19 Days Late: Our New Years Resolutions

19 Jan

And here they are…(p.s. really starting to LOVE picnik.com)

1. Enjoy life more.

This means traveling, going to the movies, seeing a show at the Fox or Dad’s Garage, going on more runs, dog park adventures and hikes, cooking meals TOGETHER (I tend to take over in the kitchen…bad habit…admitted control freak) and not just plopping down in front of the TV after a long day.

2. Volunteer.

In NC I volunteered at The Children’s Home in Tice Cottage. We offered respite care for children with developmental disabilities. I previously worked with children with disabilities during an internship with college and loved how rewarding and humbling it was so this seemed like a perfect fit for me. I NEED to find something like this in Atlanta.

3. Get closer with family.

This totally makes it sound like we’re not close with our families but nothing could be farther from the truth. What we mean here is learning more about our families and their personal stories. My grandparents lost family in the Holocaust and both of my grandparents were in the military. We want to know their stories and to document those stories. Ben’s dad was in the Air Force, worked as an underwater treasure hunter in Key West and his brother caught his first car on fire. I also want to document these stories. We want to know who our parents and grandparents were, not just who they are now.

4. Be a nice person, all the time.

Ok this one is a Sara resolution. I can be as sweet as pie at times, but something will set me off (I promise this doesn’t happen often), I loose my cool and I’m an uber bitch. This is a terrible quality, and one I desperately want to shake. In the coming year I am going to work on realizing that I’m about to lose it and coming back down to the earth before shooting flames from my mouth.

5. Deal with stress better.

Both Ben and I are serious Type A people. We strive for perfection and are slowly realizing that you can’t be perfect in every aspect of your life all the time. We both need to learn how to take a breather and lower our stress levels with other outlets (running, yoga, etc.) so we don’t take it out on each other.

6. Be kind to ourselves.

Obviously, this one includes being good to our bodies. Eating well, exercising and being social are all things that we enjoy and need to do more often (can you really get enough of these?). We also need to be kind to ourselves mentally. When we’ve had a tough day at work and we feel like we suck at life we need to learn to take a step back and give ourselves credit for all the great things we bring to the professional table. This one goes hand in hand with #5.

7. Smile more.

There is a ton of research out there about the positive effects that smiling can have on you and others around you. We both need to do it more often. Easy one, right? RIIIIIIGHT.

8. Make each other smile more.

This goes along with a majority of our resolutions. If we can stress less, live more and be good to ourselves we will most certainly accomplish this one.

We’d LOVE to hear your New Year’s Resolutions, too. Come on and don’t be shy! Comment below!

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Inspiration: Yoga

18 Jan

I jumped back onto the Yoga train in December and am so glad that I did. I’ve done yoga since I was 12 with my mom but haven’t been practicing regularly in way too long. The wonderful ladies over at Tough Love Yoga started offering classes at Raw Bronzing Studio in my neighborhood so I decided to check it out.  Being able to walk to yoga (and a perfect spray tan) in less than 5 minutes gives me no excuses not to go. I started out taking lunch hour and night-time drop in classes and then signed up for their Bikini Boot Camp. They have several sessions, but mine meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 PM. Tonight’s class will be my 4th and let me tell you…Neda rocks it out and leaves me sweating and sore (in a good way!).  If you’re in Atlanta and are looking for a way to jump-start your yoga practice this is it.

I found this video yesterday on twitter and I’m pretty sure I watched with my chin on the floor. This woman’s story is incredible (she was a child pop star in Asia) and her strengthen (both emotionally and physically) gives me so much inspiration.

Check out her incredible video below (and her amazing body…damn girl!)

Maybe one day…:).

