Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Party Hat Kittens
Wishing everybody a
wonderful and magical
New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Martin Christmas...Gone to the Dogs

Spent the holidays up at the folks with their their lab-mix and Siberian Husky along with my sister's beagles. Of course the weekend before it was in the 60's but we got to enjoy that barely in the teens white Christmas Day walk in the mountains. I think there should be some sort of law against leaving your home in sub-freezing weather. I will tell you now, as somebody who is own by cats, this never would have happened at our home.

Not a creature was stirring....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Joyous Holiday
Christmas Kitties

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gingerbread Baklava

Gingerbread Baklava
I know this is kind of cheating, but basically find any good Baklava recipe, (an online search will yield several) and substitute gingerbread cookie crumbs for the sugar nut mixture.

I used store bought gingerbread cookies (Archway). Took the whole bag and crushed into crumbs with a rolling pin, then added a teaspoon each of cinnamon and sugar in the raw.

The reason I substituted the cookies is because I wanted to do a European dessert to stay with the theme, but my sister doesn’t like nuts; however, she LOVES gingerbread. Thus to appease her, as one should always do with their older sibling, I decided to try the baklava recipe with the cookies instead of the nuts. I will be honest, I went into the kitchen thinking it would be a train wreck and I would be throwing them all out the next day, but sadly, there were none left the next day.

Dessert Table

Monday, December 14, 2009

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce
This year for our after Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner I thought it would be cool to add an eclectic Mediterranean twist. Okay wasn't meaning for it to turn out eclectic, just ended up that way.

The appetizers included hummus with whole-wheat flat bread, honey Greek yogurt with figs and a relish tray with assorted cheeses and olives. For the main course, we served Greek-style lemon potatoes, garden tabbouleh and Mediterranean barley salads, grilled eggplant, artichoke parmesan stuffing, Earl Grey infused cranberry sauce along with the whole-wheat flat bread and Mediterranean garlic butter. Now it would have been neat to had as the main dish, fish, but the invitees included my father and brother-in-law and we did not want to face their reign if we had not have had a turkey. However we did season it with a Mediterranean herb rub. Then we washed it all down with sparkling pomegranate cider with lemon ice-cubes.

For the main even, i.e., desserts, of course we had to have the traditional sour-cream pumpkin pie with whole-wheat crust and made enough so each guess could take their own pie home with them. This year since we weren’t doing sweet potatoes as part of the meal with did sweet potato cupcakes in addition to ginger-pumpkin bread and gingerbread baklava.

The two surprised hits of the meal were the tea-infused cranberry sauce and even more of a shocker, the gingerbread baklava.

The reason I chose this particular cranberry sauce recipe is because it called for Earl Grey, my mother’s favorite tea. Oh, I should probably mention that in our household, my husband is the Executive Chef (his true profession and why we can’t have our Thanksgiving on the actual day because he is busy serving up dinner to 200+ at the restaurant). I am the Pastry Chef (just because I like to play with my me, no formal training has been involved). Thus, the version of the recipe below is after my husband does that thing that he does that makes food amazingly good.

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

• 2 bags of fresh cranberries
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups sugar in the raw
• 3 to 5 cinnamon sticks
• 1 orange cut into wedges, leaving peel on
• ¼ cup lemon Juice
• 5 to 6 bags of Earl Grey Tea

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat to cool. Take out tea bags before serving.

Gingerbread Baklava recipe to follow....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Free Penguin Holiday Gift Tags

Just wanted to share that today's All Us All the Time blog special is free printable gift tags of absolutely adorable penguins.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Centerpieces and Place Settings (Kind of)

The initial plan for the place settings was to make leaf impressions from a baking powder and baking soda clay recipe I found online, poke a hole at the top of them, string them with ribbon and then tie to a mini-pumpkin. Hmmm, what is that saying about best laid plans of mice and men?!?

Yeah, obviously our leaves here in Colorado don’t like to leave big impressions, or at least in a baking powder and soda clay. Thus it was on to plan B. Did I have a plan B?

Since we were celebrating our Thanksgiving on the following Sunday, plan B became me quickly grabbing my tin of cookie cutters. My sister decided that candy canes would look oh-so-much more festive hanging from mini-pumpkins than leaf impressions would have any way.

