Sweet and Spice and All Things Nice

Before we close up the computers for one last holiday (and birthday) fling this weekend, we wanted to share a new appetizer recipe we whipped up for our Christmas parties, a Cranberry Bruschetta.

We started by whipping up our traditional cranberry sauce recipe with a little twist. This time we tossed in some Cointreau with the fresh orange juice and zest. We also substituted agave nectar for some of the sugar and added some crushed red pepper flakes to the mix. I also used this as a chance to try out my new immersion blender –  I never knew making cranberry sauce could be so quick and easy (and with a ton less dishes!). While the cranberry sauce cooled down, we prepared the bread  by slicing it on a bias and brushing it with olive oil.  Continue reading

Quest for the Best Banana Bread and a Chopped Challenge

We just wrapped up our Christmas parties yesterday, after a celebration with my family. As is tradition, we had a meal of all appetizers. Every family brings their favorite appetizers to share with everyone else and we spend the entire day just grazing. It’s an understatement to say that I’m full today. So before we get to our quest and our challenge, here are a few other blogger recipes we enjoyed once more.

First up is this delicious (and super easy) Baba Ghanoush recipe from Charles at Five Euro Food. I enjoy this one for lunch quite a bit too.

We also made some Candied Cranberries that we saw over at A Spicy Perspective. Miss A and I really enjoyed these – most of the cranberries were sweet, but every now and then one would give a surprisingly tart burst of flavor. A very fun flavor experience, plus they were just pretty. Continue reading

A Delicious Time of Year

We hope that everyone is enjoying the holidays. We had a wonderful weekend complete with a visit from Santa (the kids are still besides themselves), laughter, love, family and delicious food. We’d like to start by giving a shout-out to some of our blogging friends who made our holiday all the more delicious. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of all the dishes we made, but each one was every bit as good as we hoped!

We spent Christmas Eve having a family dinner with just the four of us. We dressed-up, opened presents, ate our traditional homemade Italian dinner, followed by a tour of Christmas lights in our Christmas pajamas while we ate cookies in the car. Our meal this year featured two amazing recipes from Linda at Savoring Every Bite. The kids especially enjoyed her Calamari Pomodoro. We did too, but the kids beat us out of seconds and thirds. They love their calamari. So while the kids devoured the calamari, Mike and I enjoyed the Pasta with Pecorino Herb Walnut Sauce. (Which incidentally makes for great leftovers too!)

We kicked off Christmas day with our Maple Bacon Biscuits – every bit as good as the first time and then got ready for the festivities.  Continue reading

It’s Not Christmas Without…

Mom’s oatmeal cookies. They are the only cookies that are an absolute must in our house.

I know, I know, mom. Couldn’t leave you out of the flashback pics though.

Admittedly, this week has gotten away from us a little. We haven’t had many home cooked meals and we’ve put our cooking around the world on hold for a few days. Rather we’ve been finishing up our holiday to do list – okay, we started and have almost finished up our holiday to do list. Fortunately I’m taking a day off work today and plan to finish everything up, because for the next three days it’s all about playing with the kids.

Now the one thing we made sure to have time for this week was mom’s oatmeal cookies. These little gems grace our holiday dessert table every year. I don’t know where the recipe originally came from, I just know it’s hands-down my favorite cookie. It’s sweet with a hint of vanilla and practically melts in your mouth. I don’t think it’s Mike’s favorite cookie, but he does ask that I only make them one time a year because he just can’t control himself around them. And the kids…well, they would eat these for every meal of the day if we let them. Continue reading

Cel-e-brate Good Times

come on! Why am I cursed with these terrible songs in my head?! At any rate, we’re celebrating this week and not because of Christmas. I’m still not close to ready for that…shopping, baking, menu planning, cleaning, wrapping, etc. all still left to do. I guess procrastination got the better of me this year – that and work. Two more days to go this week and I’m home free!

So what are we celebrating? A four-spoon dish? Yes, but we’ll get to that momentarily. Are we celebrating two new awards? Yes, but again, we’ll get to that.  Our celebration is in fact nothing blog or holiday related. We’re celebrating something that’s been in the making for 16 years…31 seasons…314 games and 117 penalty minutes (for Mike that is). 

The Flock, Mike’s broomball team for more than a decade, clinched the Evanston Broomball League finals. And yes, it was worth the wait. Mike and I were just dating when I experienced my first broomball game. In fact, I don’t think anyone on his team was married. But last night as they took the title, eight pairs of little feet (a pair of which are brand new!) got to join their daddies on the ice. How time flies. Congratulations guys!

So in honor of our champion and because we’re always on the look-out for a great weekend breakfast recipe, we bring you Maple Bacon Biscuits. Yes, they are as good as they sound. We’ll be making these on Christmas morning and the next time we have overnight guests. We started by chopping up some bacon into bite size pieces. Continue reading

Always be Prepared

While this is the motto of the Boy Scouts, it’s also something my parents instilled in me as I was growing up. For instance, my mom always had everything you could possibly need in her purse from band aids and tissues to breath mints and stain remover. No matter what the need, you could be sure an answer was in her purse.

We also had a “safety” plan for every possible emergency from fires to strangers, and as I got older we had an escape plan for parties should they get “out of hand” or make me “uncomfortable.”  Then when I went away to college mom gave me a stash of what she called, “mad money,” to be reserved for emergencies. Of course we disagreed on what constituted an emergency – I thought bar money and a train ticket to see Mike were certainly valid situations.

My dad also imparted his preparedness wisdom too – make sure to get regular oil changes, keep a safety kit in the car, remember teenage boys have hormones (My response to dad – “So do teenage girls.” I’m amazed he ever let me out of the house after that.), never walk alone at night…the list goes on. Continue reading