Wordless Wednesdays

Friday, December 31, 2010

There's a New Kid in Town

There's something new in my kitchen. I'm still pinching myself. Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of my kitchen staff:

Why, hello there.

Can it be?

Why, yes; it can.

Unsure. Pensive. Is this real?

Why yes; it is. Let's get closer. Let us...investigate.

Insert Homer Simpson drooling sound *here*

Happy Mary.

Her name...is Clotilde.

Clotilde...you and I are going places. We'll travel the world in our kitchen!
Thanks to my sister Meg for taking all the pics. I love cooking and baking with you. Heck, I just flat-out love YOU.
Merry Christmas...to me.
And there is nothing more to say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

And now for something completely different...

It is officially three days until Christmas, and while I've been doing some Christmas baking here and there, I have not gone completely Martha Stewart and most likely will not until my wee ones are a bit older. However, I am immensely enjoying the holiday season and being able to move around (read: not painfully pregnant). Thus far, I have made:
1) Neiman-Marcus cookies.
2) Burnt-sugar almonds.

Hmm. I must have a thing for hyphens.
Oh, and:
3) Spritz cookies (little green Christmas trees and purple snowflakes! I am so cool!!)

And that's all, folks!!

Har-dee-har-har. Not really. The Neiman-Marcus are a bit of a tradition for me. My mom received the recipe in a forwarded email from a friend when I was about 14 or so, and they came with such a glowing recommendation from said friend that we decided to try them after our next grocery store run. When you live 20 minutes from any grocery store, you never, EVER, go out on a whim just because you're positively DYING to try out a new recipe. Nope. You compile a massive list. You wait. And sometimes you wait for a long, long, time.
Or so it felt like a long, long time to an anxious 14 year old.
The blessed event finally came, and off we went to our beloved Woodmans (it's a family thing).
Then, we made the Neiman-Marcus cookies.

And we haven't stopped making them since.

At least for Christmas. But seriously, folks. If I had to describe the Neiman-Marcus cookies, I would describe as the ultimate double-chocolate chip & pecan cookie. They are oh-so soft and chewy, and ya'll know how I feel about soft cookies vs. crunchy: http://skarymop.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

Now, after all of this tantalizing teasing, I won't be able to post the recipe today. I really need to re-write and re-organize it before I can share it with you. All of the ingredients are completely out of order; it's mayhem, simply MAYHEM, I TELL YOU!! I really have no idea why I've put up with it for so long. All I know is that this year is the last year I shall ever make the famed Neiman-Marcus cookies following an incredibly disorganized recipe. AND THAT'S A PROMISE.
The Burnt-Sugar Almonds were a triumph from the Tasty Kitchen Blog, via Pioneer Woman:

These are just delicious. They smell so incredibly divine whilst cooking that you just might faint from the wonderfulness of it all. These bad boys are also very simple to make, but there's only one little problem with them. I tried to package them for gifts. It just didn't work. The almonds never made it past my living room. I ate them. My sister Megan ate them. I gave two bags away- one to some friends who just had a baby, and one to my brother and his girlfriend. And then...I ate the rest. Like I said...a bit of a problem. SO my unsolicited advice would be this:
TRIPLE the recipe. Really.

And now for something completely different...

One little thing I just love to do throughout the year is make new and exciting culinary discoveries. For example, in August of 2009, I discovered Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Peanut Butter, and my life has never been the same since. And then in October of 2009, I discovered pumpkin donuts at the little bakery a few blocks down from my house. Yes, I live within walking distance (with three kids in tow, no less!) from a great bakery. No, I try not to think about it, if I can help it. I decided it might be fun to share my top three culinary discoveries of 2010 with ya'll. And so, without further ado, here are my TOP THREE CULINARY DISCOVERIES OF 2010!!!!! (insert intro music from 2001 Space Odyssey *here*)

This, my friends, is Lyle's Golden Syrup. I needed to buy this for a flapjack recipe (a British cookie; not to be confused with the American pancake), and I can't sing its praises enough. Think of a burnt-carmel-ly tasting syrup. Think...*gasp* CREME BRULEE...yes. I see you nodding your head. You get it. Think of all the possibilities. I like to stir this in my oatmeal. I like this with peanut butter (Trader Joe's, of course). I like it...on a spoon out of the jar. I...like it. Alot. Try it! You'll find it with the rest of the syrups in your grocery store, provided your grocery store is as cool as mine. And now...

