knife

Cranberry Applesauce from Martha Stewart

Cranberry Liqueur from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Ginger-Lime Cranberry Sauce from The Gluten-Free Hippie

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread from TBD (The Best Dishes)

Cranberry Pancakes from Martha Stewart

These use dried cranberries or cranberry juice instead of fresh cranberries, but sometimes they are just easier to find!

Cranberry Bliss Bars from Lovin' the Oven


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Minty Wonderfulness

Image: Maggie Smith /

Mint is definitely one of my favorite flavors, especially around Christmas because I associate Christmas with peppermint candy canes. Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate peppermint into December besides the traditional candy canes!

Peppermint Patty Cookies from Ava Catau

Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate from Clumbsy Cookie

Chewy Molasses Peppermint Cookies from Tasty Kitchen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blogger Love: Giveaway at Gimme Some Oven

As you can see from my earlier post today, I absolutely love Gimme Some Oven and frequently take her recipes to try! But something great going on over there is her giveaway of a $50 Marshalls Homegoods Gift Card! So head over there and enter!

Delicious: Recipes I Tested After Thanksgiving

I know, I know- you're supposed to cook everything BEFORE Thanksgiving and then enjoy the leftovers all weekend. But my family always eats with our neighbor's family and they take over on the cooking. So I had to spend Friday and Saturday testing out some of the recipes I wanted to try. But it was delicious time spent in the kitchen!

Friday, I woke up and made pumpkin pancakes for my family to try another pumpkin recipe. It was super delicious and tasted vaguely like the pumpkin pie I had enjoyed the day before. Apparently, though, I left the picture on my mom's camera. But trust me, you should make them TOMORROW. They are so easy and super tasty!

After shopping a little in the late morning because crazy shopping in the morning is not my thing, I mixed up some apple cider vinaigrette for a salad with leftover turkey and radishes.  It was a light, refreshing salad to combat the overeating from Thursday!

I also whipped up some spice cookie dough to freeze until I get home in December from the December Martha Stewart magazine. We mixed some up for rolled and cut cookies and some for thumbprints. The pan wasn't big enough to freeze all of the thumbprints, so we just HAD to bake up the remaining three cookies and topped them with key lime marmalade. Yum!

On Saturday, I mixed up some pumpkin biscotti from Gimme Some Oven, but I used Heath bar pieces instead of nuts because my mom doesn't like nuts in baked goods. Go figure. So the biscotti taste more like Heath bars than pumpkin, but are great for a snack.

I also mixed up some of my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe to freeze for Christmas time. The recipe is actually from one of the little box kits at Barnes and Noble with the tiny gingerbread house, but here it is:

Gingerbread Recipe

1 c vegetable shortening
1 c sugar
1 c dark molasses or corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
4 or 4 ½ cup flour

Melt the first 3 ingredients in the microwave.  Stir in the next 5 ingredients.  Then stir in the flour, one cup at a time. (You may want to use an electric mixer on the last cup as the dough gets quite thick and hard to stir).  Split the dough into manageable balls and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 375°

Roll the dough, working with half of a batch at a time on a lightly floured work surface with floured hands.  Knead the dough until smooth.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and roll the dough to 1/8 inches thick.

Dust the cookie cutters in flour so they don’t stick.  Bake the cookies for 6-10 minutes or until they are not over-soft when lightly touched.  Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely.

Oh, and I whipped up this super delicious cranberry pomegranate sauce from Gimme Some Oven. It is really tart, but simple to put together and cook.

And I whipped up some peppermint mint marshmallows and will post a picture when I start handing them out as early Christmas presents with hot chocolate! Beware, though, making marshmallows is quite a process- messy and time consuming but so worth it!

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wonderful Weekend: The Food

Fresh Carrots from City Roots at the Farmer's Market 
(I ended up getting a bunch of them because they looked too good to pass up)

I had the pleasure of going to the Columbia All Local's Farmer's Market this past Saturday at City Roots because the market moves out of downtown when there is a football game downtown. 

It was so great to walk around the farm literally inside of the city and next to the airport. I love being able to see where my food comes from because it just feels right.

And there was a vendor I hadn't seen before. They started their business a couple of months ago as ARTISAN SALT MAKERS. So neat! The lady at the table was so enthusiastic and explained that they only make small batches of their salt and hand grind it for the consistency they aim for.  She also let the group that had formed around her table try a pink peppercorn (actually a berry) and it was delicious! 

They have some great flavors like rosemary, rosemary & pink peppercorn, pink peppercorn, three mushroom, a really strong truffle salt,  and lavender salt. I bought one as a present, but I can't reveal which one here! I'm definitely going to get more when I go back, but I ran out of cash before I went to her booth.

After getting some food shopping done, I made these peanut butter cookies for my friend's wedding shower. I dipped them in dark chocolate because the cookies were not super sweet and the chocolate just was the perfect complement. I think this will be my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe from now on- it doesn't require shortening and all of the ingredients are usually around my house.

And I also made these cinnamon cupcakes but I just made a simple glaze with powdered sugar, a little milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. It was perfect because the cupcakes were a cross between a cupcake and a muffin so a thick icing would have just been too heavy. 

It was a great shower with all of our church friends around and just a refreshing way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I hope you are getting prepared for the big Turkey Day- I'm headed home today to help prepare with my mom and try a great cranberry dressing recipe. I couldn't be more excited to just spend time at home and in the kitchen with my mom (spoiler: she has a ton of molasses and we're making a batch of gingerbread dough for the freezer). 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wonderful Weekend 1: Thrifty Finds

By all accounts, I had a wonderful weekend- my friend and I went shopping for a wedding shower, my dad met me in Columbia and we had a wonderful lunch and walked along the river bank, and my dad even went to the antique store with me!

I was beyond surprised that he agreed to come, but he actually found some cool stuff and enjoyed looking around!

One of the vendors was in the antique mall when we were there and was marking all of his items in various booths 66% off and told us that if we found anything else, he would discount it further! I found this amazing Indian wood carved stand with a detachable top ($17.50) AND a cookbook holder in the same woodwork style ($7.50).

I have been dying for one of the cookbook holders after I saw one at a thrift store and decided to not spend $10 on it (silly me) but I was so excited to find these two pieces!

I also picked up 5 depression glass sherbet cups in my pattern, yellow Madrid. So wonderful! I'm working on creating a 6 piece tea set with plates and bowls and sherbet cups, so this was great! And they were only $2.50 a piece- a steal.

And I went to the Salvation Army on Saturday after going to the farmer's market and picked up a great printed scarf, a weekly meal planner and some Christmas presents.

These weekend make the looking all worth it. I love thrifting and antiquing! 

PS: check back later today for the post about my wonderful FOOD weekend events!