Starting ‘em early.

I don’t have a child, but once I do, I’m pretty sure I need him or her to have this:

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Colby Lane Designs at Etsy made the original keyboard bib pictured here, and I’m really hoping there will be more for sale (in a few years… heh).  Inspiration for the search from dooce.com.

NOMday: Apple Tart

One of my gift requests for this holiday was a food processor.  I’m an inefficient chef at best, and anything that will make my construction easier and more consistent is a friend to me!  I received a Cuisinart from my parents and tried it out immediately upon my arrival home yesterday!  Here was my result!

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This is my darling apple tart!  The apple slices were done in the processor with the slicing blade, and the pastry dough was made in the processor also!  Both ingredients were included in the recipes in the instruction manual, but they’re pretty basic.  The dough consisted of a little flour, salt, sugar, butter, and water.  The apple filling involved nothing more than the apples themselves and a little brown sugar and cinnamon!  It was a nice little treat!  Also pictured is my new silicon cookie sheet; this was instrumental in creating the 4 dozen cookies we brought to dinner!

How’s your holiday cooking going?

Nomday: The best ever!

Nick has declared this recipe the best one yet in our MyRecipes.com experiment.

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I made a few edits: replaced red onions with shallots – a good idea, but fresh shallots are VERY pungent.  Tread carefully!  We used watercress instead of arugula because we had it on hand; spinach seems like it would suffice very well.  Finally, I used a frozen tortellini instead of fresh; it was just cheaper, and it tasted just fine!  Create your own edits and enjoy!

NOMday Holiday Edition!

One of my absolute favorite things about the holidays is the FOOD.  I have a wealth of delightful memories of huge family gatherings (I have six and seven aunts and uncles on BOTH sides of my family… I don’t even have a count of my cousins anymore!) filled with games, gift exchanges, and wonderful foods.

imageEgg nog is one of my favorite holiday treats.  I’m partial to my mother’s recipe, which to me is smoother and lighter than the store bought version.  It’s also SUPER EASY to make, with just 5 ingredients (plus some nutmeg!).

Holiday Egg Nog

2/3 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
8 cups milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
nutmeg to taste

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set whites aside in the refrigerator.  Mix the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large pan until smooth.  Add milk to yolk mixture slowly, stirring or whisking constantly.  Heat slowly!  Once heated, set aside to cool.  Make meringue with egg whites and 6 tablespoons of sugar, if desired.  Serve with a dollop of meringue and a sprinkle of nutmeg!  WARNING: the meringue is made with raw egg whites, prepare at your own risk!

I remember with delight how my mother used to set the pan of egg nog outside in the snow to cool, when there was no room in the refrigerator.  How wonderful it was to poke my head out into the cool winter night to bring the cool pan back inside and then enjoy the cold egg nog!

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

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NOMday with “fun”dant

Get it?  Like fondant?  Yeah, I know.

I came across this in the blogosphere this afternoon and I HAD TO SHARE IT.  IT IS SO AMAZING.  I periodically steal Nick’s new Droid phone specifically to play Angry Birds, so this just blew me away.

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It is an Angry Birds cake!  And man, is it right on!  Anya Richardson created this amazing sweet thing, and while I don’t have any personal experience with cake making, based on all the crazy cake challenges I’ve watched over the years, it is tough stuff!  Fantastic work!

What’s your favorite fun cake?

Easy Savings

Nick and I took a trip for groceries to Target yesterday after a little extra planning on my part.  Of course I’m using myrecipes.com to create great menus and work with the ingredients I already have in order to save some money in that department, but I thought I’d try to take it a little further still.  Target makes it really easy with their website coupon printer.

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Hit “Coupons” at the bottom of just about any page and you’ll go directly to Target’s online coupon book.  What makes this even cooler?  You can search and print only the coupons you want (there is a program to download, but it’s very convenient and unobtrusive!).  Last night I printed about 15 coupons and ended up saving myself around $20.  All for about five minutes of browsing through the coupon printer.  Best part about this?  Target has coupons for their brand, too, Market Pantry.  Savings on top of savings!  We spent the dividends on dinner at the delicious L&L Hawaiian BBQ!

What are your easy ways to save?

