Friday, December 23

Holiday Cheer

So pretty much what happened this month is that I told you that I agreed to host Christmas Eve dinner... and then I peaced out. For the whole rest of the month. Yea, I shared a fun to make and awesome gift. (PS if you need a last minute gift... follow that link!) But where were the Christmas cookies? I know. I'm sorry.

Truth? I ate them. Yum. More truth? I didn't take any pictures. Sorry.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to plan a dinner for 10 people? I mean... maybe it's not that hard. Maybe I'm just really high strung and blow everything waaaaay outta proportion. I also have an obsession with making everything possible from scratch. I'm a huge show-off. I'm in way over my head. I've spent the past week freaking out. (PS Please don't tell any of the people who are coming to my dinner. I've got a huge amount of pride riding on this meal...).

Well, freaking out... or eating. Cookies. Lots of them. And latkes. Yum! Candy... yes please. A chocolate eating dance has been invented. Multitasking. Gotta love it. 

But I wanted to touch base with everyone. Ya know, because I know how much you miss me. And so in between cutting bread for 2 kinds of stuffing and mashing eggplant for chatzilim, I've taken a break to spread some holiday cheer. 

And drink wine and eat cookies. 

So first, here's the worst best worst? Christmas song ever:

And some fun stuff from mi casa to yours!



Happy Holidays :)

Saturday, December 17

Cinnamon Pecan Pancake Mix-in-a-Jar Gifts

Here's the thing...

..I'm about to help you out. 

Because I know you have at least 1 person for whom you can't think of a gift....

....And I know what you're doing right now.

As you read this you're supposed to be perusing the internet, shopping and such. You've got to think of something to give this person. They're awesome. They mean a lot. But they just have everything. And some people are just hard to shop for. And you gave them socks last year. And a wallet the year before. No one wants a book anymore now that there are e-readers around. That restaurant gift card? You got them one for their birthday. 

Regardless. I know what you're doing here. You're procrastinating.

But you're procrastinating in the right place.

Because I know something about your loved one. They love pancakes. Everyone... loves pancakes. Is that a haughty assumption? Maybe. But go ahead. Prove me wrong.

Nothing says "I love you" like pancakes. Especially the homemade kind, made extra special by cinnamon and pecans. Fluffy, amazing pancakes. Your loved one will just add an egg, some milk, some butter... stir. Cook, flip. Cover in syrup and enjoy. They can do that. You've done the homework for them.

 The best part is you can decorate these little gems any way you like. I really wish mine were wearing tiny little ties. Next year. Ties.

Just make sure you slap a label on them:


  machinedrum by machinedrum

Cinnamon Pecan Pancake Mix-in-a-Jar
Makes 1 quart jar
Adapted from (Best pancakes. Ever.)

3 c. ap flour
7 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c chopped pecans

In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Spoon into a quart sized mason jar, slowly so that you don't spill any. Seal jar and decorate.

Make sure to label with something like this:
Cinnamon Pecan Pancakes
For each 2 c. of mix: In a large bowl, make a well in the dry ingredients. Add 1 egg, 1 1/4 c milk, and 3 tbsp melted butter (1 tsp vanilla optional). Stir until just combined and lumpy. Make pancakes, spooning 1/4 c of batter onto greased griddle over medium heat and browning on both sides.

Monday, December 12

Pumpkin Cake with Walnut Crunch Topping

Dear Diary...

... I might have made a huge mistake. Might.

I volunteered to host a dinner at my house. You know... not just any dinner. Christmas Eve dinner.

See, because here's the thing. It's exciting to me. I'm honestly, genuinely, really excited about it. I've planned about 6 desserts so far. I picked out 4 appetizers. And unfortunately due to the fact that I've only got 5 confirmed guests, I think I'm going to have to scale back a bit. 

The part that I'm not fully sure I'm excited about is the actual dinner itself. I don't have a great relationship with things that roast in the oven. I want to work on this relationship. It's an important relationship. But it's still new and fragile and I just don't think I'm ready to out that relationship to the world yet. It's closeted behind my oven door. I love Italian food and a small part of me really wants to recreate my childhood with a Feast of Seven Fishes, but the more influential part of me, the part which understands my bank account, says no. 

