Sunday, December 30, 2007

Costa Rica!

Christmas in Costa Rica - a very good thing.

view from our infinity pool

rest of our villa

Dave and I on the canopy tour

Pretty sunset

Another gorgeous sunset

Dave and I drinking (him a fruity mango daiquiri and me a local beer) at a restaurant in Playa Flamingo

Some more I just got from Lyssa:

being dramatic after an exhausting diving day

Thursday, December 20, 2007

fun with flour(+ butter, sugar, chocolate, etc)

Holiday baking time has arrived. I tried 4 new recipes and all are really great. Dave's favorite were the peanut butter cookies, my boss loved the chocolate peppermint, and mine may have been the ginger. Pics and recipes all below!

Cranberry-Walnut Swirls

Originally From Southern Living
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (I use butter)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup ground walnuts (I used pecans)
1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended. Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt, beating until blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Combine cranberries, walnuts, and orange rind.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 10-inch square. Sprinkle with cranberry mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border on 2 opposite sides.
Roll up dough, jellyroll fashion, beginning at a bordered side. Cover and freeze 8 hours. (I just stored in fridge overnight)
Cut roll into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake on top oven rack at 375° for 14 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Freeze up to 1 month, if desired.
Yield = Makes 3 dozen

Ginger, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: all 3 recipes found on Baking Blonde's blog(which is great!)

Ginger Cookies: from Baking Blonde
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened (I used butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Cookies: on Baking Blonde
1 3/4 cups plus 2 TBS flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups natural creamy peanut butter, (make sure to stir it to combine the oil and solid mixture)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature (NOT too soft)
2 eggs
2 TBS light Karo corn syrup
1 TBS vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl blend together the peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, and butter on low speed until JUST combined, making sure not to over mix. With the mixer turned off, add the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat on low until JUST combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Stop mixer before the flour is completely incorporated to prevent over mixing and finish by hand.The dough should a little sticky.

Using the Pampered Chef Medium size scoop, shape the cookie dough into balls Place formed dough balls on parchment lined cookie sheets. With the tines of fork dipped in sugar, lightly press and flatten each ball making a crisscross pattern.

Bake cookies 9-11 minutes until they are JUST SET and start to show a tiny amount of light brown color on the edges. Cool the cookies in the pan for a minute. Then, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: on Baking Blonde
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup butter flavor Crisco (I just used all butter)
3/4 cups + 2 TBS sugar
1 egg, room temp
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (not oil)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Ghiradelli cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup White chocolate chips
1/2 cup Andes Peppermint chips (the white and red ones) (NOT the regular green/chocolate Ande's mints!!)
Sugar (for rolling dough balls)

Preheat oven to 350.Line baking sheet with Parchement paper.
In medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder and salt. Set asideCream the butter and Crisco. Add the sugar and beat until blended. Add egg and peppermint extract, beat until well combined.

Fold in with a spatula the flour/cocoa mixture. Mix with a blender 10 seconds to combine. Fold in the white chocolate chips and Andes chips. Using a medium cookie scoop form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each dough ball in a cup of sugar to lightly coat. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges are firm and the center appears slighlty soft, don't overbake. Cool on baking sheet 3-5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the downsides to not declawing


he looks so cute but has a mean streak when you try to cut his nails.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Decorating fun

Decorating begins. Note the stockings over the fireplace I made by hand a few years ago for our first Christmas together. Oh yeah baby - move over Martha.

Dave places the star where the hacked off tree stub resides.

Finished product - that white blob under the tree is Mellow.

Minnie under the tree

Dave's favorite fire hazard. His late grandmother's homemade Christmas tree with electric wiring from the 50's. Scary.

Oh Christmas Tree

Dave and I took our annual visit to Nelson's Christmas Tree Farm - the only one in Indiana that I could find which grows cut-your-own Fraser Firs. It's such a cute little farm with hot chocolate and even Santa came to visit. It was freeeeeeezing cold but we found a great tree.

We chopped off the top b/c it was a bit awkward...but then I felt bad and regretted it.

The finished product

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Dave

This weekend marked Dave's 28th birthday celebration extravaganza. Friday I picked up a German chocolate cake from a local German bakery in town that is fabled to have the best cakes in Indy. I wholeheartedly now agree. Mmm. My talents lie in picking out cool bakeries, not cutting the actual cake:

We treated ourselves to an awesome seafood dinner at Oceanaire and then met friends for drinks at the Moondog. Fun night!

Saturday his family came down to go out to lunch - where I was lucky enough to see the hottttttt Rob Lowe eating in the same restaurant. Did I mention he is hot? I didnt want to be a scary stalker and take his picture with my camera phone, so I decided to text my friends the fab find news instead.

