Tuesday, December 27, 2011

boozy baked french toast

If you're smart enough to know that on New Year's Day you will face the inevitable quandary of needing sustenance to nurse your hangover, yet not having the energy to make or forage for food, this recipe is for you, my friend. The problem with French toast is always the same: people only make it when feeding a small crowd, and you can really only make a piece or two at a time, making it nearly impossible to keep the first-made slices warm. Your answer is this Boozy Baked French toast, which is made the day before, and simply popped in the oven come morning. Not only is there zero work involved in the wee morning (or afternoon hours if you were really cheerful during the ball drop), but it also adds in a touch of "hair of the dog". I chose to use Grand Marnier, though many flavors are recommended in the recipe, and it was delicious.

Helpful Hint:  If you use multiple layers of toast (which is the best way), I would suggest tenting the top of the casserole with foil about halfway through baking, and increasing the baking time just a bit, say by 5 or so minutes. Mine came out a little overdone on the crust, and a little underdone at the base.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

cider gingersnap

I'm clearly a sucker for seasonal anything, and cocktails are by no means an exception. In fact, I love festive drinks of any kind, whether it's gingerbread lattes or something a little merrier. I adapted this cocktail from an existing recipe, making it just a little sweeter and cozier with a touch of brown sugar, and subbing cider for hard-to-find unfiltered apple juice. I can't say I'm a lover of bourbon, but it was quite nice in this holiday treat.

Cider Gingersnap

1/2 cup apple cider, or unfiltered apple juice
1/2 cup ginger ale
1/4 cup decent bourbon
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar to taste

Shake with ice, and serve with apple slice garnish.

Friday, December 23, 2011

cranberry pistachio chocolate bark

Edible gift number two, which I mixed in gift boxes with my English Toffee, is this lovely homemade chocolate bark. OK really it's just melted chocolate with bits thrown on top, but for some unknown reason people like to call this "bark", so I'm going with that. I had seen this exact combo last year in food network magazine, and remembered it when I had a ton of pistachios and cranberries leftover from this appetizer. I would have preferred dark chocolate, or even white to set off those festive colors, but settled for using what I had on hand... which was a nice Ghirardelli bar, so I'm not complaining. These were an amazing holiday mix of salty, sweet, and addictive.

english toffee


I love giving homemade Christmas gifts when possible, and this English Toffee is a great example. I made the candy as a thank you to my dental assistants for keeping me afloat for the past 6 months. Making candy is sometimes scary, because you have to be very precise, but all in all this recipe was very easy and required very few ingredients. I didn't mix pecans into the toffee itself, as per the recipe, but did sprinkle the top with toasted almonds. I think it looks much prettier this way. I gave about half to the assistants, and made myself sick eating most of the remainder... in one sitting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

dark blazer + sparkly dress

If you don't already have a black, or any other dark color, blazer in your closet then I'm not totally sure what you've been up to or where you've been, but you should invest already. Actually, I commend you for being able to put together outfits without it, because I'm kind of dependent on mine... OK, all of mine. That little blazer is perfect for toning down a glitzy dress for a holiday soiree. You might even have an old New Years dress that you never thought would see the light of day again; now it can. See, now you're just recycling. You environmentalist, you. Enjoy!

TFNC Sequin Dress, ASOS; Schoolboy Blazer in Velvet, J. Crew
Premium Stand Out Tux Blazer, Topshop; Draped Bodice Dress, Shoshanna
Misty Beaded Dress, Piperlime; Boyfriend Tuxedo Blazer, Sparle & Fade (UO)

Holiday Party Guide
Maxi Dress + Boyfriend Cardigan
Embellished Tunic + Black Leggings
Faux Fur + Silky Dress 
Dark Blazer + Sparkly Dress

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

cranberry & pistachio goat cheese

Holidays provide an excellent excuse to eat gratuitous amounts of foods like cheese and cream. And I'm not talking in your entrees. It's those can't-stop appetizers like fat logs of cheese that were meant to feed a crowd, but 2/3 of which ended up slathered on your own crackers... and then ate your actual dinner. It's heaven. Pure, sweet cheesy heaven. 

This appetizer couldn't possibly be easier to make, and if you love goat cheese (which you must), is packed with festive flavor. Simply roll a log of goat cheese in chopped pistachios and dried cranberries, then... nothing. You're done. I found a cranberry-cinnamon chevre in the fancy-pants cheese section, but any regular goat cheese works . I served it with good old Ritz crackers because I wanted some butter and salt to cut through my double-cranberry sweetness.

