Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasonal Confusion

I don't know about you, but I felt that Christmas really snuck up on us this year.  Don't worry, I am all ready, but it seems that the entire fall just flew by at lightening speed!  Maybe it's because we really haven't had the snow that makes it feel like winter, maybe it's because we've been so busy, or because I am getting older.  Whatever the reason, time seems like it is moving too fast.  The retail stores don't help much, either.  Christmas displays go up before Halloween. Early in December, Hobby Lobby put all their Christmas items on clearance to make way for spring and garden items.  Slow down, folks!

But this one took the cake, for me!

In case you wanted to put Easter Eggs in your Christmas stockings, you can get them at King Soopers. (We took the photo yesterday.)

Bah!  Why is everyone trying to rush through things.

Slow down, and enjoy the day!  Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recipe - Artichoke Dip

Do you need a quick appetizer to take to a party?  Perhaps you need something easy to make before your holiday dinner.  This is a no-fail, quick, hot Artichoke dip that you will love.

Artichoke Dip
1 – 8 oz. package of (less fat) cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 Tablespoon dill or dill blend seasoning
1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained and chopped
1/2 lemon zest (optional)
1 t lemon juice (optional)
4-5 drops hot sauce (I use Cholula brand)

Mix softened cream cheese with remaining ingredients.  Put into small baking dish; bake 350 until bubbly, approx. 30 – 40 min.
Serve with crackers, veggies or French bread.

  • This recipe can easily be doubled.
  • VARIATION:  For a southwestern twist on artichoke dip, add 1 small can of chopped, mild green chiles.  Omit the lemon juice and zest.
  • This recipe can be made a day ahead.  Mix the ingredients, place in baker, cover and refrigerate.  Bake prior to serving.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Elves

I love this vintage Christmas postcard.  I think it would make a great accent for a holiday project.  Feel free to right click the image and to save it for your own personal, artistic use.

"A Very Merry Xmas"
The card is a color illustration postcard.  There is no date of publication, but it was postmarked in Fonda, New York on December 22, 1911, with a 1 cent stamp.

For more vintage images, and holiday postcards, visit my other blog: Postcards, etc.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Omnivore 100 - re-visit

I first came across this foodie list when I was writing my first blog several years ago.  I completed it - I even had to look up a few of the foods.  This list has traveled foodie blogs worldwide - I thought I would revisit it so that I could see where I stand. 

The Omnivore's 100 came from Jill and Andrew's UK blog Very Good Taste
From their blog:
"Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results."
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
Mole poblano
96. Bagel and
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake
(PS. The list has generated a lot of questions, so I’ve created an FAQ for it over here!)"

I left their text intact (including the instructions - you'll notice the British spelling), and I left their wikipedia links intact for easy access to information and definitions.  Their list is very thorough.  I wonder if an American foodie list would be a bit different from an UK foodie list?
So, how did you fare?  I had 60 out of 100.  What's your favorite?  What's your least favorite?  Which item would you never try?
If you post your own Omnivore 100, post a link to your blog in my comments section, I would love to see how you did!

Monday, December 13, 2010

After Party Let Down

I love entertaining.  Each December we host a big Christmas Open House for friends and family.  We send out our invitations early.  I plan a menu, what will I make new this year?  Which favorites will I make again?  I bake and cook and freeze food.  I decorate and clean and prepare.  I love to think of all the details: I make tags for all the foods, arrange flowers and centerpieces.  It is truly a labor of love.  I know that all my friends and family appreciate the time at our home, the food I've made, the opportunity to visit with friends, and the holiday spirit.
So what's wrong?
It's over.
So simple.
We've cleaned up the party, put away the food, washed the wine glasses, boxed up the punch bowl.  We've taken out the trash and loaded the recycling bin. 
It's over, till next time.
I guess there is a bit of after party let down.  All that anticipation and planning, and it's gone in a flash.  That flash was a night filled with great people and good cheer, but gone none the less. 
I certainly cannot live from party to party so I have that exciting feeling of happy anticipation, although it sometimes is quite tempting. 
But there is still real life going on the the background, homework, grocery shopping, laundry, appointments and meetings.  School for the kids and friends and friendships to care for.  There are still floors to sweep and trash to take out and bills to pay. No matter how many parties there are, life is still here.  And, that is what I have to attend to.
So, I need to remind myself to keep it all in perspective.  Life is not just a party, or a vacation, though we may sometimes wish it were. 
Now I move on to the next... planning for Christmas and a house full of guests.  Getting the Christmas menu put together, it is my turn to host this year.  What should I make?  Oh, and also, let's keep it all in perspective.  Amid the drama of the holidays, the excitement of the gifts and food and candy and cookies and wine and bows and wrapping, life goes on.  Remind myself to enjoy the mundane, simple, sweet, exciting, boring or difficult moments. Life goes on.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Recipe - Antipasti & Marinated Vegetables

This is one of my favorite appetizers to serve at a party or before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  I love the art of it.  Just look at the color and the texture.  The flavors are just as good.  The sweet marinated cherry peppers play nicely off the hard, salty cheese and the crisp and tangy vegetables.  Serve with good bread and good wine.  Each person can mix and match to suit their tastes.  It's a crowd pleaser!

Antipasti Platter

1 pound assorted sliced, gourmet deli meats (such as Italian salami, spicy capocollo, prosciutto,  and mortadella)
1/2 pound high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into irregular chunks
Marinated vegetables (recipe follows)
Marinated artichoke hearts
Kalamata or Marinated Olives
Peperoncini or marinated cherry peppers (or both)
1 loaf focaccia bread, sliced
1 box crispy Italian breadsticks

Arrange the meats, cheeses, and focaccia on a large platter. Place the marinated vegetables, olives and peppers in small serving bowls.  Place breadsticks, upright, in a decorative container. 

Marinated Vegetables
8 cups assorted vegetables (such as carrots, green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cut the carrots and zucchini into long stick, about ¼ wide.  Break cauliflower and broccoli into florets.  Blanch each type of vegetable to desired doneness.  They should be bright and crisp.  Stop the cooking by rinsing in cold water.  Drain well.

Whisk all remaining ingredients in bowl; toss with vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Bring vegetables to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

  • Find a good olive bar to buy the peppers and olives.  Any variety of interesting olives and peppers would work for the platter.
  • Use a variety of meats, vegetables, olives and peppers to create colorful appetizer.