Monthly Archives: December 2014

‘Tis the Season

This year’s holiday season is looking very different from last year. This time last year, I had just left my job at Bromley and didn’t know what to do next. I spent the holidays resting while trying to figure out what kind of job I felt I was right for, and also feeling a little guilty that at 25, I had left my job without a plan as to what would happen next. This year, I’m in a job that has been such a good change for me. I’ve now been at the Southwest School of Art as their Executive Assistant for a little over six months. I work with some really amazing people and am inspired by the creativity of this place. I may not be done with our Christmas shopping or have our Christmas cards out in the mail like I did by this point last year, but I am so grateful for all that has happened in the last 12 months.

December has been a whirlwind and I find myself needing to take time to savor this season and remind myself of the huge purpose of Christmas: the birth of our Savior. It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas (hello, previous paragraph and my uncompleted Christmas shopping), which feels so cliche. I am thankful that Christ frees me from these petty worries and struggles and that we have had some really sweet moments this month celebrating the Christmas season. Last weekend was my favorite weekend of the year that started with the Trinity Christmas concert on Friday, and ended with the Redeemer Christmas party on Sunday. It was all extra special this year since my parents were in town to join us on these traditions for the first time. Yes, it was fun getting to sit in Trinity’s Laurie Auditorium together and listening to great music, but it was so special getting to serve alongside my parents at Redeemer Christmas boxes the next morning, sharing our traditional lasagna dinner as we decorated our tree in the evening, and having them come as our guests to the Redeemer Christmas party Sunday evening.

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl. Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl, Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Our tradiitional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

Our traditional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

One of my favorite meals of the year

One of my favorite meals of the year

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

Our failed family photo

Our failed family photo

There we go

There we go

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

I hope you are all getting time to enjoy this Advent season. It sometimes means consciously ignoring the to-do list and muting all of the holiday commercials on TV, but it is so good for the soul.

Dinner a la Ina Garten

While I get most of my dinner recipes from Pinterest, I still love making my way through a cookbook and having it propped up in the kitchen, with small stains of olive oil and melted chocolate. I’ve shared before that my mom and I are (slowly) going through Julia Child’s cookbook (have a few more recipes I need to post!), but another favorite chef of ours is Ina Garten. I first got her Foolproof book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say, it has some of my favorite recipes (here, here, and here). Her new book Make It Ahead came out about a month ago, and I’ve already been able to try out a couple of dishes from this book. My mom is also an Ina Garten fan (she’s the one who got me these books in the first place) so while we were in Tucson for Thanksgiving, I convinced her to do an Ina themed dinner together, complete with a class white button down and red scarf to match the cover of Make It Ahead. We had a blast and Chip and my dad definitely enjoyed the food. For now, I think Foolproof is my favorite of these two cookbooks, but I know I’ll be using plenty from Make It Ahead.

We chose an appetizer and main dish from Foolproof and our dessert from Make It Ahead. Recipes are posted at the end, along with some pictures from Thanksgiving!

Inspired by Ina

Inspired by Ina

My favorite cooking rules: have wine and start with dessert

My favorite cooking rules: drink wine and start with dessert

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

With our completed appetizer (minus the basil)

With our completed appetizer (minus the wilty basil we bought)

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

Love these two.

Love these two.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese

We didn't like it at all...

We didn’t like it at all…

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of ice cream

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream

And now for some Thanksgiving pictures!

Driving to Tucson... Wrigs is such a good passenger

Driving to Tucson… Wrigs is such a good passenger

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Penny begging for some turkey

Penny begging for some turkey

Family picture, round one

Family picture, round one

That's better

That’s better

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

Making another Ina Garten dessert

Making another Ina Garten dessert Thursday night

Yum.

Yum.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz. We were moderately successful.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz Friday morning. We were moderately successful.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black epper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine venigar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirlooms or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 inch diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving (we unfortunately bought some bad basil, so we had to skip this part)
  • 20 to 25 (1/2 inch thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons tasted pine nuts

Directions:

  • For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
  • For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and venigar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir inthe basil and taste for seasnonings.
  • To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Lobster Mac and Cheese – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, dividied
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 1 /2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (we used wheat bread) (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the oil to a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta, and cook al dente according the directions on the package. Drain well.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan, but don’t allow it to boil. In the large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tabelspoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster. Pile the mixture into 6 to 8 (2-cup) gratin dsihes (we didn’t have these, so we just split it into two dishes).
  • Melt the remaining 2 tabelspoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbsm and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.

Fresh Apple Spice Cake – From Make It Ahead

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest  (2 oranges)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced (3 to 4 apples)
  • Vanilla ice ceram
  • Caramel sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside. Combine the rum and rasinins in a mslal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 60 seconds. set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bolw. With the mixer on lowl, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. With a rubber spatula, fold the rasins, pecans, and apples into the batter. Spread in thte prepared pan and msooth the top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature with a scooop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.