Adventures in Maui: Part One

16 Jan

When I first got my job fresh out of college and I found out I’d get the opportunity to travel all over the US (and possibly the world) I was pumped. I mean…who DOESN’T want to globe trot on someone else’s dime? Getting paid AND getting to see new places…amazing. How did I get this lucky? As I soon found out, traveling quickly starts to wear on you. Spending 10 days at a time in places like Las Vegas, Dallas and Orlando sound like fun in theory, but when you’re working 18 – 20 hour days you really don’t get a chance to enjoy where you are (let alone a meal). My co-workers and I started saying “we go lots of places but we don’t see lots of places”, because we would really only see the inside of a hotel.

All my bitching and complaining aside, I love my job, the people I work with and what I do. There is one trip every year that I have the privilege of taking that allows me to travel to an absolutely gorgeous place AND enjoy it. Each October since 2009 I have  gone to Maui and then extended my trip to explore. This past year (trip #3) was no exception and my stepmom and sister came out to enjoy this beautiful island with me. Below are pictures of our incredible trip.

View from Breakfast

For the first few nights of their trip, we stayed on the West side of the Island in Ka’anapali at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. It’s great for novice surfers, whale watching (in season), shopping and eating. Nearby (10-15 minute drive) is Kapalua for golfing and Lahaina for shopping, eating and water activities.

Ashley & I - Lahaina

Lahaina Banyan Tree - 138 years old!

I'm convinced this is what heaven must look like

View from lunch at Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina

I HIGHLY recommend Mala Ocean Tavern if you’re in Maui. It’s on the far end of Front Street, so you don’t get the hustle and bustle like you do in the middle of Lahaina. Their restaurant is based on the following: small plates, organic whenever possible, whole grains, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils and everything in proportion. All good things :).

Mala Ocean Tavern

(808) 667-9394
1307 Front St  Lahaina, HI 96761

Flourless Chocolate Torte Soufflé for lunch 🙂

Mala Mai Tai for Denise (I had the Malarita)

Later that afternoon the three of us were picked up at the hotel and whisked off for a private beach dive. It was our first time scuba diving and we were pumped. Denise stayed on the beach to take pictures and relax in the sun while Ash and I suited up.

Suiting up for scuba with our instructor, Timmerz in the coolest blue camo wet suit

Heading in

Swimming with Sea Turtles - we saw 4 that day

Playing with Sea Urchins

Reef Shark - not dangerous, I promise!

Seahorse in shallow water

Overall, an AMAZING experience and I can’t wait to do it again! I was so happy that we decided to use Tiny Bubbles Scuba instead of adding scuba onto a snorkel sail with one of the bigger companies. The biggest difference is personal attention. Tiny Bubbles only does private dives, which made these two first timers feel totally at ease. The second biggest difference is that Tiny Bubbles does beach dives. If you were to do a dive on one of the bigger snorkel boats you would be required to jump into the water…weights, tank and all. The beach dive allowed us to go at our own pace and get used to the water. Tim also owns a crazy fancy underwater camera, so he takes hi res pictures and video during your dive and then delivers them to you before you leave the island (that’s how we got all those awesome shots above). Tim is patient, kind and passionate about scuba diving. He and his wife, Marcia, own the company. When I go back to Maui next year I’m bringing Ben for his first dive and it will definitely be with Tiny Bubbles.

Tiny Bubbles Scuba

(808) 870.0878

Rainbow # 9,834,590,385. Seriously...they're EVERYWHERE!

Maui Flower

The next day we left Ka’anapali for the North Shore and checked in to the Paia Inn.

From their website: Located in the heart of charming Paia Town and just steps away from a 3 mile stretch of beautiful white sand beach, Paia Inn is a hip boutique hotel on the gorgeous Northshore of Maui. Our small town upscale hotel offers a haven of relaxation in the popular town of Paia, which has a variety of cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries and boutiques to explore and enjoy.

They’ve played host to quite a few named celebrities…pretty cool, huh?  This was my 3rd time to Maui so I’ve been to just about every place on the island. Paia is by far my most favorite spot so I was excited to finally be spending more than just a few hours there. The hotel was perfect. It was beautifully yet simply outfitted and the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I will definitely be back to this adorable inn.

Paia Inn
93 Hana Highway
Paia, Maui, Hawaii
96779
(808) 579-6000
www.paiainn.com

Our cute living room

Bedroom # 1

Full Kitchen

After checking in we drove to nearby Makawao, Maui’s own little cowboy town.

Aloha Cowboy - Makawao

Denise posing with a cowboy

We walked along the main drag and besides Aloha Cowboy we really didn’t get much of a cowboy feel…maybe we went to the wrong spot.

View on our drive from Makawao

We headed back to Paia and ate lunch at Flatbread Company just down the road from our hotel.

Flatbread company serves amazing pizza and salads with mostly organic, natural and local ingredients. The price point is perfect (especially because Maui is so expensive) and the food + atmosphere is even better. We split the organic salad and the Jay’s Heart + Pa’ia Bay Ohana flatbreads. I added my favorite local beer, Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde. Just steps to the water, this is heaven I tell you.

Flatbread Company
89 Hana Highway
Paia, HI 96779
(808) 579-8989

After lunch we walked around Paia to check out the awesome shopping. My favorite boutique in Maui is Alice in Hulaland. It’s overflowing with unique clothing, shoes, hats and accessories + some of the most beautiful hand crafted jewelry on the island.

We had some fabulous Ono’s Gelato before heading back to the hotel to shower.

We ate dinner that night at the famous Mama’s Fish House. Sounds like a hole in the wall, but quite the opposite. Mama’s has been a Maui landmark since 1973. With the freshest fish you will EVER eat (that’s a promise), phenomenal drinks and effing awesome desserts it’s the holy-crap-you-must-eat-here-once-in-your-life spot to eat in Maui

Me, Denise & Ashley at Mama's Fish House

Denise & I

Hello there, gorgeous!

Ashley & I

Denise & I

I don’t remember what any of us had, but it doesn’t matter. EVERYTHING IS AMAZING. You can’t order wrong off of this menu. I do, however, remember this dessert. It was Mama’s Chocolate Kuau Pie Baked in a caramel cookie crust. And now I’m hungry.

They have a list of awards that goes on for days, but even if they never won a thing I would still be sitting here typing to you to PLEASE GO TO MAMA’S.

Mama’s Fish House
799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779-9708
808.579.8488
www.mamasfishhouse.com 

That’s all for Part 1 of my Maui trip. Part 2 includes the road to Hana (an entire post in itself) and Halloween in Lahaina on Front Street. I promise not to post the NSFW costumes that I took pictures of (but will happily send then via e-mail if you want a chuckle).

Disney 1/2 Marathon Weekend

12 Jan

Hey guys! Happy Thursday to you. Anyone else feel like 2012 is moving at light speed? It’s the 11th already…WTF, it was just New Years!

Sorry I didn’t post a Recipe Monday…I suck…no real excuses besides the fact that I haven’t made anything new and exciting that I loved enough to share. I have a Thai Chicken Noodle soup in the crock pot right now, but I’m not doing backflips over it so I’m not posting. I promise to post when I have something worthwhile for you (and something vegan for you, Lace!).

This past weekend Ben and I headed down to Orlando to meet up with my best friend and room-mate from college, Lacey, her boyfriend, Bobby and our friend from NC, Natalie. Natalie’s mom, Linda, and her friend Sam came along too and we all ran the Cigna Disney Half Marathon together on Saturday (except Ben who has a hurt knee and Natalie’s mom).

Lacey and Bobby picked Ben and I up from the airport on Friday and we headed over to check in to the hotel.

I love this one

We stayed at the Gaylord Palms…it’s MASSIVE. Evidence below.

After check in we checked out the Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets and meet up with Natalie, Sam and Linda. We had a really freaking hard time parking, getting inside and finding Natalie so I sent her this frustration picture.

AHHH

Side note…Ben, Natalie and I were all frustrated at work last week and sent these out to each other via text to express our feelings. We are weird…I like it.

