Christmas Pots

It was a gorgeous day so I decided to do my outside Christmas planters. Every year I try and use some items from the past with fresh greens.

This is what I came up with this year.

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What Lies Under the Kitchen Sink

It has been many months since I visited underneath my kitchen sink. This morning I decided to empty out everything. It is amazing how everything just sort of collects under the sink. I had duplicates of cleaning products and a few “empty” containers.

Hopefully, the new and improved organized area will entice me clean the kitchen with more frequency.

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Macarons

Off and on for the past four years I have tried to make Macarons. Believe me when I say I tried every type of recipe I could get my hands on and even started checking out different blogs. It was always hit or miss.

I purchased the Bouchon Bakery book this month from Amazon and there was a recipe for Macarons. This recipe called for adding a simple syrup to the whipped meringues. This was the missing piece of the puzzle.

This was my youngest daughter’s first attempt and she was thrilled with the result. We cautiously started with the recipe for vanilla Macarons with vanilla buttercream.

As you can see from the photos, this takes a good amount of steps and time, but it is worth the effort.

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Election Night Dinner

It cold and gray once again today so I decided to make a big pot of chili. Since some of us will be glued to CNN tonight I thought this would be a great casual dinner. I am going to serve it with guacamole on the side.

Below is the recipe for the chili. As you can see, I made lots. It freezes really well so I will freeze the leftovers for a night when I don’t have the time or inclination to cook.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pork-Beef-and-Black-Bean-Chili-107280

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Sunday Night Dinner

When I was in Whole Foods on Friday they had a great deal on frozen lobster tails. I bought five and defrosted them in the fridge. Sunday night we butterflied them, brushed the meat with olive oil, minced garlic and parsley and grilled them. They were small but delicious.

The sides were braised green cabbage and rice pilaf.

Below is the recipe for the rice pilaf.http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rice-Pilaf-with-Peas-and-Pine-Nuts-2840

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Save Your Seeds

Every Halloween after the pumpkin is carved I separate the seeds from the pulp and rinse them in a colander.

I then place them on a parchment covered sheet pan and let them dry out for about two days. Once they are dry I spray them with olive oil and toss them with fleur de sel and bake them in a 350 degree oven. It takes around twenty minutes, but after the first fifteen minutes I keep checking the oven every few minutes to make sure they don’t get too dark.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

These are great in a salad or as a garnish, if you make homemade pumpkin soup.

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Basement Reorganization

I have a large basement which is both good and bad. The bad is that it becomes a dumping for the whole family when they are not sure what to keep or throw out. Lately when I go down there (which is three or four times a days), I shudder.

Today I decided to clean out the finished section of the basement so somebody can actually sit down there and enjoy the space.

The furnace room still needs some work, but that is for another day.

See the before and after photos and maybe it will inspire you.

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