Oh, What a Beautiful Day

It was such a beautiful weekend, in every sense of the phrase. Not only was I surrounded by family and friends (friends that are family), but the weather was gorgeous: sunny, in the low 70s, with just a hint of a breeze

Due to varied arrival times on Friday, Dave and I decided to do a European Dinner Night for ease: smoked salmon and whitefish, sausage, pickles, a cheese plate, veggies with ranch dip, homemade crackers and bread, and onion dip (which my friend Dan made–it was so good). I love snack dinners.

By the way, did I tell you that Dave’s been teaching me to bake bread? He wants an heir, but I’m content to leave him the throne for now. Although, damn, that bread was pretty delicious.

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On Saturday morning Mom and Dad were up early. By the time I was up, they had already gone to get coffee and doughnuts. (As a point of reference, I slept until 8:00am….weirdos).

003Looking at doughnuts makes me happy. Unfortunately, eating doughnuts doesn’t make my stomach too happy, so I savored half of one and called it good. Oh, cream filling, how I hate to love you. Love to hate you? Eh, whatever.

Afterwards, Mom, Dad, and I walked downtown and then swooped around back to a plant sale where Mom bought me three new perennials to plant. Now I just need some garden tools!

005(I wonder if there’s a plant sale?)

When we got home, we picked up the rest of the gang: my brother, Tyler, my sister, Moriah, Dave, and our friends Dan, Emily, and Amanda, and headed to the Market on Strongs for some goodies for dinner. We walked back to drop off the frozen food and then walked back into town to eat. We wanted to go to Emy J’s, but it was packed, so we settled on Erbert and Gerbert’s.

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I really wanted this picture to turn out.

012At least this one did. Wait a minute, I’ve seen this expression before…
PicMonkey CollageThat little nose! It kills me.

009We made it easy and ordered four Jacob Bluefingers on honey wheat. I was the difficult one who subbed mustard for mayo. Dad also ordered a pickle, but it got boggarted by the moonbeam. “Papa, pickle? Pickle?” How could he say no to this face?

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She could sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in white gloves.

We walked back past our house and made it to the Stevens Point Brewery just in time for the tour I booked earlier in the week. My Dad has been drinking Point since I was little, so I knew it would be the perfect place to go to celebrate his birthday.

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They look kind of similar, don’t you think?

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The tour was really informative and when it ended, we were given three sample tickets to sample the beers, hard ciders, or sodas of our choice. I even won an extra sample ticket for remembering our tour guide’s name.

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It’s still a little weird to me that I’m living in the place where my dad’s favorite beer lives. I vaguely remember driving through Stevens Point on a family visit and thinking, “This is a pretty town. It would be cool to live here someday.” And now I am!

The Moonbeam was so good during the tour, and we took her to the park to play afterwards. It was pretty barren given how beautiful it was outside, so Dad, Em, Mom, and I got to join in on the fun.

PicMonkey Collage 2055PicMonkey CollageMy dad may be 55, but he’s a kid at heart.

After a quick dip of our toes in the water, we went back to the house for a bonfire and cookout.

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On the menu: marinated chicken, andouille sausages and bison brats from the Market, baked beans, and potatoes. With chips as our appetizer, it was really a classic American cookout. We had so much food for the grill that my brother Ty built a mini grill in the firepit to cook the brats.

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Look! She’s going to be a harmonica player!

We stayed up late around the fire, because….well, it’s so easy get sucked into the magic of the fire and lose track of time.

010And look at the beautiful benches my dad brought for me!

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Love, love, love.

The next day was Sunday: Mother’s Day, Dad’s birthday, and Amanda’s birthday. What a trifecta of fun! We enjoyed coffee and presents outside (after washing dishes from the night before).

072073082I had a mini photoshoot with Aurelia.

PicMonkey Collage 3With this many pictures of my niece, I can only imagine how many pictures I’ll take of my own children. Unless they’re ugly. Then I’ll keep photographing Aurelia. Those eyes! That silky hair! That button nose! Those boots! Gaaaaah!

