Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pearl Onions with Olive Oil and Thyme

Butternut and Pearl Onions3

Ready for some veggies? After all the chocolate and cookies and cakes, all I'm looking forward to between Christmas and the New Years Eve bash is some veggies. I've made these a few times in the past month and they are mine all mine. I say that cause there really are certain things that are just mine.

I don’t have to share them with anyone else.

Being the only female in a house filled with testosterone can sometimes have its challenges. Ask me how many times I’ve almost fallen in the toilet in the middle of the night cause no one puts the lid down? Go on…I’ll let you…lots of times!

There are some perks though:

No one ever borrows my clothes, or mixes their underwear up with mine. I don’t have to worry about anyone taking my nail polish, or wearing my sandals.
I'm treated like a queen on Mother's Day.

Since I'm the only crier in the house, they instinctively bring me tissues when I'm watching Oprah or a sad movie.

Sometimes it’s nice being the only girl.

Butternut and Pearl Onions1

Since I live with a bunch of picky eaters, I don’t have to share certain food with them either. Some of the food that are mine all mine:

Cabbage
Pomegranates
Chestnuts
Squash - of any kind.
Eggplant
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Bakala (salted Italian cod)
Rice Pudding

The list could go on and on. The nice part of not having to share is that I get to make some dishes just the way I like them. No catering or worrying about anyone else eating it but me.

This is one of those dishes. It’s simple. There really is no recipe but I’ll write down how I prepared it for you. It's the perfect chilly weather food too.

Butternut and Pearl Onions2

I love to pop this in the oven, and let the aroma fill the house. Then I selfishly sit wrapped in a blanket and eat every single bite.

No sharing.

Sometimes that’s a good thing.

Butternut and Pearl Onions1

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pearl Onions with Olive Oil and Thyme
1 medium butternut squash, but into cubes
1 package frozen pearl onions (I got mine at Trader Joes)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (I got mine in the garden, lol, the frost hasn't killed everything yet)
Enough olive oil to coat
salt & pepper to taste

Grab a big bowl and toss in your butternut squash. Nuke the onions a little so that they are not still frozen, but not completely thawed either. Mine felt a wee bit cold in the center. Toss those in the bowl too. Add in the fresh time. Now drizzle the olive oil all over until everything is nicely coated but not drenched. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 450 for to ...... or until the edge begin to caramelize. Cool slightly (just enough so you don't burn your tongue off, not that I've ever burnt my tongue trying to eat food that was too hot!). Eat. Don't share unless you want to.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Right Now.....

Time: 8:59pm

In my mug: cold tea that I didn't finish.

Outside my window: Twinkling Christmas lights and snow pouring down like rain. It's a blizzard! Really. We might get 20 inches!

In my belly: Chocolate Caramel covered apple. It was a Christmas treat and greatly enjoyed.


apple

Beside me: a snoring Moose.

In the fridge: Both of them are filled with leftovers!

In my ears: John laughing at Worlds Dumbest something.

On me: Comfy red t-shirt that says "Let it Snow". I felt it was appropriate for the day. Yoga pants (even though I have never done yoga) and comfy socks.

Looking forward to: Planning and shopping for our New Years Eve dinner.

Grateful for: All the great stuff I got for Christmas. I scored Jamie's & Ina's new cookbooks!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas~

Vintage Santa3


Hope it's filled with all the people you love.

Be good to each other.


Merry Christmas!

With much love, Lisa

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Betty's Date Nut Balls

Date Nut Balls 1

There is something about figs, and dates and nuts that just screams holiday to me. Maybe it's because they are ingredients that make me think of my Nonna and the way she baked Italian holiday treats for us. One of my favorites is one that my Aunt Paula makes. It's a fig cookie coated in a hard frosting and sprinkled with little nonpareils. My absolute favorite cookie of all time. No one in the family can make them the same way my Aunt does. She's in her 80's now, so I really need to spend some time with her and learn.

In the meantime I decided to to try to make something loaded with all the ingredients that I love. I saw this recipe on a food board I frequent, so many thanks to Patty who shared her Mom Betty's recipe with me and let me post it here.

I think it's going to become one of those "must make" cookies on my holiday baking list, so thanks again Patty.

Date Nut Balls 2

Sweet, sticky little balls filled with dates, nuts, rice krispies and rolled in sweet coconut.