...introducing Maille Dijon Orginale Mustard. Oh. My. Stars. This makes my nostrils tingle in the most astounding manner. I made a dijon-mustard vinaigrette using this gem of a mustard, and I will never use American mustard again. Well, maybe on a burger. MAYBE. BUT...this is truly the finest dijon mustard I have ever laid a taste bud on. TRY IT. And last, but certainly not least...

Lemon Curd and Greek Yogurt! You must be so confused right now. Allow me to elaborate:
1) Grab a bowl.
2) Plop some Greek yogurt in the bowl.
3) Plop a small dollop of Lemon Curd into the yogurt.
4) Stir well.
5) Taste. Scream. Pass out.

Now, I can't take credit for this gorgeous snack. My dear friend Sarah informed me of this glorious happenstance of a culinary triumph. Sarah is ALWAYS reliable for a good old fashioned glorious happenstance of a culinary triumph. And for this, (and many, many other reasons) I do love her. But really; you must try it. It has become a favorite treat of mine. And if you haven't tried greek yogurt yet, then SHAME ON YOU. Just kidding. I'll forgive you if you hightail it to the grocery store RIGHT NOW to buy some greek yogurt. I'll wait.


What; you haven't gone yet? Well, all right, then. AND THERE YOU HAVE IT...a taste of a great cookie recipe to come, and my top three culinary discoveries of 2010. Well, I'm spent. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and may you have a wonderful, peaceful time with loved ones. Eat good food, and treat each other well. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On handling Stress

Today's post will be short (everyone, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief). Today I am quite stressed out for a number of reasons:

1) The church I attend puts on a Ladies' Cup of Christmas Tea every December, and I am hosting a table for 8. This is my 3rd year of hosting, so you'd think I wouldn't be stressed out at all, but nope. Because life is life, there are a few other elements added to the mix that causes my stress level to soar at an alarmingly high rate of speed.
2) Element #1: I played piano for a wedding yesterday. 'Nuff said.
3) Element #2: David woke up at 4:00 am this morning with the stomach flu. Now, stomach flu is never fun, but I had to go to my church this morning BECAUSE I WAS PLAYING THE OFFERTORY. So I went, played, and went home. Don't ask me what I played. I think (hoped) it was something Christmassy. All I remember is sitting down at the piano, watching someone else's hands play, and then thinking,"Whoa. What just happened?" I was not exactly what you'd call "focused" today.
4) Because I've been up so incredibly early today, I feel...sick. And THAT makes me nervous. Now begins the what Steve and I call the "waiting period." Yup. Waiting to see who gets the flu next...*screams*.

I've been slightly stressed out to begin with before the flu hit, but NOW I am definitely stressed out. Yes, yes; I know I'm whining. Just bear with me for a few wee paragraphs, okay?? Sheesh.

Things I tend to do when I'm stressed out:
1) Cry.
2)Wring my hands.
3) Pray.
4) Bake something. Anything.
5) Clean my bathroom. (Hey. Even if everything else gets overlooked, the bathroom needs to be cleaned. Or at least mine does. I live with 4 males, 3 of which are potty-trained)
6) Dance a jig. Or two.
7) Listen to a tremendous amount of "Mary Music".
8) Moan about how I'm never getting involved in anything again.
9) Dream of starting life anew as a farmer.
10) Pray.
11) Dream of being a hermit.
12) Turn a few triple salchows in my living room, just for heck of it.
13) Cook something edible.
14) Cry.
15) Scrapbook.
16) Play piano amidst the soundtrack of my life (wrestling, shouting, roaring boys).
17) Practice a few time steps in my kitchen, just for the heck of it.
18) Read lots of travel guides to anywhere except Wisconsin.
19) Call my sister Meg while I'm driving to Woodmans for the fiftieth time this month (the mecca super-grocery store in my city. I am quite sure I couldn't live without it).
20) Pray.
21) Dance one more jig.

You know...the list could go on and on and on and on and on...whoa, getting a little carried away here. MY POINT:

I will feel much better on Tuesday. :)

P.S. I have no idea how to turn a triple salchow, nor will I ever. I just thought it sounded cool.
P.P.S. I DO know how to dance a time step. A triple one, even!!
P.P.P.S. I...I...what was I going to say? Oh yes; I will takes oodles of pictures at the Christmas Tea and post them as soon I return from Mars. I hear it's lovely this time of year. Happy Sunday to you all, and to all a good afternoon.