Sunday, December 27, 2009

Puzzle Answer Key

Friends and family have received (or will soon receive) our holiday greeting. As promised, here is the answer key:

Answer Key
1. Geico
2. Joy
5. Aruba
6. Aissa
10. Preemie
11. Thornbury
12. Hawkeyes
13. Job
14. Tree
16. Anne
17. Teeth
18. Letter
19. Gratitude

1. Graduate
3. Grandparents
4. Dissertation
7. Flip
8. Bachelor
9. Oregon
15. Yard

Friday, December 25, 2009

Some New Favorites

Baking is one of the best parts of any holiday, and Christmas is no exception! There are family favorites, like my mom's sugar cookies, Martha Stewart's ginger crinkles, and Grandma Ivy's refrigerator rolls for Christmas dinner. And then there is the joy of throwing new things into the mix. My mom and dad sent me a set of Le Creuset silicone spatulas in my favorite color red and a new set of measuring cups and spoons, complete with the "smidgen" and "dash" measurements. Yes, I am a complete food-y geek for thinking that is so cool. All those in my household are weary of me showing them the little teeny "smidgen" spoon and I've only had them one day! But seriously, these gifts felt like the grown-up version of the red Huffy ten-speed I received from Santa in the fourth grade. Just what I wanted and I will use them every day!

My friend Christian gave me the following pancake recipe. Mary's Oatmeal pancakes comes from the Northwest Best Places cookbook. They are light and fluffy while still offering some fiber goodness with the chunky applesauce served alongside. If you go overboard today, make a batch of these tomorrow and you'll be back on track!

Mary's Oatmeal Pancakes
2 c. rolled oats
3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Chunky Applesauce
3-4 golden delicious or other cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 c. water
1/4 sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

THE NIGHT BEFORE making the pancakes, combine the oats and buttermilk in a bowl, stir to mix, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

FOR THE APPLESAUCE, combine the apples and water in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the apples are soft but still holding together, 12-15 minutes. Stir in sugar and cinnamon to taste; set aside.

JUST BEFORE SERVING, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the eggs and vegetable oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the oatmeal mixture. Stir gently to mix well. Cook the pancakes on a lightly oiled hot griddle until golden brown, about two minutes per side. Serve hot with maple syrup and the applesauce on the side.

And then, for the Christmas feast, I searched for an alternative to the traditional pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie. Oh, I still made a pumpkin pie, but you can never have too much pie. So, this year I also made Ellie Krieger's Double Chocolate Pudding Pie from Eating Healthy in 2009.* Chocolate pie can be as easy as stirring instant chocolate pudding and pouring into a ready-made pie crust. But I say there is nothing quite so chocolate-y good as making your own pudding over the stove. And this was no exception. I should know--I licked the spoon!

Note to the novice: If you are making pudding for the first time, you really do need to whisk the mixture for ten minutes on the stove, until it comes to a boil and gets thick. You will be standing there, six minutes in, your wrist aching, saying to yourself, "It's never going to thicken!" and then, magically around the 8-minute mark, it starts to cling to the whisk and by ten minutes you have chocolate pudding magic. Or chemistry, but whatev...

*I did substitute a ready-made graham cracker crust because Keebler now makes a slightly larger crust, which works great for homemade fillings.

Baby's First Christmas

Aissa met Santa for the first time on a trip to the Amana Colonies.

One of my presents was a complete new set of measuring spoons and cups from my parents--love them! I set to work immediately making pies and rolls. And Aissa thought they made a fine toy.
New outfits from Granny and Grandpa Edvalson
And Santa got her a zylophone crocodile. What was he thinking, getting a toy that makes all that noise? Grandpa Pat gave her a music lesson.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Party

We held our first holiday party last Sunday, inviting all of our neighbors and friends
The kids had fun decorating sugar cookie trees--Granny Nancy's secret recipe was a hit!
My new neighbor Lauren and her daughter Reese--she is a super-mom, complete with matching outfits!

My friend and colleague in the PhD program, Megan, showed up with her boyfriend in their "ugly holiday sweaters." Aissa was enthralled with the sparkles.