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Lots to talk about. Lots to share. I’ll start with the cookies.
It has been an annual tradition (5 years running at this point) for me to bake Christmas goodies and pass them out to friends. It’s the alternative to buying gifts for everyone and I think most people probably appreciate a bag of edible goodies more than a random trinket.
This is what went into the goodie bags (minus the cranberry bliss bars). I made peanut butter chocolate mud buddies, peppermint mud buddies, pumpkin spiced almonds, spicy chocolate biscotti, maple walnut fudge, pretzel melts, coconut cookies, gingerbread cookies (failed attempt at gingerbread whoopie pies) and snowflake sugar cookies. I also made banana, apple and carrot dog biscuits for those friends with pups.
I ended up making a whole tray of gingerbread whoopie pies and giving them to my stepson (“The Teenager”) to take to youth group that night. I was actually so mad at the recipe (found on pinterest) that I was going to trash the whole tray. I did taste it and the flavor was pretty good. My issue was the filling just didn’t hold up. It was waaaayyyy too loose. So, instead of wasting my failure, I opted to pawn it off on The Teenager.
Here’s the kicker, guys… He came back with an empty tray. Apparently my failure didn’t do too bad at youth group.
*ahem* Yay God!
The cranberry bliss bars are delightful, though they need to be refrigerated because the cream cheese frosting.
Instead of my regular go-to for holiday cookie recipes (ie: betty crocker Holiday Cookie .. Christmas 2014 Edition) I decided to take my search to Pinterest. About 4 years ago, a friend of mine shared her obsession with Pinterest with me and I went online and perused the aisles of photos and the glory that is Pinterest.
And I didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand how anyone could spend hours on this site .. pinning things. Pinning pictures. Pinning recipes. Pinning outdoor table setting designs. Pinning the most adorable puppy pictures you will ever see in your entire life.
Needless to say, I get it now.
I also made kimchi this past weekend. I found the recipe on Pinterest.
I have no idea how this is going to turn out but it sure looked right.
Yeah. I totally get it now.
Remember when I last posted to the blog .. I talked about possibly doing IVF? Well, this past May I went up to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to try it out. It didn’t stick. I take it back. It did stick but then it unstuck. huh?
It is a lengthy and expensive process but for some people it is their only alternative. We may try again next year and hopefully before I turn 39. OH boy. Thirty Nine. Yikes.
As I near the big 4-0 I consider more and more the possibility of never having a child of my own. Most days I don’t even think about having one because my life is pretty good as it is and I always have Dante as my stand-in child. Unfortunately, I know Dante won’t be here forever and he will pass long before me.
We have the Teenager living with us right now and he’s a good kid. He’s made huge strides in school and life and we are very proud of him.
TG already has two boys of his own. Don’t get me wrong. He has been very supportive. He is a part of the whole process. For that, I am grateful. Having said that, I believe he is perfectly happy with his life and isn’t necessarily looking to add to the family. Thankfully he understands how important it is for me to try. Again. One Last time.
Thanks for reading!
I decided to finally post something on my blog because .. well .. it’s the end the world. These will be my last words to the universe. Not really but in my mind the universe actually reads this thing.
This year went by quick. We moved to Norfolk, Virginia from my beautiful island home of Hawaii and the transition hasn’t been too bad. I say that now but it has been 7 months. I’m sure my tone would’ve been different at month 2. I’ve managed to make some good friends here through the Yelp community and one of my neighbors (now a friend) who actually watches Dante for us when we’re out.
We’re heading to California tomorrow (that is if the world doesn’t end while we’re asleep tonight) to celebrate Christmas with family. I’m really excited to spend the holidays with them.
I will miss Dante though. I can’t remember spending a Christmas without him since he’s come into my life almost 5 years ago. I know he’ll be cared for while we’re gone. I just hope he doesn’t cause too much trouble. Because as you all know .. My kid is the biter. He’s the kid in preschool that always gets in trouble for biting the other kids because he doesn’t know how to use his words. But only with other animals. He’s a perfect angel to the humans.
On another note, Dante and I started volunteering. He was certified as a Therapy Dog earlier this year (before I left Hawaii). He’s pretty popular at the USO where all the Sailors and Marines coming back from a long deployment hang out until they get to go home. He’s even more popular with the kids at the elementary school we volunteer at on a weekly basis for the Listening Ears program.
