Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year

As always I have my hopes for the coming year,
of things that I want to change/learn/improve.
So here we go.

*Learn more about French wines and vintage wines.

*Visit museums and galleries more often

*Try recipes that I think are beyond my culinary reach
(vietnamese food, thai food, indian food)

*Send more letters

*Read the classics

*Continue to expand my card business

*Healthy eating
(think more veggies and grains)

*Send out necessary birthday cards
(sometimes I want to but it goes by the wayside-
I will keep on top of it this year)

*Travel, travel, travel

-oh, and exercise more.
even if it's just the OnDemand
exercise channel

I hope that everyone has a very wonderful
and safe New Years Eve!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Year in Photos.

It's so hard to go through a years worth of photos
and pick a few favorites. Some I love because they
are visually pleasing, others remind me of people
and places that make me happy, and of course there
is the food.

Franklin Fountain. (On one of my/our many trips down
to Philly to hang with family and friends-always a good time)

2 Fine Ladies European Extravaganza: Part 3, Berlin

Pastries from Bacca in Berlin

Berliner Dom a la Diana

favorite U-Bahn stop


Our first trip to Chinatown

If the bf had an album cover, this would be it.

Maria on the Boardwalk

After Carly's Senior Show

Joeliepalooza 2

Champagne Birthday (one of the best)


Pork Buns in Flushing

Family Vacation in Florida. so much fun.


Nan's Harry Potter inspired pumpkin.

Portrait of an old man.

Holiday Party at work. (These are even more fun when you
work with your friends)

Em, Joelie, and Grammy waving to Santa on the firetruck

Nicklas and Joelie on Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Whoopie pies always seemed like an elusive
recipe to me. How do you make them all the same
size? Will the cake be fluffy or more like a cookie?
I just had no idea, but I made the decision to
put them into my holiday cookie rotation,
and they were a success.

So now I'll pass this on to you.
Because who doesn't love red velvet anything
with a cream cheese icing?

**I did buy a couple special tools for this recipe:
~a cookie scoop
~disposable pastry bags
~1/4" round pastry tip

They definitely came in handy- if anything
I say absolutely go for the cookie scoop as
it helps with uniformity of the cakes.

For the Cookie/Cake:

* 1 ounce semisweet chocolate
* 1 ounce milk chocolate
* 12 tablespoons butter, melted
* ½ cup sour cream
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
* ½ teaspoon vanilla
* 1 tablespoon red food coloring
* 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* ¼ cup cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* ¼ teaspoon baking soda
* ½ teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

*8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
*3 tablespoon butter, room temperature
*2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave.
  3. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda in a bowl. Whisk it to make sure it is well combined.
  4. Place butter, sour cream, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring in a bowl. Mix on medium low speed until well combined.
  5. With mixer on slowest speed, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients gradually. Mix just until combined.
  6. Add melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
  7. Use a scoop to fill parchment lined trays with cookies.
  8. Moisten fingertips with water and smooth out any rough edges on your cookies to ensure good circle shapes.
  9. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until sides are somewhat firm and top springs back when pressed.
  10. Allow cookies to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Place all of the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
  12. Apply filling to one cookie with a knife or piping bag and tip. Sandwich with another cookie.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Greetings from the Tundra

If you happen to be on the East Coast right
now, then you know what a disaster this blizzard is.
It has been snowing for about 10 hours now.
My street looks like the tundra, the winds have kicked up,
and at one point I definitely heard thunder and saw lightning.

The bf is still in the Midwest, so Sergie and I have been
holed up in the apartment all day. He has been asleep for
about 5 hours now, and I've been sitting here growing
increasingly more nervous about the weather conditions.

Being snowed in alone is just no fun.
I'm finding myself wishing that I had stayed in NJ
with the fam. Luckily I've found Mixed Nuts
on the OnDemand list, and now I'm snuggled on the couch.
Lets hope this storm passes soon!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope that all of you are having
a very Merry Christmas!

We've opened the presents and are now
taking the entire day to relax.
That is our one rule on Christmas-
we don't leave the house.
It's a rule that I've always been very fond of.

