December 29, 2013

Best of 2013

Goodbye, 2013. Good riddance. This year was a rough one...lots of stress, anxiety, drama, and sadness: no heat for over a week in January, a leaky steam pipe that had to be replaced, a collapsed carport, a badly sprained knee, a broken AC system, a friend's betrayal, lies, failed trust, and a broken heart.

But, there were a few good highlights: a new car, a couple of new tattoos, a fun 40th birthday party, and reconciliation. At year's end, things are starting to look up. I am trying to remain hopeful about the future while being happy in the moment.

Thinking back, through all the heartache I realized some important things. I decided what I really want out of life & I learned that I have a couple great friends, that my students are very important to me, that time does heal all wounds, that I am loved, and that no matter what I have to just keep swimming.

I never tend to stick with my new year's resolutions, but there are a few changes I'd like to make this year: go to the gym more often (I was doing so well last year before I hurt my knee), do more yoga, let go of jealousy, be a better friend, and spend less time on social media (in fact, I'm seriously considering giving up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the year).

I'd also like to do more cooking and blogging. I only posted 35 times this past year. I have an ever-growing list of recipes I'd like to make, so I'm going to put in more effort to experiment in the kitchen. What would YOU like to see more of on here?

Below are my most popular posts of the year:

December 23, 2013

Pecan Pepper Jelly

I'm finding it hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. I'm not ready. Then again, I never am. 

This fall has been a rough one. Things are looking up now (fingers crossed), but I'm still not in the holiday mood. School ended for the semester last Friday, and my brain is just now recovering from its mushy, essay-grading state. 

I haven't put up any decorations. I haven't sent any cards. I haven't bought any gifts. I'm just not doing Christmas this year. 

Instead, I'll be celebrating my annual "Day of Debauchery" on the 25th...lots of eating, drinking, and lazing. Sounds like Christmas anyway, huh?

If anyone is a holiday slacker like me and needs a last-minute gift, this jelly is perfect! It's easy to make and really delicious. I like to serve it with homemade cheddar coins; they're like the best Cheez-Its you've ever had.

December 9, 2013

Eggnog Cake with Rum-Soaked Cranberries & Pecans

I'm happy to be participating in an Eggnog Party sponsored by Davidson's Safest Choice® Eggs. They've asked me to create and post an eggnog recipe using their pasteurized eggs. 

You can join the party, too! Safest Choice® Eggs is giving away two baking Grand Prize packs valued at $500 each:
  • one (1) $200 Amex gift card
  • one (1) Sur La Table® Platinum Professional Bakeware, 7-Piece Set
  • one (1) Sur La Table® Silicone Snowman Spatulas, Set of 2
  • one (1) Better Homes and Gardens Baking: More than 350 Recipes Plus Tips and Techniques cookbook
  • 52 coupons for a free dozen of Davidson’s Safest Choice® Eggs
The giveaway will end at midnight Eastern time on Friday, December 13th. You can enter at the end of this post.

So, why use pasteurized eggs? "Davidson’s Safest Choice® Eggs are pasteurized in an all-natural, gentle water bath pasteurization process to eliminate the risk of Salmonella. The vast majority of eggs sold in grocery stores are NOT pasteurized. Safest Choice™ offers peace of mind when making recipes calling for raw or undercooked eggs [like homemade eggnog] and removes the worry of cross contamination."

December 1, 2013

Wagyu Steak Tartare

'Tis the season & I've been thinking about holiday foods, of course. I love to indulge during this time of year...lots of champagne and rich, expensive foods...oysters, lobsters, caviar, steak...

I remembered that a couple years ago, I was given a Wagyu strip steak for Christmas. I know some pretty awesome, generous people. I am very lucky.

Wagyu steak comes from Japanese cows that are genetically predisposed to yield meat with a higher fat content than typical beef. Fat equals flavor, especially in meat. Intensely marbled, Wagyu is considered the best beef in the world. And it's fairly pricey.

I knew right away that I didn't want to cook that steak; I didn't want to risk ruining it. Instead, I decided to make tartare for Christmas Eve that year. When would I have the chance to make--let alone eat--Wagyu tartare again? And, I mean, if you're going to eat raw beef, it should be the best beef you can get your hands on....right?


So, I trimmed and chopped up the steak, then mixed it with a couple tablespoons of capers, the zest of a Meyer lemon, a handful of chopped parsley, some olive oil, a pinch of salt, and lots of coarsely-ground black pepper.

It was delicious.