Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's nearly that time!

I'm getting out of work a little bit early today (3PM) and going home to prepare for New Year's Eve.

Even though I'm still recovering from some nasty illness contracted last weekend during Christmas, and I'm coughing my head off, we are having a couple of our friends over. I promise, I washed my hands and made sure NOT to germ any of the food!

The Menu -

Homemade Sangria (this is a very important aspect)
Cheesy Bacon Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Pigs in a Blanket
Cocktail Meatballs
Cheesecake Cookie Cups

We plan to stay in at our house, play some games, and hang out away from all the crowds and craziness which invade Columbus on New Year's Eve.

Countdown 'til Midnight!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Leftover Christmas Ham.

We had leftover ham from Christmas, courtesy of my grandparents, but what to do with it? We aren't huge ham eaters around here, although Mark did take a sandwich to work today, but I knew that we wouldn't eat everything that was sent home with us, so I did some searching on all recipes and I was not disappointed. Here are the results.

Cheesy Potatoes and Ham


2(ish) pounds of Potatoes (I used 3 small leftover russets that I had laying around, and a few small red skin potatoes), skins on (or, off if you like, whatever floats your boat), chopped into small bite sized pieces.

leftover Cooked Ham, cut into small pieces, about a 1 1/2, or 2 cups

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (really, you could use whatever cream soup here you like)

8 oz. Sour Cream

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

sprinkle of Garlic Powder (about a tsp.)

Salt and Pepper to taste

(You could also mix in some sliced scallions for color and flavor, but I didn't have any on hand)

Bread crumbs and Parmesan, for sprinkling


1. Spray/lightly grease a 13 x 9" pan.

2. Mix together potatoes, ham, soup, sour cream, cheese, salt, and pepper. Make sure everything is good and combined.

3. Dump mixture into cassarole dish. Bake covered at 400F degrees for about 45 mins - 1 hour.

*You could cut down on cooking time here by par-boiling the potatoes before mixing everything together, but really, I think it's easier just to let them cook with everything, less mess, and it takes about the same amount of time anyway, possibly longer since you'd have to wait for water to boil.

4. Once potatoes are tender, uncover dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesean cheese. Bake uncovered for 10 mins to allow top to crisp.

*recipe adapted (and pic borrowed from)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmastravaganza 2008.

Is finally behind us!

Don't get me wrong, the holidays are great and all, but I'm just glad they're behind us. Now on to New Year's - a restful holiday.

Here's the recap.

Christmas Eve - I got off work at Noon, came home, grabbed lunch with Mark and then we braved Meijer in the blizzard - and by blizzard I mean rain storm - to pick up a few last minute things and baking supplies that I needed. When we got home, I started speed-baking all of our Christmas goodies. Then, we went over to my Aunt's house (only about 5 minutes away) for a Christmas Eve gathering. Then, we ended up back home at about 10 o'clock and I still had wrapping to finish, which I spent about an hour doing. We did end up in bed before midnight, so that Santa was able to come.

Christmas Day - Mark and I woke up around 9AM to open our gifts from each other, as well as give some goodies to the animals.

Kitteh with her new toy:

And some wrapping paper, which she thinks is her toy:

And Belle and Kitteh going after something? :

My favorite gift?

A toss up between my new pink earbuds and...

My new Sirius radio! Woohoooo!

And here's a shot of Mark trying to shake his gift to guess what it is:

Then, after gift opening, I finished up the goodies for Christmas - note to anyone working with melted chocolate - DO NOT cool it on a wire rack. It melts around the rack and sticks. Not good.

Around Noon, we were off to Mark's family's Christmas up at his brother's house in Powell, where we ate good food and opened even more gifts. Shortly thereafter, it was time to go to my family's Christmas.

So, back in the car and a 45 minute ride from one side of Central Ohio to the other, we arrived in Licking county and had Christmas with my family, were we ate more food and opened more gifts AND saw my darling niece in her Christmas dress.