It’s a sniffly day…

I would like to have had a better post to make for NOMday, but I’ve been on the couch with a touch of cold all day (really, since Friday, but I did have class on Saturday…), nursing my sore throat and aching body with what else?  Tea with honey!  Jasmine tea with honey, black tea with honey, chamomile tea with honey, any kind of tea with honey!  I will take it!  It’s a great little product, honey, so I thought I’d make a little post about that.

imageWe know of course that it’s delicious and has been in use for thousands of years of human history.  In addition to that, many people with allergies will go out of their way for local raw honeys that can help them create better immunities to the local allergens.  Since honey has antiseptic properties, it’s now being looked at as useful for treating MRSA!  Wikipedia says:

“Wound gels that contain antibacterial raw honey and have regulatory approval for wound care are now available to help conventional medicine in the battle against drug resistant strains of bacteria MRSA. As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, high acidity, and the antibacterial activity of methylglyoxal.”

Wow!  That’s pretty amazing stuff!  What do you love about honey?

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Adventures in Fajitaland!

Had a FANTASTIC meal over the weekend (for Nick’s birthday!) of Southwest Flank Steak with Salsa.  Not only was it a great meal by itself, eaten fajita style with salsa, guacamole, and tortillas, but the following day it made for an incredible Southwest Steak salad on fresh baby spinach.  It was also easy peasy (and inexpensive!), with just the steak, a package of fajita seasoning, olive oil, and a little dry mustard.

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Mmmmm, delicious steak!  And then…

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Amazing salad!  Try it out!  Recipe from myrecipes.com.

NOMday foodie considerations…

Get it?  NOMday?  From Monday?  Yeah, I know….

So I was thinking this morning, as I began planning out another bi-monthly shopping trip for groceries, about one of my favorite (and Nick’s not so favorite) condiments, balsamic vinegar!  A lot of people are familiar with Modena style, which is a reproduction of the originals from Italy, and can be commonly found just about anywhere.  I headed over to ye olde wiki for more information on this delightful, tangy, sweet and pungent flavoring.

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There are only two ‘real’ styles of balsamic vinegar, detailed and protected by Italian and international law, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia" (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia).  They begin with a reduction using their specified type of grape juice, and must then be aged for at least 12 years.  What a wait!  Bottles of this traditional style run to hundreds of American dollars!

The more familiar version, that of Modena, is commercial grade and available for very economical rates everywhere.  The production of this wine vinegar is not aged, and emulates the flavors of the traditional by adding caramel and perhaps some natural thickeners.  Be that as it may, it’s still a flavor I love, and I will take what I can get!

I’ve found it a great flavor to add to a lot of dishes, and I’m finding it a frequent ingredient in my recipe experiments from myrecipes.com.  From there I learned to add it to commercial jarred spaghetti sauce to enhance the flavor and give it a more homemade taste!  I prefer it as a marinade for steak and fish, and for grilled fish like salmon, it makes a superb sauce when reduced with a little fresh garlic and honey.

I love this versatile, interesting flavor!  What’s your favorite?

Mmmm, biscuits!

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I do love my carbs, do I ever.  Biscuits are one of my favorite delivery methods, too, but I generally didn’t make them myself, instead reserving my consumption for trips to McDonalds or Thanksgiving dinners.  Little did I know it was SO EASY to make them myself.

I actually went directly to my box of pancake batter.  This is a staple in my pantry – I know I’m breaking some cursory rule of DiY cooking with this, but this activity was passed down from my mother, and while they call it ‘complete’ I’m always augmenting my pancakes with cinnamon and vanilla and things.  I vaguely recalled that pancake batter mix isn’t JUST for pancakes, but for waffles, pot pies, and indeed, biscuits!  Really, it wasn’t all that different from their standard pancake mix, just more mix and less milk.  They provide options for dropped biscuits (as you see there) or cut biscuits.  Both were great!  They were light and fluffy, a little bit crumbly like homemade biscuits should be!

There are plenty of simple recipes for biscuits on the internet (I’m going to get on the garlic-cheese biscuits ASAP!), but this leaves you with a simple method if you’re in a hurry.  Now, just to learn how to make a decent sausage gravy…

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