This little girl stole my heart and sometimes my laptop. She’s so damn cute and she’ll be going to a wonderful family who has a cat and will love her to pieces. The story is long and sad .. and though I would prefer never to live it again nor talk about it, I will say that there are some Veterinarians in this world who’s bottom line isn’t saving lives as much as it is money.
We went to New York to visit my sister and her husband over Thanksgiving. We spent a good long week there and it was wonderful. TG had never been to NYC and I was more than happy to play tour guide. Though I had to tell him often to stop “acting like a tourist.” HA!
My little fur niece and nephew (Dante’s son) are so cute. And no .. they didn’t actually drink the beer. They just sat there like good little chickens.
I also made cookies again this year though not as many as I have in the years past. I did manage to make 8 varieties though and only take pictures of 2. Haven’t you learned anything from past food posts?
I made a Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle and wow does this cookie have a kick. I think I may have added more cayenne than the recipe called for because I like the pain. Not really .. They’re actually a little too spicy for me but I’m sure someone likes them.
The second cookie pictured is a cranberry pistachio almond biscotti and those turned out great. Really buttery and noms. Plus I don’t bake and bake until they’re super dry and hard. They really are kind of perfect.
TG got me a new lense for Christmas and I’ve been taking pictures like crazy.
We invited another couple over for dinner and I decorated the table and just got Holiday Fancy. I LOVE the new lense and I adore my Holiday table, too.
I guess that pretty much sums up the last 7 months. We’re doing well. TG loves his job. I love my job. Dante is as grumpy as ever. HAHAHA.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully prosperous New Year! From our Family to Yours. Don’t mind that look of utter disdain on Dante .. he really is Joyful.
We just had our very last hosted party earlier this month. Why our last? Because the United States Navy has decided we (TG & I) need to move to Virginia.
Oh Boy. This means that I will be leaving my home. My family and the wonderful friends I have here in Hawaii.
I took one picture. Using my iPhone because it is currently my only reliable camera.
Mostly because I have it on me all the time.
My friends have better cameras and/or they know how to use them.
So I’ve had to rely on the amazing photos they have provided to me.
The menu was fairly extensive but not as overwhelming as it had been done before. Plus lots of my friends brought food.
Photos were taken by SJ and Nan. And that very first picture?
Julia’s iPhone. heh.
Spending time with Friends.
Nothing can beat that.
Aloha friends! Until we meet again!
I take a lot of random pictures. Granted mostly of Dante but I do take photos of food I make/bake, too. Though I rarely take photos of the process that it takes to get to the final product.
Because I’m lame and forgetful. Mostly.
Here are some random photos I took last week.
Not all of Dante.
Mostly not all of Dante.
My friend went to an event and won a stick on mustache as one of her prizes. She graciously gave me the stache.
And then I realized just how much I look like my dad.
I made some banana nut cupcakes and decided I wanted to cover them in ganache. I didn’t want to do one type of ganache. So I did a glaze (dipped) and whipped. I’m partial to the whipped but really .. you can’t go wrong with chocolate.
Dante has started jumping up on the bed to sleep. I should probably stop him but he’s so cute and cuddly. I make TG do it instead!
I finally used the cooling rack that TG got me for Christmas. And I made these amazing cookies using boxed cake mix. Reeses chips and walnuts.
I doubted but I was corrected. Thank you KK for such an amazing idea! Total winner in my semi-home made repertoire.
Next up. Spam.
I’m talking about the processed pork (maybe) that comes in a tin rectangular can. I love that stuff.
I made an eggs benedict (sorta .. not really) with it. Instead of ham/canadian bacon I used spam. Instead of hollandaise sauce I used creamed spinach spiked with cream cheese. Of course it also had a perfectly poached egg under the creamy creamed spinach. All this goodness layered on top of a butter toasted sliced baguette, sitting in a pool of cream of asparagus soup.
Leftovers from a steak dinner I had made the night before.
And uhh .. the obvious, half a slice of bacon. duh. Crispy because that’s the way I like my bacon.
Dante got a mohawk. He totally rocks it.
