Fun Christmas Present


Shortest Day

the sun rose at 8:04 this morning and will set at 3:53 this afternoon. we will get a little less than 8 hours of daylight today, but it doesn't even feel like that much since we have had heavy fog all day. it has been a pretty gray day. tomorrow we start the upward swing towards longer days!


Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry and Roasted Garlic Sauce

i made this for dinner tonight. it was pretty good, but not quite what i thought it would be. i think i was expecting the cranberry sauce to be a bit sweeter. i think next time i'll try this recipe. here's the recipe that i made...

...recipe from the december 2006 issue of Bon Appetitmagazine
1 head of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1-pound pork tenderloins
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place garlic in pan and drizzle the olive oil over. Cover with foil and bake about 1 hour. Cool; peel cloves. Reserve garlic oil.

Boil cranberries, orange juice, 3 tablespoons sugar, and orange peel in a small saucepan until berries begin to burst, about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk flour and spices together in a small bowl. Brush pork with the reserved garlic oil. Rub pork with spiced flour. Heat the rest of the reserved garlic oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Brown pork on all sides. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast pork about 13 minutes or until the pork reaches and internal temperature of 145 F. Transfer pork to a platter and cover with foil.

Add roasted garlic and cranberry mixture to the same skillet over medium-high heat; simmer 1 minute. Add vinegar and remaining one tablespoon sugar, stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange on plates, pour sauce over, and serve.

Peppermint Bark Again

i've been making sheet after sheet of peppermint bark again this year. they're going to be presents for the girls' teachers, friends, neighbors, and anybody else i can think of. it is so yummy and so easy to make! i even shared the recipe with the checkout lady at the grocery store today, who was curious why i was buying so much chocolate.


Cranberry Crumb Muffins

i made these muffins yesterday morning and they are really really good. i had one again this morning for breakfast reheated and again it was really really good. i got this recipe from a magazine sent to us in a big package from some friends in a sunday school class in texas. thankyou! the girls also got a bunch of stuff that they have been happily playing with all week. here's the recipe...

...recipe slighly adapted from the november 2006 issue of FamilyFun
crumb topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
muffin batter:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 425 F. Grease 12 standard nonstick muffin cups.

For the crumb topping:
Mix flour, both sugars, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in melted butter and then pinch together into clumps.

For the muffin batter:
Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside. In a large bowl mix together the yogurt, egg, and butter, then stir in the flour mixture until just blended. Now use the empty bowl to toss the cranberries and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar together. Fold the fruit into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle on the crumb topping and gently press it into the batter. Bake until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack a cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Peppermint Brownie Christmas Trees

jodie and i made these for her class christmas party today. i made a batch of peppermint pattie brownies and cut them into tree shapes with a cookie cutter once they were cool. i thought they turned out really well and they were much easier and quicker than cutting out a bunch of cristmas cookies.


Housewarming Party

we had a housewarming party saturday night. we invited some friends and everyone in our building. it was fun to finally get to meet some of our neighbors. we served wine and cheese, an artichoke dip, and a few desserts. here's the recipes...

...recipe from the september 2006 issue of Bon Appetit magazine
le bete noir
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
9 tablespoons butter
18 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs

for the ganache
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 10-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper round and then butter the parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy duty foil around the outside of the pan, bringing the foil up to the rim. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Gradually add the chocolate, stirring until it is smooth and melted. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate, cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared plan. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to to roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan.

Bake until the center of the cake no longer moves when the pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath, transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.

For the ganache:
Bring whipping cream to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake still in the pan. Gently shake the pan to distribute evenly over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ganache is set, about 2 hours.

Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Cut cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

...recipe from the december 2006 issue of Bon Appetit
chocolate peppermint stars
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped peppermint candy canes

Mix flour, cocoa, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add the dry ingredients; beat until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 45 minutes.

Set rack in center of the oven and preheat to 300 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch star shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps into ball. Wrap; chill until firm, about 30 minutes

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until tops feel firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used.

Melt chocolate. Using a small spoon, drizzle chocolate over cookies in zigzag lines. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Drizzle remaing chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

...recipe for the cheesecake is here
i made a few changes and made this one a lemon cheesecake with gingersnap crust. i just used gingersnaps instead of graham cracker crumbs in the crust. i added lemon juice and lemon zest to the cheesecake.


Dining Room

this post would be more aptly titled dining area, since our flat is pretty much just one big room. again you can thank my mom for the flat pictures since she keeps asking for more.


Christmas Tree

we got our tree this weekend. some friends of ours visiting helped dan carry it home. thanks george and ray! we even have some presents under it already thanks to my parents. thanks mom and dad!