Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roasted Chestnuts

I saw this sign today for roasted chestnuts outside a local store.

I have to say that I’m a sucker for: 1) trying new things, 2) things related to Christmas and/or Christmas songs (“chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”), and 3) things that are less than $5.

In other words, I was walking away with a bag of chestnuts.

And the verdict? 

I liked them. They were slightly sweet, although they were a little bit dry. And as weird as it sounds, they sort of tasted like a baked potato.  

Overall, I’m glad I got them. And if I can just find “yuletide carols being sung by a choir” and/or “folks dressed up like Eskimos,” then my life-turned-Christmas-song will be complete.

Merry early Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cranberry Eggnog Cake

It seems like every season, there’s some dessert recipe that is my go-to recipe. In the fall, it was pumpkin muffins. I can’t remember how many times I made them, but the fact that I lost count means that it was quite a few.

This winter my favorite recipe is Cranberry Eggnog Cake.  I’ve made it twice so far, and I’ll be scheming to find reasons to make it again. The first time I made it was for a dinner party. This tasty cake was the perfect ending to a great meal. It’s flavorful, but not too sweet, and it has a nice crust on top. And to steal a phrase from Husband: “It takes like Christmas.”

And just yesterday I made this cake for a friend who loves cranberries. (I guess it goes without saying that it was a good friend because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to exercise such restraint in not devouring the whole thing.)

By the way, I feel like I have to say something in defense of eggnog. I’ve avoided it most of my life for reasons unknown to me, but it is really delicious in this cake. It also freezes well. I bought a ½ gallon of it, and I just take it out of the freezer when I need it. 

The recipe is from the Baker by Nature website.

Cranberry Eggnog Cake 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup eggnog
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with eggnog, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter cranberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

If you make this, I hope you enjoy it! Just consider it an early Christmas gift to yourself.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This weekend we visited a military cemetery in the area. They were laying wreaths at each gravesite, and we were honored to help place the wreaths.

The end result was a beautiful blanket of wreaths covering this sacred ground. I felt a mix of pride and sadness at the sight.

I’m so glad that our country honors our veterans this way. This weekend reminded me of a few more things to be thankful for this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baking Disaster

Yesterday I was baking an eggnog bread and planning what I would tell you about it. 

I was going to write about how it was a new recipe I found on I was going to tell you how I picked the recipe because I had all the ingredients on hand, and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store to pick up anything else. I was going to report how delicious it smelled when it was baking.

That was all until this happened:

I was pulling the bread out a bit early to check it. I lost my grip on the pan, and half of it dumped out on the bottom of the oven. 

I stood there for at least 5 seconds in shock wondering what you do when you’ve half-ruined your dessert and how the heck you even attempt to clean a scalding-hot oven.

The answer, I found, was you continue baking the rest of the dessert and you worry about the mess later when the oven is cooler. (I hope that I will not have to use this knowledge again in the near future!)

The dessert was salvageable, and I even served it to dinner guests. It didn’t look the prettiest, but it was tasty. Truthfully, I’ve never thought of myself as an eggnog fan, but this dessert changed my mind. 

The recipe I used is here. I used almond extract instead of rum extract because I didn’t have any rum extract. And, following the suggestions of the reviewers, I used less flour (2 cups) and more eggnog (1 and ¼ cups). 

If you make this, I hope yours turns out a little more “intact” than mine!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Cards

I’m not much of a shopper, but I have a strange compulsion to keep buying boxes of Christmas cards. Whenever I see a store’s table full of Christmas cards, it’s like a magnetic pull that I can’t resist. I’m instantly drawn to them.  And, if they’re on sale, I have to buy them.

Worse yet, then I have to tell people about the deal I got. “I got 18 cards for $2.88!” or “I got 20 cards for $3.99!”

Here are the Christmas cards I bought, just this year. 

We do send a fair amount of Christmas cards, so most of them will be used.

I hate to do the math on how many I have, but let’s just say that it’s a lot of Christmas cheer.

Happy December!

“ You want a Christmas card? You want a Christmas card? All right here. Here's your Christmas card.” ~Elaine from Seinfeld