Friday, December 31, 2010

Foodie Friday - #2

Every Christmas I look forward to baking various items and sharing them with family and friends (and of course enjoying them at home too!). Since my maternity leave ended mid-December, I baked a few items ahead of time and kept them in the freezer, then finished everything else the weekend before Christmas. It worked out really well and will probably continue to do that in the future. I made 6 different treats this year. However, since I am blogging from my in-laws' house, I will only be posting links to the recipes that I found on-line.

Fabulous Fudge
I am not sure why I have waited so long to make fudge. It uses very few ingredients, is extremely easy to make, 1 batch makes a lot of pieces, and it stores very easily. This recipe is from a newer show on Food Network that is all desserts. Yum!

Decorated Sugar Cookies
I am obsessed with sugar cookies. The first time I attempted to decorate them it was a complete failure. Since then, I have done some research on food blogs and am getting better with each try. There are tons of recipes out there for both the cookies and icing, but so far these are my favorites.

Candy Cane Biscotti
Every year I have to make something with mint. I found this recipe and have always wanted to make biscotti, so I gave it a try. I think they were my favorites of everything I made this year. I highly recommend dipping them in hot chocolate or coffee.

The other things I made were rum balls, double peanut butter cookies, and gingerbread chocolate chunk cookies.

On Christmas day we went to my parents' house for dinner, so that gave me the opportunity to try another new dessert recipe - eggnog cupcakes. They turned out great. The eggnog flavor was not overpowering and the cupcakes were really moist.

As you may have noticed, many of my recipes come from I love this blog and highly suggest you check it out!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Recap

Now that I'm a mom, Christmas seems to get better every year. I love playing Santa and seeing Evan's excitement about the big event. Last year was the first time we were at home in Chicago for Christmas, so we began some of our own family traditions that we continued this year. On Christmas eve, Evan and Luke opened their first gift that was new pajamas. I was very excited to give them coordinating pajamas and of course take tons of pictures of them together! We ate stuffed shells for dinner (see previous post) then watched the Polar Express. In the morning we opened presents then ate breakfast together and played with new toys until we went to my parents' house for dinner. Evan loved every moment and was very happy to open his presents and all of Luke's.

Brotherly love!

A cookie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Woody and Buzz together again!

Evan's first gift to us!

Happy baby

He was so happy that Santa left a sit n spin at Yiayia and Papou's house.

Nouna and Nouno gave him a scooter

Friday, December 24, 2010

Foodie Friday - #1

I love food. I love eating it and making it. I love how it brings families and friends together. It carries tradition, culture and ethnicity with it. I am lucky that Rick feels the same way that I do. In fact, when he proposed to me in college, he actually made spanakopita and baklava, which are 2 of my Greek favorites. Most of the time our TV is tuned to the Food Network while I scour the internet, books and magazines for new recipes. I have been thinking for a while now about adding some food postings to my blog, and while baking and cooking this holiday season I thought now is a great time to start. So, I am beginning Foodie Fridays and plan to post at least 1 recipe each Friday. Most of my recipes are stolen from other sources, and if I am able to I will cite where I found the recipe. Also, feel free to comment with your own favorite recipes!

To begin Foodie Fridays, I am posting recipes for stuffed shells and apple french toast, which I have started to make traditionally for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. What I love about the french toast is that you make it the night before, so on Christmas morning I pop it in the oven when we wake up and it's ready to eat after all the presents have been opened.

Stuffed Shells

6 oz or approx. 18 jumbo shells
1 jar marinara sauce
1 egg
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese (divided)
3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
1 1/2 t. dried parsley

Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13X9X2 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In large bowl, beat egg. Stir in ricotta, 1 3/4 C. of the mozzarella, 1/2 C of the Parmesan, and the parsley.

Spread 1 C of the marinara sauce in the baking dish. Fill cooked shells with ricotta mixture and place in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake, covered with foil until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6
Source: Unknown

Festive French Toast

3-4 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, melted
3 1/4 t. cinnamon (divided)
1/2 C. raisins
1 loaf Italian or cinnamon swirl bread, cut into 3/4" slices
6-7 large eggs
1 2/3 C. milk
1 T vanilla

In large bowl, add sliced apples, brown sugar, butter, 1 t. cinnamon and raisins; toss to coat apples well. Spray 11X18 baking dish with cooking spray and fill with apple mixture; top with slices of bread.

Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread and apples, soaking bread completely. Cover and refrigerate 4-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes; uncover and bake 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from over and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm, fruit side up.

Source: Unknown

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December Happenings

December has been a big month for us. I can't believe that Luke is already 3 months old. It's amazing how quickly he has changed in such a short amount of time. His fussiness (ok, all out screaming) in the evenings has gone away and we've had some long sleeping stretches, including sleeping through the night the past 2 nights. He is really a happy baby and loves watching his big brother. The 3 month achievement has also led to the not so fun event of returning to work. That has been an adjustment for all of us, and there are definitely pros and cons. It is nice being on a schedule and having some time out of the house, but it is exhausting and I really do miss my boys during the day. Did I mention it's exhausting? I really love my job, but being with 3-5 year olds all day, then coming home to 2 little ones of my own can be tough. But, it is what it is, so let's move on to some adorable pictures!

My little burrito. Swaddling has really helped with calming Luke and getting him to sleep better.

All dressed up for the church dinner dance

Tummy time

Chewing his thumb

He rolled over for the first time today from his tummy to his back

And here's a video of Luke smiling and talking to Rick. Turn your volume up!