So, something happened.

I can’t pretend anymore that I’ve been even a halfway decent contributor here.  And sadly, I can say the same about my time in the kitchen – not as impressive as one might hope.  (Sorry, husband.)

There’s the new job, and all the transitions that have come with that.  There were a few other family things mixed in, and then there’s the fact that now that it’s winter, no one likes taking pictures of food at night (much less looking at them).

But mostly it’s this:

My husband and I learned that we are going to be parents.

FullSizeRender (2)

To be precise, baby boy is joining our party of two sometime in spring 2016.

This just got (really) real.

There are plenty of places to share thoughts on pregnancy and motherhood and families on the interwebs.  Because this is (or was, before I casually disappeared) a food blog, I thought I’d share some food-related items I’ve learned over the past few months.  (Feel free to share your own thoughts – I’ve also learned that especially in the beginning, just talking about these things helps!)

Top Five Things I’ve Learned About Growing a Human Baby vs. a Food Baby

(1) All the bread, all the time.  For the first few months, the only thing I could imagine ever wanting to eat was carbs.  And not the whole grain, seed-speckled, delicious but somewhat healthy bread I had grown to love over the years.  Give me baguette and/or pizza, or give me more nausea.

(2) This whole telling none of your family and friends about the most bonkers thing that’s ever happened to you for a few months is HARD.  Let’s leave aside the fact for the moment that sharing my innermost feelings is not something I’ve ever had to work on (in fact, probably should try to keep a better lid on those sharing/caring moments, including on this forum).  Let’s just concentrate on the fact that for a few months, you’re LYING to your friends and family about things that you LOVE, making you look like a LYING LIAR.  Oh, coffee?  Oh, I had some already this morning (I wish).  Wine?  Actually, I think I may be coming down with a cold (OMG, please pass me a glass, just so I can sniff it).  Delicious, melty French cheese that oozes and smells perfectly ripe?  I don’t want any (WHAT!? Who ARE you?)

(3) Some things that you love will make you really, really sick.  Like sugar.  Halloween Twix bars have me thinking I may never eat a Twix again.  Salmon, pre-ordered for two separate weddings, which I made the husband eat instead.  And…overeating.  Despite knowing that this would make me feel terrible, I still liked to eat to bursting.  Husband tried to help by reminding me of the resulting unpleasant feelings.  You can imagine how well that went.

(4) Cereal is your friend.  Most nights, I come home from work and look longingly at my bed.  Cold, delicious cereal is the answer.

(5) Just when you think you JUST. CAN’T. ANYMORE., it gets magically better.  Clementines come into season, and they’re delicious and cold and perfect.  You stop lying to your friends and family – and you get to drink wine on occasion!  Like a holiday miracle, Candy Cane kisses reappear in the store RIGHT when sugar stops making you ill.  At night, when you get home from work, you’re only tired, instead of exhausted…just in time to remember that you should really prioritize date night with your husband, who has lovingly put up with you being somewhat insane for 5+ months.

Which is exactly what we’re doing tonight.  Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays, everyone!





Christmas Eve Feast: Beef Wellington

For my family, it’s not Christmas Eve if it’s not Beef Wellington.  This is an indulgence my siblings and I look forward to all year, and now we’ve brought two husbands along.  This year, my mom finally gave me the recipe…though she marked the recipe card “SECRET.”  And then asked me if I was planning on posting it to Dinner Chez Nous (and now, also on The Novice Gardener).  I’m confused, Mom, but I guess at least I’m well fed.

from the top secret photo stash.
from the top secret photo stash.