We had a fundraising silent auction for Aloha United Way. It’s our big charity that we do in the office.
I have donated cupcakes 2 years in a row . The first year I donated 2 dozen. This year, I decided to split it up and donate (2) 1 dozen cupcakes. Brought in double the money!
I’ve been madly inlove with the maple buttercream and bacon crumbles on a cupcake since I first had one. The not cloyingly sweetness and subtle flavor of the maple buttercream coupled with the salty smokey bacon crumbles is simply a flavor explosion in your mouth.
Seriously guys. FLAVOR explosion. Sounds weird. Sounds intimidating? But it’s for real.
And then ..I decided to drizzle them with caramel before sprinkling on the bacon.
Nothing else to see here folks.
I also made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkled some sugar balls (note: not dragees! These won’t break your teeth when you bite into them) and some gold sugar chrystals. I was going for fancy and opulent. Gold and glittery balls of sugar speak on all kinds of level of opulence.
But especially on Valentines Day!
Hope you have a day filled with pink fondant hearts, red velvet cupcakes with adornments of gold and glittery balls of sugar (for opulence sake, that is)!
Happy Valentines Day!
This year, we decided not to have a Super Bowl Party (“SB”).
Especially with TG no longer drinking (future PSA ..), we didn’t feel it necessary to have one.
But here’s the thing. I LOVE Super Bowl food. It’s bar food, essentially. Only you get to control what gets served.
Typically, if I have a SB party, I serve wings and various other “mandatory” SB foods. This time, because it was just going to be me, TG and a couple of my friends (who were more interested in eating than the game), I decided to scale back. A lot.
I made pico de gallo and guacamole. (Not pictured .. don’t ask why .. I just didn’t take a picture of it).
* I’d also like to mention that another reason I will miss living in Hawaii is because you don’t get year round avocados on the east coast. I know this for fact. I’ve lived on the east coast.
And no one has an avocado tree where during avocado season you are given way too many… but who cares because it was free and you are never without the luciousy-buttery-avocadoy awesomeness of the beautiful green fruit. Oh Hawaii, how I will miss your wonderous fruits!
Umm.. what was I talking about?
Oh right. SB 2012 Menu.
I made Sesame Sea Salt soft pretzels. I know. It was so super easy! And TG’s favorite.
I think I might’ve used the wrong type of yeast but they still turned out really good!
I also made potato skins. But instead of bacon bits I put in chopped portugese sausage. Then I decided I wanted more color so I added some chopped red bell pepper. Local style potato skins.
I didn’t make wings but I did make ribs. Fall of the bone (maybe too much falling) super moist, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. First attempt. Wow. So good.
Even though we didn’t opt to have an actual party, I’m so glad I decided to make SB food anyway.
And how about them NY Giants! Woo Hoo!
Last year I watched Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot. I wanted to be on the show. I still might want to be on it but I don’t think I can handle that type of pressure.
In the very first episode where the contestants create their signature dish for the judges, one of them used a few drops of white truffle oil, in what I believe might’ve been, risotto. The reaction to the oil was so incredibly painful. The judges went on and on about how neophyte using truffle oil was.
So I stopped using it myself. Because, God forbid, I was grouped into “that” category.
Even though it went so well with my fluffy pillows of sweet potato gnocchi and drizzled atop my super creamy mushroom risotto.
Well, that ended last week when I decided to fry up some crispy french fries. I couldn’t just top them with salt. I couldn’t just top them with some parmesan cheese. Oh no .. not even a little parsley was going to satisfy me.
If I was going to go out of my way to make my own crispy french fries, then I was going to top them with some white truffle oil.
Gosh darn it.
I did. And it was awesome.
I don’t care what Gordon, Joe or Graham said. I’d tell them to their faces, too.
No. No, I probably wouldn’t.
But I would totally secretly continue to use my truffle oil.
There is most definitely a very good reason there is no “After” picture of the stew I made this weekend.
I started out really good though. I mean, I actually bothered to set everything up. I took pictures.
I took a lot of pictures.
I DID NOT take a picture of the wine. Or the water. Because they were after thoughts.
Right? Wine? After thought? Ok. Seriously.
The only reason any wine went into the stew was because I wanted a glass. To drink.
And it just felt better sharing my libation with the pot of stew I was making.
