Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Confections: Part 2

I know you're only carrying on with the treats posts because you want to hear about the failure I teased about last post. You could skip all the way to the end, but then you might miss out on some yummy ideas. . .

This is a little something we like to call White Trash in my family. The epitome of politically correct holiday desserts, eh? 

White Trash is an amazing little confection consisting of (in my version) pretzels, crispex, peanut M&M's, mint M&Ms and vanilla candy melts. The beauty of this little munch mix is that you can really tailor it to suit your tastes. My mom puts peanuts in hers and plain M&Ms, and she's also made other themed mixes, with red hots for Valentine's Day, and so on. I think this years batch was my favorite though. The mint M&Ms really added a cool kick that I adored!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my friend, E, who joined me one night the week before Christmas for a little baking party.  E was making a cranberry upside down coffee cake that immediately had my attention. Not only was it incredibly moist and delicious with that hint of tartness cranberries provide. It was amazingly festive with the brown sugar glazed cranberries cheerily topping the cake! She got the recipe here, and I'm definitely going to be making this myself at the earliest opportunity!

 And now we move on to the duds. You know the ones. They bake up all amazing and delicious looking. But one bite proves they're not quite what you wanted. Enter these bacon cheddar mini muffins. Whipped up for a holiday potluck.

These little guys were incredibly simple, and although I'm not a bacon eater in general, frying up some bacon for these little minis was almost enough to turn me into one! Though, I think the strips I ate while making these will tide me over until next years bacon baking flop. 

Despite looking delicious and flavorful here, these mini muffins were more like biscuits--quite dry. Also, not the bacon or even the bacon drippings I used in lieu of vegetable oil added enough rich flavor to the batter. The cheddar all but disappeared in the dish. I was less than impressed, and will not be making them again. 

Oh well, you live an learn. Perhaps I'm better with the sweet stuff. Or bacon and I were just never meant to be friends. In any case, I'm off to make a cup of raspberry hot chocolate and munch on the last morsels of WT. 
Did you bake anything fun this holiday season? Tell me about it! 
E with her scrumptious cake!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Confections:Part One

     Every year during the holiday season, I get super pumped to bake all manner of sweets and goodies (truth be told, I start dreaming up recipes in July. . .). 
     Sadly, because I don't have a family of 50 fast metabolizing children  nor am I so popular that hundreds of people are dropping by every nigh for a treat, a lot of my sugary confections have to fall by the way side when it comes down to it. 

     I did decide on some new desserts that I wanted to make this year, and based on the reactions, they all turned out great! 
Topping the list were these glorious nutella thumbprint cookies (which I got from here) I decided to whip up for Christmas, My mother, in particular was a fan of these delightful little morsels, which were a great sort of upgrade on the old peanut butter blossoms. With a bit of a creamier texture, and a molasses heavy zing thanks to some dark brown sugar, they were a great addition to my thumbprint cookie repertoire (my peanut butter black berry thumbprints are still my fav!)

This year, I also decided to get a little crazy and make a Bûche de Noël 
 for Christmas Eve dinner. Buche de Noel are somewhat time consuming to make, but all the different steps were actually quite fun. This one is a mocha chocolate yule log, and while the mocha bit was a hit, I actually am not a coffee flavored person myself (I know, why did I make a dessert bursting with coffee flavor then?). I'm definitely going to try some jelly roll variations just for their fun effect! 

I will say, the frosting recipe I used for this Buche was quite possibly the single most delicious chocolate buttercream frosting I've ever come across. I'm itching for an excuse to whip up another batch. . .if only so I can "taste test" half of it in the process! 

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow. . .including a holiday baking fail!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Please, Christmas, don't be late!

Three Days Until Christmas 
(Basically TWO since it's so late in the evening!)

My friends, Jenna, Jenn and Elissa are jazzed too! 

This is my favorite picture of the season, taken on the roof of a spa in downtown Boston earlier this month as we got into the Christmas spirit with cranberry cocktails and free spa goodies! Don't I just have the most beautiful friends?

You probably (if you're being honest with yourself) are wondering why I've been suspiciously mum about my Christmas baking this year. I'm working on some top secret new recipes that I'm keeping underwrap--just kidding, that's a dirty lie! But, I have been measuring and mixing and snapping pictures, getting ready for a Christmas edition of Katy in the Kitchen.

 The baking will be taking place right up until the day this year, though, so you'll just have to wait a little bit longer! To tide you over, however, here's a little sneak peak!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boughs of Holly

I woke this morning determined to make this one just a little bit smoother than last. Oh, and let me just interrupt and say 4 days til Christmas, whooo!

