New Year, New Dinners

I was back at work today and feeling OVERSTUFFED from too many sugar cookies, holiday parties and Entenmann’s Crumb Topped Donuts (my Christmas gift to myself). I’m formulating a plan for a healthy January with tons of vegetables and exercising. Here are some of the recipes I’ll be trying:

Bulgur, Garbanzo Bean, and Cucumber Salad from epicurious.com

Martha Stewart Everyday Food Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Parchment

Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables

Chicken Chili from Ina Garten

Pureed White Beans with Fresh Herbs

New Dress

I am wearing this dress on Christmas day:

It’s definitely a little springy, but I don’t care because it is so pretty and I can wear it in the spring and summer too. I’ll probably wear it with black tights and heels tomorrow, but I am going to start looking for some canary yellow heels to wear in the spring.

My Favorite Christmas Present

My niece and nephew are the cutest kids in the world (I may be biased). This year I wanted to make them something spectacular for Christmas, and since they are both working on learning the alphabet, I had the idea to make them an alphabet book.

I tried to find a picture of a family member for each letter, then filled in the missing letters with other pictures of the kids.

Some letters were very easy to find.

L and M are my favorite.

Q and X required the most creativity.

I ordered the book through Blurb and used their template in Adobe InDesign. I couldn’t be happier with the finished product and can’t wait to share it with the kids.

Cookies!

2 years ago I made 1200 cookies in one weekend before Christmas and put them in little bags to bring to work for my co-workers. About 36 hours into my baking marathon weekend, I was covered in flour and close to tears, but only 6 varieties of cookies into 10.

Last year I started my baking weekend with homemade marshmallows, which ended in disaster when I tried to pour the hot, sticky marshmallow into the pan to cool and it wouldn’t come out of the mixing bowl. I gave up on baking altogether and spent the rest of the weekend sitting on the couch, watching an entire season of Entourage and eating the marshmallow right out of the bowl.

This year I decided to simplify things and bake only a few different things and put together boxes for the people who help me out throughout the year.

I tried to find recipes that made either a lot of little pieces or a few bigger ones. I tried making fudge for the first time and it came out great.

I also attempted caramels, and they were not as good. I waited too long to take them off of the heat and they are way too hard (I think that it’s toffee now).

The Peppermint Patties from this recipe came out great, were super easy and I will definitely going to be making them again very soon. I printed out labels and tags and packed everything up in boxes and sent them off to friends.

Christmas Gifts (my tendency to over-do it)

Every year I try to have a theme with my Christmas wrapping paper. This year I found some really pretty Marimekko paper at Crate & Barrel in red/green and silver/gold patterns.

The paper was so pretty, I didn’t want to put ribbon and ugly gift tags on it, so I cut out letters with the recipient’s name and glued them on to the wrapped gifts.

I am so excited to give these presents, but halfway through cutting out about a hundred tiny letters, I realized that most of my efforts would end up in the trash. In the meantime, the presents are lined up looking awesome on our dining-room table. I might just let people open them up on Christmas day.