Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Good Year: Roasted Grape & Ricotta Crostini

I hope everyone has had peaceful yet super fun holidays.  Me and my mom slipped away to the country to visit my sister and her family and it was a blast.  It's been a long time since I played hide & seek for a good hour.  Funny how you can hide in the same spot and little kids still think you're the best.  "Auntie, where are you?" still rings in my head and warms my heart.  It was great being away, and the scenery was just gorgeous - some of my photos are at the end of the post.  Happily the cats didn't burn the house down and were quite glad to see me to have their food provider back again. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sweet Tidings! Brown Butter Ginger Cookies with Honey Mascarpone Cream

Two days before the big day, and I'm happy to report the unwinding has begun.  For the last several weeks the ol' nerves have been wound tighter than a Christmas Cracker.  No joke.  Just ask the handsome man.  But with the final catering gig out of the way, and an order from the boss not to return for two weeks, I'm able to finally feel merry about the season.  Yesterday I drove about town, not even bothered about the hideous road conditions in my city, and dropped off parcels of goodies to friends I haven't seen in so long.  Christmas hugs and wishes of good cheer felt so good.  I'm hoping the stress and anxiety of the last several weeks will wash away with a good dose of deep sleep, good food & drink and so much laughter my cheeks hurt.  And cookies.  This is really the only time of year when it's perfectly acceptable to have cookies at all meals.  Am I right or am I right? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Chocolate & Rosemary Cranberry Blondies

Allrighty then.  How's everyone doing?  Are you keeping it all together and finding a little merry along the way?  Me neither.  Oh, I jest.  Things are looking up around here, and in just 48 hours time I can release a huge sigh and begin a much needed vacation.  I have but a few plans, mostly involving pajamas and books and Mad Men Season 4 (I'm so behind!), and walks with the handsome man down some snowy path.  And chocolate; of course there will be chocolate.  Speaking of chocolate, let's just jump to the blondies, shall we?  I know you have a bazillion things to do, as do I, and I don't want to keep you from running to Costco, or wrapping up your mother-in-law's scarf or (ahem) making these lovely, lovely blondies.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wish: Chocolate Shortbread with Cacao Nibs & Sea Salt

Every Christmas Eve, when it's quite late, with just the Christmas tree lights glowing in the corner of my small living room, I peel back the curtain and find a tiny star to wish upon.  It's super dorky to admit that to complete strangers, but maybe you do it too.  And it's a big wish.  Something I yearn for deeply, to come true in the next year or so.  Something that I need to happen to just make life a little better.  Given the wonderful things that I've been blessed with this year, I can tell you they come true, too.  This small moment, after all of the stresses of the season have passed, is what I think I look forward to most.  Now more than ever, in a world filled with so much pain and suffering, we need to have hope in our back pocket.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keep Calm: Chocolate & Maple Caramel Squares

Well guys, I'm in the thick of it.  While everyone looks forward to the yuletide season, I heed it with great amounts of hesitation and dread.  I think only if you have ever worked in the food industry, and maybe retail, will you get where I'm coming from.  I loved the Christmas season a lot more before I became a chef.  And that's the truth.  December kicks my ass to the North Pole, and frankly I would rather be there than here.  The hours are long and incredibly busy - catering parties; cooking hundreds of pounds of turkey; up to my armpits in stuffing; and don't even ask me how many pounds of potatoes need to be mashed.  Most days when I get home I'm too tired to do much but stare at the wall for a few minutes, gather the gumption to shower and re-heat something for dinner.  There are no parties or festive functions to attend; no going out for drinks with friends and right now there is a stack of Christmas cards awaiting my message and I don't know when I'll find the time to do it.  Today is my only day off and the week ahead is a real doozy, with at least 50 hours of work ahead of me, and a turkey dinner for 1200 people that will need cooking - by me.  I might be a total grumpasaurus right now, but trust me, come December 21 at 5:00 pm (the last day of work for 11 days!!!!!) there will be lots and lots of merry going around here.  Right now it's that date and that time that is keeping me going.  Well, that and this. Jimmy Fallon + Tracy Morgan = Best bad mood killer ever.  Plus a hot-toddy-a-day doesn't hurt, either.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears & Blue Cheese

Inspiration for these pages seems to strike at the oddest times.  A couple of weeks back I found myself, yet again, in the chair of my dentist.  She's a great woman.  Wants me to call her Eunice.  She knows her way around a root canal like no body's business.  Yet, no matter how nice my dentist is, when it comes time for the massive needle to inject freezing fluid into my face, I'd rather be anywhere but there.  After what seemed liked an eternity, I was left alone with the latest issue of Fine Cooking to tide me over while the freezing did its thing.  Dentists aren't keen on drilling into your teeth unless they are positive you can't feel such torture.  Sweethearts, aren't they? Good thing I had such enjoyable reading material.  Just as my nose began to freeze, and then my eyebrow (so not joking about that - it was trippy) I spotted the salad.

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