Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, bloggies!

I apologize for my absence these past few days!  I took a little break from spending so much time on the internet, and it felt great!  I have been busy, busy too!  My family came up from New York this past week, and I went out with friends in Boston yesterday and today for New Years!  I’ve been loving every minute of winter break, but am so excited to finally blog again!  I sadly don’t have too many pictures, but I did take lots of pictures from our feast with my cousins, aunts and uncles.

My mom was worn out from cooking for Christmas, so we decided to get mostly all of our food catered for our mini family reunion!  Everything was delicious.  My Aunt Kathy and family brought awesome appetizers, we provided the Italian catered meal, and my Aunt Mary made world class desserts.

Appetizers:

Brie with raspberry jam and sliced almonds

7 layer dip

Veggies

cheese and crackers (forgot to photograph the cheese)

Chopped up bread with a spinach dip

Main Meal:

Homemade chicken sausage and peppers

Meatballs that don’t look very appetizing but are extremely tasty!

Buffalo Chicken

Chicken Parm (my family forgot to tell me that dinner was being served beforehand so I could photograph)

Eggplant Parm:

Salad:

And what’s a meal without bread?

And now the best part, DESSERT:

Oreo Cheese”cake” truffle.  These were a HUGE hit and went very quickly!  I will be making these again!

English Jam Thumprint Cookies:

Delicious homemade 3 layer bars (yes I just made that up).  The bottom layer is made of peanut butter, rice crispy treats and wheaties?? (correct my if i’m wrong Aunt Mary), the middle layer is vanilla pudding and the top layer is chocolate chips!  TDF! (To die for)

The most amazing chocolate cake ever.  My aunt is a FABULOUS cake maker and puts a ton of time and effort into making delicious cakes.  She knows my mom and I LOVE chocolate cake, so she made an indescribable chocolate ganache cake.   The ganache is made of dark lindt chocolate.  Oh my gosh!!  Sooo good!

Cutting a slice:

The perfect slice:

I forget what these cookies were called, but they are good!  They weren’t made by my Aunt Mary but were purchased from Roche Brothers.  Yum!

And Great company!:

Cousins Keara and Jordan

Jordan and her boyfriend, Rich:

Cousins enjoying their cake!

Meghan wondering how she should pose for my blog!:

Mommy and I:

Mommy and the FABULOUS pastry chef herself, Aunt Mary:

Everyone gathered:

Most of the cousins and I (I apologize for the glare from the sun):

Me, Keara, Jordan and Mary:

We all played a family game of Bunko.  It was so much fun!  I actually came in first place, too!  What can I say, i’m lucky!

And what is a game without presents?

Whew, all those pictures just took me forever to load!  I really need to download windows live writer because I hear it makes life  a lot easier.  Last night I had a fabulous night out in Boston with friends.  I love going into Boston for New Years Eve!  We rented a hotel room and went out to a bar and did a lot of dancing!  It was a great time.

I am usually not huge into New Years Resolutions, and this year is no different.  My main goal is always to make the next year better than the last!  I always hope for health and happiness for all of my friends, family and all of you!   Here is to 2010 being a great one!

Do you make New Years Resolutions?  If so, what is yours?


Technical Difficulties

December 27, 2009

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for my lack of posting yesterday.  I have been having some technical difficulties.  My brother got me more RAM for my computer, and I also upgraded to Windows 7.  My brother took my computer apart in the process and we had a hard time getting it back together.  I think this caused about 15 panic attacks on Christmas….never trusting him with my computer again!  HA!

Let’s backtrack to Christmas dinner, because it certainly was yummy.  Since it was just the five of us, we didn’t go all out on Christmas dinner.  On the menu was a very premium beef tenderloin, twice baked potatoes, roasted broccoli, salad, and bread and olive oil.  **I apologize for the smudge on my lens in all the pictures you are about to see**

We nibbled on cheese and crackers throughout the day.  This is a 5 pound wheel of cheddar cheese made in Vermont.  I loove good cheese!

