Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, 2012!

*Hey guys, reminder: I'm in Africa until mid-January and hopefully my posts will all auto-publish correctly. Any emails or comments will be answered when I get home!*

Hard to believe that 2012 is already at an end! I said it last year and I'll say it again: I seriously feel like this was the fastest year yet. But it was a damn good one!

Before I jump into the food highlights, I wanted to quickly share one of the best things that happened this year - finding Crossfit. Yep, I'm "drinking the Kool-Aid" and I absolutely love it! I'll save my spiel for another time but becoming a Crossfitter was certainly a favorite highlight from 2012. :)

Okay, onto the food! Check out these amazing noms:

Deep-fried Reese's

Check out the rest of 2012's Fried-Days HERE!!!

Wine from Leyden Farms

Tapas from LOCO

T-Roy's Hickory Smoked Barbecue Ribs

Thick cut bacon, covered in chocolate and crushed M&Ms

Asian Ginger's sushi


And I can't forget what came outta my kitchen. Some of my favorite recipes of the year:

Cookie Dough Dip

Balsamic & Onion Pot Roast

Guinness Brownies

Chocolate Zucchini Bread (paleo)

Braised Oxtail

Looks like I enjoyed a lot of chocolate and meat this year haha.


Have a wonderful and safe New Year!!! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Swedish Apple Pie

*Hey guys, reminder: I'm in Africa until mid-January and hopefully my posts will all auto-publish correctly. Any emails or comments will be answered when I get home!*

This Swedish Apple Pie is a favorite among my family. Sort of cult-like favorite. In fact, there are a few family members that would probably have my head if I didn't make it on Thanksgiving. And so, while I don't care for pie, I can still safely assume that this pie is delightfully delicious.


A great thing about this pie is that I don't need to prep any crust for it. Mix up a quick batter, spread over apple slices, and bake. Boom, done! Super simple and absolutely fool-proof. If you need an easy dessert for a party this holiday season, give this pie a go. 


Just don't hate me if you're required to make it for all future gatherings. ;)

Swedish Apple Pie
from my mom!

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of allspice
3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Fill large (9" or so) pie plate with apple slices. Mix the 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; sprinkle over the apples.
3. Melt butter. Add 1 cup sugar, flour, and egg and stir to combine. Pour over apples and spread to cover.
4. Bake 45 minutes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Fried-Day! (December edition)

Well, we made it to the last Fried-Day of 2012. How are your arteries holding up? ;)
 Since December blog posts seem to be all on a sugar-high, I'm going in the opposite direction with something spicy: buffalo wings!


Specifically, the 3.5s from Wendell's in Norton, MA.

Best. Wings. Ever.

I'm not even kidding here - they are freakin' fantastic. The 3.5s have the perfect heat threshold (hey dare devils, give the Double Dare wings a go...), plenty of sauce to go around, and the fryolator leaves the chicken crispy good.

I'm drooling. Get me an order, stat!

Check out 2012's previous Fried-Days HERE!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

S'mores Hot Chocolate

Today seemed like the perfect day to share a hot chocolate idea. I've been cranking Christmas tunes non-stop (since I won't be home this year) and a mug of cocoa would be the most perfect accompaniment.

I made this mug of s'mores hot chocolate last year and haven't stopped thinking about it since. 

A mug of cocoa is already a perfect winter treat. But when it is ramped up with s'mores fixin's? Even better!


S'mores Hot Chocolate
serves 2

2 servings of your favorite hot chocolate, prepared
1/2 sheet of graham cracker, crushed up
4 large marshmallows (or as many as you wish)
Chocolate syrup

1. Dip the mug rims into a little bit of milk and then into the graham cracker crumbs.
2. Preheat broiler and line small baking sheet with foil. Spread marshmallows out and broil until golden. 
3. Carefully pour hot chocolate into the prepared mugs. Top with marshmallows. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.
4. Sip and enjoy!

