Spent the morning constructing and decorating this gingerbread house. Nate managed to get a picture of it while it was “snowing” sugar…
Well here we are approaching Christmas, and I actually have my act together enough to post a festive recipe for you ahead of time! Hopefully you can make this for your family on Christmas morning…or on any morning
Before I met Nate, I had never celebrated Christmas. I guess every family does it differently, but at his house (or technically his mom’s house) the whole family wakes up Christmas morning, opens presents, and then has a big, yummy breakfast. You need food after all that exhausting unwrapping.
The first year I got to spend Christmas morning with them, I wanted to contribute something, so I made these delicious overnight cinnamon rolls. They’re definitely a good choice! They get prepped the night before and then you just take them out about an hour before you wanna bake them to let them warm to room temp. Nate’s mom also makes turkey sausage and bacon and has plain croissants and chocolate croissants and blood orange juice! I told you it was a big, yummy breakfast
If you want to be really decadent, you could make this thick and rich hot chocolate too. It’s practically like eating (drinking?) dessert.
But another great breakfast food is scones. Ok, maybe not in England because I think they eat them for tea time there. But in America, scones are lovely for breakfast.
We had some leftover ricotta the other day and I knew Nate loves scones, so I tried to come up with something festive. Not only did I succeed (I think cranberries and spices definitely scream holiday), but Nate said they were “AMAZING.” And I think I have to agree
Spiced Cranberry Orange Chocolate Ricotta Scones
Makes 8 large scones
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup fresh cranberries (or thawed frozen ones)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I actually used mini nonpareils because I had them and they’re festive!)
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup whole milk + 2 Tbsp to brush tops of scones
zest of one orange (about 1 Tbsp)
Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
Add the butter and use the a pastry cutter (and/or your fingertips/ potato masher or ricer) to cut/blend the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in cranberries and use the cutter again to break them into pieces and quarter berry sized chunks. Add chocolate chips.
In a small bowl, blend ricotta, milk, egg and orange zest. Stir them into the flour mixture to form a dough with stiff spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet.
Dump dough on to a very well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 1-inch thick circle. With a large knife, divide the dough 8 pieces, cut like a pizza (or whatever shape you like your scones). Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula and keep them at least 1-2 inches apart because they will spread. Brush scones lightly with milk.
Bake the scones for about 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Best served warm but still delicious the next day. They even stay pretty moist when straight out of the fridge!
I’ll have a festive Christmas brunch/breakfast recipe for you soon. Nate and I finally got into the holiday spirit. It’s my first Christmas season as an honorary (by marriage) Christmas celebrator.
Speaking of marriage, we got our wedding photos on cd today! And the photographers sent us one of EVERY photo!!! So so sweet of them. Can’t wait to pick out which we want for our album
Anyway, the first thing I did for our Christmas decorating was pick up a cute cotton ball and jingle bell wreath from Target. I didn’t want anything too Christmas-y since we are still a multi-holiday household. I thought the wreath was a little too boring though, so I bought a couple different sized berries branches from Michaels and I cut them up and hot glued them on. Muuuch better I think
We have a tiny apartment and a michievous feline, so we knew we couldn’t get a full-fledged Christmas tree yet. Instead we went to Michael’s to see what we could find. We ended up getting the cutest miniature tree and there were all kinds of mini ornaments and garlands you could get to decorate it!!! Btw, I love anything in miniature. We also picked up a silver reindeer from Home Goods and I broke up some branches to make a little festive setting on our living room
I have also since pulled out our gorgeous new menorah that we got for a wedding present. I’m so excited to finally have a nice menorah
All this holiday decorating was done in preparation for our little cookie-decorating party we hosted this past weekend. Since all my friends who came are cat lovers like us, I baked up some gingerbread cookie paws and cats in addition to the traditional gingerbread men. After we exhausted the possible decorating combos for the paws/cats, we decided to get creative. This was what I came up with:
LC even put on her Christmas best in honor of the party.
It was a fun weekend. Despite the fact that we both OD’d on cookies throught the day, Nate and I had this delicious gnocchi dish for dinner.
We eat a decent amount of pasta, but I never think to cook gnocchi. It wasn’t until I made this recipe that I realized how quickly it cooks (if you buy it rather than making it) and how much I love it’s chewy texture.
I randomly came across a Food Network recipe and since I didn’t have any of the ingredients, I subbed in my own similar ones and it was a major hit. Nate and I couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was.