The Salad.  I am not a huge salad girl (I know, GASP!) but this did look yummy!

Twice baked potatoes are delicious and fun to make.  Here are our ingredients (turkey bacon, sour cream and grated cheddar cheese):

Potatoes:

Scoop out the insides and put them in a bowl:

Mix all the insides with cheese, sour cream, butter, and bacon:

Lightly spoon the mixture back into the scooped out potatoes:

This is what they should look like before you put them in the oven:

After the oven (nice and golden brown):

Yum!! I loove twice baked potatoes!

Next up, bread and olive oil.  This olive oil is also straight from Italy:

Mix the olive oil with parmesean cheese and red pepper flakes:

Bread:

I am not a huge beef tenderloin or meat girl, but on Christmas I always have a small piece.  The quality meat my parents buy never disappoints:

It was a little too rare for my liking, but I had a small piece anyways.  Here is my plate.  I went back for seconds on the potatoes, broccoli and breadi:

What is a Christmas meal without dessert?  Our neighbor buys us these pastries as a gift every year from an excellent bakery.  They are delicious.

Yum!  Everything turned out really nice and I was stuffed by the end of the night.

I have to show you all this.   My brother got this helicopter for Christmas that you can fly around the house (yes, he is 22).  It really is funny and fun  to watch, but yesterday he got it stuck in my hair.  I was not a happy camper and a huge chunk of my hair got pulled out in the process.  Thankfully I have plenty of hair!

I also got new running shoes yesterday.  I am so excited, I needed them desperately.  I go to a specialty running store to purchase my running shoes.  I have been using Aasics for years, and couldn’t imagine using anything else.  Here are my new beauties that I can’t wait to try out:

Aren’t they pretty?!  Haha.  I love getting new sneaks!  My mom and I are off to the mall today.  I am taking a break from exercise for the day (my body kind of hurts), but make sure to check out my fitness page for my updated workouts from this past week!

Happy Sunday!


Merry Christmas to all!

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!  I absolutely LOVE this holiday, for so many reasons.  This year in my house will be spent a little bit differently than in years past because this year it is just our immediate family here.  In years past, usually my uncles and grandparents come up from my mom’s side of the family, but this year they aren’t coming up until tomorrow.  I won’t lie, it has been quite nice to just have us here today.

I went on a nice 4 mile run this morning after breakfast but before presents.  It was so nice to run outside again!  It is a beautiful day!

My mom goes all out on decorations each year for Christmas.  She loves decorations and gets really into it.  Please enjoy these pictures:

Christmas Tree:

Christmas Tree with presents:

Simon on Christmas Morning!


Dan loves Simon:


Fireplace:

Windows

Nativity Set:

Fireplace and stockings again:

Tom loves Simon too:

Nativity Set again:

Front Foyer:

Staircase:

My moms collection (part of it):

I got a cute purse:

Mom and Tom and Simon:

Simon loves hiding:

I got a Garmin Forerunner!!!!!  Don’t mind my hair

FRENCH TOAST!!:

Wow, I hope you enjoy all of those pictures.  I am going to download Windows 7 on my laptop soon, so I may not be back for awhile.  We are also preparing a delicious meal for Christmas dinner.  I can’t wait!  I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas and time with family!

*I also need to note that at home I have 2 dogs.  They are both Australian Shepherds, but one is 9 years old and one is 4 years old.  Simon is the one I take pictures of most, he is the 4 year old.  Sydney is my other aussie girl.  We love her just as much as Simon, if not more, but Simon is such a love bug and is stinkin adorable so we take LOTS of pictures of him!  Just in case you were wondering. 🙂

Have a great day!  Did you get everything you asked for?  What was your favorite gift?


Speaking of Chocolate…

December 24, 2009

Literally one hour after my chocolate post yesterday, a little present arrived at our doorstep.

Literally chocolate covered EVERYTHING.  There were chocolate covered pretzels, mini pretzels, peanut butter cups, oreos, brownies, twinkies (ewww I know…), marshmallows and MORE!  My dad knows someone who makes these gift baskets for a living and was generous enough to give our family a huge, overflowing basket full of chocolate treats! I highly recommend checking out her website.

brownie:

peanut butter cup:

and marshmallows, which I had no problem digging right into!

sooo good!  The bottom even had oreo cookie crumbles on it! Have I mentioned that I love the holidays yet?  Now a gift basket like this will most likely not last long in my house, so with my mom’s advise I made sure to put some of my favorite items aside for me.

Last night, my parents took my dogs about an hour south of here to get groomed.  While they were waiting for them to get groomed, they did a little shopping and called to ask me if I wanted anything from Cosi for dinner.  I have never been to Cosi, but heard awesome things about it.  I ordered a large white bean chili. It also came with a large peice of whole grain flatbread, which was delicious:

I also had roughly 4 small pieces of my dad’s margherita flatbread pizza.  Everything was really yummy.

Today was spent at relaxing, going to the gym, and running some errands with my mom.  The grocery store was packed!  Tonight we are going over to my neighbors house for an annual Christmas Eve party.  I am not feeling so well right now, so hopefully I feel better soon!

Merry Christmas Eve, all! How are you spending your Christmas Eve?


A Chocolatey Obsession

December 23, 2009

I love chocolate.  I always have and I always will!  There is a running joke in my family that I am a true product of my mom and grandma because we all have an intense love for all things cheese, bread and chocolate!  Similarly to Jenna I have to have something chocolate after every meal.  Usually after dinner it is in the form of ice cream, but after lunch it can be a variety of things!

It is no surprise either that I love the grocery store, especially when I walk down the candy isle and look to see what kinds of chocolate are on sale!  I was ecstatic this week when I saw Toblerone 10/$10.  I looove toblerone chocolate, but for some reason never knew that they had a dark chocolate version!  I recently developed a love for dark chocolate and am now convinced that I enjoy it even more than milk chocolate!  I have been nibbling on pieces of this dark chocolate Toblerone all day!  I can’t seem to stop!  Delicious!

Another weakness of mine are products that are new.  I love trying new things, so when I saw these Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Pieces, I knew I had to try them even though I already have a bag of dark chocolate m&m’s at home.  These look very similar to the dark chocolate m&m’s, but they definitely have a diferent taste.  I highly recommend trying them!

Now, who can have the holidays without some dark chocolate peppermint bark from William-Sonoma?  Not me, of course!  Now, I am not a huge fan of candy canes, in fact I don’t even like them, so you can imagine my hesitation when it came to trying this a couple years ago.  Well, now I am hooked.  I absolutely love this stuff, and even though it is $20 a tin, I cannot pass it up!  It is an absolute favorite of mine.  I contemplated making it from scratch this year, and even bought all the ingredients, but when it came down to it I knew that the quality just wouldn’t compare to the William Sonoma brand.  I can’t wait to indulge in this for months, since I am one of the only ones in my family that eats it, and we now have roughly about 6 boxes.  Yes, 6. 🙂

This brings me to another topic.  Today at the mall I saw a sign outside of Aunt Annes Pretzel Shop.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, this is a chain soft pretzel shop that has been around for as long as I can remember.  Now, their pretzels are good, but definitely full of artificial ingredients and not very healthy by any standards.  Don’t get me wrong, if you like them then they are definitely a delicious treat every once in awhile, but for me they aren’t worth it.  Anyways, there was a sign outside of their shop at the mall today that said “get 2 and pretend 1 is for Santa.” Now, I know times are tough, but that sign definitely rubbed me the wrong way.  No wonder America is fat!  Does this bother anyone else or is it just me trying to be Jillian Michaels?

Oh, and I also saw a guy walking around with toilet paper sticking out of the back of his pants, but that’s a different story. 🙂


A year apart

December 23, 2009

Hi everyone!  How is your Tuesday going?  We are so close to Christmas, I can feel it in the air!

