OH ginger SNAP!

Stop what you are doing right now and bake these cookies. They are the best cookies I’ve ever made and were inhaled by dinner guests this week.  

January Dinner Party Fun

Poof! Gone.

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

Not kidding. Best. Cookies. Ever. 

So good I just lifted weights for an additional hour so I won’t feel guilty about making another batch. So good I’m drooling just thinking of them.

Getting the picture?

I think the only way to make them better would be to make 2 batches so you can let a few get stale. I love a crunchy gingernsap.

Good work, Country Living peeps. Good work, indeed.

~K

 

 

Enough with the Gluttony!

Smart eating

I’m guessing many of you are floating along with me in the same “holy Moses, how did my pants get so snug already” gravy boat. Thanksgiving was delicious. And the two weeks since haven’t really been much different. My exercise routine hasn’t been the same thanks to work travel and lack of motivation once it turns dark at 4:45 pm. The result is tight pants. And dark red marks when I take off my bra. And fingers that look like happy sausages.

Rather than waiting for the first of January, when I’ll be a good pant size larger at this pace, I’m calling a truce on the nonsense. Not because I need to look a specific size to make myself feel good. (If that were the case, I wouldn’t have such a range of sizes already available to me in my closet.) But because I feel better when I am eating well and exercising.

Smart eating

That is the common sense part of this healthy lifestyle that we collectively throw out of the sled this time of year. It is madness and I’m just not playing along anymore. Yes, the bean dip tastes fantastic. And then keeps me up all night with a sick tummy. Yes, that next glass of champagne is lovely. And makes my head pound sooner than later. And oh, yes. That peppermint bark calls my name. And then mocks me with jiggles as I run.

No more.

Smart eating

This weekend I went through the freezer and pantry, made a meal plan for each dinner, and scheduled time in my calendar for exercise. Today is day 1; I’m already feeling better and sanctimonious about my choices.

Because really? What’s better than that smug feeling of fitting into your holiday dress and looking fantastic? Certainly not the feeling of another helping of sweet potatoes.

Fa la la,

K

 

Pretty Food

I can’t help myself. My name is Kelli and I’m a food photography addict.

{Hi, Kelli.}

A few shots from Thanksgiving break:

Flying Star

Start with some huevos rancheros

Flying Star

Add a dash of salt… and then decide what’s for dinner.

How about we fry a turkey for Thanksgiving? What sounds better? What? TWO turkeys? So be it:

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012IMG_536Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

 

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

What is that you say? You didn’t get enough carbs yesterday? Well. How about I whip up some of Juliann’s famous risotto, with some asparagus and shallots? (Originally, I’d hoped to do this with homemade turkey stock. Come to find out fried turkey bones meet their match in peanut oil and aren’t broth-worthy.)

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I may not love football, or Black Friday, or many of the other “traditions” around this holiday. But put me in a kitchen with a pantry full of food, with an apron and a glass of chardonnay, and I am my happiest.

Phew. Aren’t we glad I got that out of my system? Yeah. I thought so.

~K

Prep

Christmas supplies in action

  • Christmas tags stamped
  • Christmas photo taken, cards ordered and stamps in hand. Envelopes to be addressed this week.
  • Decorations out and ready to be swapped for Fall decor
  • Shopping underway (I’m so not a Black Friday girl)
  • Christmas spreadsheet updated
  • Craft supplies purchased, patterns printed
  • Holiday theme decided: year of the monogram

I love me some Christmas!

~K

 

Hostess Gift

Hostess gift: embellished cloth napkins

News flash: I over-think. When I found out I’d be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in family’s home I hadn’t yet met, I got a little sweaty.

What do I wear? 

What do I bring? 

What do I do?

Wearing: jeans, boots, chunky turquoise jewelry, jackets and loud scarves. And a genuine smile.

Bringing: a hostess basket including embellished napkins.

Doing: Nothing. Knitting. Taking photos. Sleeping in. What am I thankful for this year? That I’m not responsible for anything. Not the driving. Not the planning. Not even making reservations. It is going to be a much needed break.

Back to those napkins. Being budget conscious, I wanted to make the hosts something without going too far down Regretsy Lane. As such, I bought a package of cloth napkins from my favorite French boutique, some fabric paint for a stamp, and some pretty poppy ribbon. A few hours later — voila:

Hostess gift: embellished cloth napkins

Hostess gift: embellished cloth napkins

Hostess gift: embellished cloth napkins

Monogrammed cloth napkins ready for a big meal. I think this Christmas’ theme may be “the monogram.”  Fully aware I might be a little crazy, but at least I translate that mania into thoughtful, if not always well-crafted, gifts.

-K

It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like…

christmas

Christmas is less than two months away, and oh do I have my sights on another great handmade holiday. This year, the focus isn’t on quantity, as it has been in the past. Instead, I’m putting self-care as top priority. I will not run ragged to produce handmade gifts; I fully recognize my family and friends appreciate a good mood far more than they’ll ever love yet another wonky handknit.

To meet this, I have to get my stuff organized.

Advent

To get started, I create a Google doc spreadsheet. (The template, if you’re interested in playing along.) This document will help follow both a financial and time budget. I can give one hour per day for the next 7 weeks toward projects. That’s a chunk of time, most of which will be spent late at night in my little upstairs office, listening to tunes and working at my sewing machine. Or watching British television shows on Netflix, knitting like mad.

