Friday, December 31, 2010

Love, Love, Love

Happy New Year's Eve!

Here we are at the end of 2010.  This year flew by and just when I am ready to move (sadly) on from Christmas more presents keep coming.  Last night when I got home from work there was another box from my cookie exchange partner.  I am one lucky girl.  J from A Half Baked Life decided to make a second round of goodies.  This time was white chocolate, cranberry cookies and cream cheese brownies.   One of my favorite all time cookies are white chocolate, cranberry.  Jordan is in ultimate heaven with all of the sweet treats around.  So much for him being worried about poison.  Thanks J!  They were delicious; we ate a few before I grabbed my camera.

 I also got a package from a dear friend who I don't get to see nearly enough.  I hope that changes in 2011 but the resolutions will come tomorrow.  Anyway for some reason or another people tell me some weird things.  More than once I have been told I eat like a rabbit.  I am not sure if this is a compliment or not.  I think of rabbits eating lots of greens and not that much.  Clearly this was told to me before I lived with Jordan.  I kind of think I eat like a very carnivorous horse.  I run so I can keep eating but even then I don't know if I am successful.  Anyway that is not the point.  I received this gift with a note saying it was "very Emily".  I get this a lot too like certain things are just me.  It's hard to get my mind around some of the time but I will have to say I like these napkins very very much.

Each napkin has a very classic picture of a rooster. I am a bit obsessed with roosters.  Don't ask me why.  In real life I will run very far from them.  Do you know how vicious roosters can be?  They are mean!  I do think they are very pretty though and I love having things reflecting that beauty.  In the past few years they have become quite trendy but my obsession started way back in high school when I worked at a farm.  That was some 8 years ago (YIKES!).

Maybe in another post I will document my rooster collection.  I will be posting a Christmas recap some time soon as Jordan and I got all sorts of sweet things.  I feel so lucky and fornuate to have such great friends and family.  Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

This was quite a year.  Here is a look back at some of my favorite memories in no particular order...

Do you remember these posts?  I cannot wait to see what 2011 brings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another one bites the dust

I woke up this morning knowing that I would need an extra boost to get through the day. I have been dragging lately. Getting home a half day late really threw off my plans for what I wanted to get done.

Sometimes it is hard to eat something so cold in the morning when it is snowy outside but I slurped this smoothie down no problem.

Look at my little car. Thanks to my great hubby I could drive this morning. Yesterday when we got back I was plowed in. I had about a foot of snow behind me and two feet on the driver's side. He said it only took about 30 minutes but I am grateful not to have to rely on him to get around. I think he is grateful for this as well.

When we got back to the apartment we had all sorts of goodies waiting for us. Silly me, I thought Christmas was over. We had a pile of mail with fun Christmas cards, and a few packages. Two of them were from completing things off of our wedding registry. We got a sweet 12 inch griddle pan and a 5 inch Santuko knife.

Maine allowed me some extra time to read and relax. I am was able to finish a fun, what I call smutty book a friend of mine at work loaned me. Jennifer Weiner wrote In Her Shoes. You might remember the movie they made. Anyway this novel Good in Bed entertained me on the play to and from West Virginia and then in Maine. Unfortunately I finished it right before the snow started so I lacked reading entertainment on the snow day.

I enjoyed the book and I do want to mention the title is a bit of misnomer. It refers to a magazine column one of the charactors in the book reads. Fun read!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

7 Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (festa dei sette pesci), celebrated on Christmas Eve, also known as The Vigil (La Vigilia), is believed to have originated in Southern Italy. This celebration is a commemoration of the wait, Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. The number seven is believed to come from the Divinity number of 3 and the number of the earth 4. Added together, 7, represents God on Earth or Jesus.

I have always been a bit intrigue by this and so this year I proposed to my mother that our Christmas eve meal be some combination of seafood. We are in Maine after all. Now, this is a typical Catholic celebration and we are not Catholic but really who cares.

Knowing that we were in for several days of good eating I wanted to make sure we got in some greens. I made some really good homemade croutons. Croutons are so good homemade, and so easy. I will have to post a quick recipe sometime. Anyway, I find that they can really make a salad and being winter and all I have issues eating cold salad all of the time. With croutons though there is no problem.

We stated off the meal with some shrimp cocktail.

My dad loves scallops. Its his favorite seafood dish and thus we had to make it.

I used them to add to my salad.

See them in there?

And well what is more seafood and Christmasy than lobster. They are so bright red. Unfortunately my brother was not around so we had no races.

We also had my dad's famous clam chowder. I had to make a special request for this - it has been a very long time since I got to have any. It is so good and basically I can no longer order it at restaurants because it just doesn't come close to how good this version is.
Now I know I know this was only four fishes - clams, shrimp, scallops and lobster. Actually they were all shellfish but still. It was our first time. It was great fun and way better than some of the traditional cold cod dishes and anchovies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stuck in Maine

I should be back in Connecticut tonight. Instead we are stuck in Maine. It started snowing at 6pm last night. We had hopes of it ending sometime this morning and being able to leave by noon. Alas, it just kept snowing and snowing. The wind picked up as well; it was/is one blustery day!

This picture was Jordan's car when we were still contemplating leaving. It was after we had plowed the driveway clear of 7 inches of snow!

I suppose some can say its pretty. And it is at times when you don't have plans to be somewhere else.

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be a bit calmer!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Maine

Home Sweet Home! And look at what we found.

We arrived in Maine last night. Burr it's cold! But all of the cooking and baking going on is sure making the temperature rise fast. Today with we are at my parent's house.