She's adorable:

Oh, and excuse me, but please check out her toes:

They're pink : )

We finally got home around 11PM. It was a VERY LONG DAY. We spent all of Friday recovering - thank goodness we both got the day off from work! - and had a Dexter-thon.

We watched all of Season 2. I highly recommend.

Oh, and, an extra special Christmas gift for me - I ended up sick. Again. I don't know what I have, but it's not fun. Probably a cold, but an icky one. And, it's back to work tomorrow : ( At least it's another short week.

Holiday Goodies:

Pecan Pie Bars


3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups cold butter (cut into small cubes)

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 - 3 cups chopped pecans


1. Dump flour, sugar, salt, and butter into a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter has been incorporated into the dry ingredients (they always say it should look like little peas, I say it should just look crumbly, just make sure not to over mix, you're just trying to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture.).

2. Dump mixture out into a greased (I used Pam for Baking) 9 x 13 inch pan (I used a dark coated, non-stick pan) and press mixture firmly down onto the bottom, and up the sides.

3. Par-bake crust at 350 F for about 20 minutes (or so) until the edges start to brown just a bit.

4. While the crust is baking, combine the ingredients for filling - eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter vanilla and brown sugar - in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are firm and center is almost set. Allow to cool completely and cut into bars to serve.

*Adapted from All Recipes.

Candy Cane Fudge

This is not technically a fudge in the traditional sense of the word, but the consistancy is very close, so that's what I'll call it.


2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips (or, white chocolate chips, if you can't find vanilla)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes (approximately 12 candy canes)
1 dash red or green food coloring


1. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil.

2. Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth.

3. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and candy canes.

4. Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

*From All Recipes.

Red Velvet Cake Balls:

Covered in white chocolate. Recipe here.

Pumpkin Puppers


4 Cups whole wheat flour
2 Cups wheat germ
1 - 15 Ounce can of pumpkin (just under 2 cups)
1 Cup water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons Honey


1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. *I did this by hand the first time, started out trying to mix with a large spoon and then ended up literally mixing with my hands. It's a stiff dough. Next time, I think I'll employ the help of either my food processor, or KA with the dough attachement to get everything combined.

2. Roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. *I used a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter since it was for Christmas.

3. Place cookies on an ungreased foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree F pre-heated oven, for 30 to 35 minutes.

*From Simple, but Delicious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Christmas Ornament '08.

Every year, Mark and I pick out a new Christmas Ornament together to put on our Christmas tree. This year, we chose this little guy:

It's a little skating Santa. Very cute : )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Black Bean and Corn Salsa.

Another delish recipe courtesy of my fab friend Mac (Kari).

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 - 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 - 15oz can of kernel corn

2 - medium tomatoes, chopped; remove the middle and the seeds

1 - avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1/4 red onion, diced

juice of one lime

1-2 teaspoons of sugar

cilantro, chopped (I like the fresh stuff but dried is fine too)

Salt to taste

1. In a bowl, mix beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, onion and cilatro. Add the lime juice, salt and sugar. Toss to coat.

2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the sugar and lime juice have a chance to meld with the other ingredients. It'll bring out a lot of the flavors.

3. Serve with tortilla chips (scoops are the best for this chunky salsa!)

4. Eat! Nom nom nom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Red Velvet Cake Balls.

I made these for the FK get together, they seem to have been a hit.

1 box of Red Velvet Cake mix (bake as directed for a 13x9 cake)

1 can of Cream Cheese Icing (16 oz.)

Chocolate for melting (I used one bag of semi-sweet chips and one bag of white chocolate, I was a little short at the end, so I'd recommend the larger bags)

1. Bake cake mix according to package instructions. Allow to cool completely (I let mine cool overnight to be safe).

2. After cake is completely cooled, crumble it up into a large bowl.

3. Mix in the can of frosting. Warning: this can get a little messy. I used a scraper/spatula, but you could use your hands, the back of a spoon etc.

4. Here comes the really messy part - Once everything is nice and combined, form truffle-sized (quarter-ish) balls using your hands. Place them on a wax paper/parchment paper/foil covered pan.

5. Once all the little balls are made, pop them in the fridge for a few hours, or the freezer for an hour or two so that they firm up and get cold.

6. Melt the chocolate and coat the balls. Allow the chocolate to harden either on it's own, or pop the balls back in the fridge/freezer for a bit.

7. Eat. Nom nom nom.

Of course you could use any cake/icing combo that you can think of, the possibilities for cake balls are endless!

*Pic and recipe from Bakerella's Blog, which I highly recommed for all things sweet and yummy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Oh wait... no. No, it's not actually.

Yes, it's currently 43 degrees outside and rainy. A-typical for the week before Christmas in Ohio, but then again, what really is considered "typical" weather around here? One really never knows what it will actually be like. According to the Weather Channel, the average temperature for mid-December is around ten degrees lower than what it's forecasted to be today. I wonder if we'll have a white Christmas? I'm not going to bet on it.

Speaking of Christmas, you know how people sometimes abbreviate it "X-mas" ("eks-mas")? Well, I just recently found out that contrary to what some believe is an attempt to take the "Christ out of Christmas" it's actually based on the Greek letter "X" (Chi), which was the first letter of the Greek word Khristos (Χριστóς), meaning Christ. So anyhoo, X actually = Christ, SO when you abbreviate using X-mas, it's still supposed to be Christmas. ::shrug::

You can read more on this theory, as well as other proposed meanings on Wikipedia.

P.S. All that above reference to Greek etymology makes me feel like I'm spoofing the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding who is always trying to find the root of modern English terms in ancient Greek language.

Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word
himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm?
A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!

Ha! I love that movie...

Now - after all that randomness - here's the weekend re-cap!

Friday - As soon as I got home from work, Mark and I got started on cooking (me) and cleaning (Mark) for the get together we were hosting at our house Saturday. I baked a Red Velvet cake (for cake balls) made Black Bean and Corn Salsa (oh... I'll have to post that recipe), Sangria, mixed up the filling for these little Phyllo tartlets that I made, mixed up some Ranch dip (for a crudite platter), annnnnd... I don't know, probably something else.

Saturday - We got up early, Mark continued cleaning and got the guest room set up (Yay! We've only lived there a little more than 2 years. Clearly we like to eaaase into things...) and I finished up all of the food for the party, which ended up being - chips and Black Bean and Corn Salsa, queso, buffalo chicken dip, sour cream and jalapeno phyllo cups/tartletts, crudite platter, 7-layer dip, Sangria, and various wine (leftover from the wedding - score!). THEN, the girls made it to the house and we proceeded to have a blast!

Sunday - After everyone left : ( We went to Mark's Mom's house for her annual Holiday Open House party. It was lots of fun! I wish I had brought my camera because her decorations are so gorgeous!

*Sigh* And now it's Monday, and it's the week before Christmas, and I'm slammed at work. Of course I'm not even half-way finished with Christmas shopping even though I TRIED to finish early this year. The holiday really just sneaks up on ya!

I'm really looking forward to my 2.5 day work week next week(!) (have I mentioned how much I love working in private industry?) and, I'm also really looking forward to making some yummy holiday treats with my fab KitchenAid mixer : )

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let there be LIGHT!

We're all decorated for Christmas outside!

Mark did a great job as usual, it looks very festive. I love Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day Zero.

This challenge was brought to my attention by my friend Jenni. She has a great list. Anyway, here's the sitch:

From Day Zero -

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

First I was a little circumspect about this whole thing because I don't like to fail so I would probably just go about cheating and setting goals that I know I'm going to complete anyway. Plus, I'm not really a list type of person per se. Then, I decided, I'm lame enough, I *should* set goals and try to reach them, perhaps I should make a list. I also remembered, as I stated before, I am lame. So much so that I don't even think I could come up with 101 goals.

