Tuesday, December 30

Resolution Negotiations

This January, Husby and I are jumping on the spendthrift bandwagon.

We’ve made a resolution to spend less money. When I explained to Husby what that would mean, he immediately launched into negotiation.

Husby, starting off strong: That means no nail salon, hair coloring or spa expenditures.

H.I.T., moving in for the kill: No problem. I stopped doing those things months ago to save money. Ha ha. That means no taxi’s to work – you can walk the 5 blocks – no expensive bottles of wine at dinner and no weekend jaunts.

Husby, beginning to waiver: How about, taxis are allowed if it’s freezing, and so are nice bottles of wine, as long as the occasion is warranted. Two trips to Miami?

H.I.T., sensing victory: Fine. One trip to Miami. Manis and pedis once a month. I’ll skimp on dinners to save money.

Husby: Deal.

So there you have it. Instead of sacrificing material comforts, we’ll be giving up tasty dinners to save money. At least Husby added in the wine clause.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23

Egg Nog

Husby has an incredible palate when it comes to wine. He can pick a vintage that will have your taste buds dancing during dinner. However, when it comes to other things though, not so much.

The other day, we were eating Annie's Organic Macaroni and Cheese for lunch. I had just finished and went to grab a mug of hot cider.
Husby, in deep thought while finishing his last bite: Do we have egg nog?

H.I.T., knowing there is more to the question, plays along: Sure, want some?

Husby, amused at his own brillance, launches: Next time, we should make the mac and cheese with egg nog!!

H.I.T., thoroughly disgusted and gagging: Ew. No way. I will never make mac and cheese with egg nog. Never. Ever.
While egg nog is a delicious substitute in some recipes - french toast, cheese cake, frosting - it definitely doesn't belong served in a heaping portion of macaroni and chedder cheese.

Friday, December 19

Outrageously Delicious Pain-in-the-Ass Cookies

Today it is snowing outside, so I am making Christmas cookies. Can't you just hear the turtle doves singing in the background?

Depending on what cookies you make, this process can either be painless or painful. I went for excruciating. Mind you, I’m still nursing the end of a cold. I don’t know what I was thinking either.

I started with thumbprints. They were simple enough, so I upped the ante to Pecan Tassies – a little more challenging. Still not sweating, I decided to go for pain-in-the-ass candy cane sugar cookies. I bought some Peppermint extract and thought it would taste good mixed into the red-colored batter.

Four hours and 15 candy cane cookies later, I was right. They were outrageously delicious. The recipe is below for anyone willing to take one for the team.

H.I.T. Arsenal Recipe #4: Outrageously Delicious Pain-in-the-Ass Candy Canes

2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 TBS milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp peppermint extract
Red food coloring

Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add in baking powder and salt, beating until combined. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla.
2. In ¼ cup increments, beat in flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and place one half in refrigerator.
3. Add peppermint extract and red food coloring to other half. Beat until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. After 1 hour, take white dough out of refrigerator. Using 1 heaping teaspoon of dough, roll into rope and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until all dough is finished. Repeat with red dough. Once complete, place baking sheet in refrigerator for 15-25 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
6. Twist one white dough rope and one red dough rope together. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and curve the top 1/3 down, to making the shape of a candy cane. Repeat.
7. Bake at 375˚F for 7-8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17

'Tis the Season

This weekend, Husby was sick. He was coughing and sneezing all over the place. When he began taking the Z-Pack, I began taking daily doses of Emergen-C.

It didn’t help. Now he is feeling better and I am the one sitting up at night with stuffy medicine head. Damn him.

It’s my own fault. I should have banished him to the second bedroom the minute I heard him sniffle. Instead, I felt sorry for him. I rubbed his temples when his head hurt, made sure he drank enough fluids and even made him Turkey Noodle Soup with our leftovers.

Now look who keeps asking me to keep quiet when I wake up from a coughing fit at 4 a.m. You guessed it – Husby. Well, I’ve learned my lesson. Next time, it’s banishment. After all, ‘tis the season; flu season that is.

H.I.T. Arsenal Recipe #3: Turkey Noodle Soup
This can be made with chicken too. I used defrosted turkey from Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to use up leftovers while nursing the sick. Double brownie points.

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
8 cups of chicken broth (plus 1 cup of chicken broth set aside)
2 cups bite-sized turkey pieces (or chicken)
1 – 1 ½ cups Orzo

Directions:
1. Over medium heat, add vegetable oil to a 2-3 qt saucepan. Once hot, add onions, cooking until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add carrots and celery and continue cooking, about 3-5 minutes longer. Add parsley and bay leaf.
3. Once vegetables begin to brown, quickly add chicken broth. Add turkey and orzo and stir well. Bring to a boil.
4. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cover. Soup should be gently bubbling. Cook about 30-45 minutes.
5. Add last cup of broth. Cook 10 minutes more. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11

Faulty Thermometer

Imagine serving two entrees, but only one makes it out.