Please, please, please use a good hot cocoa mix/recipe here aka not one of those instant, just-add-water packets. Those things are way weak taste-wise and loaded with extraneous crap. I like using the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa mix to which I add sugar and is made with milk. The Hershey's Special Dark cocoa is makes a great mug of cocoa too.

Get even more sinful with a splash or two of Tuaca or Grand Mariner! :D

Happy sipping!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Scrambling to finish your gift shopping?

Got a food-obsessed family member or friend in your life? Or looking for some inspiration for your own kitchen wish list? (It's okay, admit it.) Check out some of these fun, unique, and random gift ideas.

The Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan was made for us edge piece fanatics - no more fighting over those precious slices!


Check out this cool springform pan from Lekue. It has a ceramic base and a silicone wall, so it'll cleanly remove from all your cheesecakes! Also comes in clear, which I think would make for a cool presentation.


These next two items from ThinkGeek are lots of fun - a Gingerdead Men Cookie Cutter and Samurai Sword Chopsticks!


Sur La Table has some super cute foodie decorations. I particularly liked the Hot Sauce Bottle, Cuts of Beef, and Package of Bacon ornaments. 


For whatever reason, this Kuhn Rikon Silicone Balloon Whisk is calling to me. Must be the cheerful colors!


For the brew master or wino in your life, how about these cool pieces of glassware? Check out this Hopside Down beer glass and Mario-inspired Piranha Plant wine glasses?



And speaking of gift baskets, I'm legit coveting this next item. The Artisanal Bamboo Salt Chest from Uncommon Goods. Totally loving all the varieties of salt, the cute containers, and the beautiful chest. *drooooool*


As an epic splurge on someone that's been really, really, really good this year, how about this gorgeous Miyabi Kaizen 10-Piece Block Set from Sur La Table? (Seriously, click on the link to see how lovely these knives actually are.)


Want to make your own treats to give away? Great! Why not package up some of my Cookies N Cream Popcorn, a jar of Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Butter, or a loaf of Cranberry Orange Bread?


Happy gifting!

(Note: These are all just items and products that have caught my eye, nothing that I can personally endorse at this time. Except for the Edge Brownie Pan - I love mine!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December Cookie Swap: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Okay, so upon seeing the title, you might have thought, "Borrrring." But seriously guys, these are the best oatmeal raisin cookies. I've been making them for years and years and everyone always compliments them. 

And they are totally versatile: add your favorite nuts, use dried cranberries, throw in some chocolate chips, whatever. And better yet, if you need something for a cookie swap, holiday party, or a gift - these cookies are perfect! 


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
from Quaker Oats

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat together butter and both sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
3. In a second bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture; beat well. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well. 
3. Refrigerate batter at least 20 minutes. (Important! Otherwise, these will spread like crazy!)
4. Drop spoonfuls onto baking sheets.
5. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets in the oven halfway through.
6. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Instagram


Colorful lights at LaSalette Shrine, Attleboro MA.

Follow me on Instagram at: @MassachusEATS

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WIAW #42

Hey guys, welcome back for another round of WIAW! 


Hope you've all been having a great week so far! 

Egg whites, avocado, & tomato

Okay, so I haven't been straying too far from my favorite breakfast, which makes me rather predictable at this point, I suppose. But that's okay. It sure makes my hectic mornings a lot easier when I already know what I'm gonna eat.

Sticky chicken drumsticks

These drumsticks came out very yummy so I will be sharing the recipe in the future. I was pretty psyched when there was a few leftover for my lunch and that they kept well. Had a salad on the side but that doesn't photograph as beautifully as these pups did.

Taco seasoned chicken strips with guac

Though the seasoning recipe I used for the chicken wasn't my favorite (too salty!), I loved this idea and will definitely be recreating this in the future. Super easy and quick, too.

Heath Bar Trifle

I finally got a chance to use my trifle bowl over the weekend for a Christmas party! :)

Oh, and in case you missed it - I made an exciting and big announcement on Sunday so check it out!