Last night we cut into the cake as soon as my brother and his girlfriend got back from the movie.  Tom is now 22, which makes us officially only one year apart for about a month until I turn 24! Happy birthday little brother! 🙂

The candles lit:

A delicious slice of funfetti cake:

Tom loved the cake:

But not as much as he loves Simon!

Tom’s girlfriend got him tickets to the Celtics game for his birthday, so we went to an early dinner before they headed into Boston for the game!  Brittany decorated his card pretty.

After much conversation and debate, we finally decided to head to The British Beer Company again.  Tom lives far away at school, and the restaurant is fairly new so he has never been!  We were going to go to a hibachi restaurant, but due to location and time restrictions, BBC worked out better.  I love the atmosphere at BBC and they have an awesome menu!

(sorry for the blurryness)

We decided to start with some appetizers for the table since my dad didn’t eat lunch and was starving!

Homemade hummus, which was delicious and flavorful:

Shrimp cocktail is my favorite:

For my dinner, I went with the grilled vegetable panini, but instead of a panini, I got it on a roll.  The sandwich had eggplant, squash, zucchini, marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella on it.  I also got a side of grilled fingerling potatoes, which I devoured!

It was good, but a little soggy.  I’m not sure if I would order it again.  My mom’s dish on the other hand was very noteworthy.  She had the veggie burger, which was definitely homemade and fluffy.  She also had a side of sweet potato fries that I had half of, haha!

I also had to try one of my brothers crispy panko encrusted green beans.  It was fabulous!

It was a great dinner, and everyone seemed very pleased with their meals.  Our waitress was also phenomenal.  She frequently checked back to make sure we were all set, and even memorized all six of our orders correctly!  I was impressed and always love when I have a great waitress or waiter.    Now Tom and Brittany are off at the Celtics game, and I am home relaxing (and eating ice cream with m&m’s on it, of course!).  There is talk of hitting up the mall with my mom bright and early before it gets too crowded.  There is an awesome mall near my house that I haven’t been to in awhile that I am excited to see decorated for Christmas!

I added a new fitness tab to the top of my page, where I will update my workouts, so check it out!  I had another great workout at the gym today.

Enjoy your evening/night everyone! 🙂


How many women does it take to….

December 22, 2009

make a funfetti cake?!  Keep reading to find out!

First let me back up to yesterday evening.  My dad was outside snowblowing the entire driveway (we live on a large hill) by himself.  I felt bad and felt like I could contribute slightly by shoveling a path in the back for the dogs, and shoveling off the front porch.  My mom caught me in action.  *Don’t mind my mismatching clothing, I threw on what I could find to stay warm.*

Beautiful area in my front yard:

I was excited to get back into a routine today.  I ate my breakfast and set out to the gym.  I ran 4.5 miles at an incline of 2.0.  If felt great to break a good sweat!

Today is my lttle brothers 22nd birthday.  The cake he requested:  Funfetti.  Haha, I just laugh at this because I am a total chocolate cake and chocolate frosting kind of girl.  Also, my mom is an awesome homemade cake baker, so the fact that he wanted a boxed cake is funny.   Late this afternoon, my mom, my brothers girlfriend Brittany, and I set out to make him a darn good funfetti cake.  Yes, it takes 3 women to make a boxed cake. 🙂

Ingredients:

Brittany:

Check out my mom’s new bling ;):

The aussies wanted to make sure we didn’t drop anything:

Me putting the cakes in the oven:

While the cakes were in the oven, we set out to make some dinner.  On the menu:  whole wheat penne pasta, authentic Italian olive oil, pesto, fresh parsley, parmesean cheese and broccoli:

The olive oil brought back from Italy:

Pesto:

All together:

Yum!  I definitely had seconds.  My brother and his girlfriend are currently at the movies seeing Avatar, but while they were gone I frosted the cake.  When they get back, we will cut it!

We didn’t go out to dinner tonight for Tom’s birthday because my dad is out of town.  I am excited to go out to dinner tomorrow, though.  I am still not sure where we are going, but I know it will be delicious!  Stay tuned!

What is your ideal birthday cake?