Today on the agenda:
1. Open stockings
2. A bit of holiday baking
3. Wrap remaining presents
4. Quality gym time before the cookie munching begins
5. Relaxing with Christmas music
6. Seafood feast for dinner
7. Maybe open some presents :)

If I don't get anything in tomorrow, as it will be a very busy day with Jordan's family.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Need a little kick, these are the cookies for you!

Ultimate Ginger Cookie
2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved

•2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
•1/4 cup vegetable oil
•1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
•1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
•1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
•Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute.

4. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

5. Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans.
6. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Tonight its off to Maine!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Can I tell you how much I love reading the comments on the posts. It makes me feel connected and important. Sad, I know but it really does make my day when I see someone has commented. I decided after yesterday's post it would be a fantastic idea to let you see where I am.

Yep, that's right, the purple dot is me. Now maybe you understand a bit more when I state how much I want to be home.
But on to the point of this post. I was super busy this past weekend doing Christmas baking. I love it so without further adieu let the baking begin...

Triple Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 3 dozen

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 6oz chocolate chunks
• 6 oz white chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt 4 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly.

2. Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks.

3. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 15 minutes (cookies should be soft). Let cool on parchment on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

If you stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds, they return to the warm, gooey goodness of fresh out of the oven.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let the Baking begin...almost

I am in ice cold West Virginia for a few days. If you are lucky I might post a picture of where I am so you might have a better idea. I am not in a very holiday spirit. I want to be home with Jordan preparing for our trip to Maine for Christmas. To get a bit cheerful, to be pleasant for my co-workers, I am listen to Christmas music in the hotel room (Sorry to my neighbors if they can hear me), and posting about yummy Christmas flavors.

Peppermint bark

Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional

1. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each time till melted.

3. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate

4. Add peppermint flavoring.

5. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm.

6. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.)

It makes a great Christmas gift for a special someone with a sweet tooth!

Monday, December 20, 2010


What do you do when you have a ton of veggies to use and its freezing outside? Why not roast them?

I really love roasted veggies. You can make a huge pan in advance and then eat through out the week. In the winter roasted veggies are a great way to get your veggie intake for the day. I have real issues in the wintertime eating cold salads. I always feel like I am not getting enough veggies. Anyway I love adding hot veggies on a bed of greens. You can also have them on hand to make a quick omelette or add on top of any grain - rice or couscous. Today however we shall have soup.

Roasted Veggie soup

1/2 bag baby carrots
1/2 quart grape
1 quart mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 head broccoli
2 cloves garlic
2 cans chicken broth

1. Cut up veggies in bowl. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay on cookie sheet and roast in oven set at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. Veggies should be soft but not mushy.

2. Saute mushrooms and garlic in sauce pan till tender.

3. Put veggies and chicken broth in blender. Depending on blender size this may take two batches.

4. Blend to consistency you desire. I like to have it thicker with mini veggies pieces.

5. Top with shredded cheese if desired.

So it does look a bit like baby food but it was very very tasty. I loved it. The batch made a ton so I used lots of containers to have lunch for the next day and some to freeze for another cold night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A weekend cut short

My weekend ends early this week. I have to go to West Virginia this afternoon. I am not looking forward to it. It is Sunday and Jordan just got home. It's the week of Christmas and although I am done with shopping I still feel like I have a ton to do. I don't want to leave! To make matters worst I think I had one of the most perfect Saturdays. Here is a little piece...

We had our special dinner on Saturday night since I was going to be driving somewhere in West Virginia come Sunday evening. Jordan proclaimed first thing in the morning that he wanted a home cooked meal after eating out all of last week. I came up with a healthy chicken, green bean, and red potato concoction. As normal Jordan added some of his heart attach flair.

Jordan's plate - see the bacon piled on top of the barely visiable chicken tenders. Under that is a blue cheese butter mixture.

My plate had some arugala and not blue cheese butter but just a touch of bacon.

As if that weren't enough we shared some Christmas cookies...more on the cookies to come.

Jordan's bacon fat, butter, garlic, and blue cheese mixture. He said it was the best thing ever. I think I might have died if I sampled it.
His bacon

I tried to stay out of the kitchen since normally we spat over the best way to cook dinner. I kept my mouth shut tonight knowing that he always uses both olive oil and butter.

Everyone rolls there eyes at me when I say Jordan uses so many pots, pans, and dishes when he cooks. Do you believe me now? This isn't even that bad for him and you can't even see the two other cutting boards on the other side of the oven.

But do you see the pretty pots. I love the Caphalon Unison set we got for the wedding. Thanks mom and dad! The fancy glass tops remind me of France.

Enough about dinner though. We braved Route 1 in Milford, CT to make a trip to Trader Joe's. I got some of my favorites and this big book of Joe-Joe's. I have never had them but heard they are delicious. They only come out at the holidays and the individual boxes were already sold out. I cannot wait to sample the pepper, double chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, and ginger sandwich cookies. Yum, Yum!

I did a lot of baking Friday night and Saturday morning for the cookie exchanged. This was the finished product. Recipes to come later this week - Ultimate ginger cookies, Triple chocolate chunk cookies, and old time favorite Peppermint bark.

Just as I got back from shipping my cookie box off, I found this at the front door. My cookie exchange box with Chocolate toffee, pinwheel cookies, and sugar cookies. Our aparmtent is full of cookies and they are all so good!

I also go my hair chopped off. I love getting my hair shampoo'd and cut by a professional. It feels so soft for days. Since the wedding my hair has gotten ridiculously long - 9 inches in total was chopped off and now I feel like I am going through a bit of an identity crisis. Oh well it will grow back soon enough. Happy weekend and be on the look out for all of the recipes to come this week!

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