Thursday, December 20, 2012

holiday wishes to you

It seems I have taken a bit of a hiatus here recently.  Due partly to my family and I being sick and the sad events of last week.  Though we heal from the common cold or flu.  It's harder to heal from such tragedy.  The horrific events of Sandy Hook School have left me shaken to my core.  My babies are not much older than the lives lost that day.  I'm feeling a strong, deep desire to stay close, present and enjoy my family.  You never know what tomorrow or today, for that matter, will bring. So as we near Christmas,  I'm planning to step away from me blog for a bit.  I will be back soon to share with you all that we have enjoyed.

Until then, I wish you peace and love with your family and friends.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Heavy heart

Few things seem important here today.  In the wake of such sadness, fear, pain and anger, may we all find light. May we strive for more compassion, more love in the coming days.  May the families directly affected know that they are not alone.  May we come together as a nation, as friends, to find a solution; whichever that may be.
I wish love and warmth for you today.  Hug your children a little tighter....always.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Minestrone

Here I go again writing about another pot of soup.  I can't help it!  There's very little that says comfort in the dark night of winter than soup.  It's an entire meal in one pot. Full of delicious veggies, beans and/or pasta.  It's really quite perfect.

Yesterday was a cold, raw day here on the northeast.  This mama was out and about being a jolly ol' elf finishing up the present getting.  Rushing home to do some wrapping before the little ones came home from school.  As much as I like to not get caught up in all the rushing of the holiday season, sometimes it just seems to happen.

Dan works outside all day and the kids were cold when they got home.  I thought a hot pot of soup was the remedy!

Winter Minestrone is one of my go to soups.  Full of veggies like tomatoes, Swiss chard, potatoes, celery and onions.  It's also loaded with protein beans and pasta.  Truly a one pot meal.

The recipe calls for small tubular pasta; but I used cheese tortellini instead.  It's one of the kids favorite pasta, getting them to eat a bit more of the veggies in the soup too.  Another thing I love about cooking is how it helps kids with math.  Here's Roman measuring out 2 cups of pasta. 

This soup cooks up very quickly.  In about 30 minutes, dinner is one the table.  Doesn't get much better than that for busy families!

What is your favorite soup?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cookie Day

Every year, my cousin hosts a 'cookie day' with family.  We all get together and bake cookies; enough to share and enough for my aunt for dessert for Christmas dinner.  It's a great time full of baking, obviously, laughter, singing ( the Christmas songs must be played) a bit of sipping mimosas, and did I mention laughter?

Sophia looks forward to this family tradition every year.  She loves baking and my aunt always lets her decorate all the sugar cookies. 

                                    There was ALOT of cookies!  Sophia did a great job.

These are Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal cookies my cousin made.  Oh My Goodness!  So yummy!

Cappuccino Flats - a coffee spice cookie dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with candy canes.

 Peppermint Chocolate Truffles.  There's a Hershey Kiss inside each one!

 These are Pumpkin Snickerdoodles Sophia and I made.  Snickerdoodles were a cookie my grandmother use to make.  The Pumpkin gives it a new twist.  You can find the recipe here
Lots of baking and of course taste testing!
Sophia was a bit silly.  Maybe it was all the cookies?

I feel incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.  People who love me, my husband and kids.  There is no greater gift than family!  Love you lots! ox

Friday, December 7, 2012

In this moment

A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - Amanda Blake Soule

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I'm eternally grateful for the warmth that our woodstove has brought us so far this year.  Being independent from oil is another bonus! Right now my living room is a balmy 82 degrees!  Yikes.

I don't think Max can get any closer to the stove.  This is his favorite spot.
Wishing you all a warm Thursday!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taking stock

Another blogger Townsend House got me thinking.  Thinking about stock.  No not the kind that seems to be falling every time I read my statement.  Homemade stock; chicken, vegetable and even turkey!

