Happy New Year!!

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Do you have plans for tonight?  I know people who are celebrating, others who are not.  Regardless of what you do, spend it doing something that makes you happy.  The last week and half have been crazy to say the least (more about that later), but it serves as a reminder about how precious life is–and how you should never take it for granted.  Rather than making empty resolutions focused on “fixing” you, I challenge you, dear readers, to realize that you are fabulous just the way you are and you should make resolutions that help enrich your life.  How do you do this?  By taking time to really think about why you’re making the resolutions you’re making.

It’s easy to say: I want to lose weight or stop eating sugar or run 45 miles a day.  I think sometimes there is such pressure to make resolutions, that we just throw something out there that sounds good or that we think we should be resolving, without really thinking about the why or the how. And in so doing, we often set ourselves up to fail and then feel guilty or bad or unworthy.  I’ve done it.  More times than I can count or even care to admit.

However, I don’t think that is the actual goal and purpose of New Year’s (or birthday or whenever) Resolutions.  I think it is to allow you the time to think about you and how you want to adjust your life to enhance it.  So, if I might be so bold (because I have been–on more than one occasion–called BOSSY), I’d like to offer you a few suggestions to think about when making your resolutions:

  1. Be realistic.  You’re not going to lose 67 pounds by Valentines Day.  If you’re a couch potato, waking up tomorrow and running 5 miles is only going to result in your body revolting on you and calling you a whole bunch of dirty names.
  2. Health and wealth are important, but so is feeling happy and helping people–so think outside the diet, exercise, and saving money box!  Volunteer, take a class, reach out to a neighbor.
  3. Create a plan.  You want to learn Igbo?  Find a class or a group or go to the library and get language tapes (but maybe call ahead to see if they have Igbo language tapes).  The more specific/organized your plan is, the more likely you are to succeed.
  4. Remember that, after all, tomorrow is another day.  You don’t need January 1st to reset your life, so allow an option to start over, whether that is on January 2nd or March 15th or even November 7th.                      A Very Important Thing to Remember
  5. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you think other people want you to do.
  6. The point of this is to better your life, not make you feel stressed, guilty, or unworthy.  Remember the first tip?  Be realistic.  Set small goals and then when you complete them, set another.

That’s my two cents for a happier, more prosperous and productive New Year.  You can, of course, take it with a grain of salt, but pleeeeease let the salt include tequila and lime! ;- )

Cheers!

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Oi Vey, What A Day!

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Day One of baking is complete.

We got off to a very rocky start, in which I learned what happens to a tablet when a bottle of olive oil committed hari kari out of the cabinet, landing on aforementioned tablet. This is something that I did not need nor want to know and I certainly did not need to see it. After a few choice words and a full 30 minutes of pouting,  I took a big breath, acknowledged the damage was done and got to work.

Things were rocking and rolling, until I forgot to take a tray of Pupcicle cookies out of the oven in time. They were even too crispy to give to Addy.  I’m not sure who was sadder at that moment in time: ME for the lost time of rolling and cutting cookies only to have it be a complete waste or ADDY who watched helplessly as I threw an entire sheet of pupcicle cookies in the trash. All I’m going to say in my defense is that I thought I had pulled them out and they were happily cooling on the sheet. But as I pulled them out, I remembered I had left them in for a few more minutes..and apparently forgot to reset the timer. OOOPS! Addy only forgave me when I promised to make more tomorrow. Well, that and I gave her a cookie from the batch before…

As I’m about to make my everything cookies, I pulled out a new box of brown sugar and it was hard as a rock. I could hear Ome’s voice in my head telling me to add a slice of bread, but this wasn’t it’s-a-bit-hard-from-being-left-open. This was use-it-as-a-weapon-hard. So I walked down to the corner store to get more and, alas, they did not have any. I took it a sign that I didn’t need to make everything cookies and so it seemed like a good place to stop for the night.

All doughs are made and happily hanging out chillaxing in the fridge.  I even made some banana muffins since I spent the better part of the day starting at some very ripe bananas. All in all (tablet aside) it was a very productive day and I can’t wait to hand out all my goodies!!

Holy Pumpkin Cannoli, Batman!

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As I’m pulling out the butter and cream cheese to soften,  I realize I forgot to mention THE most important cookies of all: pupcicle cookies!

Whew! Glad I remembered…and by “remember,” I mean that Addy reminded me. I mean, how else am I going to get her to pose for cute holiday poses,  such as this one?

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Without cookies,  those poor antlers stay on approximately 3 seconds (although with the cookies, it’s only about 10 seconds,  so you have to have your camera in the ready position!).

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And so,  without further ado (unless,  of course, I’m forgetting something else,  but I don’t think I am), I give you the real holiday baking list!