Now, some photos:
The traditional step shot

Christmas Joelie

My gifts, a Le Creuset set, baking things, and a whole
bunch of new socks. jackpot.

This was from last night but I couldn't resist.
Me and the toad.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Holidays

Christmas is just one week away,
can you believe it?

We've been getting into the holiday spirit around here,
our tree has been up for about 2 weeks,
the house is decorated,

we've had our faux christmas dinner
and exchanged gifts.
(the bf got me an amazing new camera-he's the best)
(like the new photos? the recipe of the week will be
much more visually pleasing)

Today was spent baking Christmas cookies
I made Chocolate Surprise Cookies
(Spoiler: the surprise is peanut butter in the middle)

red velvet whoopie pies,

and Spiced Cardamom Cookies
(there was one casualty..)

I still have plans to make
a cashew/cayenne pepper brittle but,
I'm kind of enjoying this time to sit and relax.

Right now it feels like the calm before the storm-
before the markets, the traveling, trying to see
lots of people at home, holiday stress-not just yet.
Right now it's just me, a sleeping dog,
a glass of wine, and Top Chef re-runs.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Latest Obsessions

*Truffles from the Union Sq Holiday Market
(Just realizing that I don't know much about them- but they are just too good)

*My brand new camera Canon PowerShot- oh and it's GOLD.
(I have the best bf ever)

(raccoon in spanish)

*WannaHavaCookie's Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

* Rushmore Pencil Set
(Keeps selling out before I can get to it! boo)

....speaking of Rushmore....

*The Wes Anderson playlist at work.
(Specifically this, right now)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recipe of the Week

I was at our little Sunnyside market last Saturday
and I made an impulse buy of a box of chestnuts.
They seemed like a festive ingredient, but I had no
idea what I would use them for.

I think that this will make a nice starter
for our mock-Christmas dinner tomorrow night.
I'm making a Chicken with some of the fixins,
we'll be having a good amount of wine, and
a pumpkin pie.


Chestnut-Mushroom Soup

* 1 pound fresh chestnuts
* 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
* 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, halved
* 8 sprigs fresh thyme, plus leaves for garnish
* 6 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife,
make an incision in each chestnut about 1/8-inch deep
through the shell and into the flesh, cutting almost
all the way around nut. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Roast until chestnuts are tender when pierced with the paring knife,
about 35 minutes. Turn off oven. Leaving sheet in oven,
remove several chestnuts at a time. Working quickly,
place each chestnut in a kitchen towel, and remove and
discard shell and inner skin.

2. Roughly chop all but 2 cremini and 2 shiitake mushrooms.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in a small stockpot
over medium-high. Add chopped mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown,
about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally,
until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add all but 4 peeled chestnuts, and cook until golden,
about 5 minutes. Add stock and the water, raise heat to high,
and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until chestnuts
are falling-apart tender, about 1 hour. Remove and discard thyme sprigs,
and let soup cool slightly.

3. Pass soup through a fine sieve into a bowl; transfer solids
in batches to a food processor or blender, and puree until completely smooth.
Add strained liquid, and process 1 minute. Return soup to stockpot,
and season with salt and pepper.

4. Cut the remaining 4 chestnuts and 4 mushrooms
into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt remaining tablespoon butter
in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Saute sliced chestnuts
and mushrooms until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Just before serving, heat soup over low. Stir in cream,
and remove from heat. Ladle soup into shallow bowls; garnish with
sauteed chestnuts and mushrooms and the thyme leaves.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Memory of a Fine Lady

Yesterday, our family dog of 9 years passed away.
Sophie, PJ, Big Big Mees, Big Mom, however you
liked to call her, was the most wonderful pug in the world.

When my parents brought her home 9 years ago, she was
only a few weeks old. They picked her because of her round
belly-thinking she was a little chub- but as it turned out she
just had worms. We all fell in love instantly, and she became
part of our family.

In her younger years, Mees was very lively and was always playing.
If you would chase her she would go into this wild run and
when she could still fit-she'd duck under our den table or
the couch. One time I remember not being able to find her,
and then I noticed a small pug tail hanging out from under the couch.

