Wednesday, December 31, 2008

christmas quilt

remember this adorable little one?  well, i got to meet my beautiful new cousin/niece this past week and she's wonderful.  
i worked like crazy and got her 'welcome to world/merry christmas' gift done with a day to spare - what do you think??

Monday, December 29, 2008

we wish you a merry christmas

warm wishes from me and my adorable nephew ethan.

check out the background after you watch it once.  that's not really my mom, it's a cardboard cutout.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

two-fer with filo (fillo or phyllo) dough! otherwise known as "holiday bragging rights"

recently i have been experimenting the delights and simultaneous evils of filo dough.  it makes delightful dishes.  half of the time i use it, i goes wonderfully.  the other half of the time, the stuff tears all over the place and sticks together.  yet, worth it every time.  

number 1
there are several bulgarian dishes that are made with filo dough, so this fall i created a recipe for my new favorite bulgarian breakfast/dessert - pumpkin banitza.  

pumpkin banitza
1 (16oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
16 sheets filo dough, thawed

preheat to 400 degrees.  mix pumpkin, sugar, pecans and cinnamon.  stack two sheets of filo dough ad brush lightly with melted butter.  (i orginally used a brush - i gave up - my fingers work so much better!)  spoon out a 1/2 inch strip of filling along the long side of the dough, leaving about an inch or less free on the ends and the side of the dough.  fold in the bottom edge first, then the sides, then gently roll it away from yourself until you have a tight roll.  brush the top with more melted butter.  repeat with the rest of the dough.  place rolls on the pan (cookie sheet of any form, very lightly sprayed).  bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.  place under the broiler for just a moment to crisp the tops.  eat warm or at room temperature.  so yummy!  thank you bulgaria!


number 2
secondly, my friend kevin celebrates his birthday every year with a little holiday he's titled "pie-tacular!"  he has everyone bring pies and then he gets to try all of them and then vote on his favorites.  top honors always go to his wife who makes his favorite, pecan pie.  last year i brought a peppermint pie and received some form of award.  this year was very exciting for me, as i tied for second and won a lovely pie server - a kitchen tool i didn't own!  even better than the honors was the rave reviews i got all night.  i decided to go 'non-traditional' and make "pie-lettes."  i made white chocolate hazelnut tarts.  they were from a delicious treat by giada delaurentis - a family favorite from the food network.  they were fancy but so worth it!  i was going to show pictures of these, but i forgot and all i have to show for my success is a pie server and a completely empty mini-muffin tin!

white chocolate hazelnut tarts
8 frozen phyllo pastrysheets, thawed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and finely chopped
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1 (3-ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, grated, for garnish

preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  lay 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface. brush the phyllo with melted butter. top with another phyllo sheet. repeat with more butter and 2 more phyllo sheets. cut the stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares. line each mini-muffin cup with 1 stacked phyllo square, allowing the edges to ruffle and extend above the cup rims. repeat with the remaining 4 phyllo sheets and melted butter. bake until the phyllo cups are golden brown, about 7 minutes. transfer the muffin pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.

meanwhile, stir the white chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. pour into a large bowl and cool to barely lukewarm. stir in the hazelnuts. using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in another large bowl to medium-firm peaks. fold the cream into the white chocolate mixture in 2 batches. cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

put nutella into a small ziplock bag and snip corner.  squeeze a small amount into each phyllo cup.  put white chocolate mousse into a large ziplock and snip corner.  pipe into each cup, mounding it at the top.   sprinkle grated chocolate on top over the mousse.   

Monday, December 15, 2008

ode to my...

cookie scoop!  

i found this wonderful gadget last year after christmas in one of the 75% off sales.  my only guess is that it is "christmas-y" because it is red.  i was so excited.  i never would have bought it if it hadn't been on sale.  now i can't imagine going back to the two spoon method.  all my cookies come out the same size, shape and height, making for beautiful cookies and easier baking!  needless to say - i love my cookie scoop!




the recipe shown is my absolute favorite cookie, peanut butter chocolate chip. simple and wonderful.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
3/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. chocolate chips (or more)

preheat to 350.  beat the first 4 until well mixed and then blend in eggs and vanilla.   mix in the dry ingredients.  stir in the chocolate chips.  drop on cookie sheets - using cookie scoop  :-) - bake for 10-12 minutes.  


Sunday, December 14, 2008

lost video of me

so i found this online today.  i remember filming this one wednesday night before church and i also remember that i was gone the following sunday when it was shown and i was never able to see it!  i always wondered what on earth the finished video was about.  (my worship pastor was preaching sunday and this was his lead-in).  

so here's a little glimpse of me in my much blonder days.  the little boy at the very beginning was one of my first kids in my preschool ministry in knoxville...pretty cute, huh?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

you take the tooth and you leave the money

this old skit has me speaking in a falsetto voice and cracking up all the time.  

confessions of a tooth fairy

(the fairy on the left is SNL's kristen wiig in her early days)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

first time ice skating

so yet another first in the life of abigail.  last night was my friend lena's birthday, so we took her to the skatium a few blocks from here.  that's right folks, i went ice skating for the first time in my life in florida.  what a crazy world.

Here's the whole group ready to skate!

Here I am enjoying a moment of almost complete uprightness!

Here I am after fall #2 - the guy working there who helped me up taught me how to stand up after a fall right after this pic.  he complimented me on remembering that lesson after fall #3 (which is the fall that i am still feeling today)

yet after skating came my time to shine - cake time!  i may have topped myself with this moist 3-layer devil's food cake with sweet cream filling and an almost fudge-like icing.

Monday, December 1, 2008