The perfect little package.

Date Nut Balls

Betty's Date Nut Balls
¼ cup butter
1 lb. chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1 egg – unbeaten
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Sweetened flaked coconut

Cook first four ingredients in large saucepan over medium heat for 12 minutes. (I only cooked mine for 8 minutes. It seemed like the mixture was going to burn if I kept it on any longer, so just watch this while it's on the stove).

Remove from heat and add nuts, Rice Krispies and vanilla. This mixture is very sticky so have some cooking spray or butter handy so you can re-apply it to your hands and the spoon as needed.

Roll the mixture loosely into small balls (1 teaspoon) and then immediately roll in flaked coconut.

Yields approximately 5 dozen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vera's Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans 1

For the last two year my in-laws have mailed us a package containing the most scrumptious treat......Candied Pecans! Let me tell you, they are more addictive then potato chips, or M&M's or Oreos. We could just sit and eat the whole jar full.

Sweet and crunchy goodness!

We have the big container sitting on the kitchen table and I swear that lid gets lifted every time someone walks by.

Unlike the usual candied pecans which are usually hard coated, these are light and covered with powdered sugar.

The Vera in this recipe was a friend of John's Grandma's. I'm so happy that my mother-in-law and I will keep this recipe alive.

Vera's Candied Pecans
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1 lb. pecans
1 stick of butter
Powdered sugar

Melt butter and pour on baking sheet. Beat egg whites until stiff, add vanilla and gradually add sugar. Coat pecans with egg white mixture. Bake 325 for 40 minutes. Be sure to turn them every 10 minutes with a spatula. Very important step!

Cool slightly and shake in powdered sugar until coated using a large zip lock bag. Keep in a sealed container.

Candied Pecans

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Prim Stockings

Prim Stockings

Is this the busiest Saturday of the year or what? Are you in the kitchen baking cookies? Did you venture out shopping? Bleh! Thank goodness I'm done with that. Maybe you're wrapping presents or planning your Christmas dinner? Whatever is keeping you busy today, I hope you're not stressing yourself out too much about it.

I've actually got it together this year. My presents are wrapped, grocery shopping is all done, meal(s) are planned (Christmas Eve & Christmas Day), and my crafting is just about complete. I have just a few finishing touches to make.

Every year I make a home made ornament. I guess you could call it a tradition.

I do have to admit, it's getting harder and harder for me to come up with new ideas.

I am no where near as talented as some crafters out there, so I'm limited as to what I can make.
I've done clay ornaments, and salt dough ornaments, sparkly snowmen, and even doggy bones over the years.

This year I decided to make some little primitive stocking.

Prim Stockings1

Prim Stockings3


I bought some white infant socks, coffee stained them to really grunge them up and make them look like they were just pulled out of a chest in the attic.

I rusted up some safety pins and bells, filled them with soft stuffing and tucked some Sweet Annie in the top.


Prim Stockings2

One of my favorite things is to walk into the house of a friends or family member and see my ornaments hanging on their tree.

When someone tells you "I think of you every time I hang that ornament on my tree" it just fills your heart up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies revisited.

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

It just isn't the holidays without home made cookies.

I love baking cookies. Cookies make people happy. Cookies make ya smile. Cookies make your belly happy. Cookies = love. At least in my house they do.

Everyone has that one cookie that they make during the holidays that everyone just goes crazy for. The one you have to make every year or there will be complaints.

This is that cookie for me.

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies.

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies LS


That name says is all.

Rich chocolate flavor, gooey chocolate chips, and a hint of espresso flavor. They are so very, very good.

I originally made these a few years back. I can't even tell you where the original recipe came from, but I know I tweaked it cause even though it was called Double Chocolate Espresso, there wasn't any espresso in the batter? Hello? What genius named that cookie?

So I added espresso powder and changed it up just a bit and came up with a perfect chocolate lovers cookie that are super easy to make. That last line is for my mother-in-law who thinks she is cookie handicapped. She says she can't make a decent cookie, but I challenge her to make these, cause really, you can't screw these up.


Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies 1


Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Yield – 3 dozen
3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
½ cup butter (1 stick), cubed
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso granules (get the espresso if you can)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan melt the unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, butter and the coffee/espresso granules. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl beat the sugar and eggs for 3 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining 1 cup of chips. This is a very soft batter. You may want to throw it in the fridge for a half hour or so to firm it up a bit. I also keep it in the fridge in between batches cause it makes it easier to scoop up.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 – 12 minutes, or until puffed and tops are cracked. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely, or you can eat them warm as they come outta the oven. I won't tell.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reason #467 why I love my husband...

LaSalette 1

Sitting in the living room last night....tree twinkling....curled up on the couch with a book...cozy stuff.

John asks me: "Are you happy Mama?"

"Very" I replied.

"Good, cause all I want is for you to be happy".

That was it.

So sweet.

So John.

Sneak a peek.

Christmas around the house 2010 3


I love decorating for Christmas. It's a stree-free, exciting thing for me. I love pulling all my treasures down from the attic, I love unwrapping the ornaments and I love walking around the house and setting all my Christmas stuff out.

You will notice I do not have one of those perfectly, perfect houses, where everything is intricately placed and ready for the pages of a magazine. Our Christmas decorations are like our lives....simple, and rustic and homey.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Everything is very homespun and "earthy", just the way I like it.

I filled my little tin cup up with black beans and stuck a grungy candle in it.

Christmas around the house 2010 5

My primitive bowl filled with pine cones and dried fruit and candy canes.

Christmas around the house 2010 2

A little candle in a wooden box.


Christmas around the house 2010 1


Remember that other wooden box I picked up last week?


Christmas around the house 2010


Now it's filled with a baby pine and some glittery pine cones.

My kitchen windowsill. There is a mister for Mrs. Snowman on the other side.


Christmas around the house 2010 18


The cutest baby mouse peeking out of an old stocking.

I just love him.


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I collect bottle brush trees. It's an obsession. My forest has grown and grown over the years. It's resides on top of the entertainment center. Here's the left half:


Christmas around the house 2010 8



Here is the right half:


Christmas around the house 2010 9


Here's the whole things. Yeah, there's a lot of 'em.




Christmas around the house 2010 10


Oh yeah, I'm also into Santa's in non traditional colors. This is the Santa in the "woods".


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I love that he's in gray. How many times do you see Santa in gray?

I also love my little Santa hat on top of one of my trees. It is red, but it's adorable.


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Some candy canes I made last year...or the year before... I can never remember.


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The big dough bowl in the middle of the living room table.

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My other Christmas obsession...mercury glass. It's so sparkly, I just can't resist

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I've had this basket for years and years and years. I just adore it.

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One of my most prized possessions. A Santa that my Uncle Al and Aunt Claire bought me. It makes me think of them every time I see it.


Christmas around the house 2010 7


Yup that's more mercury glass.

The tree.

It's a big one this year.

Tree 2010


9 1/2 feet and a little blurry. I took the picture in a hurry.

This tree is gigantic.....all the better to hold all my precious ornaments!!!! Bahhhahhhhaaaa! I couldn't even get the whole tree in the picture.

I would have taken a few outside shots, but it's just too darn cold to do it now.

So that's my little peek into our Christmas house. Like I said, it's nothing fancy, but it warms my heart and makes me smile (and isn't that what Christmas is really all about anyway?)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Pretzel Rings - a sweet & salty treat.

Holiay Pretzel Rings 4


As I wrote in a previous post, we are all about the sweet and salty treats at our house. There is just something about the combination that we all love.

What I love even more is that this recipe is so darn simple a 3 year old could make them...or even my husband! Ha ha! Sorry hunny.

Truly, this is one of the most simple treats in the world to make. I'm sure they have made their rounds on the net, just like the pretzel/rolo/turtle thing. The hardest part for me was finding the round pretzels. I had every member of the family on the hunt for them, even my in-laws in Ohio. My sister-in-law finally spotted them at Aldi.

Holiay Pretzel Rings1

Another nice thing about this recipe is that you can make as much or as little of these as you'd like.

We made a batch, that disappeared very quickly. John was eating them like popcorn.

We made another batch for me to bring to work, cause once I told people about them, it was highly recommended that I make more to bring in for taste testing. Cheeky monkeys.

They devoured them at work. I had every lady in the office going to buy round pretzels!

Holiay Pretzel Rings

Here comes the complicated directions.