The thing is, I really want to put something in the oven. I want to set it and forget it, so to speak. I don't want to spend the whole night sauteing or boiling or grilling or whatever. So like.. gimme some ideas. Please?

And I'll share this cake! I found the original recipe at The Noshery and I instantly fell in love. It's yummy. It's nutty. It's crunchy and sweet. It's pumpkin and sugar and  butter and delicious spices! And share some holiday secret recipes with me pleeeeaaseeee.


  Your Floor Is Now A Tree by AIMES

Pumpkin Cake with Walnut Crunch Topping
Adapted from The Noshery

3/4 c of brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
3/4 c chopped walnuts
1 2/3 c ap flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c warm (110 degrees) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Place brown sugar in a 9 in round cake pan and spread around. In a small saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Pour butter over sugar into cake pan and stir with a fork to combine until sugar is dissolved. (Reserve pan to the side for later use.) Press the walnuts into the cake pan, spreading into an even layer. Spray exposed sides of pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Sift the ap flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside. 

Melt the remaining stick of butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Beat the remaining stick of butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, milk and pumpkin together in a large bowl until combine, about 2-3 minutes. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring with a spatula and scraping down sides until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan before inverting the cake onto a cooling wrack and cooling completely.

Saturday, December 10

Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Soup

Today, I happened upon this article: Behold the World's Best Christmas Lights.
And honestly. I really really love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday of all time. But that last couple makes me want to puke a little bit.

Now, I'm down for a good bout of wasting time. I do lots of it. All the time, I'm wasting it.

But come on... reeeeaaaally? 

What do you do with all that shit during the year? Those people probably have to rent a storage locker just to accommodate this insane hobby. (Can you call this a hobby? More like hoarding.) Then what if someday they decide they feel bogged down by all this extra tinsel and stop paying for their rental? Can you imagine Barry Weiss's face upon buying a storage locker filled with this junk? (It's a Storage Wars thing.)

And I hope that they bought most of this shit on sale in past years after Christmas or they've got like $1 million dollars invested in this Christmas decor nightmare. Not to mention their electric bill. And the storage locker! Oh man, and in tough economic times such as these...

But, look how happy they are! And I guess that's all that really matters in the end isn't it? To each his own. Whatever floats your boat (if it's a sailboat, can I join you?). Etc. Etc. And that's why I'll give it to them. Because if cluttering your house with tinsel, lights, stuffed animals and shiny balls is what makes you happy, then by all means, blow a couple fuses, ruin your vacuum with some tinsel and please get a pair of sunglasses.

Now, where do I find myself a similar parachuting Santa?

I didn't mention food once in that whole post! Oops. Here's a healthy/ flavorful soup recipe just to make up for it!

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4

3 leeks, washed, trimmed of greens and chopped 1/4 in thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, chopped
32 oz chicken broth
1 c. water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 2-3 in. thick
2 c cauliflower, cleaned and cut into 1 in. pieces
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
salt & pepper

In a medium stock pot, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic and onions and saute about 5-7 minutes until leeks begin to soften. 

Add chicken broth and water. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Once broth boils, add potatoes and cauliflower. Cover the pot and return to a boil. Cook until potatoes are soft enough that a fork meets no resistance when piercing. Check cauliflower for tenderness as well. 

Once vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and season with ginger, paprika, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a food processor or blender) puree the soup until just liquefied. Consistency should be coarse, not fully smooth.

Serve hot with bread or croutons.

It's a leek-a-pillar!

Baby food!
Mmm. Bread!

Loves doing dishes. Loves it.

Tuesday, December 6

Spicy Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ok, first of all: THIS !!!!!!!

Second of all: If I could take a picture of my camera, I would. (Ok, I understand how mirrors work people, but c'mon it wouldn't be the same.) I can't stop being obsessed with it. This came to mind yesterday: I actually can't wait until it snows, so I can take awesome pictures in the snow. Of Jagger. And of course other things...
This will have to do for now .. breasts.
Third of all: It has come to my attention that I need to buy some stamps. I haven't bought stamps in maybe 3 years. And I just realized I have literally no idea how much they might cost anymore. Also, do I have to go to the post office? Because their hours are extremely inconvenient! And honestly, my own lack of knowledge/ apparent lack of usage of the good ol' USPS just makes me feel badly for the poor postal system and now I want to buy extra stamps and mail tons of useless stuff. 

