Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Star

Merry Christmas! May your Christmas be filled with warm wonders and laughs, warm wishes and delicious food.

May all your gifts be well-received and your gifts from Santa be well-loved.

Christmas Wishes
Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread for Christmas

YIIP: Day 355

I've been busy making a holiday food basket for two special people. I do wish I had taken the time to make one for a lot of people but there is always next year. This year, however, this was just time for one basket. So far I've put blueberry preserves that I made this past Summer, lemon curd, kitchen utensils, a mini loaf of banana bread, crackers and this delightful Chocolate Hazelnut Spread.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

I read about Chocolate Hazelnut Spread on Angry Chicken's blog and really wanted to try my hand at making it. (Of course we all should remember that Angry Chicken is the Awesome and that I usually want to do what she does).

Choc Spread

This was even simpler to make than the Meyer Lemon Curd I posted about and surprisingly fast. If I were to make this again, I might up the sugar as I found this to be a bit too nutty and not sweet enough. It is still very tasty though.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Yield 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
1/2 cup dry nonfat milk powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup milk (low fat)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium saucepan, combine hazelnut meal, dry milk powder, brown sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch. Add in milk and vegetable oil and whisk until smooth.
2. Cook over medium heat and whisk frequently, until mixture begins to thicken and just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof container, preferably one with an airtight lid.
3. Cool to room temperature and, if not eating right away, store in the fridge with an airtight lid on the container.
4. Spread tastes best at room temperature and will keep for several days in the fridge.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's almost Christmas and as I finish wrapping all the presents while singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs, I've also been cooking.

Last night I whipped up a batch of Meyer Lemon Curd. It's bright yellow color was the perfect antidote for the shortness of the Winter Solistice.

Lemon Curd Weck

This recipe is quick to make. I started making this at 10 p.m. and was snuggly in bed by 10:45 p.m. I even washed the dishes before heading to bed. The curd does require at least 4 hours to set and produces an amazingly sunny curd.

Lemon Curd

I think this would be wonderful as a tart or as Christmas presents to loved ones. I know that a few special people are getting these jars as part of their Christmas presents.

Meyer Lemon Curd from Gifts Cooks Love
Makes four (½-pint) jars

6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1. Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar. Whisk in the lemon juice. Transfer to a double boiler. Cook over barely simmering water, whisking constantly, until the lemon mixture thickens and reaches 170°F on an instant-read thermometer.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon zest and butter.
4. Using a wide-mouth funnel and filling one jar at a time, ladle the sauce into the prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean. Seal the jars and refrigerate until the lemon curd is thickened and completely cold, at least 4 hours.
Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Success!

Thanksgiving Spread

Thanksgiving was a HUGE success! My Mom told me that my stuffing based on her recipe was the best. People groaned under the onslaught of food and asked for more.

Tday Spread Scott

There was the usual Thanksgiving Day chaos and at one point I banned my Mother from the kitchen. Luckily my Dad, the great sous chef stepped in and helped me out.

Stuffing in a garbage bag

My Mom's stuffing mix takes so many bread crumbs that I didn't have a bowl big enough for mixing. I quickly thought on my feet and grabbed a new garbage bag for mixing before stuffing the bird and filling two casserole dishes.

Burnt Marshmallows

As the dinner preparations came to a close, I turned on the boiler and put the sweet potato casserole marshmallow topping under the boiler. Before I knew it, Scott's Mom was busting into the kitchen yelling, "Burning! Something is BURNING!" and sure enough, the casserole was on FIRE! We quickly put it out and I started over on the topping. This time my Sister-in-Law and I carefully watched the topping toast.

Carving the Turkey

Scott even got in the act and learned how to carve a turkey from my Brother and Dad. It was so much fun to watch!
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! May your holiday be filled with festival flavor, happy times and great memories!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Prep

Tomorrow is the big day! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

Today has been full of Thanksgiving Day prep and baking. Yesterday was Turkey procurement day.

Hat Approval

After watching the news in the morning, Scott and I determined that it was going to be a bit too difficult to get our turkey from Rain Shadow Meats on Capital Hill. We decided instead to hike up to the Safeway near us and settle for a commercially grown turkey. I mean, I know that the organic, free-range ones are supposed to be better but I was going to just deal with it and enjoy a big-breasted Turkey.

Turkey Carrying System

The walk to the Safeway was nice and also gave us a chance to get some exercise in. After being cooped in all day on Monday, it was a joyful walk outside. It was cold too but still joyful.

Pitch Hit Turkey

Scott was also able to wear his new hat. I knit it for him on Monday and on Tuesday, he declared it warm and perfect.

