Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eating is the reason for the season...

Seasons greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Festivus to the rest of us! I know the holidays are for love, family, religion and gifts but you know for me it's about the food, LOL. For the first time we are celebrating Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. I haven't been home for very many Christmases in my adult life and celebrating the holidays was spotty when I was a kid so it doesn't make a difference to me. A few years ago my dad had to work so they all went to his house at 5am to open presents. Well this year he has to work during the day and wanted to move it to Xmas Eve. My family has very few traditions but Xmas morning is one of them. The family was resistant but you know a Xmas Eve dinner would be so much more wonderful then a Xmas morning breakfast so I made the command decision that we're doing the Eve and let everyone know and told them what they were bringing, LOL.

We had to juggle some with the significant others since there suddenly was a conflict with two of them so we're celebrating earlier in the day then planned but this way we can spend more time with each other and Nancy can also join us (she has plans that night). My dad bought a Christmas Story for us to watch, apparently when we watched Tropic Thunder for Thanksgiving it didn't have the right tone LOL. Too bad Kim already bought Stepbrothers for us to watch and I haven't seen that yet.

Adam will be cooking the prime rib.
Kim will put together the salad David paid for.
Andy alcoholic drinks.
Kim bought dessert and sodas.
Kathy is doing a veggie side dish.
I'm making a potatoes au gratin using velveeta and cream of mushroom soup and a sherbert punch!

Now Nancy and I were watching tv in my room because it was warmer the other night and surfing different recipes online. We came across Alton Brown's recipe for Ambrosia on foodnetwork.com and decided that would be fun to make. Especially when we read the glowing reviews. But all of the reviews said it's so much better with homemade marshmallows so guess what we're making tonight? That's right, homemade marshmallows! We're also using all fresh fruit, including fresh coconut and adding red and green jello per Kim's request. For as much as we spent on ingredients it better be the best damn ambrosia ever! We'll let you know how it turns out, LOL.

I hope that you all have a fantastic holiday season with family and friends. I know it's been a tough year for everyone. Remember, it's not about what gifts you receive or even give. It's about the love you share, the memories you make and of course, the food you eat!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday baking

I haven't done much in the way of holiday the last couple of years but now that I'm home that changed this year. Kim and her bf Jeff came over to do candy coated pretzels. So easy and so tasty. You buy almond bark, melt it in the microwave and drop pretzels in and use a chopstick to fish them out and shake off the excess candy and set it on a cookie sheet to dry. This year I bought sprinkles to put on top so they're much prettier. A wonderful combination of salty and sweet.

Nancy and I went to her mom's house a couple of times to make holiday fudge and peanut butter junk. Sorry I don't have those recipes. The peanut butter tastes like a better peanut butter cup!

A few years ago I went to Barb's in December and she turned me on to soda cracker candy aka fake almond rocca. It is so good! The bottom tastes like toffee and basically the cracker holds together the chocolate and the toffee and gives it a nice texture.

1/2 lb unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
saltines (aka soda cracker)
chocolate chips
chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Different recipes call for different amounts of crackers or chocolate but it all depends on the ... Read Moresize of the pan. Line a cookie sheet (the kind with an edge) with aluminum foil and either butter or use cooking spray. Line cookie sheet with crackers edge to edge (break some crackers to make crackers go to the edge). Melt butter and brown sugar in a pot until it boils. Boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Pour over crackers and use spatula to spread out evenly.

Put in the oven and boil for 6 to 7 minutes until you see the mixture bubble. Take out of the oven and pour a layer of chocolate chips over the top. Does not need to be entirely covered because you will put it in the oven for one more minute to soften the chocolate and pull out and use spatula to spread evenly. You can spread chopped nuts over the top if you wish. I prefer without the nuts. You can cool countertop or in the fridge. Once cooled break it into pieces and eat! Delish!

I saw this recipe on allrecipes.com. It's for a peppermint meringue. I love that website because there are a bunch of revews on the different recipes.

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 peppermint candy canes, crushed
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with foil.

