Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


This year I will:

- Write more personal notes and mail them
- Miss fewer Saturday Weight Watchers' Meetings
- Plan out every Monday night
- Eat more greens
- Keep a 'while Bridget is on her mission' journal
- Make really cool birthday crowns for my grandchildren
- Learn a few things about photography
- Take my Laurels for manicures
- Love everything about Girls' Camp
- Abstain from all things labeled "Lean Cuisine"
- Master the sugar cookie
- Buy more books for presents

Best wishes to you and yours...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miscellaneous (nothing to do with sledding)


Funny notes from the MTC (please note the White Christmas reference):

"There are 'a million handsome guys' and I can't flirt with any of them."

"Dad said he would write me a letter. What's the deal? Tell him he must - just on DearElder - COME ON! Boys (I mean Elders) aren't allowed to call you beautiful, plus they're scared to, so I need dad to."

No segue (I said "miscellaneous"):

These are so good.

Go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Do it. Somehow they managed to avoid sappy . . . the result was a lovely movie.

And please read this. You won't be sorry, especially when you get to "2009 Goals".

Shouldn't I feel hungry by now?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sister Lunn at the MTC

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Christmas dinner...


My Christmas dinner did not look like this picture at all. Not one bit. Christmas dinner was at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace, across from the Sports Book (while the Lakers played the Celtics). Seriously. So not this picture.

Still, dinner was heavenly, including things like Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale with Corn Cilantro Sauce, Pork Chop with Bourbon Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato Galette . . . and more. I'm still feeling the Christmas food coma symptoms, although today I actually felt a hunger pang and couldn't believe it. Is THAT what that feels like??. Really.

No segue.

The day after Christmas is good for the following:

- half price Christmas cards (helps alleviate the guilt you feel for not mailing them in 2008)
- easy commute (grasping at straws here)
- a deserted Costco

Not our traditional Christmas this year but fitting considering everything that's been going on in our home. Did I mention my MTC-residing daughter invited all her Facebook friends to an Open House at my home? All 355 of them. And still . . . I made it through.

Hope you had a merry.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Merry Christmas...


I am basking in the love that is freely given and it has nothing to do with presents.

Adding to that, this morning I received an email from someone I really love that said this:

"Have you ever felt so happy and full of joy you’re afraid if one more drop comes raining down from heaven and pierces your heart you will explode into….something?! I’m feeling that way today."

This is how I feel right now, too. I hope your Christmas feels the same.

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Ho Ho Ho Tom Colicchio


I'm in a food coma this morning. A Christmas food coma. I finally went to Craftsteak at the MGM . . . been anxious to see what it's all about. I'm a huge Tom Colicchio fan - TOP CHEF, yes. I did not have his famous french fries cooked in duck fat. I DID have the tasting menu.

I'm still in a state of bliss. Can you say Jerusalem artichokes? Lobster bisque?


Sea scallops? Steak?

How about monkey bread, fruit crisp, chocolate lava cake and pistachio brittle?

Over and out. Food coma. Can't speak.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

More on tradition


The Christmas carolers . . . they've stopped by my house. Have they been to yours?

Have you watched White Christmas yet? It's a Wonderful Life? Family Man?

Have you had some peppermint hot chocolate? Have you made cookies? What's your egg nog status?

Elf? A Christmas Story? Christmas in Connecticut? Maybe The Bishop's Wife? Please say yes...

Do you have "Christmas fridge" yet? (Thank you, Caity, for coining that phrase and making my Christmas happy forever for it.)

What fun do you have left to experience?

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Peppermint Stick Hot Fudge Sundae


Last night we had a rather large group of young men and young women at the house for some Christmas inspiration (thank you, Robin). When all was said and done we gathered together for some peppermint stick ice cream with some homemade hot fudge and fresh whipped cream. It'd been years since I made this recipe and I have no idea why. Luscious.

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Are you there, Zach?