Monday, December 19, 2011

cranberry mimosas

Whattt? It's already December 19th. How did that happen? I had so many great holiday post ideas heading into the season; some of them I've seen through, others went into that dark hole of Pinterest/bookmark land never to be seen again. In these remaining days, I'm going to shove as much holiday cheer in your cute little December wind-kissed faces as I can possibly manage. Be ready for that. It could get either very sparkly or ugly... or both. 

These Cranberry Mimosas were such a simple, fresh treat that couldn't have been easier to make. I mean, if you can't handle tipping a little cranberry juice into a mimosa, just step out of the kitchen forever. I didn't even measure ingredients (or bother with garnishes) and the result was still delicious. These mimosas would be perfect for a little Christmas morning celebration.

growing up too soon

I can't believe that in only one short week, little Oliver is already visibly growing. At 9 weeks, he's as adorable as ever (or maybe even more so), but the rapid growth makes me realize how quickly this puppy stage will end. Thankfully, I love old Goldens almost as much as puppies, so at least there's that to look forward to for about the next nine years. I hope you enjoy these absurdly adorable photos.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

coffee cake cupcakes

Christmas time practically begs for cozy comfort foods and treats. These coffee cake cupcakes are sure to fit the bill, either as a dessert, or as I served them: calling them "coffee cake muffins" and passing them around for breakfast. While there are three separate components to the dish: streusel topping, batter, and glaze, nearly every ingredient was already sitting in my pantry. The cupcakes came together quickly enough to please even Adam, who very anxiously awaits any crumb-like treat.

Friday, December 16, 2011

a very pinterest christmas

As I browsed through my backlogged photo library at 6:00 this morning with little Oliver, for some reason I was just feeling a little blah with my non-holiday post topics. Possibly due to lack of sleep. Possibly due to it's finally Friday delerium. Now I'm sitting here at school, with another failed patient (yay, Baltimore!), and leave it to Pinterest to make me happy. So, does this post have an actual point? Not really. It's just a little collection of things that made me happy and ready for Christmas. {Insert PC inclusion of other holidays here}.

Printable Gift Tags

Spreading Knives, Etsy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

gift guide: the homebody

Madero Hoodie, Anthropologie; Spiced Chai Candle, Terrain; Homegrown Monogram Mug, Anthropologie; Embroidered Penguin Classics, Anthropologie; Milk & Honey Soap, Terrain; UGG Dakota Slipper, Nordstrom

Until recently, when I reached an unnoticeable tipping point sometime this year, I would have never considered myself a homebody. I admit I've always been a bit of a party girl with a go, go, go attitude. OK, I still definitely am that, but I do spend a lot more time at home on the couch or cuddling in bed than ever before. I also have many friends who are huge homebodies, preferring the comforts of home to stepping out on a daily basis. For those loved ones, I think a comfy-cozy gift is the most thoughtful, as it adds a little extra decadence to a day or night curled-up and snuggled-in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

olive garden salad

The only reason to ever set foot in an Olive Garden is for their famous salad and breadsticks. That's a fact. OK it's my opinion, but one shared by most everyone I know. A while ago, Food Network Magazine published a copy-cat recipe for this restaurant favorite, but I'm a big believer in reading reviews, which in this case were poor. So, I followed this recipe instead. While I haven't been to a OG quite some time, I think I remember the taste well enough to say that the dressing wasn't an exact copy, but it was still really good nonetheless. I would definitely recommend making this salad, as it was a real crowd pleaser during dinner with friends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

christmas cheer

It's that time of year again, and I can't stop reveling in holiday cheer. From the sparkling ambiance in our apartment to family stockings for our new trio, a crackling fire, and a very nice holiday beer, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. I bought this banner from Etsy for above the fireplace, and I love how it simultaneously fills that empty space and creates a glittery focal point in our living room.

Celebrating Texas and the holidays.
DIY Bokeh photo of our shimmering tree.

Adam: Personal Creations, Oliver & Jordan: Pottery Barn

Sunday, December 11, 2011

cincinnati-style chili

Until I randomly decided to make this recipe for dinner, I'd never before had Cincinnati Chili. The idea of serving chili over spaghetti seemed a little odd to me, but also a little interesting. On a lazy Sunday, and after a realization that money-saving was definitely in order, I decided to make something cheap and easy in my under-utilized Crock Pot. I bought a few of Sandra Lee's cookbooks in college, because the recipes are absurdly easy and budget-friendly. While I must admit they don't really excite me anymore, they still serve a purpose (did I mention cheap and easy?). I can't say the chili itself was award-winning, but we happily shoveled it down for three straight days. And the spaghetti? A surprisingly delicious addition under my mess of beans and meat.