Phew! The holidays kicked my butt this year. How did my parents do this? Better yet, WHY did they do it??
Although I try to post only the best of my kitchen attempts, here are some of my absolute favorites from last year. I mean the ones I crave & want to make again & again.
Happy New Year to you!!
1. Gardener’s Pie (vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie): This is always a huge hit. I took it to a Christmas pot luck this year and got so many compliments from vegetarian & non vegetarians alike.
2. Best Coffee Cake in the World There are no surprising ingredients in this but it’s simply delicious. Perfect for a special brunch or to warm up a chilly Sunday morning.
3. Kermit Smoothie (green smoothie) Want to sneak a handful of spinach into your family’s gullets? Try this! So yummy, easy & fun.
4. Blueberry Lara Bars. A healthy, yummy & portable snack. Perfect for hiking or just to carry in your purse (or man purse) to keep the munchies at bay.
5. No Knead Bread. If you’ve never made bread before I strongly encourage you try this one! It takes less than 5 minutes to prep and is so rewarding! There’s something wonderful about the smell of bread baking in your home.
6. Glory Bowl. After the holidays many people (ahem, THIS person) feel compelled to eat a little, shall we say, “lighter?” Although this dish contains many light elements the rice & dressing make it so satisfying. I had serious doubts about it when my dear friend Kinga recommended it but now it’s one of my favorites. Try it!! I mean it, really! I wouldn’t put it up here if it weren’t super yummy.
7. Red Velvet Cupcakes. Make these for Valentine’s Day! Or use green food coloring and make them for St. Patrick’s Day.
8. Simple Caesar Salad. This is a cheater’s version of caesar salad. Oh garsh sometimes I crave caesar salad so much but don’t want to get involved with raw eggs & anchovies etc. This is a satisfying remedy when you’re short on time. Now that I make this I find most restaurant salads disappointing. Totally reminds me of an ex boyfriend’s mom (who happened to be an excellent cook) answering the waiter’s “How is everything?” with a tragic look followed by her New York accented, “Mine’s bettah.”
9. Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies. After trying many recipes, I have to say that these are my favorites for both simplicity & results. Because of the cornstarch they end up a bit pale and can trick you into thinking they aren’t done but they are soooooo sooooooo sooooooo (sooooo) good. Every time I make them I have to double the recipe b/c of all the greedy hands snitching them off the cooling racks (G!!!).
10. Vegetable Pot Pie. I just realized I have a few “best _____ in the WORLD” recipes. Do I exaggerate? Or am I just hungry? Anyway, this pot pie was a sleeper hit! I always loved pot pies. From the nastiest to the high end restaurant ones. But I was tired of paying $5.00 for a tiny Amy’s vegetable pot pie, plus I thought I could feed more than 1 person with a lot less packaging. This recipe takes almost 3 hours to make but is TOTALLY worth it! YUM.
11. Broccoli Gribiche. Last year I started making some dishes from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day” and this was one of the hits. I seriously didn’t make ONE bad dish from that cookbook and still use it every week. This is a surprisingly hearty, satisfying yet tasty meal that can be a main or side. The simple ingredients make it a no-brainer!
12. Moscow Mule. Alcohol is a good way to end a list/night/year so here is a simple, tasty drink that we enjoyed time & again mostly during the summer. Our friend Trish introduced us to them last June when we stayed at her house in Denver. We drank them all summer. Not all day but you know what I mean.
I hope you enjoy these recipes & for all the best to you in 2013!
This year we stayed home for Thanksgiving for the first time since we started dating. That meant we cooked this year. Which meant a lot of planning. One thing I’ve come to realize about myself: I LOVE planning & hate execution!
Here was my menu list:
1. Turkey – G was in charge of deep-frying this since fowl is not my thang these days.
2. Creamy Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes
3. Cranberry Sauce (for looks)
4. Wild Rice & Crimini Mushroom casserole
5. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with a balsamic reduction & cranberries
6. Corn Bread Stuffing
8. Arugula & Mixed Greens Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Mango & a Dijon vinaigrette
9. Cranberry Mojitos
10. Classic Pecan Pie
11. Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Pie
12. Apple Pie Cookies
I started with a simple Homemade Herbed Ranch with crudite appetizer because I didn’t want everyone losing their appetites before dinner. Kids got their own plate.
It looks like it’s about to fall off the counter. It was.
This was the first time I cooked some of these items (including pie crusts which I just started making last week) and not everything came out the way Martha Stewart’s would have (including the pie crusts)! Also, I dropped the Apple Pie Cookies off the menu at the last minute because I ran out of time. I also made a simpler pan-fried brussel sprout dish for the same reason. Cranberries were already representing plenty.
Phew. I’m tired. I will be posting the successful recipes in the coming days.
The highlight of the menu? The Cranberry Mojitos! Yum. So festive, pretty & tasty.
Make these for your holiday parties!
8 oz fresh cranberries (+ extra for garnish)
1 c sugar
1 c water
20 mint leaves
2 TBSP lime juice
4 oz (light colored) rum
4-6 oz sparkling mineral water
First, make the cranberry simple syrup. Pour the cranberries, water & sugar into a saucepan.