In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks. It takes awhile to get to the proper consistency, you want it white and creamy. At the very end I added the peppermint extract as recommended by others. Fold it in gently. Drop by spoonfuls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candy over the cookies. I actually put the meringue mixture in a ziploc bag and cut out a tiny bit of the corner and squeezed out the meringue.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours in preheated oven. Meringues should be completely dry on the inside. Do not allow them to brown. Turn off oven. Keep oven door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool. Loosen from foil with metal spatula. Store loosely covered in cool dry place for up to 2 months.

Nancy didn't really want me to make this, she doesn't like the consistency of meringues saying they have the consistency of cardboard but she said they were the best she's ever had and today they taste even better and are more chewy so the consistency doesn't bother her. Someone posted the following pic on the allrecipes site. She used a styrofoam cone and toothpicks to make an edible centerpiece. What a wonderful idea!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eat, drink and see Maggie!

Monday I had an appointment at the VA which is a wonderful excuse to see Maggie who lives in West Seattle. We decided to do happy hour because it makes us oh so happy, LOL. After a little back and forth on where we were going we decided on Jaks, a local bar/restaurant with a wonderful happy hour.

It had snowed the day before so I was a little nervous about the drive because it would be dark driving home but the roads had been cleared which is wonderful. The only problem was the parking lot hadn't been cleared and it was on a hill. I parked at the top of the hill and took the sidewalk. For some reason Nancy parked in the middle which would be an ordeal when it was time to leave, LOL.

Maggie was at the bar when I got there and Nancy was close behind. I decided we should order without her since I was hungry, LOL. I knew she would appreciate having food already on its way. We ordered chipotle shrimp, scampi style shrimp, a cheeseburger and teriyaki steak tips. To drink I had a lemon drop, Maggie a cosmo and Nancy a hot buttered rum. She had never had one before and wanted to try it. We really enjoyed it. We decided there were 2 more things on the happy hour menu so might as well order them also. So ordered the chicken caesar salad which the lady next to us raved about and the pulled pork. The steak tips were too salty and the caesar was boring but I really enjoyed everything else. Nancy thought the pulled pork was mushy. The guy next to us had a bacon cheeseburger. Ahhh, if only we had known, LOL. While we weren't impressed with the recommended salad she did turn us on to pouring tons of pepper into the ketchup. It reminded me of pepper potato chips. They also do it to their mustard but the ketchup was better.

After we ate we went to the cupcake store next door. I couldn't help but notice it on the way there, LOL. Turns out it was cupcake happy hour which means 6 cupcakes for $7.50. Score! I also got a hot cocoa with whipped cream. Did I mention it was butt ass cold outside? The hot cocoa was like ambrosia. Nancy and I were full so while we bought 6 cupcakes we split one and saved ours for later. I forgot my camera (I know! How could I?) but Maggie had her cool new iphone and that is what this pic was taken with.

We said our goodbyes in the cupcake shop since it was so cold and Nancy and I headed to the parking lot. Since Nancy's car was further down the parking lot I offered to drive her there from my car. Not very far but it was very icy. Once my car started sliding sideways we nixed that idea and Nancy had to take her shoes off (she had on heals) and make a run for it. Luckily she made it to her car without breaking her coccyx which I totally thought would happen (and told her would LOL) and we made it home in one piece. The roads were great.

It was a wonderful evening with Mags and something we totally planning on doing in the not too distant future!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why did I leave Florida?

Luckily I have someone around to help clear off my car.
While I waited in the car, LOL.
Could my outfit be anymore colorful and mismatched? The funny thing is I actually got a compliment from someone about my outfit while at the mall today. Nancy and I both laughed about it later. I told her I couldn't believe she was walking around with me looking like that but she loved the hat. I wasn't going to leave the house due to the snow but Nancy volunteered to drive. I hate driving in the snow. So off we went to do Xmas shopping which I desperately needed to do and we had a wonderfully productive day. The sales were incredible. I am a happy camper. Now I need to find boxes to pack everything in, LOL.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tv talk!

It's been awhile since I chatted about what I've been watching so I thought I'd dedicate a post to it. That and I have a new show that I must rave about. Warning, there will be spoilers if you haven't seen the show.