I’m super thoughtful, guys.
I chopped up potatoes, carrots and onions in a large dice.
I started browning off the meat. Removed. Then went in to brown the veges.
A large pinch of salt (had to add more later) and several (aka: lots and lots) turns of the good ol peppermill.
Stirred it around. Added the meat back in to the pot. Then went in with the liquids.
Now this is the reason I don’t have pictures of the finished product.
I’ve made stew a couple of times. The last time was probably 5 or 6 years ago. But I’ve been cooking long enough to know that potatoes will not stand up to long cook times without turning into semi mush.
And yet. That is exactly what I did.
I wanted the meat to get nice and tender. I wanted the potatoes and carrots to keep their shape. I wanted it to be a wonderful wintry flavorful beef stew. And I wanted it to look pretty.
Well, at least it tasted good.
TG loved it. I even served it to him with a disclaimer about it not being right .. the potatoes and the carrots were mooshy and the meat wasn’t all fall apart tender because I couldn’t cook it any longer or the potatoes and carrots would’ve totally disintegrated.
and I suck at making stew …
But TG really enjoyed it. He even said it was made perfectly.
I guess it’s because he likes mooshy potatoes.
It’s true. About beans, that is.
They are super yummy and totally healthy!
1/2-cup serving of pinto beans provides 100 calories, along with 6g of fiber, 6g of protein and no fat. This serving of pinto beans also contains 20 percent of the daily value for folate, 10 percent of the daily value for iron and phosphorus, 8 percent of the daily value for thiamine and magnesium, 6 percent of the daily value for calcium and zinc, 4 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6 and riboflavin and 2 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and niacin. They are also a good source of potassium.
TG likes my blog. In fact, he likes it so much that he insists I blog about every single thing I make or do.
It’s kind of cute.
So when the opportunity came about to have him contribute, he jumped at the chance.
This recipe is from TG’s mom. Written down in a little green note pad. So it’s totally a family secret. (Shhh!!!)
You want to start by cleaning the beans out pretty good to make sure you get rid of the bad ones and any rocks that may have landed in the bag. Dice up the onion and sautee. Add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin and then a little dash of worcestershire sauce. Then go in with the water, beans and ham hocks.
Let it cook.
After several hours on the stove at a steady simmer (and when the beans are nice and tender) you can take the ham hock out of the pot. Go ahead and chop up the meat and throw it back into the pot.
I don’t necessarily condone ham hock bones for dogs but Dante is pretty good about not choking on things like that. So if your pup is like mine, just wash it off and let your pup go to town.
Then go make yourself a bowl.
Serve it up with some buttered bread.
Or buttered cheesy bread.
Or garlic bread.
Anything to scoop up the beany goodness.
Leftover ideas: Make Bean & Cheese Burritos. Bean and cheese omelets. Beans for your tacos.
“Beans, beans, the magical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!”
Around this time last year, I decided to bake gifts for Christmas. See Christmas Baking Extravaganza (aka: learn to cut back when necessary). I didn’t just bake a few cookies. I baked for a full week.
And I was so tired.
So this year, instead of the ridiculous goals of yesteryear, I decided to bake 8 different cookies. I only did 7. Not bad. I’ve learned my lesson.
My cookie list consisted of the following cookies: Cocoa Crinkles, Lemon Coconut Pixies, Rumballs (because everyone working in an office needs some holiday cheer), Chewy Gingerbread cookies, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Butterscotch Pecan and my favorite (renamed .. Thanks TG) Ninja Stars!
I have photographic proof that I actually baked 7 different cookies this year.
For the most part they all turned out pretty good.
Someone challenged me to make a stronger rumball.
I did. I did by not measuring the rum. I just poured.
Poured with abandon.
And it burned going down. Apparently some people really like the burn.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Cocoa Crispy’s at first but I had a couple this morning for breakfast, and they weren’t too bad.
Yes. I had cookies for breakfast.
I made a classic Chocolate Chip Walnut from Savory Sweet Life’s Blog. They turned out just heavenly.
I also made a Butterscotch Pecan cookie from She Wears Many Hat’s Blog. A variation of it, at least.