After coffee, we headed over to the Co-op where we picked up noshes for lunch.

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Picnic at the park with cheese, crackers, dolmas, fruit, veggie chips, and cookies. We also shared various beverages: mine was Dandelion and Burdock and was really delicious, despite the strange ingredients.

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We went to Belt’s for birthday ice cream, and it started to pour just as we got our ice cream. We had to say a quick car goodbye before I finally headed home to my lair to rest. It was quite a weekend, and I was so glad I got to spend it with some of my favorite people.

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Birthday Weekend

My brother turned the big 2-8 this weekend, and he drove all the way to Point to celebrate it with me!

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Okay, there’s a slight chance he wanted to see others besides me, but it sure was nice spending my brother’s birthday with him after missing my sisters’ last month.

It was a nice little weekend with food, friends, movies, and board games. Together, Ty and I even convinced Dave to make some of his delicious bread Friday night.

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For Ty’s birthday dinner, we made One Pot Pasta with Mussels, and Dave made some amazing Cheesy Polenta with Jalapenos.

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Ty doesn’t like regular cake, so I made (hem, assembled) him an ice cream cake for his birthday. So easy and so good!

Layer ice cream sandwiches.

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Cool whip.

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Fudge topping or chocolate syrup.

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And crushed Oreos.

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Repeat, cover with foil, and freeze.

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It has been such a long time since I’ve made pretzels that I felt the compulsion to do so this weekend. The compulsion was heightened by a Valentine’s Day picture I saw of a Bloody Mary with a heart shaped pretzel garnishing it.

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Okay, you can laugh at how my hearts turned out.

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The poppers turned out wonderfully, though, and made an excellent addition to Sunday Bloody Sunday served alongside mustard, horseradish, and salsa con queso.

Then came everyone’s least favorite part of Sunday: the part where we say goodbye to each other and the weekend and prepare ourselves for the forthcoming week (which, in my case, generally involves laundry).

It was another wonderful weekend. Happy Birthday, Ty!  You are the best big brother and friend a girl could ask for.

Next weekend, Dave and I made a pact to do absolutely nothing but spend time together, which I am naturally looking forward to very much.

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Spread the Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I made you some cookies.

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Actually, I made them for work.

But I couldn’t bring them to work because my stupid car is being stupid fixed and I’m stupid stuck at home.

It has not been a fun week at work. Everyone and their mother has blamed me for everything wrong with their lives this week: prescriptions, urine drug tests, extended wait times for phone calls…you name it.

Dave says I should yell back, but there’s only so much I can say without getting fired. And I keep trying so hard to be the better person, when sometimes I really just want to pop someone on the nose. Luckily, for every person that screamed at me, I had another person come up and say, “Don’t worry about that person. They’re being a jerk.”

I had to take my car in again yesterday, because the heat has not been working since I got it back. I let it go for almost two weeks because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced by not having a car again, but it’s just too cold this winter to go without a heated car.

I was in such a bad mood when I got home last night that the fact that Dave made dinner for me didn’t even cheer me up.

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And it was one of my favorite meals: salmon en croute with roasted veggies.

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I contributed by making my own lemon caper dill sauce to top it with, but since Dave was sleeping, I couldn’t even thank him for dinner.

I had a mini mental breakdown this morning when I couldn’t figure out a way to get to my class or work, so I cured myself the only way I knew how: took a two hour nap, shoveled the driveway to get some Vitamin D, and noshed on some chocolates that my darling husband left on my desk.

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I’m in a much better mood now, thankyouverymuch, and I would love to share some cookies with you.

Thanks for sticking with me during this long, cold winter. I love my readers!

I have to share this picture, though, because it’s SO TRUE.

Another Week Over…

And a new one just begun.

I was so homesick this weekend. Well, I guess I was more “family sick” than anything. When I lived in Green Bay, I saw my siblings about once a week and my parents once every few weeks.