Sunday was our Ward Christmas Sacrament Meeting. Usually this meeting is some sort of Christmas "program", if you will. The Ward Choir tends to sing a lot during this program (not that I don't enjoy the choir [good job, honey], I do) . . . but Sunday's meeting was remarkable, at least for me. Several members of our Ward were on the program, the first being a man I don't know very well. He read an excerpt from his father's journal from Christmas Eve, 1943, at a time when he found himself alone in a strange city during the war. My thoughts immediately turned to my son (you, Zach) in Baghdad and I don't mind telling you, I was a puddle. I am thinking quite a bit about what the speaker shared, so today, Zach, I want to tell you . . . when I see a serviceman at the airport (or anywhere, for that matter) I do that thing people have done to you. I am not shy under these circumstances. I walk up to them and I extend my hand. I thank them and let them know I appreciate their service and sacrifice. Because I really really do. So thank you for teaching me how much a small gesture can mean to someone.

Merry Christmas Combat Medic Zachary Lunn. I love you. Be safe.

P.S. Watching White Christmas just isn't the same without you.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baked Shrimp Scampi a la Ina Garten



I love Ina's new cookbook, Back to Basics. The current season of her Food Network show is highlighting recipes from her latest book, and this recipe really appealed to me. Not only is it a version of the standard shrimp scampi, but you can make it ahead and pop it in the oven. Ahem, walk in the door from church and you're eating in 30 minutes. IN your pajamas. Sweet . . .

So this is our 'Sunday before Christmas dinner', which I realize isn't very Christmas-ey . . . but neither was that lawnmower I heard when I woke up yesterday.

Merry Christmas . . .

* 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
* 3 tablespoons good olive oil
* 2 tablespoons dry white wine (whatever)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
* 1/4 cup minced shallots
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1 extra-large egg yolk
* 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
* Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Waiting...


Remember? Oh I remember . . . my sister and I so tickled pink to be sleeping with the Christmas candles in the windows. We could see the Christmas lights on neighboring homes and it was fun and festive and exciting. Such a VIVID memory. Now I have palm trees in my front yard and nothing seems the same. But some things are. . .

The memories really don't change. And thank goodness, because they really make me happy.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Eggnog


You need it. It's necessary. It's part of the festivities, no doubt about it. I will drink the kind from the bottle. Even the kind from the carton. But nothing is as good as homemade egg nog. Try it. You'll like it.

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

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Planning the route...


I have but one Christmas errand left to do. Just a simple department store stop and nothing more. Then it's off to Town Square to enjoy the snow and maybe a movie. And some hot chocolate with peppermint . . .

I really love the weekend before Christmas. What are your plans

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

White Christmas fix...


Salt Lake City was pretty. Temple Square and Provo, pretty. Cedar City was blizzard scary, and that gorge . . . I'm still white knuckled. Still, we made it home last night only to find a blanket of white snow that made Las Vegas a top CNN news story. I had my fix and now it feels even more like Christmas.

We made our deposit at the Missionary Training Center and filed the day's memories in that folder we love to take out and read. The label reads "BEST EVER DAYS". This is what genuine happiness feels like.

Merry Christmas. This week before the holiday is the most fun week . . .

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

let's be real...


I don't want to be something I'm not here. So, in thinking about this and how perfect my tree appears to me (don't look at the topper), I thought it only fair to tell you. It was hell. HELL.

Last large tree ever . . . so take it in.

Fa la la la la.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not what you think...


You probably thought I was going to talk about how much I love Christmas and candy canes, huh? Nope. I really dislike candy canes. Actually, they make me feel sick.

Other Christmas traditions that aren't in my "love it" category . . . fruitcake. Know anyone who DOES like fruitcake. Wait. I know people...sick.

Others? How about office parties? That's a tradition I don't like. Don't even get me started.

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Things that just scream Christmas...


Doesn't this look so fun? Frog Pond, Boston Common. Home to the Swan Boats from Make Way for Ducklings (if you didn't know).

So the ice skating...

Know how old I am? When I was a kid the fire department would actually come to your home and "flood" your backyard to make a skating rink. A little lumber and a tarp, a few other things, you were skating.