Beef Wellington

  • about 4 pound beef tenderloin (figure about 1/2 pound per person) – tied with twine
  • 2 packages frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farms is optimal)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound chicken or goose or other form of paté or liverwurst (NOTE: the stronger tasting, the better, as it will get a little bit absorbed in the puff pastry/tenderloin. Liverwurst is a better bet.)
  • 1 egg
  • flour, for rolling out the puff pastry
  1. Defrost the puff pastry – takes about 40 minutes; don’t let it sit too long or it will get sticky.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Liberally season the tenderloin with salt and pepper and then pop it in the oven for 20 minutes or so.
  3. Prepare your puff pastry work space with a light dusting of flour; unfold all four sheets of puff pastry on the counter and connect them in a square shape by pinching the dough together at the seams.
  4. Using your hands or a knife, spread out the paté across the puff pastry square.
  5. Beat the one egg in a small bowl with a little bit of water.
  6. Remove the meat from the oven and place it in the middle of the puff pastry dough.   Carefully wrap the tenderloin all the way around; cut off the extra.   you can also use a cookie cutter to cut little shapes into the dough and place them on top of the filet for decoration.).
  7. Brush the dough with the egg wash, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and put the entire thing back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  The last couple of minutes, turn the heat up to broil, just to make the puff pastry nice and brown.  Take it out when a meat thermometer hits 125 degrees (rare) – the tenderloin will continue to cook as you let it rest and plate it up.
  8. After letting it rest about 5-10 minutes, serve with carrots, parsnips, asparagus, mushrooms, whatever you fancy.
  9. BONUS SNACK: Use the extra puff pastry and paté and cut it into 1-2 inch strips, roll them up, and pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes for a little extra something.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.  Around here, it’s time to go cook + eat some more.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

As I think I’ve made abundantly clear, I love, love, love the Hershey Candy Cane Kisses.  These seasonal delights thankfully only come out around the holidays, or I would likely be about four times my size.  Even though I’ve already gone through two bags of these on my own (I was always going to make cookies with them, and then somehow they’d disappear), the Husband brought home one last bag last week.  It took all of my willpower, and some prompting from my dear friend Steph, to make these into cookies.   The recipe comes straight from the back of the package, but sometimes (especially when baking), you don’t mess with a good thing.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

  • 1 package Hershey Candy Cane Kisses
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix your dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar/egg/vanilla slowly; when it gets too dry, add a tablespoon of milk.
  4. I find the dough a bit sticky, so I like to use an ice cream scoop to place little round balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 9 minutes, or until edges start to brown.
  5. While the cookies bake, start unwrapping your kisses (about half the bag).
  6. Pull the cookies from the oven and let cool 2-3 minutes.  Lightly press one Kiss in the center of each cookie.
  7. Get excited you managed not to eat the bag!
hello, favorite candy of them all.
hello, favorite candy of them all.

The Verdict:

I am pretty sure my love for these Kisses has now been over-documented.  However, just for the record, one last time: I love these.

Counting Down to Santa! (IE, my mom churning out Christmas miracles)

With this short upcoming week, I’m planning on making almost nothing in our little apartment kitchen (I’m not even going grocery shopping!).  Instead, starting on Tuesday evening, the Husband and I will be dining chez my parents’, and dining really well, might I add.  As I’ve mentioned before, food is a big, big deal in my household, and anytime we’re all together, we spend a lot of time thinking about it, cooking it, and eating it…which, when I think about it, is sort of the whole point of this blog!  Come Christmas, we up the ante significantly with (multiple) food-related traditions.  I seriously can’t WAIT.

The Menu

Sunday – chickpea burgers (since I didn’t make them last week!)

Monday – finishing off the last of the broccoli pesto

Tuesday – travel day

Wednesday/Christmas Eve – my mom’s beef wellington.  I’m so excited to get this recipe, I can hardly stand it!

Thursday/Christmas – Christmas goose

Friday – the smart thing would be leftovers.  But I’m hoping posting this on the interwebs means that the world’s best seafood stew will be on the menu! (hint, hint, Mom!)

Saturday – my dad takes over the kitchen helm, and all the siblings + significant others become assembly workers making my grandmother’s Pierogi recipe

Sunday – travel day and the start of a serious exercise plan

As my mom said to me today, “hope you’re hungry and ready to beat that Pierogi dough!”