Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve Spectacular (and day after Christmas pancakes from a box)

WHEW. With that, the Christmas season has come to a close. New Years is right around the corner and everyone has joined a new gym and we're almost done cleaning up after Christmas Eve Dinner. Almost. Leftovers? Still in the fridge. Christmas cookies? Still on a 3-a-day diet. Might have to up it to 4. All in all the Holiday was a good time for just about everyone. We've picked up the tradition of  hosted a big dinner on Christmas Eve for both of our families and some close friends every year. Last year we tackled a beef wellington dish and had four other courses. This year we toned it down just a little, preparing a rack of pork with sides and French onion soup. The meal definitely created a sense of fullness which really set the trend for the rest of the next two days. After dinner we sat around the fire and exchanged gifts and had a white elephant gift exchange. If you've never done one its a good time to see Murphy's law in action and may be the only time you can see a staunch Republican get a commemorative Obama plate or Charisse let Eric have a garden gnome. One of Eric's family traditions growing up is reading a Christmas story on Christmas Eve, so Eric read "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"  to everyone as the party wound down. For those who made it we took a walk around the neighborhood around midnight looking at all the lights and talking about what tomorrow would bring. Christmas started for us around 6 AM with trips back and forth between both of our parents houses. When we got home, it was straight to bed with a thankful heart, full stomachs and the feeling that when we woke up, the house would be a disaster. The next morning, we discovered that it was worse than we thought. Paper, boxes and ribbons everywhere and stacks of dishes to do so we did the only sensible thing: made pancakes from a mix with Eric's new Pancake molds, which turned out to be the perfect after Christmas breakfast. We hope you all had  a wonderful holiday (whichever one you might celebrate) and all have wonderful and safe New Years Eve! We'll see you next year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Candy II

Don't you love it when life gets in the way of your most well made plans? We've got a week's worth of Candies, another week's worth of Cookies and so far have gotten to posting practically none of it. Go us. Surprisingly our candy stocks have been hanging on this year. Last year, everything we made was gone practically by the end of the day but this year it looks like a lot of it is going to last until Christmas day. Whats not going to last are these babies: Cookie Dough Truffles. Now we both are well aware of the fact that raw egg can give you salmonella. We are also both well aware that there is raw egg in cookie dough. It is additionally not uncommon to see either of us sneaking little giant spoonfuls of cookie dough whenever its in the house. Eric has been known to snipe balls of dough right off the baking pan as its going into the oven. To say we like ourselves some cookie dough would be a major understatement, perhaps be biggest understatement since we declared our love for bacon. It was not surprising at all then when Charisse and Jen sent Eric and Dan off to do some Christmas shopping while they put these ones together. We broke out our candy for the first time to a larger audience last week when we hosted Charisse's company holiday party which turned out to be an adventure in and of itself. If you haven't caught the news, December has been pretty wet in California and the party landed right in the middle of a pretty bad storm. With dinner just hitting the oven and people due at the door any minute, there was a pop and all the lights went out... and stayed out. A visit to our local CVS to raid their candle supply (which very suddenly ran low) and the generosity of our friends Steve and Sarah who live nearby and let us borrow their oven to save the night. Charisse put out our candies for an appetizer and they were a hit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Candy Truffles

CHRISTMAS CANDY! In case you haven't noticed, we're basically little kids who have jobs. We get excited about things like Disneyland, Birthday Parties and playing video games. So maybe its mostly Eric that gets excited about video games, but lets not split hairs here because the biggest thing that we get really kid like excited about is Christmas, which in our house starts exactly the moment Santa comes down the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It would actually start a lot earlier except Eric puts his big grinchy foot down and strictly prohibits Christmas movies and Christmas Carols from New Years to Thanksgiving which makes Charisse all the more eager to sneak them in when he's not around. Its pretty funny to see how mad Eric can get when he hops in Charisse's car and discovers jingle bells in the CD player. But once that magical season starts we're up in the mountains chopping down a tree and covering the house in lights and tinsel. It is a time for Jen and Charisse to get together and bake and their husbands to go off and do manly things (play video games). This first round of baking lasted 10 1/2 hours and resulted 9 different types of Christmas Candy. Today we're showcasing some of the truffles. There are Chocolate truffles and white chocolate ones. Truffles with peppermint and toffee too! Since these are basically all the same truffle, it makes sense to do them together!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggnog Ice Cream

There are really only two foods Charisse won't eat: raw celery and eggnog. Eric on the other hand? Loves eggnog. Raw celery? Well we're not as different as it seems. Now when Charisse started mixing up our ice cream for this post, there was a small shock when she said she was making eggnog. Looks like she does love her husband after all. Now the last time we made ice cream we ran into the problem that it was too icy, we'd tried to make a egg free ice cream and it just wasn't creamy enough. The egg really smooths the ice cream out and lets it keep that traditional ice cream consistency. We were putting together a fun little dinner just the two of us and Charisse wanted to take another crack at the ice cream maker and Eric had a hankering for eggnog. This time, it was perfect: creamy, a little spicy and very festive. At least that's what Eric said while he sat with the bowl between his legs, eating the last of it with a spoon straight from the mixing bowl. He also said it was cold. Don't worry, we won't tell him that theres no actual eggnog in this one until he's finished it, Charisse needs a clean bowl for her next ice cream adventure!

