Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Vacation Fun

It is so nice to have some holidays - time off of school to do fun things together. Even though she is driving me crazy when she gets bored or tired or hungry... ;) ... I love having this time together.

And we have done so much!

We chose a reeeeallly small cedar tree for our Christmas tree this year. Just wanted to make it an easy Christmas, and Jaymi was fine with that, because she thinks it's very cute.

Jaymi decided to tie some garland on Cookie, and tell her to walk. It didn't work. Cookie just stood there...

...and didn't look very happy. Jaymi tried to take her for a walk. She had fun with it for a while, and then moved on to something else.

Jaymi played a special holiday game on the PETA website, that involves saving seals from seal hunters. It's an issue very close to Jaymi's heart, because she really loves seals. In fact, she is talking about raising money for PETA, to help protect the seals.

We made tortilla snowflakes, which are so good! Simply take a whole-wheat flour tortilla, fold in half and in half again, snip like a snowflake (with scissors), unfold, spray with cooking spray or brush with melted or oil, sprinkle on cinnamon if you like, bake in the oven for a few minutes, and then sprinkle with icing sugar when they are out of the oven.

Jaymi and I did some origami together.

One morning, she spent about an hour making Cheerio jewelry for breakfast. She made a necklace, a bracelet and a ring. Then, of course, they all got eaten right away.
And...when you're 7 years old, you have the pleasure of doing things like making Cheerio necklaces while dressed in a turtle costume. ;)

We made banana meringues with strawberry sauce, and apple cider. :)

1 12-oz. pkg. strawberries, frozen unsweetened, thawed
3 tablespoons sugar
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch salt
⅔ cup sugar
4 bananas, large but firm, peeled
Puree raspberries and sugar. Strain into small bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
arrange bananas on baking sheet.
Spoon meringue into pastry bag fitted with medium star tip or cut a hole in one corner of a baggie.
Pipe meringue over bananas in decorative pattern, covering most of banana surface.
Bake bananas until meringue is deep golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Transfer bananas to plates. Spoon raspberry sauce around and serve.

I took some pictures of the pretty dew drops on the branches, and even captured our house in them!

We made chocolate pancakes with that same strawberry sauce that made for the meringues.
This recipe was from The Sneaky Chef, so the pancakes have things like whole wheat flour, wheat germ, blueberries and spinach in them!

¾ cup Flour Blend (equal parts whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and wheat germ)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
1 large egg
¼ cup Purple Puree (pureed spinach and blueberries)
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup chocolate chips
butter or cooking spray
Mix together Flour Blend, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. (To store for instant cocoa pancake mix in the future, triple the dry ingredients and keep in sealed labeled plastic bag.)
In another bowl, whisk together vanilla, milk, egg, Purple Puree, honey. Add wet to dry until just blended.
Add a little milk if it's too thick.
Add chocolate chips and mix lightly.

Butter or spray a large skillet over medium. Make pancakes.

I made an awesome Chicken and Dumpling Soup recipe, from the Iron Chef (Michael Symon).

1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 bulb celery root, peeled and finely diced
1 turnip, peeled and finely diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 bulb fennel, finely diced
4 cups white wine
1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 2-1/2-pound chicken
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken fat (I used lard because I couldn't find this)
2 tbsp chopped tarragon, fresh
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt butter in 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery root, turnip, rutabaga, onion, diced fennel and a large pinch of salt; cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add wine, 6 cups water, fennel seeds, thyme and bay leaves; bring to a simmer. Add chicken and simmer for 2 hours. Remove chicken and let cool. Pick off meat in shreds; set aside.
3. About 15 minutes before chicken has finished simmering, prepare dumplings. Combine the milk, chicken fat, 1 tbsp tarragon, the nutmeg and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper in medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the liquid has absorbed. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, to make a thick dough.
4. Bring the soup to a boil. Form the dough into 8 dumplings (an ice cream scoop is perfect for this); drop into soup. Cover and cook until the dumplings float to the surface, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the chicken meat, parsley and the remaining 1 tbsp tarragon to the soup; stir carefully and divide among warm bowls.

I found Shiraz (our other cat) cuddled up IN the nativity scene!

And here are pictures of Jaymi making the apple cider. She cut the cheesecloth, put the spices in...

...poured the apple juice in...

...stirred it...and of course, drank it! Yum!

Oh yeah - I almost forgot. We also celebrated my birthday! I got my hair done, a massage (which is still pending), a new coat, tons of happy birthday wishes, and lots of birthday hugs.

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