FamNow I haven’t seen them since Christmas, and it was, as Mom put it, “pretty sucky this year.” I think it’s also a combination of having cabin fever from being cooped up inside and not having as many friends in the area as we do in Green Bay. Tyler, Emily, and Moriah and I were supposed to have a “Leahy Sibling Weekend,” but it kept getting rescheduled due to work and various other things that popped up until it was canned for the time being.

I was trying to distract myself on Saturday from thinking too much about how I miss hanging out with my siblings and my parents, so I put on some Irish music and began my Saturday tradition of cleaning the house and then going outside to shovel.

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We haven’t really gotten to know our neighbors yet.

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This is why.

My car was blowing cold air all last week. One person told me to check the antifreeze, another to check the radiator fluid, and another to check the coolant. I was glad to find out they were all the same thing. Turns out my car was low on antifreeze/coolant/radiator fluid, so Dave and I topped it off. He took his car for a quick oil change while I took a shower, and then we headed out to run some errands. After spending the normal amount of “too much money” at Target, we stopped to check out a local Vietnamese market, Lor’s.

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Sometimes while I am driving or out with friends, I think “Man, I could go for some jelly right now.” No need to worry anymore–portable jelly is here to save me!

Dave and I stocked up on curry paste and coconut milk along with a few other grocery items. When we arrived home, I decided to finally use up a leftover can of banana cream pie filling that we’ve had since my 24th birthday.

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All I had to do was make the crust.

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After I baked it, I filled the pie with the banana cream pie filling, topped it with whipped cream, and added sprinkles.

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How can you look at sprinkles and not be happy?

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Dave and I relaxed for a little bit on the couch before I had to take him to the hospital for a sleep study required for his work.

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I heated up some split pea soup for my dinner, served in another bread bowl.

016So good and so filling!

Dave had been dreading his sleep study for the last several months, and I was so nervous for him but tried not to show it. I hate when people I love are forced to do something uncomfortable. We got him checked in around 8:30pm, and then I came home to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls while I ate some cookies from the Asian market.

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Now with new sports designs!

I went to bed early to read, because I knew Dave would be calling early the next morning to have me come pick him up. I went to pick him up at 5:30 on Sunday morning, and spent the morning reading and watching movies.

We headed over to Dan and Em’s in the early afternoon for Sunday Bloody Sunday, but I wasn’t really in a picture-taking mood. So trust me when I say I had a delicious Bloody Mary, some home brew, and a lovely time with friends. I finally got to see Dan and Em’s wedding pictures, which were gorgeous. The Super Bowl was on, but I was much more interested in the photos.

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Oh, and nachos.

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I couldn’t help taking a picture of the nachos!

Dave and I left right after half time and came home to more unhealthy food (pizza rolls) and watched Groundhog Day. It was a great end to the weekend.

 

Pie Nights

Since I enjoy cooking so much, I sometimes take entire days off from work devoted to the task. St. Patrick’s Day has always been a day for me to cook new (to me) traditional Irish dishes while listening to Irish music and sipping on a glass of Bailey’s. Before Christmas, same thing, although that one mixes baking with wrapping presents with terribly awesome holiday movies in the background like Mr. Saint Nick starring Kelsey Grammar.

For the last several years, I’ve also taken off the day before Thanksgiving, known affectionately to me as “pie day,” because it’s when I make all my baked goods for Thanksgiving. If I was a normal person who made one regular apple pie and one regular pumpkin pie, this probably wouldn’t be necessary.

003 But there’s something so fun to me about spending the entire day covered in flour, washing dishes, and heating my oven as much as it can handle.

Who wants a regular apple pie when you can make a Creamy Caramel Apple Crunch Pie? Why pumpkin when you can make Chocolate Chipotle Sweet Potato Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake? Why not throw a cake in there, like a Gingerbread Cake Roll with Maple Frosting?

Since I elected to take the day after Thanksgiving off to spend more time with my family instead of the day prior (driving home two hours after a turkey dinner and wine didn’t sound like fun), I had to scale down the complexity of my desserts.