Sunday is dedicated to football and food - and specifically today is Colts vs. Pats....good vs. evil....goofy QB vs. smokin hot QB. I also made homemade chicken noodle soup and it was sooooooo good. I roasted the chicken breasts first then shredded them to create the meat.

Recipe courtesy of Elly Says Opa (love her blog):
Chicken Noodle Soup

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I heart The Office

Two fun things I found this weekend:

1. Dunder Mifflin Rabies Race For The Cure t-shirt . Everytime I see this I crack up.

2. A real Tripadvisor post for the Schrute Beet Farm. Hilarious.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I love halloween...I was one of those kids who dressed up and went trick or treating way past the point where it was socially akward. So I busted out my knife and went to work on our pumpkin, made roasted pumpkin seeds and spiced pumpkin cupcakes and I was back in my groove. My favorite adult Halloween treat is pumpkin beer. Mmmmm. Yum.
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes -
**I initially saw this recipe in Annie's Eats blog(linked in favorites to the right). I love her blog! I cut the oil in half and added 1/2 cup of all natural applesauce to lighten these a bit. Turned out great! **

Dave wanted to put braces on my pumpkin's teeth. No seriously, he tried.

And just for kicks - a hurried sunset pic I snapped outside our place:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pumpkins and Apple Cider

Saturday Dave and I drove up to our favorite Indiana orchard to get our fill of pumpkins and apples. I think Dave mainly goes for the hot apple cider they make fresh on the farm and I like to see the trees changing colors. We got a huge pumpkin that I cant wait to dig into to make roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!

Monday, October 15, 2007

sweet potato chili w/ crunchy pea salad

Usually I forget to snap a pic of the meals I make before I inhale them....but tonight I managed to remember about 1/4 of the way through my salad. I wanted to use up the fresh cucumbers and radishes I got from our CSA program so I tried a recipe Daf found and it was awesome:
(originally from Cooking Light)

Crunchy Pea Salad

2 1/4 cups shelled green peas
1 1/4 cups diced cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Steam peas, covered, 6 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain well.

Combine peas, diced cucumber, radishes, and green onions in a bowl. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Pour over vegetable mixture; toss well.

Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 101 (28% from fat); FAT 3.1g (sat 0.4g,mono 2g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 4.2g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 32mg; SODIUM 127mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.2g

I omitted the green onion b/c I didnt have any - oh and I microwaved the peas.

The entree was Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili. I didnt follow this recipe exactly - but it's pretty close:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

taking a break

Life has gotten pretty hectic for me lately. Lots of work, business trips, blah blah blah. I havnt had much time to relax but I wanted to make sure to post this weekend so here i am! We're dog watching our little dog nephew Rocky while Bro/Sis in law are in Baltimore visiting the city and going on interviews. Rocky's such a great dog and we really are enjoying having him. We've kept the cats in 1 bedroom just to avoid pet drama, which worked until this morning Mellow escaped and a chase ensued. Rocky chased Mellow, I chased Rocky, and Dave chased us all trying to get one of them to stop. All ended well - but we've made sure to be more careful about shutting the doors tightly! Here are some pics of the little cutie:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

laces out

the streak is over. I finally managed to make a good batch of cookies. And these are damn good cookies if I do say so myself. :) After many, many years of failed attempts at baking(you actually have to measure - shocking) I bought all fresh ingredients and went to work on's 'outrageous cookies'. I added some craisins just for fun and they were a great addition. Dave usually calls my cookies 'sugar bread' - but these actually turned out good.

The rest of the day was spent watching football - Mellow was rooting for Peyton.

Monday, September 10, 2007

M&M's beautiful wedding

This weekend Dave and I drove(dont recommend that form of travel btw) to Winston-Salem, NC to attend our friends' wedding. It was one of the most beautiful weddings we've attended and it was great to see all our friends again. One thing I learned - aside from that our backup QB isnt very good - is that it's difficult to take pictures when you're drunk. Good to know.

Here's a few I tried to salvage. Focus was my main problem....shocking.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day weekend in DC

Dave and I flew home to my parents home in Frederick, MD to catch up with friends and family, eat some great bluefin crabs, drink fantastic wine, and drive around the NOVA and DC area checking out possible places to move eventually. We had the most beautiful weather and learned a lot about what we want/dont want in a place to move. It was great seeing Christina and Pat - why did we think it was a good idea to go in the pool? :)

Here are some pics from our trip! My parents new kitchen that's only taken them 2 years to finish...shots of their garden and horses, and the mountain: