Archive | December, 2013

Last Minute Shopping? No problem.

16 Dec

For the nurse in your life: Grey’s Anatomy Scrubs, especially these 5-pocket pants that fit so well I’m considering wearing them as real-life pants.

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For the baker in your life: the Nibble Cake Pan.  Now they’ll never have to wonder how the cake tastes before it’s served.

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For the no-muss, no-fuss dresser who sometimes wishes to be more stylish: the Natasha Crossbody Bag I am very rarely in touch with the latest trends and can’t remember the last time I suggested that someone purchase a $198 bag that everyone and their brother is toting this season… but I just love the simple design, high function, and easy style of this bag!

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For the fitness enthusiast who could use a kick in the ass in the new year: personal training sessions with Nicola Haire. I trained with her for awhile last year and she whipped me RIGHT into shape. When my long lost uncle whom I’ve never met dies and leaves me millions, she’ll be my first call.

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For anyone who needs to be reassured that we are not merely a collection of particles spinning in a vast, often cruel universe with no purpose other than to subsist: Love Actually. If I need to say more, please stop reading my blog.

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For anyone who has a baby and needs a really friggin’ cute outfit: check out these onesies. If you can scroll through that shop without a single “awww,” please start searching for your soul.

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For the progressive, liberal arts-loving reader who was probably a librarian in the last life: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, George Saunder’s Tenth of December, and James Mcbride’s The Good Lord Bird all blew my hairback this year.

*For the reader who’s generally not into non-fiction but whose best friend is her brother and loves siblings who love each other:  Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin is both a feminist history and a chronicle of sibling love. Plus, it’s written by a New Yorker staff writer.

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Protein-packed Gingerbread and Gin-laced Champagne

13 Dec

Last night was Thursday, so you already know what 10 million Americans and I were doing: watching Kerry Washington try to hide her pregnancy behind thick woven fabric and close camera angles.

It goes without saying- the winter finale of Scandal was totally absurd (btw: when did winter finale become a thing?). Thankfully, Shonda finally started taking advice from the Department of Wait-That-Is-Too-Ridiculous-Even-For-Us  and forwent the temptation for cliffhangers… but can we just deal with Quinn, though? Her failure to spontaneously combust continues to vex me, and now this beef bologna between her and Huck is just, well…. dumb.

ANYWAY, I had the honor of hosting a Scandal night after many lovely evenings in NoLongerClevelandParkKef’s house. As there are more seats on a red line train at 515 PM than there are in my living room at any given time, I figured I would make up for the sardine conditions with some cookies and cocktails.  I always get nostalgic for holiday cookies, so decided to whip up a batch of these paleo gingerbread men and one of my favorite cocktails, the French 75.

photo-69These gingerbread men were good- all the gluten and sugar eaters in the crowd went back for seconds and thirds. I liked them because the texture was crisp and chewy, and they were definitely sweet but not too sweet. This recipe would also be good if you wanted to make gingerbread protein bars at anytime of the year. You get extra points if you make these cookies in the shape of DC:

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I think I cut off a little of Foggy Bottom- sorry, GW!

 

On a side note, I find that coconut flour is already pretty salty and most Paleo recipes do not make up for this in the added salt, so they did have a slightly salty taste to the end of them (but not nearly noticeable enough to keep us from eating the whole batch!). Follow The Paleo Mom for this and many more awesome recipes.

So those were the cookies… now the cocktail. I love a sparkling wine- champagne, cava, prosecco…if it gives a “pop!” when it’s opened, I’ll drink it. A French 75 combines all the loveliness of bubbly with the 1-2 punch of gin and orange liqueur, and apparently earned its name because it “was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun.”  Well then. Dubious name or not, this drink is just delightful.

French 75

Ingredients

  • 1 oz gin
  • 0.5 oz orange liquor (I used Grand Marnier)
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • champagne, lots

Assembly

1. Pour the gin, orange liquor, and lemon juice into a martini shaker with ice cubes. Shake well.

2. Pour the gin mixture into a champagne flute.  Top carefully with champagne.

3. Try not to drink ten.

 

Pumpkin Praline Trifle

10 Dec

Now that I told you what I would have made if I were making all the Thanksgiving dishes, I’ll tell you what I actually made when I just had to make one dish.

A pumpkin. praline. trifle. (Superfluous punctuation very much necessary.)

This one comes to us from Bon Appetit November 2008. It takes about an hour to make if you reallly take your sweet time- the only tricky step came well after assembly, when I was attempting to take a half-way-okay picture after a long nightshift before an even longer Turkey Day drive. You can see I only made it to about a quarter-way-okay, but really: do I need photographic evidence to convince you that pumpkin, cookies, candied nuts, and cream make a delicious treat? I didn’t think so.

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Yes, I know it’s to the side. We’re having some technical difficulties that will be resolved soon.

Pumpkin Praline Trifle

Ingredients

praline

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 c golden brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c half and half
  • 1.5 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz pecans, chopped

mascarpone cream

  • 2 cchilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 8-ounce container chilled mascarpone cheese*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

filling

  • 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 c golden brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • About 40 ladyfingers, or 1/2 a grocery store pound cake
  • 4 1/2 TBS dark rum, divided

Assembly

For praline:
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Bring both sugars and half and half to boil in heavy medium saucepan over mediumhigh heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Add butter, vanilla, and salt. Attach candy thermometer to pan. Simmer without stirring until temperature registers 260°F, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately mix in pecans. Transfer to prepared sheet, spreading in single layer. Cool completely. Chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

For mascarpone cream:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl until firm peaks form. Set aside 1/2 cup mascarpone cream for pumpkin filling.

For filling:
Whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in reserved 1/2 cup mascarpone cream.

Spread 1/3 cup mascarpone cream over bottom of 8×5-inch trifle dish (12-to 14-cup capacity). Place layer of ladyfingers over cream in bottom of dish (about half of 3-ounce package). Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons rum over. Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin filling over ladyfingers, spreading to edges. Sprinkle 1/3 cup praline over. Spread 1 cup mascarpone cream over. Cover with another layer of ladyfingers. Sprinkle with 11/2 tablespoons rum, then spread 1 cup pumpkin filling over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup praline over. Repeat 1 more time with 1 cup mascarpone cream, ladyfingers, 1 1/2 tablespoons rum, 1 cup pumpkin filling, and 1/2 cup praline. Spread remaining mascarpone cream over. Cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Uncover trifle. Sprinkle 1 cup praline decoratively over top (reserve any remaining praline for another use).

Best of CuK

10 Dec

While all you people are enjoying a not-all-that-deserved day off, I’ll be hard at work over in Nursing Land, where a sudden drop in barometric pressure just means more babies falling from the sky.

So, to help pass your snow day, I offer you some of my old and new favorite from around the Kefiteria:

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Maple Browned Butter Sauce

Grainless Graham Crackers

Eggplant Rolldakia

Strangest Piece of Delicious Pie

5-Ingredient Grainless Choc Chip Cookies

Nutella Bread Pudding

Chicken Tikka Masala

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