I planned to make Pecan Pie Cheesecake two nights before and two apple pies the night prior, putting my sister Emily in charge of everything pumpkin. No, I couldn’t just make pecan pie or cheesecake, thankyouverymuch. I simply have to trash things up sometimes.

Realizing my cheesecake pan got lost in the move put a damper on things for a bit, as did the discovery that my cat Artemis loves barely-cooled cheesecake. But despite these minor hiccups, the cheesecake turned out as good as last year’s.

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I ended up using a muffin pan lined with tin foil for half the cheesecake, and an 8″ layer cake pan wrapped with foil for the remainder.

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This is the first time I’ve ever made mini cheesecakes, and even though I haven’t tried them yet, they’re so adorable!

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And you can barely tell where I had to do surgery on this cheesecake from Artemis. That little bugger. (That’s my favorite thing to yell when he does something naughty).

I also made a Rustic Apple Tart and added some Maple Spiced homemade jam shipped to me from a friend in Colorado.

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And a Rhubarb Apple Pie with a lattice crust for good measure.

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I honestly think lattice crusts are much easier to make than double crust pie. Plus, then I have leftovers to cut out pretty snowflakes.

The recipe for the Pecan Pie Cheesecake is here. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, since I woke up at 5:00am on my day off, I’m going to watch a few Friends Thanksgiving episodes before I make the 2 hour journey to my parent’s.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am very thankful for you, readers.

So is Gabby the Gobbler.

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Green & Cookies

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work the other day to pick up some cookie supplies for this coming weekend, and I was lured into the produce section.

Our fridge and pantry are in a sorry state, and I simply couldn’t go any longer without something green. I’ve been adding onions into almost everything to get some veg in, but one cannot live on onions alone.

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So imagine Tuesday’s dinner if you will: the rest of a block of cheese, and a big ol’ plate of roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts. And a glass of wine. Conventional it may not have been, but it certainly was delicious.

And after I was back to my normal state, it was time to make cookies.

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I made these cookies for my friend Emily’s bridal shower last year using Earl Grey tea, but I’ve swapped it for Maple Walnut tea to make it more seasonal for Holiday on the Lakeshore this weekend.

003They remind me of a mixture of shortbread and Mexican Wedding Cakes, only with a glaze instead of the fluffy powdered sugar.

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Tea Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp loose leaf tea, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Glaze:

  • 1 tsp loose leaf tea
  • 2 Tbsp hot milk
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine bowl combine flour, tea and salt.  Gradually incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 14-16 min.  Cool on rack.

To prepare glaze, steep tea in hot milk for 5-10 min.  Add butter.  Stir in powdered sugar and mix.  Drizzle glaze over tea cakes before serving.

Visit From the Illinois Fam

After I finished work on Friday, I was very eager to start the weekend. Dave’s way of starting the weekend was to take a very long nap after his 12 (?) hour work shift, so I headed to O’so Tap House with Dan and Emily.

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Central Wisconsin is a king of microbrews, and O’so is no exception. I particularly love their Night Train beer.

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We sipped our beers while playing a few card games: War and Slap Jack.

008Friday night ended relatively quietly, because Dave and I were preparing for his family’s visit the following day.

Since we cleaned the house, I thought I’d give you a mini tour of our new home.

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The living room.

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The bedroom.

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And the most important room in the house.

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This was a bare wall when we moved in. Dave installed the counter top, shelves, and a rod to hang our pots and pans from. I helped attach the legs, but that was pretty much it. I love the new work space he created. I can’t wait to cook a feast in it!

After cleaning, we ran a few errands and decided to check out an Asian market that we both pass frequently.

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Dave bought the ingredients to make our own miso soup base, and we also left with some dried seaweed (it’s a great snack!), spinach noodles, soy sauce, and coconut juice.

Some other interesting finds included gelatinous mutant coconut.

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Beef blood and bile (note the edible).