You all know I love the reality shows. Sometimes I go off the reality bandwagon but they always end up pulling me back in. I wasn't going to watch The Biggest Loser this time around because I'm sick of all of the product placements and how they stretch a 1 hour show into 2 but there was nothing else on so a couple of weeks in I started watching. I am a die hard Bob fan, I love him dearly but sorry to say, his team sucks this year! I am so rooting for Michelle in the finals. I cried when her mom got sent home. How beautiful are both of them? if Vicki wins I will gag. I won't say I won't watch the show again, I already tried that, LOL.

My new fave sitcom even though it's not a new show is the Big Bang Theory. It makes me laugh every week so I have stopped watching Chuck, another show which I love in order to watch BBT. I catch up on Chuck online. Still a very fun show.

Heroes has been a disappointment. It's been a disappointment after the first season but I continually hold out hope that it will get better. Yes, I still watch but if the next installment doesn't get better I will be bidding adios to Heroes and Hiro. I did love watching Hiro with his mom. How beautiful was she?

The bad thing about watching Heroes, well other then the fact it's not wowing me is I'm missing John and Kate Plus 8. Su turned me on to them and I still love and adore the family. I missed their wedding episode but this being TLC I know I'll be able to see it again in the future.

Last year I absolutely loved Dirty Sexy Money. It doesn't have that wow factor for me anymore. Plus it's on at the same time as Top Chef so that's what I've been watching. I love Eugene, good thing he didn't go home last night. That was close. I don't really like Jamie too much. Everyone knew she was going to win last night? Apparently not the judges, LOL. Stefan is a cocky ass but I like him and I also really enjoy Fabio! He has charm oozing out of his pores.

Survivor is a show I watch one season and not the next. This season I'm watching. Crystal does not represent Olympic gold medal winners well. Could she be any worse in challenges? I'm hoping for Matty, Sugar and Bob to pull a coupe and oust Crystal. I did like Kenny but he's becoming too cocky. Sugar has played the game wonderfully even though it was a bit much when they were laughing their asses off when they voted out Randy (even though it was funny LOL).

Still loving the Office.

Wow, not a lot of shows I must watch anymore. That sucks! Luckily Scrubs and Lost are coming back soon.

I do have a new show that I love. It's called Secret Millionaire and it has been airing on Wed nights but the regular time slot is Thur night at 8pm. Real life millionaires go undercover in poverty ridden areas for a week with a $100 to $150 spending money for the week and at the end of the week they give away at least $100,000 of their own money. The most moving was the first ep where it was a father and son. The son was 23 years old and they had to rent a place by the day, had to go get work for a day just to pay rent and they were so moved by everything they saw and you could really see the change. I cried the whole time. The second episode the couple gave away $300,000 of their own money! It was awesome. I say this show is the show Extreme Home Makeover meant to be before it became a big hamfest for the designers and an hour long ad for Sears. It really is a feel good show that you can see changes the lives of not only the people who receive the money but the people who give it. It's funny how embarrassed the millionaires are when they tell people that they've been lying and that they're really millionaires. I do have to say, I do think the producers set up some of the situations that they end up in (what a coincidence you're in line at the grocery store with a woman who feeds the homeless) but it doesn't ruin the message of the show for me. I hope if you get a chance you check out the show.

So what shows are you watching? Any big disappointments? Who are you rooting for on the reality shows? Anything I should be watching but am not?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lin's visit at Casa de Leiha

So I was chatting with Lin, a regular blog poster and a friend from Karen's board who I've known online for awhile last month and she needed to take some vacation because she had so much of it (I have never had that problem, LOL). She had no plans for her vacation other then hanging around the house so I threw out there that she was welcome to come visit here. I offered her all the comforts of my home, such as a cat who bites and scratches, a hostess who insists on abandoning you for hours while she naps and Nancy's bed. Plus, I would expect her to try food she has never tried and had no inclination to try, what more could a person ask for? With an offer like that how could she turn it down?