Have a good one!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: The Happiness Project

One blog that I read on a regular basis is Peanut Butter Fingers, a fabulous healthy living blog. Julie has such a sunny personality and great writing style that makes reading her blog fun. In addition to that, she regularly features a monthly book club.

This is the first time I've participated. A few times I have read along and followed the subsequent reviews but hadn't bitten the bullet to join in. I guess you could say that this month’s book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin inspired me!


The Happiness Project  follows Gretchen’s year-long journey to become happier overall because, as she puts it: “the days are long, but the years are short.” Each month, Gretchen focuses on a different area of her life (work, parenthood, money, etc) that she’d like to boost happiness in and, from there, sets a couple of benchmark goals to hit each month.

Many pieces of advice stuck out at me during reading, particularly “tackle a nagging task.” We all seem to have those items on our to do lists that linger on there for ages on end – a phone call to make, an errand to run, whatever.  I am spectacular at procrastinating when the task is something I dread doing. But, immediately after reading that section of the book, I marched over to the phone and made a phone call I’d been putting off for weeks. And you know what? It took me less than five minutes…and I felt terrifically accomplished afterwards! It made me wonder why I had even been delaying that darn call.


Reading the book got me thinking about my own life and how I would improve upon it. And while I might not go about it the same way Gretchen did, The Happiness Project is a great tool and resource to create a game plan of your own. Not only that, the book is chock-full of inspiring quotes and mentions of other inspiring happiness writers to help fire you up! (Maybe it’s just me but I’m a sucker for those encouraging quotes!)

I’m a pretty happy person most of the time already but hey, I could always be happier. ;) With 2013 on the horizon, might as well begin brainstorming some goals for the coming months and start the year off right. Check out PBF for Julie's review (and a list of others who read along this month) and get inspired!


Questions for other readers:
* What was your favorite, stand out piece of advice? Have you taken any of her ideas to heart already?
* Which area of your life would you choose to tackle first in your own Happiness Project?      
* Was there a particular quote that you loved and what was it?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm Going to Africa!

Yep, you read that right: I'm going to be heading to Africa in a couple weeks! 

My babe and I are embarking on a three-week safari tour in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, plus a few extra days in Cape Town. All told, we'll be away for almost a month including over Christmas and New Years. 

Our safari route and various stops!

As someone who has always been down for a trip to the zoo, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to see some amazing animals in their own habitats. And to hopefully ride an elephant because I've always wanted to. And to see Victoria Falls, a place I always wished to see but never thought that I actually would. And to try some new foods and beers, of course!

And while I could go on, I will spare you. But only because you'll most likely be inundated with recaps and reviews upon my arrival home. ;) I'm planning on getting some posts ready to automatically update while I'm away, though I will be unable to reply to comments or emails until I'm home in January. We're going off the grid!

It's still a little ways away and I'm currently all ears so...

Have you/would you ever go on a safari or to Africa? :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Cookie Swap: Red Velvet Blossoms

December 1st - time to start thinking about holiday cookies!


Let's kick things off with these festive little Red Velvet Blossoms. It's amazing - a little red food coloring and  peppermint Hershey Kisses add a great pop of color to your holiday cookie platter. Feel free to omit the food coloring or use another flavor Kiss though, if you prefer.


Red Velvet Blossoms
from Cuisine At Home

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon liquid food coloring (I used the entire small bottle)
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
32 peppermint flavored Hershey Kisses, unwrapped and frozen

1. Preheat the oven to 375*. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
3. In second bowl, combine oil and both sugars and beat with a hand mixer until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg. Mix in the food coloring and vinegar until fully incorporated.
4. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Scoop 1 to 2 teaspoons of dough onto baking sheets.
6. Bake cookies until puffed and edges are set, 10 to 12 minutes.
7. Remove cookies from the oven and insert a frozen Kiss into each cookie. Let cookies stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.