So, yea, I set my alarm for the real time I have to get up. I only snuggled into bed ignoring my wake up call for a few minutes. I put up my hair to avoid the laborious task of blow drying. A lovely Braeburn apple made sure that there would be no more MEs on the train ride to work. All was right in this pre-Christmas world (except for the no snow part, but that's another story)

Then, in a moment of poor judgement I've been known to make on mornings like this, I got a little too comfortable. I decided I'd straighten the kitchen, look for a new book for my Kindle, and  switch shoes. Before I knew it, I was just a teensy bit late. Not "sprint your way down the street to catch the T" late, just "throw everything in your purse and leave right now" late.

After finding my mittens and my iPod, I was out the door. Almost. 

You see, I have this sweet little wreath on my front door. Green pine, red bow. You get the picture. This innocent wreath is hanging on an obnoxious wreath hanger. Well, let me be clear. The wreath hanger is the best one I've ever had. It's heavy duty clear plastic with notches to adjust the length. Unfortunately, it's just the tiniest bit too thick for the top of our front door, so when you try and lock the deadbolt, it's a sort of mini tug of war game. I've dealt with the hassle for two years now because I refuse to have a wreathless door come Christmas. Also, most of the time, if I'm lucky, I'll hit the lock's sweet spot right off, and it will lock without a problem. Not so, this morning.

I made the mistake of putting hand lotion on right before heading out, and so I couldn't grip the door handle and pull with enough force to click the lock. There I was outside my apartment door yanking repeatedly on the door, praying for the little click to signal it was locked. I tried everything I could think: I threw my weight back to push it closed, I stamped my foot, I shed my winter jacket so I could get a better angle on it.  I even tried to explain to all parties that I had a guest coming tonight and wouldn't it be sad to bring them home to a naked grinch of a door. Nothing.

In a final effort  I unlocked the door and swung it open, just to give it a minute. Then, I saw the time, and knew the game was over. The wreath hanger had won. For the second day in a row, I was going to be quite late to work. I wrenched the hanger and wreath from the door and tossed it on the back of a chair. The door closed and locked without a single moment's rebellion.

And just like that, my morning did become on of those "sprint down the street to catch the T" mornings. In wedge heels.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Almost Medical Emergency

"Do not faint. Do not faint, do notfaintdonotfaint" I will myself as I lean against the T window. One hand pulls at the knot in my scarf, working at pulling it loose from my neck. The other rapidly unbottons my winter pea coat, fanning it out to let some air hit my clammy neck. Finally my scarf slides loose and I bundle it up and try to nonchalantly wipe away the beads of sweat that have begun falling down my forehead. 

"I'm not even that hot," I think as a strange prinkling sensation works it's way down my body, "you're not going to faint. You've never fainted, you don't even know what it feels like," I tell myself. Trying to gain control of the situation.

My unruly brain doesn't agree, "But you're going to faint" it whimpers as I stare at the doors of the T lurching closed. In that moment where the T seems to be moving both forward and backward at the same time, I have a brief fantasy of launching myself at the doors, breaking through into the free fresh air (Or, the nasty, polluted, cold air of the city, but whatever) and then losing it into a trash can calmly like a normal person. But the T starts moving for real. I grip the handicap bar behind with all my weak strength.

 I'm sure that I will become the person who necessitates the conductor barking "Medical emergency, folks, we're going to be stopped here for awhile" into the loudspeaker. Everyone will huff and sigh and roll there eyes at the idiot who is holding up their morning commute. The girl with the purple coat and matching bag standing in front of me is already eyeing me suspiciously. She'll probably break out her iPhone immediately to snap a picture of me-pasty and slumped onto the filthy T floor-and post it on facebook for all her friends to laugh at.

As I stare, pleading, at the girl from my spot, silently begging her not to magnify my embarrassment, I also wonder how my day could have sped downhill so quickly. 

This morning, I awoke to my bleeping alarm, rested, surprised at how great I felt and, also, jazzed that Christmas is now less than a week away. As I snuggled deeper into my flannel sheets for a moment, I wondered if maybe, somehow, it had snowed last night. Slowly, I turned to look at the clock and my peaceful morning was hit by a semitruck on steroids. 
What? It can't be 7:45. I get up at 6:45. Surely my clock must be saying 7:45 but really it's 6:45. Clearly.

I grabbed my phone and jabbed away texts alerts to get to the time. 7:45. As in, I am supposed to be leaving for the T in approximately 20 minutes. Leaping out of bed, I hopped around in panic for a moment and then forced myself into gear. I could do this. I could get ready in 20 minutes. I hurdled into the shower, and with a speed that belied my gender, I showered, dressed, blow dried by bangs, brushed by teeth and put on makeup. At 8:15, I left the house, only 10 minutes later than normal.  Then, as you already know, the real fun got started.

