Christmas Musings

Just popping in to recap Christmas!

The menu was a big hit, and I veered off the usual to try something new:

Brussel sprouts made the menu!

Brussel sprouts made the menu!

I had tried brussel sprouts recently at a restaurant in Boston, and just loved them, so I went hunting on Epicurious and found this fabulous recipe . It was easy to make, and in fact, I did it the day before and just reheated in the oven. It was totally devoured – thank goodness I have ingredients for another batch on tap!

What would Christmas be without the traditional tenderloin?

One slab of angus tenderloin coming up!

One slab of angus tenderloin coming up!

You would think that much meat would feed an army, but a batch of 8 carnivores made quick work of it.

Matt stand proudly in front of his gifts!

Matt stand proudly in front of his gifts!

Matt, my nephew, literally had a Tower o’ Gifts. He was buzzing through the presents so fast we had an intervention to let him know the pile might end at some point, whereupon he might be disappointed while the rest of us continued to our treasures! One of his favorite gifts was an old childhood favorite – the game Trouble! It’s nice to know some things never change – I love to see things like Operation and Twister still available on the shelves of my local Target!

After a long day of eating, a few people sacked out of the floor….

Matt and Carson take 5

Matt and Carson take 5!

Patrick, nephew number 2, was also enjoying some quiet time with his new North Face jacket!

It's a pillow and a jacket!

Both a pillow and a jacket!

Another Christmas comes to a satisfying end!


Holy Mole! (Pecans, that is)

The week before Christmas usually inspires a baking and cooking frenzy.  Bon Appetit magazines are resurrected.  I pore over the Epicurious website. I salivate watching the Food Network. (especially Christmas Iron Chef, the cranberry episode!)

I decided to try to post some of my favorite recipes over the next week, as well as some of the news things I plan on trying this year. And, if I get really inspired, I am going to send my husband to work with my Christmas menu for a show and tell, like one of his talented co-workers did for her Thanksgiving meal!

I give you Holy Mole Pecans:

1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups raw pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 ground cumin

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Preheat oven to 225 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment. (important so the nuts do not stick). Whip egg white in a stainless steel bowl still it becomes frothy. Add vanilla, and add the pecans gently, coating the batch of nuts.

These egg whites only take a minute to whip up!

These egg whites only take a minute to whip up!

Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Add this mixture to the nuts using 1/4 of the ingredients at a time.

Place the pecans on the parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to make an even layer, and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, Turn the nuts after that time every 15 minutes or so, bringing your total cooking time to an hour and 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and loosen the nuts with a plastic spatula and let cool before storing or serving.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Note – pecans can be had pretty cheaply at Trader Joe’s for about $5.00 a pound. These make a great company snack, as well as an awesome hostess or teacher gift! 

Enjoy!


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I just love decorating for Christmas!

This past year, we added a new addition (or perhaps I should call it a wing?) to our home. It called for a completely new configuration of scenes, trees,  new accoutrement’s and garland that accompany all the festive little displays.

The tree has all of my lovely antique ornaments, along with those of places I have traveled:

The traditional tree

The traditional tree

  

Underneath the tree, I have a collection of antique bears, an old Marx train set, and of course, my old bunny, the one that I never slept without as a child. I hope to God this does not yet qualify as an antique….

Old treasures find a place under the tree

Old treasures find a place under the tree

This year, as part of decorating the new digs I decided to add another tree to the sunroom/atrium.

Tree in the Sunroom

Tree in the Sunroom

The very best part of this tree is the theme.  Once upon a time, I thought it was really cute to get my husband (NOT a Trekkie, but yeah, a fan) a new Star Trek ornament every year, starting with the Spaceship Enterprise,  and adding other goodies  like the Shuttlecraft Galileo (complete with Spock sound effects). Somehow, during the last few years, the ornaments never made it out – I either was too lazy, or like last year, I had thrown out the dilapitated Charlie Brown tree and didn’t really get a chance to replace it.

I am happy to say that this year the fleet makes its debut in the new tree. While hooking up all of these blinking little wonders, I simply forgot, how nothing says Christmas like the Klingon Bird of Prey. It now cloaks among the branches of my new tree, along with it’s friend, the Romulan Warbird.

 

Alien warships bring home the true meaning of Christmas

Alien warships bring home the true meaning of Christmas

Happy holidays – Live Long and Prosper!

Spock wishes you Happy Holidays!


A Birthday Celebrated in Style

Recently, I celebrated a very special birthday in New York City.  My husband Leo let me plan a luxury weekend in the city, and boy did I take advantage of it!  Although we live in Boston, I really had never spent any extended time in New York – we always wanted to get really far away during our time off, like Napa Valley, Seattle, Vancouver – you get it; the West Coast laid back experience.

So off I went to Borders, and armed myself with a map of NYC and a small Frommer’s Travel Guide on the 20 best things to do in the City. Then I fired up my trusty internet browser and started clicking for hotels, travel arrangements, dinner and entertainment options. Here’s what we ended up doing:

We started off on the Acela train at Boston’s South Station bright and early on a crisp October morning. What an awesome way to travel. Packing  judiciously, you can easily wheel your luggage on and store everything above your seat. Seats – may I say what a pleasure these are compared to a cramped plane. Spacious, comfy and leg room galore!  I was in heaven with all of the extra personal space. We had a great ride down along the beautiful Connecticut coast, through the quaint towns of New London and Mystic.  We landed at Penn Station around 12:30 and were at our hotel and checked in by 1pm.

We stayed at the W Court on the Upper East Side. Great service and ambiance – I loved this location, we were near all the main tourist attractions like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza, Fifth Ave. It’s just amazing to have it all right there…. we started off having lunch at a little cafe near the hotel, and then hit the bricks to Rockefeller Center.

<b>Meg in frm of Prometheus</b>

Meg in front of Prometheus

The crowds are really vibrant and lots of fun! We went to the “Top of the Rock” for fabulous views of the city! It was like a virtual melting pot of languages and countries atop the building. Not being one for heights, I did have to caution myself that this was not the day that the Rock Center would tip over on it’s side, casting me to my death. I eventually loosened my grip of the granite blocks and enjoyed the view! It was so much fun wandering around the Plaza –  if you appreciate Art Deco architecture, you are in for a treat. I just love the entrance to the building and it’s magnificent message!

<b>Entrance to Rockefeller Center</b>

Entrance to Rockefeller Center

We spent the next part of the afternoon checking out the New York City Public Library!  Not sure how folks study there, it really gets a multitude of people, but I have to say most tourists were considerate of those trying to accomplish their goals!  Of course my favorite fun fact was that the lions out front were in the movie Ghostbusters!

<b>Lions guard the Library entrance</b>

Lions guard the Library entrance

We also strolled through Grand Central Station before heading back to the W for a break and to get ready for our night out. Smartly, we used Open Table the previous week to snag a dinner reservation at a lovely French restaurant called Fleur de Sel. We opted for a fantastic tasting menu, and we sampled a variety of wines and yummy food. Then we were off to Birdland, the reknowned Jazz Club. We had tickets to see Jane Monheit, who is just a fabulous interpreter of old standards. She does the best rendition of Over the Rainbow I have ever heard. It was her closing song of the set, which was icing on the birthday cake.  She has several CD’s, so take yourself to Amazon.com and sample some of her music – you’ll be glad you did! 

Birdland lineup for October 2008

Birdland lineup for October 2008

As we landed back at the hotel, I took one last look outside the window of the greatest city in the world, and thought “how does anybody sleep with so much to look at?” 

<b>Chrysler Building at night</b>

Chrysler Building at night