Hat Excitement

After arriving home, I decided to post on Facebook about our small adventure. My brother saw my post and quickly offered to pick up our turkey for us. I guess he wasn't to be satisfied with just any ole turkey. So he drove over from Redmond in his trusty Subaru (I really need to get one of those myself) and delivered our special turkey to our house.


He also told us that it wasn't that icy out there and that the roads were nice and clear of cars.

Pie for Baking

Today has been spent prepping for Thanksgiving. I've roasted the beets for the beet salad. Sauteed the celery and onions for the stuffing. Boiled the yams for the Candied Yams and made the sweet potato casserole. I made the cranberry sauce and roasted the garlic. I've also baked up the cherry pie. My dad is bringing the pumpkin and apple pies but my Mom specifically requested that I make a cherry pie.

My OMG Full Fridge

Now my fridge sits in it's OMG Full state and I think I'm going to knit for the rest of the afternoon. I have to rest up for the big day tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Breadcrumbs to Thanksgiving

Dried Bread

Yesterday was spent cutting up three loaves of bread into little cubes and drying them in the oven. My Mom insists that this is the absolute best way to make stuffing. It's a three day process. You cut and dry the bread cubes one day, stir and possibly dry them again the next day before you begin on the vegetables.

Bread Crumbs

I must say all the hard work does seem to pay off in the end. Her stuffing is always delicious and I hope to be able to replicate it this year in my home.

The Thanksgiving To Do List

I also spent most of yesterday looking out at this scene. I mean if there is one thing I didn't expect to derail my Thanksgiving plans, it would be the weather! We never have snow this early in the year. NEVER!

The view from My Front Door

Oh well, what is one to do but continue on their merry way pretending that all will be OK. Because it will all be OK!
Monday, November 22, 2010

The Road to Thanksgiving

YIIP: Day 324

On Sunday, I finished my grocery shopping, printed out my menus and made ice cream. I followed David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream recipe and it is delicious!

Ice Cream Ingredients

Custard Making

I did however run into an issue. The freezer bowl wasn't frozen enough so I ended up putting the custard back in the fridge overnight and refroze the bowl until this morning. It churned into ice cream quickly this morning and I made sure to have a little taste. It is awesome tasting!

My helper

I also appear to have a little helper in the kitchen when I cook. Kato hangs out just to the side of the stove waiting for food droppings. It's almost as if I have a dog and not a cat!
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving

In just five days, I'll be serving my very first Thanksgiving meal to Scott and I's families. I've always helped my Mom prepare the feast but this is the first year that I'm taking the lead. My Mom has reserved her seat in my kitchen and promises to help out. While we wait to see if that happens, I've begun my preparations.

AmazonFresh Delivery

I've mapped out a schedule of work which started yesterday. Yesterday morning I woke up and dashed outside. My Amazon Fresh grocery delivery was expected. I was greeted with a plethora of Amazon Fresh boxes.


I have one quick grocery trip planned for Monday for the more perishable items but otherwise, groceries have been procured!

Thanksgiving Day Prep2

I then turned my attention to the other items on my schedule. I ironed my napkins, collected the place mats and brought out the place cards. Thanksgiving is time of year to go all out and ironing napkins just seems right.

Thanksgiving Day Prep1

My (step) Grandma made these napkins for the wedding. They match my china and are so gorgeous! She also made towels and pot holders which are just as lovely. It's amazing how the bird on the napkins match my china so perfectly.

The table is ready and now the real work begins. Today I make ice cream and pie crust!
Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Designing a Laundry Room

This is the first place I've lived as an adult that has an actual laundry area. Usually the laundry was in the hallway or in the basement of the apartment building I lived in. I've been so excited to have actual laundry space and a brand new washer/dryer set that I've been doing a lot of laundry.

Finished Curtains

The space however is in need of a spruce-up. I plan to paint the walls, fix the shelving and update the flooring. My first project though was to re-do the curtains in the area. The previous owners had sewn up some curtains so I used her old ones as a pattern for my new ones.

Laundry Curtains

I found some great fabric in my stash and added some basic white as a border. These curtains were easy to sew up and while the hem may not be the straightest, these are still quite lovely to me.

Next weekend, I'm tackling the painting part of this project!
Friday, November 05, 2010

Will Bake For Food

Will Bake for Food copy

I'm taking part in Will Bake for Food, a bake sale and food drive benefiting NW Harvest on Saturday, November 20th from 10am until 2pm at the University Congregational Church, Ostrander Hall, 4515 16th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105. Come out and buy some of the goodies being offered by this awesome group of bloggers. Heck, come on by and say hello to me and buy some of my baked goods. I promise they'll be delicious and you'll be supporting a good cause.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Season

Ballard Porch Pumpkins

Scott and I have moved into the house and have begun the long process of unpacking and decorating.

