Monday, December 24, 2012

Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

More Time will be on vacation for a short time.  
When I've cooked a bunch more, I'll be back! 
In the meantime, make my Sparkly cookies.   Make merry, friends!

Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

This not-too-sweet, pie crust-like, melt in your mouth gem is actually a tiny, fluted piece of shortbread showered in white sanding sugar.  Regular old white sugar will work just as well, as would bright red cookie sugar from the grocery store.  The white sanding sugar, however, gives the cookies a sheen and a sophisticated sparkle unlike any other.  It yells, "I'm special."

While other cookies try and steal the show with great globs of frosting or hunks of high-quality chocolate, this cookie (tiny, but mighty) shows strength and endurance because after you put out a big bowl of them, folks will just keep nipping in until they're gone.  One isn't enough.  Especially with hot tea... or a little snifter of brandy. Try this:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great Holiday Links--Enjoy!

Just for grins and giggles, here are some of the links I've enjoyed this season....

cookbooks for gifts

Shine's List of the Best of 2012
Best Cookbooks of all Time
Epicurious 10 Cookbooks Worth Giving                                             

cookies you might not have made

Candy Cane Crinkles
Chocolate Chip Cookies- Saveur
Chocolate Dipped Espresso Cookies
Ginger Snap Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten-Free Cookies -- Saveur
Holiday Sables - Breton
Italian Christmas Cookies

Richart Parisian Chocolate Macarons

no-bake treats                                             

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Candied Ginger
No Bake Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
DIY Sriracha for Gifting
Peppermint Crunch Bark 

Alyce's Go Nuts

 holiday food and drink

Alyce's Afternoon Open House
Boston Globe's 12 Beers of Christmas 
David Lebovitz' Hot Mulled Wine
Gourmet Live's Christmas Eve Feast 

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Saveur Christmas Recipes
Wines at Christmas 

alyce's easy meals for busy nights                

 Alyce's Beans and Cornbread
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Chicken Thighs and Butternut Squash

  White Wine and Lemon-Steamed Salmon with Broccoli
Foiled Flounder with Roasted Green Beans and Rosemary Potatoes
Pear-Fig Salad with Goat Cheese
Shrimp-Winter Fruit Salad with Quinoa and Pomegranate Seeds 
Spicy Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Wendy's Sage and Thyme
Turkey-Lentil Crock Pot Chili


holiday desserts and goodies

Chocolate Date Caramel Tart from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Cranberry-Streusel Cake 
Crunchy Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake 
Dark Chocolate Pudding with Candied Ginger 
Gingerbread with Quark Cheesecake
Kaiserschmarrn Austrian pancake, cut up while cooking; Topped with Fruit (dessert or breakfast)
Wonderful Food Gifts in Jars from Bon Appetit


 Christmas Movie List all in one place

courtesy share our strength


gifts to help end hunger...   


 Give the Gift of No Kid HungryHonor someone by giving a gift to No Kid Hungry in their name – a powerful way to pay tribute to a person’s life, whether you are honoring their memory or celebrating an important milestone.    Honor Someone Today

*Find a Food Bank 
*Give to No Kid Hungry/Share our Strength--END CHILDHOOD HUNGER
*Give to Feeding America 

*Give to World Food Program



Best Christmas Albums of 2012 (new)
The 10 Best Christmas Albums Ever?

Another List of the "best" Christmas case you didn't like the ones above.  

  A Few of Alyce's Favorite Christmas/Holiday Albums: 

A Charlie Brown Christmas   

An American Christmas:  Boston Camerata/Joel Cohen

James Taylor at Christmas 
Peter, Paul, and Mary:  A Holiday Celebration with NY Choral Society
The Rose Ensemble:  Slavic Holiday
Tony Bennett:  Snowfall


giving in other ways 

Donate to the Newtown, Connecticut Memorial Fund (help fund the funerals)

Divine (Fair Trade) Chocolate               

One Simple Wish (dot org)  --  A place to donate cash for specific gifts for foster children...

                     for example:  music lessons, a trip to the zoo, senior photos.... 

Make a Wish (dot org)  --  A place to donate to fulfilling children's final wishes.

Toys for Tots 

Volunteer (or donate) for Fema/Hurricane Sandy 

Food52's Guide to Helping Sandy Victims

Habitat for Humanity

Donate an animal...Heifer dot org  

Blessings of the Season,

Monday, December 17, 2012


"Light One Candle"  Peter, Paul, and Mary...  This is, for me, the song of the year in view of the loss of our people in Newtown, Connecticut.

     It's a not new Hanukkah (but is also Christian, Buddhist, and whatever else ) song performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary in a holiday special years ago.  The album is available on amazon...

and you can also watch a performance of it on youtube.