We cut out the candy cane shapes with the cookie cutter and then with a skewer made a hole at the top of each of them. It took at least 24 hours for them to dry and they never really did firm up and were very brittle. In hindsight, my sister said that air-dried clay would have been much better and if we do something similar next year will definitely go that route.

Since candy canes tend to cry more Christmas than Thanksgiving, we decided to paint our mini-pumpkins. I didn’t want the traditional red and green colors so chose a burgundy, forest, and of course, with making my sister help me out on them, purple.

We used a floral spray paint that gave them a neat translucent effect, but after letting them dry overnight, we thought they were lacking a bit. Never fear I told my sister because I have, that’s right, glitter spray paint. Thus after a shot of gold glitter, we were quite pleased with them.

Meanwhile, after letting our candy canes harden up, we chose 3 coordinating paint colors for them: burgundy, purple, and mustard. Why mustard? That would be because I didn’t have any of that type of paint in green on hand to the dismay of the sister, but we were able to work through it. After the base coat dried, we, okay my sister, painted pokka-dots on them. Again, after they dried, we thought they were lacking a little something something, so yes, out came the glitter spray paint, this time silver. Excellent.

Then the wonderful part of having an artist as a sister (well there are actually too many wonderful parts to mention) is that once the mini-pumpkins were completely dry, she wrote each of the guests’ names on them in a very fancy manner. I believe she used a micron pen, but don’t quote me on that.

We let everything dry over night, then the day of the dinner we, okay, okay, again, my sister, cut ribbon and threaded it through the holes of the candy canes and then hung them on the pumpkins. Now, I would have helped with that part but the only down side to having an Executive Chef as a husband is that he is use to having a kitchen staff, which then at home ends up being me.

For the main centerpiece I had gathered up some pinecones and evergreen sprigs from the yard. There was some left over glitter paint, so I took a few of the pinecones and gave them a coat of glitter. Then I sprayed the evergreen sprigs with the green floral paint to give a more vivid color. Once dried, I took a glass fruit stand, placed some sparkling pics I had bought at Michaels on the bottom, then on top of those I placed the pinecone and evergreen sprigs. Finally gave it a splash of burgundy color with a few fresh cranberries. We had some left over mini-pumpkins so decided to do another centerpiece using them. We put them in a glass bowl with fresh cranberries and a few evergreen sprigs and pinecones.

I thought they turned out pretty cool. A HUGE thank you to the sis for helping me out on that creative endeavor.

Pamela Pumpkin
Noelle Pumpkin
Shawn Pumpkin
Jeff Pumpkin
Fruit Stand Centerpiece
pumpkin centerpiece

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Weekly Kitty Fix

Our new Christmas tree ornament...and it's animated too!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekly Kitty Fix - Ahoy Pirate Kitties!!

That's right...we got a pirate ship!!

Pirate Kitty
Ahoy Pirate Kitty
Aye-aye Pirate Kitty
Pirate Hansel
Kitty Pirates
Pirate Kitties
Sleeping Pirate Kitty

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? By Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Andy Kubert

Batman by Neil GaimanI will confess, this is the first Batman graphic novel I have read and the reason was because it was Neil Gaiman’s Batman.

Thus I cannot compare it to other Batman’s, but I thought it had the same surreal dream state of his Sandman series. Batman attends his own funeral (or at least it appears that way) along with his dearest friends and deadliest enemies. Each of them gives quite a different eulogy of the Cape Crusaders life, and death. As the Dark Knight hears the contradictory tales, he must determine the truth for himself.

Amazing story telling that pares perfectly with the bold and macabre illustrations. Then the bonus material is chalked full of that Gaiman dry sense of humor that I love so well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Freekibble Hi-5

Freekibble Hi-5
Today is Freekibble Hi-5. They will be donating 5x's the kibble today when you answer the Bow-Wow Trivia question (right or wrong). If you have time today please try to visit their site and feed some hungry shelter dogs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Playing Around with the Camera

Early morning snow shots after last week's storm (well, that is early morning for me).

Snow Branches
Pine Top
Snow Ledge

Tuesday, November 3, 2009