Stress Face

We stopped for some pics before going back to the hotel and then out to dinner for some serious carb loading (bring on the pasta!). In the middle of all this I was feverishly trying to finish Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3). If you haven’t read books 1, 2 and 3 GO BUY THEM NOW! Or e-mail me and I’ll send them to you. SO FREAKING GOOD! Intense, violent and wonderful. YESSS!!! Can’t wait for the first movie.

Natalie and I

Linda, Sam, Natalie, Me, Lacey

Saturday morning I woke up at 3 AM (!!!) to be downstairs and in a cab by 3:45 AM. It was way too early, but I was excited to run with these pretty ladies.

Sam, Me, Natalie, Lacey

Me and Natalie

The race started and ended at Epcot with a quick stop (and when I say quick I mean it) at Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle.

Honestly, I did NOT train enough for this race. I’m still adjusting to Atlanta and working from home (how long do you think I can get away with that as an excuse? ;)), I was sick, we had the holidays with family in town…I could go on for days. And now a line from Old School is stuck in my head…

I knew I could finish with no problem because I had put in the distance runs, but just didn’t do enough speed work to accomplish my goal…running this B under 2 hours. With a little encouragement from Natalie I decided WHAT THE HELL, I’m going to try my hardest and run like a mofo. Sam and Lacey split from Natalie and I and off we went.

We started out slowish…around 10 minute mile pace and then got faster and faster. Let me remind you that I am not the hare, I am the tortouise and this body is built for distance, not speed. But something seriously came over me and I just told myself I was going to run like hell. I think having long legs Natalie running with me may have helped ;).

So…there we are…running through Disney (mostly the back alleyways and side roads) and both Natalie and I feel like champs. I just keep looking down at my fancy pants Garmin in amazement that I’m running so fast (we’re talking 8 minute miles at points for this slow poke) and I feel like I can totally do this thing. And then around mile 10 tragedy strikes…ok I’m being dramatic, but I got a really painful cramp in the ball of my left foot. I’ve NEVER had a cramp like this before and it felt like there was a bone sticking out of the ball of my foot. Obviously there wasn’t. Scary, but I really didn’t care because I.was.runniiiiing (think of this in Forest Gump’s voice).

Natalie kept looking back at me and the terrible faces I’m sure I was making to see if I wanted to stop. What I really wanted to do was finish under two hours so I kept on going. Around mile 11.5 I realized that unless we started running at warp speed we weren’t going to make it :(. Natalie finished in 2:02 and I finished in 2:03. SO EFFING CLOSE!

We were bummed, but it was still a PR for both of us and now we’ll just have to do it again together. 🙂

Ok, so here are my gripes about this race. 1. I paid $170 for this thing. I pay $70 to run the 1/2 in Atlanta. I was expecting some mahjah perks and schwag for $170. I did not get any mahjah perks or schwag. I didn’t even get park admission after the race. This annoys me. 2. I think of the entire 13.1 miles we only ran through parks for about 2 miles. The rest of the run was through Disney back roads. Boo. 3. The race started at 5:30 AM and it was dark outside. Parts of the course were incredibly dangerous because of the lack of lighting. There were times where I could barely see Natalie beside me because it was so dark out and they did not light the roads. This isn’t true for the whole course, just parts. Yes, I am an old woman. 4. IT WAS $170. Oh wait…I said that already.

All in all, so happy I did it. I got to see two of my best friends and enjoy a weekend in Orlando. Will I do another Disney race? Not unless they pay me to do it or their prices go down or they start offering some serious schwag.

After the race (and a little car accident…everyone is OK!) Lacey and Bobby hit the road and the rest of us went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Please respect the spell limits - this made me grin!

I have read all 7 books and seen all the movies. I.LOVE.HARRY.POTTER. The entrance takes you into Hogsmeade. So realistic.

Hogwarts Express & the Conductor!!!

SOOOO COOL!

After taking a few pictures we beelined it to the butter beer stand.

Too bad it's non-alcoholic

We checked out Ollivander’s – Makers of Fine Wands and saw a little interactive show inside.