SO... I've decided that in the interest of trying to participate in this project, I will begin a list of goals *hoping* to reach 101, but perhaps doing a modified challange such as 51 tasks in 501 days? Or, things I'd like to accomplish in the near future... Or, maybe they'll just be life goals? Anyway, we'll see how the list making goes and how I like sticking to a list instead of just living my life.

Oh! Which brings me to #1 - compiling my list of goals!

Here we go:

1. Complete compilation of my list of goals.
2. Achieve goals on my list.

My list of goals is going well so far.

3. Start a family.
4. Read 101 books. (1/101)
5. Pay off credit cards. (0/2)
6. Put $25 per week into savings, every week. (0/143)
7. Make dinner at home at least 3 times a week the majority of the time. (0/72)
8. Participate in Earth Hour, 8.30pm Saturday, March 28, 2009.
9. Plant a garden.
10. Learn 3 new ways to "live green" and incorporate them into our daily life. (0/3)
11. Do something charitable.
12. Organize the house; find a place for everything.
13. Renovate the bathroom.
14. Host a family gathering at our house.
15. Make at least one new dish a month. (0/24)
16. Knit a scarf.
17. Be a vegetarian for 30 days.
18. Try out 5 local restaurants I've never been to (0/5)
19. Take a trip to visit a new place I've never seen.
20. Go without using paper towels for 30 days.
21. Go on a picnic.
22. Get a massage (that'll be a chore! ; )
23. Finish up my last couple of college courses.
24. Participate in NaNoWriMo.
25. Make my own soap.
26. Make another cleaning product.
27. Waste less food.
28. Learn to make at least one pre-made/store bought item. (like vanilla extract!)
29. Go down a clothing size.
30. Make a new friend.
31. Clean out closet and donate clothes once a year. (0/2)
32. Organize my recipes.
33. Dance with my husband just for the heck of it.
34. Eat dinner at the kitchen table at least once a month. (0/27)
35. Learn to cook a signature dish.
36. Renovate the office.
37. Do at least 2 things I'm scared of. (0/2)
38. Call in sick to work one day with my hubby.
39. Go to a sporting event with my hubby.
40. See a Broadway show.
41. Put together a giant jigsaw puzzle with H.
42. Host a fancy schmancy date night dinner at home for H.
43. Take a last minute weekend trip.
44. Visit the beach.
45. Make sushi.
46. Take some sort of hobby class.
47. Hang a clothes line outside and use it!
48. Visit Las Vegas.
49. Watch at least 25 of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies List.
50. Teach someone something.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Cyber Monday.

Whatever that means.

According to Wikipedia (the be all and end all source for all research ; ):

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shipping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation's division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.

Apparently this term was coined way back in 2005, but I have yet to hear about it until this year - much like many others considering the above bolded statement. In case you are wondering, I did not partake in Black Friday. I used to work retail - that was experience enough to stay indoors - and additionally, this was the first year since I started working at the age of 16 that I got the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday. Yay for working in private industry! The benefits abound.

Another reason why I stay in on Black Friday ---> Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down. People scare me.

I'm thinking I'll protest Cyber Monday - not for any particular reason other than it's made up to make people want to buy stuff. Stores will continue to offer online deals up to (and after) the Christmas holiday. This I believe.

So, instead of shopping on Black Friday, I stayed in my jammies all day as planned and my Dad and brother came over to help Mark install our shiny new kitchen faucet. It's so. fabulous. Squee! Yeah, I'm that excited about a faucet. I'm proud of Mark for his continually improving handi-abilities.

Scary to say but... I *think* we are officially finished with the kitchen now*

*of course I'm ignoring all of the stuff that still needs a home on our kitchen table AND in the office, but there's time.

Next up: Holiday party with the FK girls! Woohoo!