Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I Did Over Winter Vacation

Hope you all had lovely winter vacations.  If you didn't have a winter vacation, I'm both sorry and sad for you.  I dragged myself to Winter Break and really used the time to accomplish very little other than fun.  Yay fun!

There was getting ready for Christmas

decorating the tree at home


 our long-suffering shelf-elf, Jay.

Rudolf?  Is that you?

Christmas fun

 All dressed up from xmas eve mass with Nana.

Lookin' good there, punky nephew.
 So many presents!  So exciting!

 Christmas morning with the new Furby and almost-gingerbread house from Santa.

 Ready to play Harry Potter with the robes from Uncle Dan and wand from the FLA Murphys
He even went with the tie.

Gigantic marble run attempt #1 (Thanks Uncle Bob!)
 And knocking over some dominoes (Thanks Uncle John and Aunt Louise!)

We took a short trip to New Hampshire where we chilled in the new condo by Gunstock (available for rent - let me know if you're interested!)

 Snacking on warm chocolate chip cookies.

Getting ready to go tubing.

Almost there...

Warming up with some hot chocolate after our time in the bitter cold.
Came home to lots of snow, so we did some sledding

Thanks for the sleds, Uncle Tim and Aunt Marva!  They've been well used already!
And then had a big party on New Year's Day, per our tradition.  There were lots of friends, old and new, and a good time was had by all (well, I hope!  A good time was had by me, at least).  
Party, party, party!

As for food, there was lots of good stuff.  

I don't have any pictures of the french toast sticks that I made for the NYD party, but they were super good and easy and perfect for a crowd.  I made a ton (enough for 40 people), so I'm going to try to scale the recipe down.

Baked French Toast Sticks
4 hoagie rolls
6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Prep the rolls - slice each in half vertically.  Then quarter each half (so that you end up with 8 triangular shaped piece from each roll).
Beat the eggs, milk, and syrup together in a shallow dish (I used a 9X11 glass dish) until well mixed.
On a plate, mix together the sugars and cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 and generously grease a rimmed baking sheet.
Dip each piece of bread in the egg mix and let it soak a bit, but not so that the bread is falling apart.  Remove it from the egg mix and roll it in the cinnamon sugar and place on the baking sheet.
When you have used up all the bread, bake for about 25 minutes until the cinnamon sugar has carmalized.  
Perfect as is!  No need for syrup.

Since so much junk was consumed this break, I'm now doing a week wheat, sugar, dairy and meat free to try to reset my system a little.  While it's not the most amazing of diets, I think that ultimately I'll feel better for it.  And tomorrow is a normal dinner anyway - vegetarian chili over sweet potatoes.

Vegetarian Chili

1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper (I usually like to use half of a yellow and half of an orange)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (or 3/4 tsp ground cumin)
1/2 tsp oregano
2 cans beans (kidney and black are good), rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
optional: 1 medium sweet potato per person

In a medium pot, heat about 2 tbsp oil to medium heat.  Add the onion, pepper and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion and peppers are soft.  Add the chili, cayenne, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the beans, tomatoes, and oregano and simmer for about an hour.  This is really easy to make the day ahead.

If you want to bake the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Poke holes with a fork in several spots in the potato.  Roast directly on the oven rack for about an hour until the sweet potato is very soft to the touch.  Slice and serve with chili in the middle. 


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