Ollivander's

Ollivander finding a wand for this lucky guy (so jealous)

We also went on the two HP rides.

Hogwarts!

On line - set in Herbology Class

There were super cute shops there that sold everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Falvour Beans to Chocolate Frogs to a Nimbus 2000.

After covering every inch of HP we headed over to Margaritaville to drink. We had a wonderful dinner with Natalie’s cousins and called it a night.

The next morning Natalie and Sam left and Ben and I headed for Magic Kingdom.

On line waiting for the Buzz Lightyear ride

For the record, Ben beat me...look at how serious he is!

We rode all three “mountain” rides. Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. I got soaking wet on Splash…Ben did not. WTF.

Don’t be fooled. These are not “weeee I’m having fun” faces…these are “OMG I’m going to barf” faces. The teacups will do that to you.

After some delicious ice cream (does anyone make better ice cream than Disney? I think not.) we headed back to the hotel, packed up and flew home.

It was a wonderful weekend  and I’m counting down the days until I get to see my ladies again.

Sending a big GET WELL SOON to Natalie’s momma. She slipped and fell at the hotel and broke her wrist. Feel better Linda!

Recipe Monday: Gougères

2 Jan

You may be saying to yourself WHAT THE HELL IS A GOUGÈRE? My thoughts exactly when I stumbled upon this post from Susan Eats London. But then I saw her picture below and I just wanted to eat them.

In case you want to know what these are (besides the obvious cheesy puffy goodness), here ya go from our friends at Wikipedia.

gougèrepronounced: [gu.ʒɛʁ], in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. There are many variants. The cheese is commonly grated GruyèreComté, or Emmentaler,[1][2] but there are many variants using other cheeses or other ingredients.

Image: Susan Eats London

Am I right? You want to eat these, too? So here’s the deal…I’m a little intimidated by fancy recipes and French words. After reading Susan’s blog I quickly realized a few things. 1. She’s awesome, 2. She knows her way around a kitchen, and 3. She eats some amazing food. It might not be the same foods that we cook at home (see her post on cleaning squid here…wow, right? So cool!) but it was very obvious that she cooks some delicious stuff.

I decided WHAT THE HELL! It’s 2012…I’m going to make these things. And so I did.

Before you start thinking I’m a fancy cook, let me tell you that this recipe is much easier than I thought it would be. I even took a few shortcuts (don’t hate me, Susan!) and they turned out fantastic.

So…I bring you Gougères!

Melting Butter

All spiced up!

What Susan calls the "Magic Moment of Transformation"

This is what it looks like when you start adding eggs

Gougères

From Susan Eats London  (with my comments added in blue)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup sifted flour  (I didn’t sift, but just ordered this baby)
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espelette pepper (I used black pepper)
  • Fresh nutmeg (I used ground Nutmeg)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 120 grams, or about 4 and ½ ounces of freshly-grated Gruyère (set aside ¼ ounce for topping the gougères)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 400 degrees Fahrenheit), and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I buttered two baking sheets since I didn’t have parchment paper in the house. Only a few stuck to the pan and I used a spatula to get them off. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the water, milk, salt, pepper, and a bit of grated nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously over medium heat to incorporate, stirring from the bottom with a wooden spoon to prevent burning. You should soon have a gooey dough that sticks to the sides and bottom of your pan. Keep mixing – there will be a moment of magic transformation when the dough stops sticking to the pan and becomes shiny and supple and ball-like. Mix for another minute or two, or until the steam rising from the pan starts to smell like baking bread. Don’t worry about the little layer of flour that adheres to the pan.

Turn your dough into a bowl and allow to rest for a few minutes. Using a wooden spoon (if you have a stand mixer, you can use that instead), beat the eggs in one by one, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Initially, after adding each egg, the dough will turn into little slippery globules. Don’t despair – again, there will be a moment of magic transformation when the dough becomes a cohesive, very sticky mess. At that point it’s time to add the next egg.

