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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas feast

I spent hours in the kitchen on Christmas Eve working on some foods I planned to have on Christmas day. Inspired by my new Pioneer Woman cookbook, most of what I cooked came from there. If you don't have it, get it! There's some great recipes in there.

Here's what our Christmas day feast included:

PW's Cinnamon rolls (half w/ coffee flavored icing, half w/ orange marmalade icing) and coffee
So worth the effort! I made the dough in the afternoon and cooked them the night before, reserving half of the icing so when I heated them up on Christmas morning I had fresh icing to top them off. Yes, they're full of fat, but's Christmas! Plus, I used half whole wheat flour so I felt a little better about that.

Lunch @ my mama's = tons of casseroles and sweets

Evening appetizers:
PW's Burgundy Marinated Mushrooms
PW's Hot Artichoke Dip
Turkey and beef meatballs cooked with grape jelly and chili sauce
Beer bread (Thank you Trader Joe's for the mix!)
Blueberries & Strawberries w/ vanilla greek yogurt and cinnamon
Various apps from Trader Joe's
PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake
No bake cookies & other sweets

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thank you Trader Joe's...

for keeping me sane this Christmas season. The only thing is, who are all these people that are crowding my store? They make it very difficult to navigate the aisles and get what I need.


I needed something easy for tonight. David headed down to Alabama this morning to pick up his grandmother and I didn't expect him back until after dinner. I was planning on raiding the fridge for leftovers for the boys and I. So, I was surprised when he called at 4 and said he was about 2 hours away. So, Trader Joe's came through for me tonight with a simple but almost home cooked meal.

Our dinner tonight:

TJ's eggplant parmesan (frozen section), fried up in some garlic infused olive oil.
Layered in a dish with TJ's Toscano marinara sauce from a can and yes, it's good!, parmesan and mozzarella cheese, and basil. Pop in the oven on broil (low) until cheese is melted. Served atop TJ's "just spaghetti" (frozen section) which is already cooked and so easy to heat in the microwave. Steamed broccoli with parmesan cheese, lemon juice and seasoned salt on the side and a tossed salad.
Fresh strawberries and blueberries for dessert topped with whipped cream, honey and cinnamon.
Easy, elegant, and yummy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Note to self...make these every Christmas!

Christmas is not the time to watch what you eat. Or, I guess you could reason that it's exactly the time to watch what you eat. If I know I'm headed to a function where there will be lots of tasty treats, instead of being that person who tries to avoid all the greatness, I'm usually the person who has no fear of indulgence. Maybe I'll regret that in a few years, but I do try to eat light the rest of the day. And for the record, I've been running a lot these days. I'd like to start off the year with a 10K in January.

But I digress.

Here's a couple of recipes that are hits. And yes, they're not light, but they are oh so good!

The first one is a great sweet appetizer, perfect for entertaining or for taking to a party. I've served it several times and it's always been devoured. It's quite easy to assemble and can be made in advance. And for all you who hate coconut, please make this for the people in your life that love it. I promise, they'll love you forever! Instead of only serving it with fruit, I also serve it with some simple crackers.

Sweet Cheese Ball

And for all those cookie swaps that we ladies inevitably get invited to, here's a favorite cookie recipe that's also quite easy to make. I opt to make the recipe with pecans instead of almonds, but that's just my preference. I also cut the vanilla extract to 4 tsp.

Italian Wedding Cookies

Merry Christmas friends!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

snacks straight from literature

I love reading books I grew up with to my boys. One book we finished recently was the first book in The Boxcar Children. I loved that book as a child. In the book, the "boxcar children" had a job picking cherries for a doctor. After they picked all day, they were rewarded with cherry dumplings, made by the doctor's mother. Everytime I'd read the words "cherry dumplings", Wyatt's little ears would perk up and he'd say "Mom, can we please have cherry dumplings someday." A few days ago I finally gave in and came across a recipe for Boxcar Children Cherry Dumplings. The recipe itself is very simple, only calling for a couple of cans of crescent rolls and a can of cherry pie filling. I know, I know...crescent rolls go against everything I believe in for healthy eating. I normally avoid them but tis the season, right? I know there are much better recipes out there, but this was easy, one my kids could help make and quick. If you make them, I'd suggest to not overfill the dough with cherries. You'll have some cherry pie filling left over so I would top the finished dumpling with more cherries and whipped cream or ice cream.

After reading The Boxcar Children we started Farmer Boy, the childhood story of Almanzo Wilder (Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband). In the first part of the book, Almanzo's family has an evening snack of popcorn, apples and apple cider by the warm fire. So the other day when the boys were asking for a snack, we guessed it...a "Farmer Boy" snack of apples, popcorn, and apple cider by our fire. It's the little things you know!

Alright, I'm on to make a swiss chard pizza tonight for dinner. For dessert...Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake! But, more on Pioneer Woman later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thai coconut soup

In the first few years of mine and David's marriage, we fell in love...with Thai food. Our absolute favorite was Chicken Coconut Soup. We'd order up a "hot pot" and slurp up every last bite as the fire in the hot pot crackled away. If you've never had this soup before, the flavors might be completely new to your taste buds. The combination of coconut milk, lime juice, lemon grass, and curry can be daring if you're not an adventurous eater. But even if you're not, I would still encourage you to try this. I know many who turn their little noses up at international foods but still love this soup.

We tried several times years ago to duplicate this soup at home but were never satisfied with the results and decided to just leave it up to the professionals. Until now.

One of the food blogs I frequent posted this recipe she adapted from Allrecipies. After trying it out today, it definitely passes the taste test. Instead of shrimp I used cooked shredded chicken. I also used a little more lime juice and red curry paste than she calls for. Other than that, I pretty much stuck to the recipe as written.
Serve it up with some Naan bread! Or better yet, buy yourself a hot pot, have some fellow Thai food foodies over and impress the heck out of them!

Thai coconut soup with chicken or shrimp