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And a whole chicken: feet, head, eyeballs, and all.
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We didn’t expect Dave’s parents and sister until 7:00pm, so it was a long day waiting for them, as we were both excited to finally see them again.

We hoped to take them to Father Fats for dinner, but when we found out it was a 40 minute wait, the five of us walked a few blocks over to Habibi’s.

Beers all around! (Lemonade for Ali).

019I had a Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter which is one of my favorite CW beers. Very rich, dark, and smooth.
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I started with the gyro chili, which was good but had a little too much meat for my taste. I’m one of the weirdos who prefers vegetarian chili to chili with meat (aka real chili).

The five of us also shared an appetizer plate with hummus, falafel, samosas, dolmas, pitas, kalamata olives, and garnish.

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We ordered extra dolmas, because they’re so good. I’m going to add them to the list of things I want to make at home, right under sushi and lettuce wraps.

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For dinner I ordered the Vegetable Kabobs, which was a mix of veggies and pineapple cooked in a curry-type sauce and served with dill basmati rice and pitas. It was also good, but not great. No one can hold a candle to Taste of India’s curry.

We went back to the house to hang out for a bit and had some dessert, courtesy of Barry: apple brownies. They were moist, cinnamony, and chock-full of apples, basically fall in dessert form.

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We hung out in the kitchen (I’m so glad that we have a kitchen table to use now!) and played a game Ali brought called Castle Panic.

Instead of playing against one another, everyone bands together to play against the monsters in the game. We won, and I was named Slayer Master! It was really fun, and I decided that we need to add it to our collection. We also played a round of Wits & Wagers before they headed back to their hotel for the night. Unfortunately, our guest bedroom is pretty much just a cat room and storage room for now. Someday…

Eight hours of shut-eye, and we were up and at ’em again. I headed to the grocery store to pick up eggs while Dave made biscuits.

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His dad, the biscuit master, said they were perfect. I agreed.

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In addition to eggs, I also fried up some breakfast potatoes.

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Sunday mornings and breakfast potatoes go together quite well.

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And bacon just goes with any day. I’ve been baking my bacon a lot lately. It’s much easier and mess-free if you line the pan with aluminum foil. I usually just put it in a cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees and check it between 15 and 20 minutes. I like really crispy bacon, so sometimes I even bake it a bit longer.

We meandered to the antique store after breakfast, where Ali hit the jackpot. She and her wife Jaimee moved into a house, and they are going through the wonderful (and I’m sure somewhat stressful) process of decorating it.

I found a wooden corner shelf for our bedroom (since I don’t have an end table), and a cool Beatles book that I had to buy for my friend Emily.

Every time we see Dave’s family, it’s never long enough. They left in the early afternoon to make the three and a half hour drive back to Illinois, and Dave and I headed over to hang out with our friends Em and Dan for a bit.

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Hi Em! Hi Miss Marple!

While there, I finally read my Food Network Thanksgiving Issue, and we discussed the menu for our Housewarming/Friendsmas/Dan & Em’s Birthday Party. Dave and I changed our minds a few times about the dinner: we initially were going to have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, then I suggested the idea of us just doing appetizers, then we went back to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner cooked just by us, and we finally landed on Thanksgiving-inspired appetizers. Phew!

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Here’s the tentative list:

~Brie en Croute with Cranberry Chutney, Shredded Turkey, and Walnuts

~Samosas with Dressing and Brussels Sprouts

~Shredded Turkey Egg Rolls with Gravy Dipping Sauce

~Savory Monkey Bread (which we found in the Food Network Magazine and looks amazing)

~Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Hummus with Crudites

~Sandwich Station

We also decided on three beverages: Wassail, Rumplecider, and Black Tea Punch

I can’t wait to get cooking! But first things first: the real Thanksgiving in 2 1/2 weeks. I’m excited.

Easy Friday

Last night’s dinner was quick & easy–subs from Jimmy John’s. My dad was telling me that he’s been trying out all the sub shops lately and Jimmy John’s has topped the list as his favorite. One of his reasons: “The staff always looks really happy when you go in.” Good enough for me!

