Chicken Fried Rice


A few days before Christmas I lost my skillet in my one-time stint as a firefighter against a rogue candle. The skillet had led good life of 8 years, 3 apartments and as evidenced by this blog... a healthy bit of use... so it seemed like a worthwhile lifespan for a skillet I bought from Walmart in 2006. Thankfully Santa's elves blessed me with a new one for Christmas and I was really excited to christen it this New Year's Eve with a brand new recipe.

This New Years Eve felt different than recent years past but not in a bad way. I did some quick reflection and realized it was the first NYE in awhile that I have spent by myself**. It's been a mix of snowy locations, easier "home"ish evenings, and one warm trip to Florida ... but this might be one of my favorite. I spent the day gently knocking items off my to-do list, leisurely drank lattes, watched the Cosby Show on Hulu, and went to a candlelit yoga class. On my way home from the yoga class, I picked up a can of Pringles that I commenced eating while I walked past all the people dressed up and carrying housewarming gifts.

my christmas


Christmas is by far one of my favorite seasons of the year. Sometimes I'm surprised by that fact since I might just give up bacon if I got to live in the sweet spot of May to September year-round. As a family, we've been known to keep our trees up perhaps way longer than deemed socially acceptable... but we don't care. Is there anything better than lounging on your couch with a view of the ornaments and lights? Not really.

If you knew me last year, you might feel like my tree this year looked a lot like Abe from 2012 ... and you'd be right. But the ornaments made it through storage and who am I to turn down an ornaments chance to shine bright like a diamond? I have some ideas already in my head for next years tree and I'm excited about it. This year's tree was named Mark ... in honor of a spider that lived with my sister respectfully until he broke one of her rules (moving out of the kitchen) and she had to take care of business.

eggnog cinnamon rolls


 Before you toss out the last of the eggnog from your refrigerator, I should tell you how I made eggnog cinnamon rolls for Christmas this year. The chance is pretty strong you've either already drunk it ... or tossed it ... but if I don't write about the recipe it feels like it never happened.

Last year, I made about a million batches of eggnog monkey bread all to rave and successful reviews. I liked the idea of having a recipe of the season that I would make a few times to eat and share. Several weeks back, I stumbled upon this recipe for eggnog cinnamon rolls and felt like I had a winner.

Outdoors with Ruby May


There is this really interesting balance that comes with "going home for the holidays" when everyone is home. It's amazing and relaxing ... and an adjustment. It's probably a weird intricacy of getting older and having routines. I'm used to spending my Sundays quietly drinking coffee and watching CBS Sunday Morning - as opposed to discussing laundry logistics, what the cream cheese options are, and whether or not we will all watch the Patriots game together. To be clear, all of those are blessings but just so comical that they are even adjustments.

So in an effort to get a little exercise and quiet time, I took a walk in the woods with Ruby May and baby sister on a perfectly foggy and warm Winter day. It was warm enough to warrant leaving the heavy coats behind along with any element of gloves or hats. We headed out to Norris River Reservation in Norwell and wandered for a couple of hours. Ruby got to run through the woods a bit and find sticks. We got to stroll with appropriately themed Starbucks lattes in hand. A win for everyone. Norris is quickly becoming a great place that I love to frequent when I'm home for a little fresh air (2011 and 2012).

Filipino Feast


I'm a sucker for a reason to make a meal... and I love when the reason comes with a kickstart for what to eat. It's part of the reason we ended up with all those multi-course meals for Downton Abbey last year.

If I'm doing some slightly more adventurous cooking, it tends to be on Sunday. More time for prep. More time for errands. More time for reading the recipe two and three times. So, last Sunday was the season finale of Survivor and seemed like another great occasion to try something different. While a part of me wanted to just pull together a favorite fish dish from my repertoire, it felt like an opportunity to try some Filipino inspired food. The rationale being that this season of Survivor was held in the Philippines.

The meal itself was actually rather easy to pull together. It isn't a "one pot wonder" meal ... rather two - but that's okay. There isn't any fancy prep required. Just simple chopping, sautéing, and patiently waiting for the rice. It isn't exactly the most photogenic meal ever but I think that's the nature of the beast.

life lessons in skiing


Two life lessons today kids. And if life isn't about learning lessons and taking adventures then you are probably just wasting your time. So here is what I learned today:
  1. If you go up the mountain, you have to come back down it... and the terrain isn't going to magically be different.
  2. If the color map costs $1, you should buy it ... even if the ski rental lady tells you that you don't need it.
But today was rather awesome and in a totally different way than my earlier skiing adventure.

All of the trails were fully decked out in white. The trees were bowing under the weight of the weeks weather and it just seriously was a winter wonderland. An empty one at that. Despite a full parking lot, I felt like I had the mountain to myself. In the 2.5 hrs I traipsed around, I only saw 4 people, maybe 5. At one point, I became acutely aware that I could hear absolutely no trucks or people... only the gentle swishing of my skis. Soon after this moment, I realized I had no idea how to fight off a bear or deal with a avalanche. I'm not sure either of those are threats at Windblown Cross Country Ski Center.

Adventures in Skiing!

About once a year I go cross country skiing. And while I did go a few other times when I was younger, I'm pretty much referring to NYE 2010 and NYE 2012. So my experience is limited - but that's the great part about cross country skiing... it's like you barely need experience. Slight exaggeration probably - but that's what I love about this activity.