Now, truth be told, I never could ice skate. Not even close. But doesn't this picture just exude holiday fun? Doesn't it just make you want to go out and put on ice skates and have hot cocoa and sing Christmas carols? Or maybe find a toboggan and go sledding? Decorate your house? Caroling? Make cookies?

Say yes.

By the way, I can't go ice skating. Or sledding or tobogganing. I live in the middle of the desert. What was I going to say, "Wouldn't it be so Christmas-y to go to the Bellagio fountains show? The strip? Forum Shops?

Not.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

My Christmas Card


Let's pretend this Norman Rockwell is a picture on my Christmas card. The one I would mail to you this week if I wasn't slammed with "stuff". Also, you should know this is the Christmas goodie I was dropping by your house is in this cute bakery box, tied up with this bakery twine with a Tiny Prints label that reads "Merry Christmas from the Lunns".

Forgive me.

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Binoculars for Christmas?


This essay reminded me . . . how great would it be if we had daily access to binoculars? Ones that helped us mesh others' images of a person with our own? There's a Seminary video that takes it a step further. How would it BE if we could see everyone the way He does?

I love Segullah. And Christmas. I love Christmas, too.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holly Ball (sometimes called Kissing Ball)


The Christmas tradition of the holiday "holly ball" or "kissing ball" was one my mother embraced fully. Each year that holly ball had a particular spot in our home. It was made of fresh greens, duh, usually holly, and in later years was replaced with a fake replica. When I stumble upon a holly ball I sigh a little inside . . . I want one. I have the perfect place for one. Haven't ever done it. This is my year.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My perfectly shaped Christmas tree...


When I was a kid we went to one of the many Christmas tree lots in the city to choose our yearly tree. Think A Christmas Story. Swear. Inevitably it was the coldest night in December and three out of the four of us (love ya, Dad) were very particular about that tree. No bare spots, perfectly shaped and extra fresh. Again, a happy holiday memory for lots of reasons, including that Christmas music on the AM car radio. Go Bing.

Fast forward. Like 45 years fast forward.

Tonight I will drive down a major cross street to Star Nursery and choose my Christmas tree. My iTrip will play the music I choose and I will probably go through the Starbucks drive-thru and order some nonfat steamed milk with vanilla so I can, you know, pretend. The standard for that tree is still the same, no bare spots, perfectly shaped and extra fresh. But there's no snow. No cold. And this tree will be delivered curbside, which I guess is better than that year I had L.L. Bean ship me my Christmas tree. Make no mistake, though, I still love this chore.

No segue: Did you know it's against the law in Nevada to tie a Christmas tree to the roof of your husband's car? No? It isn't? I need clarification.

I like to remember Christmas in the 1960's. It's just like the pictures.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday remembering and things I forgot...


This year I forgot to hand out those Trader Joe's Advent Calendars I bought (a month ago) for my grandchildren. You know, the kind that have chocolates behind each door and window? Those Advent Calendars bring back happy (childhood) holiday memories . . . which remains a bit of a mystery to me since my sister and I had to share, a concept I sometimes think is more difficult when there are just two siblings. Just a theory. If it happened to be her night to open the window or door it wasn't my night. The true bottom line here is, well, we took nightly turns during Advent at being unhappy. STILL, it's somehow a happy memory, and sharing that brings some vicarious holiday pleasure.

I forgot to make the caramel brownies, although I managed to assign someone the task of unwrapping those caramels and making a special trip to the grocery store on Wednesday night for a forgotten ingredient. Go figure.

I forgot the sweet potatoes in the garage refrigerator, all ready to be baked in their brown sugar, pecan crusty goodness, probably because it was the first time I've ever served sweet potatoes.

I forgot an entire dessert in the same garage refrigerator. We never missed it.

I forgot my new oven has a warming tray. S.M.A.R.T.

I forgot to keep my camera handy, huge disappointment because the thankful balloon launch would have been extra appropriate for a post-holiday blog post. Although audio probably would have been better . . . especially at the "kids' table" when they just sat down for dinner and said "I'm not hungry." That might have been my favorite part of the day.