Menu (note: recipes with links on in the post prior to this one!)
Apple Pumpkin Pupcicle cookies
Sausage Balls
Sour Cream Cookies
Molasses Cookies
Rice Crispie Trees
Everything Cookies
Chunky Kisses

Stay tuned in case I forgot something else. In the meantime, all the Christmas movies are queued up and ready to go. But perhaps a bit more coffee is needed before recipe reading is required!

Happy baking ya’ll!

Let The Baking Commence!

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Mmmmm…bacon! What? In my Texas twang,  baking and bacon are homophones.

Anyway,  I digress (as per usual when bacon is involved!).

BAKING! I have been generously bestowed the gift of time this holiday season, so I plan to take full advantage and get some long overdue baking finished this weekend. And, of course, by “finished” I mean doing everything but the shopping.

This year, here’s what Lucy and I will be creating:

Menu:

Molasses cookies

Sour Cream Cookies by Jillee at One Good Thing by Jillee

Chunky Kisses (this is a recipe that I’m creating–aka tweaking–because baking without creating a new recipe is just boring!)

Rice Crispie Trees (yes,  I said trees not treats!)

Everything cookies (probably… I’m still on the fence about these, but all ingredients are on hand just in case!)

Sausage Balls (because we gotta have something savory!)

So that’s it! And now I’m curious: what kind of treats are you making/hoping will be made as the countdown to Christmas continues?

Check out FB (Epicurious Texan), Twitter (@epicurioustexan), and Instagram (epicurioustexan) throughout the weekend for updates!

Unexpected Holiday Cheer!

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I don’t know about you, but the fact that Christmas is less than a week away is, quite simply, mind boggling to me!  Tuesday night I realized that if presents were going to get to intended recipients in time for Christmas they should have gone in the mail by Monday.  OOOPS!

As such, I stayed up waaaaaay too late Tuesday wrapping, wrapping, packing, and even more wrapping!  Early Wednesday morning, I head to the post office with a bit a dread in my pit of my tummy.  I’m not going to lie, going to the post office in the middle of the holiday shipping season in New York City is not a fun or exciting adventure.  I mean, it’s exciting (in not a good way) and it’s always an adventure!  I went in after Thanksgiving to mail some pupcicle cookies to my newest pupcicle niece and I stood in line for an hour!  AN HOUR!  Alright fine, perhaps it was more like 50 minutes, but anything over 15 minutes might as well be an hour in my humble opinion.

Adding to the dread was the fact that I didn’t not have enough shipping boxes, so I’d have to go in and figure out which to use and then how to ship and bleh bleh bleh…

HO HO HO all wrapped up and ready to go!

HO HO HO all wrapped up and ready to go!

I opt for the post office at the ferry building.  I figured the line would probably be the shortest, although you’re dealing with people trying to catch ferries, so the customers can be intense in an under-their-breath-commenting-about-hurry-up-I-have-to-catch-the-ferry sense of urgency about the place.  So I had a plan going in.  I was going to just have separate transactions.  I’d first mail the boxes ready to go, ask the USPS worker their opinion about how to ship the rest, and then go pack my own boxes.

Sheila, my USPS lady, had other ideas for me.  “That’s stupid,” she twanged with her thick Staten Island accent, “I gawt another teller–he can deal with everyone else.”  You sure?  Because I don’t mind–I got to the ferry an hour before I needed to be on a ferry (I WAS PREPARED, man!) “What are you tawkin’ about–don’t be crazy!  We’re doing this.”  Okay, we’re doing this.

So box by box, I placed all my presents on the scale and Sheila would tell me the best (aka least expensive) way to ship it and then she packed my beloved gifts in each box while I wrote out the tags.  Twenty minutes later and nearly $15 less than I had budgeted all of my gifts were happily on their way.

I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and to celebrate and wait for my ferry, I went and had breakfast–with a coffee toast to Sheila, who truly embodies the spirit of customer service and made my holidays a bit brighter!  I hope Santa will be bringing Sheila something spectacular for Christmas…I know that Santa-Shez will be bringing her a big ol’ plate of cookies!!

Fa la la la la la

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Get Your Hot Knish Here!

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Nestled on the Upper West Side is a fabulous place at 80th & Broadway called Zabar’s, who’s motto is New York is Zabar’s…And Zabar’s is New York.  They’re not lying.  Zabar’s was opened in 1934 and is such a New York icon among New Yorkers in terms of gourmet food and coffee at reasonable prices.  I go in several times a week for THE best onion bagel in town.  Quite honestly, I’d live there if I could.  Of course, I’d probably weigh 837 pounds if I did, but I’d be a happy, happy girl!

Now, for everyone who has visited me and I have NOT taken them to Zabar’s…ooops,   don’t yell at me–you just have to come back! Actually, it is because until the last year or so, I hadn’t actually been inside Zabar’s.  I’ve only passed their enticing windows, presumed it was too expensive, and stupidly kept walking.  Thanks to Philip, I have been drinking their amazing coffee since I arrived in New York and one day I just figured what the hell–and went in!  I could, and have, gotten lost in there.  It’s a time warp.  I’m not lying when I said I could live there!