When we do get subs, they’re usually from Subway which is closer to our apartment, but the recent talk with my dad had me wanting to try Jimmy John’s again.

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I ordered the Vegetarian which is made with provolone, avocado spread, sliced cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I got it without mayo (saving me 193 calories!) and added a little deli mustard at home instead. I don’t like mayo that much and certainly not enough to waste 193 calories on. Mustard is more my game.

I ordered the Vito for Dave–Italian sub with Genoa salami, provolone, capicola, onion, lettuce, tomato and Italian vinaigrette. I was going to get him the Pepe, but they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Dave had actually had an idea on the way home to grill out before he found out I got subs for dinner. Kind of a bummer since it would have been a lovely day to grill out. It’s finally starting to feel like spring around here: plenty of sunshine, melting snow, and highs in the upper 40s.

Still, the sub was a wonderful decision. It was very fresh and delicious, and I especially love the addition of avocado. I vaguely remember them serving sprouts on this sub before, though–am I wrong?

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Instead of picking up chips at the sub place, I tried Popchips for the first time at home. I loved them! I got the Salt & Vinegar kind, which were very tangy. Popchips are “popped” instead of baked and fried, and they’re made without fake colors, flavors, or preservatives. One serving, which is a perfectly decent size, is only 120 calories. I would definitely buy these again; I’d love to try the other flavors.

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I’ve been trying to limit the amount of sugar I eat lately, so I haven’t had anything sweet all week except for a handful of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips. I decided for the time being to save my sweet treats for the weekend, so I was more than ready for something sweet on Friday.

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Like brownies.

Dave gave me the idea for banana brownies, which I later realized would have been executed better with banana extract, but they were just what I needed. I followed my ‘No Pudge Brownie’ recipe, substituting the banana for yogurt.

No-Pudge Brownie Clones 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk
  • Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips for topping

Mix all dry ingredients. Stir in yogurt and milk. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray and spread batter evenly (the batter will be very thick). Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and sift powdered sugar over the top.

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They turned out a little more cake-like than fudge-like, so if I make them again, I think I’ll underbake them or add an egg.

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But the addition of the rest of those Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips?

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Perfection.

I’ve got a hoppin’ Saturday planned complete with spring cleaning, grocery shopping, a trip to the bank, and dinner at Bleu (the second time this month…). I’m excited!

Any fun weekend plans?

Christmases Three and Four

I awoke on Christmas Day morning well before Dave, although my adventures with food and drink the night before had left me feeling less than ideal. Too much wine for this girl.

Dave and I had agreed not to exchange presents, just stockings, and I was bestowed with Moroccan couscous, two jars of stuffed green olives for my martinis and snack plates (feta-stuffed and sundried tomato-stuffed), Habanero ketchup, and some other goodies. I went a bit overboard and bought Dave loads of goodies that he insists I must share with him, including Gingerbread pop-tarts that I couldn’t pass up.

After we were showered and dressed, we headed out to spend Christmas morning at my parents. I was greeted with a Mimosa, of which I was careful and only drank half of.

004Our little Moonbeam slept on the couch through Mom’s baking and our chattering.

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Breakfast time! Mom made a pan of Brunch Style Portabella Mushrooms, courtesy of Taste of Home.

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As well as her famous French Toast, which I drizzled with real Maple syrup.

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‘Twas a delicious breakfast.

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After that, time for presents! We started exchanging names in the Leahy household, much to my parent’s chagrin, but I think it is much easier this way, and it really is unnecessary to have so many presents that we must clean out our closets (though I’m sure we’ll be doing that anyway).

It was almost too hot sitting next to the roasting fireplace.

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Our family is very foodie-minded, and most of us received some sort of special food items.

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Christopher some sea-related snacks: Goldfish and Pirate’s Booty.

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And Dad received a whole host of sardines, spicy mustards, beer, and hot sauce from Davy.

My dad even smoked two whole rainbow trout for my sister Moriah!