When all the eggs have been incorporated, fold in your grated cheese, and then transfer the dough to a piping bag. Pipe onto the parchment-lined baking sheets into tablespoon-sized mounds (if you don’t have a piping bag, use a spoon for this part – i did!). With a wet finger, smooth the points on the puffs and then sprinkle the reserved grated cheese over the top.

Bake for 22 minutes, or until the puffs feel airy and thoroughly dry. Remember, don’t open the oven door while baking, or your gougères won’t be as puffy! Transfer to a rack, and serve while hot.

Makes about 3 dozen gougères, or enough for six very greedy people.

These were AMAZING and a crowd pleaser. A big thank you to Susan for posting these and making the recipe so easy to understand. Can’t want to try another one of yours. 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2012!

Happy Everything

30 Dec

We celebrate everything in our house. Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, National Ice Cream Day…you get the drift here, right? Ben and I are both Jewish. His dad was raised Christian, my stepmom was too. My stepdad was raised Catholic and converted to Buddhism. We’ve seriously got it all in our families so we judge no one and gladly celebrate whenever possible…Jesus, Moses, Buddha…it’s all good to us.

We buy a Christmas tree every year (or Hanukkah Bush) and get stockings from Santa (or Hanukkah Harry).

Chrismakah 2011

World's Strongest Man

We go to Holiday Parties and drink, eat and dance. In that order.  And we love every darn moment of it.

Holiday Party # 3 - 2011

Ben made me promise I wouldn’t whip out the camera and take pictures at his holiday party (and embarrass him). I never promised I wouldn’t ask someone else to take the picture and then make Ben harass them for a copy ;).

We decorate our house with tacky Christmas decor and light our menorah.

Happy Hanukkah

And on Christmas, these two Jews are all about Santa Clause. We put out cookies the night before to make sure he stops by our house.

Heeeeeerrrrreeeeee Santa Santa Santa!

I’m all about tradition. Growing up, my sister and I would run out of bed, turn on the Christmas music at an obnoxious level (to wake up the parents of course) and rip into our stockings (always filled with shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, candy and underwear…I never said we were normal). Once we were of drinking age we added mimosas into the morning mix (also on Thanksgiving…it’s all about the booze).

This year Ben’s parents came up to Atlanta to see our new place and celebrate with us. I introduced them to my traditions and we ate our way through the weekend.

Friday night we had dinner at Sotto Sotto in Inman Park. We knew it would be a great meal, but we were seriously blown away. I had the Cappellacci (“Pope’s hat”)  filled with butternut sauce in a sage brown butter sauce. In the words of Grandma Florence from New York, Ta.Die.For. Ben had the Tagliatelle ai Funghi (wild mushroom pasta in cream sauce) , Ben’s mom has the sausage and apple ravioli and Ben’s dad had the best dish of the night, the mixed seafood risotto. Add in there some great Italian wine and you have four happy campers. Sotto Sotto is our go-to dinner spot when guest’s come in to town…no one leaves there without a full, happy belly.

1st Night Group Shot

Saturday morning brought a long walk around the neighborhood with Mr. Roo, brunch at Highland Bakery and a trip to see Ben’s office + lunch at Pizza Antico.  Yummy pizza served family style with a crispy crust and fresh ingredients. Plus they allow BOYB or BYOW…just go already!

Saturday night we checked out Murphy’s in the Highlands. Ben’s parents LOVED the shrimp and grits. Ben has the brisket and I had the trout. We liked them both, but weren’t as blown away as the rents were.

After a few rounds of CatchPhrase we hit the hay in preparation for Christmas and feasting ahead.

Two Words

Christmas morning came quickly and we got down to business.

🙂

Opening presents and then posing with them

Roo opening his presents

Rocky made out like a bandit this year. He got no less than 5 dog toys AND red+green cookies.

L to R: Our Gift, Grandparent's Gift, Uncle's Gift, Other Grandparent's Gift, Cousin's Gift

He was a little overwhelmed by all the toys

Ben got me a new fancy camera!!! I’ve been wanting this baby for a loooong time.