Extra! We have a winner from our contest last week: Food Hound! Food Hound, contact us and we'll send you your jar of bacon marmalade!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Polenta

All of your wonderful submissions for our bacon marmalade contest have been lip linkingly good! We were so  excited about doing our first contest / giveaway that we wound up doing our own entry on Tuesday night! We put together a creamy bacon and mushroom polenta that definitely rocked the polenta world. We pushed off posting this just in case anyone came up with the same idea, and if you did, then you might just win! So far I haven't seen it done yet, but theres still time left as we write this! Fall is coming to a very wintery finish here in the Bay Area and the Christmas season has gotten into full swing. Christmas stuff everywhere? Check. Certain closets / drawers / rooms people are not allowed to look in? Check. A front yard thats so bright it can be seen from space? Double Check. It also means nearly everything we cook is hearty and warm and goes well with cuddling by the fire. A huge dish of polenta that smells like bacon fits that description! If you've never had polenta, this is really a good starter for you. It's creamy and full of familiar flavors but carries that unique soup like texture that makes polenta... well... polenta. Definitely something to serve with a side of family!

Speaking of family, we wanted to make mention over the next week or so of a charity that Eric has been a huge fan of and contributer too. The charity is called Child's Play and is organized to provide toys and games to children's hospitals around the world. They are partnered with over 70 different hospitals and staffed entirely by volunteers during the holiday season, so every dime donated goes straight to help make long hospital stays for children with life threatening illnesses a little easier. We know that everyone is stretched to their limits these days but anything that you can donate really does make a difference. You can donate directly to a chosen hospital (see the website for the worldwide map of partnered hospitals) or simply donate via paypal or the tech friendly out there can text GAMERS to 50555 to donate $5.00 (its added to your cell phone bill). Check the website for the TaxID and other donation deduction help!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Link Love!

A short time ago we were contacted by the wonderful Lisa Orgler over at The Lunch Box Project about drawing a picture based on one of our recipes, the Nectarine Cupcakes from back in August. Of course we were excited to have someone inspired by our recipes and are happy to say that the piece came out really good! Lisa is selling prints of her work through her site, so head over there and say "hi!"

Also, don't forget to visit our Bacon Marmalade post and enter to win a jar of your very own!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bourbon Bacon Marmalade

We work really hard not to repeat recipes or do too much that is really similar to what we've done before but sometimes you have to break the rules. Earlier we did a whole meal using bacon in some form in each course. And some of the highlights may have got a bit lost in the overwhelmingly large bacon friendly meal, specifically the bourbon bacon marmalade. We had a whole bunch of this leftover and served it on burgers for Eric's birthday party the next day and you've never seen a pack of hungry wolves devour something so quickly. The whole bowl vanished in less than an hour, walking out on hot dogs, bread slices and BBQ bacon cheeseburgers because hey, what goes with bacon better than bacon? Anyway we decided that for Christmas we would recreate this marmalade and can it, making a fun gift to give out to all our friends and family, and what an adventure it was. Have you ever heard of a pressure canner? We hadn't until we had already made a whole batch and realized we needed one. Charisse was very excited with her new toy and started listing off all the things she could can, which is basically everything. Apparently Eric isn't the only one who likes new gadgets. The real treat though was seeing the virtual mountain of bacon we cooked up to produce enough marmalade for everyone, it was almost enough to build your own pig! One thing we were not sure of is what you can put this on. Eric seems to thing you can put this on just about everything but that might not work out the best if your having cherry ice cream. Some of the things we came up with are crackers and melted brie, burgers, hot dogs, most sandwiches, you could use it in an omelet or on sliced apples. And that train of thought got us thinking, who wants a jar of their own?

We're officially doing our first give-away! Whoever comes up with the best use for bacon marmalade as judged by Charisse and Eric wins one! Follow us, leave your suggestion in a comment and make sure it includes an email address or some other way to get a hold of you, and we'll announce the winner next week! Cut off time for entries is 5PM PST on Friday! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Who remembers loving crackerjacks when they had actual toys inside? Did that just fill your head with all kinds of childhood memories? Maybe an old time baseball game or kicking around with friends or a visit to the dentist because your filling got pulled out?  Yeah, us too. Okay, maybe not the filling part but growing up crackerjack was a wonderful treat. All kinds of goofy trinkets and toys, mini baseball cards in there with the caramel popcorn and roasted nuts. We were at our friends Steve and Sarah's house the other week while Sarah was putting together a batch or spicy caramel corn. With our candy day coming up Charisse wanted some practice making caramel and what could be better to practice with than some good old fashioned caramel corn? Armed with a pot, a candy thermometer popcorn and various forms of sugar Charisse put together a most amazing candied snack ever. Once its cooled and broken up into chunks the caramel corn is everything you'd expect it to be. We found these popcorn bags somewhere and it makes such a great gift box or an awesome movie night snack, especially if you have kids that do slumber parties.