Anyone down for a chain letter? Speaking of chain letters, are there people out there right now mailing 10 friends copies of a letter that claims to get them into the Guinness Book of World Records? Or was a phenomenon that died in the '90's with parachute pants? (Dear Lord, please bring back parachute pants.) (Please follow that link and enjoy the epicness that is Although, I could just be paranoid, but I wouldn't recommend that anyone actually buy any parachute pants from that site I just linked you too. Seems a tad shady.)

Ahh yumm!
And now that I've gotten us all reminiscing about parachute pants and chain letters, nothing seems more appropriate than this video:

Break it down!

Whooaaaaaaa whoooaaaaaa whoa.

Soundtrack: Hmm.. The new Black Keys album is pretty seriously awesome. Please find a way to download this... legally ;)

Spicy Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 3 (for 4, add an extra breast and 1/3 more of everything, obviously)

3 medium sized chicken breasts, pounded down to about 1/4 inch (the most important thing is uniformity in the thickness)
salt & pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp chipotle seasoning (use more or less according to taste)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1-1 1/2 c. fresh arugula
1/4 c grated Pecorino Romano cheese
cooking twine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken breasts with pepper and salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

In a shallow or large bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, rosemary, chipotle, and oregano.

One at time, dip the chicken breasts into the egg and coat with breadcrumb mixture. Press the chicken hard into the bread crumbs to make sure they stick. Transfer the breaded chicken breasts to a greased baking dish and arrange side by side.

Top each chicken breast with 1/3 of the Pecorino cheese and 1/3 of the arugula. Working with each breast, one at time, slip a 12" piece of twine under the breast. Gather the arugula together and wrap the chicken around the greens until the ends meet. Wrap the string around the chicken and tie together. Repeat for each chicken breast.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Check for done-ness before serving.

This looks so real you could eat it! But don't... it's raw.

Sunday, December 4

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok, there are 3 huge reasons why I'm really excited about this blog post:

1) I've had too much coffee.

2) These cookies are amazing. Think chewy Thin Mints with gooey dark chocolate bits, covered in a light glaze of powder sugar. Think my brother's worst nightmare (he hates mint and chocolate; we're most likely not actually related).

3) I got an early holiday gift. And allow me to introduce you to my new favorite thing in the whole world: my new camera. After I started this blog, I quickly realized the zoom on my point and shoot just wasn't meant for macro pictures. Or something like that. It's a great camera that I'm definitely going to keep and bring wherever I can't bring this new camera, but it just wasn't meant for what I was using it for. Jeremy was gracious enough to lend me his camera, which did a much better job of capturing the detail and coloring that really makes pictures of food look yummers. It helped me go from this to this. So thanks, you rule! But enough outta me, let me show you what I'm talking about:

Do you see those bits of powdered sugar? 

And, watch this:

crop image

Did you think that was a movie? No, that was a gif file. THAT'S how quickly this thing takes pictures. AGH. I'm so in love.

One note before we get started: This recipe is adapted from one I wrote down a long time ago. I can't for the life of me figure out where it came from; I just know it was a recipe for double chocolate cookies. If this looks familiar to anyone, PLEASE let me know so that I can link to the original website and give credit to the original recipe. Thank you!

Soundtrack: Did I post this already? Maybe, but listen to it again. Because I said so.

Holy Ghost! by DFA Records  

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 c ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. Andes baking chips (I've seen them at Target, AC Moore, and definitely available online)
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c dark chocolate chips (I use these)
1/2 c powdered sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a microwave safe container, melt the Andes chips, heating in 30 second intervals and stirring in between. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. (It won't stick completely together as the sugar ratio is higher here.) Add melted Andes chips and vanilla, beat until combined, using a spatula to scrape down the sides when necessary. Add eggs and continue beating mixture until eggs are fully incorporated. 

Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides when needed. Stir in  dark chocolate chips. Gather dough to the center of the bowl, cover and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

At about 10 minutes, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove dough from freezer and shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. After baking, allow cookies to cool for 1-2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Mini spatula <3