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My sister Emily seemed very happy with the gifts I gave her: a maternity photo of her on Parenting magazine, a necklace, an oversized couch blanket, and a ticket to see Shrek the Musical with her boyfriend (Ty bought a ticket for Christopher, too).

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Dave received a triple crock pot and a plaid robe that he has been wearing nearly non-stop from my mom.

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My sister Em was exceptionally kind to me as well.

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She had granola bars customized for me!

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I thought these were so cool, and they will be a very handy snack to keep me going at work. She also gave me a DIY cookbook, and…

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A homemade corset! I was so flippin’ excited about this. The girls in my family are all very fond of corsets, since we love to dress up so much. I switched my plaid shirt for my corset right away, though it took Emily nearly 20 minutes to get it on me.

The rest of the morning we watched The Grinch and started It’s a Wonderful Life while Mom prepped the food for our gathering later that day.

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She made a very unusual, but tasty, salad of radicchio, celery root, and granny smith apples covered in a bleu cheese dressing. Sadly, my own contribution of feta-stuffed cucumbers did not turn out. The cheese refused to get hard after sitting in the refrigerator almost a day and a half, so I scraped out the cheese spread and stuck them on crackers instead.

Then we headed to my Aunt Colleen’s for Christmas number four!

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With eight uncles and aunts and their children and their children’s children, it was quite the party. It was nice to see little kids running around again.

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Grandma said “I’ll break your camera!” but I took the photo anyway.

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My cousin Jake made a phenomenal pulled pork and roasted turkey, and we certainly didn’t go hungry.

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I tried a little of everything: Mom’s Radicchio Salad, an Italian Salad, Rice Salad with Cashews, Baked Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cheesy Potatoes, Stuffing, Cucumber Crackers, and a Potato Bun with Pulled Pork.

I stuck to Ginger Ale for drinking. 🙂

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Every Christmas, my own family cohabits the steps leading up to the second floor. My Aunt Diane said she’s going to have to engrave our names on it at some point.

After dinner and chit-chat, we got to the food exchange. My Aunt Diane read a holiday story with a heap of the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ in it. Whenever she said ‘right,’ we had to pass our gifts to the right and so forth.

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I received chocolate chip cookies at the Christmas Eve exchange and, today, I received Milk Dud cookies. I’m going to be cookied out pretty soon.

We left the party at seven, as Dave had to work early the next morning, and my stomach was still giving me problems. I spent the rest of the night on the couch with ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and the Christmas special of ‘Downton Abbey.’

Dave’s family used to own a photography studio and every year between Christmas and New Year’s, they would close down the studio and have a ‘veg week,’ After all the running around we did this year, I was desperately hoping for a veg week, but work called to both of us. We’ve decided to have a veg day this Sunday, and I can’t wait! But first we must finish out the week and attend one more holiday party: Friendsmas. It will be epic, I’m sure.

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Happy Holidays from Chel & Dave!

 

 

 

How the Grinch Ate Christmas….Cookies

On the heels of a blizzard at half past eight,
the Grinch burst into his lair, hours late.

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He threw open the door and made such a clatter,
the slam of the door caused an ornament to shatter.

Tired and cold from a sixteen hour day,
the brightness of the holiday season was little more than grey.

Fortunately, the Grinch’s wife knew just what to do,
she kept quiet and fed the Grinch a cookie (or two).

After a hot shower, cookies, and a small glass of gin,
the Grinch’s heart finally grew three sizes again.

Grinch Cookies

  • 8 oz butter, melted
  • 12 oz flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 oz granulated sugar
  • 8 oz light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 oz milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of green food coloring
  • 1 4.6oz box of Andes Mints, chopped
  • 7 oz milk chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

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Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the green food coloring. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.

Note: A sugar cookie dough will yield a much greener cookie; I just chose to stick with the classic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.

Recipe adapted from: Food Network and The Hungry Dudes

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Christmas cheer will always be,
just as long as we have we.

But if your spirit starts to dim,
brighten it up with cookies again!