Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas & to all a good night!

Ahh, Boxing Day. My new adopted favorite holiday. I'm still in my pajamas, there's a cat sitting beside me, Casablanca was just on TV, and there are tons of leftovers in the fridge. Nobody has to do anything or be anywhere, and as the boys are happily playing with their new toys, I get to catch up with my friends and flip through my new books!
Our Christmas Eve dinner was great, and it was a nice night with family, good food & wine. I'd made chocolate cloud cake for dessert, and even managed to loosen my iron grip on my decorative gold buttons. What the hell, I said to myself, it's Christmas, and sprinkled and dotted the whipped cream with abandon. Okay, well, not really abandon, but judicious generosity.

My dog is the happiest creature on Earth. He got steak handouts and washed them down with fresh rainwater captured in his giant bowl outside. He stole the boys' new football, but didn't get into any trouble b/c he did it in such a cute manner. And Santa Paws (Wyatt's secret identity) gave him a squeaky mallard duck. Within a half hour, Troy discovered a lone duck foot on the floor and we found bits of white fluffy stuffing clinging to Lucky's chin.

We had Christmas brunch here, and then went to Aunt Nancy & Uncle Jim's for another awesome dinner. The boys were relatively tuckered out from the events of the day, so they hung out and watched some tv. After coffee & port, and by the time Gina started discussing Clay Aiken & Kelly Ripa, it was time to call it a night, go home, & collapse.

This year, considering all the changes in our family, I'm very touched by a gift given to me by the boys, picked out especially for me by Wyatt. It's a snowglobe filled with fine glitter that floats over our city, with landmark buildings & a palm tree, and it plays "Here Comes the Sun."
"It's alright..."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gone in 60 Seconds

Reminded & inspired by DG, I made Nigella's Christmas Decorations cookies (HTBADG) for the tree. I don't make them peppery like La Nige specifies, since I'm not into the peppery Germanic style of cookie, and I know they'll get eaten, so figure: why not make it a completely pleasant experience.

This was a Saturday morning project, and I made stars, angels, and the traditional holiday alligators. Hung on the tree at 9:44 a.m., they pretty much disappeared within a couple hours, max.

They looked good while they lasted. More importantly, the boys were really excited about them and especially loved the dragees.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Hard to believe, but I may actually have a grip on Christmas. The tree is up, the lights are strung, all gifts ordered/some wrapped, and I finally got the last piece of my Secret Santa compilation, and sent off that box (whew).

Church-of-the-Target had boxes of gingerbread housing for assembling & decorating, and I was on that like white on rice. Now, I don't want to lose any street cred, so let me just say that I have baked the gingerbread houses from scratch before, but I was quickly willing to bag that whole dealy this year when I saw these kits. I mean, the decorating is the fun part & the candy is really what my people want, so this was great. They even supply the icing -- mixed! -- in a bag that you can use to pipe.

It was really nice to see all the ornaments again, and decorate the tree. For a while now, our trees have been bare from the middle down in an effort to save ourselves some brutal breakage. That tradition continues this year. Lucky knows he's got some chewy bones wrapped up under the tree and went berserk one afternoon and ran off with the silver package, but we saved it, and he has been calm ever since.

Winter Warlock likes the solitude he finds under the tree.

And now...I've put out a call to my foodie think tank and am starting to plan the Christmas Eve menu. I'm definitely making New England clam chowder, and am going to pour through my books to see what else I can come up with.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dips, chips, chains, whips...

December is here & everybody's looking for good party chow.
After enthusiastically recommending this white bean dip w/pita chips to a friend for her upcoming party, I got a craving for it. So I made a batch today and remain convinced it's a great offering.

This recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Italian book. The dip is healthy (bonus); quick & easy to make (bonus II); and it tastes delicious. I use twice as much lemon juice so it is sharp-flavored, and also add some chilli salt (red pepper flakes would work, too) b/c I like the little surprise of the hot hidden bite.

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.
Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.
Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.
Pretty stress-free! You can make everything ahead of time, and it's simple to transport, if the party does not happen to be at your place.

Party talk from the other Lisa