Tuesday, January 1, 2013

December Holiday 2012 Update

"Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better."
(Robert Redford)

Welcome, 2013! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a great New Year's Eve. If your last few weeks were anything like mine, they were full of sweets and treats, gift shopping and wrapping, family visits and travel, and tying up year-end work before a much-appreciated break. Below is an overview of some of my December holiday activities.

Christmas Cookie Swap

Earlier this month, my sister and I got together with another pair of sisters we've been friends with for years, Michelle and Angela, and were joined by my nephew and niece, and Michelle's daughter (her son was sick). I asked everyone to bake and bring cookies, and I made some kid-friendly savory food and snacks to offset the sweetness. I bought Christmas napkins and decor from Marshalls, including adorable Meri Meri "'Tis The Season" garland and party picks. The best part? Everyone went home with lots of different cookies!

Christmas cookie swap
Homemade cookies and chocolates and cute Christmas decor
Making pistachio-shortbread sandwich cookies
My pretty pistachio and strawberry shortbread cookies!
Angela's rich chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa and powdered sugar
Michelle's thumbprint and sugar cookies, and Angela's peppermint bark
Maureen's PB & J thumbprint cookies (which I made first 2 years ago)
and M&M cookies
Non-cookie food preparation
Winter fruit salad with apple, banana, pineapple,
mandarin orange
Buttered mixed nuts with rosemary and orange
Green and red peppers with onion dip, tortilla chips with red and green salsa
Creamy crockpot mac and cheese
Sesame chicken wings
Tried-and-true sliders expertly cooked by Sam
and McClure's Garlic Dill Pickles
Lots of beverage choices to wash down the sweets and savories

Holiday Lunch Party

The following weekend, I invited my Brooklyn-based coworkers for a holiday luncheon. We live so close to one another and I had been meaning to have them over since we moved into the neighborhood. To make things easier, I kept a very similar menu to the cookie swap get-together -- buttered nuts with rosemary and orange, veggies and dip, macaroni and cheese, sesame chicken wings, and sliders -- but chose a fancier fruit salad, made a smoked salmon quiche with goat cheese and leeks baked in a whole wheat cream cheese crust, and baked a batch of chewy ginger cookies, which I first made during Hurricane Sandy; they are so good.

Fruit salad and quiche preparation
Winter fruit salad with navel and blood orange, mango, banana,
kiwi, kumquat, pomegranate
Smoked salmon, goat cheese, and leek quiche with cream cheese crust
Carrot "chips" for the reindeer
(and chewy ginger cookies)

Christmas in Our Home

Our apartment is small, but we do have some room for Christmas! My mom gave me a mini Nativity figurine which I placed next to our holiday "Wish Give Love Peace" greeting and some tea lights. Of course we put up our new Christmas tree, which we named Murray, decorated with old ornaments I've had for the past 10 years or so, with the exception of a new 2012 ornament (photo below).

Christmas on our bookshelf
"Sharon and Samuel, Christmas 2012"
Murray the Christmas tree with Boo, presents,
and handmade heat-embossed gift tags
We love seeing everyone's holiday cards

 Christmas in Chicago

This holiday season was a first for us as a married couple, and a first for me spending it outside of New York. We flew to Michigan on December 23, spent some time there with Sam's mom and some relatives, then drove to Chicago on Christmas Eve to stay with Grace, Sam's sister, and her family.

On Christmas Day, we enjoyed watching the kids open gifts, and Grace and I cooked Christmas dinner: the roast prime rib au poivre recipe my sister uses, steamed lobster tails, turkey bacon and Brussels sprout salad, mashed potatoes, my go-to simple buttermilk biscuit recipe, and Grace's favorite apple pie. After dinner, we went to the Bulls vs. Rockets game.

On Wednesday, after a relaxing day inside, we went out for a late second dinner at Joe's Stone Crab -- I was supposed to go to the Miami location during my bachelorette weekend, but we opted to stay on the beach, so I'm grateful to have had the chance to go in Chicago. On Thursday, we went to Yolk for brunch -- I first went there 2 years ago and have been waiting to return ever since! We drove back to Michigan on Thursday afternoon and flew back to NYC that evening.

Christmas morning with Grace, Tommy, Isaiah, Christina,
and monkey bread!
Prime rib, lobster, Brussels sprout salad, mashed potatoes, biscuits,
and apple pie à la mode
Bulls vs. Rockets, playing in the snow, cinnamon roll French toast
and pumpkin bread French toast

New Year's Eve

Last night, we went to see Angela's New York Repertory Orchestra and the New York Festival Singers at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. Then we ate ddukbokki (spicy rice cakes) and Korean fried chicken at Turntable in K-Town, and rang in the new year at IchiUmi Cellar with Daniel, Sam's brother. It was an unplanned evening that turned out really nicely.

My festive silver glittery Barbie nails, beautiful Roman Catholic church
Ddukbokki and fried chicken
Happy New Year!

We have another few days off before returning to work. Today we started a 3-day cleanse, which I plan to post about next. Happy holidays!


  1. Don't forget the scrambled eggs I made Tuesday morning. Rough and tumbles!

  2. Woah....so much good food and decorations for the holidays!!! :) You are soo soo talented!! I'm actually planning on doing a cookie exchange with my students in my class next Christmas. One of the teachers on my team does it! Happy new years~!
    --jee young

    1. Happy new year! Definitely try a cookie exchange~ it's so fun and you end up with lots of yummy cookies.

  3. Whoa whoa whoa, I think I need to come out to this little festivity this year. Everything looks AMAZING! Cheers to 2013, friend :)

  4. Especially love the looks of the pistachio cookies and salmon goat cheese. Happy 2013!


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