Posts tagged ‘Christmas!’

Following Foodie – The Christmas Special

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! I’m home in Philly, but I started off my celebration of Christmas with a little trip down to Cincinnati. My family and I used to spend Christmas in Cincinnati all the time, but we haven’t been there in December for at least 6? 7? years.

I started off my holiday weekend on Saturday night with a new Cincinnati tradition – Downtown Dazzle, aka Santa repelling down a building in Fountain Square.

You might remember Fountain Square from it’s appearance in my Oktoberfest post. This time, though, the Square was decked out for the holiday season

The tradition of Santa repelling has been taking place for about 5 years, and it was actually my uncle’s idea to start it! He’s an event planner in Cincinnati, and he thought it would be a great Cincinnati holiday tradition.

After watching the Cincinnati Boys’ Choir,

admiring the Christmas tree,

seeing Santa, an elf, and Rudolph scale down a building,

and watching some fireworks

my aunt, uncle, cousin, and other uncle went in search of food. After a few misses (downtown Cinci was pretty busy, what with all the spectators also looking for a good meal), we ended up at Nicholson’s Tavern and Pub, a “Scottish” pub-type restaurant.

I was immediately drawn to their impressive draught beer selection, and had no problem finding one of my favorites, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.

We didn’t have to wait too long for a table, and after everyone ordered a drink, we were served nice hot bread

I really wasn’t in the mood for heavy pub food, and was excited to see a few interesting salads and sandwiches on the menu as well. After much internal debate (should I get traditional pub food, as I was in a pub?), I decided on the Grilled Ahi sandwich, with a side of steak fries.

It was delicious! I love ginger, and there was a definite gingery kick to this sandwich. I also appreciated the portion of fries – just enough.

However, the star of the meal was the real reason we came there in the first place – the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Before the dessert was brought out, some sugared spoons were brought to the table

And then, the dessert itself:

Yum! We split it between three people, and there was still some left over! It was so rich, but really delicious, too :D

Other highlights from my trip to Cinci included a trip to my Uncle’s in Northern Kentucky for his holiday open house. I can’t believe it, but I forgot my camera! Which is horrible, because other than the food (which included baked brie, amazing guacamole, little ham sandwiches, and chili dip), my uncle’s house is something to marvel at. For one thing, he has 7 Christmas trees. He also collects Peanuts memorabilia (specifically Snoopy stuff), and 4 of the 7 trees are Peanuts themed. Instead of looking tacky, though, it’s just really, really cool.

On Wednesday, I finally got to come home to Philadelphia, and was greeted with my family’s Christmas tree,

Christmas decorations

and the remains of the blizzard of ‘09.

In comparison, here’s what we received, in Michigan (where it’s supposed to be nice and snowy).

Christmas Eve Day started for me with a chilly and icy 4-mile run. It felt wonderful, though, and set a nice precedent for the day, as did my unpictured bowl of yogurt.

The rest of the day was spent shopping (I just needed a few more things!), baking (more on that later :) and hanging out with my family.

Before church (our parish’s version of “Midnight Mass” takes place at 10:30), we had a Christmas Eve meal of stuffed shells, bread-machine bread and salad. I made the salad, a replica of my asparagus-pomegranate-chickpea salad I made before.

Not a huge fan of stuffed shells, I had some salad and bread.

Following food, we took some Christmas photos.

After church we swapped our Pollyanna gifts, a tradition we’ve had since we stopped going to Cincinnati, I think. Instead of everyone buying gifts for each other, we each draw a name. I was so excited for my gift – I drew my Phillies-loving brother, and actually bought for him the picture that I used for that post, as well as baseball-related book.

Christmas morning, we awoke to presents under the tree!

I love Christmas so much. And although I do love opening presents, as I get older, it’s becoming more fun for me to watch others open their presents, and to enjoy time with my family and their craziness.

I got some pretty cool stuff

but it was really more fun to watch everyone else open their gifts.

The rest of today has been spent doing exactly what I think you should do on Christmas – sitting around, napping, and eating. I had a fairly tame breakfast and lunch,

but have definitely supplemented it with some (previously promised) Christmas cookies.

Yum. Now, maybe I’ll go for a run. Or perhaps sit around and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas


December 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment


Or, Christmas “cookies” part 3

It’s funny – when I actually think about it, many of the cookies that my family usually makes for Christmas aren’t that at all! We have bars (Keebler Bars, Hello Dollys), savory snacks (oyster crackers, Chex Mix), sweet snacks (Pretzel “Cookies”, Muddy Buddies, Wreaths), and finally, actual cookies (Anise, Pfeffernüsse, Springerle, Sugar, Chocolate Crinkles). Yup, my family goes Christmas “cookie” crazy.

I made another “cookie” today – Chex Muddy Buddies (which I will never make in the microwave, thanks though…). My brother mentioned them after I made the oyster crackers, and I figured it would be a nice snack for him to have while studying for finals (aren’t I a great sister?). Of course, they’re also a great snack for me…I stole little handfuls all day yesterday – hopefully the fact that they’re in containers now will dissuade me a little

It’s funny – that seems like such a small amount of Muddy Buddies to me! Trufax – when I make it at home, I double the recipe (18 cups of Chex!), and make it probably 3 times throughout the holiday season. My family loves Muddy Buddies.

I *did*, however, use PB&Co Creamy Peanut Butter instead of Jif or Skippy, and they seemed to have suffered little from the switch. 