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Post Holiday Observations/Pre Holiday Lists


The leftovers have been eaten, floors have been washed, rugs repositioned and evidence of little hands erased from windows and stainless steel. Sunday I sat behind the wheel of my car and realized I hadn't driven since Wednesday . . . unprecedented and lovely, that break from the world.

Moving on, the Christmas shopping is done and wrapped and holiday movies await. Simple decorating with fresh greens is the plan this year and I'm looking forward to that holiday smell that I love so much. That would be those Christmas greens AND the cookies.

Then there's that little matter of Bridie's "Open House". Anyone know a caterer? No, really.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

prep...

The furniture has been moved, couches huddled together to make room for tables that have been picked up. Practical tables. New vegetable peelers are ready. Fresh herbs in their pots, figs, pine nuts and cranberries. The menu was put together a month ago, typewritten and attached to lists of groceries needed at different shops around the city. Turkey at the butcher, cornmeal at Trader Joe's, and those pickles you have to have with your leftover sandwich.

There's pumpkin cheesecake and tiramisu. Apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel corn. And no cake. Not right.

For a week I've been waking up extra early each day. Inevitably I end up in the family room watching Miracle on 34th Street or Little Women, enjoying myself. This morning I remembered Thanksgiving at my grandmother's . . . those sterling silver candy dishes on the buffet, one filled with mixed nuts, the other with chocolates. They meant the holidays. So I reached into my cabinet and took them out. A little silver polish is all I need . . . and mixed nuts and chocolates. Building memories, it's a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Unsolicited and Miscellaneous Holiday Musings ...


This weekend I found out #5 once told #7 (it's a Grey's Anatomy thing) she was getting an American Girls doll for Christmas. In exchange 7 told 5 she was getting a Beatles calendar, at which point 7 was told that wasn't exactly a fair trade. American Girls doll for Beatles calendar? Not so much.

This made me think of a couple of things (and none of them involved Gospel parallels, which sort of surprised my spouse). First, I was reminded my sister and I waited until we were in our 30's to tell my mom and dad how she REALLY broke her collar bone. Long story short, we were doing something we weren't supposed to be doing. RIDING DOUBLE on a bicycle. Gasp.

The second thing . . . I realized if 7 knew what 5 was getting for Christmas this year . . . she'd spill it.

Consequently, everything Christmas is a secret this year.

No segue here . . .

I can't help myself, I'm a huge Vince Vaughn fan.

James Franco fan, too.

Finally, GAP's ad men have outdone themselves this year. Best campaign ever.

Have you seen the Louis Vuitton ad with Sean Connery? New definition of cool.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bars

This is another recipe from Applehood and Motherpie. It keeps turning up (this recipe, not the cookbook). These are yummy...

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups crisp rice cereal

Melt corn syrup and sugar together in saucepan, over low heat, until bubbling. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and rice cereal. Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pann.

1 6 oz. package butterscotch chips
1 6 oz. package chocolate chips

Melt both packages of chips together in a pan over low heat. Spread the butterscotch chocolate mixture on top of the first mixture. When icing cools, cut into bars.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brownies

1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips (use the kind you prefer)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips. Stir constantly and remove from heat when chips are fully melted. In the same pot, blend in the sugar. Then add eggs, blending fully one at a time. Add flour and beat until air bubbles form in the batter. Pour into a greased 9 X 13-inch pan (this recipe works great doubled and poured into a large 11 X 17-inch rimmed baking sheet). Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Deep Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake


from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book

I like this cake because the ingredients are things you always have in the house. We're partial to a typical pound cake at my house, so I prefer to look at this one as less of a pound cake and more of a rich chocolate cake sans frosting.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups unsalted butter, softened
2.5 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust with flour.

Sift the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is well-blended and light, about 4 minutes. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the sour cream. At the low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in 2 additions and mixing just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto the rack and let it cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar with this or this.