We took a break this past weekend to carve pumpkins. Turns out that it's not really our favorite thing to do. I was extremely grossed out cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin for some reason while Scott complained that he wasn't having fun the whole time. So yea that wasn't the best activity for us!

Ballard Pumpkins

I do like how they turned out though!
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday afternoon, we made it official.

We sold the condo and bought a house. This is the house we are starting our lives together in. This is the house we hope to grow a family, grow memories and grow old in.

North Ballard House 16

We're so excited about it since it seems that we've been working toward this goal for most of the year. We started the process of selling our condo before we even got married. Then we searched high and low for the perfect for us house.

North Ballard House 2

We saw a great many houses. We saw some fantastic ones that were way out of our price range and others that were so horrendously scary that we didn't get further in than the entry. But after awhile, we spotted this one and we didn't hesistate. We put in an offer that night and anxiously waited for the sellers to accept, which they did.

North Ballard House 14

And now we are the proud owners of this house. We don't move in for a few weeks but it's official, it's ours. Now onto the decorating!

*These are not my photos, nor are they our belongs. But it is our home!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BlogHer Food

BlogHer Food 10

In just over 10 days, I'm heading to San Francisco for BlogHer Food. It will be my first time attending the conference and I'm quite excited. I'm excited not only because I'll be able to get away from our 400 square foot temp housing unit for a few days but also because I get to spend time with other food obsessed people.

Are you going?
Friday, September 24, 2010

How to be alone

I love this video. I love doing things alone. I love that it gives me time to dream and explore and connect.

When I was reading The Artists Way and actively following the program, I went on weekly artist dates with myself. They were so lovely. I'm thinking of doing this program again in the new year. I'm feeling a bit disconnected from my creativity since I've been too busy to connect!
Monday, September 20, 2010

Packing Up and Moving On

YIIP: Day 260

We're packing up and moving on! Oh I'm not packing up the blog. No way! I love it too much for that to ever happen.

Condo 2

Nope, Scott and I are packing up our stuff and moving out of our sweet, little condo. I'll certainly miss this tiny abode where we started our life together but it's time for us to move into a home that we have found together.


This is the condo that Scott bought before we met. It's in a great neighborhood, one that I always wanted to live in. I had so much fun decorating this place with Scott. We put pictures on the wall, brought in a new couch and made this condo a home.


But now we're moving on and into a home that we both fell in love with the moment we saw it. I'll reveal more once we close on it since it's not officially ours just yet. Let me just say, this new home is that place I see us raising a family in. I can't wait to look back on this time when it was just the two of us and we didn't know all the fun that the future had in hold for us.

I hear the sunsets are better in Ballard. I can't wait to see if that is true since the sunrises have been pretty great in Fremont.
Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pantry Royale

Amys Jams

A few weeks ago, Meg and I took a Pantry Royale class from Amy Pennington at Cupcake Royale. It was amazing. In a short hour and a half, Amy entertained us with stories of her first canning experiences, tales of gardening and taught us how to small batch preserve. Amy recently wrote a delightful book, Urban Pantry which is full of great urban pantry tips and recipes. I highly recommend it. My copy is dog-eared with many a successful recipe tried out and loved.

Amy Cherries

I come from a long line of canners on my father's side. In fact, my Grandfather cans with the best of them and his wife is a Master Canner. So I've always thought about canning as being a BIG DEAL! First you must pick so many tons of fruit for many, many hours (sometimes over an entire weekend) that you can barely get it home. Then you must can for days and days before storing your 300 jars of jam in a cool, dark basement.

Amy Straining Fruit

Well I don't have a basement, nor do I think that Scott and I could ever consume 300 jars of jam in a year so when Amy said that she puts up 4-5 jars at a time, I was HOOKED! I mean, I'm seriously HOOKED but that tale is for a future post. Let's just concentrate on Amy's class in this one.

Amy Canning Setup

Amy, like me, does not have a large kitchen so she showed us how to small batch preserve with a small set-up. You just need a heavy-bottomed dutch oven (I prefer Le Creuset, but I'm biased), a stock pot, a set of jar lifters (tongs won't do as they slip and could drop your precious jars), jars and 2-part lids.

Amy Cupcakes

Amy made Raspberry Orange-Flower Jelly for our class. It looked so simple that the next weekend, I made simple Raspberry preserves. If you live in Seattle and are interested in learning from Amy, take a class at Cupcake Royale. Not only do you learn a lot, you also get Amy's book, cupcakes and a goodie bag. Not bad for $38.

Goodie Bags
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