Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Three Amigos and Christmas

My friend Melanie just gave me a copy of The Three Amigos. This is in my top 5 of favorite movies. Ever.

"Would you say I have a plethora of piƱatas?"

"Lip balm?"

"Do you have anything besides Mexican food?"

"It's a sweater!!"

I cannot tell you how much joy this brings me as I anticipate watching this late tonight, basking in the glory of old school Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short and the invisible singing bush. I may even bust out my own rendition of "My Little Buttercup." I am a musical theater major at heart.

As we think about what the next few hours will bring, I hope you are anticipating something wonderful. Something comforting and peaceful. Something warm, delicious and inviting. Something sparkly and new with a side of old and familiar. And maybe you'll even get to experience it all in your pajamas.

Total bonus.

I also hope that you get to eat some fudge. Or in my family, some BBQ. It's just how we roll.

There is nothing like the joy of waiting for something you love.

Rejoice, rejoice!

That long-awaited, much-anticipated day is here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Biscotti is totally an adult cookie, don't you think?

It's one part buttery, one part comforting, and it has a little international flare thrown in. I adore flare. And I also adore biscotti with a hot cup of coffee and a great book. It's the perfect solution for a simple dessert or afternoon treat.

And this recipe is totally versatile! You can add any flavoring, fruit, nut or chocolate you desire. I just chose cranberry orange because I had some of both and I love that flavor combination this time of

But if you want to mix it up with lemon and poppy seed, walnuts and milk chocolate, almond and cherry, then just do it. Go ahead, bust it out. You are the totally in charge.


Here's how I roll in the kitchen:


First up, combine butter, sugar, dried cranberries, orange zest, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda. Mix it up real good.

Next: two eggs.

Finally, add the flour. And guess what?! You are totally a legit biscotti dough maker.
Divide the dough in half, roll and press flat on top.

And bake.
Mmmmmm...so so so good. I love cookie loaves.

Now, you are going to bake these suckers a second time. Bur first, you need to slice them. Don't worry if they crumble, just put all of the pieces on the cookie sheet and bake anyway.

Bake on one side for 8 minutes, flip, and bake on the other.

Think of it like sun tanning, you need to get both sides otherwise you look ridiculous. Biscotti are the same way. They do not want to look ridiculous.

Once they have cooled, they are ready to go! Buttery, crunchy cookies just perfect for almost any occasion, including pity parties and solo date nights.
However, if you want to bump it up a notch (and let's be honest, who doesn't?!), go ahead and dip those bad boys into some dark chocolate.
 Just melt some dark chocolate in a small saucepan...

...and dip like a ballroom dancer.
Seriously, the dark chocolate is bonkers.
I kept half of mine plain and the other half dipped.
Both are delicious.
Both are addicting.
Both are perfect for Christmas gifts.

You can also have your very own stack for snacking.
A stack snack, if you will.
Cranberry Orange Biscotti
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter until smooth. Add sugar, orange zest, dried cranberries, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add eggs and mix again. Add flour and slowly combine. (If the dough is too dry, you can add 1 teaspoon of water so it easily comes together to form into loaves.) Divide the dough in half, roll and flatten down. Place both logs on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Taking one loaf at a time, set on a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice into long cookies. Place cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over, and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool completely. If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate over low heat in a saucepan. Once melted, dip biscotti and place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet until the chocolate is firm. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Dig in!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Jammies

This is completely awesome and ridiculous.

Oh, and they win.

Some Perspective

Hello, my friends. Feliz Navidad to you!

It's next week, by the way. Christmas. Like eight days away or something.
Whatever. That's nuts.

Anyhow, thanks for hanging with me during this absence. I do not have a good reason for being away other than being the busiest person ever in the history of forever. Probably similar to you right now.

Oh, and I am trying to get used to sleeping with a ginormous Darth Vader helmet strapped to my face. The good news is that I am breathing through the night. The bad news is that I look like roadkill when I wake up because of all the crease marks on my face.

(You be the judge on what really is the pro and the con in that situation.)

So I want to talk to you today about perspective. I have been mulling this over lately. This usually happens around this time of year, probably because of the new year quickly approaching and my birthday which quickly follows. I tend to get a little introspective when I know that I am aging.

Last week, I studied about John the Baptist in Matthew 11. He was in prison and so he sent his groupies to find Jesus to ask Him directly if He really was the Messiah. Now, if you flip back a few chapters, you see that John was directly involved in Jesus' baptism, with God's voice and the dove and the blaring confirmation that Jesus was the long-awaited King.

However, during his time away from Jesus, while he was a political pawn in Herod's court, John had begun to doubt. Was Jesus really Jesus? Had I missed something or done something wrong? Was He doing what so many prophesied that He would?

I understand those doubts. The further away I get from Jesus, the louder they become. Am I being effective at all? Does Jesus really have a plan for my life? What the heck is He doing?

Instead of wallowing or talking to friends, John went directly to the source: Are you really who you say you are?

And Jesus said: yes.

You see, my perspective gets all out of whack sometimes. Take the mountains, for instance. When they are far away, they just look like one, long line of hills. But the closer you get, the more you see the peaks, the valleys and the layers. The layers of time and people and events.

Jesus doesn't work in one, long line. He works in and among and throughout.

That is what Jesus was doing while John was imprisoned. He came to this earth to accomplish our redemption but that wasn't all He was going to do. He was and is going to come back. What John thought was just one big event in time, Jesus has a second act to come.

So when I think He isn't working or doing what I thought He would do, He says, "Come closer. I am weaving and layering and connecting all that I see and do together. I am setting the stage. I am exactly who I say I Am, even if I don't look like what you thought I would."

Oh, sweet Savior. If I only didn't freak out every time my life takes a turn that is unexpected. If I only clung to the closeness of Jesus instead of trying to squeeze Him into my teeny, tiny timeline. And Christmas isn't just about one single event in history; rather it was His fleshly introduction to us. He has been working all along.

Perspective has become my word for this season. It is the thrill of hope as a weary world rejoices.

(I bet you didn't think I would bring on the heavy after a few weeks away. You're welcome.)