Thursday, December 29, 2011


Dear Times Square party planners/Dick Clark/whoever makes this decision,

Instead of dropping that dreadfully heavy ball made of glass or crystal or whatever it is, you should consider a big fat one of these instead....

White Chocolate Cranberry Popcorn Balls (Click here for recipe)

They are just that festive!  Imagine popcorn pieces adhered with a sweet mixture of marshmallow and white chocolate and dotted with dried cranberries.  So now you know they are festive AND delicious. The original recipe calls for crystallized ginger as well, but I omitted it for a ginger-opposed dinner guest.  (That reminds me:  I have a large container of crystallized ginger that mustn't be neglected...what to make??).

Sweet New Year, everyone!

(-- and don't forgot to watch Cupcake Wars on New Year's Day to catch the awesome Matt Fraker represent his fabulous Richmond cupcake shop, Frostings!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Let's Party

Friends, this is it: the last hurrah of "oh just one more lap around" the hors d'oeuvres table, nibbling one or two (ahem, six) Christmas cookies for breakfast, all-day grazing from the cheese platter, and 4 pm extra meals holiday happy hours before DUM DUM DUM - January 1st drops the gavel to put all resolutions in session.  Time for the gym to get crowded again and Lean Cuisines to go flying off the shelves like hotcakes. Wait, I'm pretty sure we can't eat hotcakes after the New Year.

Wow, that sounds bleak.  Good news: we're not there yet!  We've still got 10 glorious days of guilt free indulgence remaining.  So let's live it up, shall we?  Here are some holiday apps to help get the party started.

This is my version of (yet another) Pinterest idea to simply fancy up the presentation a little!  I've already gabbed about how I love me a big, fat antipasto platter and have no shame in calling it dinner. Here's an old picture:

Now here's the fancied up version.  It's pretty much the same stuff, but way cuter, huh?

Up next is something I've seen all over blogland and the Food Network Magazine:  Toasted Ravioli!
Crispy Baked Ravioli
Courtesy of

This actually is not that bad for you!  Though nearly every recipe I found renders "toasted" synonymous with "fried in oil", I knew there had to be a version that didn't require the splattering and calories of a quarter cup of oil.  After some digging, I found this baked recipe in a totally random place:  Whowouldathunkit.  Here is the recipe, and I made Barefoot Contessa's easy marinara sauce on the side for dipping.  We actually prepared a whole wheat version of these as a main course instead of an app one night, and they were seriously awesome.  They were tasty, satisfying, and pleasantly crunchy (without frying!).   Sorry, by the way, that the above is not my photo.  In the midst of our evening chaos, they were on plates and then in our bellies before the thought crossed my mind to pick up the camera. 

Butternut Squash, Sage and Ricotta Crostini (Click here for recipe)

I saved the best for last.  Okay, so I know in my last breath I was all anti-fried food and health conscious.  Can you ignore that I said that for a sec?  Fried sage is my new best friend, and I don't regret it in the slightest.  Its savory freshness is just perfect against the sweet caramelized butternut squash, creamy ricotta and fresh lemon.  And a crunchy toasted baguette offers a divine backdrop to all this goodness.  Sold.

Merry Christmas all, and of course, happy feasting!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tis the Season not update my blog for five weeks let the laundry pile overflow into the hallway stay up all night addressing Christmas cards threaten children that bad behavior will make Santa pass us by be thankful for Jesus and make goodies, make goodies, make goodies.   How completely fabulous it is that this season considers baking and consuming sugar filled snacks without shame not only acceptable, but expected.

Pinterest is just the best thing since sliced bread, and it is OVERFLOWING with fun holiday ideas from crafting to decorating to table settings to how to hang Christmas cards.  I really can't help myself.

But this is a food blog, isn't it.  Lucky me -- I've found some tasty treat ideas there as well.  This first one is a marriage of a recipe (chocolate pretzel fudge) and presentation idea (the reindeer brownies and cookies we've seen floating around).  Like many others, I adore salty/sweet combos, and I'm happy to report that this is a totally easy technique.  Love it.

Chocolate Pretzel Fudge

12 oz bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup broken pretzel pieces

Melt together first four ingredients on the stove.  Stir in pretzel pieces.   Pour in a foil lined, square baking pan and chill for at least three hours.

More salty sweet goodness = potato chips dipped in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  Nuff said.

Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies (Click here for recipe)

This recipe was not a Pinterest find, but something I clipped about a hundred years ago.  After it glared at me for the gazillionth time from its glossy page protector in my recipe binder (I just re-read, I declared that the 'toss it' or 'make it' decision was imminent.  I chose the latter, and boy am I glad.  I expected a modestly dense cookie, but these are more pillowy, like whoopie pies.  The filling is heaven, which is convenient given that a bite of this sandwich will leave you covered in it.  BTW, serious kudos to whoever glued two cookies together with something divinely gooey and sweet and called it something other than "two cookies glued together with something divinely gooey and sweet".  The sandwich term makes me feel a lot better about things.

Happy treating, everyone!