The best Williams Sonoma investment I ever made was this heart shaped bundt pan. The added curves and corners just give your pound cake more of that delicious buttery crunch. Great for the jimmie cake, too.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Gingersnaps


3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Slowly add eggs, molasses and vinegar and combine well until fluffy. Sift in flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mix until just combined.

Pour approximately 1 cup of granulated sugar in a flat bowl. Roll dough into 1" balls and gently roll again in the granulated sugar until completely coated. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or until cracks start to appear on top). Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Mission call...


California Santa Rosa Mission, English speaking, reporting to the MTC on Wednesday, 17 December, 2008. We are so excited...

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Christmas, IKEA and Cookies


A few years ago I was browsing through a holiday catalog from my favorite New York gourmet store, Dean & Deluca. Their catalogs are always full of specialty meats, gourmet cheeses and beautiful seasonal bakery items. I immediately noticed their featured gingerbread cookie ornaments. I wanted them. The boxes were small and they were pricey, but my Christmas tree is important to me, two boxes full of important to me. I ordered. When they arrived half of each box was filled with broken cookies. I called Dean & Deluca and they immediately shipped two more boxes. I salvaged what I could out of the two original boxes and waited for the next two boxes. Same deal, still broken cookies, but in the end I was satisfied. I tackled the task of stringing each cookie with twine. Loved it. As it turns out, so did Otis, who walked directly over to my Christmas tree and proceeded to munch on the ornaments. Truly Christmas for him.

I suppose it was no surprise to me that Dean & Deluca discontinued those cookies. I'm certain they shipped many replacement boxes the year they offered them. Imagine my delight when I walked into IKEA the first weekend in October only to see a pallet of gingerbread cookie ornmanets in large boxes. No price. It was clear they'd just arrived. I walked to the register and, I'm not going to lie, my heart was racing. I was excited. Nothing scanned. The 15-year-old said "$4.50?" with an "Is that too much?" face. Three boxes, thank you very much. This year the cookies will be strung with baker's twine. Do you think 100 yards was too much?

Tell me your Christmas ideas for this year.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mandoline and some creamy herbed potatoes...


I made this recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks! over the weekend. Bridget loved them. Let me talk about the journey making those creamy herbed potatoes.

I have an amazing top-of-the-line mandoline that is so scary I'm inclined to use it as a Halloween decoration on my front door. I am afraid of it. Always have been. It was a Mothers' Day gift from my children a really long time ago and I love it, but it intimidates me. This weekend, after seeing this recipe I decided I would master this gadget and I would master it by myself. No engineer husband help.

I took potatoes and experimented with the thickness of each slice. I moved blades and screws and mandoline legs over and over again. Maybe I said a bad word. But that mandoline worked. Suddenly I wanted to slice everything in the house. Onions and cucumbers and maybe even experiment with crinkle cut french fries. It is my new best friend. What else can I slice up? The possibilities are endless.

I searched FLICKR for "mandoline" thinking perhaps I'd discover more uses. Here's what I discovered. Hundreds of reminders about the danger of a mandoline. As in pictures of injuries. Bloody injuries. I am back to being afraid of it.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Millionaire's Shortbread


I originally saw this recipe on Nigella's website but my metric conversation skills aren't what they should be. Alright, so they don't exist. I keep using that "I had my appendix out in the 5th grade" excuse. Really, I missed cups and pints that year when I was home recuperating. Maybe fractions, too.

Here's the converted recipe. By the way, Whole Foods makes a terrific version of this little shortbread if you only want one. But you'll go back...

1 stick salted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups flour

1 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 ounces chocolate, milk or dark
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350° F. Oil an 8x8 square pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mix softened butter with flour, salt and granulated sugar until a crumbly dough forms -- flour should be completely mixed in. Press into prepared pan, building up a bit of a wall on each side. Poke the shortbread base three or four times with the tines of a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and set. Remove and cool completely.

Over medium heat mix together the sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt and brown sugar until caramel forms. Stir continuously until you have a thick and golden caramel. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, stir well, and pour the finished product over the shortbread crust. It will cool quickly so spread the mixture quickly over the shortbread. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Once melted, glossy and no lumps remain, stir in the butter and pour over the caramel layer, smoothing and spreading if needed.