I had intended to make stained glass cookies with snowflake cutouts. I did infact cut out snowflake almond vanilla sugar cookies. And I did poke a hole through it and I did put some crushed lifesaver candies inside said puka (hole in Hawaiian).
The cookie came out less like a stained glass cookie (it was kind of thick and so was the melted candy) and more like a really cool Ninja Star!
That’s what I’m telling everyone.
And they all believe me.
Actually. TG gave me the name. He saw how disappointed I was and said to me: “No way! They’re so cool! They look like Chinese Throwing Stars.”
Chinese Throwing Stars. I like it. Hmm… But Ninja’s are like way way cool. So the name got changed to Ninja Star Cookies!
I made the Lemon Coconut Pixies last year and decided to make them this year because I really liked them. They’re probably my favorite of the bunch.
Of course I didn’t take pictures of the final basket. BUT my friend Myko took some pictures of a box that I made for the other side of the office.
I’m gonna get the hang of this taking pictures of everything thing.
Until then, Happy Holiday Baking and Eating!
My friend KK hosted a bridal shower party at my house. She’s the mother of twins. Which is why it was at my house. And of course I volunteered to make brunch.
Why? Well, if you want the simple answer, it’s because I’m a control freak. If you want the more complex answer that basically ends with the simple answer, you’ll just have to ask me.
I also volunteered to feed my wonderful girlfriends and family because they are helping me finish off that 1001 crane deal. I had already folded 739 cranes. They helped me fold an additional 200 cranes or so, leaving me about 60 to fold on my own. And trust me .. 60 is a way more managable number than almost 300. In my head, at least.
*NOTE: I read somewhere that the bride and groom to be are supposed to fold these (together). Totally messed up when I told TG that it was only the bride to be. He’s making me stick to what I told him first. **breath** Patience and Longevity.** OOooommm….
The menu consisted of the following items:
- Cranberry Almond Orange scones
- Breakfast Quiche Squares
- Roasted Vegetable Quiche Squares
- Spanish Style Roasted Potatoes
- Green Salad
- Lemon Thyme Vinegarette
- Fruit Platter
- Kalamansi Orange and Cucumber water (I called it Spa water .. because it tasted like the kind of water they serve in the spas)
Looks like an extensive list, right? It’s not really. It just looks long. Here are some pictures that I did not take because I have a horrible camera.
Or. I take horrible pictures. I like to go with the first excuse though.
I just realized that some of you may be wondering .. what’s a malasada? Well, in a few words its heavenly delightful and gloriously fattening. Also, it is a portugese donut. Specifically, a Leonard’s Malasada. Not to be confused by any other malasada cart/truck you might see because Leonard’s really is the best.
Even my mom and Han unnie showed up. Not to fold cranes, mind you. They just came over for the food.
**What the heck? When did I decide it was ok to stop wearing makeup and fixing my hair???**
In fact, I really didn’t expect it but I am so more than thankful for KK helping me out when she has the time. Did I mention she’s a mother of twins? Girls. Almost 2. In other words, her hands are pretty full.
Background on me and KK: We’ve known eachother since 1994. We went to the University of Hawaii together and met at Newman Catholic Center on campus. We’ve remained friends, even with my moving all over the mainland. She’s had the same cell phone number since she got a cell phone (I think). And I have always kept her number in my phone.
I’d like to introduce you to a few friends that I put to work that day. They helped a ton. Well, some of us had other talents and maybe weren’t meant for crane folding.
Sina is so pretty. Thanks for the massages, Sina!
Recipients of said massage. If you need a masseuse please let me know. Sina travels, is amazing and licensed!
I’m pimp’n my friend out because she’s totally worth it. Just ask TG. I got him a massage, too. And no. I do not get any kickbacks for referring people. I just think she does such a fantastic job.
I’d also like to thank my cousin’s who came to help (sorta … hahaha).
Sorry .. We’re blood. So it’s totally ok.
But really. I could not have gotten all of these done. I now have about 20 more to fold on my own to hit my goal!
Also. Just in: TG folded 1 crane! Which will also go into the bigger picture.
Yes. These are my friends.
No. I do not endorse humans wearing doggie cones (even the comfort cone).
Although, I’m pretty sure Dante was relieved to have it off and probably found it comforting that someone else
had to chose to wear it.