Here are the lyrics:

Light one candle for the Maccabees' children With thanks that their light didn't die Light one candle for the pain they endured When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice Justice and freedom demand But light one candle for the wisdom to know When the peacemaker's time is at hand
Don't let the light go out It's lasted for so many years Don't let the light go out Let it shine through our love and our tears
Light one candle for the strength that we need To never become our own foe And light one candle for those who are suffering-- Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in That anger not tear us apart And light one candle to find us together With peace as the song in our hearts
Don't let the light go out It's lasted for so many years Don't let the light go out Let it shine through our love and our tears
Don't let the light go out It's lasted for so many years Don't let the light go out Let it shine through our love and our tears
What is the memory that's valued so highly That we keep it alive in that flame? What's the commitment to those who died That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing That justice would somehow prevail This is the burden, this is the promise This is why we will not fail
Don't let the light go out It's lasted for so many years Don't let the light go out Let it shine through our love and our tears



Years ago, Dave and I lost two babies in two years.  To say we were devastated doesn't begin to do justice to what we lived through.  And no, you never get "over" any of it.  You learn to go around, through, embrace, and then you pray to heal.... Which, thanks to all the loving people and God's grace, we did.  But one thing I know is this:

None of these parents ever expected to have to bury their own children.
Most of them, I'd guess, never had a funeral fund in the bank.
They probably had barely got a college fund started.

The last thing they can do for their children is bury them.

You can donate to burial expenses fund here.

Light a candle.  Make the darkness bright.  Don't let the light go out.  Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Sing a new song; it's all we can do,

Friday, December 14, 2012

38 Power Foods, Week 25 -- Dried Beans -- French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.

 I'm not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread.  Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice.  Even today, when we're empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it's the right thing to do.  It's often healthy, too.   I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money.  If you've ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you'll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber.  They're filling and versatile.  They can also be yummy.  Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant "French" beans with lots of

  • smoked ham (or pork chop)
  • vegetables,
  • big flavors of rosemary, thyme, and bay, 
  • browned chicken thighs, legs, (I like Kadejan chicken from Glenwood, MN) and...
  • sausage pieces.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Squash-Mushroom Salad with Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette

There are meals when the main course is light, delicate -- a brothy-frothy soup  or a small piece of white fish with a few vegetables.  Or maybe you just have some squash leftover you'd like to make into a pretty "meaty" meal. On the other hand, this would also be a decidedly different and total side for a few great slices of pork loin or a lovely duck breast over the holidays.  If any of those things is the case or even if none is, this is your salad.

It starts with cooking a whole acorn squash and about half of a normal-sized butternut squash (I do both in the microwave for recipes like this.*) If you like, a Hubbard or a Turban squash could be used instead.   Let the squash cool a bit and then peel and cut it into one-inch pieces.  Meantime, a few mushrooms are sautéed, stirred into the squash pieces, and gathered together  with a decadent vinaigrette.  A bit of cheese,  a handful of fresh spinach and arugula, some chopped nuts for crunch and  you have your salad.  Couldn't be easier, quicker, or more luscious.  So winter.  So warming.  So if you're cooking squash one night for dinner, fix an extra couple so you have have this the next day.   Here's how:

Friday, December 7, 2012

38 Power Foods, Week 24 -- Quinoa -- Shrimp-Quinoa Salad with Winter Fruit, Pomegranate Seeds, and Blue Cheese

Festive and healthy at the same time is a winning combination.  While we often think of holiday meals leaning toward big hunks of meat and baked desserts, it may be just the time we should be thinking of cutting a bit here and there.  If you'd like a gorgeous December salad that's colorful and filling without being heavy, try this little plate of love.  There's plenty of shrimp (I bought cooked shrimp for ease of preparation) for those who need visible protein, but it's off-set by the addition of lots high-fiber quinoa, green apples, red pomegranate seeds, cucumber, fresh cranberries, clementines, and spinach--to say nothing of the blue cheese grace notes.  A light orange vinaigrette spiked with a bit of crushed red pepper tops it all.   You could add some steamed, chopped asparagus or green beans, I think, but the spinach gives you lots of green.  I served a little bread and butter with this salad to round out the meal.  Try this:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beans and Cornbread -- Cold Day Supper

I don't know if Friday Night "Dinner and a Movie" is still on. Last time I tuned in, it offered decent film viewing as well as little vignettes and cooking segments presented by talented folk.  The music was the late 40's jump tune (Louis Thomas Jordan), "Beans and Cornbread!"  Loved it.  I don't know what it is about the phrase...  Once you hear it, you just start walking around going, "Beans and cornbread uh uh uh...Beans and cornbread..."  The "uh uh uh" is the tenor sax.