Additionally, I create a timeline. I love sending holiday cards, creating my own package tags, decorating the house, baking for neighbors, etc. If I place these into a calendar, I know what the next 8 weeks look like by task. Everything doesn’t hit me at once and I can actually enjoy the holidays rather than feeling overwhelmed.

christmas

To see this handmade holiday vision come to life, the tentative schedule:

Week 1:

  • Complete gift list spreadsheet, including budget
  • Buy necessary crafting/art supplies
  • Start any extensive knitting projects
  • Schedule photo for Christmas card

Week 2:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Take Christmas photo, order cards
  • Print holiday address labels
  • Review gifts to be sent to friends abroad, and schedule early post dates

Week 3:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Address Christmas cards
  • Purchase Christmas stamps
  • Mail after Thanksgiving
  • Coordinate holiday travel with family

Week 4:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Decorate house
  • Create baking list for neighbors
  • Buy baking supplies

Week 5:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Begin sewing projects
  • Stamp gift tags
  • Wrap gifts as completed
  • Mail international gifts

Week 6:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Knit
  • Find holiday dress(es)
  • Coordinate holiday party list with date
  • Prepare party hostess gifts, tags
  • Mail gifts that can’t be hand delivered

Week 7:

  • Update Christmas spreadsheet
  • Deliver gifts to neighbors
  • Complete any remaining projects

Week 8:

  • Create list to send thank you cards after the New Year
  • Rock a great holiday dress
  • Drink egg nog with friends; immediately remember you don’t like egg nog
  • Drink Christmas margaritas with friends
  • Go to church. Thank your lucky stars. Hug your friends and family.
If you are making gifts for friends or family this year, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Happy planning, y’all.
-Kelli

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Best Soup Ever

Potato poblano soup

Stop what you are doing right now and figure out how you can make time to create a culinary masterpiece. That’s right. Throw humility out the window, hit the market and buy:

Ingredients:

3 large carrots

3 stalks celery

1 large yellow onion

2 vegetable broth boullion cubes

1 large golden yukon potato for each person being served

As many roasted Hatch or poblano chiles as you can find (I’d go with 4-5)

1 small container of cream cheese

Potato poblano soup

Now, if you’ve got all day to smell a lovely pot of magic bubbling on the stove, take this slow. (If not — it will cook in an hour or so too.) Start with a large Dutch oven. Add a dash of olive oil. Dice up your carrots, celery and onion. Let those cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Then add 64 ounces of water, along with your 2 broth cubes. Bring this mixture to a boil while washing and cutting up your potatoes and chiles. The size doesn’t really matter — you are going to blend this soup to perfection. Add the potatoes and chiles, let simmer with the lid on for 30-45 minutes. Again, let it go all day if you have the time. About 20 minutes before serving, add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin. Then throw in your cream cheese and bust out the immersion blender. Carefully as to not send potato soup all over yourself — ahem — blend that pot of gold glory into the yummiest soup you’ve ever eaten.

Potato poblano soup

And oh, it’s vegetarian. And possibly vegan if you leave out the cream cheese, but why would you do that?

The Best Soup Ever is even better the next day, reheated. Get after it, people. You’ll be thankful you did.

-k

Recipes: Roasted Apple and Pork Loin

The crab apple trees in Golden are ripe for harvesting, and that’s just what several friends and I did the other day. I came home with more than 50 pounds of fruit and an idea. What if I put together a meal with apples in each course?

Apples!

As my friend Juliann says — the best parties are themed.

And so began the Apple Extravaganza! Green salad with apples, stuffed pork loin roasted on a bed of apples and apple crisp for dessert. If I’d really been on my game, I would have come up with some signature brandy drink, but alas — I love grapes too much in that department to stray. And of course in the middle of whipping up this ridiculous meal, I didn’t take any photos of the completed project. You’ll have to take my word for it: it was good.

Apple party

Apple crisp

Roasted Apple and Pork Loin*

Ingredients:

12 small crab apples, or 6 larger apples — cored

1 pork loin

A bit of butter, or olive oil

1/2 cup goat cheese

1 cup porcini mushrooms, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, diced

dash of rosemary, salt, pepper

1/4 cup white wine

Apple roasters

Directions:

Place cored apples in roasting pan. Butterfly pork loin. In a cast iron skillet, cook onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent — about 10 minutes. Place butterflied pork loin on top of apples.

Stuffed pork roast

Pour onion/garlic/mushroom mixture down center of the loin. (It’s okay if some falls out. It will all still be yummy.) Add goat cheese on top of mixture, with a dash of rosemary, salt and pepper. Close pork loin flap/sandwich and contain with a handful of toothpicks. Sprinkle another dash of salt and pepper on top of closed roast.  Roast at 360 for 1 hour or so, until a meat thermometer reads at least 160. Apples should be warm and mushy.

Place apples and pork loin on a serving dish. Add a 1/4 cup of white wine to the roasting pan and place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, scraping at bits left in the pan. Pour au jus into a separate serving dish.

Voila!

Great game

Apples to Apples afterward, over dessert? Divine.

~K

* An improved take on this recipe.