31 December 2011

Dress Up Your Salad…with a Citrus Vinaigrette!

Happy New Year! Here’s a tasty lil’ number that will dazzle almost as much as your matching sequined pumps, top hat and light-up headband (yeah, we know that’s how you roll). This holiday, we were gifted us with some stunning, Meyer lemon extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic that came in handy for this lil’ number.  Fear not, a nice EVOO and balsamic will do.  Remember, all that you need for a balanced dressing is an oil and an acid, at an approximate ratio of 3:1! December2011 272
Auld Lang Syne - Citrus Vinaigrette
Zest of 1 lemon or tangerine
2T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8c lemon olive oil OR a quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/4t salt
2t white balsamic vinegar
1t mayonnaise or Veganaise
1t agave syrup or honey
Salt + pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Season the dressing to taste, using salt + pepper. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Serves approximately four party people, delicately dressed (the greens, not the guests).

26 December 2011

Holiday Cookie Exchange!

2011 Cookie Exchange Party 011“Veni, vedi, vici…bis coctum!”  Ah, yes, that’s Latin(ish) for, “We came, we saw, we conquered some cookies!”  For the second-annual cookie exchange, we gathered in our best, holiday California-casual attire to swap some sweets and revel in the recipes of our gal pals.  This year, we voted for treats in each of the following categories: best looking, best tasting, most creative and most unique holiday treats.  Printable details were inspired by those created by Natalie at BBM.  Each prize-winner took home a special gift, and we all departed with multiple plates and boxes of decadent and decorative delights!  Here are the treats, and recipes, from this special day!  Mark your calendars for next year’s exchange, to be held on December 9th, 2012!  Bonus…I’ve decided to offer a Gingerbread House Workshop prior to the cookie exchange.  Let me know if you’re interested in participating!

This year’s guests + treats are below.  Where recipes were not provided, I linked to a similar listing.  Thanks to Ginger for her photos!

Lisa: Father Christmas’ Addictive Krispie Treats

Martha: Holiday Butter CookiesDecember2011 002

Angela: “No Kidding, They’re Made With…” Potato Chip Cookies

Wendy: Peppermint Almond Kisses

Angela: Turtle Cookies

Ginger: Ritz on the Rooftop

Angela: Mrs. Claus’ Super Sugar Cookies

Charlotte: Christmas Mittens

Angela: Dark Chocolate Mint Noƫls

1_2011 Cookie Exchange Party 0232011 Cookie Exchange Party 0072011 Cookie Exchange Party 0082011 Cookie Exchange Party 0112011 Cookie Exchange Party 0122011 Cookie Exchange Party 0132011 Cookie Exchange Party 0142011 Cookie Exchange Party 0152011 Cookie Exchange Party 0162011 Cookie Exchange Party 0172011 Cookie Exchange Party 0182011 Cookie Exchange Party 0212011 Cookie Exchange Party 0222011 Cookie Exchange Party 0242011 Cookie Exchange Party 0252011 Cookie Exchange Party 027

Vegetarian Lasagna…a Christmas Miracle!

As newlyweds, we felt the need to establish some holiday traditions:

#1 – Jungle Bells – visiting the zoo at night

#2 – Cookie exchange – try out a new recipe or three

#3 – Install a dog door that Chauncey will fear and resist bribery rather than usetauntaun2

#4 – The Empire Strikes Back – it’s always winter on Hoth

#5 – Christmas Card Lane – holiday lights

#6 – Take a hike…or run…or maybe just curl up under a blanket with a book

#7 – Make veggie lasagna for Christmas dinner!

We’ll point you toward another entry for cookie exchange details but, for now, we’ll share the recipe for the dish that makes anyone feel warm and fuzzy at the end of an intensely scheduled season – or at any time of year. Bonus: it freezes well! Note: prep the veggies in advance, and this will come together in a snap! A little delayed gratification is in order, as the 10min of resting time at the end allows the lasagna to set up so it can hold its shape when you cut/serve.

Sweet Pepper & Spinach LasagnaDecember2011 285

(Adapted from Better Homes + Gardens)

9 dried lasagna noodles (do not use the no-boil, unless you like your lasagna to resemble the flavor of a school art-project)

1c chopped onion (1 large)

1c sliced, fresh mushrooms

4 cloves garlic, minced

2T butter (I suppose you could also use margarine…but I’m a hater)

1, 7oz jar roasted, red, sweet peppers; drained + chopped (or, if you’re the ambitious sort, roast 2 of your own!)

1, 10oz pkg frozen, chopped spinach; thawed + well-drained (thaw in the fridge 24hs or under the tap in a pinch)

1, 15oz container ricotta cheese

1c shredded mozzarella cheese

½c grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

2 beaten eggs

1t dried basil, crushed

½t dried oregano, crushed

1, 30½ oz jar meatless spaghetti sauce (c’mon, splurge a little on the good stuff!)

¼c grated Parmesan or Romano (for the topping)December2011 235

1. Cook lasagna noodles as directed, until al dente. Drain + rinse.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook onion, mushrooms + garlic in hot butter (yum!) until tender but not brown. Stir in sweet peppers and set aside.

December2011 2383. Pat spinach dry with plenty of paper towels. In large bowl, stir together the spinach, cheeses, eggs, basil, oregano, and ¼t pepper. Stir sweet pepper mixture into spinach mixture.

December2011 259


4. Spread ½ cup of the spaghetti sauce evenly in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles over the sauce and layer with half of the sweet pepper-spinach mixture and 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spoon remaining spaghetti sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the ¼ cup Parmesan/Romano saved for the topping.

December2011 2785. Bake, covered, in a 375° oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 main-dish servings.