Stir gently to combine. Turn heat to medium. When it starts boiling, turn to medium-low for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat & cool. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day or a few hours later, pour it into a strainer over a large bowl. The strained bright red syrup is what you need! [Btw: I DID save the fruit in my fridge. Will be looking for a baking recipe that can use it as I hate to throw it away after all that went into growing, transporting, storing, boiling & refrigerating it. Please comment if you have any ideas!]
Now assemble your drink. I used the measurements more as a guide than anything else.
Add about 10 mint leaves and 1T lime juice to each glass. With a spoon, mash the mint along the side of the glass. Add ice, 2 oz of syrup and 2 oz of rum.
Fill with sparkling mineral or soda water. Garnish with a few cranberries!
I really owe Trish a heee-uge thank you for this cocktail which she had in my hand about 10 minutes after entering her house in Denver. It was HOT that day (as it still is…) and she made this gingery bev in a large mug.
Try this drink. It’s simple, has only 3 ingredients and is such a treat!
1/2 oz lime juice
2 oz vodka
4 oz ginger beer
Ok. Including the ice, that’s 4 ingredients. Sue me!
Pour your lime juice into a glass.
Drop in a few ice cubes, add the vodka, then fill up the rest of your glass with ginger beer. Stir!
Highball glasses are recommended but of course we ain’t formal like that (read: we don’t have highball glasses). That’s why ours were strong.
Can you use ginger ale in place of the ginger beer?
Certainly! You can use your old dishwater if you want to.
I found ginger beer at Ralph’s in the “fancy soda” part of the soda aisle.
Since Jack & Patsy have been staying on Main Street, we’ve been meeting the food trucks on the corner of Main Street and Ocean Park Blvd. most Tuesday nights. There are about 5 food trucks – that change every week.
this place I’ve walked by for the past 10 years without going inside. Though known for their weddings & events, they also have a teee-rific and surprisingly kid-friendly happy hour!
G and I looooooooooove us some happy hour – ‘specially with the kids since we need to get out early anyway.
Say, what’s the difference between Happy Hour and Early Bird Special?
Anyway, The Victorian lets you munch your food at their outdoor patio tables as long as you buy a drink or two. (Actually – I don’t know if you are required to buy a drink or not but we sure do!) There’s live music outside, it’s totally kid friendly, & the happy hour menu is terrific!
Last night I toted the kids down on the bus in a TORRENTIAL downpour (read: sprinkling) to find a fuchsia sign warning that the food trucks were rescheduled for Wednesday due to rain. No way was I going to wait 15 minutes for the bus in the rainstorm (mist) with a struggling 1 year old, stroll home to make dinner, do dishes & mop up thrown food from the walls, floor and myself! Instead we headed inside the Victorian to the bar on the main floor. There is really only seating for three groups there. It was us, another couple with a toddler, and a poor couple without kids. I mean, not that they were poor for not having kids. Or that they had financial problems of any sort. Well, you know what I mean.
The live music act – Christopher Hawley Rollers was inside hiding from the rain & playing some classic and oldies covers as well as their own stuff. Instead of being bummed about playing for Romper Room (hoo boy, did I just date myself), these guys handed out stickers & gave the kids all kinds of attention! And the kids noticed it too. On one of the more somber songs Maddie leaned over and confided in me, “This kind of song makes you cry and feel scared.” She had a point. Anyway, these guys are cool and are there every Tues. night from now until time immemorial. As Mr. Hawley himself reminded me, “They (the kids) ARE our future fans!”
We had a big time there last night! So good that despite numerous pre-bus temper tantrums, some paint-eating, diaper explosions and various wardrobe changes, we headed right back down again tonight. Today was a beautiful (February) summer day so we sat outside and boy, did we love it!
Patsy, I just noticed you don’t have your Tom’s on. You trying to get yourself kicked out of Santa Monica or something?
There’s G at the Buttermilk Truck. He scored some red velvet pancakes with a mocha whipped cream. Holy heart attack!! Soooooooooooo good…
G and kid under the white lights!
This is some kind of fake chicken sandwich from the Gardein food truck. Tasty and the fries were most definitely NOT fake – not the potatoes, the garlic or the oil they were fried in. Yum!
Mother of Pearl! I failed to snap a pic of Patsy’s heart attack on a plate. She got a Buttermilk Brick. A Buttermilk Brick consists of:
- 2 eggs over easy
- a buttermilk biscuit
all smothered under house made chorizo gravy.
TUESDAY NIGHT FOOD TRUCKS/HAPPY HOUR @ The Victorian
Half off most of the food menu (i.e. salads, pizzas, tacos, lobster roll, hummus plate, cheese plate etc.)
$2 off all beers
$5 wines (selected ones)
Parking is free in the lot by the Victorian BUT it fills up fast! Or you can take the bus and get dropped off by ZJ Boarding House.
You can sit in the patio or just inside the front door with your food truck food! There are heaters & couches as well as live music. You can also sit in the grass across the driveway near the CA Heritage Museum and bring a blanket, your own beverages & chairs. There are heaters over there too for you thin-blooded types!