But, I digress what I really wanted to talk to you about is a delectable goody known as the knish (which you’d already know, if you were paying attention to the title!).  I walked in today for THE best onion bagel in town and something else caught my eye.

breakfast of champions!

breakfast of champions!

The knish.  I just…I just…I just had to get it.  I mean it’s sausage and I’m presuming potato and it just looked too damn good not to get.  Besides, with the windchill it’s 10F–so I think I can splurge on something hearty this morning.

Best. Decision. EVER!  Okay, maybe not ever, but definitely of the day… and the week, hell, may be even the month!  Not only is it sausage and potato, but the potatoes are mashed and garlicky with a smattering of sauerkraut.  Just a hint, mind you, to play with your tastebuds a little.  All of this is wrapped in a flaky puff pastry and topped with sesame seeds.  You bite into the warm and deliciousness and your eyes roll back in your head a bit.  It was spectacular!

In my opinion, probably a bit too heavy for everyday consumption in the summertime–but when it’s cold outside and you need something to warm your soul, head to Zabar’s and indulge in a hot sausage knish…you’ll thank me and if you’re feeling really nice, you’ll get me one too!!

 

Song and Dance

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One of the best parts about living in New York City is access to great theatre–by access I mean that you don’t have to drive 2 hours one way to see a show, because I know great theatre can be found everywhere.  But back to Broadway: it is, quite simply, amazing.  If you should happen upon The Big Apple, try to make it to a show.  On or Off-Broadway, you’re guaranteed a fun time.  I have had the fortune to see quite a number of shows during my tenure here in NYC.  One of the most fun, though, was a show I went to a couple of weeks ago at 54 Below, which starred Lee Roy Reams.  The show was an homage to Lee Roy’s life in the theatre and it was magnificent!!  He sang, he danced, he relived amazing moments that he has had over the years.  Lee Roy is so entertaining and charismatic that his stories make you feel like you were there when…

54 Below is a supper club on 54th Street, between 8th and 9th Ave.  As such, part of the evening including supping.  And sup we did!  I could have easily eaten everything on the menu, but in the end chose the wild mushroom and truffle risotto.  OMFG.  It was…divine.  It was rich and creamy and the mushrooms were flavorful and not overcooked.  The truffle oil added depth and just enough richness to make you wish you were at Hogwarts and it was a never ending bowl!!

mushrooms and truffles and risotto...oh my!

mushrooms and truffles and risotto…oh my!

Dessert was nearly as scrumptious–it was a pear, apple crumble.  Alas, no picture–as Lee Roy was performing when dessert was served and I dare not interrupt the show!!  But the apples and pears melded well together with a crisp, crumbly top.  It was served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top because…well…how else would one eat crumble?!?

It was a fantastic evening!  If you live or visit New York, check out 54 Below–trust me, you won’t be sorry.  AND if you ever, ever, ever have the opportunity to see anything with Lee Roy Reams in it, GO IMMEDIATELY! And you know, be sure to invite me!!

Snow Day!

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Snow Day!

You know what I love about snowy days? The princess pupcicle LOVES snow! I mean, I love snow…but she LOVES it. A lot like the fish in Finding Nemo when he sees bubbles…BUBBLES!

After frolicking in the snow for a bit (and an initial shoveling of the sidewalk), the pupcicle and I are cuddled upstairs, reading and napping (I’ll let you decide who is reading and who is napping). I thought I’d take a moment from reading/napping to share one of my favorite pics of the princess pupcicle.

It was taken our first or second year here in NYC and we had just discovered the pupcicle’s new favorite game: snow fetch!
This involves throwing a tennis ball into a snow drift and letting the pupcicle dig around for it.

Alas, there’s not enough snow fallen yet for snow fetch, so back to reading/napping!

Christmas cookies

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Christmas cookies

As I’m pulling out Christmas decorations this morning, there was a knock at the door. As I protected the mailman from a very playful pupcicle, I was presented with a box FULL of April goodies, such as these delicious tidbits. Christmas cookies via mail? It is indeed the most magical time of the year!!!

To Can or Not To Can…

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When it comes to cranberries, it seems everyone has an opinion about which is better–canned or fresh.  I’m in the Fresh camp, but I know people who are staunch proponents of the canned jellied variety.  Apparently something about a slice of a canned cranberry log is appealing.  Texture-wise, I can see the appeal.  I will admit before seeing the fresh light, I enjoyed canned cranberries.  But once I made homemade cranberry sauce, I’ve never even looked back because IMHO taste-wise, it just doesn’t compare.  In a pinch, I will used canned whole cranberries and then doctor them up with cinnamon, cloves, and peach liquor or wine to add some homemade flavor (which is essentially what I add to my fresh cranberries).

crannnnnntastic!

crannnnnntastic!


So, my dear readers…which do you prefer?  Say it loud and say it proud!!