I did tell her that if she wanted to do anything touristy things she needed to let me know because I'm not really a touristy person but Nancy was willing to take her places. Nancy is a wonderful hostess and has stories about everything in the area (and if you drive by where she works she will always point it out to you, just in case she didn't tell you the other 20 times you went by, LOL). Lin wanted to see the Boeing tour. Guess what we didn't do while she was here? To be fair, I did mention it a couple of times but Lin decided it wasn't high on her priority list and let's be real, it definitely wasn't high on mine, LOL. 

So basically all Lin did while here was eat. Now that's my kind of vacation! I was shocked and appalled when I found out she had never tried crab. Are the people in England savages? That had to be changed. It was funny because everywhere we went, my family's Thanksgiving, Nancy's family's Thanksgiving, Nancy's second cousin's morning after Thanksiving breakfast I told everyone she hadn't tried crab before and they all were as horrified as I was. So after the after Thanksgiving breakfast we headed to Seattle and wandered briefly around Pike Place Market and some other shops then headed to the Crab Pot. One of Nancy's favorite places to eat and mine too when you look at the pics. 

At the Crab Pot you can order meals where they pour the food on the table and you take your mallet and eat away. Now that's my kind of eating. Nancy looked at the menu and suggested one of the options on the menu, I pointed out the fact that her choice had NO crab in it! Instead we picked one that had king crab, dungeness and alaskan crab as well as mussels, clams, shrimp, corn and potatoes. We were excited and ravenous (well I don't know how excited Lin was, LOL). 
Mallets and bibs to eat our meal with, how exciting! The only thing that would have made it better would be eating it off of a hot 6 pack of male abs!Of course, once our food was dished up who had time to think about men?
OK, maybe Lin doesn't look as excited as I am but that's because she hadn't yet tried the crab! She did give it her thumbs up afterwards. Both her and I got full and couldn't finish but so we forced Nancy to eat all of the mussels and clams we couldn't. What a trooper! Nancy with the remains of our meal. She did the happy dance a few times while eating, LOL. We didn't waste precious stomach room on potatoes but the corn was pretty good also.

We also went and had Korean food which she enjoyed. She even tried some of the kimchees. Her deep dark secret, so glad I didn't know this before I invited her over was she had never had RICE! How can we be friends? She got the Kalbi and it was delish of course. Nancy's brother Edgar joined us as well as 2 of his friends, one of which was having a birthday so we had beef and cake, just what I was dreaming about beefcake!

The Vietnamese didn't go over as well. Since she had never had a Chinese egg roll she wasn't aware of how far superior the Vietnamese one was. She didn't finish her bun though which is the rice vermicelli noodle dish with pork and shrimp. She liked the pork, shrimp and noodles, just not all of the other things that came in the dish, LOL. But she tried and that made me happy.

For our last night we went to dinner at Anthony's for some good seafood and had some champagne with our meal.
It was a wonderful visit and I look forward to her next one. I found out the day she was going to the airport she has never had prime rib! Oh the horror!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Mann family Thanksgiving

Adam fried the turkey and I think it turned out wonderfully. My roasted brussel sprouts were awesome but my gravy was not. I have given up ever making gravy again, LOL. 
Kimberly and my dad. As soon as he got home I put him in charge of the gravy, trying to fix what I did, it was edible but that's about it. Good thing I also bought backup gravy, LOL.
No Thanksgiving would be complete without Harry Potter! Adam, Kimberly and her bf Jeff. 
So they're putting in a new deck but when Adam dropped in our second turkey (leftovers) there was a little oil splatter. They could be re-doing some of that deck work, LOL. 
Kathy and her bf Jeff. I'm looking for a bf named Jeff, LOL.
Jordan and Adam. I think they called each other ahead of time to discuss what they were going to wear, LOL.
Andy and his gf Christina and they're dog Duke. They're dog really is their baby as you can see. 
I'm making my world famous stove top! Hey, it's what they wanted. That would be sparkling cider in my glass, not so sure about what's in David's. 
Most of the Mann clan. It really is impossible to get us all in one spot. Jordan says he wasn't smiling because he was trying to swallow the food he was chewing, LOL. It was a lovely Thanksgiving with absolutely no drama.