After the camera battery charged for two hours I began taking pictures of EVERYTHING. Food, flowers, dogs, people, toes, towels…you name it and I’ve got a picture of it. I should apologize in advance to our future children for the obsessive flash photography.

Sleepy Roo

After present opening, mimosa drinking and breakfast eating we started cooking our Christmas feast. Ben’s mom makes the most delicious, moist, juicy turkey so she gave us lessons.

What's the secret to a perfectly browned turkey? A sh*t load of paprika.

I took some picture of the “during”, but somehow managed to erase them all on my fancy pants camera :/.

Carving the Turkey (I have to admit this grosses me out)

While Ben’s parents worked on the turkey and gravy, Ben and I got busy on our highly sophisticated side dishes. Mac N Cheese (our recipe here) and Creamed Spinach (this is another one of mom’s gems). We’re all about eating healthy, getting our fruits and veggies, yada yada. But we really do make some mean fat ass meals.

Witness - Mom's Creamed Spinach (toped with Cabot Cheddar, duh)

Witness - Mac and Cheese (also with Cabot Cheddar and also duh)

Also on the menu was mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and Mom’s Linzer Heart Cookies (recipe here).

 I absolutely will not reveal how many sticks of butter went into the making of this meal, but I can tell you it was so many that I went for an 8 mile run the next day + yoga the next. Why is butter so good?

My grandpa would tell me I was a proud member of the Clean Plate Club

After we gorged ourselves I indulged in a little doggy photo shoot, hair ribbon, elf hat and all…sorry, Roo. You’re just too darn cute.

Stop taking pictures of me!

If I play dead will she go away already?

After dinner we played one more round of CatchPhrase and then called it a night.

The next morning it was time to say goodbye, but not before we squeeze in one more Atlanta (actually Decatur) gem, Sweet Melissa’s. Note to self: eat the Ponce de Leon omelet.

Snugglin' at Sweet Melissa's

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to a happy and healthy 2012.

Boy Girl Dog

Recipe Monday (er…Tuesday?): Linzer Heart Cookies

27 Dec

First, sorry I’ve sucked as a blogger lately. Busy time of the year, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to establish a regular blogging schedule. Let’s hope this resolution lasts longer than most.

It was a tradition in my mom’s house that every holiday season we would make Linzer Heart Cookies. They are buttery goodness with raspberry preserves that just melt in your mouth and make me immediately think of the holidays. I tackled these babies for the first time all by myself for Christmas! (such a big girl!)

 Linzer Heart Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour, sifted (can use a strainer if you don’t have a sifter)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups finely grated walnuts
  • Jar red raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman)
  • 2 heart shaped cookie cutters (1 small and 1 large or just one large to make sandwich cookies instead of being able to peek through and see the preserves)

Directions

*These are mom’s directions + some of my own commentary. Mom assumes you’re not an idiot, so no need to explain how to cream butter or mix in nuts.*

Cream butter and 1 cup sugar . Add egg and mix well. Sift together flour & cornstarch, add to butter & mix well. Mix in nuts. Form your dough into a ball and wrap in waxed paper/saran. Chill for 4-6 hours.

My cookie cutters

Take your dough out of the fridge and let sit for approximately 30 minutes, or until it is easier to manipulate. Preheat oven to 325. On a floured surface, roll out dough to ¼” & cut with your cookie cutters. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and immediately spread bottom cookie with red raspberry preserves. Place 2nd cookie on top and repeat. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar (or if you want them really sugary, press the top and bottom directly into the sugar).

I made mine sans walnuts because Ben’s dad can’t eat them. I just added 1/2 cup more flour and they came out great!

Hope you enjoy!

P.S. Not sure if you noticed or not from the pictures (I sure can), but I got a new camera for the holidays. Say hello to my new toy! As soon as I finish the 425 page how to book I’ll be a professional photographer (joking). Seriously though…I can’t wait to learn how to use it!

My new Canon T3i

Happy Tuesday!
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