fish tacos

I'm feeling a little done with sweets at the moment. I think I'll put my chocolate and cookie recipes aside for a moment and share some real food...

Most nights we end up making soup or pasta, comfort foods that totally go with the weather right now (still snow!)

But the other night, we escaped our chilly reality to enjoy fish tacos and drink beer with lime.

I sauteed up a couple of BC halibut cheeks, chopped up iceberg lettuce and cilantro, sliced radishes, and made a 'white sauce' of equal parts sour cream and plain yogurt with a squirt of lime. On a warm corn tortilla, it all tastes lovely. No dessert required.


sewing tutorials

In case you didn't see this, Sew, Mama, Sew did another Handmade Holidays collection of tutorials. I just went through every day -- there's some great stuff, and great new-to-me blogs. I realize this is a little late for this xmas year, but 2009 is probably full of birthdays...

One blog that you should check out (if you're into quilting, making cookies, or both) is oh, fransson - check out those quilts! It makes me want to try free motion quilting.... but I'll wait until my machine and I are having a good day.

a quilt for rachel...finally

My cousin Rachel is funny and kind and all, but she is very very patient. This is her birthday quilt... and she's a Taurus. That means she's been waiting since May for her birthday present. Merry Christmas!

This is only my second large quilt that I've ever completed so the road was long and bumpy. But I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

The binding was kind of slick -- it was the first time I did one, so I tried a continuous bias binding. These directions were very helpful. But a hint: be careful which way your seam faces when you sew the triangle to the other side to make a parallelogram, in step 2, otherwise you create more hours of work for yourself after sewing step 9 (I ended up with no 'right' side to my binding and had to resew half my seams!) Still, a pretty clever method for creating a double-fold bias binding.


so-very-retro cheese balls

Cheese balls are back! Were they always this good? If so, why did I mock them all these years?!

The one on the left is a cheddar cheese ball, rolled in dried cranberries and golden raisins. The other one is has goat cheese and scallions in it, and is rolled in parsley (and was the unanimous favourite of our sample size of three.) I honestly didn't realize that I had made a red one and a green one for Christmas eve until I was chilling them in the fridge. It was like I was being festive, subconsciously!

You make a base recipe, divide it and then add the separate ingredients. (I apologize in advance for the funny measurements -- I'm trying to divide this recipe into 1/3rd of its original serve-a-party size)

base recipe:
1/3 of a stick of butter (1/6 cup)
1-8oz package cream cheese
2/3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
a small dash (1/3rd of 1/2 teas) Worcestershire sauce
a couple drops of Tabasco sauce
pinch of salt
a couple grinds of fresh pepper

Beat all ingredients together until combined. Divide equally into two bowls.

for the red one:
Add a little less than 3 oz finely shredded sharp cheddar. Mix together well. Shape into a ball and roll in small handful of finely chopped dried cranberries and golden raisins. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

for the green one:
Mix base with a little less than 3 oz goat cheese and a little less than 1 Tbs finely chopped scallions. Shape into a ball and roll in a handful of finely chopped parsley. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

This recipe is another MS. I'm on a roll with martha this year -- I have just been digging her holiday edition magazines.

lemon poppyseed shortbreads

These crumbly morsels are a martha original. They are so stinkin' cute that I think I may have to make them for every holiday...

This recipe was handy because the shortbread dough can be frozen easily, although it doesn't 'thaw' like other cookie doughs though because of the... ahem... high butter content. It's a bit more work to roll into balls straight from the fridge, but totally doable.

makes 3 dozen cookies (I halved this recipe for about 16 cookies, which was perfect amid holiday baking overload)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups flour
3/4 teas salt
1/2 cup granulated (*or confectioners' sugar)

*I used granulated sugar, but apparently confectioners' sugar gives the cookies a finer texture

lemon poppyseed frosting:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 teas poppy seeds

Sift together flour and salt in small bowl. In large bowl, cream butter until fluffy, 3-5 mins. Add sugar and contine to beat until very light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat on low until flour is just incorporated (dough sticks together.)

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake on cookie sheet until firm and barely starting to colour around the base of the cookie, 20-25 mins. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make frosting by whisking together the sugar, cream and lemon juice until smooth. Stir in poppy seeds.

When cookies are totally cool, dip top half of shortbread balls into frosting and let set on parchment. Store in an airtight container.


fighting off 'boring soup syndrome'

How do you take what runs the risk of becoming a boring ol' vegetable soup and make it into something yummier? I would love to hear what your tricks are.

Last night, when faced with that very dilemma, I tried adding some sesame oil, soy sauce, and some angel hair pasta for a little Asian-inspired fare. The aroma was lovely! It tasted good too.

Veggies: onion, green onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, zucchini, and bok choy (throw in the bok choy at the very end -- it doesn't need much cooking time)
Swimming in: chicken broth, along with a teaspoon of sesame oil and a tablespoon of soy sauce
Additionals: noodles -- and red pepper flakes would have been good had I thought of it


glitter on the little things

As part of our holiday beautification this December, I glittered up some little pine cones. We picked these little gems while we were snowshoeing last year. (I'm kind of proud I kept them safely for an entire year.)

Nothing earth shatteringly crafty here, but sometimes little touches are all it takes.


Thanks for the warm welcome back to this space! It's fun to know folks are out there in blogland who enjoy stopping in.


braided bread

I am of the opinion that cardamon makes most any baked good better, so I was happy to finally give Angry Chicken's Christmas Braid a try. This sweet cardamon bread is a familiar taste in my family -- and commonly known among us as 'Finnish coffee bread' or pulla.

Whatever you call it, you still get to braid your food!

I love mine warm, with a small spread of butter and a cup of tea.


our tree smells like cinnamon

This is the kind of craft that I swear I must have made as a kid. It's so easy to create a memory that doesn't exist because it has all the elements -- sticky hands, applesauce, cookie cutters, a smell of cinnamon, Elmers glue, and glitter.

Hop on over to Martha's for the recipe and directions.


holiday spice sachets

A little cheesecloth, some kitchen twine and some very aromatic, beautiful spices make for a great little gift. Each cheesecloth contains: 5 cloves, 4 peppercorns, 2 green cardamon pods, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Thanks to good ol' Martha for this one. Her recipes don't always amaze, but the lady and her minions sure can decorate and do fun crafts.

(Can you tell I'm having fun with my new camera!)


cranberry vodka

Hey guys. Can I join this party again?

I brought something to share... a little cranberry-infused vodka.

Infusing vodka is simple stuff -- heat 1 cup cranberries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water on the stove. Once the sugar is dissolved and the cranberries are starting to pop open, you pour it into a glass jar (along with a piece of orange peel, if you want) and then add 3 cups vodka (I added only 2 cups 'cause I want it really tart.) Cover jar and let sit for a few days at room temperature. It will keep for about a month, apparently, but who are we kidding!

Talk about getting into the holiday spirit -- I'm anxious to try this with a little ice and club soda.

With Christmas around the corner, I'll be sharing a bit more in this space... stay tuned.