She hid out every once in awhile, but generally she just
wanted to snuggle. She would spend Sunday's with my Dad
watching golf, take up all the room in my little sister's bed
at night, and sometimes when I was home from Charleston
she would decide to sleep with me. She had the sweetest snore,
which sometimes sounded like a chainsaw.

She always watched out for everyone too, when my sister was
pregnant she would sleep down in the basement with her every night.
After I had my wisdom teeth out she slept right on my chest
(all twenty something pounds of her) while I recovered.

Mees was an amazing dog, that led a wonderful life.
She will forever be loved and missed.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Latest Obsessions

*Shopping for Christmas presents
(I LOVE buying gifts for friends/family/bf)

*Gift Guides
(yeah, I know- lots of gifting going on.
But these can be really helpful!)

*Christmas Cards
(this, and this, and this, and this)

*Petrussa Schioppettino
(It's back at work and I'm into it)

*The Nutcracker
( In the hunt for clips I also found this-
which I though was pretty sweet)

(Citrus tastes particularly delicious in the cold
winter months)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Recipe of the Week

My kitchen has been a pretty lonely place
lately. I've been so busy getting my cards
ready that I haven't done much cooking.
So this week I'm posting a wishful thinking
recipe. One that I plan on making
this weekend-when I'll actually be able to
have dinner in my own home.

I've been craving Chinese food recently,
but haven't really allowed myself to indulge
because all the places that are close look
a little shady. I found this recipe on
Martha Stewart, and I'm thinking that it
might satisfy the craving.


Light Sesame Chicken

* 3/4 cup brown rice
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
* 2 large egg whites
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
* 4 scallions, thinly sliced
* 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced

1.Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.

4. Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.

*The reader recommendations on this say to use sesame oil,
double the sauce,
add some red pepper flakes, and add some
stir fry veggies. I'll probably
do all of those things-
I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Saturday Night

I am currently enjoying a glass
of Nerello Mascalese, eating
enchiladas, and watching Life of Brian.

Had a great day at the 3rd Ward Holiday Market,
so a big thank you to everyone that came out!

Tomorrow is the Cavalcade, so I'm laying low tonight-
but that's how I prefer my Saturday nights anyway.
I'll leave you with some Python.

Eric Njorl

Village Idiot

Dennis Moore


Friday, December 03, 2010

One More..

I am proud to announce that Felicity
and I made it into the Bust Holiday Craftacular!

I just printed up some Sergio Christmas cards
(think Max from the Grinch!)
and there are new notebooks in the works.

You can find me on Saturday at the 3rd Ward show
in Bushwick, Brooklyn and on Sunday at the
Holiday Handmade Cavalcade in Nolita.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Latest Obsessions

*Taschen's Berlin
(I flipped through this in McNally/Jackson
and my heart did little flippies.)

*Sequin Wave Dress from TopShop

*The return of Christmas movies and music
(Nostalgia overload-in a good way)

*Red Lipstick
(this photo made me feel like I could wear it too)

*Super Comfy Knitted Mukluks
(my mom mom made them for the bf and I)

*Peppermint Mocha's from Starbucks

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas in the City

Now that it is December 1st,
I can start up my Christmas-y
posts. (yessss)

You know by now that I'm a fan
of lists. Well, I stumbled upon
Time Out's 101 Things to Do This Winter

I've picked out a couple favorites

*See the Nutcracker(#14)
*Watch "It's a Wonderful Life" in a theater(#19)
*Visit the Cloisters (#34)
*Sip my way through City Bakery's Hot Chocolate fest.(#36)
*Deliver food to the needy(#38)
*Hit the Holiday markets (#40)
(Shameless Plug: Holiday Handmade Cavalcade!)
*See all the best department store window displays(#44)
*Take in the holiday lights (#49)
*Party at a museum (#51)
*Hoist a pint and have a snack at the Breslin (#58)
*Play with toys @ FAO Schwartz (#68)
*Go on a ski trip (#81)
*Have fondue at Artisanal (#91)

I am definitely looking forward to the holiday season
in NYC.