I did eat real food yesterday, too, in the form of waffles

leftover pizza

and dinner – Garlic Tahini Green Beans and Near East Garlic and Pecan Grains.

The beans couldn’t have been easier, or more delicious! I sautéed the beans in a bit of butter (yes, I admit it), and added a diced garlic clove when they were almost done. I then added probably about a tablespoon of tahini, and let them cook a little longer. After I took them off the heat, I added some toasted pine nuts, and a squirt of lemon juice. Divine!

I was trying to eat “lighter” because of my snacking throughout the day (a few oyster crackers might have been consumed as well…), but my good intentions were thwarted when I stopped over at my friend’s house to drop something off, and she invited me in for a drink and to attend part of her Department Christmas Party. No pictures, but I might have snacked on a few (million) lime-flavored tortilla chips, baked brie, and fudge.

No regrets, though, and after starting my morning with some 30 Day Shred (I’ve been doing this a couple of times a week recently – I want to build a nice strength base before I *really* start marathon training) and a nice bowl of yogurt, I feel much better :)

Now if I only didn’t have to work today…

December 15, 2009 at 10:56 am 3 comments

Making Christmas “Cookies”

While I’m not a “traditional” person in general, when it comes to holidays, I’m all about traditions. My family probably has the most traditions surrounding Christmas, and the one that generally falls on my shoulders is the baking of Christmas cookies. This year, I’m not going to be able to get home until LATE on the 23rd (like, midnight late), so the cookie baking will largely fall to my mom, with the exception of some I made over Thanksgiving (which I will talk about when it gets closer to the holiday), and oyster crackers, which I made today.

They’re not cookies, per se, but for as long as I can remember, they’ve been a part of our Christmas spread.

They’re so easy to make – just a box of oyster crackers, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (the powdered kind), dill, and garlic powder. Even the recipe is a sort of tradition (I’ll post a picture when I get a chance at home); it’s written on a square of paper, by my father (who knows why he was writing it), it’s not at all organized, and I think me or one of my brothers drew all over it. It always makes me smile to read it.

Making them this year was a little different – I had to borrow a roasting pan from my friend, I don’t have wax paper or a porch where I can spread them out to cool, and the Kroger brand crackers are larger than I’m used to.

They still taste the same, however, and just making them makes me feel a little better about not being with my family right now. And that is, to me, the essence of traditions – not necessarily recreating the same thing every year, but recapturing the same feeling of happiness year to year. And with these, I’ve accomplished at least some of that :)

December 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm 1 comment

There’s always tomorrow (for a better run!)

I’m watching the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree on TV, and it’s really making me miss New York. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually pretty glad I’m not there anymore (life is so crowded and stressful!), but aside from the crowds of people, Christmas is definitely the best time to be in New York.

There’re markets

giant Nutcrackers

and of course, the Tree.

*Sigh*. Thanks for that little trip down memory lane…

In other Christmas news, look at the beautiful wreath I got at the Farmers’ Market today!

I’m still trying to figure out how to/where to hang it; right now it’s an (actually really pretty) decoration on my TV.

Also, it rained today. WTF Ann Arbor/Michigan?? I was all prepared for feet of snow before Thanksgiving – as of yet, there’s been nary a snowflake. Now supposedly, that’s changing tomorrow, but I’m not going to get my hopes up…

In the part of my life that doesn’t have to do with Christmas (which, honestly, is not too much right now – ‘tis the season!), my run this morning was not so fun. For one thing, it was cold, and for the first time, I really felt it, especially in my cheeks. I also managed to get lost, not once, but twice, adding around 1.5 miles to my run…Sigh. I mean, I’ve done this run before, but only once, and that was right after I had mapped it. My directions were completely wrong, and I managed to pick the wrong way at two different turns. Not fun at all. Also, my iPod died halfway through…It was just one of those runs, you know? Unfortunately, they can’t all be perfect…

My run ended up being 8.1 miles, which I did in a (little over a) 10 min/mile pace. I’ve felt so slow lately! I don’t know if it’s the cold weather, or what, but I haven’t felt very powerful while running recently…I hope it’s just all in my head.

Food today was pretty uninventive. I had the same exact breakfast and lunch from yesterday, yogurt mess

and amazing salad.

A bit boring, yes, but as I’m running a little low on cash, I’m trying to use everything in my fridge/pantry, etc. And since the salad was so amazing, I felt there was nothing wrong with eating it again :) Don’t worry – I’m all out of asparagus, now, so I’ll have to think of something else tomorrow.

Snacks throughout the day included a Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar, this random trail mix my brother tossed me before I left home

and a few bites of chocolate, which apparently I have no picture of…

Dinner was something a bit different, and new to me. After all the Indian food love seen across the blogworld, for channa masala specifically, I was more than excited when I saw this frozen version at TJs.

Even better is the fact that I have naan bread on hand to go with it :D I also had a small slice of this cheese I found:

Altogether now:

Verdict? The channa masala was pretty awesome, but I feel like I could recreate it pretty easily, and pretty cheaply. The cheese was a really big disappointment, actually – I didn’t realize when I bought it that it was reduced fat, and unfortunately, cheese is one thing that I just have no tolerance for if it’s not the real thing. It was just so rubbery. Le sigh.

Time for Top Chef! G’night!

December 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment


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