That’s the scene that played out this past weekend.

Husby and I invited some friends over for a red and white-themed holiday dinner party. To set the mood for the evening, I sent out a rhyming save-the-date e-mail and within minutes, all our guests RSVP’d. I was thrilled.

A couple of weeks later the menu was set, apartment decorated, and the floral arrangements ordered. We were on our way.

The day of our party started off like a beautiful symphony. As if on cue, the flowers were delivered at the perfect time. Our guests provided us with enough red wine to please any palate. The quadrupled-port reduction sauce was gently simmering on the stove top and the racks of venison and rack of veal were roasting, both filling the apartment with the mouth-watering aroma of dinner to come.

After the salad appetizer, I was in the kitchen preparing to serve the entrees. According to the meat thermometer, both were cooked through. I began with the venison, and Husby passed out two plates at a time. Venison served. Check. I moved onto the veal.

With one slice it was clear I had a faulty thermometer on my hands. That is unless fully cooked veal is the exact same temperature as rare veal. Anxiety seeped in as my careful ten-minute increment-planning went out the door.

I quickly made an executive decision. The veal was cut and placed back in the oven to finish cooking at 500˚F. I went into the dining room and announced to my guests that, unfortunately, the veal would be served in 10-15 minutes, and it was.

While you don’t plan for things to go wrong at a dinner party, ultimately, something always does (albeit even Martha Stewart has her moments). And despite all that happened, I can say with confidence that everyone had a smashing good time and enjoyed both the venison and the veal.

The same cannot be said for the faulty meat thermometer. It was trashed during party clean-up. C’est la vie.

Friday, December 5

Christmas Remix

Now I enjoy Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer as much as the next gal – my favorite version includes weird sounds for the words – but it isn’t the most appropriate music when hosting a holiday dinner party. Especially, when guests are wearing sport coats and cocktail dresses. Nothing ruins a sophisticated evening more than hearing Frosty the Snowman blare from your speakers.

To avoid this social snafu, I went digging for some updated classics on iTunes to play at my own holiday fete. Here’s what I’ll be listening to:

1. Someday at Christmas – Jack Johnson
2. No Christmas for Me – Zee Avi
3. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
4. All That I Want – The Weepies
5. Anorak Christmas (Piano Mix) – Sally Shapiro
6. The Man in The Red Suit – Neil Halstead
7. The First Noel – Leigh Nash
8. Christmas – Rogue Wave
9. Christmas Song – Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
10. Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith
11. Silent Night – House of Heroes
12. All My Bells Are Ringing – Lenka
13. White Christmas – Katy Perry
14. Oiche Chiuin - Enya
15. Auld Lang Syne – James Taylor

Wednesday, December 3

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well it’s official. They’re here. Whether you want to or not, it’s the time of year you are obliged to spend copious amounts of time with your family. Overdoses are to be expected and should be treated as an emergency.

I’ve already clocked an entire week, am about to book two more days, and the 12 days of Christmas are no where in sight. Yippee.

While some suffer in quiet desperation, I prefer to make things loud and clear. After all, it’s not the holidays without at least one argument.

In keeping with holiday tradition, Husby and I cut down our tree on Black Friday. On Saturday we headed into the city and were well on our way to the first argument of the season.

H.I.T., in ‘I told you so’ voice and offering absolutely no solution: We should have trimmed the tree before they wrapped it up. We’re not doing it in the apartment – it will make a mess.

Husby, in his ‘I’m so tired of having this discussion’ voice and also offering no solution: We were running late and had to leave the farm. We can’t trim the tree on the sidewalk – we’ll make a mess bringing it into the apartment.

H.I.T. and Husby both fuming at this point. A few grunts and sighs can be heard in the car.

Husby, turning off holiday music on radio: We’ll just have to trim it in the stand.

H.I.T., steadfast and ready to battle: No way. We’ll ruin the stump and the chances of our tree falling are greater.

Husby, setting off the torpedo of ultimatums: It’s either that or we don’t trim it.

H.I.T., issuing countermeasures: We can open it in the hallway and trim it there. It’s small enough that we won’t make a mess bringing it to the tree stand.

Husby, turns holiday music back on: OK.

Our tree and apartment are now fully decorated and with our required holiday argument out of the way, we are free to fully enjoy the rest of the season.

With Christmas music on daily and big smiling faces, we are now that couple you love to hate this time of year…at least until you complete your own holiday prerequisite and join us. After all, ‘tis the season.

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