Homemade stocks are time consuming but can be a real labor of love.  There's nothing like homemade recipes from start to finish.  Knowing exactly what's in your food is priceless.

Because it is so labor intensive, I like to make enough stock that I can freeze and then defrost when needed.  Though I've never made turkey stock, I imagine it's a great way to use up some holiday turkey.

I have made vegetable stock.  Full of flavorful veggies and spices. I also use Kombu in this recipe.  Kombu is a sea vegetable of the kelp family.  It's nutrient rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B9 and iron.  It's very flavorful and is most commonly used in soups and stocks.
The recipe that I use you can find here.  This is one of my favorite cookbooks, you can see it on my sidebar.

As cold and flu season is upon us, a batch of homemade stock with Kombu may be just the thing your immune system needs!  Don't save stock just for soups and stews.  It gives great flavor to rice and pasta instead of water.

Hoping all of you remain healthy this season.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cookies...cookies and more cookies

There's just two weeks until my Holiday Baking Workshop.  This weekend I spent some time perusing my cookie recipes.  Trying to decide on just the perfect cookies to bake that afternoon is no easy task!  There's just so many delicious goodies to choose from.  Of course there's the standard sugar cookie. A different twist on the sugar cookie could be a Stained Glass cookie.  These little gems are gorgeous with a melted candy center to give the effect of stained glass.  Or how about Cinnamon Pinwheels?  At first sight, these red and white swirl cookies made me think peppermint but the cinnamon spice is a delightful surprise! Another thought, still, Pepparkakors.  A Swedish ginger snap cut out cookie.  I like using forest animal cookie cutters for this recipe. So much fun and whimsical too.

And what Holiday cookie platter would be complete without Peppermint Bark?!  Am I right?
I have such a fond memory of  Christmas shopping with my parents (as an adult but before kids) at William-Sonoma.  My mom and I stopped dead in our tracks when we spied their Peppermint Bark.  This stuff is to die for!  Comes in a festive tin. They were giving out samples that day; Oh My Goodness!  My dad bought my mom and I each a tin of this delectable goody. It was like Christmas morning when my dad handed us those tins.  I'm telling you, it's that good!
I think I will give it a go and make some myself.  I know nothing can compare to THE William-Sonoma bark; but I will try.  Taste testing each batch, oh if I must.  It's a hard job but someone has to do it!

Oh the possibilities are endless. So much fun is in store for the afternoon.  Reserve a spot for your little one.  Deadline for sign ups are December 13th.  I look forward to an afternoon of baking fun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

slow moving weekend

This weekend was a perfect one to slow down.  With a mama feeling a bit under the weather I welcomed the slower pace.

Saturday, it snowed for most of the day.  It didn't amount to much but it was beautiful.  We did a bit of decorating for Christmas,  wrapping up our 24 holiday/winter themed books for our countdown to the big day.  Each evening the kids take turns unwrapping a book and we sit down as a family and read.  I love this special time.

We also set up our nativity and Advent calender.  These two things bring such peace to a home, lots of wonder and curiosity.  This time of year always makes me think about our beliefs.  So many people have different ones.  But Peace is universal.

The kids also made their wish lists for Santa.  As much as I encourage them to understand the true meaning of Christmas, how can you not indulge, a bit, in the magic?  Oh Santa, you have quiet the list to read.

Of course, I slower paced weekend wouldn't be complete with a bit of baking. Vegan Banana Bread is what I made up Sunday morning for breakfast.

You see, these four bananas have been mocking me, for quite a while,  each time I open the refrigerator. "Eat me!"  "So what do you think you can make with us?"  No, I'm not starting to hear voices but when four black bananas are staring at you in the face, what else are you going to do...make bread!

Of course I made two loaves.  One with chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is dairy free :)) because what's banana bread without chocolate chips?  And one without, because Roman likes his without all the excitement!  What?!

This weekend was indeed a nice one.  How was your weekend?  Really, I'd like to know! ;)