Goodbye 2009

Tomorrow will be the first year with double-digits at the end! Goodbye to 2009, a year that held a lot of ups and downs for me.

I purchased my first "adult" car. I love my Jetta, and I'm sure at some point I will give it an actual name. Right now it's "Boo." Get it? Because it's blue? Ha.

My grandparents gifted us with several items from their home once they moved into an assisted-living apartment. Two of the best things we received were antique chairs that we reupholstered. They're like new, and we love them!

I left a job I strongly disliked, and thus took a huge pay cut. It was my decision, whether idiotic or not, and I stand beside it. I know things will be better because of it.

I had my first big family dinner at my apartment, that I planned for weeks. It went well, and gave me a sense of accomplishment that I had created good food and elicited fun from my family.

Michael and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary together by going to camp in the Eldorado Lake area of Kansas. What a fabulous weekend - especially with the one I love.

I've made new friends, gone new places and learned new concepts. I am excited to see what 2010 has in store for me, and I have a few resolutions to make. Keep reading!


Flurry of Food

The time has now come: the flurry of cooking and baking will commence. So far, I've made dog and cat biscuits and a caramelized onion loaf.

I'll take photos of my treats later, but I wanted to share my onion loaf pictures. It's so amazing! And it's fairly easy to make.

More to come!


Rosemary Bread!

Rosemary Bread!
As you know, my mother-in-law gave us several sprigs of fresh rosemary a couple times this month. Thanks to Emily, I decided to make rosemary bread. Thank you to everyone else who sent suggestions!

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

  1. Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl or food processor and allow mixture to become bubbly.
  2. Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour.
  3. Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary.
  4. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in food processor about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Add more flour if necessary.
  6. Oil a bowl, put dough in it and cover with a towel.
  7. Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour until doubled.
  8. Punch down dough and divide in half.
  9. Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
  10. Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  11. Shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves.
  12. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon of rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface.
  13. Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  14. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  15. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  16. Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter or olive oil.

I got this recipe from Recipe Zaar, a website I haven't used before. It's modeled after the rosemary bread at Romano's Macaroni Grill, and I'd say it's pretty close. VERY yummy bread. It has a softened crunch to the outside, and it's light and airy inside. Great flavor. Worth the trouble!


Asian Fusion Night

Last night a few friends of mine and I went out to Wawa Asian Fusion, which is near my apartment. I've been there a couple times, and it has always been good. Their rolls are made with the best rice! We discovered their spicy shortrib dish is really good. Then, for dessert we hopped over to Asian Mint. I usually go to Mint for the same things (Pad Thai, noodles, sushi, etc.) as Wawa, but dessert is a must.

Here's a look at our desserts:

My Green Tea Cake, which is their specialty.

John got the Coconut Ice Cream and Green Sticky Rice. The ice cream was excellent!

Sarah got the Coconut Custard with Green Sticky Rice. Very good, too!

I love that Mint uses green on every one of their plates, and it's usually a leaf or two of mint. Gorgeous!


Holiday Gifts

I just finished the small gifts I made for my coworkers, neighbor and close friends. Aren't they cute?!
Then, here's the side view of one of the jars. Can you guess what the recipe is for? :)
Happy Holidays!


Dessert Ideas!

Only 10 more days until the festivities begin!

I've been signed up (or signed myself up) for making several things during the holidays. Yes, I am going to list them again, much like I did for Thanksgiving. I'm slated for: spinach and artichoke dip, sausage balls (times two), caramelized onion loaf (times two), spiced sweet potatoes, and a dessert (not sure yet). I'm undecided on the dessert, and I need ideas. Pumpkin pie, pie of any sort, and cake are all out. Suggest away!


Roasted Eggplant Spread

Before I leave, I wanted to share a recipe. I just made Roasted Eggplant Spread, and it's amazing! Ina did it again!

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste

Preheat to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch pieces. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, turning once. Cool slightly. Place vegetables in a food processor and add tomato paste. Pulse 5-8 times. Taste for salt & pepper. Serve with pita chips, or as I did, with toasted Challah.


Party, Drink, Karaoke, AIM

Last night (Yes, a Sunday night) was the HPB company holiday/christmas party at Ozona Bar and Grill on Greenville (http://www.ozonagrill.com/), and it was a blast. There was your selection of free food, drinks and karaoke. I sampled some of Michael's dinner plate, and their grilled steak and chicken kabobs were moist and tasty. The queso was very pepper-intense and flavorful. A great queso in my book!

I must say, I also had a lovely new drink (new to me) of sweet tea vodka (http://www.fireflyvodka.com/) and lemonade. I never thought that combination would be so light and refreshing. (I'm NOT a vodka fan.)

Also, I got to hang out with friends from work without having to talk about work! Yay! We ended the night by performing Journey's Don't Stop Believin' for the crowd. It was awesome!

One last thing - I decided to get AIM again. For those of you that don't know what that is (or are trying to forget), it's the instant messenger created by America Online. One of my friends asked if I would use it to message them instead of texting (Sigh. oh alright...), so I reinstalled it. (Side note: WHO DOESN'T TEXT?!) Long story short, if any of you use AIM, I'd love to add you to my pitiful three-person list. :)


Decided to make Challah

This afternon I decided to make challah, because we ran out of bread. Who needs grocery store bread?!

Fresh Herbs

Does anyone have a good recipe that uses rosemary or sage?

My mother-in-law has a huge amount of the aforementioned herbs growing in her backyard, and cut handfuls for me to take home. Obviously something savory would be best. I'd appreciate the help!

I also got a poinsettia from Martie along with the herbs. I'm pretty sure they're poisonous to cats. Or children. Or both? I'll have to check into this.

On a side note, it's 63 degrees in Boston. It's 38 degrees here. Odd.