Gnocchi with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach and Rosemary
Adapted from the The Food Network
1 small-medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
11 oz package baby spinach
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and put cut side down in a microwaveble dish. Put 1/4 cup water in bottom of dish, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 11 minutes (you want it cooked but still slightly “al dente.” Cool til you can handle it and scrape pulp out into a dish.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the squash, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.
I’m exhausted! I finally finished my wedding thank-you notes. But I’m mostly tired because I just spent 2 straight days baking Christmas cookies. I usually bring them to work and hand out to any friends we can find a time to see before the holidays.
My aunt kindly lets me “borrow” her kitchen for a weekend since she has two ovens and a lot of room. It makes for some fun time to catch up with her while I get everything done.
I like to go all out when I do these cookies. I usually make at least 8 varieties, and I like a good mix of shapes and flavors. I think this year I may have gone a little too far. Some of these recipes were more complicated than I realized, and given my strict timeline I barely had time to eat during the baking extravaganza.
At one point I literally felt like I was going to faint. I texted this to Nate (since he was back in NY at our apt) and he replied “You don’t have to be a hero. It’s just Xmas cookies. You ain’t a cat surgeon.” L.C. is thankful for that, I’m sure. And my husband is obviously a wise, wise man.
I ended up finishing all but one type of the cookies that I needed to make. That’s a no-bake one so I can do it back at my apt. All-in-all, a productive two days!
Is it weird that I woke up with sore muscles today? I guess standing for 12 hours will do that to you, not to mention mixing by hand since there was no kitchen aid mixer (I did use a handheld mixer for some stuff).
Anyway, speaking of Nate and his sage advice, I think I’ve mentioned this before but periodically, he will email me recipes from the NYTimes that he “advises” me to make. I appreciate when he does this since the NYTimes recipes are usually very reliable (I’m trying not to hold it against them that they overlooked our wedding announcement!).
So when Nate sent me a recipe the other day for Penne with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta, I knew that it would be as delicious as it sounded.
There are many foods Nate doesn’t eat, despite the fact that he claims to not be a picky eater, but luckily for me he happens to love brussels! After discovering what is now one of our annual family Thanksgiving recipes, my family has decided that brussels are much tastier when shredded. So when I saw this recipe I had no doubt it would be a winner.
Penne with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta
Slightly adapted from the NYTimes
16 ounces penne
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, diced
2 large rosemary sprig
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
20 ounces fresh brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded (i used the shredding plate on a food processor)
4 teaspoons butter
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
Freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional)
Bring large pot heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is just al dente (do not overcook).
Meanwhile, heat large sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the pancetta and rosemary, and sauté until the fat on the pancetta starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 1 minute.
Add the garlic,and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and pancetta turn richly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread sprouts mixture in pan and press down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat. This helps brown the sprouts. Add the butter, and sauté for another minute.
Drain penne and add it to pan with brussels sprouts mixture. Cook, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with a drizzle of oil and lemon juice, and a little cheese if you like.
Sorry I’m late in sharing recipes for Thanksgiving. Since you’ve probably already got your main meal covered (if you’re anything like my family, the menu is NOT ALLOWED to change from year to year. We like our traditions!), I thought I’d bring you some ideas for appetizers and drinks.
Several weeks ago, we made plans to celebrate after the NY Marathon. Nate’s mom was going to be in the city and so we invited a few friends to join us later in the day after the marathon for some drinks and appetizers before we all headed to dinner.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy came and went and destroyed many things in it’s wake, including any prospect of Nate getting to run a marathon this year.
But, on a positivie note, my mother-in-law (I think that’s the first time I’ve gotten to say that!) and our friends still came over. We just decided to celebrate good friends instead of marathon-finishing.
I wasn’t feeling well and I just wanted a couple easy appetizers to make. I did some searching and came across what I thought were two simple recipes.
The polenta triangles were totally delicious and TOTALLY simple. The polenta is pre-made and you can buy it in a tube at the market. I suppose you could make your own if you wanted to, but that would make it way harder. The accompanying tapenade can get quickly whipped up in a mini food precessor.
The breadsticks were more labor intensive, but according to my guests were totally worth it. Easy for them to say, right? It was quite a pain to twist every stick, but in the end I think I could have halved the recipe because it made A LOT.
I’m just linking to the recipes below since I didn’t change them at all:
I also made the Cider Sangria from HowSweetEats, but I made a couple changes. I subbed ginger ale for the club soda and regular brandy for ginger brandy. It was delicious!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you celebrate it)!!!! We’re headed to my parents house in Florida. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!