Holiday Pretzel Rings

Round pretzels
Hershey kisses * see note
M&M's

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Unwrap as many kisses and you'd like to make. Honestly, unwrapping them takes up the most time. We found that placing a kiss on the baking sheet and then dropping a pretzel over the kiss worked the best.

Pop them in the oven for 2 - 3 minutes. Just until they get soft, but not until they melt. You want them to retain their shape. As soon as they come out of the oven, gently place an M&M on top of the kiss and push down slightly to fill the pretzel with chocolate. Stick the baking sheet in the fridge until they firm up. Store in an airtight container.

* We used the caramel kisses for half our batch. So good!

Now we want to go out and try all kinds of kisses with these. I was also thinking of topping some with a pecan half....hmmmm.

Can you imagine the almond ones with these, or the hugs....the meltaway centers...dark chocolate with mint...cherry cordial...the delicious possibilites are endless.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I am in love....

tea cozy

Etsy shop is sold out.
Guess I'll have to wait :(

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Macaroon "Latkes"

Chocolate Macaroon Latkes 3


I made these for John's boss who celebrates Hanukkah, or if you prefer Chanukah, neither of which I can type without using spellcheck.

I realize that Hanukkah is all about fried foods and that macaroons are more of a Passover thing, but I was so craving macaroons and I came across this recipe and I thought - ha! The best of both worlds. A macaroon that looks like a chocolate latke.

Chocolate Macaroon Latkes 2

These were a snap to put together.

You only dirty one bowl.

Sweet, sweet coconut and chocolate.

Do you know that coconut is one of my absolute favorite things right? Now add chocolate. Please you don't even need me to elaborate on the chocolate thing. We've know each other too long for you not to know what a chocoholic I am.

Put them together.

Magic.

Be still my heart.

Chocolate Macaroon Latkes 1

Chocolate Macaroon Latkes
Makes about 40 2-inch cookies
recipe from Baking Obsession
4 egg whites
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3 ½ oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Scant ¼ tsp salt

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel. Set the bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water and stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until it is sticky and hot to the touch.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of the mixture about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with a damp finger to resemble miniature potato pancakes. Bake, in batches, until the cookies feel dry on the surface and the protruding coconut shreds are dark golden brown and the interior still looks like melted chocolate, about 14 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and cool the cookies completely before removing them from the parchment. Or, if using the silicone mats, cool the cookies on the sheets on the rack, and then, using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies from the mats onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

The cookies are most delicious on the day they are baked. They can be stored, though, airtight, for 4 to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bacon wrapped pork cutlets

Bacon wrapped pork medallions 1

See I have been cooking. In between wrapping presents, painting gifts, grunging up some homemade ornaments, decorating the outside, getting presents ready to ship, putting up the tree, and trying to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I'm so close to the end!) I really am cooking too.

This is the week when I like to have things pretty much wrapped up for holidays. I don't want to go to any more stores, I wanna have everything wrapped and ready and I want to finish up all my homemade gifts. I need the last few week of December to be all about the food and really enjoying the season, so I put myself through a week of chaos. The house is a disaster, the dusting doesn't get done, the table is covered in crafts, and dinners are quick and easy. So yeah, I've been a wee bit busy, but these guys I live with gotta eat, so that means I have to take a break and cook up some vittles. Whoaaa, flashback to Ellie May Clampett.

Since everything is better with bacon, I thought I'd wrap some around some pork cutlets.

Bacon wrapped pork medallions 2

There is really no "recipe" per say.

I bought some boneless pork cutlets and gave them a nice rub with my rub mix. You can use any mix that floats your boat, here's mine. I keep a quadruple batch in a mason jar so I always have some on hand.

Lisa's Spice Rub
4 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
If you like it hotter you could add 1 tablespoon of cayenne too

I gave them a good rub on both sides and let them sit all day in the fridge. Then I wrapped them in thick cut bacon and secured it with a toothpick. You could soak the toothpicks before, but I always forget. No biggie, they just get a little charred. If one strip of bacon isn't big enough to go all the way around the cutlet, then just cut another one in half and use that as a filler.

Grill 'em up, let them rest for 5 minutes and then dig in!

The bacon adds some juiciness (and deliciousness) and the rub really gives the pork so much flavor.

A pretty quick and easy dinner to throw on the grill when your life gets a little hectic during the holidays.

Bacon wrapped pork medallions