So with the recent snowfall over the weekend and no work on Monday ... I was gearing up for an adventure. I did some light research and found this place just outside Boston called Great Brook Ski. The place is something like 25 miles from Boston but quite literally feels like a world apart. It's reminiscent of visiting my friend Anna in Lincoln. Except with about a million more really tall trees and my rented cross country skis.

christmas stout gingerbread

A couple of months ago, I got a surprise package in the mail from a "secret admirer". Obviously, I can't stand secrets and not knowing the full story ... so I called the company and demanded they tell me who the package was from. I appeased to the gentleman's good heart by telling him that I can't send a proper thank you note without a person. He fell for it. But, I did mean that. I like to thank people for their thoughtful gifts ... especially this one.

The admirer = my grandfather. The gift = an appropriately themed care package based on my annual shipment of Irish Soda Bread. The box included a seriously gorgeous baking dish with a celtic cross in the bottom, a classically beautiful Irish dish towel, and a bread mix. It took me awhile to find the appropriate thank you but I finally got there.

meeting jared


I've been looking forward to last Wednesday for quite awhile. Although it isn't quite Christmas just yet, it was Christmas and my brother's birthday all wrapped in one. Big day right? See the thing is teenage boys are challenging to shop for. I just don't have the eye for what is cool and interesting to a 14 (and soon to be 15) year old boy. The entire OBEY clothing line is just a mystery to me. I don't get it.

What I do understand is that my brother is very calculated in what he likes and doesn't like. He picks things that not all of his friends are on board with - or even know about. So for an example, Jake told me in the Fall that one of his favorite teams is the Clippers, I had to ask why. There is always a reason with Jake. The reason? Jared Dudley. Jake has been watching Jared's career since he played at Boston College, at which point Jake was a mere 9 years old when he graduated.

gingerbread pancakes!


I've long described breakfast as one of my favorite meals. I think it might be because it comes with endless cups of coffee and limited judgement for wearing your pajamas while you eat.

If your definition of "getting dressed"is putting on pants... then I'll be honest ... I haven't really gotten dressed in over a week. By the time this vacation is over, I might actually forget how to use a zipper. In addition, my consumption of Pellegrino and Reese's Christmas Trees has increased dramatically. I had to actually grab the emergency bag of candy from my freezer on Saturday night. Sad or awesome? I'll go with awesome.

On Saturday, I woke up to knowing that while I had plenty of English muffins in the house... it wasn't enough. An impending snowstorm makes me want to hibernate early and often. A year ago, I made these corn griddle cakes to some success ... and for once in my life, I didn't really want a breakfast sandwich. I wanted pancakes... and I wanted them to be gingerbread.

beach bliss


I've been on vacation for a few days and it's been pretty great.

I excel at taking vacations. I guess theoretically this is a staycation since I didn't technically go anywhere... either way, I'm winning. I made an awesome to-do list last Friday of things that I was hoping to get done this week and I've made some great progress in knocking them down. One of the things on my list was to "check out Provincetown". I've never been and people rave about it. That being said, they normally rave about it in the summer... when it's warm... not cold.

I've been watching the weather a bit for a day that held clear skies and today was the day. I didn't really have much of a plan for what to do except that I just wanted to drive down and drive back and step out onto a beach. At the last minute, I decided to take the family dog Ruby May with me... and it was awesome. Ruby May LOVES beaches.

gingerbread madeleines


I oscillate between being really proactive... and a total procrastinator. Sometimes I'm really on my game and prepared for an event ... and other times I'm struggling.

The perfect example of this is my participation in this year's internet cookie swap. The concept is simple. You write about food on the internet? You qualify. Make a cookie that you've never written about previously. Mail one dozen to three different randomly assigned bloggers. Easy peasy. Oh, and you have like nearly a month to do it. Plenty of time.

When my co-worker asked me if I was going to join this year, I initially said no. Then I ate this amazing brown butter hazelnut donut and changed my mind. I had my inspiration and I was going to embrace it. A few weeks ago, I attempted a batch of cookies and at the last minute swapped out hazelnuts for pretzels. While the dough was DELICIOUS, the cookies lacked the right consistency. First attempt = fail. Second attempt = fail. Moving on... With two failed attempts under my belt, I finally found something that worked ... gingerbread madeleines. I love madeleines. Why?

chickpea stew


Disclaimer: This soup tastes better than it looks. I promise. But, I guess it's soup season for reals. It's December - so that makes sense. As I write this posting, it is actually snowing outside and I think that's perfect.

I was on a major soup binge last year - and haven't quite hit my stride yet I guess. I haven't quite found my winning soup of Fall/Winter 2013 yet. I actually made this soup back in November but wasn't super duper excited about it ... so I didn't really get around to writing it up.

Don't get me wrong. This soup is great. My little sister proclaimed how flavorful and awesome it was when I served it to her one Sunday. It just isn't that type of soup that you make time and time again. It's also not really a "coffee house type soup". It's more of a "dinner party soup". All your guest will loves it - except that person that hates cumin. They will not like this. Just throw pour them another glass of wine and toss them a roll. They'll be fine.

thanksgiving activities


I am most certainly a person who is rejuvenated by nature - never by the city.

I don't need to run to feel at peace, a simple walk will suffice. And, I did that nearly every day of this longer Thanksgiving break... and I loved it. I was talking to my sister last week about how desperate I was to just get home (and by home, I mean my parents). I haven't been travelling or excessively socializing but I just really needed to refresh my spirit a bit with some relaxing days at my parent's house.

There was a fair bit of cooking over the last few days but also a healthy amount of Netflix, walking, and sleeping. My Jawbone and I clocked in 8+ hours nearly every night. At one point, we did a puzzle. We set up the fleet of family Christmas trees and ate a lot of Cheddar Blasted Goldfish. But, the walking is the part that I loved the most.

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