Sprinkle bars with a pinch of kosher or sea salt. Chill completely and score and cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

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Mississippi Mud Cake


I don't know how this recipe escaped the blog . . . this was one of the first recipes I ever added to the 'repeat' column. It's rich.

2 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c.unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. baking powder
1 Jar Marshmallow Fluff

Beat butter, add eggs one at a time. Add sugar, flour, cocoa and vanilla. Stir with large spoon. Batter will be very dry and heavy. Bake in a 9x13x2 inch greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

It may take longer so check for doneness. Spread marshmallow fluff over cake as soon as you take it out of the oven. Let cool 20 minutes.

FROSTING:

1/2 c. butter, softened
6 tbsp. milk
1/3 c. cocoa
1 lb. confectioners' sugar

Blend all ingredients at low speed, gradually increasing until smooth. Spread on cake swirling through marshmallow.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BYU Mint Brownies


This recipe was adapted from the Scripture Mom blog . . . thanks for the recipe!

BROWNIE

1 c. butter
1/2 c. cocoa
2 Tbsp. honey
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
12 oz. chocolate icing (your own recipe)

MINT ICING

5 Tbsp. butter
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

1. Melt butter and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts (optional). Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool for 1 hour.

2. Prepare mint icing: Soften butter. Add salt, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add mint extract and food coloring. Mix. Add milk gradually until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.

3. Spread mint icing over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for a short time to stiffen the icing. Remove from the freezer and carefully add a layer of chocolate icing.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Step back in time...

Today's office conversation brought me back to a time when my kids were really little. A coworker described her toddler's obsession with The Backyardigans. Not surprisingly I am clueless about this particular show (thus the link), but I couldn't help but reminisce about like-minded toddler obsessions. Especially ones that now bring a smile to my face.

Caity was obsessed with the movie Annie. I mean it when I tell you the kid just couldn't get enough. In the end that movie is the reason my mom was "Annie" rather than "Nanny". Cait knew every line, every word, every song. Fast forward 25 years and that movie has a tender spot in my heart. It brings a smile to my face and I just can't help myself.

Zach's perpetual movie of choice (and this says a lot about his personality, even at that age) was H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. It was scary. And a little creepy. He was 2, and he loved it . . . a toddler watching Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux over and over again? I'm smiling.

Patrick's maniacal love was The Brave Little Toaster. Even typing this I can see members of my family glazing over at the mention of this movie [David]. I actually remember hiding that videotape hoping he might forget about it. He never did. By the time this kid turned 3 tolerance was low for The Brave Little Toaster.

(Know what's funny about the imdb link to The Brave Little Toaster? It has spoiler alerts. Think about that.)

Bridget . . . not so much did she have a toddler movie obsession. She waited a little longer than everyone else. At a very early age she loved a tender-hearted movie, a love story. Bridie's brothers learned very early on how to get their sister to watch a movie with them . . . "Bridget, there's love in this movie." [It was always a lie.] When Forever Young came out she sat on the edge of our bed with tears in her eyes at this tale of true love. Others followed . . . I'd need her permission to publish that list.

And then, of course, we can see even younger members of our family have their own obsessions. It isn't annoying at all now. In fact, it's cute.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rainy avenues walk

I really can't remember the last time I took a walk in the rain. This morning I dressed in gym clothes and headed out. I made my way up to Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop in pursuit of that sugar cookie my husband loves - the one I can't seem to successfully duplicate. Loved my rainy Salt Lake City walk . . .


I stopped along S. Temple and looked at condo floorplans. Most of this area of Salt Lake City reminds me of Brookline, Massachusetts, which means I like it. A lot.


Tonight I'm going to Ladies' Night at Deseret Book in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I full expect to meet Michael McLean and get his autograph on his boxed set. I've been threatening to buy this set of CDs for myself for months, but have been too cheap. Liz Lemon Swindle will be there, also, and that could be trouble.

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