When we hit Copley, blessedly, someone vacates their single seat and, even more miraculously, no ones clamors to claim it. I stumble over and sit, dumping my stuff on my lap and trying to breathe deeply. "Don't throw up, Don't faint." I chant to myself, trying to focus on the music on my iPod. 

My brain apparently was able to do the rest on autopilot, because somehow I got to the office and in an effort to restore my blood sugar levels, which I assume to be the culprit of this whole hooplah, I chugged some apple juice and got to writing this post.

Only 5 days til Christmas folks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No pear tree for me

I had this ingenious idea for some bloggy Christmastide cheer this year. Last night it came to me in a stroke of brilliance and I giggled aloud as I plotted and planned a series of (hilarious) posts.

I'll give you a hint: It was going to involve 
The Twelve 
Days of Christmas.

No, not the longest Christmas song of all time. The actual twelve days.

The thought occurred to me this morning, however, that my idea of these dozen days of cheer might be slightly misplaced. A trip to Wikipedia confirmed my epiphany (heh heh). Those twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas (not before) and run until Epiphany. Something most American's probably don't spend much time celebrating. Though, in some countries and religious traditions, Epiphany is actually more important than Nativity.

Wikipedia blamed the disappearance of the Epiphany in the U.S.A. on marketing and post-Christmas blowout sales. I thought this was pretty ironic and short sighted of the marketing bigwigs. Recalling my own struggle with Christmas spending as intimated in a previous post, you think it would behoove those pesky marketers to milk all twelve days of Christmas. Umm hello, people? Five Golden Rings? So much to work with there.

Alas, it appears the advertising world missed that money making bandwagon. And as such, I was mislead in my understanding of the twelve days of Christmas 

Consequently, my thoughtful idea for some pre-Christmas fun came to and end. Stop the presses, let that partridge loose. It is not to be.

Thanks a lot advertising world, it was going to be so good. . .

In light of all the confusion, I've decided to celebrate twenty four days of Christmas. Twelve before and twelve after. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

These Gals Rock!

Can you believe that Christmas is only two weeks away!

I can't. Although this morning in a fit of child-like excitement I felt as if these two weeks were two centuries and Christmas would never come. 

This year, as part of my Christmas festivities, some friends and I got all dolled up this Wednesday and went to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at the Wang. In case you're wondering--

I. Love.The.Rockettes.

My first time seeing these amazing precision line dancers, I was probably about 8.  My grandmother took me to New York to see them perform at Radio City. I remember how grand and beautifully decorated the lobby was. And the performance? Well, I have a distinct memory of the Nutcracker portion with the little girl dancing around a giant real tree on stage!

I've seen them a few times since then, and every time I get totally caught up in the magic. I love seeing all the little girls in their cute holiday dresses (frankly, I'm a little jealous), and of course, watching the perfect precision of those high kicking sisters is amazing!

Even though I'll (obviously) never be a Rockette, I feel as if I could be when I'm there watching them tap and sing their hearts out. . .never mind that I never had a dance lesson in my life. Some of us don't need lessons. We're soul dancers. 

some illegally snapped photos from the show thanks to Elissa W. (and yes, those are real camels in that last one!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I should never have memorized my debit card number

As usual, the Christmas season has descended upon our lovely country producing a capitalist fervor the likes of which only a well planned Black Friday campaign can incite.

And while I know that the true meaning of Christmas has everything to do with the first part of that word and oh, nothing, to do with Kohls having a 110% off sale on clearance, I admit, I sometimes lose my mind over those pretty red sale signs.

This year, in particular, I seem to be on some sort of strange kick where my hand becomes detached from my body. . .and budget loving brain.

Throw on some Mariah Carey and stick a frosted Christmas cookie in my hand and I'm off. Hand made chocolate marshmallow soap for 50% off? Sure, why not. Who doesn't want to smell like a hand baked s'more on the T?

And every time Mariah croons that classic chorus line, there my hand goes. 
"All I want for Christmas is youuuu"
click, clickity click.

And since you can't really buy strapping men online for 50% off (that I know of), the "youuuuu"  might as well be those heather gray TOMS with the laces. Come on! Free Shipping!

I think I've realized the problem and have nipped it in the bud (mostly) but it sort of makes me sad to think how easy it is to become such a crazed Christmas consumer.

Because really, Mariah Carey, what I really want for Christmas is for my bank account to be above zero come December 26th. Thanks.

(did I mention the lip tint was 50% off too. . .)

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